Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Curious Tale of Anthony Watts and His Dog

UPDATED: Update added at the end of this article.

Today I came across a post by Anthony Watts who some readers know from his blog, WUWT.

The Part about Anthony's Dog

Anthony's apparently been surreptitiously supporting the Union of Concerned Scientists by pretending he's a dog (if I've got that right).  Anyway, he used his dog's name to subscribe, maybe thinking he needed to hide his true identity in case UCS didn't accept fake skeptics as members.

That's right, Anthony pretended to be his dog! He thinks it's hilarious that UCS accepted his subscription in his dog's name (Kenji).  Others will no doubt be bemused by the lengths to which he felt he had to go in order to 'spy' on the highly secretive (not!) UCS.

(Some of you may even call to mind Anthony's ongoing outrage at Dr Gleick pretending to be a human being with Heartland Institute.  Dog impersonations are okay but human impersonations are not.  The other difference being that the UCS is completely open, while the Heartland Institute is a very secretive organisation.)

And Now the Curious Tale

Anthony claims something the UCS wrote isn't true, while in the same article posting more than ample evidence showing that what the UCS wrote was spot on.  (Yes, if you thought Anthony was a bit odd for pretending to be his dog, what follows is even more odd.)

Enter The Union of Concerned Scientists

Watts claims this statement from the Union of Concerned Scientists is 'completely false'.  He underlined said statement in red so his readers would understand to what he is referring:

So, let's see.  Did Fox News lead in with the headline: "New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming" or not?

Enter Fox Nation

We don't have to go to Fox News to find out, but you can if you like by clicking here.  Anthony kindly posts a screenshot of their article:

Let's examine these two statements more closely.  Maybe Watts found a letter changed somewhere:

UCS: New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming
FOX: New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming

Seriously?  Identical.  Even to the capitalization.

Enter Reuters

Now so far, Anthony seems oblivious to what it was that so amused/amazed/appalled The Union of Concerned Scientists.  He attempts to shift the blame, saying it wasn't Fox's fault, it was Reuters fault.

Watts is saying that all Fox did was publish an article by Reuters.

Two questions immediately arise:

  1. Does Fox publish anything no matter how silly just because it arrived from one of their syndicated news providers?
  2. Did the Reuters article say: New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming.

I don't know the answer to the first question.  But it sure doesn't seem very responsible for a major international news media network to publish whatever anyone sends them no matter how absurd.

The answer to the second question meant going across to the Reuters website.  Here is their article, which has the following headline:

Okay, let's line them up again just to make sure we're not seeing things:

UCS: New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming
FOX: New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming
Reuters: Wind Farms may have warming effect: research

UCS accurately quoted the ridiculous headline from Fox.  Reuters had a completely different headline.

Just in case you are wondering if Reuters changed their headline at some stage, here is a link to their article using Wayback Machine.  (Watts also provides the headline from The Telegraph, which was equally misleading but different from that of Fox: "Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study".)

What did Watts not Spot?

For starters, Anthony did not point out that Fox made up their own headline.  But as you'll have figured out already, Watts missed a much more fundamental point.

Why is the Union of Concerned Scientists amazed, amused and appalled?

Well, the research did NOT find that wind farms 'cause global warming'.  The research found that wind farms have a local warming effect.

Anthony even posts the abstract of the research paper in question, but still hasn't twigged why the Union of Concerned Scientists scoffed at the Fox News headline.

Here is the relevant part of the abstract as shown on WUWT.  Anthony even bolded the sentence about local (not global) warming "over wind farms relative to nearby non-wind-farm regions":

The World's Most Visited Anti-Science Website and Winner of the Bloggies Lifetime Achievement Award

And @bloggies wonders why science blogs have no interest in sharing a platform with their 'lifetime achievement winner' WUWT?

Give the dog a bone...


As of now the blog article referred to above attracted 74 comments, of which I read only one that may possibly have alerted Anthony to his error, but Anthony deleted it mysteriously saying (in reference to this? Surely he doesn't want to draw attention to one of his other deficiencies):
Greg Laden says:February 27, 2013 at 8:10 am[snip - no comments from you - re pending issues - Anthony]

Summarising for people who are unfamiliar with the context, what this example illustrates quite neatly is:

1) Double standards

In Watts world, he can fake his own identity (posing as a dog!), but if someone else does so much as use an on-line identity (eg Sou), Watts calls them "anonymous cowards" at best or effectively calls for them to be flogged drawn and quartered.

What is even more ridiculous is that Watts felt he needed to fake his identity at all - as if he thinks there is a 4,000 strong inner UCS sanctum that operates in secrecy. (The Union of Concerned Scientists doesn't set criteria for membership AFAIK. Anyone can join, even a someone posing as a dog! I don't know if they boot people out for any reason.  Most organisations have some base criteria.)

Makes you wonder what sort of circles Watts usually inhabits?  (Such weird thinking is consistent with the notion that almost ALL the scientists, journalists, politicians and the majority of the general public are part of a decades long conspiracy to deceive the few remaining science deniers, and that climate science is a 'hoax'.)  

2) Cognitive difficulties - critical reading and arithmetic in particular

Watts didn't pick up on 'global' vs 'local'. Watts may not even know that there is a difference between a local effect and a global effect. That would go some way to explaining his ongoing obsession with individual surface stations long after it's been proven time and time again that individual stations being out balances out once they are aggregated.  (This includes a paper that listed Watts himself as one of the authors.  Seems that comprehending the findings of a paper is not a pre-requisite for being listed as an author.)

