After the Kenyan Mall Attack: against anti-Islamic propaganda

Nothing can hurt Islam like the awful behavior of those who pretend they’re defending it.

That’s quite a general statement. Replace “Islam” with whatever else highly-held concept, and it works just as well. Nothing hurt Communism like Stalin. Nothing hurt Roman Catholicism like Torquemada. Nothing hurt Anthropogenic Climate Change like Michael Mann. Etc etc.

And yet that is a valid point mostly if not only from a propaganda point-of-view. There comes a point when one has to stand and state that the same awful behavior is no indication of there necessarily being anything intrinsically wrong with Islam, Communism, Roman Catholicism or Anthropogenic Climate Change.

The actual flaws, if there are any, must be discovered and argued for what they are. A simple labelling “Some of their supporters are up to no good” cannot demonstrate if Milwall is or isn’t a good team. Likewise the millions killed by Tamerlane have zero logical relationship with the standard of behavior of the average Muslim citizen. And the fact that France and Germany started a war 99 years ago that led to more than 100 million dead, does not necessarily mean there is something very wrong with France and Germany.

There could be, but we cannot know before finding a proper argument above and beyond the behavioral one.

The above is an introduction to a series of comments I have made in another blog, where the diffuse anti-Islam propaganda has unfortunately found some new victims. I’m posting most of the comments unedited or slightly so.

Continue reading

Andy @Revkin Points To The End of The Line For The IPCC And Its Lot

Thanks Andy!

Beginning in the 1980s, [University of Pennsylvania Professor Philip] Tetlock examined 27,451 forecasts by 284 academics, pundits and other prognosticators. The study was complex, but the conclusion can be summarized simply: the experts bombed. Not only were they worse than statistical models, they could barely eke out a tie with the proverbial dart-throwing chimps. [...] The least accurate forecasters, [Tetlock] found, were hedgehogs: “thinkers who ‘know one big thing,’ aggressively extend the explanatory reach of that one big thing into new domains” and “display bristly impatience with those who ‘do not get it,’ ” he wrote. Better experts “look like foxes: thinkers who know many small things,” “are skeptical of grand schemes” and are “diffident about their own forecasting prowess.”

So there we have it…experts of the “big thing” called “climate change”, aggressive (to the point of hiding declines, preventing publication of competing ideas, inserting unsubstantiated critiques in the IPCC report, etc etc) and definitely “impatient” with us little humans wondering aloud about their certitudes (any post at RC, Connolley, Deltoid, Romm, etc etc keeps confirming this point).

Note how none of the above can be defined as “gross negligence” or “conspiracy”, and yet despite all the whitewashing by the Climategate inquiries, there is a scientific consensus, and the best of our scientific knowledge demonstrates, that all that bunch, and pretty much all the bigwigs around the IPCC, they ARE “least accurate forecasters”. QED.

For more discussion about “wrongology”: here and here. Read also here a critique-essay by Tetlock himself, listing a set of criteria suggested by David Freedman, author of Wrong: Why Experts* Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them as signs of claims we should be “especially wary of”

  1. dramatic (“claiming to have invented the psychological equivalent of the telescope qualifies”)
  2. a tad too clear-cut (“devoid of qualifications about when propositions do and do not hold”)
  3. doubt free (“portraying findings as beyond reasonable doubt and one’s measure as 100 percent pure”)
  4. universal (“implying that one is tapping into powerful unconscious forces that, hitherto unbeknownst to us, drive all human behavior”)
  5. palatable (“likely to appeal to one’s favorite ideological constituencies”)
  6. receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (“widely covered in the mass media and millions have visited the website”)
  7. actionable implications (“claims about what employers now need to do to guarantee true equality of opportunity in workplaces”)

Let me now make a statement that is dramatic, very clear-cut, doubt-free, universal, palatable (to most of my readers), yet likely media-ignored and hardly actionable: the “scientific consensus” on climate-change (rather, the unscientific stuff that constitutes the IPCC–led propaganda bandied about as “scientific consensus”), scores 7 out of 7 on the Freedman scale and therefore should lie at the bottom of anybody’s trust level:

  1. dramatic (having reached the computational power needed to project future climate just as CO2 emissions got to a previously-unknown “dangerous” level)
  2. a tad too clear-cut (with climate change almost completely due to a “thermostat” called CO2)
  3. doubt free (the IAC spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about the absurd IPCC policy of underplaying uncertainties)
  4. universal (everybody will feel the (bad) consequences of climate change, and everybody is guilty of it)
  5. palatable (as it happens, the usual evils of capitalism and freedoms are the underling cause of climate change)
  6. receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (shall I really comment this?)
  7. actionable implications (every ha’penny worth of a politician understands how many things can be pinned upon the bandwagon called “climate change”)

And I find one sentence by Tetlock as especially relevant to the climate debate:

Whatever may be the merits of the underlying science in the peer-reviewed literature, in the public forum, the ratio of pseudoexpertise to genuine expertise is distressingly high.

ps Yes, I might be wrong. On the other hand, I am not asking for billions of dollars for dubious research, have never attempted to restrict anybody’s liberty, don’t use the ‘net to show off my superiority complex, do let almost every comment free on this website, etc etc)

Turning All Lights On Against "Earth Hour"

Like in 2010, I will definitely not turn the lights off for “Earth Hour“. I will do the exact opposite.

Why?

Because I don’t want this to happen. And even if it will happen, still I will be the last one standing with a house full of lighting.

Earth Hour? No, thanks

"Earth Hour"? No, thanks

 

Disasters Caused By (Fear Of) Climate Change

Climate change has caused incredible suffering already.

Actually, climate change hasn’t done much, or perhaps anything at all (yet?). The reason for the “incredible suffering” has been the fear of climate change. For example:

How many more victims of AGWers are needed, before the catastrophists see what they’re doing to our world?

Nuke The Toxic Humans!

Recent entries from the Warmist camp:

  1. Genghis Khan was good regarding CO2 emissions, in particular due to his mass-killing attitude
  2. Nuclear war is good for global warming, as it reverses it for a while (no prob there, we can start a new war when needed)
  3. Exploding people including children is good for action against global warming/CO2 emissions/climate change

Who’s going to join the dots and push the appropriate nuclear button, for the good of the planet of course?

A Split Sudan? It’s Spelled “Darfur”

Mohammad Ali Salih’s analysis of what has brought about the USA and the rest of the world to do nothing at all to prevent the splitting of Sudan in two halves, is singularly unimpressive (“My country divided“, IHT, Feb 17, 2011).

What is impressive is Mr Salih’s inability to spell “DARFUR”. Genocide or not, hundreds of thousands have been killed or forced into fleeing from their villages in Darfur, and even those that don’t want to believe in a direct support for those shameful actions against civilians by the Sudanese government, will have to admit it’s hard to win friends when you cannot guarantee the safety of your own citizens.

Compound with that the fact that the Darfur crisis was started just as the Sudanese civil war North vs South was drawing to an end at last.

Note also how the US government had no qualms in trying to help the displaced Darfurians, Muslims driven away from their normal lives by other Muslims. It is therefore apparent that it wasn’t Islamophobia the driver of outside intervention supporting the separation of South Sudan. It was Khartoum’s obviously pernicious policies in “dealing with” internal affairs.

And since even Northern Sudanese people with an international outlook like Mr Salih cannot even mention Darfur, the separation of South Sudan sounds like a very good idea indeed.

