Introduction

To what extent are climate change 'skeptics' present in the climate change spaces on the Web? The question is posed in order to gain insight into whether the Web, and the devices that rank information, privilege the skeptics in ways similar to other ‘spheres’ such as the news. Does Google grant the skeptics voice in its returns for a “climate change” query? In the journalistic convention both sides of the story are represented, but in the climate change space provided by Google, the skeptics’ presence is scant.

Method

  • Derive list of climate change skeptics:
  • The list of organisations is based on the given organisations on the website www.cooperativeresearch.org.
  • The list of climate change skeptics is derived from three sources: sourcewatch.com, motherjones.com, wikipedia.org and sociologist Aaron Mc Cright.
  • Final list of organisations and skeptics:
Organisations
* American Enterprise Institute
* American Legislative Exchange Council
* Center for Science and Public Policy
* Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
* Competitive Enterprise Institute
* Frontiers of Freedom
* Marshall Institute
* Heartland Institute
* Tech Central Station
Persons
* S. Fred Singer [5]
* Robert Balling [5]
* Sallie Baliunas [5]
* Patrick Michaels [5]
* Richard Lindzen [4]
* Steven Milloy [4]
* Timothy Ball [3]
* Paul Driessen [3]
* Willie Soon [2]
* Sherwood B. Idso
* Frederick Seitz

  • Query Web for climate change. E.g., query Google.com for "climate change". The preferences were set on 100 results.
  • The 100 results were copied and pasted into the first input field of the Google Scraper.
  • Search within results for names of skeptics. Find which ranking the skeptics achieve. The name of each skeptic is imported into the second input field. E.g. "Steven Milloy". After this the scraping begins.
  • The results that are shown in a tagcloud are selected and put into the Tagcloudgenerator. This generator turns the results into a svg file.
  • The svg file is opened in Illustrator. Now the results can be ordered into the order of rank from the Google results.
  • In the tag cloud is visible how many times a name appears inside a certain domain or website. So find out where a skeptic appears on a website, it is possible to search within a site with Google.com. E.g. "Robert Balling" on epa.gov. Search for site:epa.gov "Robert Balling".

Implications

The question concerns the extent to which the Web stages climate change as a controversy vis a vis other media spaces, such as news. Here the Web is understood as a search-based medium, and controversy as the relative penetration of the skeptics in the climate change search results space. A comparison between the skeptics' resonance on the Web and in the news is the next step.

External links

Tools

Results and Visualizations

  • Frederick Seitz:
    FrederickSeitz.jpg

  • Fred Singer:
    FredSinger.jpg

  • Patrick Michaels:
    PatrickMichaels.jpg

  • Paul Driessen:
    PaulDriessen.jpg

  • Richard Linzen:
    RichardLinzen.jpg

  • Robert Balling:
    RobertBalling.jpg

  • Sallie Baliunas:
    SallieBaliunas.jpg

  • Sherwood Idso:
    SherwoodIdso.jpg

  • Steven Milloy:
    StevenMilloy.jpg

  • Timothy Ball:
    TimothyBall.jpg

  • Willie Soon:
    WillieSoon.jpg

Findings

1. There is distance between the skeptics and the top of the search engine returns. Note that few skeptics appear on the Websites of the top ten results in Google. When they do appear (Patrick Michaels, Steven Milloy) their resonance is not particularly resounding.

2. One may evaluate sources according to the frequency with which each mentions the skeptics. There are skeptic-friendly sites, and less skeptic-friendly sites.

3. From the visualization one is able to see the "skeptic-friendly" sources, realclimate.org and, to a lesser extent, climatescience.gov stand out as skeptic-friendly. Sourcewatch also is prominent, albeit as a progressive watchdog group 'exposing' the skeptics.

4. Remarkably, news sites, generally speaking, do not mention the climate change skeptics by name. Whilst news watchers and listeners may have the impression that 'uncertainty' in the climate change 'debate' continues in a general sense (as opposed to, say, in more specific, scientific sub-discussions), 'uncertainty' appears to be discussed without resort to the well-known, or identified, skeptics.

Recommendations for further research

  • Affect Browser: http://www.softhook.com/affect.htm
  • With this tool a website can be analysed whether skeptics on this particular site are mentioned positif or negatif. Several websites can be searched at the same time, and results are shown in an affect cloud. This is relevant for our research because with the affect clouds, the content on the websites can be contextualized.

Tool development: recommendations

  • Om de tool te gebruiken zouden gebruikers in de toekomst het onderwerp (bijv. "climate change") kunnen invullen in het bovenste invulvak. De scraper geeft dan de uitkomst weer van de Google zoekresultaten. Momenteel moeten deze resulaten namelijk handmatig gekopiŽerd worden vanuit de Google resulaten naar het bovenste invulvak. De aanbeveling is om dit proces te automatiseren zodat er in het bovenste invulvak alleen "climate change" ingevuld hoeft te worden en in het onderste invulvak een zoekterm binnen die resultaten.
  • Zoekresultaten genummerd en op volgorde van de zoekresultaten van Google. Zo kun je zien hoe hoog een website in de ranglijst staat. Daarnaast is af te lezen hoe vaak de zoektermen voorkomen in de site, ook als er geen resulaten zijn gevonden (bijv. "nr of results found = 0" of "nr of results found = 9" )
  • Mooi zou zijn een tabel waarin geklikt kan worden op de bovenste categorieŽn zoals bijv. result #, query, article, title, article, url, results (van de zoektermen binnen een site). Als er op wordt geklikt, kan de tabel worden geordend op bijv. 'result #' of op de results van de zoektermen. Zo kun je bijvoorbeeld zien waar de zoekterm het meeste voorkomt of welke site bovenaan staat in de Google zoekresultaten.
  • De lijst van Google resultaten nummeren en hierin laten zien of de resultaten hierbij terug komen en op welke plaats. En bij resultaten zien op welke plaats ze staan in de resultaten.


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I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
FredSinger.jpgjpg FredSinger.jpg manage 58.3 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:50 Unknown User  
FrederickSeitz.jpgjpg FrederickSeitz.jpg manage 56.1 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:49 Unknown User  
PatrickMichaels.jpgjpg PatrickMichaels.jpg manage 56.5 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:51 Unknown User  
PaulDriessen.jpgjpg PaulDriessen.jpg manage 50.3 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:52 Unknown User  
RichardLinzen.jpgjpg RichardLinzen.jpg manage 47.7 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:54 Unknown User  
RobertBalling.jpgjpg RobertBalling.jpg manage 51.5 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:55 Unknown User  
SallieBaliunas.jpgjpg SallieBaliunas.jpg manage 53.9 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:56 Unknown User  
SherwoodIdso.jpgjpg SherwoodIdso.jpg manage 56.0 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:58 Unknown User  
StevenMilloy.jpgjpg StevenMilloy.jpg manage 61.6 K 01 Aug 2007 - 09:59 Unknown User  
TimothyBall.jpgjpg TimothyBall.jpg manage 45.2 K 01 Aug 2007 - 10:00 Unknown User  
WillieSoon.jpgjpg WillieSoon.jpg manage 49.7 K 01 Aug 2007 - 10:01 Unknown User  
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Topic revision: r13 - 18 Sep 2007 - 10:43:56 - Laura Van Der Vlies