Science

Really Depressing Survey of What Scientists and the Public Think About Science and Society

Disinformation specialists are everywhere

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Disinformation
WidenerLaw

The Pew Research Center released today its Public and Scientists' Views of Science and Society survey. Pew surveys a representative sample of Americans and members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on a variety of issues at the nexus of science and public policy. The results make for fairly disheartening reading for all sorts of reasons. As Mark Lynas over at the Washington Post reports:

There is a 18 percentage point gap, for example, over whether parents should be required to vaccinate their children: 86 percent of scientists favor this, as compared to just 68 percent of the general public. There is a much larger gap on climate change: 87 percent of AAAS scientists say it is caused by human activity, compared to 50 percent of the public. Almost all scientists – 98 percent — say humans have evolved over time, while just 65 percent of the public thinks they have.

But for the general public, the strongest anti-science attitudes relate to genetically modified foods. Eighty-eight percent of AAAS scientists say it's safe to eat genetically modified food, compared to just 37 percent of U.S. adults. Such discrepancies do not happen by accident. In most cases, there are determined lobbies working to undermine public understanding of science: from anti-vaccine campaigners, to creationists, to climate-change deniers.

The problem is that disinformation specialists, uh, activists and lobbyists, eagerly engage in what Stephen Colbert might call "scienciness" to scare, uh, persuade people into adopting policies they are pushing for reasons of ideology or greed or both. In fact, I think that the Pew survey shows that both the public and scientists have been misled by disinformation on specific issues below.

Pew Survey
Pew Survey

So what's right? Biotech foods are safe to eat; research on animals to devise treatments for people is still necessary; trace exposures to chemicals, both natural and synthetic, are risk factors in 2 percent of cancers; humans evolved over time; the risk-benefit profile for childhood vaccines is massively in their favor; climate change is mostly due to human activity (which says nothing about policy); world population will top out and begin declining by the end of this century; nuclear power is safe and over-regulated; offshore drilling is safer than ever; astronauts are not essential to the U.S. space program; biofuels are an ecological and economic disaster; fracking is no more dangerous than other drilling technologies and provides access to lower-carbon natural gas; the space station is a waste of money.

Now that I've cleared up those controversies, I must express considerable disappointment with the responses of the AAAS scientists with respect to pesticides, offshore drilling, biofuels, and fracking.

Most people worry eating foods treated with pesticides largely because they fear getting cancer. But as the American Cancer Society itself reports:

Exposure to carcinogenic agents in occupational, community, and other settings is thought to account for a relatively small percentage of cancer deaths – about 4% from occupational exposures and 2% from environmental pollutants (man-made and naturally occurring).

Failing to eat enough fruits and vegetables daily is a far greater health risk than being exposed to parts per million or billion of current pesticides on your grocery store produce.

I suspect that the policy preferences of AAAS members concerning how to handle man-made climate change have skewed their views with regard to offshore drilling, biofuels, and fracking.

With the salient exception of the Macondo spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reports that number of barrels spilled per barrels produced fell from 255,000 in the 1960s to 6,500 in the first decade of the 21st century.

The environmental think thank the World Resources Institute just released its report "Biofuels Are Not a Green Alternative to Fossil Fuels." The title speaks for itself and I hope AAAS members wiil read the WRI report before the next survey.

With regard to fracking, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2014 Mitigation report refers to burning natural gas to produce electricity as a "bridge technology" to the low and no-carbon energy future.

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175 responses to “Really Depressing Survey of What Scientists and the Public Think About Science and Society

  1. “Scientist” doesn’t necessarily mean smart, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean “expert in every field.” The opinions of a cardiologist about space flight are no more persuasive than my opinions on sanity.

    1. AAAS members ? scientists, despite what news is saying. AAAS member = Science magazine subscriber.

      So, polling a group that subscribes to the same publication, is necessarily focusing your results.

      1. I’m a National Geographic Society member. Who said I’m not an expert in geography?!

        I subscribe to the magazine for an auto insurance discount.

        1. You are also an expert in Nationalness.

        2. You’re an expert in getting a good deal.

        3. So you saved 15% on your car insurance?

          1. 15% or more

      2. AAAS members skew heavily academic. And thus heavily liberal.

      3. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe Pew’d made that mistake, but they did! Or at least they appeared to, although buried in there they said

        Membership in AAAS is open to all.

        It’s not like NAS, for instance.

        Eligibility was limited to U.S. members but otherwise used a broad definition of the scientific community. AAAS members of any discipline or background were eligible to participate except for those whose membership type indicated that they were primary or secondary educators. AAAS staff and institutional members were also excluded from eligibility.

        Funny way to get a sample of “scientists”.

        1. I’m a scientist.

    2. “Scientist” doesn’t necessarily mean smart, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean “expert in every field.”

      This. In a recent issue of ‘Science’ (the AAAS publication), they featured someone whose PhD was in ‘Tourism and Recreational Science’. She probably answered the survey question about AGW the way the other 87% did.

      1. I agree with these comments. What a stupid idea for a survey. Is the idea that scientists are some sort of generalist mental role model?

        I can’t figure why my opinion about vaccination or GMOs would be of any interest to anyone. Not only am I not expert in these fields, I know better than to trust people just because they’re experts in any field.

        1. I know better than to trust people just because they’re experts in any field.

          As one who is somewhat experienced in the field of ingesting magical fungi please do everything possible to avoid a bad trip on mushrooms. It is an extremely fucking unpleasant thing to create for your temporal reality. Trust this semi-expert on this one thing. Just once.

