About the 3% of Papers Denying AGW

Famously, some 97-98% of peer-reviewed climate science papers confirm the existence and impacts of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). In at least three separate studies that arrive at that number. One of those studies involved review of almost 12,000 papers. By any measure, the overwhelming consensus among scientists is that the planet is warming dramatically and humankind is the cause.

But there is that 3%, that very small minority of peer-reviewed papers which dispute the existence of AGW. What about that?

A group of scientists at Texas Tech University1 examined 38 of those contrarian papers. After all, the essence of research is replicability; can other persons, following the same methodology, reproduce the results that the first researchers claim?

It turns out that, for several categories of reasons, in all 38 cases, they could not.

The Texas Tech review revealed a number and variety of methodological flaws, and a pattern of common mistakes emerged that was not visible when you looked at single isolated cases. The common denominators among those 38 studies included (1) missing contextual information; (2) ignoring information that does not fit the conclusions, be it other relevant work or related geophysical data; (3) shortcomings due to insufficient model evaluation, leading to results that are not universally valid but rather are an artifact of a particular experimental setup; (4) false dichotomies; (5) inappropriate statistical methods and (6) basing conclusions on misconceived or incomplete physics.

As one of the co-authors of the Texas Tech study posted on Facebook, “It’s real, it’s us, it’s serious.” By its very nature, science is never fully settled. Science requires that both mainstream and contrarian papers must be subject to sustained scrutiny.

The point is that when 38 of those 3% contrarian papers were subjected to that scrutiny, they failed. That’s how science works.


  1. Texas Tech, may WC note, is not exactly a hotbed of liberal, progressive thinking and research. 

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