.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two bob each way - or Anthony Watts pats Schrödinger's pussy cat

Sou | 10:12 PM Go to the first of 26 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts places two bob each way** on the 97% consensus.  Within the space of 24 hours he is equally convinced:
  • there is virtually no scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming. A potty peer named Monckton sez that 3,896 is not 97.1% of 4014.  Now he's got even a statistician insisting that 3896 divided by 4014 equals only 0.003. Anthony's not too good at arithmetic either, so he places a bet on Monckton;
  • there is virtually 100% consensus that humans are causing global warming.  A blogger in the UK called Andrew Montford who lives on a hill with some bishop or other, writes on behalf of the Global Warming Fan Club (a lobby group to agitate on behalf of the much maligned CO2 - it's plant food you know) and sez everyone knows that humans cause AGW, there's no debate. So Anthony places a bet on the Global Warming Fan Club.
Anthony reckons both are equally true.  He's got both points of view on his website on the same page on the same day - click for archive No Consensus and archive 100% Consensus.  They may be opposite viewpoints but the Right Wing Authoritarian in Anthony is not at all uncomfortable holding two opposing thoughts in his head and simultaneously agreeing with both.  

Now the Viscount and the Bishop dweller both agree on one thing, those in positions of authority can't be trusted.  And who is arguably the most powerful human being on earth?  It's the President of the United States of America.  So when he tweets this to his 36,115,998 followers:
...the conspiracy theorists rise up in arms, united against a common foe.  They join together, proud of the diversity of thoughts (within their own heads) and cry "But Cook13 didn't ask if it was dangerous!"


Is Cook et al (2013) really Schrödinger's kitty cat?


As those dastardly scientists have discovered:
Distrust and paranoia about government has a long history, and the feeling that there is a conspiracy of elites can lead to suspicion for authorities and the claims they make. For some, the attraction of conspiracy theories is so strong that it leads them to endorse entirely contradictory beliefs...
...The researchers wanted to know if the contradictory beliefs were due to suspicion of authorities, so they asked 102 college students about the death of Osama bin Laden (OBL). People who believed that "when the raid took place, OBL was already dead," were significantly more likely to also believe that "OBL is still alive." Since bin Laden is not Schrödinger's cat, he must either be alive or dead. ...
..."For conspiracy theorists, those in power are seen as deceptive-even malevolent-and so any official explanation is at a disadvantage, and any alternative explanation is more credible from the start," said the authors. It is no surprise that fear, mistrust, and even paranoia can lead to muddled thinking; when distrust is engaged, careful reasoning can coast on by. "Believing Osama is still alive," they write, 'is no obstacle to believing that he has been dead for years."

Deniers are a muddled lot, aren't they.




** A "bob" = 1 shilling, which is roughly equal to ten cents.  "Two bob each way" is a bet eg on a horse race that the horse will either win or come in the top three in a horse race.  (Australian lingo.)

26 comments:

Thomas Murphy said...

"So when he tweets this to his 36,115,998 followers... Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous..."

And HotWhopper displays three forms of fallacious reasoning in these two snippets by:

(1) Appealing to Authority (Barack Obama, CAGW Apologist),
(2) Appealing to Belief (a vapor-like 97%), and
(3) Appealing to Popularity (36M+ Twitter followers who are... believers?).

Sou, I'm disappointed - deeply. Such... blatant errors are silly and reflect poorly on your efforts. However, I believe a quote from "The Princess Bride" provides a tidy summary here:

"We are men [and women] of action. Lies do not become us."

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the game was up when you used the term CAGW. Have a nice day.

Thomas Murphy said...

"Have a nice day."

But... is that not THE goal for every day - observed and modeled temperatures notwithstanding? You also, Anonymous, enjoy the day!

Sou said...

hahaha I don't expect anything else from our Thomas. He misses the point completely, just like the RWA's I was poking fun at.

Is the cat dead or alive?

MikeH said...

Climate cranks love to dress up their vapid arguments with claims of logical fallacies. It is like dressing a pig in a tutu.

It is the following that sends them into a state of apoplexy.

Tweet from John Cook.
"Consensus paper by @skepticscience rated in top 5% by Altimetric (measures buzz around scholarly articles)"

KAP said...

