Random Sampling - Part 2 of "Ew, I just stepped in a Heartland study!"

Wed, 2007-08-22 14:16Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Random Sampling - Part 2 of "Ew, I just stepped in a Heartland study!"

This is part 2 in a series on the Heartland Institute's supposedly rigorous study (pdf) on the state of global warming science. This flawed paper has been distributed to 10,000 Utahns by the Utah-based Sutherland Institute, a “sister” of the Heartland Institute.

Paul T. Mero, the president of the Sutherland Institute claims that, “for skeptics, we went out of our way to include a special analysis of the methodology used to create this study. This report is an honest reflection of the international scientific community…”

Let's see how that holds up.

Flaw #1: Heartland's study is not based on a random sample.

The Heartland study is a survey, an opinion poll, and claims to have collected the opinions of “530 climate scientists from 27 countries.” The responses to the survey were conducted online and “notice of the survey was posted in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society” and on a listserv frequented by climatologists. The respondents were anonymous, which is fine, however we must put our faith in Heartland's claim that all 530 respondents were actually climate scientists.

As far as the sample itself, it is in no way random and therefore the Heartland Institute or the Sutherland Institute cannot make any claim that this study represents the scientific community as a whole. The Heartland must limit itself to only making statements about the 530 respondents. So the claim by the Sutherland Institute that, “this report is an honest reflection of the international scientific community…” is incorrect based on the evidence they provide.

As far as random sampling this “think” tank didn't put too much thought into the matter.

Previous Comments

I’m afraid it is far worse than you think. The survey URL and password were posted to a climate skeptics mailing list. Details at http://timlambert.org/2005/05/bray/ This obviously biases the results and mean that it is wrong to describe it as a survey of climate scientists, since most of the people on the skeptics list are not climate scientists.

Is there an issue you haven’t covered Tim! Thanks for the link.

- Kevin 

I’ve done enough post pointing out that this Heartland study is garbage. So I’ll stick to comments - Tim Lambert has the actual request that went out to potential respondents. 

Rigorous indeed. At the rate they’re going, I’m would not be surprised if Pee Wee Herman hadn’t responded!! 

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