Food for Thought


Scientists are always telling us to “accept nothing, challenge everything, ask for empirical proof”. Lawyers work by a similar creed – “do you have proof of that? If not, there is very little I can do for you”.

Well; bear that in mind when you read this little gem:

“The Big Lie – By Alex Epstein

On February 29, 2016

There is an oft-cited comment that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that there is global warming and that human beings are the main cause.


First of all, this statement itself, even if it were true, is deliberately manipulative. The reason we care about recent global warming or climate change is not simply that human beings are allegedly the main cause. It’s the allegation that man-made warming will be extremely harmful to human life. The 97 percent claim says nothing whatsoever about magnitude or catastrophe. If we’re the main cause of the mild warming of the last century or so, that does not begin to resemble anything that would justify taking away our machine food.


One of the main papers behind the 97 percent claim is authored by John Cook, who runs the popular website, a virtual encyclopedia of arguments trying to defend predictions of catastrophic climate change from all challenges.


Here is Cook’s summary of his paper: “Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97 percent [of papers he surveyed] endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.”


This is a fairly clear statement—97 percent of the papers surveyed endorsed the view that man-made greenhouse gases were the main cause—main in common usage meaning more than 50 percent.


But even a quick scan of the paper reveals that this is not the case. Cook is able to demonstrate only that a relative handful endorse “the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.” Cook calls this “explicit endorsement with quantification” (quantification meaning 50 percent or more). The problem is, only a small percentage of the papers fall into this category; Cook does not say what percentage, but when the study was publicly challenged by economist David Friedman, one observer calculated that only 1.6 percent explicitly stated that man-made greenhouse gases caused at least 50 percent of global warming.


Where did most of the 97 percent come from, then? Cook had created a category called “explicit endorsement without quantification”—that is, papers in which the author, by Cook’s admission, did not say whether 1 percent or 50 percent or 100 percent of the warming was caused by man. He had also created a category called “implicit endorsement,” for papers that imply (but don’t say) that there is some man-made global warming and don’t quantify it. In other words, he created two categories that he labeled as endorsing a view that they most certainly didn’t.


The 97 percent claim is a deliberate misrepresentation designed to intimidate the public—and numerous scientists whose papers were classified by Cook protested:
“Cook survey included 10 of my 122 eligible papers. 5/10 were rated incorrectly. 4/5 were rated as endorse rather than neutral.” —Dr. Richard Tol

“That is not an accurate representation of my paper . . .” —Dr. Craig Idso

“Nope . . . it is not an accurate representation.” —Dr. Nir Shaviv

“Cook et al. (2013) is based on a strawman argument . . .” —Dr. Nicola Scafetta

Think about how many times you hear that 97 percent or some similar figure thrown around. It’s based on crude manipulation propagated by people whose ideological agenda it serves. It is a license to intimidate.”


This is not about being what opponents label “a global warming denier”. It is simply a plea to break away from the “groupthink” and research and investigate these things for yourself and come to your own conclusions. Look into the backgrounds of these so-called experts/prophets of doom and see where their money is invested, for example. You might be surprised, hopefully shocked.


This idea that “if you are not with us, you are against us”, is bullshit, plain and simple. Consider both sides of the argument, study research methodologies, ask politically incorrect questions to politically correct people, come to a conclusion for yourself when you actually understand what the arguments are about. If you don’t understand it, don’t come to a conclusion, because that is not your conclusion, it is somebody else’s.

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
This entry was posted in Academic Research; Peer-Review Process; Medical Journals, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Food for Thought

  1. gmlindsay says:

    An excellent repudiation/decimation of the oft quoted (by greenies) claim of support for AGW theory by climate scientists – but will politicians listen (or respond)?

  2. Michael says:

    Statistics can be used in very devious ways (its worth having a read of “Bad Science” by Ben Goldacre for numerous examples). Closer to home, the IWEA are making a big play of the fact that 25% of our electricity came from renewables last year. This may well be the case, however a different report by the SEAI reveals that our CO2 emissions from electricity generation increased by 2.5% last year.
    So, at the same time that wind generation is increasing, CO2 from generation is also increasing. The reason for this is that wind is displacing gas generation in favour of coal from Moneypoint. See

    Like Benjamin Disraeli said; “There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      Thank you for that useful link Michael. Indeed, I have Ben Goldacre’s book and read it often! I always thought that quote came from Winston Churchill but I like Disraeli more as Churchill was never a friend of Ireland!

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      Your claim that CO2 emissions have risen by 2.5% has been disputed by someone, who reckons the SEAI report does not say this.
      Do you have the supporting figures, or can you point out where exactly in the report the 2,5% comes from?

      • Michael says:

        It’s on page three of the SEAI report; “The carbon intensity of electricity increased by 2.5% to 467.5 CO2 /kWh in 2015 mostly due to increased use of coal for electricity generation.”
        It’s also shown on the graph on Page 21 where CO2 intensity is shown as an upward spike for 2015 Page 21 of the report explains why;
        ” However, this (CO2 intensity) increased by 2.5% in 2015 to 467.5 CO2 /kWh mostly due to increased use of coal for electricity generation which grew by 19.6% in 2015.”
        So, despite the much publicised increase in wind energy use we actually increased the amount of coal, the dirtiest form of electricity production by approx 20%
        The report is on the below link for anyone who wishes to check the figures;

        Click to access Renewable-Electricity-in-Ireland-2015.pdf

        This is similar to the experiences in Germany where Lignite displaced Gas on the grid with increased wind use.

