Rick Santorum Tries to Use My Research to Cast Doubt on My Other Research

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I’ve published two scientific papers measuring the scientific consensus on climate change. An

Santorum’s claim that our study found only 43% expert consensus originates from a blogger going by the pseudonym Fabius Maximus, who uses two denialist techniques: Fake Experts and Impossible Expectations.

Fake Experts are people who appear to be scientific experts but don’t possess the actual relevant expertise. Santorum claims our survey was of 1800 climate scientists. This is not the case. We surveyed 1868 scientists but they weren’t all climate scientists. We cast our net wide – in part because we wanted to obtain a diversity of viewpoints. To obtain the expert consensus, we looked to participants who had published over 10 peer-reviewed climate-related papers. Among these experts, we found 90% consensus (lead author Bart Verheggen explains in much greater detail).

Impossible Expectations involves raising the level of proof required to impossible levels. The tobacco industry perfected this strategy in the 1970s, demanding ever higher levels of proof that smoking causes cancer in order to delay regulation of their industry. In the case of Santorum’s 43% consensus, this only included scientists at least 95% confident that humans were causing most of global warming. That means as far as Santorum was concerned, a scientist who was 90% confident that humans were causing most of global warming wasn’t considered part of the consensus. If you raise the level of proof high enough, you can make the consensus simply disappear.

Unfortunately, Santorum misled the public by distorting scientific research, using misinformation from an anonymous blogger. It’s especially ironic that he distorted one of my research papers to cast doubt on another of my research papers (quoting from a critic of our 97% consensus paper). I suspect that if Santorum were to learn that the 97% —> Read More

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