More Sexism from Moderators on HotCopper: Breast-feeding is Arrogant!

On The Arrogance of Whipping Out Boobs In Public

To think HotCopper nearly appointed a new female moderator following my complaint.  Didn't they have a lucky escape.  I expect HotCopper management had second thoughts, figuring any woman, even one of their preferred ideological position, might try to create a female friendly environment and scare away all their current patrons.  (The bread and butter of HotCopper's preferred business model is misogynistic men from the extreme end of right wing nuttery).

The right to 'pop out a breast'?

Here is a comment from the moderator they chose instead - labelling as 'arrogant' women who breast-feed their infants in public. (Of course, Play2Win could be a woman who conforms to the recommendation of the HotCopper Administrator, that women should pretend to be men while on HotCopper's share trading discussion board.)


Incidentally, the first poster in the thread (LJsilver) is apparently completely unaware that the female of all mammalian species (not just the human kind) suckle their infants with milk secreted from glands.  (The words 'mammal' and 'mammary' as in mammary gland are both derived from same Latin root.)

The OP implies that breast-feeding is instead some sort of strange and new politically correct fashion sweeping the western world of the human species.

Arrogant Tony pops out two breasts!

Let's take bets on HotCopper mods' 'opinion' of their darling, Tony Abbott, whipping out his boobs in public. (Another case of men wanting to set different 'rules' for men and women, no doubt!)

Image source:

Breast-feeding mother - arrogant, eh?

Image source: Wikipedia

Update: Acknowledgement and Repentance?

Looks as if Play2Win has since used his powers of moderation to not simply delete the content of his comment (as seen above), but consistent with the HotCopper's inconsistent approach to 'openness and transparency' (ie only when it suits them) has erased all trace as if it never existed.  The other sexist (and islamophobic) comments in the thread are still there.

(Normal policy is for moderators to replace the post they find offensive with an explanation, leaving a record in place.  Not necessarily a rational explanation and at times not even a relevant explanation but it's some attempt to be open at least.  At other times, particularly with their favourites who 'err', they will simply erase all record of the comment as has happened here.)

On the plus side, maybe it's a sign that Play2Win recognises his post was sexist, which would be a (baby) step in the right direction.

Update 2:

Play2Win did not repent, he's doubled down on sexism.  He has resurrected his post word for word in another more recent thread about breast-feeding.  One in which HotCopperites all pile on with more sexism.  They even manage to use the thread (on breast-feeding) to air their racist bigotry.

What an ugly intolerant environment HotCopper has created and continues to cultivate. Disgusting in any circumstances, but especially so for a commercial business operation!

Update 3:

Play2Win clarifies his position in the comments below: It's not just arrogant to breastfeed in public, it's arrogant and disrespectful.

(Sadly, not even baby steps in the right direction.)

Update 4:

Among other attributes, Play2Win is a tad inconsistent, for example, he seemed irate that, following his suggestion order, I have advised people there is a maximum comment size (which, since most people write well within the character limit, I didn't know about, and thought was a worthwhile suggestion.)

Given this inconsistency, I can only hope the following is an accurate representation:

Play2Win clarifies his position further in yet another comment below: Breastfeeding women (and presumably their infants) are not just arrogant and disrespectful in putting the newborn's need for sustenance above the needs of others, they are also selfish and indulgent. ("...when being arrogant is putting your own selfish, indulgent actions above anyone elses").

Edging ever closer to this.

Play2Win is particularly concerned about "Sunday service", which going by the day chosen is probably a Christian service.  Perhaps he could look to Jesus and his mother to guide him.

Nursing Madonna (Madonna Lactans) by anonymous master of Bruges, 16th century. Museu de Aveiro, Portugal. Photo: Alvesgaspar (March 2012)

Click here for other images of the Nursing Madonna.

Update 5:

Play2Win writes: 'I will test the notion. The next time I see a woman breast feeding I will sit right next to her. I won't perve. I just sit next to her like I would with any member of the public. The reaction will be interesting. If she flinches one iota then I rest my case.'

Ugh - creepy. With the discussion board run by people like this is it any wonder this goes on?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Whopper of a Watt-ism

This from WUWT. Anthony Watts in-line comment in an article on ocean temperatures:

Heating the entire surface of the earth by 0.7 degrees Celsius (which has happened since about the 1950s), isn't 'statistically significant' compared to daily temperature variations in a single location?  Strange comparison. We are well on our way to causing the planet to heat up much much faster than in past warming events - dangerously so.

Mr Watts would no doubt argue that winter temperatures are no different to summer temperatures when you compare them to 'daily diurnal' (sic) variation.  (He'd likely think that if his pay was docked by 10% it would be exactly the same thing as the GDP of the entire USA dropping by 10%)  >:-o

Dunce cap drawing

Numbers, arithmetic and statistics are not among Anthony's strong suits. If you bother to go to the article, Anthony thinks that having the first half readings in a time series below a flat line and the second half readings above the same flat line means 'no trend' 'pause'.  Double dunce!

