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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The stupid: a prediction fulfilled at WUWT (and sea level)

Sou | 2:21 PM Go to the first of 18 comments. Add a comment

Deniers at WUWT can be really funny sometimes - if you enjoy laughing at the stupid.

The Stupid It Burns Credit: Plognark

It doesn't happen very often, but there is the odd occasion when a prediction made at WUWT will be fulfilled. Such was the case today.

Sea levels are rising faster now compared to last century

The topic of the original WUWT article was a press release that Anthony Watts copied and pasted under one of his "claim" headlines. As usual, Anthony didn't link to the press release but a Google search found it in the Harvard Gazette.

Scientists at Harvard and Rutgers have worked out that sea level rise in the twentieth century was most likely not as great as previously thought. The implication is that seas are now rising faster than previously thought. Here is some of the press release:
The study, co-authored by Carling Hay, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS), and Eric Morrow, a recent Ph.D. graduate of EPS, shows that calculations of global sea-level rise from 1900 to 1990 had been overestimated by as much as 30 percent. The report, however, confirms estimates of sea-level change since 1990, suggesting that the rate of change is increasing more rapidly than previously understood. The research is described in a Jan. 14 paper in Nature.
“What this paper shows is that sea-level acceleration over the past century has been greater than had been estimated by others,” Morrow said. “It’s a larger problem than we initially thought.”
“Scientists now believe that most of the world’s ice sheets and mountain glaciers are melting in response to rising temperatures,” Hay added. “Melting ice sheets cause global mean sea level to rise. Understanding this contribution is critical in a warming world.”
Previous estimates had placed sea-level rise at between 1.5 and 1.8 millimeters annually in the 20th century. Hay and Morrow, however, suggest that from 1901 until 1990, the figure was closer to 1.2 millimeters per year. However, everyone agrees that global sea level has risen by about 3 millimeters annually since that time.

You can also read the press release in full at Wondering Willis kindly added the abstract to the WUWT article, but no link to the paper itself. You can read it here on Nature (subs req'd).

Justin Gillis has also written about this in the New York Times, which is worth a read.

The prediction that came true

The prediction that came true was in a comment. Sir Harry Flashman wrote very shortly after the article was posted:
January 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm
I look forward to the standard WUWT protocol:
  1. Respected scientists publish peer-reviewed paper(s) following years of pain-staking fieldwork, research and analysis.
  2. Someone writes contradictory post on WUWT using data culled from the internet and and graphed in home office.
  3. All commenters chime in to engage in mutual congratulation on how much smarter they are than everyone else.

And follow the standard WUWT protocol they did. At the time of archiving WUWT-ers had managed to come up with 204 separate, often irrelevant, thoughts. Of that 204, 48 were responses to Sir Harry's comment or to responses to that comment (not counting a couple from Sir Harry Flashman). dbakerber was the first to fulfil the prediction writing:
January 14, 2015 at 12:25 pm
Your assumption (1) is faulty. Most often, it is more accurately described as a climate scientists manipulates models until the cry uncle in order to prove his or her pet theory, and gets it pal reviewed into a climate journal. Your (2) is correct, because typically the real world assumptions made in (1) are so obviously wrong any semi-educated high schooler can identify the problem.

Deniers really don't like it very much when someone points out their Dunning-Kruger tendencies. Some go for the vulgar, for example Eric Sincere
January 14, 2015 at 12:41 pm
harry, my dog is smater than you. He sniffs the post before he pees on it.

Others opt for accusations of trolling, like mpainter
January 14, 2015 at 12:43 pm
You have made a no worthwhile contribution with such a comment. You are nothing but a sneering troll, Flash man. 

Some (most) comments were immensely stupid, like the one from dbstealey:
January 14, 2015 at 12:44 pm
That is what some folks say when they have no evidence to support their Belief. 

I saw no evidence that falsified Sir Harry Flashman's prediction, and dozens of posts that supported it. Deniers at WUWT are so predictable.

Carling C. Hay, Eric Morrow, Robert E. Kopp & Jerry X. Mitrovica. "Probabilistic reanalysis of twentieth-century sea-level rise." Nature, January 2015 DOI: 10.1038/nature14093


  1. 'Eric Sincere' got the wrong target. In the UK the family dog is normally the most intelligent person in the household: the only time your typical fat slob gets any exercise is when the dog takes them for a walk.

