February 13, 2014, by Warren Pearce
Amelia Sharman audio & Prezi: Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere
Amelia Sharman gave a seminar last week ‘Mapping the Climate Sceptical Blogosphere’ to the Institute for Science and Society, as part of Making Science Public’s month of climate change lectures.
Amelia discussed her methods for determining which blogs were most central to those amongst what can (loosely) be called a climate sceptic community, and the kinds of issues those blogs discussed regularly.
You can hear Amelia’s talk here.
We had a technical failure during the talk, which causes a very brief hiatus after five minutes or so, but which Amelia dealt with very professionally. For those who were there and wanted to see the Prezi presentation, and to those listening for the first time now, you can see the visuals here. [In case you are wondering who is chairing the session, that is me.]
[…] UPDATE: listen to Amelia’s talk here. […]
With respect to the findings, effectively those three blogs (in reality 3 named people) have just had a bigger target slapped on their backs..
Anybody give consideration on the ethics of this, ie how this information might be mi-used by others?
What did ethics approval, have to say, with Anthony Watts, Jo Nova and Steve McIntyre being basically named, here you go activist, tackle these guys..
That seems a very strange, and somewhat defensive comment, Barry!
All of these blogs and their authors are very firmly in the public sphere, the blog owners choosing to set up the blog, announce themselves (and publicise themselves outside of their blogs) and invite comments and so on.
Amelia seems to have made a rather systematic and scientific investigation to assess the blogs having the most “centrality” according to her analysis (which can be considered in depth by listening to her outline between around minutes 11 and 16 of the audio).
What I find fairly interesting is that Amelia, apparently approaching this from a non-expert (science-wise) point of view, and me (a scientist with a decent knowledge of climate science, and thus able to recognise skepticism and pseudoskepticism, alike) arrive at a very similar assessment of the major “skeptical” (by Amelia’s criteria) blogs (I match 2 out of 3 of Amelia’s selection).
Not sure how you can complain about a systematic and scientific analysis unless you find the outcome of the analysis somehow “inconvenient”…
very disappointed with the examples of article at Jo Nova, fake gold bars and body scanners (seemingly implying conspiracy website to the audience) Jo Nova is also very current affairs.. (Australian)
The Fake Gold bars article – is actually commenting on a media article via REUTERS, discussing fake gold bars.. ie Fraud – (and if you knew about and her husband’s business you would know why this was of interest of them)
Also airport body scanner..
If you recall most of the media were discussing the introduction of full body scanners at airports(lots of ‘controversy’) and Jo wrote a current affairs type blog post about that as well, about them coming to Australia. Why pluck out those 2 from hundreds of blog posts and give an’ impression’ to your audience.
I heard mention of a non science background (perhaps no climate science) Jo has a micro-biology degree from UWA, has be a co-author on a paper in her field, but moved into a sci-comms role.
(as JC Codling)
Grounds MD, Lai MC, Fan Y, Codling JC, Beilharz MW: Transplantation in the mouse model – the use of a Y-chromosome-specific DNA clone to identify donor cells in situ. Transplantation 1991; 52:1101–1105.
3 years as: Associate Lecturer of Science Communication at Australian National University
4 years as: jointly co-ordinated Shell Questa-con Science Circus, which operates all over Australia.
How is it possible to research someone’s blog and know so little about them?
You should listen to the audio more carefully Barry.
Amelia was responding to the question (about the three bloggers) “Do they claim they have any kind of scientific expertise?”
Amelia responded that “Jo Nova is definitely not a climate scientist” (you’ve pointed out that she has but single scientific paper and this is from over 20 years ago on the subject of transplantation, which more than justifies Amelia’s comment!). Amelia pointed out that in reference to her earlier categorisation of “skeptical” blogs in relation to being either predominantly “science-focussed” or politically/policy-focussed, that by her (Amelia’s) criteria, the Jo Nova blog is “only about 50% focussed on science” and (based on Amelia’s assessment of the politicised nature of the debate in Australia) that “it’s not surprising that there’s a lot more political stuff on her blog..I mean she talks about things like body scanners at airports and fake gold bars (and all sortsof random things)”.
Of course one could simply peruse the contents of the blog in question and make a rather objective assessment of whether it displays evidence of “scientific expertise”!
When her paper was posted up, it was widely discussed by the sceptic blogs themselves.
It’s a pity this wasnt mentioned (I would have brought it up if I had been able to go).
See Watts here
which links to the Bishop Hill post.
Note that Watts does say “thanks for putting a target on my back”.
I am not sure if this is a joke or a serious concern – I dont think Amelia’s paper will make much difference to the attacks he gets already.
Jo Nova’s response is here.
– quite detailed and interesting.
The general view of many sceptics was to welcome an objective and fairly accurate assessment, but there was amusement (“who knew?”) at the revelation that the main blogs were Climate Audit, WUWT and Jo Nova and that they focused mainly on science.
If the subjects of the study were surprised by the results, I might be concerned, as it would suggest the research was flawed.
“You can here Amelia’s talk here.”
After Amelia’s paper I was interested enough to do a small bit of research and checked the Alexa ranking of as many blogs as I could find:-
This then morphed over Xmas in uclimate.com. This has over 200 blogs and already has 6000 links to articles with summaries. However the most interesting part is that the articles are ranked by the number of clicks: http://uclimate.com/stats.php
Rather than WUWT, Jo Nova and Climate Audit, this would suggest the central blogs are:
1. Climate Depot
3. Stephen Goddard
4. The Global Warming Policy Foundation
5. Bishop Hill
6. Google (limited)
7. Jo Nova
Some interesting discussions about the paper can be found here http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/mapping-the-sceptical-blogosphere/#comments