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Monday, July 7, 2014

A lesson in statistics with E. Calvin Beisner and J.C. Keister at WUWT

Sou | 5:15 AM Go to the first of 18 comments. Add a comment

In a variation of the denier memes "CO2 is only a trace gas" and "it's not happening", Anthony Watts has a silly article about ice. Actually it's an article about "trillions of dollars", which is at the heart of most denier protests about global warming. (Archived here.)

Many deniers take the position that we can't afford to stop the sixth major extinction and we can't afford to make the world bearable for future generations. What they really mean is that they've got a lot invested in fossil fuels and they don't want to shift to clean energy.

The other common theme that you'll find on denier blogs is a fear of fear. Studies show that people in the USA who vote conservative are more likely to be hypersensitive to threats. In extreme cases like you'll find with inhabitants of denier blogs, they'll do anything to avoid what they perceive as threatening, even rejecting facts. (Judging by the number of articles denying melting ice and rising sea levels that Anthony Watts posts on his blog, the thought of it scares him more than anything else. Maybe even more than an increase in taxation.)

To cut to the chase, WUWT "guests", E. Calvin Beisner and J.C. Keister wrote an article under the title "Lying with Statistics: The National Climate Assessment Falsely Hypes Ice Loss in Greenland and Antarctica"

What they are pretending is that it doesn't matter if the ice keeps melting and sea levels rise by one or two metres this century, and six to ten metres in coming centuries. All the ice in Greenland and Antarctica is tiny compared to the size of the world, didn't you know?

Actually, it's not quite that. What these two are arguing is that more ice won't melt as the world heats up. They reckon that ice will only keep melting at the same rate as it's melting today - or should I say, as it melted last century. They are rejecting basic physics. I expect they are surprised every time ice cubes melt in their bourbon.

Here are two charts they put up to PROVE the scientists are "lying with statistics":

See - in nine years the ice melted as a percentage of total ice was miniscule and "nothing to worry about".

Even NASA knows that if all the ice melted it would barely bother anyone (as long as they didn't live in Bangladesh or London or the Netherlands or China or Florida or anywhere near the coast). And NASA scientists, as every WUWT-er knows, "don't know nuffin'". The image below is not just all the water currently bound up in ice. It's all the water at or near the surface on earth - compared to the size of Earth.

Compared to that, what's the point of complaining about the ice melting? Even if it all melted it would only raise sea levels by 66 metres (216 feet). What's to worry about?

Nothing to worry about

That's only about 0.6% of the depth of the deepest portion of the Mariana Trench. It's like health fanatics (such as the guvmint) arguing that if you ingested 0.00029% of your body weight in arsenic it'd kill you. What do they think we are? Stupid sheeple?

Think about how "warmists" try to scare the poor little dears at WUWT about rising temperatures. Here's a chart to prove that a piddly rise of 6C wouldn't hurt a fly. Heck, the temperature here can change by more than that here in 12 hours.

Data Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Needless to say you shouldn't trust the above temperature chart. It was obviously tampered with to make the oldest temperature readings colder and the later temperatures hotter! Here's another one. Not quite six degrees:

Adapted from Jos Hagelaars

Oops! How did that chart get there?

Anyway, here's a couple of charts to prove that a sea level rise of sixty six metres is nothing at all. If all the ice melted it might take 5,000 years - that's what I've put in the chart.  First of all let's see how those deceiving scientists would probably portray it, just to scare the folk at WUWT:

Deceptive "scientific" chart

Now look at how it really should be presented:

True "statistical" chart - WUWT-style

Think about that for a while, scientists!

E. Calvin Beisner is not a climate scientist. No, he's an orthodox presbyterian elder and a member of the pseudo-religious cult, the Cornwall Alliance. His denial of science is to be recognised by the Heartland Institute, so we've been told.

J.C. Keister Jr is also associated with the Cornwall Alliance. He claims a PhD in something or other but I guess he gave that up for his crank religion.

The Cornwall Alliance forbids its members from accepting climate science. It's probably a mortal sin. Not sure about evolution - that might be forbidden too. At least one of its members, Roy Spencer, rejects biological science.

From the WUWT comments

Bernd Felsche says:
July 6, 2014 at 9:07 am
Alarmism is a characteristic of having lost a sense of proportion.

nickreality65 doesn't like it when someone tickles his amygdala and says:
July 6, 2014 at 9:21 am
Now do the same w/ 100,000 years of co2 plotted next to keeling. And scores of temps, sea levels plotted w/ exaggerated scales to maximize the fear factor.

