Biased Sample, Maybe?

This rather breathless article about how Al Gore “got the science right” in An Inconvienent Truth could very well be suffering from a biased sample.

The former vice president’s movie — replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets — mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.

The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.

Out of 100 contacted only 19 replied and said the movie was accurate. Is it much of a stretch to think that people, scientists included, who went to see the movie are likely to be those who already agree with anthrophogenic global warming hypothesis? What would make this article look less like a sycophantic load of rubbish would be break down on those 19 scientists. Are they believers of the hypothesis or not?

FILED UNDER: Climate Change, Science & Technology, , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Bhoe says:

    Are they believers of the hypothesis or not?

    The more appropriate question would be: are there any scientists who DON’T acknowledge a connection between anthropogenic activities and impacts on the earth’s climate?

    Gore’s film is pretty much regurgitating the consensus. Its not very controversial stuff–after seeing the film, I am not sure why anyone who knows anything about the issue would even need to see it–especially climate scientists who study the stuff.

  2. Bithead says:

    Clearly, Gore is playing word games here. If five of 100 scientists polled agreed with Gore, Gore considers that to be a consensus , all be in amongst the five. He seems to ignore the larger consensus that 95% of them don’t agree with his nonsense.

    Such is part and parcel of the democratic party today.

    To say nothing of the global warming alarmists operating outside of the democratic party. For example a few self proclaimed libertarians.

  3. Bhoe,

    Yes. There are respected scientist who have serious questions about the links. The fact that we have seen higher (even 10x higher) atmospheric carbon levels and higher temperatures in our past should at least give pause to the contention that if global warming is occurring that it has to be a result of man. Such a history doesn’t rule out that it isn’t man caused now, but at a minimum it should raise a question to be answered.

    Also, look at the impact of water vapor on the models predicting global warming. Then look at the widely varying estimates on world wide water vapor amounts. There are a lot of good scientific questions that aren’t being addressed because of attitudes like yours.

    I would also like to see some details on the questions asked of the “sample”. Is a 20 foot world wide ocean rise (as postulated in the movie) the most likely result of global warming? Is there even a 1% chance that this would be the result?

    Sorry, but as long as the left treats global warming as a matter of faith, not subject to true scientific inquiry, I will continue to question the motivation of those screaming about it.

  4. spencer says:

    No bithead you are the one playing games.

    You have no — repeat zero — evidence that the
    80 nonresponses disageed with Gore so you conclusion has no basis in fact and is, in fact, made up S***.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Spencer, if algore made a movie about it, it is probably a fiction. Let us not forget who invented the internet. algore took a lesson on movie makeing from Michael Moore. You might say they take artistic license with the truth. But then, nothing said here could ever convince you. Try to remember the honesty of algore in remembering how they raised finances from illegal phone use from the White House, during the wonderful Clinton years.

  6. M1EK says:


    You’re a liar – no reputable scientists disagree with the more conservative interpretation of global warming (some is happening, and some of the cause is due to humans).

  7. anjin-san says:

    What is the motivation of people “screaming” about global warming?

    Possibly the desire to see that our beautiful, God given enviornment is not destroyed?

    Why does the right have so little respect for God’s creation?

  8. M1EK,

    My but you seem touchy.

    So you think I ama liar because “no reputable scientists disagree with the more conservative interpretation of global warming (some is happening, and some of the cause is due to humans). ”

    So I will present 3 reputable scientists who disagree with your assertion. You might especially enjoy the third who discusses the problems of dogma as an enemy to scientific understanding. Of course the dogma he refers to is the global warming alarmism that you are promoting. I eagerly await your apology.

    Dr. S Fered Singer is an atmospheric physicist at George Mason University and founder of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a think tank on climate and environmental issues.

    “Some people hold that the threat of climate change is so great that we need to fundamentally change the way we produce and use energy. What’s your response to this view?
    Climate change is a natural phenomenon. Climate keeps changing all the time. The fact that climate changes is not in itself a threat, because, obviously, in the past human beings have adapted to all kinds of climate changes.

    The argument is that there’s a new cause for climate change, which is human beings. And that the dimensions of this change might exceed what is natural or normal.

