Skeptical Science

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Skeptical Science
Type of site
Available inEnglish, Czech, Finnish, Spanish, German, Danish, Icelandic, Polish, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, Chinese, French, Italian, Thai, Slovak, Russian, Hebrew, Slovene, Norwegian
Created byJohn Cook
Launched25 June 2007

Skeptical Science (occasionally abbreviated SkS) is a climate science blog and information resource created in 2007 by Australian former cartoonist and web developer, John Cook,[1][2][3] who received a PhD degree in cognitive science in 2016.[4] In addition to publishing articles on current events relating to climate science and climate policy, the site maintains a database of articles analyzing the merit of arguments put forth by those who oppose the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change.


John Cook CSICon 2018 Taking On Fake News About Climate Change

After reading a 2007 speech by US Senator James Inhofe, who maintains that global warming is a hoax, John Cook created Skeptical Science as an internet resource to counter common arguments by climate change deniers.[3] The site hosts various articles addressing the merit of common criticisms of the scientific consensus on global warming, such as the claim that solar activity (rather than greenhouse gases) is responsible for most 20th and 21st century global warming, or that global warming is natural and/or not harmful to humans. Each article, referred to as an "argument", presents a quotation from a prominent figure who made a direct claim regarding global warming, and follows with a summary of "what the science says".

Rather than fully qualifying each claim, the site focuses mainly on challenging it by citing counterexamples for why it is incorrect, and structuring the examples into a rebuttal of the original claim. The site primarily gains the content for these articles from relevant peer reviewed scientific papers.[5] Many articles have been translated into several languages, and are split into up to three levels of technical depth. Rather than active advertising or media relationships, Cook has focused on structuring the site primarily for optimization in search engine results.[3]

The Skeptical Science home page also features blog posts by regular and guest contributors, which may be new rebuttals of a certain argument or simply the blogger's view on a relevant climate news item.[6] Like the rebuttals, the blog entries tend to hold a consistent tone that the scientific opinion on anthropogenic global warming is generally accurate.[7]

Skeptical Science app on the Android operating system
Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand book cover

In 2010, along with software development company Shine Technologies, Skeptical Science launched a free smartphone application that includes condensed summaries of most rebuttals featured on the site.[8][9]


In addition to uncategorized blog posts, the site has published many multi-week features that serve to give a more in-depth analysis of a particular topic. Topics which have received special attention include a feature describing "climate 'myths" promoted by many US politicians, a feature examining the accuracy of past predictions made by scientists studying global warming, as well as individual features to evaluate the claims made by the most prominent individuals who criticise evidence that supports man-made global warming,[10] including Richard Lindzen,[11] John Christy[12], and Christopher Monckton.[13]

In 2010, a comprehensive report called The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism was made available from Skeptical Science.[14] Written by Cook and other authors, the report draws from various rebuttals published and summarizes the evidence for global warming and the flaws in many of the criticisms of the scientific consensus on climate change.[15]

In 2011 the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand, co-authored by Cook and Haydn Washington, was published by UK publisher Earthscan.[16] The book serves to examine the ways in which denial of anthropogenic global warming is manifested through governments and the public.

In May 2013, Cook and other contributors published a paper in Environmental Research Letters (ERL) examining the scientific consensus on global warming in peer reviewed papers published between 1991–2011.[17] The paper was the most downloaded paper for that week across all Institute of Physics' journals,[18] and was widely cited across hundreds of newspapers, magazines, blog posts, and scientific papers from around the world.[19] It also ranked as the 11th most-discussed scientific paper of 2013.[20] The paper was awarded the 'Best article of 2013' prize by the editorial board of ERL.[21]

In 2013, Skeptical Science established a sister website – The Consensus Project.[22] This website promoted public awareness of the reported high degree of scientific consensus around global warming, in contrast with a public perception of still widespread debate; this has been called the Consensus Gap.,[23] which is also delineated in the Gateway Belief Model. The website was created pro-bono by design and advertising firm SJI Associates.

In 2013, Skeptical Science also released a 'software widget' to highlight the accumulation of heat within the earth's climate systems. The widget counts up the added heat from a user definable start date using several different real-world scales of measurement – Hiroshima bombs of equivalent heat, Hurricane Sandy's, 6.0 Richter scale earthquakes, 'Big Ben's full of dynamite or millions of Lightning bolts.[24] An associated website,,[25] provides background information including references to the scientific papers the count is based on.