In the fashion of the denialiti, in his blog article, Watts cherry picked data, pointing only to the top 700 meters of ocean heat and ignoring the heating at depth.  Visit this NOAA page and scroll through the images (versions with and without error bars) to see how the ocean is heating:

Actually that Watts thread is a bucket full of crazy.  We've got Smokey (DB Stealey) saying that 'Ockham’s Razor says that the simplest explanation is probably the best explanation: global warming is a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age' and Anthony jumping in to defend his stance.  And our old friend fredberple writing that:
Rather than a warming agent, CO2 is a radiator to space that cools the atmosphere, increasing convection, directly opposite to the process found in real greenhouses. 
If CO2 actually heated the surface then we would see the atmosphere warm first, then the surface. This is what all the models predict. However, such an effect has never been observed during a warming period. The surface warms first, then the atmosphere. During a cooling period the surface cools first, then the atmosphere.
Really, fred?  Why is the earth warming instead of cooling?  (I still reckon fredberple must be a fake denier.)

And from Grant who writes: February 26, 2013 at 9:51 am
As a final comment. I am, as I think most of the ‘deniers’ that frequent this site are proponents of indefinite, unlimited increases in CO2 in our atmosphere.  
Watts and his followers are not just proud members of the scientific illiterati, they have set out to hasten the demise of life on earth as we know it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Still More on: Parody or the Real Thing?

Global warming in the imaginary world of science deniers

Behold a lesson on the greenhouse effect by johnmarshall.  It was posted on the anti-science website WUWT (under the fake drawing by David Rose in the article by Anthony Watt's birther-mate Monckton).

Once again, on WUWT it's generally hard to tell the people who are sending up Watts from the Dunning-Kruger examples (people who are ignorant about the subject but don't know just how extraordinarily ignorant they are).

Monckton and David Rose look to be out to deliberately misinform based on their past behaviour.  Tony adds Dunning-Kruger ignorance mixed with ad homs.  There are other comments some of which do look to be from 'fake deniers' (as opposed to 'fake skeptics').

That one from johnmarshall has got to be mocking Tony and his loony mob, don't you think?  It just can't be for real.  (fairyland, 'evapouration', adsorbs, the GHG thing, violates the laws of thermodynamics!)  

Here's another beauty from WUWT I came across a little while ago, in case you missed it.  (The sky is so full of CO2 that the pressure stops water evaporating.)

Global warming in the real world

By the way, here's an article by Tamino on how the world is warming at least as quickly as expected.  In the chart below he models the warming with the effect of the Southern Oscillation Index (ENSO) removed:
Imagine what will happen when the next El Nino emerges.

HotWhopper of the Week: Feminism is a Lysenko plot

More misogyny anyone?

Just when you thought you'd seen it all.

We all know that the ghost of Lysenko is sending climate science deniers to the gulag, when he's not putting them to death.  Now it looks as if that stalinist bureaucrat has risen from dead once more, this time to send sexist men to the gulag.


Oh No! Women are rejecting their biological role and getting paid to work

HotCopper regular, Rembrandt, says "good article" and elaborates:
All fems are directed by dogma to that of adopting sublimation .. rejection of their sex and biological roles for the supposed higher goal of self-actualisation = nihilism...
... In other words, the fems strident cries for more FREEDOM AND CHOICE today is as the article proclaims nothing more than more demands by Me, with Me and for Me !!
If I interpret correctly, in his mind, women who aspire to anything in their lives other than unpaid labour and popping out babies one after another for twenty or thirty years are unutterably selfish.

Women shouldn't have choice - slavery is their proper destiny

Slippin chimes in, observing dour faced women who he reckons would have been better off had they chosen to be destitute from the outset and stuck in a sour marriage slaving (unpaid) for their 'man'.
Having recently re entered the workforce after a 5 year hiatus I can attest to the above. I have never seen or worked with so many dour faced 40 years plus women. ...
...Most of these women have ditched their husband (or been ditched) and are chasing something that only exists in glossy womens magazines. Their desire can be boiled down to one word...choice. The ability to choose your destiny. However the glossies failed to mention one thing...choice is no choice at all. Keep working honey cos one day you might get the pension and be able to live in a crime ridden neighbourhood where you may find your choices severely restricted.
No-one disagrees with any of them - that's HotCopper.

Does sound like sour grapes, doesn't it.  Did their wives eventually choose a 'life' over them?

Only men are allowed to reject their biological role?

And what about the 'biological role' of men?  How do these three justify men's 'choice' of paid employment instead of devoting themselves 100% to their biological role?

Maybe on the basis that men often have to pay to pursue their biological role (so they have to earn the $$ to do so somehow or other), whereas women can get paid for pursuing theirs.

Or maybe, despite this being the twenty first century, these three genuinely believe men have an innate right to 'choose' and women, being lesser creatures, don't.

HotCopper Proud to Award Gold Stars for Sexist and Racist Posts

By the way, slippin won a gold star for that post above.  It was considered by HotCopper share traders to be a 'top rated post'.

Slippin's post didn't do quite as well as those who jumped to the conclusion that an asylum seeker raped a student - HotCopper handed out lots of gold stars to all the people who jumped to that conclusion (based not on any arrest, nor any police report, nor anything at all except speculation by shock jock Ray Hadley, who I guess hates asylum seekers even more than he hates women).  In keeping with HotCopper's misogynist code, the brightest gold star was given to kozzie who was able to have a dig at both asylum seekers and women in one short comment.  Kozzie reckons it was all the fault of PM Gillard and Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Going by past experience, if anyone said that slippin and other bigoted posters on HotCopper were being sexist or racist, they'd probably get banned from the forum.  (As if to underscore the tone preferred by HotCopper management, about the only poster to voice an objection to the ugly tone of the asylum seeker thread had at least two posts deleted by the moderators.)

