Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scientific American Poll: 81% think the IPCC is Corrupt, with Group-think & Political Agenda

'Scientific' American may regret taking their recent opinion poll on the state of climate science given the eye-opening results cast by their "scientifically literate" readership. With a total of 5190 respondents, a consensus of 81.3% think the IPCC is "a corrupt organization, prone to group-think, with a political agenda" and 75% think climate change is caused by solar variation or natural processes vs. 21% who think it is due to greenhouse gases from human activity. 65% think we should do nothing about climate change since "we are powerless to stop it," and the same percentage think science should stay out of politics. When asked, "How much would you be willing to pay to forestall the risk of catastrophic climate change?," 76.7% said "nothing."

Poll results hidden here

Climate of Change?
1. Should climate scientists discuss scientific uncertainty in mainstream forums?
No, that would play into the hands of the fossil-fuel lobby. 3.0% 157
Yes, it would help engage the citizenry. 90.1% 4,673
Maybe—but only via serious venues like PBS's the NewsHour and The New York Times. 6.9% 358
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

2. Judith Curry is:
a peacemaker. 69.1% 3,585
a dupe. 7.6% 392
both. 4.3% 224
I've never heard of her. 19.0% 987
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

3. What is causing climate change?
greenhouse gases from human activity 30.9% 1,602
solar variation 33.1% 1,718
natural processes 75.8% 3,934
There is no climate change. 6.2% 320
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

4. The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is:
an effective group of government representatives, scientists and other experts. 18.0% 932
a corrupt organization, prone to groupthink, with a political agenda. 81.3% 4,220
something to do with Internet protocols. 0.7% 36
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

5. What should we do about climate change?
Nothing, we are powerless to stop it. 65.4% 3,394
Use more technology (geoengineering, carbon capture and storage). 16.7% 865
Use less technology (cars, intensive agriculture). 5.8% 303
Switch to carbon-free energy sources as much as possible and adapt to changes already underway. 29.5% 1,528
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

6. What is "climate sensitivity"?
the degree to which global temperature responds to concentrations of greenhouse gases 32.6% 1,692
an unknown variable that climate scientists still do not understand 52.2% 2,708
the phrase on which the fate of human civilization hangs 0.6% 30
all of the above 14.6% 758
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

7. Which policy options do you support?
a carbon tax 15.1% 781
cap and trade (a price on carbon via an overall limit on emissions paired with some form of market for such pollution permits) 8.5% 441
increased government funding of energy-related technology research and development 38.8% 2,015
cap and dividend, in which the proceeds of auctioning pollution permits are rebated to taxpayers 6.6% 343
keeping science out of the political process 65.1% 3,375
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

8. How much would you be willing to pay to forestall the risk of catastrophic climate change?
a 50 percent increase in electricity bills 3.8% 195
a doubling of gasoline prices 5.5% 286
nothing 76.7% 3,981
whatever it takes 14.0% 726
answered question 5,188
skipped question 2

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  1. I am surprised these results ever saw the light of day. I am surprised they were not edited to agree with political correctness. I would expect Scientific American to retaliate in some way against its readers.

  2. Grammar alert: When you start a sentence with a number, you ALWAYS spell it out. Hence, "65% think" should read "Sixty-five percent think."

  3. I wonder if this will change SA's practice of ramming human caused climate change hysteria down it's readers throats.

  4. Looks like someone can't read:November 4, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    You write:

    "75% think climate change is caused by solar variation or natural processes vs. 21% who think it is due to greenhouse gases from human activity."

    Whilst your quote of the survey says:

    "3. What is causing climate change?

    -greenhouse gases from human activity 30.9%"

  5. Looks like someone can't understand,




    The poll apparently allowed more than one response to the question since 7564>5190, but in terms of the percentage of responses to the poorly designed question, the percentages I calculated are in fact correct. Obviously, the question is poorly designed because solar variability is a natural process and it is entirely unclear as to how many thought they could vote for both or just one or vote for greenhouse gases as well, therefore the only way to frame the results is in terms of percentage of responses.

  6. It's very easy to game an online poll. All you have to do is put out emails to people who su[port your position, and have them enter the poll, even if they don't know anything about it. I might have some little confidence in such a poll if it was restricted to actual paid subscribers of Scientific American magazine.

  7. I am a SA subscriber, and I am about to cancel my subscription. They cannot publish an article on any subject any more without making at least one gratuitous “global warming” reference. There is a reference in every article except the skeptic column. It’s pathetic.

    But in addition to that, they have a new binding now with the new look that does not fold back on itself so reading on the toilet is much more difficult. And with the new editorial direction, the toilet is the only place to read it as there are no more scientific articles in it.

    I remember the days when researchers were recounting how they used a trial and error evolutionary process to build working circuits using a computer circuit simulator (something like CAD for circuits), and had duplicated several patented circuits and also invented a few unique ones. (I enjoyed that article; it influenced my thought on technical development quite a bit.) Now you get an article about whether robots should be programmed with ethics and the detail behind it is some sliding rheostats. Pathetic.

    Robots aren’t going to have ethics any more than people do, they are going to have objectives, given to them by their designers in much the same way our objectives have been given to us via expediency in the contest for survival (of the gene pool, not the individual). And discussions on expedient behavior are still very premature given that presupposes cognitive recognition if it is to operate above what would be the equivalent of the hippocampus and down to the brain stem in a human. The cerebral cortex is a long way from being simulated, even if they are getting pretty good at some of the other functions on an isolated basis. Speech recognition and even “macro responses” are nice, but they are not speech cognition.

    It’s an editorial rag now, designed to engage the masses in moralizing about science, not understanding it. And the change came with the new binding, although they had even biologists pushing the man made global warming consensus for some time. Something went very wrong with SA. Whoever is behind it picked the wrong audience to try and propagandize. There are some people who won’t be part of the group think and it’s best to leave them alone and don’t call attention to it.

  8. This survey was handled online by, which prettyy much precludes monkeying (sorry...:-) with the results.

    It might very well have been pushed a bit one way or the other by bloggers drawing attention to it, but if you check, you'll find the original article in SA online was mentioned in blogs from both extremes of the climate wars.

    This said, the results are amusing.

  9. Global warming is a hoax. It was conceived out of nothing. In 1970 the newspapers were saying a new ice age was upon us.
    The hoax pays persons like Al Gore huge amounts of money. Yes, indeed, the weather and the climate change. That's why we call it "weather" meaning "whether" or not. Surprise, surprise. Things change. Invest in energy. Perhaps we can live out the changes in "whether" if we have enough energy.