Denier-in-Chief

Has skepticism invaded the Oval RoomOffice? Just as the Climate Czarine finds something better to do with her life, President Obama allocates six-thousand-eight-hundred words to the State of the Union, in which we can notice:

  1. Zero instances of “climate change”
  2. Zero instances of ”global warming”
  3. Zero instances of ”climate”
  4. Zero instances of ”environment”
  5. Zero instances of ”sustainability” (in the greenish sense)
  6. One instance of ”protect our planet”

The one or two optimists among the climate alarmists will find solace in the concept that one is infinitely more than zero.

Notably, Obama’s “Sputnik moment” (what a lame analogy…as if China had just come out with a 100-TW solar power station the size of a football field…) concerns itself with getting 80% of electrical (only electrical) power by 2035 using clean (that is, not necessarily sustainable) means.

Then it’s time for “clean coal” and the curtains closing down on the Romm- and Gore-esques of “the defining challenge for our generation”.

Dear Tamino’s, Greenfyre’s, McKibben’s, Skeptical Science’s, Connolley’s of the world: stop wasting your time with us dull, pea-brained, big-oil-paid skeptics, and try to get at least the consensus of One.

Until you manage that, everything else will be a joke.

R.I.P. Climate Change Mitigation (1988-2011)

Richard Black came back yesterday to the Land of the Writing with the uncharacteristic words of a Climate Realist, clearly undermining the mitigation side of climate change…

No-one acknowledges the limitations of computer climate models more readily than modellers themselves, who will frequently bemoan the roughness of the resolution at which they have to work given the tools available.

How fast models’ capabilities will increase is anybody’s guess – partly because funding for new big science projects is scarce in many nations, partly because there are still big gaps in understanding of how oceans and the atmosphere work, and partly because when it comes to projecting trends such as glacier loss, the path human society takes in terms of economic development is a key factor, and that’s certainly a known unknown.

There is not enough detail to know what the impact is going to be, where it is going to hit and when. Worse, it might take a long time to go from Global to Regional level, and then even that might not be detailed enough to be “useful”, with more years still to go from Regional to a “useful” level (whatever that might be).

All mitigation efforts might be just right, or too much, or too little, just in-time, or too soon, or too late, and we simply have no clue to tell what they really are.

The problem is that climate science as it is now asked to help manage the climate risk of the year 2100 is like XVIII century chemistry being asked to develop a nuclear bomb. We know it did, eventually, and science and knowledge moved forward. We also know it would have been absurd to base any policy on what XVIII century chemistry knew about nuclear bombs. And we know that, albeit fundamental to the building of nuclear bombs, XVIII century chemistry studies would have been of very little help in that regard.

So it’s not a matter of pessimism, but (using a similar analogy) of acknowledging that we can’t go to the Moon yet if all we can build is hot-air balloons.

Richard proceeds to ask:

So what should policymakers do?

What does one do if one loses one’s sight? Await in hospital the invention of an artificial eye? Pretend nothing has happened, and try to walk as before? Or does one protects oneself against accidents (=builds up adaptation) by using a white cane, a guide dog, and all available mobility aids?

Risk management under these “blind walk” conditions has to start from adaptation instead of mitigation, building up everybody’s resilience against present and future climate (or better yet, weather) events. There are enough weather disasters already as things are, despite CO2 levels being far from the projected values, and global temperature anomaly still in the 0.7C region.

 

Harrabin/BBC's Warm-or-Cold Reticence (The Met Office's Hidden Third Winter Forecast)

Evidently (and evidently again) the Met Office did tell some people that the winter was going to be mild (pettifogging protestations notwithstanding). And likely (and likely again) it did tell some other people that the winter was going to be harsh.

This might mean they have told some other people yet, that the winter was going to be average. Could those people please step forward. You know, that’s the best way for the Met Office to try to pull off a “Derren Brown” and tell the world how good their work really is.

But that’s not the only strange thing about this ongoing story.

The news about the “exceptionally cold winter” forecast was broken by the BBC’s Roger Harrabin (of Jo Abbess fame), apparently from the pages of the Radio Times. I cannot be 100% sure because I do not read the Radio Times, there is no mention of Harrabin on the RT website and the closest online trace to Harrabin’s words is an article from the Daily Telegraph. Obviously there is no reason to believe the Telegraph has made up Harrabin’s quotes, and given that there’s been no protestation by Harrabin himself the Telegraph story is very very likely to be true.

  • Why then, has Harrabin said not a thing about this all in the BBC News website?

  • How can the Met Office secretly telling something very important to somebody somewhere in the UK Government at local or national level NOT be an important news item to tell the world about in first person, given it also is has appeared in almost 30 mainstream media articles in the UK?

  • Why has nobody at the BBC written anything on the BBC News website, so that the only references you find are in readers’ comments?

Finally…as absence of news is as usual both news of absence, and an open door for speculation….

What indeed.

Build-Your-Own "Anthropogenic Global Something"

Commenter Alvaro of “After Mein Kampf, Mein Klima” Splattergate-era fame has just published another gem in Italian non-warmist site “Climate Monitor“. Its edited and expanded translation is published below as a way to help budding entrepreneurs to identify a niche “Anthropogenic Global Something” where to build their fortunes from.

(Please DO send 10% of the profits).

========

Having learned the lessons of AGW, I wonder if we could emulate the process, starting from scratch though with the aim of finding (and funding) my own place in the sun.

  • First of all, we need a juicy topic, similar to Electrosmog, but not as easy to debunk
  • It also needs to be catchy whilst sounding good in news bites

How about something “magnetic …” – it sounds right and is already well received by the general public, as shown by the never-ending popularity of “magnetic bracelets“.

So, what interesting and “magnetic”? Two minutes spent on Google lead to this (by NASA, no less!), that can be summarily distorted as:

Red alert! The Earth’s magnetic field is no longer constant, indeed it seems that is weakening – and very few percent per century, much more than the changes induced by AGW! And if that field goes, the magnetosphere goes, ending life on earth …

CreatedIdentified the problem, there’s still two important details to care about:

  • We must figure out some “anthropogenic” cause, possibly associated to some kind of “guilt”. Otherwise, there goes the business opportunity
  • Some evil giant corporation has to be the at the root of the problem. This will increase the guilt factor and greatly help in the recruitment of unpaid volunteers

Consider now an old CRT computer monitor. It needs degaussing when it starts being troubled by nearby loudspeakers. That involves the use of of a bit of AC – just as in deleting old music and video tapes. Best of all, there is lots of man-made ACs around. Can you feel the Eureka moment too?

Over the last hundred years, ever since Westinghouse (the evil giant corporation) opted for AC (Tesla’s idea) instead of DC (Edison’s), we have built and then – alas – even synced a giant electricity grid all around our planet, based on AC at 50-60 Hz: a formidable “degaussing grid” of planetary scale!

Of course, this is not enough. Where’s the catastrophe?

  • A sobering message is in order, followed by suitably-placed apocalyptic predictions for decades in the future, in case of inaction

Here comes the message!

We are now painfully aware that we have been unwittingly tampering with Earth’s already-weak magnetic field, risking the wearing out of the magnetosphere. Compared to that, the ozone hole looks like child’s play. So if we do not act now, jetzt, ora, pronto, to stop Anthropogenic Global Degaussing (AGD) we will all fry in a radioactive holocaust, like microwaved mice, in a veritable ELE – Extinction Level Event, We’ll be following in the footsteps of the dinosaurs, in about thirty years’ time, according to accurate peer-reviewed computations.