As HotCopper Management will tell you, it's sexist to call out sexism, if you are a woman.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whither winter weather whether weather or climate

If you think that headline is dumb, how about this one?

Here's the article from which Watts mangled his weird meaningless headline.

(Has anyone else noticed that Watts' blog has gone from very bad to very very bad quality lately?  Seems to have got stuck somewhere between boring, irrelevant and painfully wrongheaded.)

Addendum: Anthony now seems to be saying that the record heat extremes in the USA recently were either or both UHI effect and new weather stations.  (As if one foot in mouth wasn't enough.)

Addendum 2: Below is a chart of USA temperature records from the EPA (data from NOAA), including surface and satellite records.

Anthony's rabble cry "what about the 1930s"? Indeed, the chart shows quite a difference between this century and the 1930s.  (I'll spell it out for people who can't read charts.  There are a lot more hot years since the mid 1980s in the USA.  In the 1930s the hot years were more rare and were interspersed with cooler years.)

Getting tied up in knots over UHI

Anthony is saying the records since the 1950s are wrong because of UHI and new thermometers.  He has to be complaining about the satellite 'thermometers' as well, since going by the chart below, the satellite records support the surface measurements.  A couple of 'lukewarmers' did an analysis demonstrating that the UHI effect is already factored into the adjusted temperature records.  (Needless to say, Anthony poo poos anything that contradicts his spin.)

Oh Watt a tangled web we weave...

In among the comments, Anthony also said you can't count last summer, so I guess he thinks that UHI and new thermometers weren't causing last summer's heat.  Why the difference?  He hasn't explained why he thinks new thermometers and UHI would distort temperature records post 1950s except those from last year.

Wonder if Anthony is deliberately lying or is he just stupid? No, I don't really wonder that.  The fact that he didn't put up a temperature chart to support his silliness suggest deceitful intentions.

PS Anthony's in-line comments are getting to the ludicrous stage.  According to Tony, 90% of new thermometers in the USA are put near 'heat sinks and sources' and can't measure cooler temperatures even relative to themselves ("you don't understand physics, that's not how heat sinks work", he says).  They just keep getting hotter and hotter presumably till they blow!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bacci's "Delusional Dribble"

Talking "dribble" on climate models and tea leaves

This is (probably not) for people who listen to fake skeptics science mockers like bacci, who writes:

Image of Bacci post saying climate models are bunkum

Bacci starts off talking about modelling complex systems. He says the idea that 'we' can model the climate in 100 years is 'delusional'.  (I'd have to agree that any attempt by Bacci and mates to model complex systems would indicate delusion on their part, going by his posts.  Using his own imagery, bacci tends to dribble his drivel like a drip.)

He then shifts to weather forecasting, saying that in order to 'prove' a model of centennial trends in climate, one needs to model monthly weather.

Predicting monthly trends in weather

Actually, most people (Bacci excepted) don't need a model to broadly predict weather on the monthly scale.  Next month is the start of autumn down here and we know from experience that autumn brings milder temperatures (but it can still get a bit hot).  We can even predict with reasonable accuracy that in five months time (July) the average monthly temperature in southern Australia will be cooler than the average for this month (February) and there will likely be snow on the ranges, while in the northern hemisphere the ice in the Arctic will be melting.

Feel free to check back in July and tell me how wrong my prediction is!

One source for an indication of likely rainfall patterns in eastern and south-eastern Australia on a short term scale (weeks to months) is the Bureau of Meteorology's seasonal outlooks and also their ENSO wrap up.

Fake skeptic predictions

Fake skeptics have not done very well in their predictions. Some have even been so far off target with short term predictions that the 'delusional' descriptor may be appropriate.

John McLean's Delusional Drop

For example, bacci could have been talking about computer technician John McLean.  Back in March 2011, he 'predicted' that "2011 would be the coolest year since 1956, or even earlier".  He was forecasting a drop of 0.8 degrees Celsius in the average global surface temperature in a single year, from the record high of 2010. (The global average surface temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius in the past century.  In 2010 it was 0.62 degrees above the twentieth century average.)

As it turned out, 2011 was the 11th warmest year on record and the warmest La Nina year on record.  So much for that fake skeptic's delusion.  2011 was 0.51 degrees Celsius above the twentieth century average, whereas the average temperature in 1956 was about 0.18 below the twentieth century average.  He was out by a whopping 0.69 degrees Celsius!

NCDC/NESDIS/NOAA Jan-Dec global mean temp chart 1880 to 2011

Click here to go to the NOAA source.

Other fake skeptics' tea leaves

Bacci says he might as well read tea leaves.  Maybe that's what fake skeptics do. has an animated gif comparing the predictions of 'skeptics' with IPCC temperature projections and actual observations.  Fake skeptics 'tea leaf' predictions don't stack up at all well, while the different years' IPCC projections have so far all been much closer to what was actually recorded.

