Expert credibility in climate change

Contributed by Stephen H. Schneider, April 9, 2010 (sent for review December 22, 2009)
June 21, 2010
107 (27) 12107-12109

Abstract

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

Continue Reading

Acknowledgments

We thank C. B. Field, R. Dunlap, M. Mastrandrea, D. L. Karp, A. J. Rominger, and H. V. Moeller for their comments on this paper. Funding for this project was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Stanford University.

Supporting Information

Supporting Information (PDF)
Supporting Information

References

1
N Oreskes, Beyond the ivory tower. The scientific consensus on climate change. Science 306, 1686 (2004).
2
PT Doran, MK Zimmerman, Examining the scientific consensus on climate change. Eos Trans AGU 90, 22–23 (2009).
3
; IPCC, Summary for policymakers. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, eds S Solomon, et al. (Cambridge Univ Press, Cambridge, UK, Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007).
4
; Pew Research Center for People and the Press, Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media. Pew Research Center., Available at http://people-press.org/report/528/. (2009).
5
RE Dunlap, AM McCright, A widening gap: Republican and Democratic views on climate change. Environment 50, 26–35 (2008).
6
AM McCright, RE Dunlap, Challenging global warming as a social problem: An analysis of the conservative movement's counter-claims. Soc Probl 47, 499–522 (2000).
7
AM McCright, RE Dunlap, Defeating Kyoto: The conservative movement's impact on US climate change policy. Soc Probl 50, 348–373 (2003).
8
M Lahsen, Experiences of modernity in the greenhouse: A cultural analysis of a physicist ''trio'' supporting the backlash against global warming. Glob Environ Change 18, 204–219 (2008).
9
MT Boykoff, JM Boykoff, Balance as bias: Global warming and the US prestige press. Glob Environ Change 14, 125–136 (2004).
10
P Jacques, R Dunlap, M Freeman, The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism. Env Polit 17, 349–385 (2008).
11
L Antilla, Climate of scepticism: US newspaper coverage of the science of climate change. Glob Environ Change 15, 338–352 (2005).
12
SH Schneider Science as a Contact Sport (National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, 2009).
13
MT Boykoff, ‘We Speak for the Trees’: Media reporting on the environment. Annu Rev Environ Resour 34, 431–458 (2009).
14
A Malka, JA Krosnick, M Debell, J Pasek, D Schneider, Featuring skeptics in news media stories about global warming reduces public beliefs in the seriousness of global warming. (Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Technical Paper, Available at http://woods.stanford.edu/research/global-warming-skeptics.html. (2009).
15
HM Collins, R Evans, The third wave of science studies: Studies of expertise and experience. Soc Stud Sci 32, 235–295 (2002).
16
S Jasanoff, Breaking the waves in science studies. Soc Stud Sci 33, 389–400 (2003).
17
A Rip, Constructing expertise. Soc Stud Sci 33, 419–434 (2003).
18
B Wynne, Seasick on the third wave? Subverting the hegemony of propositionalism. Soc Stud Sci 33, 401–417 (2003).
19
D Demeritt, Science studies, climate change and the prospects for constructivist critique. Econ Soc 35, 453–479 (2006).
20
S Mikki, Comparing Google Scholar and ISI Web of Science for earth sciences. Scientometrics 10, 1–11 (2009).
21
J Cole, S Cole, Measuring the quality of sociological research: Problems in the use of the Science Citation Index. Am Sociol 6, 23–29 (1971).
22
AM Colman, D Dhillon, B Coulthard, A bibliometric evaluation of the research performance of British university politics departments: Publications in leading journals. Scientometrics 32, 49–66 (1995).
23
D Lindsey, Using citation counts as a measure of quality in science measuring what's measurable rather than what's valid. Scientometrics 15, 189–203 (1989).
24
RK Toutkoushian, SR Porter, C Danielson, PR Hollis, Using publications counts to measure an institution's research productivity. Res Higher Educ 44, 121–148 (2003).
25
TJ Phelan, A compendium of issues for citation analysis. Scientometrics 45, 117–136 (1999).
26
MH MacRoberts, BR MacRoberts, Problems of citation analysis. Scientometrics 36, 435–444 (1996).
27
; The Associated Press–Stanford University Environment Poll, AP–Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University., Available at http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com/pdf/AP-Stanford_University_Environment_Poll_Topline.pdf. (2009).
28
DW Aksnes, A macro study of self-citation. Scientometrics 56, 235–246 (2003).
29
RN Kostoff, Citation analysis of research performer quality. Scientometrics 53, 49–71 (2002).

Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 107 | No. 27
July 6, 2010
PubMed: 20566872

Classifications

Submission history

Published online: June 21, 2010
Published in issue: July 6, 2010

Keywords

  1. citation analyses
  2. climate denier
  3. expertise
  4. publication analysis
  5. scientific prominence

Acknowledgments

We thank C. B. Field, R. Dunlap, M. Mastrandrea, D. L. Karp, A. J. Rominger, and H. V. Moeller for their comments on this paper. Funding for this project was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Stanford University.

Authors

Affiliations

William R. L. Anderegg1 [email protected]
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
James W. Prall
Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3G4;
Jacob Harold
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA 94025; and
Stephen H. Schneider1 [email protected]
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

Notes

1
To whom correspondence may be addressed. E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected].
Author contributions: W.R.L.A. and J.H designed research; W.R.L.A. and J.W.P. performed research; W.R.L.A. analyzed data; and W.R.L.A., J.W.P., J.H., and S.H.S. wrote the paper.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Metrics & Citations

Metrics

Note: The article usage is presented with a three- to four-day delay and will update daily once available. Due to ths delay, usage data will not appear immediately following publication. Citation information is sourced from Crossref Cited-by service.


Citation statements

Altmetrics

Citations

If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. Simply select your manager software from the list below and click Download.

Cited by

    Loading...

    View Options

    View options

    PDF format

    Download this article as a PDF file

    DOWNLOAD PDF

    Get Access

    Login options

    Check if you have access through your login credentials or your institution to get full access on this article.

    Personal login Institutional Login

    Recommend to a librarian

    Recommend PNAS to a Librarian

    Purchase options

    Purchase this article to get full access to it.

    Single Article Purchase

    Expert credibility in climate change
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 107
    • No. 27
    • pp. 12059-12405

    Media

    Figures

    Tables

    Other

    Share

    Share

    Share article link

    Share on social media