In 2015, Skeptical Science launched a massive open online course on EdX called "Making Sense of Climate Science Denial".[26]

Reception and motivation[edit]

Skeptical Science has become a resource about climate change, and praised for its straightforwardness.[27] Marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has described it as "the most prominent knowledge-based website dealing with climate change in the world",[28] and The Washington Post has praised it as the "most prominent and detailed" website to counter arguments by global warming deniers.[29] In September 2011, the site won the 2011 Eureka Prize from the Australian Museum in the category of Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge.[30]

Cook is trained as a solar physicist and says he is motivated by his Christian beliefs.[31] He is one of a number of Christians publicly arguing for scientific findings on anthropogenic global warming, and is an evangelical Christian.[32]


Skeptical Science is not affiliated with any political, business, or charitable entities.[33] The site does not contain banner ads and is funded entirely by Cook himself, with reader donations.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Skeptical Science". 13 December 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Sev". 11 October 2007. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Bud Ward (2 December 2010). "Skeptical Science Founder John Cook; Climate Science from 'Basic … to Advanced'". The Yale Forum.
  4. ^ George Mason University, Center for Climate change communication John Cook
  5. ^ Cook, John (28 April 2011). "How climate change deniers led me to set up Skeptical Science website". The Guardian. London.
  6. ^ Vaidyanathan,ClimateWire, Gayathri. "How to Determine the Scientific Consensus on Global Warming". Scientific American. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  7. ^ Liu, Dennis W. C. (2012). "Science Denial and the Science Classroom". CBE Life Sciences Education. 11 (2): 129–134. doi:10.1187/cbe.12-03-0029. ISSN 1931-7913. PMC 3366896. PMID 22665586.
  8. ^ Emami, Gazelle (17 February 2010). "Skeptical Science iPhone App: Knocking Out Climate Skepticism, One Argument At A Time". Huffington Post.
  9. ^ Mark Johnson (11 February 2010). "Shine builds Skeptical Science iPhone App". Shine Technologies. Archived from the original on 14 February 2010.
  10. ^ " … A Valuable 'App'". Yale Climate Connections. 8 April 2010.
  11. ^ "A disservice to the scientific method: climate scientists take on Richard Lindzen". Carbon Brief: Clear on Climate. 4 April 2012.
  12. ^ Romm, Joe (17 July 2014). "Quoting John Christy On Climate Change Is Like Quoting Dick Cheney On Iraq". Think Progress.
  13. ^ Cook, John (28 April 2011). "How climate change deniers led me to set up Skeptical Science website". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Kieran Mulvaney (31 December 2010). "For New Year's Resolution: Climate Change Perspective". Discovery Channel News.
  15. ^ Matthew McDermott (27 December 2010). "Human-Caused Climate Change Based on Consensus of Evidence, Not Just Consensus of Scientists". TreeHugger.
  16. ^ Cook, John; Haydn Washington (April 2011). Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand. Earthscan. ISBN 978-1-84971-336-8.
  17. ^ Cook, J.; Nuccitelli, D.; Green, S. A.; Richardson, M.; Winkler, B. R.; Painting, R.; Way, R.; Jacobs, P.; Skuce, A. (2013). "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature" (PDF). Environmental Research Letters. 8 (2): 024024. Bibcode:2013ERL.....8b4024C. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024.
  18. ^ "Consensus study most downloaded paper in all Institute of Physics journals". Skeptical Science. 14 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Media Coverage of The Consensus Project". Skeptical Science.
  20. ^ "Which academic research caught the public imagination in 2013?". Altmetric. 31 December 2013.
  21. ^ "Skeptical Science consensus paper voted ERL's best article of 2013". Skeptical Science. 21 April 2014.
  22. ^ John Cook (16 May 2013). "Skeptical Science Study Finds 97% Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming in the Peer-Reviewed Literature". The Consensus Project.
  23. ^ Climate Commission. "Closing the Consensus Gap". Climate Commission. Archived from the original on 16 September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  24. ^ John Cook & Bob Lacatena (25 November 2013). "4 Hiroshima bombs per second: a widget to raise awareness about global warming". Skeptical Science.
  25. ^ Bob Lacatena (25 November 2013). "4 Hiroshimas". Skeptical Science.
  26. ^ UQx Denial 101x Making Sense of Climate Science Denial" Course and videos on Youtube
  27. ^ Andrew Revkin (24 March 2010). "A Physics Maven's Take on Skeptical Science". The New York Times.
  28. ^ "What scientists are saying about Skeptical Science". Skeptical Science. 9 May 2011.
  29. ^ Andrew Freedman (8 November 2010). "Scientists launch climate science counterattacks". The Washington Post.
  30. ^ Katie McMurray (10 September 2011). "Debunking Climate Lies No Longer Hit and Myth". Australian Museum. Archived from the original on 14 July 2012.
  31. ^ Graham Wayne (25 August 2010). "Why would a solar physicist embrace the non-rationality of religion?". The Guardian. London.
  32. ^ Neela Banerjee (5 January 2011). "Scientist proves conservatism and belief in climate change aren't incompatible". Los Angeles Times.
  33. ^ Cook, John. "About Skeptical Science". Skeptical Science.

External links[edit]