Animated gif from skepticalscience comparing skeptic/IPCC/observed temperatures

The article goes into more detail and is worth a read.   It discusses some of the weaknesses of IPCC projections, such as the fact that sea levels may be rising faster and the fact that Arctic ice is definitely disappearing much faster than expected. does an annual comparison of models too, looking at global surface temperature, ocean heat content and summer Arctic sea ice cover as well as early projections from James Hansen.

To sum up, complex models based on physics and constructed by experts in climate science have been very good predictors of global trends and even of regional trends.  They are not perfect but as computing power increases along with knowledge of climate the models also improve.

Important factors that climate scientists have more difficulty in predicting in the medium to longer term are the amount of greenhouse gases and aerosols we choose to pour into the atmosphere.  (Also significant volcanic eruptions that might occur in the future.) That's why they use scenarios to model climate under different permutations of future pollution.

Isaac Held's blog is a really good place to peep under the hood of climate modelling.

HotWhoppers: Double Doozy from Denmor

The other day when the HC deniers were kindly promoting this blog as part of their daily science and medicine S&M antics, I got the feeling that poor old denmor was a bit miffed that I hadn't paid him more attention.  So here's a double doozy from denmor.  

Not that long ago denmor graduated from simpleton cartoons and crude name-calling. Now he's learning the art of 'copy and paste', usually of long slabs of senseless rants against science from insignificant little denier blogs.  This time he comes up with two pieces of idiocy in the same short post.  Both from "the world's most viewed" anti-science blog - WUWT.

1. Are engineers and geo-scientists who work in the oil sector less likely to accept climate science?

Um - yeah?  No?  Not quite the point of the research? And if it were true, what did you expect?

A recent study reported that 36% of geoscientists and engineers surveyed, most of whom are reliant on or whose work relates to the Alberta tar sands or petroleum sector in general, are adamant that humans are causing global warming and we need to take decisive action. (They "view the Kyoto Protocol and additional regulation as the solution").

That can be seen as equivalent to: thirty years ago 36% of engineers (not medical researchers) who develop the packaging for cigarettes being adamant that smoking is a health hazard and urging international agreements be put into effect to force people to quit.

Source: S&M forum

The anti-science illiterati give a decent round of applause.  (HC rids itself of educated people as fast as they stray into their corner of cyberspace.  Often without a mod having to press a keystroke.)

The Lie

Poor denmor (probably all unknowing given that deniers rarely read let alone absorb scientific papers) quotes from a  blog article that quotes from another article that refers to a research paper in the social sciences/management journal "Organization Studies". (No respectable denier - except Brad - would go straight to the source.) Let's be generous and say, because he was too lazy or incompetent to read the paper in question, denmor wasn't aware that he was spreading a lie.  He also seems blissfully unaware that very few oil engineers and geo-scientists would be involved in climate research.  All scientists and engineers probably look the same to him.

Looking at the categories ('Frames') in the paper, there were 'only' 24% (Frame 2) who "believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the Earth".  All other groupings (68% of respondents) included people who knew that humans are at least a partial cause of global warming, with a full 36% being adamant that "humans are the main or central cause" of global warming.  (Eight per cent were unable to be categorised.  One group, the 'economic responsibility' frame (10%), included rampant deniers as well as people who thought that climate change is both natural and human caused.)

Beknownst (or unbeknownst) to denmor, the researchers deliberately targeted an industry (petroleum) and locale (Alberta Canada) that  is economically tied to CO2 pollution so they could get a big enough cohort across the full spectrum (including deniers).  They were keen to find out more about how people of different viewpoints frame/rationalise their thinking within the context of organisational management.

HotWhopper Petrol Award

Before leaving the topic, let's award an honourable mention to the resident anti-vaxxer jantimot (who by now is probably also feeling left out).

Source: S&M forum

Jantimot probably thinks he's in the majority of the general population.  Instead he would be aligning himself with the majority of petrol heads who work in the pollution sector of whom only 24% chant the 'it's all natural' refrain.  (I'm not sure how or if aligning himself with ecological vandalism of tar sands fits with his homeopathic purity.)

Goodness knows why jantimot implies climate scientists are extrovert compared to petroleum engineers and geo-scientists.  (You need go no further than Ian Plimer to find a geo-scientist who loudly contradicts himself pontificates on topics way beyond his expertise.)

Not everyone jumps at the chance to work in tar sands, especially not people who understand the ramifications of CO2 pollution.

2. Bombshell!!!! The Arctic froze this winter!!!!

denmor 'blown away' again;
Source: S&M forum

Who'd have thought.  A record low ice in summer followed by a record ice gain in winter!

(Imagine a litre flask half full of water.  How much extra water does it take to fill it?  Now imagine an empty litre flask.  How much extra water does it take to fill it?)

There were too many climate bloggers to count who accurately predicted that deniers would fall for the 'amazing winter recovery' after last summer's record low ice cover.  (So much for deniers who say you can't predict the future!)

As 'proud to be a denier' Dr Inferno pointed out way back in  way back in September last year:
Arctic Sea Ice Increases Past FOUR MILLION Square Kilometers For The First Time Since Records Began!
It took another four and a half months before Anthony Watts of WUWT woke up to the fact of this startling turnaround.  But as denmor reported, Tony has finally picked up the message and heralded it to the world, writing:
...Arctic sea ice has made a stunning rebound since the record low recorded in the late summer of 2012...
...With a few weeks of growth still to occur, the Arctic has blown away the previous record for ice gain this winter. This is only the third winter in history when more than 10 million km² of new ice has formed. 