Here in the US, we say "two bucks across the board" for a win/place/show bet.

Thomas Murphy said...

“It is the following that sends [skeptics] into a state of apoplexy..., ‘Consensus paper by @skepticscience rated in top 5% by Altimetric (measures buzz around scholarly articles)’”

Ironically, we witness even more fallacious reasoning (in the form of Appealing to a Biased Sample) to defend earlier fallacious reasoning. Call me naïve, but… I believe the paper’s “buzz” has very little to do with its scholarly aspects, considering it’s now an obvious propaganda tool of pro-AGW PACs and NGOs with decidedly non-scientific (i.e., political) goals. Thus, the majority of people accessing the paper are media hounds, political junkies, and *sigh* activists – not other researchers. So, that top 5% rating does nothing to validate the paper or its conclusion; instead it reflects the paper’s “dreaminess” factor. And this only matters, if you want to be one of the cool kids (pun intended).

And with respect to Sou’s comment of, “He misses the point completely, just like the RWA's I was poking fun at. Is the cat dead or alive?” I trust the good readers of HotWhopper understand that a fallacy is an "argument" in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. As a result, the validity of the conclusion, which in Sou’s case is synonymous with “point,” is wholly questionable. Indeed, the conclusion itself represents the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle, falsely portraying the WUWT position as supporting both extreme ends when a reasonable, more likely assertion is available when the different posts are viewed without bias.

Sou’s obsessive attention to discrediting every Watt utterance reminds me of a quote from the character of Khan Noonien Singh (who was paraphrasing “Moby Dick”), “He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before I give him up.”

Are you channeling Khan, Sou…?

Sou said...

Naive is not the term I'd have chosen, Thomas, though it may be true. Irrational, yes. Verbose, yes. Wanting to silence those who point out idiocy - yes. Your technique is less common but not original and it won't work.

As Thomas, Anthony Watts, the potty peer and the other chap from the UK illustrate, what sends science deniers around the twist is knowing that more and more people understand that virtually all the scientific evidence points to the fact that humans are causing global warming and that it's dangerous.

Wotts Up With That Blog said...

Thomas, you may well be right that most people accessing the consensus paper are media hounds, etc rather than other researchers. I suspect the reason is that most other researchers recognise that the basic result of the paper is correct. They don't need to read the paper to realise that there is a strong consensus with regards to AGW within the climate science community. I suspect the paper was never intended to convince researchers of the existence of this consensus. It was intended to convince all the people who have been misled by those who keep trying to claim that no such consensus exists.

Thomas Murphy said...

“It was intended to convince all the people who have been misled by those who keep trying to claim that no such consensus exists.”

Hmmm… What percentage of “all the people who have been mislead” actually read peer-reviewed papers? I’ll hazard a guess of diddly-squat or rather close to nil. As a result, the paper’s intended audience was the media, which the authors correctly deduced would propagate the fantastical percentage to secondary audiences like the NGOs and political staffers, as well as “all” your mislead people.

If the paper’s intent (as even you surmised) is correct, then any honest researcher reviewing the paper is compelled to ask, “Was the paper truly focused on the science of reporting science (as it purports) or was it focused on the art of communicating a “given”…? If it’s the latter, which has been suggested since publication by a number of reviewers focusing on the paper’s methodology and calculations, then the paper is reduced to nothing more than propaganda – meaningless, misleading, and only adding to the confusion (i.e., it does NOT validate a 97% consensus).

However, I believe a more important question to be asked of any honest researcher is, “Is it legitimate to exclude 67% of the data in an available population because it’s neutral to the null hypothesis and use only the remaining data detailing a clear position?” The answer is clearly, “No.” But if you agree that such an exclusion is legitimate, then you’re likely to re-Tweet Obama’s new, political talking point.

“…[M]ore and more people understand that virtually all the scientific evidence points to the fact that humans are causing global warming and that it's dangerous.”

Abraham Lincoln said it best, “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg.” Sou, simply saying that the scientific evidence has identified humanity as the driver of catastrophic global warming doesn’t make it valid.

