It’s in the literature

Climate deniers are a funny mob. Mention to them that the peer-reviewed literature overwhelmingly demonstrates a consensus that AGW is real and they will launch into a diatribe about how the peer review system is corrupt and climategate proves it blah blah blah, but as soon as they see a peer-reviewed paper that allegedly supports their position, the blog headlines will highlight the fact that said paper is peer-reviewed. Apparently peer review is only legitimate when it’s on their side. I’m not going into how stupidly hypocritical that position is. What I would like to do is extend just little on a post at desmogblog by guest poster James Lawrence Powell.

Long story short James, along with some help from John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli, undertook a similar study to that of Naomi Oreskas where he searched Web of Science for papers with the key terms “global warming” or “global climate change”. He then sorted them into those accepting the consensus position and those rejecting it. I won’t repeat the criteria he used. You can check it out for yourself at the link I provided. Here, however, is the graph of his results





That is pretty striking and devastating for denial. What I am interested in though is the citation side of things. Powell thankfully checked this out and reports…

The 24 articles have been cited a total of 113 times over the nearly 21-year period, for an average of close to 5 citations each. That compares to an average of about 19 citations for articles answering to “global warming,” for example. Four of the rejecting articles have never been cited; four have citations in the double-digits. The most-cited has 17.

I decided to look into these 113 citations to see what sort of papers were citing these 20 papers. I employed a similar methodology to Powell by just searching the citation list for each article using Google Scholar. Of the results I examined, only the citations that were from journals were counted. This was because occasionally Anthony crybaby Watts’ blog would appear. Just between you and me, that’s not a great place to get factual information let alone peer-reviewed factual information. I then sorted these citing papers into three categories. Those that endorse the consensus position, those that reject it and those that are neutral. So, what did I find?

For a start, I found that there were 119 citations. This may be due to several new articles appearing in the short time since James produced his results or differences between Google Scholar and Web of Science. Some of the papers had more citations and some had fewer. Now, I’m not a big fan of producing Excel graphs for anything more than simple counts so that’s all I’ve done. Here is what I found.

Proportion of 119 papers cited by James Powell's list of 24 peer reviewed AGW denial papers that either accept, reject or hold no position on the consensus that humans are resposible for recent climate change.

Proportion of 119 papers citing by James Powell’s list of 24 peer-reviewed AGW denial papers, that either accept, reject or hold no position on the consensus that humans are responsible for recent climate change.

This is interesting in itself in that there are more papers accepting or having a neutral position on AGW than rejecting.  Where it gets even more interesting though is when you look at whom is citing who in the denier side as well as the quality of journals represented. In the list provided by Powell here, Scafetta’s two papers are cited 18 times between them. I found 21 citations. Of those 21 citations, 3 papers accept AGW, 8 are neutral, leaving 10 rejecting the AGW consensus. Of those 10 papers, Scafetta was an author on 8, leaving just 2 papers written by anyone other than himself. Similarly, Khilyuk, for whom I could find 25 citation across his 3 papers, 5 papers accept, 2 are neutral and 18 reject AGW. Of those 18 though, only 6 are not written by himself and many of those 12 are doubling and even tripling up (sometimes the same paper will be published in multiple journals with a slightly different title and the author order changed) just in case anyone reading this gets the idea that he is a prolific author. So what does the pie chart look like if we take out self-citations?

The same as the other graph with the self-citations removed.

The same as the other graph with the self-citations removed.

That red area is looking a lot smaller. Finally, what is interesting is that every single paper cited that rejects the AGW consensus comes from questionable journals like Energy & Environment or obscure journals in languages other than English or journals associated with polluting industries. There certainly aren’t any from Science or Nature. The good news to come out of this also is the age of many of the papers. There are very few from recent years and some citations are more than twenty years old. Denial is dying and a good thing too.




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