For the AGD PERP (Precautionary Emergency Response Program) the plan is the following:

  • Take three TRIPs – Temporarily Redundant Important Politicians – and put them in charge of a sky-blue-badged global initiative to coordinate (a) an immediate and massive effort to communicate the seriousness of the AGD emergency, (b) the subsequent coercive-yet-negotiable mitigation initiatives of the impact of the world AC grid and (c) the final big effort to restore Earth’s magnetic field
  • Provide the motives, I mean, encourage large research institutions to align themselves with mainstream AGD in order to harmonize the overall funding for a massive research effort that will confirm the overriding urgency of the TRIPs’ plans
  • Prepare draft Wikipedia article to lay the foundation for a Nobel Prize

And here are a few ideas on what to tell people:

Global Degaussing is the most significant issue of our times, and too important for us to delay it any further. People tend to focus on the here and now. The problem is that, once global degaussing becomes something that most people can feel in the course of their daily lives, it will be too late to prevent much larger, potentially catastrophic changes.

All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous degaussing patterns and devastating electric storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not magnetic change is real. Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.

The warnings about global degaussing have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global magnetic crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences. Etc etc

Only remaining issue is how to deal with AGD deniers, those unable to listen to reason, and able instead mostly to sacrifice truth on the altar of profits yada yada yada…

Suggestions?

Double-Whammy Befalling London, Jan 19, 2011

As it happens, Polly Higgins and Lord Martin Rees will both be speaking in London on Jan 19, 2011.

Apologies of course to Polly…rather than deranged statements in support of a new Committee of Public Safety (please nobody tell the warmists how little CO2 is emitted by guillotines!), I’ll most likely opt for a relaxed evening about “the search for planets around other stars” and in general anything apart from the world I left behind me.

  • Ecocide – Polly Higgins, international environmental lawyer and activist, is leading a campaign to declare the mass destruction of ecosystems an international Crime Against Peace – alongside genocide and crimes against humanity. Join us to explore how the crime of Ecocide can be implemented, how it can be applied internationally and nationally within a short timescale, and what the implications for global health may be. Roberts G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, Malet Place, UCL, Wednesday 19th January 2011, 3-4.30pm with drinks to follow
  • Life’s Future in the Cosmos – Prof Martin Rees – The talk will summarise current developments in understanding cosmic evolution and in the search for planets around other stars, as well as speculating on what may lie beyond the horizon of our observations. Conference Room at 27/29 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1SZ, The British Interplanetary Society, 19 January 2011 7 – 8.30 pm

Addendum to Skeptic's Dictionary: Hidden Persuaders Of Anthropogenic Global Warming

(original here of course, with plenty of links to explore each dictionary entry below in depth)

(the text outside < blockquote > is (mostly) mine)

hidden persuaders: A term used by Geoffrey Dean and Ivan Kelly (2003) to describe affective, perceptual, and cognitive biases or illusions that lead to erroneous beliefs.

A NOTE TO THOSE OF AGW-BELIEVING ATTITUDE:

The hidden persuaders sometimes seem to affect people in proportion to their intelligence: the smarter one is the easier it is to develop false beliefs. There are several reasons for this: (1) the hidden persuaders affect everybody to some degree; (2) the smarter one is the easier it is to see patterns, fit data to a hypothesis, and draw inferences; (3) the smarter one is the easier it is to rationalize, i.e., explain away strong evidence contrary to one’s belief; and (4) smart people are often arrogant and incorrectly think that they cannot be deceived by others, the data, or themselves

And now for some examples:

 

ad hoc hypothesis: An ad hoc hypothesis is one created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s belief or theory. Ad hoc hypotheses are common in paranormal research and in the work of pseudoscientists. It is always more reasonable to apply Occam’s razor than to offer speculative ad hoc hypotheses.

AGW example: The discovery that aerosols have cooled the Earth just when the Earth was cooling, miraculously declining their action exactly when the Earth was warming due to CO2 emissions.

AGW example: The discovery that heavy (winter) snow and cold temperatures are exactly caused by temperature increases

 

affect bias: Our judgment regarding the costs and benefits of items is often significantly influenced by a feeling evoked by pictures or words not directly relevant to the actual cost or benefit

AGW example: Justifying reduction in CO2 emissions by way of how “green” things could become, and civilization “sustainable” in “harmony” with nature.

 

apophenia: Apophenia is the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. “The propensity to see connections between seemingly unrelated objects or ideas most closely links psychosis to creativity … apophenia and creativity may even be seen as two sides of the same coin”. In statistics, apophenia is called a Type I error, seeing patterns where none, in fact, exist.

AGW example: The propensity to see Anthropogenic Global Warming at work in each and every (bad) thing that happens anywhere on Earth, including in earthquakes

 

autokinetic effect: The autokinetic effect refers to perceiving a stationary point of light in the dark as moving

AGW example: The incredible inability of past and present temperature measures to record the actual values, leading to contemporary researchers having to continuously adjust the figures (lowering the old ones, increasing the new ones)

 

availability error: availability heuristic, determining probability “by the ease with which relevant examples come to mind” (Groopman 2007: p. 64) or “by the first thing that comes to mind” (Sutherland 1992: p. 11)

AGW example: The IPCC declaring in 2007 that tens of thousands of indicators were all compatible to global warming, even if the overwhelming majority of those indicators was about Europe alone

 

backfire effect: The “backfire effect” is a term coined by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler to describe how some individuals when confronted with evidence that conflicts with their beliefs come to hold their original position even more strongly

AGW example: AGWers patting each other in the back about climate science remaining totally unscathed by the Climategate e-mails

 

change blindness: Change blindness is the failure to detect non-trivial changes in the visual field.

AGW example: The obsession with computing linear trends, making it impossible even to fathom the step-function behaviors (=”tipping points”) the very same AGWers like to talk about

 

Clever Hans phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Journalist AGWers crowding RealClimate to know how long to count for

 

Clever Linda phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Climate scientists writing to journalists making sure they conform, because fortunately, the prestige press doesn’t fall for this sort of stuff, right?

 

clustering illusion: The clustering illusion is the intuition that random events which occur in clusters are not really random events

AGW example: All the global village idiots that will tell the world how climate change is upon us, as shown by the year’s news, rather than by relying on properly conducted scientific research capable to isolate climate-change effects from others such as poverty

 

cognitive dissonance: Cognitive dissonance is a theory of human motivation that asserts that it is psychologically uncomfortable to hold contradictory cognitions. The theory is that dissonance, being unpleasant, motivates a person to change his cognition, attitude, or behavior. What distinguishes the chiropractor’s rationalization from the cult member’s is that the latter is based on pure faith and devotion to a guru or prophet, whereas the former is based on evidence from experience. Neither belief can be falsified because the believers won’t let them be falsified: Nothing can count against them. Those who base their beliefs on experience and what they take to be empirical or scientific evidence (e.g., astrologers, palm readers, mediums, psychics, the intelligent design folks, and the chiropractor) make a pretense of being willing to test their beliefs. They only bother to submit to a test of their ideas to get proof for others. That is why we refer to their beliefs as pseudosciences. We do not refer to the beliefs of cult members as pseudoscientific, but as faith-based irrationality. The chiropractors’ misguided belief is probably not due to worrying about their self-image or removing discomfort. It is more likely due to their being arrogant and incompetent thinkers, convinced by their experience that they “know” what’s going on, and probably assisted by communal reinforcement from the like-minded arrogant and incompetent thinkers they work with and are trained by. They’ve seen how AK works with their own eyes. They’ve demonstrated it many times. If anything makes them uncomfortable it might be that they can’t understand how the world can be so full of idiots who can’t see with their own eyes what they see!

