Monday, September 22, 2014

310,000 people are wrong and Bob Tisdale is right?

Last weekend, all around the world people gathered to urge action on climate. In New York City the gathering was estimated at 310,000. You can read more in the New York Times, where it got a front page spread.

The climate action rallies got under the skin of WUWT. So far there have been five different articles about them.

Today at wattsupwiththat, Perennially Puzzled "Bob Tisdale" decides that all these hundreds of thousands of people have their priorities skewed. Why? Because he looked up a UN survey.

Bob's headline was like something from The Onion:

More Than 310 Thousand People with Skewed Priorities Flood New York

From the UN My World survey, which Bob referred to, the top priority worldwide is education followed by health care. Which is to be expected. They'd rank way up high everywhere, thongh not always at the top. But if they are almost always in the top six, then worldwide you'd expect them to be the top two.

To explain further, you are not asked to rank the items in order. You are only asked to select your top six priorities. So the ranking indicates the priorities most often selected.

Now I can understand science deniers would benefit from an education. Theirs is sadly lacking. At least Bob is well-enough educated that he was able to take a screen grab of the UN survey results so far.

You can see the results here. As Bob showed, looking at the results for the whole world, all ages, all sexes, all education levels - climate change rates lowest after a heap of other things.

I delved into the survey a bit. There were some surprises. Given Bob was telling 310,000 people who gathered in New York City that they had their priorities skewed (he didn't complain about the other 2,000 or so gatherings world wide), I figured I'd look to see how important climate change is to people from the USA.

  • Combining all ages, sexes, and level of education climate change ranks 10 out of 16 (n=52,788).
  • For women of all ages and levels of education it ranks it ranks 10 out of 16 (n=33,472).
  • But for men it ranks slightly higher at 9 out of 16 (n=19,316).

What was more interesting was that for both men and women over 61 climate change ranks 5 out of 16. That was from 6,729 respondents. Quite a lot.  It ranked higher for older respondents than for any other age group.

Curious, eh?

I checked out Australia, too. For all respondents, all ages, both sexes, all education levels there were 21,738 responses. Climate change ranked 7th out of 16 priorities overall.

The segment that was most concerned about climate change in Australia were women aged between 46 and 60, who ranked it fourth out of sixteen. Men aged between 16 and 45 all rated it sixth out of 16.

Bob's urging WUWT deniers to get in there and skew the numbers more deniers' way. It will be interesting to see if he succeeds. If you want to join in too, you can take the survey here.

I reckon in about forty years' time, if WUWT is still around, the headline will read something like:

More Than Nine Billion People with Skewed Priorities Flood the World's Cities

You can have your say about "My World":

From the WUWT comments

Eric Worrall  sniggers like an insecure teenager showing off in front of his under-achieving mates and writes:
September 22, 2014 at 1:57 am
Hilarious – from those poll numbers, pretty much everyone who ticked the “environment” box was at the march.

Gregory points out the link with that evil of evils, long term sustainability:
September 22, 2014 at 2:40 am
Bob, every one of these topics is an Agenda21 action item.

Mario Martini is one of the most realistic commenters, but betrays himself as a science denier when he writes:
September 22, 2014 at 2:51 am
I suspect the impact of yesterday will be greater than any of us would like.

Richard is an ice-age comether. He probably reckons those handful of scientific papers in the 1970s were right and the vast majority wrong. He's still waiting.. He's endlessly patient.  Can he wait 50,000 years?
September 22, 2014 at 3:30 am
If solar scientists are right, and earth’s climate cools for the next few decades, these people will still be protesting. They won’t let facts get in the way of their beliefs.

Johanus reckons it wasn't a spontaneous eruption. It must have been planned. Duh!  You can't fool Johanus:
September 22, 2014 at 3:48 am
“…paid to protest…”
The point is that this is not just a spontaneous gathering of people. I suspect that someone with considerable “community organizing” skill is behind it all, getting all these “folks” to show up and get so hyped up about impending CO2-induced catastrophes, when getting hyped up about ISIS and other impending global security threats would make more sense.

Jonny Old Boy decides the crowd should have been gathering on something else:
September 22, 2014 at 3:52 am
funny how these people do not march to demand a control on world population ,,, 6 Billion a decade ago just turned into 7 billion ,,, when are people that ‘care about the planet’ going to wake up to this disaster we are walking into as a species…..


  1. Eh, not a fan of the headline. The WUWTers can do that too, e.g. "X thousand WUWT readers are wrong and Michael Mann is right???" Better to let Tisdale's argument rise or fall on its own merits.

    ... which to be fair are few. Taking Bob's argument just one small step further, anyone campaigning for the preservation of political freedoms (globally ranked issue #15) needs to get their priorities straightened out. Political freedoms - who cares about 'em? Only 20% more than those silly people who thing climate change might be worth doing something about.

    1. You talking about Bob's headline? (What merits?) Or my spoof of Bob's headline? Or the Onion's headline?

      Your analogy is wrong too. Michael Mann would only say what probably 70% of the world and 97% of climate scientists would say.

