Scientific Consensus

Gore says “A University of California at San Diego scientist, Dr. Naomi Oreskes, published in Science magazine a massive study of every peer-reviewed science journal article on global warming from the previous 10 years. She and her team selected a large random sample of 928 articles representing almost 10% of the total, and carefully analysed how many of the articles agreed or disagreed with the prevailing consensus view. About a quarter of the articles in the sample dealt with aspects of global warming that did not involve any discussion of the central elements of the consensus. Of the three quarters that did address these main points, the percentage that disagreed with the consensus? Zero.”

The Naomi Oreskes reference that Gore uses to show a perfect scientific consensus is not a peer reviewed scientific paper at all but is in fact an essay written in Science magazine in December 2004 under the Essays on Science and Society section. Oreskes only looked at the abstracts [bold added] of the papers and not the papers themselves.

She says "Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view …".  She does not tell us how many of the papers explicitly accepted the consensus view so we have no way of knowing how strong the support actually was.  The fact that the consensus view was not explicitly rejected does not imply the opposite.  We have no list of the references she studied so we cannot verify any of her conclusions. Also she used the search term “global climate change” not global warming as Gore states.  She does not say that the 928 articles were 10% of the total number of papers from the database search that were randomly selected.  This piece of the Oreskes’ essay does not support Gore’s adamant statements at all. Whatever else may be said about the so called scientific consensus Gore is not supported by Naomi Oreskes here.

See See Oreskes, Naomi, “BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change”, Science 3, Vol.306 No. 5702, p. 1638, Dec 2004