      • Neil van Dokkum says:

        Thanks for that, Michael.

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  5. Nigel de Haas says:

    A piece in the Economist today underscores the premise of the big lie, saying that “post-truth politics” changes the purpose of political lying from creating a false view of the world to reinforcing prejudices held by the voters.
    Climate change is clearly a political agenda supposedly underpinned by scientific “fact”. It does not take much extrapolation to deduce that it is yet another instance of post-truth politics where the purpose is to support renewable energy subsidy farming by reinforcing the urban/rural divide prejudice by marginalising concerned opponents as “deniers”.
    Read piece at
    View John Cook explaining the psychology at

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      I suppose it’s a bit like the first poor bastard who shyly put his hand up and said “I think the Earth might be round” or “I think the Sun is at the centre of the universe and not the Earth”. Despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, it was not in keeping with the politics of the day and resulted in people being burnt at the stake as heretics. One gets a sense of that same rabid lunacy in some of the current utterings.

  6. Pat Swords says:


    Very glad to see you articulate these matters in such a clear manner. Nullius in verba, Latin for “Take nobody’s word for it” – is the moto of the Royal Society, which has been England’s premier scientific institution for many centuries. However we seem to be increasingly forgetting this, plus very regretfully care to either understand or observe the natural world around us. I don’t come from a background of farming the same area for several generations, as others do, but I have spent several decades sailing and what have I noticed; well really nothing; there are bad days and good days, bad weeks and good weeks, etc., but over that time there is no difference, no trend. When I go and look at the actual data, neither do I see any trends, which would be of concern, plus in this regard the Armagh weather observatory has one of the longest records in history, which hasn’t been distorted by increasing urbanisation in the vicinity. Is there anything there which would remotely indicate an impending catastrophe, see Figure 7:

    Then one could conclude that this was a ‘nice’ summer, not a scorcher, but neither was it as wet or dull as we’ve had before. In other words normal. So was there anything there, which would indicate otherwise?

    I’ve written before about the chronic flaws behind these ‘wild predictions’ of the future, but the real problem here is not the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the issue, but the hype, beliefs and group think, which are now rampant. Instead I wish to recount a recent ‘event’, where a friend had organised a little ‘summer school / workshop’, which was very interesting and pleasant except for one issue. Afterwards I wrote to him about it, see below, pointing out that the only reason why I didn’t let fly was out of respect for him, but to be aware as not to let it happen again, as I wouldn’t be holding back the next time.

    “My lifestyle / work is that I take plenty of flights each month.I am more than happy about my lifestyle choice and am fully aware and accountable with regards to it. If others so chose to venerate what they perceive to be some form of scientific consensus about a hypotheses relating to catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, neither of which exists, i.e. the consensus or the catastrophe, then that is their own private belief system for them alone. However, we reach a position where beliefs become not only firmly entrenched, but they are associated with a feel good factor, which starts to propagate into virtue signalling, i.e. that others who do not share that same belief are less virtuous and deficient. This then leads to the next stage that lecturers on how behavioural modifications are required are now the norm, i.e. preaching as to how others now need to repent and change their ways / lifestyles.

    Needless to say we as a race and a mankind have been there before and it hasn’t been pleasant. So if somebody has; (a) the manners and; (b) the ability to stand up and present the factors which justify the hypothesis and its uncertainties, the relevant costs, benefits and alternatives, etc, then I have absolutely no problem, bring it on. Instead we have a situation where absolutely zero of this analysis actually occurred. Worse there was indulgence from the off with the old schoolyard behaviour, ‘of hands up everything who agrees with me’ and by default those, who are not part of the perceived popular groupthink, are inferior. A point reinforced by the following twenty minutes or so in how wonderful and wholesome the groupthink was and how as a result behaviour modification was of course justified and warranted, as a maximum one flight a year. ”

    It’s an age old story, why should somebody’s else’s ideologies and belief systems dictate to you as to how you should live your life. One cannot spend time working in Turkey without coming to the conclusion, as to how great the influence Kamal Attaturk was on that country. He literally revolutionised it in the 1920s and 1930s bringing it into the modern secular age. He was known to have pointed out as to; ‘why should a 7th Century Bedouin dictate to him as to how he should live his life’. Dead right, we should not forget this same point a century later.


  7. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    A MUST read on the most commonly used climate meme (“97% of all climate scientists…”) that was cleverly designed to shut down debate and intimidate.

    It is without doubt the biggest and most dangerous groupthink climate lie “based on crude manipulation propagated by people whose ideological agenda it serves. It is a license to intimidate.”

  8. Ron Clutz says:

    Thanks for the post and for encouraging critical thinking on the climate issue. With your background and emphasis on evidence, you may be interested in this post at my blog concerning how legal protocols might apply.

  9. Owen says:

    There is a chance now to shortsell the climate groupthink taking place. Look up cool futures fund. We know this has happened lots of times in the past, in fact less than 10 years ago with property bubble.

    This is a good summary of how we are fed completely inaccurate claims to a mostly unquestioning public.

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