    Well, there’s no question in my mind that humanity is able to affect climate on a local scale. We all know that cities are warmer than the suburbs or surrounding countryside. So there’s clear indication that human beings, in producing energy, in just living, generate heat. We’re not going to go back to living without energy.

    Whether or not human beings can produce a global climate change is an important question. This question is not at all settled. It can only be settled by actual measurements, data. And the data are ambiguous. For example, the data show that the climate warmed between 1900 and 1940, long before humanity used much energy. But then the climate cooled between 1940 and 1975. Then it warmed again for a very short period of time, for about five years. But since 1979, our best measurements show that the climate has been cooling just slightly. Certainly, it has not been warming. ”

    How about Mr. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.

    “When Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted Mr. Gore with the fact that the best estimates of rising sea levels are far less dire than he suggests in his movie, Mr. Gore defended his claims by noting that scientists “don’t have any models that give them a high level of confidence” one way or the other and went on to claim — in his defense — that scientists “don’t know. They just don’t know.”

    So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the “consensus.” Yet their research is forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore’s preferred global-warming template — namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was
    as warm or warmer in 1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average. A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr. Gore’s movie. In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps dire or alarming.

    They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don’t know why.”

    “Even more recently, the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration’s coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found “clear evidence of human influences on the climate system.” This, for Mr. Easterbrook, meant: “Case closed.” What exactly was this evidence? The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact atmospheric temperatures more than surface temperatures, and yet satellite data showed no warming in the atmosphere since 1979. The report showed that selective corrections to the atmospheric data could lead to some warming, thus reducing the conflict between observations and models descriptions of what greenhouse warming should look like. That, to me, means the case is still very much open.

    So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points.

    First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists — especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a “moral” crusade.

    Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce — if we’re lucky.”

    And here is a third, Prof. Hendrik Tennekes
    retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

    “From this perspective, those that advocate the idea that the response of the real climate to radiative forcing is adequately represented in climate models have an obligation to prove that they have not overlooked a single nonlinear, possibly chaotic feedback mechanism that Nature itself employs.

    Popper would have been sympathetic. He repeatedly warns about the dangers of â??infinite regress.â?? As a staunch defender of the Lorenz paradigm, I add that the task of finding all nonlinear feedback mechanisms in the microstructure of the radiation balance probably is at least as daunting as the task of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. The blind adherence to the harebrained idea that climate models can generate â??realisticâ?? simulations of climate is the principal reason why I remain a climate skeptic. From my background in turbulence I look forward with grim anticipation to the day that climate models will run with a horizontal resolution of less than a kilometer. The horrible predictability problems of turbulent flows then will descend on climate science with a vengeance.”

  9. But he was totally cereal!

    WRT anjin-san’s comment, it is simply ludicrous to suggest the same God that smote Sodom and Gomorrah for having gay orgies would sit idly by while we decimate the earth because He has such respect for free will.

    So the evidence clearly indicates one of the following:

    A. We are not destroying the earth

    B. There is no God

    I’ll take A. Which do you prefer?

  10. lily says:

    The basic thesis of “An Inconvenient Truth” is supported by every legitimate scientist on earth. There are a few minor errors which don’t threaten the veracity of the whole movie.
    When faced with a significant problem the responsible thing to do is start working on solutions, not nick pick, carp, partisanize, ignore or minimize.

  11. McGehee says:

    I saw a most intriguing link today. It says that man-caused carbon dioxide in the atmosphere amounts to only a hair over 3% of the total.

    So, while y’all are deciding who the “serious scientists” are, you might want to think about little things like that.

  12. floyd says:

    let’s make a false hypothetical. global warming is caused by human behavior.we face unprecedented disaster if we don’t stop producing co2. billions will drown or starve. nuclear power will poison the earth. too much wind power[in conjunction with solar power] will slow weather migration by diverting the energy required, resulting in more disaster. the answer… hybrid cars? i think not. plug the volcanoes? impractical. colonize mars?see volcanoes. the only answer is to kill off the disease on mother earth, which is humanity! this brave new world conjures up a vision of people huddling cold in dark caves starving while the government saves them with roving bands of enforcers who come to terminate their parents and their unborn children in the name of conservation. is global warming any worse? of course we could introduce a new plague.