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming

 

law of truly large numbers (coincidence): The law of truly large numbers says that with a large enough sample many odd coincidences are likely to happen.

AGW example: Romm scouring the planet’s press agencies to list all sorts of disasters that might somehow be connected to anthropogenic global warming

 

cold reading: Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to “mysteriously” know things about the subject

AGW example: The popularity of climate models’ ensembles among politicians looking for something to confirm they need to be voted for, and in the process getting convinced science can really tell us something about the climate of 2100

 

communal reinforcement: Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community

AGW example: The tendency of warmist websites to censor dissenting comments away, leaving readers (believers) with the impression there is really a huge huge number of them, and just a handful of nasty skeptics

 

confabulation: A confabulation is a fantasy that has unconsciously emerged as a factual account in memory. A confabulation may be based partly on fact or be a complete construction of the imagination

AGW example: The decade-long fight to remove from collective memory the substantial agreement among scientists about global cooling (potentially, an ice age), a consensus that lasted at least between 1972 and 1975.

 

confirmation bias: Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs

AGW example: Briffa’s uncanny ability to avoid for years any mention of the misbehaving trees he had himself published a paper about, in the Yamal saga

 

file-drawer effect: The file-drawer effect refers to the practice of researchers filing away studies with negative outcomes. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Negative outcome may also refer to finding something that is contrary to one’s earlier research or to what one expects

AGW example: Extreme lack of interest among prominent climate scientists to publish anything (not even an Op-Ed) about the “travesty” that was (is) their inability to explain why temperatures (actually, the averages of the global temperature anomaly) have not risen since 1998

 

Forer effect: The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people

AGW example: The worldwide phenomenon that sees most Ministers and Prime Ministers announce that their own particular country is being affected by climate change at twice or more the planetary average

 

gambler’s fallacy: The gambler’s fallacy is the mistaken notion that the odds for something with a fixed probability increase or decrease depending upon recent occurrences

AGW example: Tamino’s (?) absurdist blog about the probability of having consecutive hot periods being astronomically low

 

hindsight bias: Hindsight bias is the tendency to construct one’s memory after the fact (or interpret the meaning of something said in the past) according to currently known facts and one’s current beliefs. In this way, one appears to make the past consistent with the present and more predictive or predictable than it actually was.

AGW example: The Met Office discovering in January how it had forecasted a cold December in October, as shown by a statement nobody did read, and nobody has read

AGW example: The silly notion that Anthropogenic Global Warming has been consensually recognized in the 1970′s or even earlier

 

inattentional blindness: Inattentional blindness is an inability to perceive something that is within one’s direct perceptual field because one is attending to something else

AGW example: Lancet publishing an incredibly misleading Climate Change report with little mention of the huge difference in the number and type of deaths of people during cold and warm snaps

AGW example: The complete lack of interest about linking the generalized Northern Hemispheric cold and the silent Sun

 

magical thinking: According to anthropologist Dr. Phillips Stevens Jr., magical thinking involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections. Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbol. One of the driving principles of magical thinking is the notion that things that resemble each other are causally connected in some way that defies scientific testing (the law of similarity)

AGW example: CO2′s mysterious ability to free the Arctic from the ice, and to increase the amount of ice in Antarctica, plus its long hand into anything and everything that ever happens and has bad consequences.

 

motivated reasoning: Motivated reasoning is confirmation bias taken to the next level. Motivated reasoning leads people to confirm what they already believe, while ignoring contrary data. But it also drives people to develop elaborate rationalizations to justify holding beliefs that logic and evidence have shown to be wrong

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural swiftness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions

 

nonfalsifiability: Scientific theories not only explain empirical phenomena, they also predict empirical phenomena. One way we know a scientific theory is no good is that its predictions keep failing. Predictions can’t fail unless a theory is falsifiable. Some pseudoscientific [theories] can’t be falsified because they are consistent with every imaginable empirical state of affairs. Karl Popper noted that psychoanalytic theory, including Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex, is pseudoscientific because they seem to explain everything and do not leave open the possibility of error. Even contradictory behaviors are appealed to in support of the theory.

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming

 

positive-outcome (publication) bias: Positive-outcome (or “publication”) bias is the tendency to publish research with a positive outcome more frequently than research with a negative outcome. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Positive-outcome bias also refers to the tendency of the media to publish medical study stories with positive outcomes much more frequently than such stories with negative outcomes

AGW example: The amount of time some highly-functioning minds have spent to justify scientifically the reasons for the “hide the decline”

 

post hoc fallacy: The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural completeness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions

 

pragmatic fallacy: The pragmatic fallacy is committed when one argues that something is true because it works and where ‘works’ means something like “I’m satisfied with it,” “I feel better,” “I find it beneficial, meaningful, or significant,” or “It explains things for me

AGW example: The inane request to publish via peer-review a scientific alternative to mainstream Anthropogenic Global Warming theory because “it works”. One doesn’t need to be a leader or a tailor to see if the Emperor is naked.

 

regressive fallacy: The regressive fallacy is the failure to take into account natural and inevitable fluctuations of things when ascribing causes to them

AGW example: The general agreement that natural variability doesn’t count much for Anthropogenic Global Warming, even if the very same people go on to claim temperatures have not increased in a decade because of natural variability

 

representativeness error: In judging items, we compare them to a prototype or representative idea and tend to see them as typical or atypical according to how they match up with our model. The problem with the representativeness heuristic is that what appears typical sometimes blinds you to possibilities that contradict the prototype

AGW example: The sterile obsession with studying climate science by climate models alone

 

retrospective falsification: D. H. Rawcliffe coined this term to refer to the process of telling a story that is factual to some extent, but which gets distorted and falsified over time by retelling it with embellishments

AGW example: The abuse of Arrhenius’ “greenhouse gas” works, with the first one continuously mentioned exactly as the second one gets forgotten, being a more sober rethinking of the original ideas

 

selection bias: Selection bias comes in two flavors: (1) self-selection of individuals to participate in an activity or survey, or as a subject in an experimental study; (2) selection of samples or studies by researchers to support a particular hypothesis

AGW example: Mann’s obviously irrelevant pick-and-choose of which series to use for the Hockey Stick

 

selective thinking: Selective thinking is the process whereby one selects out favorable evidence for remembrance and focus, while ignoring unfavorable evidence for a belief

AGW example: Any post at Skeptical Science, with its incredible list of peer-reviewed all-mutually-consistent scientific papers

 

self-deception: Self-deception is the process or fact of misleading ourselves to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. Self-deception, in short, is a way we justify false beliefs to ourselves

AGW example: Connolley et al publishing an article about a “Myth” of global cooling consensus in the 1970′s despite providing themselves ample evidence to support the same “myth”

 

shoehorning: Shoehorning is the process of force-fitting some current affair into one’s personal, political, or religious agenda

AGW example: Also known as “decorating the Christmas tree”…at every climate negotiation for the UN, thousands of people try to add their pet project to the cause, including “forest protection, poverty alleviation, water equity, women’s and indigenous rights

 

subjective validation: Subjective validation is the process of validating words, initials, statements, or signs as accurate because one is able to find them personally meaningful and significant

AGW example: Anthropogenic Global Warming causing a (temporary?) shutdown in critical thinking among those worried about getting the world “greener”

