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Putting Climate Researchers Under the Microscope

Scientists who argue for human-caused climate change published twice as many papers and are cited 64 percent more often than researchers who doubt climate change.

In a first-of-its-kind study, a team of Stanford University scientists have analyzed the papers published and cited by more than 900 climate researchers. Using the same metrics universities employ for making hiring or tenure decisions, the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that researchers who doubt climate change have less expertise and are far less prominent than their colleagues: Scientists who argue for human-caused climate change published twice as many papers and were cited about 64 percent more often than the unconvinced.

Still ... the researchers aren't expecting their findings will exactly, um, convince anyone.

In This Issue

Lobbying doesn't usually work; fat won't kill you; and the Dead Sea doesn't need to die. Check out those stories, our cover story on oxytocin shaking up the field of economics and much more in the September-October 2010 issue of Miller-McCune magazine.


"I think the most typical criticism of a paper like this — not necessarily in academic discourse, but in the broader context — is going to be that we haven't addressed if these sorts of differences could be due to some sort of clique or, at the extreme, a conspiracy of the researchers who are convinced of climate change," said lead author William Anderegg, choosing his words carefully because he was still clad in his Masonic robes. "If you were a young researcher and had the data to overturn any of the mainstream paradigms, or what the (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has done, you would become absolutely famous. Everyone wants to be the next Darwin, everyone wants to be the next Einstein."

Not everyone, Anderegg. Some just want to be the next Ann Coulter.

Looking for a little light reading?
Try "Nuns, Dykes, Drugs and Gendered Bodies: An Autoethnography of a Lesbian Feminist's Journey Through 'Good Time' Sociology" by the University of Liverpool's Elizabeth Ettorre in the June issue of Sexualities. Admit it: You didn't even know there was such a thing as "good time" sociology, did you?

The Cocktail Napkin appears at the back page of each issue of Miller-McCune magazine, highlighting current research that merits a raised eyebrow or a painful grin.