Saturday, September 21, 2013

More WUWT denier weirdness:- Monckton's 8% Dismissives plus another glimpse into "mad, mad, mad" Steve Goreham's world

Sou | 4:04 PM Go to the first of 9 comments. Add a comment

Today at Anthony Watts' denier blog, wattsupwiththat (WUWT), Anthony provides two more examples of denier weirdness.

Monckton highlights the 8% Dismissives

Christopher Monckton doesn't like the scientific consensus that humans are warming the world.  He's taken a particular dislike to Cook et al (2013), which is the most recent of several papers that demonstrate how great is the consensus. (97% of papers that attribute a cause to global warming attribute it to human activity.)

So he's decided to write a letter to the editor of the journal that published Cook13 - ERL.  Then he had another idea and has now decided to send a copy to every member of the editorial board of the journal. (See Christopher's original version archived here, and his later version archived here.)

Christopher's said he wants to "crowd-source" signatories so has asked for the help of the readers at Anthony Watts denier blog - wattsupwiththat.com (WUWT).  I was interested in seeing who put their names to the letter.  I reckon what he's done is highlight the difference between the denier commenters.  The couple of hundred people who want their names on Christopher's silly letter are the 8% Dismissives.  People like "shouty" Richardscourtney, "holy moly" crawler Janice Moore and sock-puppet dbstealey (AKA Smokey). There are a number of prolific WUWT  commenters who are conspicuous by their absence - so far at any rate (eg Greg Goodman, Pamela Gray and M Courtney). These are people who tend towards being "lukewarmer" deniers - plus of course the one or two real sceptics who Anthony Watts hasn't banned yet.

If anyone ever does any research on categorising the different types of deniers at wattsupwiththat, this thread of Christopher Monckton's is worth noting. (By the way, the article is just another rehash of Christopher's nonsensical arithmetical failures.)

Steve "mad, mad, mad" Goreham fazed by rising seas

Anthony Watts has posted another article by Steve "mad, mad, mad" Goreham at WUWT.  The last one was about the Not the IPCC report.  This one is about sea level (archived here).

Steve's article is a good example of the logical fallacy of personal incredulity.  He doesn't "believe" that there are scientific instruments and analytic techniques that can measure sea level with the accuracy and precision reported by scientists.  Because he doesn't "believe" it, he reckons it can't be true.

Just like deniers often go to SkepticalScience.com's list of most common denier myths to decide what they'll try on today, it looks as if Steve went to U Colorado's FAQ on sea level to try on his "I don't believe it" rubbish.  Some examples of Steve's "personal incredulity" argument:
Steve: they claim to be able to measure ocean level to a high degree of accuracy. But a look at natural ocean variation shows that official sea level measurements are nonsense. 
From the FAQ:
The satellite altimeter estimate of interest is the distance between the sea surface illuminated by the radar altimeter and the center of the Earth (geocentric sea surface height or SSH). This distance is estimated by subtracting the measured distance between the satellite and sea surface (after correcting for many effects on the radar signal) from the very precise orbit of the satellite. At any location, the SSH changes over time due to many well understood factors (ocean tides, atmospheric pressure, glacial isostatic adjustment, etc.). By subtracting from the measured SSH an a priori mean sea surface (MSS), such as the CLS01 mean sea surface, and these known time-varying effects, we compute the sea surface height anomalies (SSHA). Each point in the global mean sea level (GMSL) time series plots is the area-weighted mean of all of the sea surface height anomalies measured by the altimeter in a single, 10-day satellite track repeat cycle (time for the satellite to begin repeating the same ground track). 

Another "I don't believe it" from Steve:
Steve: But three millimeters is about the thickness of two dimes. Can scientists really measure a change in sea level over the course of a year, averaged across the world, which is two dimes thick?
From the FAQ, - yes they can.  The FAQ states that the estimated error is just 0.4 mm/yr.  If you're a fanatical fact checker, you'll notice that Steve isn't very precise himself.  A dime is 1.35 mm thick.  Two dimes are 2.7 mm thick.  The current sea level trend is 3.2 mm +/- 0.4 mm a year.