          1. While I agree with your recommendation here, 87% of the AAAS agrees with Maureen Dowd in regard to the dangers of edibles. And they’re experts. And Top Men.

    3. Probably doesn’t help that some “global warming” (now “climate change”) “scientists” deliberately fudged their evidence to reach a desired conclusion.

  2. Scientists in the relevant fields?

    1. I bet if we asked scientists in the “relevant field” about the anthropogenic cause of global warming, we would get an even more retarded number than 87%.

      1. You put on a white coat you can’t possibly succumb to personal bias or groupthink.

        1. I wore my coat in the office areas most of the time to keep the groupthink off me.

          1. Lots of great uses for a lab coat:
            Wear one to the pet store and ask the cashier the price per pound of cats “on the hoof”
            Wear one to the grocery store and make a big scene about inspecting behind the cereal boxes.
            Wear one to the local commuter train station and hand out surgical face masks to every passenger.
            Wear one to the bar in the middle of the day, drink copiously and mumble about how “those idiots don’t realize what they’ve discovered, they’ll kill us all.”

              1. *narrows gaze* “you would”

            1. You can also use lab coats to pose in a prop pictures with the President.

        2. I got a white lab coat with my name embroidered on it when I started my current job. My wife told me that I looked like a grocery store butcher.

          Haven’t worn it since.

          1. Can I have it?

            1. Sure. All your friends will start calling you Jewboy.

              1. So I can sell the beef as kosher?

                1. And imitation calamari made from foreskins.

                  1. Foreskins in a sauce of vagina blood topped with the whipped cum of 35 studly gents. Christ jesus jehovah zeus.

                    1. Like wearing a necklace of fucking multiracial goatse’s. The innards are prob sim but the outer’s get eclectic.

                    2. I like fucking buttholes but I don’t get this goddamn fascination with butt innards. So I fuck a butt but why should I get off on it gaping like a fucking wormhole to a red blizzard of intesticle hell? I get the whole butt fuck thing. I love fucking pooper. Assholes should be licked, poked, prodded, fisted, and enjoyed. But the interior of said asshole is the inside of the fucking place where the organs live. The inside of the asshole is not like the inside of the fucking mouth.

                      Butt gape is unnerving if you aren’t stoned or the butt gape isn’t an ancient butt gape where the sweet delicious lady or man is a long-termer. Butt gape on a long-termer becomes another window, I guess, into the sexual soul of your fuckee. Great place to blow massive loads, tho.

                    3. I’m freaking out…..man.

                    4. YAY! A couple of days ago I was all like where’s that crazy drugged out sex freak.

      2. AAAS is heavily skewed towards academics and government researchers, so lots of funding $$ at stake for many of these issues…

  3. the risk-benefit profile for childhood vaccines such as MMR is massively in their favor;

    FIFY.

  4. climate change is mostly due to human activity (which says nothing about policy)

    It’s the policy that is entirely “natural”.

    Seriously, Ron, are you sure?

    1. R: I am “balance of the evidence” sure, not “beyond a reasonable doubt” sure. I have a full chapter explaining how I came to that view in my new book The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the 21st Century (St. Martin’s, July 2015).

      1. Thanks. Looking forward to it.

      2. Ron, could you point me towards this evidence?

        Because I’ve been studying this stuff for over 5 years now, and I’ve yet to find any evidence that suggests natural variability is likely to be false.

        In my experience, what seems to happen people take very inconclusive data, and then claim it proves shit.

        Could you point me towards the stuff that implies natural variability is not responsible for most if not all of the warming that took place between 1970 and 2000?

        1. No, he can’t…cause there is almost none at all.

          1. a: From Roy Spencer: “We calculated, as others have, a direct (no feedback) surface warming of about 1 deg. C as a result of doubling CO2 (“2XCO2″).”

            So since CO2 level has increased from 280 ppm back in 1800 to about 400 ppm – there must have been some warming due the increase, right?

            Now as to how much positive feedbacks are boosting temperatures ….

            1. Which models based on the CO2 assumptions have been accurate? How much has CO2 increased in the last 15 years with almost no warming?

              -there must have been- -there should be- -the models say-

              Sure, but the data isn’t in agreeement.

              At the very least, the feedback assumptions have been shown to be wildly incorrect.

              1. Sigh. You cannot reasonably say that ‘warming stopped ~15 years ago’ any more than someone in 1930 could say (the depression ended 3 hrs ago, because the stock market hasn’t gone down since noon.”

                The timescale on which climate changes, be it natural or due to artificial greenhouse gas emission, is too long for it to be accurately described at the level of a few years. The noise to signal ratio is too high when looking at 10-15 year data. Which is why if you did statistical significance tests on temperature changes for every decade of the 20th century, you may well find that most decades had “no significant” warming, even if the century overall did. That’s because the trend resulting from the phenomenon was too slow to be captured by short timescale data.

                This is one reason everyone should have to take a statistics class at some point. When someone says ‘but it stopped warming *insert number between 10 and 20* years ago*, it’s testing the limits of validity. In every time series, inevitably, if you reduce the timescale enough (like looking at how the stock market performs second to second), noise overrides signal, and it becomes impossible to find a significant trend.

                1. The noise to signal ratio is too high when looking at 10-15 year data. Which is why if you did statistical significance tests on temperature changes for every decade of the 20th century, you may well find that most decades had “no significant” warming, even if the century overall did. That’s because the trend resulting from the phenomenon was too slow to be captured by short timescale data.