 

sunk-cost fallacy: When one makes a hopeless investment, one sometimes reasons: I can’t stop now, otherwise what I’ve invested so far will be lost. This is true, of course, but irrelevant to whether one should continue to invest in the project. Everything one has invested is lost regardless. If there is no hope for success in the future from the investment, then the fact that one has already lost a bundle should lead one to the conclusion that the rational thing to do is to withdraw from the project

AGW example: The UN’s COP bandwagon, moving a lot of people a lot of times in a lot of different locations (but never in Moldova or North Korea, for some reason) even if everybody agrees it will never mean anything substantial

 

anecdotal (testimonial) evidence: Testimonials and vivid anecdotes are one of the most popular and convincing forms of evidence presented for beliefs in the supernatural, paranormal, and pseudoscientific

AGW example: Monbiot’s famous February floral musings brought to the world as evidence of anthropogenic global warmings, back when Februarys were still warm

 

Texas-sharpshooter fallacy: The Texas-sharpshooter fallacy is the name epidemiologists give to the clustering illusion. Politicians, lawyers and some scientists tend to isolate clusters of diseases from their context, thereby giving the illusion of a causal connection between some environmental factor and the disease. What appears to be statistically significant (i.e., not due to chance) is actually expected by the laws of chance

AGW example:Pretty much any Al Gore speech

 

wishful thinking: Wishful thinking is interpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc., according to what one would like to be the case rather than according to the actual evidence

AGW example:Pretty much any warmist blog or statement

=======

Obviously there’s much better examples out there, so do send them across if you see any…

The Ike Nobody Mentions

In a few short days, it will be 50 years since President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (Jan 17, 1961), truly world-famous for its criticism of the “military-industrial complex“. However, a few moments later Ike moved on to a different “complex“, eerily predicting the rise of organizations like the IPCC, and of scientists just too eager to be useful to politicians:

[...] The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.[...]

As expected, he had no time for those that put science/technology/whatever else ahead of the democratic system:

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

President Eisenhower even mentions the problem of dwindling resources (Andy Revkin must have heard him as a toddler)

As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

One should note though, that the currently fashionable scaremongering had no space in Ike’s worldview either

this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect

Finally, what were the enemies to be fought? Why, “scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance“. Perhaps one day a former NYT journalist will recognize how fundamental these are…

This is WHY

In an incredible case of multitemporal synchronicity, the text from a rather famous 1984 TV ad explains why this blog will keep running for 2011:

My friends, each of you is a single cell in the great body of the State. And today, that great body has purged itself of parasites. We have triumphed over the unprincipled dissemination of facts. The thugs and wreckers have been cast out. And the poisonous weeds of disinformation have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Let each and every cell rejoice! For today we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive! We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thought is a more powerful weapon than any fleet or army on Earth! We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion! We shall prevail!

Yes, hammers are still and sorely needed.

Incredibly Accurate Climate Forecast For 2011

(no £33M supercomputer was harmed in the making of this blog)

  • All atmospheric, oceanic, glacial, geological and public-health phenomena with any kind of negative impact will be linked to (anthropogenic) global warming with no shortage of experts confirming how we’d known that all along, and of computer models showing how obvious those consequences have always been
  • No atmospheric, oceanic, glacial, geological and public-health phenomena lacking any kind of negative impact will be linked to (anthropogenic) global warming
  • Romm will continue his fishing expeditions, hoping this or that weather-related mass killing can be taken advantage of, in order to promote the concept of anthropogenic global warming
  • Hansen will get (willingly) arrested once or twice, ready to proclaim 2011 as the warmest year ever, mostly due to extremes of heat in faraway places devoid of people and weather stations
  • McKibben will get even thinner, and just as ineffectual, while identifying new enemies forever closer to himself
  • RealClimate will keep its absurdist censorship policy, and in post after post the Team will “demonstrate” their intellectual superiority
  • Skeptical Science will keep building climate salad surgeries to no end, sprinkling statements of various robustness with seemingly limitless references to the Literature, to be used by the lazy and most scientifically-ignorant among its readership (i.e. the journalists)
  • The Climate Change Rapid Response Team will say nothing of relevance that hasn’t been already said
  • The nastiest criticisms by rabid AGWers will be thrown in the direction of Curry
  • Revkin will keep reaffirming his absolute confidence in mainstream AGW science despite the evidence to the contrary presented in Revkin’s blog
  • Pielke Jr will be distracted by other things, thereby avoiding Revkin’s problem
  • The IPCC will make sure nothing really is changed in its procedures or results
  • McIntyre will be made privy to secret information showing how deeply unpopular in the mainstream climate community is anything remotely linked to McIntyre
  • Goddard (S.) will publish his 25,000th blog post
  • Goddard (NASA’s) will discover that recent thermometer readings must be adjusted upwards, and past ones downwards, for purely scientific reasons of course
  • Watts will be criticized (for being Watts and) for providing web space to people with strange theories
  • ScienceOfDoom will busy himself with explaining the first law of thermodynamics (again!) thereby missing all the fun
  • Connolley will not notice the rest of the planet
  • Tamino will pop up once around here and other places, posting an inane, canned comment that could be written in reply to any other blog post written by anybody on any topic
  • Some people with a very nasty mindset will suggest that the glowing comments to Tamino’s posts might as well have been written by people sharing the same identical DNA with Tamino
  • The recipient of the 2010 Edward Davis Wood, Jr.’s Climate “Blogging Turkey” Award will sink to new lows
  • The art of obfuscating FOI and non-FOI answers will be perfected by the CRU and the BBC
  • Popular media will be filled by photographic reports about a changing climate, with no picture showing anything remotely connected to climate change in a proper scientific way
  • Popular media will be filled by countless breakthroughs in climate science showing how worse it is than we thought
  • Scientifically speaking, there will not be any breakthrough in climate science
  • A very large number of well-known and otherwise knowledgeable scientists will make complete asses of themselves by appearing on TV and in print with idiotic regurgitations of mainstream AGW theory, mostly inconsistent with the very statements made by the IPCC
  • If the weather will keep cold, a major European scientific institution will break ranks with mainstream AGW theory before the summer
  • Popular interest will wane as most people will be titillated about the 2012 “end of the world” instead
  • The EU will find new ways to use climate change to transfer money to the rich, and to China
  • China will happily go along the EU cash-transfer schemes
  • The US Congress and President will strike a united front in protecting climate-change-related pork (money not meat)

And finally for the real world…

  • It will rain, otherwise it will be sunny, foggy, cloudy or overcast. It will snow in places, with sandstorms in other places (or the same ones). It will be cold, then hot, then cold again, or viceversa more or less overall. Some droughts, some floods, and places experiencing drizzle. Unprecedented weather will be experienced for the 200,000th year running, with lack of morals among humans indicated as main culprit for the 200,000th time as well
  • Many people will die of poverty in weather-related events around the world, with the keys being “poverty” and “weather” but all action concentrated on “climate change”
  • Children will keep dying of soot, while the world concerns itself with CO2 emissions only
  • Elderly people will keep dying of fuel poverty, while the world concerns itself to increase fuel prices in order to reduce CO2 emissions

Climate Science, To The Edge Of Irrelevance

After days of extremely-silly reports trying to argue that a warming world means a colder world or part of it, as if a winter or two meant anything in the context of climate (usually defined as a 30-year average), a ray of hope for the serious parts of climate science has shone at DotEarth. After all, whenever a rabid warmist claims success after having fished around for any instance of weather extreme anywhere in the world, it’s hard to tell the ensuing climate looting from any claim about Nostradamus.

