The ‘97% Con-sensus’

If you tell a big enough lie, often enough, people will eventually believe it. – Joseph Goebbels

2 points on consensus-

1. Not so long ago there was consensus that-

  • regular ‘Bleeding’ of the sick would cure them,
  • Arsenic was a cure for malaria and syphilis
    (It was a kind of cure, as the Arsenic killed you before the malaria and syphilis did !!)
  • Surgeons don’t need to wash or sterilize instruments between patients.
  • The world was flat & the sun revolved around the earth.
  • It was impossible for man to fly.
  • It was impossible for man to breathe above 45mph.
  • It was impossible for man to go faster than the speed of sound.
  • It was impossible for man to escape earth’s gravity.

    It seems that consensus was wrong !!

2. Consensus is political methodology; it’s NOT the scientific way, which is only based on facts & data.

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” Galileo:

In 1992, former Vice President Al Gore reassured his listeners, that “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.”

This has been quoted ad infinitum by politicians & hack journalists.

17 years later, in 2009, Gore said the scientific debate (over the ‘settled science’) of human-induced climate change had raged until 2009, but claimed there was a now a 97% consensus’. (Thankfully real scientists continue to look for real scientific facts)

In the last few years there have been 4 ‘independent studies’ all showing an overwhelming 97% ‘consensus on anthropogenic global warming’-

  • Doran and Zimmerman, 2009. 97%
  • Anderegg, Prall, Harold, and Schneider, 2010, 97%
  • Farnsworth and Lichter, 2011, 97%
  • Cook et al. (2013), 97%

As we know from our daily lives to get a consensus on anything is unusual, so to get 97% is remarkable.

To get 97% 4 times from different data sets is unbelievable …really…it’s unbelievable !! So that data needs investigation, lets just look at the figures from the – Doran & Zimmerman (2009) & Cook et al. (2013) studies.

1. – Doran and Zimmerman, 2009. 97% consensus study.

The objective of our study presented here is to assess the scientific consensus on climate change through an unbiased survey of a large and broad group’ of Earth scientists

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is a nonprofit organization of geophysicists, consisting of over 61,000 members from over 146 countries.

An online poll was performed by Doran & Zimmerman (University of Illinois) in a cherry picking exercise –
From the 61,000 AGU earth scientists, they solicited 10,257. ( The other 50,000, that were known to be critical of the AGW theory, including: solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists and astronomers, were excluded !! ) Of the 10,257 only 3,146 replied.

3,069 of those respondents (97.5%) were then also excluded after the responses were received (deemed unsuitable, because they didn’t positively support AGW or were neutral !!)…

… leaving just 77 scientists who were then asked 2 questions. [The 77 were chosen (after ranking by number of papers written) accepting ONLY those who were in government-paid positions. NO private employed or retired scientists were allowed.] The first question asked respondents to compare current temperatures to the pre-1800s, (the depths of the Little Ice Age), and asked whether it’s warmer now.!!

The second question** asked “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

Doran & Zimmerman then chose to highlight the views of that subgroup of 77 scientists, 75 of whom thought humans contributed to climate change.
[ So…. not an unbiased survey OR a large and broad group ]

The ratio 75/77 produces the 97% figure that pundits now tout.

The REAL numbers of American Geophysical Union members agreeing on ‘anthropogenic global warming’ are –

75 of 77 answering Question 2** is 97.4%… BUT
75 of 3,146 respondents is only 2.38%.
75 of 10,257 contacted is only 0.73%.
75 of 61,000 possible is only 0.12%.

The data states only 2.38 % AGU members actually agree Global Warming is manmade …
… But the figures suggest it’s possibly less than 1%,

More on the Doran and Kendall Zimmerman, 2009 study here-

Conclusion: at best, the Doran and Kendall Zimmerman, 2009 study data states –
only 2.38 % of AGU members agree Global Warming is manmade, although the figures suggest it’s less than 1%… hardly a 97% consensus !!

 (Interesting coincidence – that to obtain the 97.4% figure… 97.5% of respondents were excluded !! )

That’s like surveying medical professionals about the efficacy of homeopathy, and then, after you get the responses back, excluding all the responses… except those from practicing homeopaths.

This graph says it all about the 97% con-sensus –
AGU Climate Science Survey Results

Graph from Andrew Watts @ –

So 75 carefully selected people are the basis of the ‘97% consensus’ on man-made CO2 driven global warming;

In contrast 31,487 scientists signed ‘The Global Warming Petition Project’  , stating –


“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.

Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”


As of 2013, the petition’s website states, “The current list of 31,487 petition signers includes 9,029 PhD; 7,157 MS; 2,586 MD and DVM; and 12,715 BS or equivalent academic degrees. Most of the MD and DVM signers also have underlying degrees in basic science.


If you really believe consensus has a place in science, then you have to go with the 31,487 scientists, NOT just 75.

2. – Cook et al. ( 2013)

(This is the Australian John Cook ex cartoonist, who likes dressing up as a Nazi officer )

Analysis of the 97% consensus claim in Cook et al. (2013)
‘Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature’

And on John Cook’s Skeptical Science website –

Of the 12,464 papers analyzed, 65 explicitly endorse AGW, stating that AGW is 50+% responsible for climate change, and 934 papers explicitly endorse AGW, but does not quantify or minimize.

According to the Cook et al study, 999 of the 12,464 papers explicitly endorse AGW,
…..that’s just 8% (not 97 %!).

And the total number of papers out of 12,000 that actually take the >51% position is . ……. 65 (sixty-five), which is less than the number of papers which reject AGW (83).