                  In which case there is absolutely no point to any action other than adapting to the slowly changing climate.

            2. Using your link, Roy Spencer has this to say about our influence on climate change:

              “The case for natural climate change I also present an analysis of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which shows that most climate change might well be the result of the climate system itself! Because small, chaotic fluctuations in atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems can cause small changes in global average cloudiness, this is all that is necessary to cause climate change. You don’t need the sun, or any other ‘external’ influence (although these are also possible?but for now I’ll let others work on that). It is simply what the climate system does. This is actually quite easy for meteorologists to believe, since we understand how complex weather processes are. Your local TV meteorologist is probably a closet ‘skeptic’ regarding mankind’s influence on climate.”

            3. “climate change may be partly due to human activity ”

              FIFY

              1. Climate change *is* influenced by human carbon emissions. No ‘may’ necessary. The only question is how much. If one accepts the greenhouse effect (if one does not, one is an idiot), and one accepts that emissions increase GHG concentration in the atmosphere, then the question is necessarily of how much temperature increases per unit of increase in concentration, not of whether or not.

            4. It seems that there is also nearly as much information suggesting CO2 rise lags behind temperature and that rising temperature causes increases in C02, not the other way around.

              So, I am skeptical that anyone can conclusively say rising CO2 causes rising temperatures.

      3. “Climate change” is prima facie NOT ” mostly due to human activity” . Unless you claim that man was mostly responsible for the series of ice ages and interglacials between them since he started evolving . Compared to that the 0.3% variation we have seen , rather linearly , since before the invention of the steam engine is barely measurable . And we are still not up to the highest plateaus apparently reached even in this interglacial .

        I highly recommend Tim Ball’s The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Owm25OHGglk for some reality .

        What’s scary is what will happen when the temperature goes back down a couple of degrees and even the 30% CO2 atmosphere the planet had before photosynthesis will do nothing to prevent it .

    2. “Mostly due to human activity”? I’m surprised any scientists would agree with that. There’s scant evidence that warming is even happening, and even less pointing to the relative causes.

  5. “…climate change is mostly due to human activity.”

    Have fun with that one here on the comments page. I’ll let you deal with it…hardly any agree with you at all.

    And in a related manner, another survey just found out that the large majority of Americans favor government action on addressing climate change.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01…..times&_r=0

    “…the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science that determined that humans caused global warming.”

    1. “And in a related manner, another survey just found out that the large majority of Americans favor government action on addressing climate change.”

      Yes, lefty ignoramuses like you have a lot of company.

    2. .the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change.

      That’s why the GOP keeps doing so badly in elections.

      1. To be fair, every poll including the one I mention shows that climate change is not given the priority other issues get. But the net result is that the most voters still would prefer their candidate to address climate change.

        This comment was important:

        “67 percent of respondents, including 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.”

        1. That’s some well-chosen wording there. Whoever ordered this poll got just the results they wanted.

        2. Jackand Ace|1.30.15 @ 5:01PM|#
          …”But the net result is that the most voters still would prefer their candidate to address climate change.”

          Yes, lefty ignoramuses like you have a lot of company.
          So?

        3. ‘This comment was important:

          “67 percent of respondents, including 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.”‘

          Yeah, I bet they’d also be less likely to vote for a candidate who thought that free markets were immoral and proposed a 100% income tax, and nationalization of all corporations.

          That’s very important, since it shows just how much the public disapproves of big government socialism.

          1. Nah, it just shows that the general public is much further “evolved” on the subject of climate change than most Libertarians (if the commenters here are a good representative mix of Libertarians).

            1. likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.

              The fact that you can’t tell this as a biased question shows how far up your own ass your head resides.

              As is the Times’, per usual, since they sussed less likely to vote for candidates who question … the science that determined that humans caused global warming out of that. Nice editorializing, news team.

              1. That wasn’t the question, friend, it was the finding. Here was the question: respondents were given 3 different statements by a person running for office regarding climate change. Here is the statement referred to above;

                “The science on global warming is a hoax and is an attempt to perpetrate a fraud on the American people. I don’t buy into the whole man-caused global warming mantra. We must spend no effort to deal with something that is not a problem at all. We should not invest in windmills and solar panels as alternative energy sources. Instead we should continue to focus on our traditional sources of energy: coal, oil, and natural gas. We should expand energy production in our country, including continuing to mine our coal and doing more drilling for oil here at home.”

                If that was asked here, the overwhelming majority would agree with it, as opposed to the other alternatives. In fact, many GOP politicians believe, such as Inhofe. But you probable do as well.

                1. No one cares. Libertarians disagree with the masses all the time.

                2. Re: Jackand Ace,

                  Let’s get one thing out of the way: The science behind the AGW theory for global warming is not fraudulent. It may have some misses especially Mann’s Hockey Stick “model”. But the evidence is there that man has been adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.

                  When it comes to the popularization of the concept, though, the narrative is taken over by little red Marxians who use the theory to advocate for “mitigation” policies as if it was a self-evident truth that AGW is a bad thing. As you have shown many times, this conclusion is based entirely on speculation and wishful thinking. NOBODY knows if AGW is a good thing or a bad thing, but you already have pro-State authoritarians acting like it is a bad thing to then call for global-wide initiatives to kill capitalism and man himself – for the polar bears. It’s INSANE.

                  That kind of hysteria is what turns people AWAY from the validity of the theory, not the science. It is YOUR fault that people are skeptical, to put it more succinct.