The whole brouhaha about the cold weather of December 2010 actually highlights three issues that are pushing climate science towards irrelevance:

  • If somebody like Judah Cohen publishes a NYT Op-Ed focused on explaining how to “reconcile” the “snow and record cold” with “a World Meteorological Organization report showing that 2010 will probably be among the three warmest years on record“, then what exactly are climate projections for?

As every newspaper reader outside of North Korea should know by now, a warmer world is expected to be a world perhaps with more snow, perhaps with less snow, perhaps with both; perhaps with more floods, perhaps with more droughts, perhaps with both; perhaps with more cold, perhaps with more heat, perhaps with both…That covers more or less every possibility, apart from “no change at all”, hence it is similar to expecting at the roulette table any number between 0 and 14 and between 16 and 36, having seen “15″ come out several times in a row. There is no need of peer-review or statistical analysis to do that. There is not even any need to model the roulette wheel and its pockets. And as any trip to the Casino can show, there is no reward at all in betting upon such an extremely-wide-ranging set of “projections”.

  • In a new blog, Revkin mentions “Jay Fein, program director in N.S.F.’s climate dynamics program” as saying “weather impacts peoples’ lives and the global economy on a daily basis

Why then should anybody care about 30-year averages? What is the meaning of spending considerable resources to mitigate or even adapt to some hard-to-tell thing that might or might happen in 2050AD when the impact of atmospheric patterns is felt “on a daily basis“? Imagine asking anybody in 1900 to put aside money for good use in 1940…

  • And even if one willingly forgets the two objections above…as mentioned here already a few weeks ago, and independently reaffirmed at Real Science, the very concept of a “global anomaly” by which we can measure a “warming planet” might be meaningless, as an unevenly-warming world might see everybody having to face a life of cold

Imagine if a cold place where the average temperature is -20C warms by 4C, and a temperate place where the average temperature is 10C cools by 2C. Obviously the resulting “average anomaly” is +2C and people can run around screaming about “global warming”. Apparently logical…and yet: the result is that people will have a choice between living at -16C or leaving at 8C, i.e. between where it’s still as cold as ever, and where it’s not warm enough any longer.

In such a situation, as in trying to build an effective policy from an extremely-wide range of expected scenarios, and as in trying to convince the people of today to suffer for something that we don’t know and might or might not happen far in the future, politicians actively applying what contemporary climate science tells them will find themselves victims of unintended consequences at best, and of complete misleading at worst. The most likely outcome? Nobody in their right mind will ever listen to a climate scientist again…

Climate Change Minister Resigns "Because Of The Extremities Of The Climate"

On the irony scale, what has just happened in Scotland is on the par with if not better (worse?) than the record cold in Cancún during COP16: because Scottish “beleaguered Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson” has resigned after an extraordinary bad series of moves making the recent “Arctic blast” hellish for thousands of people.

Wait a moment…”Transport” Minister? Not exactly. Hidden away in the BBC report, that’s where the irony strikes: Mr Stevenson‘s job was “Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and…” (YES YOU GUESSED IT RIGHT!) “…Climate Change“.

A sign that “weather” is more important than “climate”? That’s irony #1.

It goes further. You’d think the person officially in charge of an issue that is officially already bringing “more extreme weather patterns in Scotland” might have been preparing his country a little about an extreme weather pattern. Well, apparently, he hadn’t (irony #2). Neither had the person officially in charge of dealing with transportation and infrastructure issues in Scotland, including what to do in case of an early snow.

Actually, that’s the one and same person spectacularly failing in a wondrous triple-act. That’s irony #3.

And now for irony #4. In Climate Change circles, Mr Stevenson might be mostly remembered for “shepherding the Climate Change Act through the Scottish Parliament” containing “the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world“, plus a series of perfunctory speeches on the topic, a now-lost opportunity to attend the Cancún Climate Change Summit aka COP16 and a bizarre (and rebuked) attempt to talk to the USA on a par-level (so much for being world-leading).

Trouble is, even First Minister Alex Salmond, still making excuses after the news about the resignation came out, might have not fully recollected the responsibilities regarding Climate Change action he himself had bestowed upon Mr Stevenson (around 0m32s in the video):

At the end of the day, you know, no man can tether time nor tide, and certainly you can’t control the elements. I am very sad that a decent man, a competent minister has been forced to resignation because of the extremities of the climate

(the same concept is repeated in Mr Salmond’s reply to Mr Stevenson’s resignation letter)

I can sense a bit of schizophrenic Governmental behavior in there so let me dare ask: Dear First Minister: either the climate change minister HAS to resign because of his inability to deal with extremities of the climate _OR_ you should finally agree with yourself that no man, and no Government, can tether time, tide, or climate. And if “urgent action is needed to cut emissions which cause climate change“, even MORE urgent action is needed to deal with the climate (changed or otherwise) we experience in the here and now.

D.I.Y. Climate Policy: My Official CO2 Emission Pledges (or It's A Farce in Cancún)

I hereby declare for myself a CO2 emission reduction target of 120% by yesterday, and can happily report I have met that same target already. And if anybody doesn’t believe me, well, you have no right to monitor any of that, and there is no penalty for failure anyway.

Because, as reported by John M. Broder from COP16:

Mr. Ramesh proposed a plan for bridging the gap between the United States and China on verification, by establishing a voluntary program known as international consultation and analysis. Under the plan, also known as I.C.A., countries would declare their emissions reduction targets and provide regular reports on how they were meeting them and gauging their own progress.

There would be no international monitors or inspectors, and no penalties for failing to reach stated targets. Smaller countries would have less frequent and less detailed reporting requirements than major emitters.

Broder continues:

Mr. Ramesh’s concept has been broadly accepted here

As a poet would say, no sh*t Sherlock. Indeed none.

Is Promotion Of Environmental Causes Bad For One's Mental And Physical Health?

Bill McKibben of 350.org stars in the latest Cancún blog plus video by Andy Revkin, with puzzling results.

  • Most interestingly, McKibben is adamantly dismissive of Andy’s concerns about an “energy challenge”, small stuff really when “whole freaking countries” are “washing away“, and “the planet right now is…disintegrating“. All of that doesn’t elicit much of a reaction from the dotEarth’s author. Does that mean Revkin fundamentally agrees with McKibben, also about statements such as “it is going to be a miserable century or an impossible one” and “the science is very clear“? I don’t think so.

Other questions:

  • If the underlying engine is “the science“, what are the scientific basis for choosing 350ppmv as the ultimate goal of any climate policy?
  • It’s also a mystery how a “long-distance climate campaigner” manages to be around Cancun rather than do the right thing, connect from afar in order to emit far less CO2 than “living strenously” implies. It would also make a lot of sense, given the lack of money 350.org keeps lamenting. What do we get instead? Latest news is a boat trip with a free dive out of Cancun, not exactly cheap stuff.
  • Finally, it’s great for McKibben to worry about the rest of the century, but by the look of it, he risks not being around for much of the rest of the century, looking quite old, tired, almost haunted (yes, Revkin _is_ older than McKibben). Is promotion of environmental causes bad for one’s mental and physical health?

ps Oh my…McKibben uses “that” WWII analogy again…Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert!

pps “The most interesting thing about the pictures and everything from 350 is everybody in them almost is poor, black, brown, Asian, young“…are the Africans alright then? What about older Asians?

