A “Climate Science” Poll Run Under The Endorsement Of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota

I was sent the e-mail below with respect to a poll run under the auspices of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.

Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2012 12:23:45 -0400 From: The Vision Prize <registrar@visionprize.com> To: pielkesr@cires.colorado.edu Subject: Does rapid ice melt in Greenland affect your views about Arctic sea ice?

Dear Climate Scientist,

Did the news yesterday about the [rapid ice melt in Greenland](http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/07/120725-greenland-ice-sheet-melt-satellites-nasa-space-science) surprise you?  The Vision Prize online poll of scientists is currently asking this related question:

**When (if ever) will the Arctic Sea become completely free of summer floating ice?**

Please [sign up](http://visionprize.com/users/new) now to submit your prediction.  _This timely one-question poll takes just 2 minutes after sign up, which is free and easy._ As a distinguished expert, your participation is vital to robust expert poll results.

Thanks in advance for interest and support.

_The Vision Prize is affiliated with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, and is strictly nonpartisan._ View this email on the web here: http://mad.ly/fcd5f2?pact=10761465976&fe=1 Unsubscribe: https://go.madmimi.com/opt_out?pact=10761465976&fe=1&amx=3046244200 You can also forward to a friend: https://go.madmimi.com/forward/10761465976?amx=3046244200

The Vision Prize | Box 7775 #20915 | San Francisco CA USA | 94120

They list the goals of this effort as

Contribute to expert opinion on scientific issues relevant to decision makers and financial markets

  • Help identify where there is substantial agreement or disagreement
  • See how expert beliefs update with new information in each polling round
  • Win donations for charities of your choice
  • Participation is free — and takes just a few minutes

They write

The Vision Prize expert poll assesses the views of climate scientists — not public opinion. Expert participants are asked to give not only their own predictions (Actual Answers), but also to predict the views of their scientific colleagues (Expected Distribution of Answers).  This allows the poll to highlight “Surprisingly Common” points of agreement. Vision Prize features open data and transparent methodology.  The project currently involves more than 170 experts from institutions around the world. All questions in this poll ask for the participants’ best guess about what they expect — not what they hope — will be the true outcomes.

An example of one of the polls results is reproduced below. Other results can be found at the same link.

I went on their website and they list who has received a “Vision Prize”  which can be donated to one of the charities they list [see link for a clearer presentation on the names].


Vision Prize Winners

Charity Gift Card Prizes

skywatchernot provided; (United Kingdom); Other scientific or technical – commercial; Palaeoclimate, models, GIS; Industry – Environmental Services; $200
PhilEnvironment; (Ireland); Research scientist – government or NGO; Atmosheric Physics; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Emissions, Sinks and atmospheric transport $150
David Karoly University of Melbourne; (Australia); Academic staff; Climate science; Academia – Earth Sciences; Climate variability and climate change $120
BAOakley University of Rhode Island; (United States); Graduate student; Geology; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Glacial and Coastal Geology $120
Kevin Trenberth NCAR; (United States); Research scientist – government or NGO; Climate; Academia – Earth Sciences; water cycle $110
Kate Moran University of Victoria; (Canada); Faculty; paleoceanography, marine geotechnics; Academia – Engineering; ocean observatories $100
Per Wikman-Svahn Swedish Defence Research Agency; (Sweden); Research scientist – government or NGO; Climate change adaptation, Risk philosophy; Other – Government; Climate change impacts $100
Robert Kopp Rutgers University; (United States); Faculty; Earth system science, Paleoclimate, Geobiology, Climate and energy policy; Academia – Earth Sciences; $100
dpierce Scripps Institution of Oceanography; (United States); Academic staff; Climate research; Academia – Earth Sciences; climate change, hydrology, detection and attribution $100
Alex Thomas University of Oxford; (United Kingdom); Post-doctoral researcher; Isotope Geochemistry, Sea Level, Paleoclimate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $100
Stephen Mulkey Unity College; (United States); Faculty; Global change; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Forest ecology and climate $100
Ben Brown-Steiner Cornell University; (United States); Graduate student; Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $100
Lawrence Hamilton University of New Hampshire; (United States); Faculty; environmental sociology, statistics, survey research; Academia – Social Sciences; Human-environment interactinos in the Arctic, public beliefs and knowledge on climate $90
James Boulter University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; (United States); Faculty; Atmospheric; Academia – Chemistry; heterogeneous reactions, sustainability studies, climate and society $80
ken mankoff UCSC; (United States); Graduate student; glaciology; Academia – Earth Sciences; ice ocean interactions $70
GaryG Columbia; (United States); Research scientist – government or NGO; climate modeling; Academia – Environmental Sciences; $70
Kesem The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; (Israel); Faculty; Biogeochemistry; Academia – Earth Sciences; $70
Mitch Lyle Texas A&M University; (United States); Faculty; marine geology/paleoceanography; Academia – Environmental Sciences; water cycle, carbon cycle $70
Bart Verheggen Energy Research Institute of the Netherlands; (Netherlands); Research scientist – government or NGO; Atmospheric science; Other – Government; atmospheric aerosols, clouds, global climate change, communication $60
Yarrow Axford Northwestern University; (United States); Faculty; Paleoclimate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $60
vertibogts Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources; (Germany); Research scientist – government or NGO; paleoclimate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $50
Jason Evans University of New South Wales; (Australia); Faculty; regional climate; Academia – Earth Sciences; regional climate modelling, water cycle studies $50
Raymond Arritt Iowa State University; (United States); Faculty; Atmospheric science; Academia – Earth Sciences; Regional climate; aerobiology $40
Joe QCCCE/DERM; (Australia); Other scientific or technical – government or NGO; climate science; Other – Government; climate modelling and analysis $40
Chris Vernon University of Bristol; (United Kingdom); Graduate student; Glaciology; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Greenland, Energy $40
robert davies utah state university; (United States); Faculty; quantum optics / atmospheric physics; Academia – Physics; climate change / science communication $40
Dana Nuccitelli Tetra Tech, Inc.; (United States); Other scientific or technical – commercial; Environmental Science, Physics; Industry – Environmental Services; climate science  [My note: Dana Nuccitelli is dana1981 on Skeptical Science] $40

This how they characterize their methodology

The Vision Prize incentivized scoring method mitigates the impact of herding and other behavioral biases of conventional aggregation procedures like calculating the mean, median or modal response. It does this by rewarding the answers that are more common than expected, not necessarily the most common overall. This approach means that there is no bias against atypical views and no special incentive to pick the answer you think most others will pick

I cannot believe that this poll serves any useful purpose other than to continue the politicization of climate science. Science issues, such as their first and second poll questions are only resolved in the peer-reviewed literature and in constructive debate at conferences, on weblogs, etc.  Their polling approach certainly does promote “herding”.  I am surprised (and disappointed) that this type of poll is sanctioned by two major research universities.

source of image

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