Then later in the day I saw this on Facebook, specifically from the "I F***ing Love Science" page.
After seeing the claim twice in a short period I got curious and decided to check it out. I ended up on a website called "skepticalscience.com" that claimed:
If you click on the link in "a new survey" it takes you to a journal called "Environmental Research Levels" and, specifically, a paper called "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature." And this is what it says:A new survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers by our citizen science team at Skeptical Science has found a 97% consensus in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are causing global warming.
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.Let me just highlight part of that for you:
We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.First of all, how is 11,944 papers "over 12,000"? But far more importantly: The Guardian's headline that "97% of climate science papers agree" and Skeptical Science's claim that they "found a 97% consensus in the peer-reviewed literature" that global warming is anthropogenic (man-made) are total bullshit.
In fact, the study they're citing found that 32.6%--not 97%--of the papers they reviewed claim global warming is man-made. Where did the 97% number come from? Well again, quoting from the abstract:
Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.So why did about 2 out of 3 papers reviewed fail to take a position on the anthropogenic question? I don't know, I haven't reviewed the nearly 12,000 papers myself. I'm sure there are many facets to climate science and these papers didn't all seek to answer the same questions. I also wouldn't be surprised if some experiments were unable to determine the relationship between human activity and climate change, and so could not state a position on it one way or another. Either way, to twist the results around to make a much, much stronger claim than the data shows only furthers my suspicion that the science is too politicized, and too at-risk of corruption.
If you're really just about objectivity and truth (science) over politics, you don't post a twisted stat to further an agenda. You post what people found. How much could the administrators at "I F***ing Love Science" really "love science" if they can't even be bothered to read a whole abstract before eagerly re-posting a misleading graphic? And likewise, why should I trust the people at Skeptical Science to give me useful, honest information if they can't handle correctly interpreting one study?