Either A Climate Negotiations' Glitch, Or A New Business Opportunity for Selling A Bridge

In Andy Revkin’s “A ‘Shared Vision’ on Climate, With a Glitch“, our dear friend laments the distortion of the IPCC’s own conclusions in the Cancún “shared vision” draft, in particular in the statement:

Recognizes that warming of the climate system, as a consequence of human activity, is unequivocal, as assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change in its Fourth Assessment Report

OF COURSE, there is nothing of the sort in the IPCC AR4. Revkin writes “I’m not sure how the clause ‘as a consequence of human activity’ slipped in, but it shouldn’t be there” and concludes hoping “several [IPCC] scientists and Rajendra K. Pachauri” will “suggest a change” to correct such a “glitch“, even if “it’s minutiae“.

Here’s my comment posted at the NYT:

Andy – this is is not “glitch” #1, this must be “glitch” #267…say, have you ever tried to follow the trail from the IPCC’s 2007 statements on solar influences to what appears in newspapers and at policy conferences?

And all those “glitches” always go in the same direction. What more evidence do you need to realize that these “broken telephone” games:

  1. are biased from the start,
  2. make a mockery of climate science,
  3. undermine any effort to deal with future resource and disaster management challenges and
  4. (d) demean journalists that keep talking about them as “glitches” into the kind of people whom dodgy characters would like to sell a bridge to

More Evidence Of AGW Obsession In The UK (It's Stephen Hawking's Turn)

Sometimes I do wonder if I am writing too much stuff about AGW…but then what should one have to do when it pops up more or less everywhere, for inhabitants of the United Kingdom?

Take for example…Stephen Hawking’s “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt” (written with Lucy Hawking). It’s a great story of kids traveling from Earth to Mars to Titan to Alpha Centauri B to 55 Cancri (!) with plenty of in-depth explanations and has been for the past few weeks bedtime reading for astronomy buff “Junior” Morabito.

What would AGW have to do with all of this? Nothing at all, one would expect. And yet…as one of the subplots, the parents of one of the kids all of a sudden decide to join eco-warriors in the South Pacific in order to record the rising waves before it’s too late and other pseudoscientific rubbish of the sort. There is no obvious reason why they would be eco-warriors, and more importantly, this has no relationship whatsoever with anything else in the book. Even after one of the parents gets lost in a boat and satellites are called in for the rescue, the authors almost forget the sub-plot and merely mention the rescue itself near the end of the book.

All in all, it looks like somebody took a space-mystery-kids story and pasted in some gratuitous reference to AGW for no other reason than to mention AGW. It reminds me of those inscrutable dance routines suddenly waking up the audience in the middle of Indian movies, or of scantily-clad actresses voluptuously falling prey of mass-murderers in gory movies marketed to teenage audiences; or of a couple of authors opting for sterile mannerism and conformism, even when free to write about the whole universe.

On my part, I am not reading those chapters to Junior (well, it’s one half-chapter, plus a page or two and a couple of lines). As I said, the rest of the story is wholly unaffected, and with all the things I’d like to talk about (alien life, relativity, planetary systems, cryovolcanoes etc etc) the last thing in my mind is to divert a young mind’s attention towards worrying about maybe, perhaps, who know, are we sure sea rises in the South Pacific.

He needs to learn the tools of physics now, not the worries of a would-be science.

"Stop Lord Monckton!"

Peter Gleick of “weak thought” and “let’s-pump-up-some-controversy-exactly-when-my-book-is-published” fame has surfaced again, this time in a comment to a photograph posted by Andy Revkin on Facebook, showing Lord Monckton and Brad Johnson in Cancún.

Sadly, there isn’t much positive to report this time either.

Ironically (or exactly!), Gleick’s comment is posted exactly underneath my quote from Carl Sagan, “the cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas“. Here’s Gleick’s:

I cannot believe that Monckton has a booth. Astounding.

And this is my reply:

Whilst I am not surprised by Peter Gleick’s comment, exactly juxtaposed to Sagan’s quote, a quick google search identifies Lord Monckton as “advisor” to CFACT.

Therefore it is incorrect to claim that Monckton “has a booth” in Cancun.

On the… other hand CFACT describes itself as “a UN credentialed NGO [that] has been sending delegations to UN conferences for many years“. So if anybody is itching for a bit of censorship and has a problem with the UN credentials system, an email or two in the direction of that glass building in Turtle Bay are in order.

Global Warming As Imperial Surrogate For The United Kingdom

I have just sent my local MP a slightly-edited version of Clive Francis’ “£400 billion” letter. (h/t Malcolm Shykles).

The UK governments’ obsession with AGW had actually been until now a bit of a puzzle really, as it covers the entire spectrum of Westminster’s opinions, apart from a few lonely voices. A bunch of fools they might be alright, but carefully selected to be in the same place at the same time, that’s unlikely.

Then I read a passage from Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World“, and everything became clear:

The last scientifically literate President may have been Thomas Jefferson…Britain had such a Prime Minister in Margaret Thatcher. Her early studies in chemistry, in part under the tutelage of Nobel Laureate Dorothy Hodgkins, were key to the U.K.’s strong and successful advocacy that ozone-depleting CFCs be banned worldwide.

Never mind if promising to achieve an impossible target by spending an incredible amount of money makes sense or doesn’t. What matters for successive British governments really _is_ to be able to “show leadership”, i.e. be at the head of the bandwagon. Just like Mrs Thatcher was able to do: a great surrogate for a lost empire, if you ask me.

In other news: when will Mrs Thatcher or one of her scientifically-illiterate male clones finally stop being the UK Prime Minister?

We Have To Cure Ourselves From The Itch For Absolute Knowledge And Power

As I find myself repeating, AGW has been so far impossible to falsify, in the sense that nobody has any idea of what kind of observation or observations would be needed to disprove it, either as-is or in its catastrophic form.

This is no small detail, as the very existence of catastrophic AGW is used by many people in blatant violation of Cromwell’s Rule:

if a coherent Bayesian attaches a prior probability of zero to the hypothesis that the Moon is made of green cheese, then even whole armies of astronauts coming back bearing green cheese cannot convince him

How many AGWers would be able to accept the famous exhortation, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken“? Very very few, especially among those of an activist variety. And this brings one straight back where I started for tonight’s research, a chance view (via the concept of “scientific allegiance“) of a short, emotional clip from “The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, author of the quote that is the title of this post.

Bronowski makes a very poignant point, inviting each and every one of us to reach out to people, instead of transforming them into numbers. And what is the accusation of “denialism” but an attempt to de-humanize anybody that is not an AGW True Believer?

The world being built anybody using the term “denialism” in an AGW context ain’t pretty. Bronowski again:

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.

Climate Scientists Fight Back (Minus The Climate Scientists)

Funny people, the climate scientists. One would expect, for example, that behind a website sporting a “new rapid response team of climate scientists [that] promises to connect reporters and editors with a team of experts” (in the words of The Guardian), there would be at least the one climate scientist ready to put their face where their internet connection is.

Alas, one would be wrong. For who’s organizing the Climate Rapid Response?