The valid position is that the “scientific evidence” on an inherently chaotic system remains ambiguous. Has the Earth warmed? Sure, depending upon your time reference, of course. Have CO2 concentrations increased? Absolutely. Is humanity the driver behind the increasing CO2 concentrations? Most likely, it is. But this is where the true consensus ends.

Sou said...

In a recent literature search, Thomas was curious about whether there is any scientific support for a popular notion that the boiling point of water is 100 degrees at 1 atm.

Thomas decided to investigate the matter. He sampled 12,000 peer reviewed scientific papers from 20 years ago to the present, that included the word "water".

Thomas found that only one paper stated that the boiling point of water is 100 degrees at 1 atm. No other paper expressed an opinion on the subject of the boiling point of water.

Thomas concluded that there is no scientific consensus on whether the boiling point of water is 100 degrees at 1 atm.

Thomas proclaimed to the world that, based on the scientific literature, the boiling point of water is definitely not 100 degrees celsius at 1 atm.

Thomas Murphy said...

Sou, that’s an excellent example of the straw man fallacy! Mind you, its use only adds to the confusion, but I suspect it made you feel a bit better and (perhaps) superior. And who doesn't like that? So, good for you!

But... how about this, instead?

Using the online database associated with the paper, Cook et al. concluded that 65 papers out of an available population of 12,271, "Explicitly state[ed] that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming," which (as I'm sure you know) is 0.5%. This represents the first category of endorsement.

Reviewing the second category of endorsement where the papers, "Explicitly state… humans are causing global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a known fact," and another 934 papers are added. So, the first and second categories result in a better but underwhelming 8.1%.

Reviewing the third category of endorsement, which asserts that the papers, "Impl[y] humans are causing global warming. E.g., research assumes greenhouse gas emissions cause warming without explicitly stating humans are the cause," and another 2,933 papers are added. Summing the first three categories results in 32.9% - much improved from the first two categories but hardly the "consensus" expected, desired or (more honestly to the purpose of Cook et al.) needed.

What to do? Well, discard the 8,231 papers that either do not address or mention the cause of global warming OR express a position that humanity’s role on recent global warming is uncertain or undefined (i.e., the fourth category). This reduces the data population from 12,271 to 4,040 papers. Now, let's compare the summation of the first three categories to this number and... Wow - 97.3%! We have a consensus, halleluiah!

The paper is a "how to" guide on how to manipulate data to confirm the outcome needed all along.

Sou said...

Thanks for proving my point, Thomas. Your illogic is wondrous to behold. I believe the term for what ails you is "motivated reasoning", or more appropriately "motivated unreasoning".

Like I said. Using your argument you'd be stating quite categorically that there is no scientific consensus about the boiling point of water.

And the term you were looking for was not "strawman fallacy" - it was "analogy".

BBD said...

You remind me of someone who was confined to his own special thread on Deltoid!

That aside, this is tedious. The deniers - and I class you as a denier - deny the validity of the scientific consensus on AGW but have no scientific counter-argument, which scuppers your nonsense at the outset.

So you resort to any distractionary rhetoric you can because it allows you to honk, drone and bleat for a little longer.

A few simple facts for you:

- The scientific consensus is strong, real and all-but unanimous

- The problem of AGW is real and potentially dangerous

- Denying the above is, well, denial

- Physics always wins arguments with blowhards

Thomas Murphy said...

“You remind me of someone who was confined to his own special thread on Deltoid!”

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever visited the site. I do visit (at varying frequencies) WUWT, Climate Audit, Real Climate, Skeptical Science, and HotWhopper, but admittedly, don’t post at all of them.

“That aside, this is tedious. The deniers - and I class you as a denier - deny the validity of the scientific consensus on AGW but have no scientific counter-argument, which scuppers your nonsense at the outset.”

The tedious part is (unfortunately) yours to own and manage given that it’s a subjective feeling or emotion. The label of denier is also yours to own. A mislabel to be sure, but again it’s a subjective feeling to label one in such manner; however, if it brings comfort, good for you!

I do, though, take exception to the notion of the scientific consensus and its “validity.” Science does not have sides that advocate a minority, a majority, or a consensus. Rather, it has the pursuit and progress of knowledge as its sole advocate. So the notion of a consensus being valid or not is an artificial construct not reflective of the science and typically imposed by non-scientists, using an appeal to authority.