                    1. In Physiological plant ecology: ecophysiology and stress physiology of funcional groups (Springer, 2003), Walter Larcher writes:

                      According to over 3000 scientific publications on the biology of CO2 effects, a broad spectrum of growth responses to CO2 enrichment exists. Since elevated CO2 often reduces the plants’ demands for other resources, CO2 effects on growth do not simply follow Liebig’s law of the minimum. Plants exposed to elevated CO2 need less enzymes (and thus lower quantities of leaf proteins and nitrogen), lose less water (can cope with less soil moisture and often operate at smaller stomata openings) and need less light (because of a shift in the light compensation point for photosynthesis) to reach the equivalent, or even higher photosynthetic rates than plants growing under control conditions with “normal” CO2 concentrations.

                  1. Well said. Unfortunately, political opportunists abound and co-opt anything they can to justify their agendas.

                    Attempts to attribute every storm to global warming in order to pedal hysteria has backfired and inspired mistrust and left the newsmedia looking predictably ridiculous.

                    I’d say there’s good evidence that AGW will eventually have measurable bad effects, in particular by reducing amount or arable land (though perhaps not fast enough to outpace improved agricultural methods) and acidification of the oceanwater.

                    Many economists seem to favor pigovian taxes on emissions as a remedy instead of banning or capping CO2 emission altogether. CO2 ‘scrubbing’ technology is already being developed of course. Eventually, technological improvements will likely render greenhouse grass emissions a non-issue, or a minor one at most, hopefully.

            2. Jackand Ace|1.30.15 @ 5:18PM|#
              “Nah, it just shows that the general public is much further “evolved” on the subject of climate change than most Libertarians”

              Nah, it just shows there’s a lot of lefty ignoramuses.

            3. Jackand ace:
              “Nah, it just shows that the general public is much further “evolved” on the subject of climate change than most Libertarians (if the commenters here are a good representative mix of Libertarians).”

              Nah, not really. Didn’t you explain away the most recent election by claiming that the public must not consider global warming a priority? In other words, they care, but not enough to actually vote that way? Like countless other things that people care about all the time?

              So, they think that global warming is real, but they really don’t make a big deal out of doing anything about it, much less demanding immediate government action, high cost solutions, or toning down the economy and their expectations for capitalism. Sounds like a lot of libertarians I’ve seen here. And that counts for everything, apparently.

        4. If a candidate calls warming “a hoax” it’s a signal that she is a fundamentalist, and not to be trusted with government power.

          1. If a candidate says ANYTHING about it, it’s a signal that they’re an idiot who shouldn’t be trusted with power. This stuff is complex and uncertain, the data and models are not trivial to understand. Not to mention that the data collection is of short duration and inconsistent.

            Shit, I managed a doctorate in physical chemistry and have read extensively about it, and there’s no way I would feel qualified to have a strong opinion about it, much less policy suggestions.

    3. Re: Jackand Ace,

      Have fun with that one here on the comments page.

      I’m still waiting for a straight answer to my question, JA: Why is AGW a bad thing?

      I already told you and Tony: I now believe AGW is a real thing; I trust there is enough evidence that shows humans are increasing the level of so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I want to know why that is a bad thing, and I don’t want to hear your various repetitions and iterations of the precautionary principle.

      Proceed. I’m waiting.

      1. I could not care less what you want to hear.

        But here is something simple for you to consider. If you are an American, you were lucky enough to have been born into a land with a climate that was generous toward living and food production. Maybe the most generous in the world. Temperatures were just right, whereas places that were too warm or too cold were not as friendly.

        Now why would want to mess that? If you said you were “old Siberian,” I could see why you would want to mess with that.

        1. Re: Jackand Ace,

          I could not care less what you want to hear.

          What I want to hear you can’t say, anyway, cause you don’t know.

          If you are an American[…]

          Oh, for fuck’s sake… Hasn’t my nick given you a fucking CLUE?

          you were lucky enough to have been born into a land with a climate that was generous toward living and food production.

          I already knew this is as good as it is going to get – an appeal to “fairness.”

          Very scientific, JA.

          1. I have Mexican friends here in the States, OM.

          2. Just my opinion, which you asked for. I gave you two science opinions below…you can’t accept them either.

            1. Re: Jackand Ace,

              I gave you two science opinions below.

              Science is not about opinions.

              I already told you: I subscribe to the AGW theory for global warming. I trust the science there.

              I don’t trust opinion. And the “bad” in AGW is that: mere opinion.

              You don’t have an answer. You just accept it is a bad thing because Top.Men. told you it is a bad thing. You’re pathetic.

              1. Yeah, I do take my lead on the subject from scientists. You are correct at least on that.

                1. Some scientists. You take your lead from some scientists, which makes you a believer in scientism not a practician of science.

                2. Re: Jackand Ace,

                  Yeah, I do take my lead on the subject from scientists.

                  I only take the science, the actual meat and potatoes from scientists, not their BETS. Not their speculations.

              2. Well, if you want my ideas on it (I mentioned them above anyway), AGW will eventually leave much land either unsuitably for the agricultural historically practiced on it (potentially upsetting the economy of the country) and in some cases unsuitable for agriculture altogether (‘desertification’). AGW also leads to increasingly acidic oceanwater, which leads to decline in many fish populations, and reduce phytoplankton populations (plankton produces over half the world’s biologically produced oxygen, so this may be a concern).

