Well, not that new after all, seeing that the peer-reviewed “Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change” by David Legates, Willie Soon, William Briggs, and Christopher Monckton of Brenchley—the same team that brought you the peer-reviewed “Why models run hot“—has been e-vailable in Science and Education for a year and a half (pdf).
But now we have the official announcement, complete with page numbers and whatnot. Sci & Educ (2015) 24:299–318, DOI 10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9, for citation collectors.
Abstract (paragraph breaks by me):
Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. (Sci Educ 22:2007–2017, 2013) had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook (Sci Educ 22:2019–2030, 2013), seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus.
Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic.
Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.
You’ve heard of the dreaded 97% Consensus. Poppycock. An exaggeration of nearly two orders of magnitude. But not a surprising error. Those who see Dissent in Science are ever positing nefarious conspiracies, secret cabals of cigar-chomping Dark Masters who can control the press, government, and their neighbors.
These hidden-forces theories are always popular with the mob, which is expected, but also in the intellectual slums of the academy, which is…also expected.
Funniest thing about this climate nonsense is the sense of supreme importance many (like our opponents in the paper) feel. Politicians feed egos of scientists and their hangers on because, for now, these folks are useful in advancing the agenda-of-the-moment. But, as always happens, manias morph and something new will capture attentions. How sad some will be when the phone stops ringing! Perhaps the mere thought of this misery is what accounts the vehemence of the debate.
Anyway, about that silly 97%: from the conclusion (first paragraphs put there by me):
It has been demonstrated that the so-called consensus view is a fabrication, contrived by asking ill-defined questions, deploying multiple definitions of the consensus hypothesis interchangeably, or perusing abstracts identified by selective search terms and not necessarily interpreted with a clear and impartial eye.
It is no less legitimate to argue that the environmental lobby and its many friends in academe have circulated misinformation, including misinformation about the existence and extent of a supposed scientific “consensus”, as it is to argue—as Bedford and Cook argue—that the fossil fuel lobby has circulated misinformation calculated to minimize the anthropogenic influence on the evolution of the climate object. It is very likely that governments, the environmental lobby, academe and the news media have spent far more on information (and perhaps on mis-information) than the fossil fuel lobby.
Those who are financially dependent upon acquiescence in whatever governments may require have found it expedient, in the absence of definitive or even of adequate scientific data and results, to manufacture a scientific consensus, at all costs, so that the “misinformation that is the focus of agnotological studies can be improperly defined as that which deviates from this consensus…
Whilst agnotology can be useful in many situations where ‘old wives tales,’ myths, and other incorrect ideas exist, the value of using agnotology in politically-charged discussions such as climate change is questionable. Since the definition of misinformation lies in the eye of the advocate of a particular viewpoint, there is a danger that agnotology may serve not to enhance discussion or learning but rather to stifle debate and silence critics…
See also the peer-reviewed Legates, D. R., Soon, W., & Briggs, W. M. (2013). Learning and teaching climate science: The perils of consensus knowledge using agnotology. Science & Education, 22, 2007–2017 (pdf).