  • Dr. John Abraham, “Associate Professor of Thermal and Fluid Sciences at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering.[1][2] His area of research includes thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid flow, numerical simulation, and energy“(from Wikipedia)
  • Scott A. Mandia,  “Professor of Earth and Space Sciences and Assistant Chair of the Physical Sciences Department [...] He received his M.S. – Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1990 and his B.S. – Meteorology from University of Lowell in 1987” (from Wikipedia)
  • Dr. Ray J. Weymann, “Staff Member Emeritus and Director Emeritus, Carnegie Observatories” (as far as I can tell, an astronomer)

As far as I can tell, the combined scientific output of the public faces of the Climate Rapid Response Team is zero. Or maybe one, by stretching things a bit.

This is not to criticize anybody, esp. Prof. Mandia, who after a couple of decades of teaching introductory climatology may know a thing or two, so to speak. But in absence of original research by its leaders, we can only expect the  Climate Rapid Response Team to be a campaigning (political) platform, not a scientific one.

Political Views As Of Nov 22, 2010

Well, it looks like I am a mildly-conservative radical libertarian. How does that translate in the world of now?

  • In the UK: I am mildly sympathetic to the positions expressed by the former trotskyites of Spiked, even if I find them excessively meldrewsque at times. BNP aside, I can’t stand the UKIP,  the only political party whose leaflet I have given back to its startled distributors at my local station, as I find its very existence offensive to a tax-paying foreigner such as myself. As for Lab, Lib/Dem and Tories, well, the jury is still out in the quest of understanding what exactly they different one another from, once they are in power.
  • In Italy: I have voted for both centre-left (Prodi) and centre-right (Berlusconi) coalitions. I have been politically active in both coalitions. Funny thing is, I didn’t have to change my political convictions in order to do that. Right now I am politically active in Berlusconi’s “Popolo della Liberta’” political rassemblement, and can’t see any alternative in the sea of interrupted Italian politicians calling themselves “leaders”.
  • As if things weren’t complex enough, I am also a Roman Catholic and I strongly disagree with the Church’s involvement in politics, or its teachings about public attitudes to sex. That’s hardly the opinion of a potential candidate for the Presidency of the European’s People’s Party.

If anybody finds anybody of similar political beliefs as myself please do send me name and address, as it will be the second member of the Party!

Martin Luther, Here I Come!

The “AGW is logically impossible” list (aka Global Warming Miracles) has suddenly jumped to 52 items, doubling in size in a little less than three weeks. As commented at the Italian version of the page, I am now only 43 items away from putting a poster at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Or perhaps I should find out where the bulletin boards are, at the University of East Anglia…

Science Manipulation Hides Reporting And Political Failures Of The New York Times

The more I read the “As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas” article (NYT, Nov 13; and on the IHT on the same day, with a full page dedicated to it, and the pride of place on the first page with a giant photo next to it), the more it looks like something halfway between the first salvo in the “war on science” against the GOP and “many newly elected legislators openly skeptical about climate change“, and a call to rally to the AGW Believer Troops.

(1) Apparently, author Justin Gillis and the NYT Editors don’t mind writing more than six columns about an issue that they readily admit might not be serious at all:

The missing information makes it impossible for scientists to be sure how serious the situation is [...] the researchers lack elementary information.

As the saying goes then…glacier melting is a grave problem, but not serious.

(2) One has also to question Mr Gillis scientific knowledge if there is any (if there isn’t, then it’s hard to take the article seriously at all). We are treated to pearls of wisdom such as:

Hanging out the sides of the craft, two scientists sent a measuring device plunging into the water, between ice floes. Near the bottom, it reported a temperature of 40 degrees (*). It was the latest in a string of troubling measurements showing that the water was warm enough to melt glaciers rapidly from below.

(*) that’s 40F=4.4C. On the IHT the value is reported as “just above 4C or 39F”

Well, it happens that 4C is exactly the temperature where water is at its most dense, so there is no surprise at all that 4C is measure “near the bottom”.

Note that I am not saying that the scientists involved provided manipulated information: all I am saying is that, as reported, the measured temperature is no “troubling measurement” at all. And so if there’s anything “troubling” about it, it’s been Mr Gillis’ fault not to report it properly.

(3) Another point that shows a remarkable level of naivety concerns the consequences of the projected rises in sea levels, presented throughout the article as if the seas would raise of a certain amount the world over

Abroad, some of the world’s great cities — London, Cairo, Bangkok, Venice and Shanghai among them — would be critically endangered by a three-foot rise in the sea

That is worse than absurd: the NOAA map for 1993-2010 has its reds, blues and purples, not exactly uniformity. A worldwide effort to protect coastal cities would therefore result in a giant waste of resources to say the least.

Mr Gillis’ failure to get some more meaningful statements about the risk of sea level increases from his scientists/interviewees is quite glaring, to the non-credulous eye.

(4) The list of baseless statements by Mr Gillis and his interviewees keeps growing with every new reading of the article too. For example we have a “Robin E. Bell, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University” saying

We’re used to the shoreline being fixed, and it’s not

Who’s used to the shoreline being fixed? The people of East Anglia? The guys and gals of the Netherlands? The city of New Orleans? Where are the remains of the ancient port-city of Ephesus (5km inland) and of much of ancient Alexandria in Egypt (underwater)?

Inches below that, it’s Mr Gillis’ turn:

But at all times in the past, when the shoreline migrated, humans either had not evolved yet or consisted of primitive bands of hunter-gatherers who could readily move. By the middle of this century, a projected nine billion people will inhabit the planet, with many millions of them living within a few feet of sea level

So we have primitive hunter-gatherers on the one side, and a worldwide technological civilization on the other…and the h-g’s win? Says who? Wouldn’t it be much more logical to consider our resource-rich global society at minimal risk from any change in sea levels?

How about previous dire predictions?

In the 1920s and ’30s, for instance, a warm spell caused many glaciers to retreat.[...] scientists say that the recent changes in Greenland appear more pervasive than those of the early 20th century, and that they are occurring at the same time that air and ocean temperatures are warming, and ice melt is accelerating, throughout much of the world.

Yeah. Right. How about “Warming Arctic Climate Melting Glaciers Faster, Raising Ocean Level, Scientist Says“. It’s vintage NYT from 1947. And “Glaciers give hints of weather change“. It’s NYT again, 1955 (article reports of five decades of retreating glaciers, no less). And here’s the link to a 1978 NYT article blaming melting glaciers for beach-side troubles in Rhode Island. Looks like there haven’t been many decades without a “Fear the Glaciers!” article on the New York Alarmist Times. And all we get is a “it’s different this time around”. Not serious, indeed…

(5) And finally for the political punch that wasn’t. Mr Gillis laments the lack of funding for glacier research (again, we can’t tell if it’s his thought, or he’s just reporting), and doesn’t shy from placing the blame:

Several federal agencies and two presidential administrations, Democratic and Republican, have made decisions that contributed to the problems.

We are then told that, as if by magic:

Now, the Obama administration is seeking to chart a new course, abandoning the goal of returning to the moon and seeking a substantial increase in financing for earth sciences. It is also promising an overall strategy for improving the country’s environmental observations.

Any thoughts on why it would have taken two years to the Obama administration to understand the situation? Any comment on how this alone would be enough to show what a giant waste of time the Cap&Trade aborted bill was, when I am sure a new “strategy for improving the country’s environmental observations” would have received enough funding quite quickly with a lot less controversy?

I guess we can’t expect as much from Mr Gillis, as that would show the NYT itself greatly at fault in having pushed so hard and for so long for Cap&Trade to pass, blinded by politicking and its desire to yell “the science is settled” whilst polar research has been “slowly going blind in space”, in the words of  “Robert Bindschadler, a polar researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who spent 30 years with NASA studying ice