                Some argue that life will simply adapt to the changes. One region becomes desert, fine, a tundra somewhere else becomes a rainforest. Well, it doesn’t quite work like that. Most organisms take far longer to adapt and migrate to that extent to be able to adapt to such fast changing climate. A tree resident to North Africa won’t have an easy time migrating across the Mediterranean as that part of the continent becomes inhospitable to it.
                And higher water levels means the eventual loss of much low-lying coastal land to the sea.

                1. Well, if you want my ideas on it (I mentioned them above anyway), AGW will eventually leave much land either unsuitably for the agricultural historically practiced on it (potentially upsetting the economy of the country) and in some cases unsuitable for agriculture altogether (‘desertification’).

                  This is just hysterical nonsense.

                  A warmer world will be a wetter on as the hydrologic cycle accelerates from the increased energy.

                  This is why the tropics are both warmer and wetter than regions of closer to the poles. And why there are no deserts in the tropics.

                  Besides, deserts are primarily caused by local topography and even so will benefit from an increase in the hydrologic cycle.

        2. North America has warmed considerably — over the past 20,000 years, and it’s been great for human prosperity.

        3. Temperatures were just right

          PFFFFTT and how did you determine that? With a special device?

        4. “If you are an American, you were lucky enough to have been born into a land with a climate that was generous toward living and food production. Maybe the most generous in the world”

          No. America has a food surplus because of the low population density. The big food producers are, and always have been, the rice-producing regions (which is why they have really high population densities). Rice-producing regions that are considerably hotter and wetter than North America.

      2. Tell you what, since this was an article about science, I’ll let American Geophysical Union explain to you just some of the problems we can expect from AGW:

        “Impacts harmful to society, including increased extremes of heat, precipitation, and coastal high water are currently being experienced, and are projected to increase. Other projected outcomes involve threats to public health, water availability, agricultural productivity (particularly in low-latitude developing countries), and coastal infrastructure, though some benefits may be seen at some times and places. Biodiversity loss is expected to accelerate due to both climate change and acidification of the oceans, which is a direct result of increasing carbon dioxide levels.”

        1. Re: Jackand Ace,

          “Impacts harmful to society, including increased extremes of heat, precipitation, and coastal high water are currently being experienced

          What are “extremes of heat, precipitation and coastal high water?” Who is experiencing it? Who are they talking about? Because I’m not experiencing that. Are you?

          Why do you accept such statements at face value, JA? Those things are very easy to corroborate. What is an “extreme”? What value? What size? Compared to what? What’s the baseline?

          “Extreme” is a catch-call buzzword meant to scare people. There’s nothing scientific about that.

          1. I live right by the water, friend. I have a neighbor (a crusty old Republican) who has lived hear for 60 years. He is sure the water level has risen one foot. Its risen in the 20 years I have been here. So thanks for asking if I have seen it.

            1. OMG! In another 600 years you might have to build a new dock.

            2. Re: Jackand Ace,

              He is sure the water level has risen one foot.

              And he is sure it is because of AGW, I guess. That’s science.

              I don’t know what you mean by “right by the water”. What water?

              1. Atlantic Ocean.

                1. Well if your friend is sure than I guess the instrument measurements that found a deceleration in ocean level increase should be ignored.

                  1. Sea levels are in fact rising

                    http://ocean.nationalgeographi…..evel-rise/

                    1. Re: Jackand Ace,

                      Sea levels are in fact rising

                      In the first place, the expected rate is only about 3mm a year. That comes to, maybe, 1/3 a meter by 2100 in some estimates (which are dubious.) That affects coastal dwellings but humans are not static animals, Jackand. You simply assume people are going to stay and sink. That’s ridiculous.

                      And even if the seas rise (if the hypothesis that these are the consequence of AGW) there are also benefits of higher temperatures: longer growing seasons and more precipitation.

                      You can’t say that because sea levels rise a little bit then the whole thing is catastrophic. That’s as extreme as saying AGW will only bring good things. I can’t say it will either way.

                    2. I think your problem is you’re expecting life to turn into a Roland Emmerich film, and if it doesn’t, no harm no foul.

                      Even slightly higher water levels can increase flooding in river valleys, making harvesting crops in those areas more difficult.

                    3. Sea levels are in fact rising

                      And they have been ever since people have been measuring them for hundreds of years. No, they aren’t accelerating. In fact they appear to be leveling off lately. But they’ll probably continue to rise just like they’ve done for a long long time.

            3. He is sure the water level has risen one foot. Its risen in the 20 years I have been here. So thanks for asking if I have seen it.

              Fucking bullshit.

              You’ve probably witnessed beach erosion, which occurs absent any human influence, assuming you didn’t make it up (which is what I suspect).

              A one foot rise in sea level would have much of the Outer Banks underwater. Funny nobody has noticed anything other than tidal sand shift and erosion…

        2. including increased extremes of heat, precipitation, and coastal high water are currently being experienced

          No they’re not. These things aren’t happening, and they aren’t that harmful.

          “Ocean acidification”

          BAHAHAHAHAHA

        3. Jackand Ace|1.30.15 @ 5:29PM|#
          “Tell you what, since this was an article about science, I’ll let American Geophysical Union explain to you just some of the problems we can expect from AGW:”

          Just what we need: Lefty ignoramuses with degrees telling us their opinions.