Now some readers may be wondering where in the Arctic all this extra ice can have formed.  Does it mean that the ice is starting to extend down to near the equator?  After all, there's only so many square kilometers available in the Arctic.

If you are one of these readers, check how the ice cover has changed from 13 February thirty, twenty and ten years ago compared to 13 Feb 2013 - from The Cryosphere Today.

Umm - there's less ice this year? How can that be?

Still think denmor's onto something?  Click here and look at this interactive chart and follow the 2012 (dark pink) and 2013 (yellow) lines before making as big an idiot of yourself as denmor and Anthony Watts.

Here's a snapshot - you might just be able to make out the yellow line for 2013, in among the lower quarter of the records to the left of the image.  The dark pink line for 2012 is fairly clear.

For more fun and enlightenment, read Tamino's take on all this - and see what his readers think about Anthony's bombshell!

Monday, February 18, 2013

John Cook Uncloaks Fake 'Skeptics' of Climate Science

This article has been republished on numerous sites. It deserves to be.  Here it is again in case you missed it elsewhere.  (Republished with permission from The Conversation.)  - MobyT

There is no such thing as climate change denial

By John Cook, University of Queensland

In a sense, there is no such thing as climate change denial. No one denies that climate changes (in fact, the most common climate myth is the argument that past climate change is evidence that current global warming is also natural). Then what is being denied? Quite simply, the scientific consensus that humans are disrupting the climate. A more appropriate term would be “consensus denial”.

There are two aspects to scientific consensus. Most importantly, you need a consensus of evidence – many different measurements pointing to a single, consistent conclusion. As the evidence piles up, you inevitably end up with near-unanimous agreement among actively researching scientists: a consensus of scientists.

A number of surveys of the climate science community since the early 1990s have measured the level of scientific consensus that humans were causing global warming. Over time, the percentage of climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing global warming has steadily increased. As the body of evidence grows, the consensus is getting stronger.

Two recent studies adopting different approaches have arrived at strikingly consistent results. A survey of over 3000 Earth scientists found that as the climate expertise increased, so did agreement about human-caused global warming. For climate scientists actively publishing climate research (79 scientists in total), there was 97% agreement.

This result was confirmed in a separate analysis compiling a list of scientists who had made public declarations on climate change, both supporting and rejecting the consensus. Among scientists who had published peer-reviewed climate papers (908 scientists in total), the same result: 97% agreement.

While individual scientists have their personal views on climate change, they must back up their opinions with evidence-based research that withstands the scrutiny of the peer-reviewed process. An analysis of peer-reviewed climate papers published from 1993 to 2003 found that out of 928 papers, none rejected the consensus.

Despite these and many other indicators of consensus (I could go on), there is a gaping chasm between reality and the perceived consensus among the general public. Polls from 1997 to 2007 found that around 60% of Americans believe there is significant disagreement among scientists about whether global warming was happening. A 2012 Pew poll found less than half of Americans thought that scientists agreed humans were causing global warming.

The gap between perception and reality has real-world consequences. People who believe that scientists disagree on global warming show less support for climate policy. Consequently, a key strategy of opponents of climate action for over 20 years has been to cast doubt on the scientific consensus and maintain the consensus gap.

How have they achieved this? Hang around and you’ll witness first hand the attack on consensus in the comment threads of this article. The techniques of consensus denial are easily identifiable. In fact, if one rejects an overwhelming scientific consensus, it’s inevitable that they end up exhibiting some of the following characteristics.

Expect to see reference to dissenting non-experts who appear to be highly qualified while not having published any actual climate research. Fake expert campaigns are launched with disturbing regularity.

Recently, a group of NASA retirees issued a press release rejecting the consensus. While possessing no actual climate expertise, they evidently hoped to cash in on the NASA brand.
A prominent Australian fake expert is Ian Plimer, the go-to guy for political leaders and fossil fuel billionaires. He hasn’t published a single peer-reviewed paper on climate change.

There should be many cases of cherry picking but how do you identify a genuine cherry pick? When a conclusion from a small selection of data differs from the conclusion from the full body of evidence, that’s cherry picking. For example, a common cherry pick of late is the myth that global warming stopped over the last 16 years. This focus on short periods of temperature data ignores the long-term warming trend. Importantly, it also ignores the fact that over the last 16 years, our planet has been building up heat at a rate of over three Hiroshima bombs worth of energy every second. To deny global warming is to deny the basic fact that our planet is building up heat at an extraordinary rate.

One way of avoiding consensus is to engage in logical fallacies. The most common fallacy employed to deny the human influence on climate change is the non sequitur, Latin for “it does not follow”. The onslaught of Australian extreme weather in 2013 has led to a surge in the fallacy “extreme weather events have happened before therefore humans are not having an influence on current extreme weather”. This is the logical equivalent to arguing that people have died from natural causes in the past so no one ever gets murdered now.

Finally, with consensus denial comes the inevitable conspiracy theories. If you disagree with an entire scientific community, you have to believe they’re all conspiring to deceive you. A conspiracy theorist displays two identifying characteristics. They believe exaggerated claims about the power of the conspirators. The scientific consensus on climate change is endorsed by tens of thousands of climate scientists in countries all over the world. A conspiracy of that magnitude makes the moon landing hoax tame in comparison.