Dave confuses sea ice with land ice and says:
July 6, 2014 at 9:36 am
How can Antarctica be losing ice if it just recently reached an all time greatest extent?

UnfrozenCavemanMD says:
July 6, 2014 at 9:05 am
Thus my maxim:
“Anyone who is giving you numerators without denominators is trying to deceive you.” 

Schreiber, Darren, Greg Fonzo, Alan N. Simmons, Christopher T. Dawes, Taru Flagan, James H. Fowler, and Martin P. Paulus. "Red brain, blue brain: Evaluative processes differ in Democrats and Republicans." PloS one 8, no. 2 (2013): e52970. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052970


  1. Is it me or do the ice loss graphs for the Antarctic and Greenland say 100%? Doesn't that mean all the ice has been lost from those two places? I'm pretty certain that the most rabid environmentalist doesn't claim that. Shouldn't the graphs' titles be % ice remaining...?

    1. Yep, the number one blog science site has covered itself with glory again! There is no continental ice left apparently. And the cretins must be kicking themselves that they missed that Mariana Trench scaling opportunity....

  2. You have to try and appreciate why these two probably do not find this concerning. As far as they're concerned, it will take almost the age of the universe before Greenland and the Antarctic lose a significant fraction of their ice mass.

  3. Sometimes I am not sure if WUWT comments are by college students seeking to demonstrate the stupidity of the site and its denizens.

    Leave a Reply

  4. Love the Mariana Trench Depth charts :) You've read "How To Lie With Statistics", haven't you?

  5. An absolute classic.

  6. i'm sure that Keister found this a refreshing change from "showing which mathematical axioms are scripturally sound and which are not". valuable and not at all in any way crank research, i'm sure you'll agree.

    1. Some mathematical axioms are scripturally unsound? Or some scripture is mathematically unsound? Did this joker just show that God isn't so good at maths then?

    2. i think that he's arguing that the Good Lord made integers, addition, multiplication and circles, and that finding the Bible quotes that demonstrate that all the rest was not the work of man is left as an exercise for the reader.

    3. incidentally, all his talk about distributive laws sounds a little communist, dontcha think?

  7. Never noticed your silly post here until just now. It could be used as a prime example of straw man argument. You suggest that we're arguing something we're not arguing at all. The point of our article is that the National Climate Assessment's chosen way to depict the rate of Greenland and Antarctica ice loss is deceptive, making it appear much more rapid than in fact it is. You never address that at all.

    Here are some factual claims in our article. Kindly point out to us which of them is wrong:
    1. Greenland is losing about 0.1% of its ice per decade—that is, about 0.01% per year. At that rate, it will take a century for it to lose 1%.
    2. Antarctica is losing about 0.0045% of its ice per decade—about 4.5/10,000ths of a percent per year. At that rate, it will take about 2,200 years for it to lose 1%.
    3. And the effect on sea level? Combined, about 1 millimeter per year—or about 3.3 inches by the end of this century.

    And, by the way, J.C. Keister's Ph.D. is in physics, and he was a working physicist for several decades before his retirement.

    Also by the way: Keister and I are both all in favor of developing ever-cleaner energy sources so long as, as with anything else done in life, it's done with attention to tradeoffs, i.e., with serious, comprehensive benefit/cost analysis.

    1. Given your comment, Calvin, I don't know what you're complaining about. I know you do this sort of thing for a living (professional science denial) and you've sworn some sort of oath of allegiance to science denial. However, your comment is simply confirming my article was on point. Just as I wrote you are claiming or at least implying:

      a) that there's so much ice that a bit of melting will hardly be noticed - your ridiculous straight line charts to hide the decline; and

      b) that ice won't melt more as the world heats up. Which is weird. You're arguing that there won't be a rapid sea level rise in the next few decades.

      Here's some information for you to digest in between your bouts of science denial and obfuscation and anti-science propaganda:

      BTW Calvin's "religion" isn't accepted by the religious any more than his "science" is accepted by the scientific. He's pseudo through and through! A professional pseudo.

      He could even be a professional pseudo crank for all we know! This chap is all tied up with the crank anti-science organisation, the Cornwall Alliance.

    2. Ice sheet response to continued warming will be *non-linear* ECB.

      Stick to 'theology'.

    3. he should really read Dr Inferno's DenialDepot article linked above. It just maps so well.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I don't suppose you could provide some evidence that I've "sworn some sort of oath of allegiance to science denial."

      [snipped the rest - Sou]

    2. Do you mean you're doing a Peter and denying your allegiance to the Cornwall Alliance's "An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming" aka "some sort of oath of allegiance to science denial"? It sure reads like some sort of oath and it's definitely science denial.


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