      3. Lets just take one recent scientific study on what AGW will do to the yield of the wheat crop.

        http://www.nature.com/nclimate…..e2470.html

        “Extrapolating the model ensemble temperature response indicates that warming is already slowing yield gains at a majority of wheat-growing locations. Global wheat production is estimated to fall by 6% for each ?C of further temperature increase and become more variable over space and time.”

        Is wheat an important staple for not only the world, but also America? Yeah, it is.

        But hey, that’s just science talking.

        1. That’s cool (no pun intended). So if “we” actually lower the temp, we will get even more production for every degree we go down, and more coastal land, etc? Or were we just extremely fortunate that the, say, 1990 temperature was the optimal temp of all time and that’s the temp we want to stop climate change at?

        2. Re: Jackand Ace,

          Global wheat production is estimated to fall by 6% for each ?C of further temperature increase and become more variable over space and time.”

          “Is estimated” by whom? Has it happened? Are yields lowering?

          In fact, they’re INCREASING.

          Do you know who would notice a decrease of 6% per 1C increase? The futures markets. The markets have been STEADY.

          But, hey? What would people putting their money where their mouths are know? Speculation, estimation – that’s scientific!

        3. “Extrapolating the model ensemble…

          But hey, that’s just science talking.

          Fuck off.

    4. The unfortunate thing for proponents of “global warming” is none of their models work. If they did, the Arctic would be ice free for the third year in a row. But it’s not. Not even close.

      That tells me that no matter how sincere the belief or how good the evidence (or how purchased the belief or how rigged the evidence) the people making the predictions DO NOT KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. No other fact is as firmly established in the debate.

      With good intentions and good data, good people can still reach incorrect conclusions. And they have.

  6. 98% of scientists accept human evolution?! WIH specialty do the remaining 2% practice?
    And 87% are convinced human activity is “mostly” the cause of climate change?! What do they think caused the ‘little ice age’?
    I find this depressing but prolly not for the same reasons Ron does.

    1. There are large swathes of scientific endeavor that the scientist’s views on evolution will matter not a whit as to whether or not he can objectively study that particular field.

      It is not a keystone principle of “science” in the aggregate.

      1. Had this discussion with a liberal once or twice. Asked what she thought evolution had to do with physics. Never did get an answer.

    2. Believe it or not, a large number of that 2% are actually physicists.

    3. Some pundits think that the ‘little ice age’ was caused by the die-off of populations in the Americas due to European diseases. Which greatly reduced burning to clear land and reduced the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    4. I know two creationist scientists. They are superb in their fields, which have zero to do with paleontology. One does chemical kinetics, the other does quantum chemistry. I know no creationist paleontologists or geneticists.

      1. I know of a geneticist or two who supports price controls. Great in their field, but as credible on economics as an illiterate Nebraskan corn farmer. Basically same sort of issue.

        ‘Woruber man nicht sprechen kann, daruber muss man schweigen.’ says Ludwig Wittgenstein.

  7. Ron Bailey = disinformation specialist.

  8. I’m all for vaccination for contagious childhood illnesses. I’m all for social pressure on parents to vaccinate their children (“Sorry Snowflake, you can’t go to Disney because your mommie is nuts”).
    I’m not in favor of killing, kidnapping and caging to force compliance and I hope no one who values freedom does either.

  9. Hmm…nearly all AGW models are woefully inaccurate, clearly indicating that we do not yet have a clue what we’re talking about. BUT…we know for a fact that the majority of warming is caused by the trace gas CO2…RIGHT…

    1. Just buy Ron’s book. It’s all explained there.

  10. “Space Station has been a good investment for the U.S.”?

    Shouldn’t accountants be asked instead?

    1. Shouldn’t accountants be asked instead?

      Where, exactly, in the scientific method, do you see the step, “Talk to the accountants.”?

      1. Are you jokingly making my point for me here?

        I’m bad at humor over the internet.

      2. Where, exactly, in the scientific method, do you see the step, “Talk to the accountants.”?

        Umm…step 1*?

        *Step 1: Write a grant.

    2. “Shouldn’t accountants be asked instead?”

      Not if Obo can collect a lot of folks in white smocks to defend gov’t medical subsidies!

  11. The AAAS is not a particularly interesting nor gifted organization. Its members are not necessarily wise, or even very good scientists. Academia has made me pretty jaded.

    1. Not scientists…or more accurately, group that may contain some number of scientists. You get an AAAS membership for subscribing to Science magazine.

      1. I automatically get AAAS membership in my university program (a STEM field). So many members are scientists because they got the subscription by default, but never asked for it.

        I don’t read the journal *Science.* It’s poorly written and overly sensationalist. Every scientist (myself included) would love to get published in it, but just for the publicity. It’s generally a consensus among scientists that reading *Science* articles is an unpleasant experience.

        Btw, how do I do italics?

        1. < i without the spaces to start itallics

          < / i without the spaces to end itallics.

          1. For some reason the bracket did not post

    2. But but but, they publish Science! It’s right there in the title. It’s settled.

  12. What is interesting is how this is being spun as “the citizens are idiots.” But some of the questions aren’t about knowledge but rather political/moral beliefs.

    Specifically, who gives a fuck if a bunch of scientists believe it should be mandatory to stick needles in kids arms even if their parents object? That isn’t a scientific question. It is very different than the “Are GMOs safe” question which can be quantified.

    1. While I think the anti-GMO people are engaged in an hysterical moral panic, I would not want to mandate th to buy GMO products any more than I would want to force people to accept the risk of vaccinations though I think those generallu worth it,

      1. It’s beyond a moral panic… It’s a witch-hunt.

        Monsanto has to go, and take your frankenfood with you!!