Conspiracy theorists are also immune to new evidence. When climate scientists were accused of falsifying data, nine independent investigations by universities and governments in two countries found no evidence of wrongdoing. How did conspiracy theorists react? By claiming that each investigation was a whitewash and part of the conspiracy! With each new claim of whitewash, the conspiracy grew larger, encompassing more universities and governments.

A key element to meaningful climate action is closing the consensus gap. This means identifying and rebutting the many rhetorical techniques employed to deny the scientific consensus.

This article was adapted from Understanding Climate Change Denial.
John Cook does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Basketballs, Franklin water and saving the world from Climate Change

A Sunday arvo video for all the Ben Pobjie fans out there.


Some Real Mineral Magic from Opaline

Buried Treasure: Finding the World's Largest Known Uranium Deposit

Guest post by Opaline, a semi-retired geologist

"The Olympic Dam Story" is a self publication by science writer, David Upton. It is a chronology of one of the last century's most extraordinary applications of the scientific method to exploration geology. I bought my copy when I was in Roxby Downs a few years ago but you can go to and buy online.

I found the book a really fascinating read. It's a real inside story of how Western Mining chose to drill at Olympic Dam. It gives a picture of the dogged persistence the company showed in their search.

The first drill core at Olympic Dam was called "RD1". It was completed at 411m on July 30 1975. The bottom 76m were in a dark coloured rock that was wrongly identified at the time as altered basalt. When the core from this drill hole was logged and assayed, there was a 38m intersection grading 1.05% copper. This was an uneconomic grade at the time but very encouraging all the same.

The next three holes were barren but RD5 intersected 92m@1.01% copper. It was not until RD10 was drilled several million $$$ later that high copper ore grade mineralisation was discovered. The uranium, gold and silver in the ore are all sub economic by themselves but the ore deposit is so huge it has multiplied the tiny concentrations of uranium into the World's largest known deposit.

Author's Note:
Any of my material may be reposted on that other site provided this acknowledgement is included:
"Reposted with permission from Opaline, a geologist indefinitely suspended from HotCopyrighted name for acknowledging the reality of Climate Change."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Downside of the Conservative Brain

Ends and Means - Is Morality Dependent upon World View?

On one of my rare visits to the blog of Judith Curry, I came across a conundrum.  She had an article discussing whether the ends justify the means. 

In it she had a paragraph about Peter Gleick who, by pretending to be someone else, obtained revealing documents from the Heartland Institute.  She implied that she believes the ends did not justify the means in that case.  Her very next paragraph was about the stolen emails from CRU, and the way she referred to them it's clear she believes that when it comes to stealing thousands of emails, the ends did justify the means.

However in the latter case, the use to which the stolen emails were put was for nefarious purposes (to misrepresent science and scientists and thereby try to delay action to mitigate global warming).  On the other hand, the use to which the Heartland Institute documents were put was to expose nefarious goings on.  They showed, among other things, the depths to which the Heartland Institute would stoop to prevent any action to ameliorate global warming.

Now I'm not one to see the world in black and white, but Prof Curry's position does strike me as very perplexing from a moral standpoint. 

(Coby posted an article recently on the Heartland affair, in which he discusses how ethical ends vs means issues are not always black and white.  Scott Mandia expresses the view that what Dr Gleick did was wrong, but that despite this error, he continues to contribute a heap of good to the world, while the Heartland Institute continues to only do bad.  He provides scorecards as evidence.)

Logical fallacies and flawed assumptions

Curry bases her article on a post by Roger Pielke Jr, which in my opinion has logical fallacies and flawed assumptions. 

He argues that people doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is akin to companies pretending horse meat is beef.  What he refers to is people wanting to mitigate global warming because they believe that it will cost relatively less to act sooner rather than later.  (Yes, his argument is more about cost in dollar terms in the relatively short term (decades) rather than loss of human life, biological diversity, and general ecological destruction over the medium to longer term (centuries to millenia.))

As well as disregarding medium to longer term impacts of global warming, there are (at least) two other flaws in Pielke Jr's argument:

Firstly, he says that the science is not 'strong' in regard to increasing costs associated with extreme events (hotter, longer droughts; bigger floods etc), as a proportion of GDP, even if we do nothing to limit global warming.  The jump from the science not being 'strong' to 'there will not be increasing costs/GDP associated with extreme events' as the world heats up, is a leap much to big to take IMO.  For one thing it's not a scientific point - the science is quite clear that we will get more and more often events that today are considered extreme.  The point he is putting forward is an economic one (not a scientific one) - that GDP will rise faster than costs associated with extreme events. IMO the science is at least grounded in evidence.  The economics has a lot more ifs and buts and assumptions (and in any case, he doesn't point directly to any cost/GDP projections to support his position.  He merely makes a passing mention of the Stern Review and the IPCC).

Secondly he seems to imply that even if people overly attribute an extreme event (today) to global warming then it is because someone (knowledgeable) has deliberately deceived them, rather than because they are ignorant or were mislead by another ignorant person.  There is nothing to support that assumption.

To sum up Roger Pielke Jr's position, he seems to be saying let's pay for extreme events as they happen.  Don't plan for them or take any preventative action now because the world will have more money in the future to deal with the increase in weather disasters.

