Global Warming Beliefs, New Poll

I’m still on the road this week, with my access to the internet sporadic. Email or phone is the best way to find me.

Rasmussen reports that, “69% Say It’s Likely Scientists Have Falsified Global Warming Research.” The meat is in this quotation:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 69% say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs, including 40% who say this is Very Likely. Twenty-two percent (22%) don’t think it’s likely some scientists have falsified global warming data, including just six percent (6%) say it’s Not At All Likely. Another 10% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here .)

The question that corresponds to that answer is, “In order to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming, how likely is it that some scientists have falsified research data?”

This is plain enough, but it is still a leading question, perhaps with the effect of influencing opinions in the direction of agreement. I say this because further into the survey we learn that “While 40% believe Americans should take immediate action to stop global warming, 42% suggest waiting a few years.”

And this: “But 47% now believe the media makes global warming appear to be worse than it really is, down from 54% in February 2009.”

You’d expect that if 70% of people really did think climatologists were liars and cheats, that a roughly equal percentage would say that global warming isn’t a problem.

I caution readers that these survey results have no bearing whatsoever on whether climatologists really have lied. If any of them have, they’re a fraction of a minority of working scientists.

Thanks to Nate Winchester for bringing this survey to our attention.


  1. Certainly, the big splashy survey question was a leading question. However, does it truly follow that “…if 70%…think climatologists were liars and cheats, that a roughly equal percentage would say that global warming isn’t a problem.”?

    I think the two responses might be very consonant. How about those who see global warming as a problem, one that’s mostly caused by natural climatic variability? Couldn’t a significant number of respondents believe researchers deliberately misstated the role of CO2 in the warming trend, while still believing that global warming is a problem?

    I see your point, however. Had I taken the survey, I would’ve responded as you postulated, that yes, researchers falsified research data, and no, global warming is not a problem.

    I also take issue with your statement: “If any of them have [lied], they’re a fraction of a minority of working scientists.” I agree they represent a fraction, say, about 9/10ths. (Kidding, sort of) But seriously, there are lots of ways to lie, by, for instance, omission. I think quite a few researchers lied, one way or another. The IPCC was not created to discover whether CAGW was a reality. Its charter pre-supposes that it IS real. The process was flawed from the beginning, and some very unsavory non-scientific characters were involved in the origins of the IPCC.

    I’ve read your site for quite a while now. You’ve written some awesome posts, and your commenters often show considerable talent and wit, as well.

  2. Ray

    It’s easy to fool yourself if you really believe. Look up the story of N-rays, a new type of radiation discovered in 1903. The existence of N-rays was confirmed by numerous scientists. I believe AGW or climate change will go the way of N-rays which are now pointed out as an example of self deception.

  3. Rob

    Since the number of scientists is an integer, then a fraction of them will have lied no matter what the number is. So “a fraction of a minority” is any number from zero to half the number of scientists minus one.

    But pedantic quibbles aside, if I were asked that question my first response would be “please define ‘some'” With no definition of that word, any response is information free.

  4. Eric Anderson

    Rob, that is exactly where I was going. Lessee, just for fun, 9/10 of 49% = x. Seems about right in terms of how many folks are lying! 🙂

  5. scp

    “…If any of them have, they’re a fraction of a minority of working scientists.”

    I had an eighth grade English teacher who told us that the reason for a stereotype is usually that 1.) It’s true or 2.) It’s true among the most visible members in a group. I have no idea what that statement had to do with English class, but over the years, I’ve found part [2.)] to be very insightful. It may apply here.

  6. Noblesse Oblige

    Polls are notorious for coming up with inconsistent results that provide fodder for ones’ favorite model. Here’s my model. We have a surly population that believes that everyone is a special interest and cheats accordingly. So of course they believe scientists cheat. But regardless of model, it is clear that the climate business has squandered the trust and regard that the public once held for science and scientists. So far that is the preeminent legacy of climate science.

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