        /average anti-gmo fool I encounter in my gardening hobby

        1. gardening hobby

          Come on, we’re all friends here. How much bud do you grow?

  13. Pro-science evangelism is an odd beast. Believing in the theory of a given field, even if you can’t articulate its premises beyond the level of a fifth-grade textbook, is considered vastly superior to knowing the literature well enough to pick nits about it. I’m sure there’s some historical corollary, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    1. The historical corollaries are many. “Consensus scientific knowledge” is always firmly established, until a better scientist comes along and upsets the old paradigm.

    2. I think it’s just human nature. Theological studies were just the same in medieval times – the clever always had to be careful not to upset the carefully buttoned-up views of the less-clever.

  14. Wow! 82% of ‘scientists’ are concerned about population growth?
    Do these ‘scientists’ understand evidence? Are they sold on this because a ‘scientist’ wrote a book about it?
    The ‘adults’ numbers are ‘way less surprising than the ‘scientists’ (and the scare quotes are deserved).

    1. And with single figure I can safely toss the AAS out of the ‘to take seriously’ column. They are as dumb as the public.

  15. I can’t really believe I’m posting this question, but do the commenters here (esp. on this thread) really, truly believe in principled consistency?

    If so, there is a certain non-entity* that should be hat-tipped for this.

    /unless someone else mentioned it earlier.

    1. I thought someone posted it before he did, actually.

      1. That may be true, considering the posts I don’t look into. I tried to hedge on it.

    2. He posted it, and I ripped it to shreds with no response. The study is awful in its construction. It’s a desperate appeal to authority.

  16. Scientist: A political activist that also wants to take credit for advances actually developed by engineers, entrepreneurs and lay inventors.

    1. Really?

    2. Err, are you prepared to go without all the technological and medical advances resulting from all the Nobel prize-winning laureates in physiology, chemistry, and physics?

      When Frederick Sanger invented DNA sequencing, who knew he was just engaging in political activism? I’m curious to know you’ve done with your life to make you such a treasure for humanity?

  17. IOW, scientists tend to skew progressive? Color me shocked… Let me guess, they skew atheist and white too!

    1. Those scientists need to just sit down and listen, we’ve had enough whitesplaining.

    2. Academic scientists skew progressive. Industrial scientists, IME, skew more apolitical or libertarian.

      1. Academic scientists do indeed skew left, less so than social scientists, maybe slightly more so than economists. You can be a conservative or libertarian scientist or mathematician, and you may get into disagreements in the lunch room, but most other scientists will just shrug and not give a shit. Part of it is because some scientists bought into the leftist PR campaign that ‘smart people are liberal’ to assuage their egos. Scientists are as human as anyone else after all.

        But part of it is not entirely their fault: when the people denying the underlying principles of biology and arguing the universe is 6000 years old (or claiming most climate scientists are frauds systematically fabricating evidence of climate change) come from the right, it tends to provoke a leftward knee jerk reaction. I say this even as a right leaning someday-scientist (still a grad student).

        Other issues though like GMOs, animal testing, and nuclear energy however do pit most scientists against the leftists in the social sciences, and sometimes even put them to the right of the general public.

  18. With regard to fracking, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 Mitigation report refers to burning natural gas to produce electricity as a “bridge technology” to the low and no-carbon energy future.

    Can somebody please tell me why AGW is a bad thing without assuming it is or giving me crap about what “might” happen? I want a straight answer, not “coulds”, “mays”, a laundry list of “perhaps” or opinions. I want scientific certainty, not mere speculation. I want to see “If X, then Y”, not “it could kill the polar bears” or another idiotic Waterworld reference.

    WHY IS IT A BAD THING? Why can’t be a good thing? Someone please, tell me!

    1. Because when humans upset the delicate balance of nature, all sorts of bad stuff can happen. We evolved on this planet and have adapted to this specific equilibrium. If we start mucking with that, we never know what bad stuff will happen. Nature is too complex to understand, and it is almost impossible to understand what could happen when it gets warmer. All we do know is that despite not knowing the effects of disrupting a complex system like the climate, we do know exactly how we are disrupting it.

      Or something.

    2. BECAUSE MOTHER GAIA! A very scientific principle.

    3. It makes plants grow, which means we’ll have to eat more vegetables. Ugh.

      1. You know what else makes plants grow?

  19. Such discrepancies do not happen by accident. In most cases, there are determined lobbies working to undermine public understanding of science: from anti-vaccine campaigners, to creationists, to climate-change deniers.

    Obviously calling someone a “Climate-change denier” is not meant to defame that person, or saying that creationists are guilty of undermining the public’s understanding of science is not an exaggeration of their true power of persuasion. Because we all know that if you do not trust what a scientist tells you, there must be something wrong with you, or you had your brain washed.

    Couldn’t a more reasonable explanation for that gap be that scientists have shown that they’re utterly incompetent at selling science especially when they let hysterical blabbermouths make idiotic and impossible predictions about dire consequences of living like human beings? How many scares can be traced to stupid scientists who happen to harbor woolly biases against “consumerism” or capitalism itself?

    1. You’re breathing out greenhouse gases right now. Stop it.

  20. This survey is depressing. It’s depressing that our scientists are so gullible.

  21. “The problem is that disinformation specialists, uh, activists and lobbyists, eagerly engage in what Stephen Colbert might call “scienciness” to scare, uh, persuade people into adopting policies they are pushing for reasons of ideology or greed or both. In fact, I think that the Pew survey shows that both the public and scientists have been misled by disinformation on specific issues below.”