To sum up Prof Curry's position, she seems to be saying:

1. Let the world heat up and do it's worst.  Let future generations deal with the consequences.

2. Deception is bad (even if you have good intentions) but stealing is good though you have bad intentions.

The Conservative Brain

I guess these positions are manifestations of the drawbacks of having a conservative brain. (Having a conservative brain is not inherently 'good' or 'bad'.  It has benefits as well as disadvantages.  There are upsides and downsides to having a liberal brain too.) 

This article gives some insight into the conservative brain. Put simply, scientific evidence indicates that people having a 'conservative brain' are more fearful (eg saying climate scientists are 'alarmists'); while people having a 'liberal brain' are more tolerant of uncertainty (more easily make decisions when there is inherent ambiguity). 

Then there is the finding that conservatives have a greater tendency to avoid self-harm ("I don't accept science because I don't want to pay tax"), whereas liberals avoid collective group harm ("I want to save the world and everyone and everything in it").

Combine those two tendencies of the conservative brain and you are part way towards explaining the difficulty many conservatives have when it comes to accepting, let alone acting upon, unpalatable facts that affect the whole world.

More of my musings on the conservative brain can be found here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What makes fake skeptics tell such Whoppers?

A body of research is building to try to determine what it is that motivates some people to make stuff up, particularly about topics like climate science.

A lie is different to a mistake.  Mistakes can be corrected.  When people deliberately tell lies they generally have to dig deeper holes for themselves as aspects of the lie are revealed. (In a similar vein, later in this post I make reference to a paper that deals with attempts to construct fantasy conspiracy theories, and how the theories are altered as facts become too obvious or contradictory.)

For example, what drives someone to tell a whopper as blatantly false as this, referring to global surface temperatures and claiming they aren't rising :


Source: S&M forum

Does he even know he is telling fibs or is he lying to himself as well as to everyone else?  It can't be called a simple mistake.  The youngster has to be aware that the science shows that global temperatures are rising.  Even though he has often boasted (on a science forum!) that he refuses to read science from scientific sources (eg Nature, CSIRO etc), he can't help but have seen one of the dozens of global temperature charts posted on HotCopper similar to this one from NASA (with my markings showing the temperatures of 100 years ago).

Incidentally the lad's promise to not post as much in the future may or may not be a lie.  It might be classed as a broken promise or might even be true.  He still seems to be posting an awful (sic) lot, but the posts are not worth counting (or reading, except for entertainment value.  They are of similar caliber to the above (and these).)

Stephan Lewandowsky and colleagues have been doing some related research, particularly on how some people have a tendency to lie to themselves; and how they find comfort and support in building on each other's lies - a group approach to fabricating Whoppers.  This paper on motivated reasoning drew considerable attention from fake skeptics, many of whom manufactured complex conspiracy theories in an attempt to reject the findings.  In doing so they helped prove them.  So much so that it spawned a follow-up paper (by Lewandowsky and different colleagues), which has just been accepted for publication.

There are some revealing comments on related articles on Shaping Tomorrow's World and elsewhere.  (Unfortunately many of the silliest responses to those articles were removed.)

The recent Lewandowsky paper proposes conspiracist ideation may go some way to explaining how people kid themselves and others and includes some interesting analyses, using the examples in the blogosphere to break down the processes involved in developing conspiracies.  It reveals how those conspiracies change shape (or not) when irrefutable contradictory evidence emerges.  The authors also include some provisos, such as:
Although there appears to be ample evidence to classify the response to LOG12 at least in part as conspiracist, one must guard against overextending this conclusion: There are other streams of science denial that are detectable in the response to LOG12. For example, the repeated re-analysis of data, involving the elimination of \inconvenient" subsets of data points based on fairly fluid criteria, has a long-standing history in other contentious arenas.
Fake skeptics often lack self awareness.  Ironically, a blogger called Watts last week posted an article about the Lewandowsky follow up paper on conspiracy ideation immediately after posting an article about the attempts by ATI to uncover what they believe to be a fantastic conspiracy (which they 'believe' will be uncovered in scientists' emails).

Watts is not quite as bad a conspiracist as Jo Nova and her partner David Evans, who subscribe to anti-semitic conspiracies involving gold and fiat money among other weird ideas.  Or the peer Monckton, who is a self-confessed 'birther' (and who has such 'batshit crazy' ideas that even the hard-boiled science denier, Andrew Bolt, distances himself).  However Watts continues to publish articles by the mad monk and supports Jo Nova.

Many people who reject climate science will try to tell you about the giant world-wide conspiracy that presumably began about 200 years ago.  According to them, scientists are perpetrating a 'hoax'.  This 'hoax' must involve not only thousands of scientists throughout the world, past and present, but engineers, manufacturers and all humankind who make use of or benefit from the knowledge that CO2 absorbs radiation of particular wavelengths.

Humans as a species are quirky.

(To whom it may concern - that is, anyone who might have been too scared to post a comment: I expect to rarely have to resort to deleting comments from this blog. Nor would I expect to ever 'disappear' entire threads, especially not ones in my honour :D. The blog doesn't attract many comments.  It's mainly just a bit of fun.  So far some comments have been remarkably revealing, others comical, others informative, others correcting my errors (both real and imagined) and some - thanks people - personally supportive; and some all of the above.)