In March of 2012, the climate alarmist website Skeptical Science had their forums “hacked” and the contents posted online. In a forum thread titled, “Introduction to TCP” (2012-01-19) John Cook laid out the game plan for the 97% consensus study, Cook et al. (2013)
Showing they had determined the outcome BEFORE doing the study !!

Conclusion: The Cook et al. (2013) study is so obviously littered with falsely classified papers making its conclusions baseless and its promotion by those in the media misleading.

97% Study Falsely Classifies Scientists’ Papers, according to the scientists that published them

“Cook et al. may have reverse engineered their paper. That is, perhaps the authors started by deciding the “answer” they wanted (97 percent) based on previous alarmist studies on the subject. They certainly had strong motivation to come up with this “answer” given the huge propaganda investment by alarmists in this particular number.”

Some more examples of J Cooks falsifications, from the authors of the papers Cook surveyed…

“the Cook survey included 10 of my 122 eligible papers. 5/10 were rated incorrectly. 4/5 were rated as endorse rather than neutral.” Richard Tol ?@RichardTol      See also –

The other studies also have similar rigged data. No space here to elucidate further.

But further inquiry (Legates et al. 2013) revealed that only 41, or 0.3%, of 11,944 learned papers on climate and related topics published in the journals over the 21 years 1991-2011 had stated that recent global warming was mostly manmade.0.3% not 97 %!

The consensus is… there is no consensus & even the IPCC have changed their minds.

Any time someone brings up Cook or Powell or Lewandosky or Connelley’s consensus nonsense, show them this:-

1350+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm

The “97 percent” claim also ignores 60 scientists who published a document in 2006 lambasting the theory of AGW. And it ignores the international panel of more than 700 prominent scientists on the December 2007 Senate report. This group of climatologists, geologists, oceanographers, biologists, glaciologists, biogeographers, meteorologists, economists, chemists, environmental scientists, physicists, paleo-climatologists and other scientists signed a letter saying climate change was a well-known natural phenomenon.
Many of them were current or former members of the IPCC.

Nor does the ‘consensus’ include the 31,000 scientists who have signed this petition AGAINST the alarmism of global warming.

The 97% Consensus by Stefan Molyneux – 41 papers from 13,000 = 0.3% Long winded but good & factual.– 15mins.

The Faux “97% Consensus” 16 min

97% … it’s now ‘The magic number’
You come across it every where

97% of all political dictators win ‘elections’ by 97%
97% of 225 women agree that…… (look in any advert)
97% of Women Will Be Cruel to Their Bodies Today (advert for beauty treatment)
97% of female executives are ‘athletic’
97% of Republicans and Democrats Agree on One Major Issue
97% of Welsh Women ‘Paint On’ Missing Toenails On Their Little Toes
97% of Apple Watch buyers satisfied, says survey
Condoms are only 97% effective
97% of train carriages are recycled
97% of our currency owned by the major banks
Flu jabs ‘almost useless’ for 97% of people
97% of foods contain pesticide residue
97 per cent of folks in Britain are able to get at least basic broadband
97% of neo-nazi’s believe they are superior to black people
97% of Black Panthers agree to the fact that they are superior to white people
97% of paranoid believe they are being followed
97% of homoeopaths believe in homoeopathy
97% of the KKK think lynchmobs are a good thing
97% of the intelligent design gang are absolutely convinced that God made it all
97% of all the interviewed Zen budists were convinced it is possible to clap with one hand
97% of the paganist movement think sandals are fashionable
97% of physicians didn’t believe in washing their hands before doing surgery
97% of politicians think they are doing some great things
97% of statistics are made up, the other 9% are real !!!

Some Spurious 97% correlations –

Lawyers in the pacific are increasing global warming in California

A 4 yr in-depth study has shown with 96.9% correlation that falling numbers of lawyers in the Northern Mariana Islands coincides with an increase of solar intensity in California that could force a climatic tipping point. See chart –

Even the BBC now suggests you follow Tyler Vigen’s tips to make sure the statistical wool isn’t being pulled over your eyes?
Something to bear in mind next time a sensational headline catches your eye.

  1. Be critical of all statistics that you see, remember 97% of statistics are made up, the other 9% are real !!!
  2. Look for a causal link or mechanism
  3. Demand a little bit of scientific rigour in showing that there’s a strong, statistically significant correlation.
  4. Ask who is funding the study…& why.
Other mad claims supported by ‘figures’

Nicolas Cage cuts US helicopter deaths by 44% in one year !!

An 11yr in-depth study has shown that Nicolas Cage films can cut the number of deaths in US helicopter accidents the most successful period was 2004-5 where deaths fell from 75 down to 42

See chart –

Margarine linked to divorce?
Spurious correlations @

On the subject of polls & surveys

For any poll result to be taken seriously one has to know:

  1. How many people were asked
  2. How were they selected
  3. What questions they were asked
  4. What answer options they were offered.
  5. Who is funding the study…& why.

Try this:

Walk into any room and ask everybody if they would rather die now or on their 65th birthday. It is extremely likely that almost everybody will pick the 65th birthday option. From this survey you can then safely conclude that nobody wishes to live past 65.

Greens were asked if a chemical called Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO), should be banned as it is widely used in industry, is a major component of acid rain, routinely finds its way into rivers and watercourses and accidental inhalation frequently kills people. About 80% said it should be banned. &

Which would make life very difficult indeed as it is just…H2O… water.

How to skew an opinion survey-

Sir Humphrey Appleby demonstrates the use of leading questions to skew an opinion survey to support or oppose National Service