Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dunning and Kruger at WUWT

Sou | 7:59 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment
From Darko Butina on WUWT, confusing kinetic energy with IR absorption among other things:
So if you want to find whether there is correlation between CO2 and temperatures, you don’t calculate but you measure daily concentrations of CO2 at the same place where the thermometer is. And what you will find is that it is not there since and cannot be there since it would violate all gas laws. No gas molecule of the open system, as our atmosphere is, can control temperature – it is the other way around – temperature control behaviour of gas molecules. And how do I know that – because I worked twenty years in carbon-based chemistry, used CO2 in chemical reactions and to perform chemical reaction you have to know everything that is known about molecules that are used in that chemical reaction.

The Dunning Kruger Effect in Action 

  1. "...you don't calculate but you measure daily concentrations of CO2 at the same place where the thermometer is". No that's not what you do.  If you do that all you'll see is the changes in local temperatures over time at the site of a single thermometer plus an increase in CO2 that's pretty well the same as at every other place on earth. Butina's assertion is naive in the extreme.  It takes no account of land-ocean-atmosphere as a dynamic system; nor any other forcings or feedbacks; nor how CO2, H2O and other greenhouse gases work.  
  2. "No gas molecule of the open system ... can control temperature - ... temperature control behaviour of gas molecules". Here Butina confuses kinetic energy of air molecules with IR absorption and emission by greenhouse gas molecules.
  3. "I know that because I worked twenty years in carbon based chemistry...you have to know everything about molecules that are used in that chemical reaction". A good example of the Dunning Kruger effect.  Butina draws on his knowledge of "carbon-based chemistry" and "chemical reactions" (from when he worked in the "drug discovery sector") and tries to apply it to atmospheric physics and the physics-based properties of particular gas molecules.  He is unaware of the absorptive properties of greenhouse gases and totally ignorant of any and all climate science.
For more of Mr Butina's errors click here.

Click here for the paper by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

Click here for an article explaining the Greenhouse Effect.  It's not perfect but not too bad either.  There's more here in Wikipedia and there's an excellent booklet on the subject by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Two questions:

  1. Where does Anthony Watts find these people?
  2. What motivates him to promote such articles, when even Watts own band of science deniers can see they are complete and utter nonsense?

Is this the answer to question 2?

The Rabett Chimes In

Even better, Eli has just posted a lesson for Darko Butina and any other chemist or anyone at all who might benefit from such knowledge.


  1. Sou asks:

    Where does Anthony Watts find these people?

    Perhaps they find him? Or rather, they are drawn to the delicate aroma of chum emanating from a certain high-traffic, low veracity blog?


  2. BBD The statistical outcome of assuming that two thirds of those with two digit IQ's can read is to guarantee all blogs catering to that demographic, WUWT included, over a hundred million potential recruits in the US alone.

    1. This is a terrifying prospect and we see the evidence above in the comment Sou picked out from "A C Osborn". 31 likes vs just one dislike.

      It's over, folks. Teh Stupid won by sheer weight of numbers.


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