    I have been arguing for as long as I can remember that the greatest damage done to the credibility of science is exactly this and the AGW nonsense is the grandaddy of it all. In 100 years it will be seen as a thousand times worse than the Piltdown man.

    1. THISx1000. And worse. AGW distracts from real environmentail issues like habitat loss and water pollution. It’s the most evil perversion of science since eugenics.

  22. The problem will increase as scientists become ever more associated with government. It’s quite clear that the government routinely lies to us, or gets things embarrassingly wrong, so as scientists become more dependent on government largesse for their income, the impression will grow that they are agents of the government, and therefore not to be trusted.

  23. “Growing World Population will be a major problem.”

    You can only control so many people, after all.

  24. Well, I tried. Hate to tell you this Ronald, in regard to the climate, that disparity you note above with what science says and what the general public believes is even greater among your readership. Good luck with all that.

    1. Re: Jackand Ace,

      Well, I tried.

      No, you didn’t try. You gave me – again – speculation, supposition, opinion.

      I already told you: I believe AGW is real. I asked you: Why is AGW a BAD thing, and what was the VERY FIRST THING YOU TOLD ME: It isn’t “fair”.

      The seas may rise a meter! Well, maybe. Maybe not. That does not mean AGW is all bad. It does mean that there are trade-offs just like with everything else.

      So, NO. You didn’t try. Don’t play the victim all of a sudden.

    2. Jackand Ace|1.30.15 @ 6:03PM|#
      “Well, I tried.”

      You’re not the only lefty ignoramus who posts here.

  25. Science isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not decided by opinion poll, but what is correct.

  26. Read John Christy’s work. ALL climate models that rely on CO2 are wrong. ALL are wrong by more than 2 sigma. And ALL are wrong in the same direction – temperature predictions are too high. They ALL include similar dependencies on CO2.

    Correlation is not causation. But anti-correlation IS PROOF of no causation.

    AGW is a failed hypothesis, continued proselytizing on its behalf is the hoax.

    1. Um, no. You do realize Christy himself says this: “it is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions of acres into irrigated farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust into the air, and putting extra greenhouse gases into the air, that the natural course of climate has not changed in some way.”

      Cristy merely argues that the extent of human activity’s causation of warming is often exaggerated, not nonexistent. You’d do well to read your own sources.

      1. “it is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions of acres into irrigated farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust into the air, and putting extra greenhouse gases into the air, that the natural course of climate has not changed in some way.”

        Is a conclusion in search of supporting evidence.

        At least he’s honest enough to admit that he hasn’t found any yet.

        Now if we could get him to let go of his underlying bias…

    2. “In a 2007 ruling in a trial relating to automobile emission regulation in Vermont, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William K. Sessions wrote, “Plaintiffs’ own expert, Dr. Christy, agrees with the IPCC’s [2001] assessment that in the light of new evidence and taking into account remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last fifty years is likely to have been due to the increase in GHG concentrations.”

      There’s Christy for you. Maybe the AAAS kidnapped his family and made him say it.

  27. This article is an example of how “scientific” dogmatists shout down those who have valid doubts. “Science” has become a religion for some; disagreeing with its answers to difficult questions is heresy. The fact is, there are reasons to doubt the received knowledge of scientific orthodoxy on most issues in the article. If scientists are more likely than non-scientists to toe the line on these issues, perhaps that’s because those who succeed as scientists in today’s academic world are those who operate well under the dictates of authority and hierarchy.

    The only thing truly scientific is the scientific method, and many issues don’t lend themselves easily, or at all, to controlled experiments due to their magnitude and complexity; identifying a huge shale oil deposit and NOT fracking it, to compare it with an identified deposit that IS fracked, cost too much. Some of these questions, such as the vaccine question, are both excessively vague (How many vaccines? 28 before the age of one year? Or just MMR?) and/or involve a superimposed moral judgment (How absolute is a person’s right to control what enters his or her body? Does that right differ when a parent chooses for a child?). Consider that, 50 years ago, the notion that a person’s diet could influence the course of heart disease was considered unscientific and fraudulent.

    Unfortunately for those who look to science for all answers, there are many questions which science is simply not designed to answer.

  28. With the salient exception of the Macondo spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reports that number of barrels spilled per barrels produced fell from 255,000 in the 1960s to 6,500 in the first decade of the 21st century.

    Somehow I don’t think it’s the case that for every barrel produced, 6500 are spilled.

    How can anyone believe your conclusions when you’re so reckless with the numbers?

  29. The interesting thing about this survey is that it is filled not with questions about fact, but about policy. A prime example is that the vaccine question is not “vaccines are safe and effective”, but, “vaccines should be required”. A scientist is no more in the position to answer that one for the general public than an accountant or carpenter.

    The scientific establishment made a mistake early on with climate change. All too quickly, it jumped on (supported? created? enabled?) a response which is fairly clearly just one more excuse power grab by politicians. As a result, both sides (scientists and deniers) have dug in and will not longer even listen.

    But then, AAAS is of course a political body

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  31. So, Ron — literally an argument from authority?

  32. And why there are no deserts in the tropics.

    You might want to do a google search for “tropics map” — and note where Saudi Arabia, the Sahara, the southern African desert region, and the Australian outback are.

  33. The real question is “What do AAAS millennials think?” Because the Libertarian Moment is upon us.

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