Steve wonders how the accuracy can be as stated when a single measurement is only accurate to to the nearest centimetre.  What he is missing is that there are lots and lots (and lots!) of measurements taken so the error is hugely reduced.  The higher the number of measurements the lower the measurement error.  Overs and unders cancel out.  From the FAQ:
Each point in the global mean sea level (GMSL) time series plots is the area-weighted mean of all of the sea surface height anomalies measured by the altimeter in a single, 10-day satellite track repeat cycle (time for the satellite to begin repeating the same ground track).  
Steve concludes that the number that the scientists come up with isn't from scientific analysis and mathematics, it's from what he calls "group think".  Which is another way of saying that Steve "mad, mad, mad" Goreham doesn't understand scientific measurement.  (There are different sources of error other than measurement error, which the scientists attempt to address, and they touch on how they do this in the FAQ.)

Spot the fallacy and the error

Steve commits many logical fallacies in his article but this next one is a beauty:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in 2007, “Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003: about 3.1 mm per year.” This translates to a 100-year rise of only 7 inches and 12 inches, far below the dire predictions of the climate alarmists.
He's saying that because the actual sea level rise to date isn't as big as projections to 2100 (as ice sheets melt more), the future projections are wrong!  That's like saying - it was cold in Chicago last December so it couldn't possibly be hot in Chicago in July.

Seas are rising about as fast as projected back in 1990

I will point out that Steve Goreham is not correct in regard to near term being "far below dire predictions", if you look at the chapter on sea level in the first IPCC report (1990) - in which there is a lot of discussion of uncertainty - it summarises the known science at the time making projections for the near term (see p 275 here):
In general, most of the studies in Table 9.9 foresee a sea level rise of somewhere between 10cm and 30cm over the next four decades.  
These projections from the 1990 IPCC report are within the ballpark of the observed trend since 1993 of 3.2 cm a decade which, if sustained, would mean 12.8 cm over four decades. There are still almost two decades to go though.

Source: U Colorado
Note: I've corrected this section from the original - where my own arithmetic was flawed!!


  1. Monckton is just reminding us that the number of papers that explictly or implicitly reject AGW is very, very small. So we should thank him for that, maybe some WUWT tragics need a prod.

    Monckton is also reminding us that there is no event that he won't try to leverage into an attention-seeking exercise. He's welcome to that, because the attention refreshes awareness of his incompetence.

  2. Isn't it funny, science does not proceed by consensus but Monckton and the flying WUWT monkeys seem to think it does,proceed by petition. Putting lots of names on a letter doesn't make it any more true.

    1. ha ha - how very true! Science by petition!

    2. I expect a dismissive letter from the Editor, pointing out to Monckton he has already had his say and does not add anything else, and that the opinion of a random group of people is irrelevant as any contradiction to the Cook et al survey.

      Much anger will ensue, goal achieved: the Wattsians have been fed their two minutes of hate.


  3. Slightly off-topic, but have you seen the email exchange between What's Up With That Watts and Professor Tsonis? Not quite sure what to make of the professor's comments.

    1. The inconsistencies suggest that he may be unable to deal with the situation where his ideology or maybe his world view conflicts with scientific evidence. So he avoids what he can't deal with.

      It's rare but not unheard of. It's happened to a few others as well (academics and ex-academics like Christy, Curry, Spencer, Pielkes, Michaels, Tol etc) with differing but weird results. I expect it happens in some other fields as well, where there is a clash between facts and innermost beliefs.

      From a layperson's perspective (I'm not a psychological expert) I'd say that different people have different coping mechanisms and different levels of capability to deal with the unpalatable.

      To steer this back slightly on topic :) - it's this deficiency that blogs like WUWT depend on. Not too many scientists or other academics would lower themselves to the level of WUWT, but some do (eg Roy Spencer, Judith Curry, Richard Tol, Pat Michaels). I doubt Tsonis would go quite that far but in that exchange he was showing some of the same symptoms.

    2. Yeah, I meant to originally ask on your last post about Curry. Some of Tsonis' comments reminded me of her statements. I'd hate to see him go down that road, but his apparent dismissal of ocean heat content was rather surprising.

      Anyways, thanks for the reply, and as I've been meaning to say for awhile now, thanks for this awesome blog. It's become a favorite to visit daily, and I appreciate the time you've put into it. It's a nice headsup on whatever latest nonsense is being pushed and/or re-pushed.

    3. Thanks :)

      I could be wrong about Tsonis. I don't want to read too much into his emails and quotes in the paper. But he did say some odd things, didn't he.

    4. It is all rather strange. I can't understand how anyone can argue for a significant period of cooling when the climate is subject to a sustained and steadily increasing forcing from CO2. AT joins Curry in the "what?!" category on this one.


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