Likewise, science does not advocate counter-argument; instead, it requires vigorous testing and verification of the hypothesis. If the hypothesis fails, then it either needs to be revised and retested or discarded. And there are numerous papers that have done just that with respect to the multitude of hypotheses contributing to AGW. Interestingly, a sizable percentage (almost 67% according to Cook et al.) can neither support nor refute these positions – they’re neutral. Of course, referencing such papers results in being labeled a denier, but that reflects the… limitations of the labeler more so than a defect with the proponent.

“So you resort to any distractionary rhetoric you can because it allows you to honk, drone and bleat for a little longer.”

A fallacy is: “a deceptive, misleading, or false notion or belief,” while rhetoric is: “the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively.” A fallacy has merit on its own and does not require persuasive language to attest to its validity. Whether one acknowledges the fallacy or not rests solely with the individual, but denying the fallacy’s existence does not make it… disappear or become invalid.

So, a more accurate revision of your statement would read, “So you reference multiple instances of fallacious reasoning because it calls into question CAGW’s assertions,” which invariably would be followed with some invective like, “Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader… Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels' hidden fort.”

I may be perceived as tedious, but warmists are decidedly gauche.

Sou said...

The science isn't strong because of consensus, the consensus is strong because of the science.

Thomas, protest all you want. It won't change the facts that scientific evidence shows that global warming is real and dangerous.

The Cook study was solid, no matter how much you and Watts and others try to put it down. It shows the science is unequivocal that humans are causing (at least most) global warming.

Look deeper and you'll find that we're most likely causing more than 100% of observed global warming. Chew on that one for a bit!

I guess that's why you try to misrepresent it and try to drown threads like this in your long, tedious and meaningless waffle.

Thomas Murphy said...

"It won't change the facts that scientific evidence shows that global warming is real and dangerous."

Earth travels onward.
Nature rules all species.
Humans are silly.

You can't get more brief than Haiku. Enjoy - a pleasure, as always, Sou!

Sou said...

Much better :)

BBD said...

Thomas Murphy

No robust scientific counter-argument to the scientific (evidence-based) consensus on AGW exists.

Physics trumps bloviation, every time.

You are droning!

:-)

Thomas Murphy said...

I get it, BBD. "These go to eleven." - Nigel Tufnel

Happily droning :D

BBD said...

Playing loudly does not mean that you are playing well. In effect, the pseudo-sceptic ignoring the complete absence of a scientific counter-argument to the scientific consensus is simply hitting an open cord over and over again without actually playing anything at all.

Just making a very loud noise...

Remember, Thomas, physics trumps rhetoric. Every time.

Thomas Murphy said...

Agreed, which is why I wrote:

"And there are numerous papers that have done just that with respect to the multitude of hypotheses contributing to AGW. Interestingly, a sizable percentage (almost 67% according to Cook et al.) can neither support nor refute these positions – they’re neutral."

These papers, directly and indirectly, employ... physics, although they use words, which implies rhetoric, to communicate their findings and conclusions.

BTW - the "Spinal Tap" reference was directed toward your multiple reiterations of the same point. I was hoping for an "extra push over the cliff" from you in true, Nigel fashion. Alas, it was not meant to be for you view science being akin to politics - there are sides.

No matter; Mann has assured me the Climate Wars continue to rage (asymmetrically sometimes given his ongoing defamation lawsuit). Should we send him our dispatch from the front lines as material for the next installment?

BBD said...

None of these "numerous papers" provides a robust basis for a scientific counter-argument to the scientific consensus. You are simply wittering.

BBD said...

BTW - the "Spinal Tap" reference was directed toward your multiple reiterations of the same point.

I am obliged to repeat myself because you are saying nothing over and over again.

If you cannot grasp this, then you are even less intellectually agile than I thought.

BBD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BBD said...

Alas, it was not meant to be for you view science being akin to politics - there are sides.

Indeed there are. There is the side that understands that consensus of evidence leads to scientific consensus, and there is the side that denied this for financial, political or emotional reasons or some mixture of the three.