This post is to document an oddity I never noticed before. It’s not particularly important, but if I were more cynical, I might believe it showed misconduct on the part of Cook et al.
People who’ve followed my discussion of Cook et al will remember the data files for the paper included data for only 11,944 abstracts even though 12,465 abstracts were rated. They’ll also remember I’ve said some of the data for the missing 521 abstracts is inexplicably available via the online search engine provided at Skeptical Science. Somehow, I missed an interesting aspect to this. That search engine’s page says:
Search through the title and abstract of the 12,464 papers analysed in Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature.
Notice the number. It says 12,464 papers, not 12,465. That suggests one paper was not included in their searchable database. That is strange. Why would data from only one paper be excluded from their searchable database? What was that one paper? We have no way to know. It’s never been listed anywhere. At least, not officially. I think I’ve found it in an old, unofficial data file.
About a year ago, before the Cook et al paper was released, John Cook hosted a survey where readers could rate abstracts, ten at a time. His description of the survey was deceptive. That’s not important though. What is important is the code for the survey was wonky. It was possible for a glitch to happen which would cause the server to dump the entire table of abstracts. The resulting page would show 12,465 abstracts.
Finding one extra abstract in 12,465 could be difficult. I think I’ve done it though. The survey protocol said raters would not be allowed to see anything but the title and abstract of each paper. However, one entry said this after the title:
Article from: E&MJ – Engineering & Mining Journal | February 1, 1999 | Doerell, Peter E. | Copyright
The title of that paper was Anti-global warming measures would hit mining hard. I was able to find a link to it online (behind a paywall), but I couldn’t find it with the Skeptical Science search engine. I also couldn’t find the corresponding ID number in any data file (meaning it is, at least, one of the 521 excluded abstracts).
I get the impression somehow that entry got mangled, and for some unspecified reason it got filtered out. That’s problematic. It suggests Cook et al screwed up in yet another way, this time in a way which led to the arbitrary exclusion of a piece of data.
A cynical person might view it as worse than that though. According to Cook et al, only 78 of ~12,000 papers “Reject AGW.” What then, are the odds the only paper excluded from the searchable database would have an abstract that begins:
For more than five years the world has been bombarded with gloomy prophecies that “within the next hundred years” there will be a “climatic disaster.” The culprit is said to be the increasing C[O.sub.2] emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
However, not a single word of these allegations is true and every detail of this scare-mongering is distorted. It begins with the emotional, fear-provoking term “greenhouse effect.” A greenhouse is an enclosed space in which the temperature can be regulated as desired. However, our atmosphere is an open space without a roof or side walls. It has free access to icy polar winds and hot winds from the desert, and man has no influence on it at all.
I don’t know. What I do know is this shows how stupid it is Cook et al were allowed to filter out data in ways that are completely unverifiable because they hide the excluded data.
On a side note, I’d like to point out University of Queensland acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and International) Professor Alastair McEwan insists:
All data relating to the “Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature” paper that are of any scientific value were published on the website Skepticalscience.com in 2013.