    But yes, kudos to Sir Harry.

  2. And extra points to the WUWTer that didn't realise that "Flashman" was one word, not two. Obviously not much of a reader (character from Tom Brown's Schooldays, cunningly woven into a wonderful series by George MacDonald Fraser).

  3. I don't have long enough experience with dbstealey to know his usual level of nastiness, but lately his sloganeering and name-calling seems to have ramped quite a bit.

    1. His job is to act as cheerleader for the ignorant, and he seems to be incapable of thinking out where his interventions lead. In this case I think the proper reflection would be that this WUWT article is the kind of shite some folks write when the evidence does not support their Belief.

    2. You may know him from his handle "smokey" ...

    3. Smokey aka dbs (WUWT moderator handle) aka dbstealey aka D. Boehm... lots of sockpuppets. He seems to specialize in general nastiness and putting lots and lots of effort into deceptive graphing.

      I took some time a while back to look at some of his graphic nonsense (archived here), if anyone is interested. He puts a lot of work into misleading people.

    4. Millicent,

      Intervene is right. A few times when some other WUTTer has been dangerously close to understanding something logical or factual, in he swoops to put an end to it with a barrage of insult and naked assertion.


      He hasn't been using the Smokey handle since I've been posting there ... for oh, two months or so is it now?


      Yup, I've been through the same wringer with him, the aforementionted Socrates as well. Perhaps the funniest plot I've seen making the rounds is one he didn't make, but is fond of posting:

      I've been snarking at them that someone should do it in Kelvin. Every once in a while, like the fellow just below DB's post, someone *seriously* asks for it in Kelvin.

    5. that graph is a clear example of the highest quality blogscience.

    6. Stealey pretty much dropped the 'Smokey' handle after he forgot to unlink one of the Smokey posts to his personal Gravatar (oops - busted!). It did explain much about why his virulent posts weren't moderated while replies were, and in at least one case where it was apparent he knew information (email addresses) not shown in the published comments). He switched to "D. Boehm" for a while (Boehm is his middle name?), but that didn't hold up, and now he generally posts as dbstealey. He might have other WUWT handles too, though - it would be consistent with past behavior.

      And yes, ligne, it's definitely an outstanding exemplar of blogscience.

      [ Captcha: "Plevices placed", which _almost_ makes sense ]

    7. Just for documentation: Gravatar link from Smokey to dbstealey is here, look at the last occurrence of "Smokey says:". That thread also contains the exchange where 'Smokey' revealed knowledge of someones email address, information WUWT says is kept private.

      Interestingly enough, the live version of that WUWT page has been edited to remove those links! Which is rather amusing (and hypocritical) given the WUWT complaints of "deletion, extension and amending of user comments" on other blogs.

  4. I only came across this yesterday via the Carbon Brief which I find more useful that WUWT ;-)

    But what an interesting result. It has always troubled me that the acceleration in SLR over recent decades though present, was not more pronounced compared to the centennial trend. It's one thing to suspect the earlier tide gauge data analyses may not be correct, but another to see a properly rigorous study apparently demonstrating this.

    1. Here's the key figure from Hay et al. (2015) filched directly from the Carbon Brief article. The uppermost curves (blue and black lines) are the revised estimates from H15. Quite a difference.

    2. Hey, for once we changed past data upward instead of downward! :-)

      Pity that plot doesn't go back to the 19th Century, Jevrejeva (2006) gives some added perspective:

  5. Given the method of derivation of the new curve:

    "Our analysis, which combines tide gauge records with physics-based and model-derived geometries of the various contributing signals".... surely the conclusion should be discussed rather than simply embraced?

    1. Of course it should be discussed, especially by people who have a prayer of understanding the methodologies in enough depth to discuss it intelligently, such as oceanographers and geophysicists, and in particular those with specific field expertise, e.g. those with strong backgrounds in how the geoid is defined and other relevant technical issues.

      Such folks are thin upon the ground at WUWT.

    2. FUD-spreading isn't 'discussion' marke. It's an evidence-denial tactic used by deniers.

    3. If you want to see it discussed you could go to Real Climate. WUWT can teach you what exactly?


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