Expert credibility in climate change
Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.I particularly like the use of independent metrics to verify what my casual observation as a researcher says to be true.
Now, there's clearly potential endogeneity in this system since citation behavior can be strategic (e.g., this new paper in R.E. Stat), and many a scientific discovery has been waylaid by collusive behavior among scientists (see, for example, the rise and fall of radical mastectomies as detailed in Emperor of All Maladies, previously here). That said, the next time someone tells you there's a legitimate scientific debate over whether anthropogenic climate change is occurring, I think you can safely make a "we are the 98%" joke.