My Request for a Correction of That L.A. Times Piece That Misstates Research on Scientific Views of Global Warming
I have just sent the following email to Scott Martelle of the Los Angeles Times, with a cc to the Readers’ Representative:
You recently wrote a piece that states:
“Here’s a statistic for you. Out of 10,855 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals last year that dealt with some aspect of global warming, all but two accepted human behavior as the primary cause.”
This is not accurate. Your source never said all but two “accepted” human behavior as the “primary cause.” He said only two “rejected” it. That’s not the same thing.
For an article to “accept” the premise that humans are the primary cause of global warming, an article would have to actively address the topic, and affirmatively agree in some fashion with the premise. For an article to “not reject” the premise, all the article need do is fail to address the topic at all.
Any article that mentions global warming in passing, without discussing in any form or fashion the cause, gets listed by your source as an article that “did not reject” the theory that humans are primarily responsible for global warming. That does not mean the article “accepted” that thesis.
This is Logic 101.
The distinction is important, because many of the articles do not concern themselves at all with the primary cause of global warming. The collection of articles includes such global warming classics as “Life Cycle Assessment in Switchgears for Primary Electrical Distribution” (#1234) or “Larval development of the feline lungworm Aelurostrongylus abstrusus in Helix aspersa” (#1217) or “Life cycle assessment of a waste lubricant oil management system,” (#1239) or “An investigation into the usability of straight light-pipes in Istanbul” (#142) or “Assessment of weed establishment risk in a changing European climate” (#212).
The fact that an article on the larval development of an obscure lungworm might mention the concept of global warming in passing, but fails to address and refute the theory of human-created global warming, does not impress any rational person as “acceptance” of human-created global warming.
I have far more detail on all this in this blog post.
The first sentence of your article is false. It is absolutely not the case that all but two of these articles “accepted human behavior as the primary cause” of global warming. You owe your readers a correction.
I will let you know what, if anything, I hear in response.