    2. "X thousand WUWT readers are wrong and Michael Mann is right?

      An interesting case of consensus being way off the mark. If I was to bet I would put it on Michael Mann.

    3. I'm still trying to figure out why our anonymous friend thinks I can't care about political freedoms and about climate change.

    4. Oh dear, look at the mess I've made here. Three different misinterpretations of what I was attempting to say... I'll try to make myself clearer.

      Point 1, my first paragraph: this post's headline. I felt it poses the unspoken question: "... and surely 310000 people can't be wrong?" Well, they could be... and Bob Tisdale could be thoroughly reasonable in his critique. The *point* here is that just because 310000 people think climate change is a big deal, that doesn't mean Bob is wrong to think it isn't. (There are, of course, a whole lot of *other* reasons why he's wrong, several of them already listed in the OP the comments section.)

      The comparison with the hypothetical WUWT argument against Mann was intended to highlight this problem. A very similar argument could be made as in Sou's headline: "... and surely WUWT's thousands of readers can't be wrong?" In actual fact, they're completely off base, which illustrates the problems I have with this kind of argument.

      (Note also that I see the difference between a popular consensus and a scientific consensus of well-informed opinion. But let's put that aside for now.)

      Point 2, my second paragraph: this was intended as another critique of Tisdale's argument. Taken to an extreme, it would lead one to conclude that nothing at all should be done about anything except access to and quality of education (#1 on the list globally). This is, of course, quite silly (and I doubt even Tisdale would say that). The point I was trying to make was that the same argument Bob Tisdale uses to call climate change activists priority-skewed could be used, among other things, against those campaigning for political freedom (which, after all, is only a priority for 200000 more than is climate change) - and I doubt very many WUWT readers would care to argue against political freedom!

      In effect, Tisdale is arguing that if your cause is not in the top, say, 5 most popular causes globally, you shouldn't be working for it; and also, that if you have several causes to fight for, you should choose the one you (or even better, the world at large) think is most important and none other. Which is absurd, since (as discussed above) it's perfectly reasonable to care both about political freedoms and climate change.

      In sum: Sou's headline - disappointing; Tisdale's headline - not really any better; Tisdale's article - silly.

      One final note on that headline: fair enough, the argument in question is only implicit and not relevant to the main article. And headlines should grab the attention. I just feel that fallacies in the headline (even if the main argument is completely independent of it) leave you open to misrepresentation by deniers looking for any opening - and I have seen that happen before. Then again, I see only one comment referencing the issue with the headline, and it looks sadly familiar... so take my (well-meant) tone trolling with a grain of salt. :)

      Well. I started with a comment that was held too short and ambiguous, and now I've left a wall of text that may obscure more than it explains... My apologies, and I hope that someday, someday soon, I may finally learn the dark art of commenting well.... :}

    5. one thing at a time, Millicent. we shouldn't try to fix climate change until we've fixed poverty. (that we're not actually trying to fix that is a mere detail, of no great import.)

    6. I bet Anonymous is a hoot at parties, explaining why the punch line doesn't actually work - that a kangaroo really couldn't have "walked into a bar and.... For one thing, a kangaroo doesn't walk, for another..."

    7. Point well taken (though I stand by my remarks). I do indeed tend to run to great lengths and into all the varied nuances of the topic of discussion when I write, and I don't think that'd go over particularly well at parties either. Kills the mood pretty quickly. On the other hand, you've seen what happens when I try to be snappy... :\

      I think for the present I'll stop cluttering your comment threads and drop back to lurking. Wouldn't want to stop you having your fun. :) I've had my (largely incoherent) say for now and hope we do not part adversaries. Perhaps one day I may return again and upgrade my anonymity to pseudonymity... (would certainly help against being mistaken for someone else, and you'd know whose comments to skip :P)

      Be seeing you all 'round

    8. Sorry for the snark, I couldn't resist.

      Take care. Don't be a stranger, you're always welcome :)

  2. Gabby you really need to get some realistic perspective going here. Such an angry lady you are. I expect someone hurt you really badly but hey, not every human is responsible for that.

    1. You know; Gabby! Surely you know Gabby. Everyone knows Gabby! You know, the lady with the, uh, thingy that she's really hurt about? Yeah, that's Gabby!

    2. I wonder if Michael Worst was outraged by my treatment of the poor little men who run HotCopper when their club was infiltrated by people of the fairer sex. Perhaps in his outrage he accidentally posted his comment in the wrong spot.

      If he's looking for fellow travellers, the poor man is not just on the wrong page, he's on the wrong blog.

    3. Eh? Bafflegab and patronising cod-psychology?

      If I was to be looking at people with serious 'issues', I'd be looking at the WUWT comments threads. Though envy is clearly the chief motivator - you lot couldn't pull a tenth of the New York crowd alone if you attempted rallies across the whole of the US.

      (The dbstealey crowd photo cherrypick - see, there's nobody there! - was exemplary.)

      Noisy you may be. Numerous you ain't.

      PS references to 'community organizers' are Tea Partyite conspiratorial dog-whistling...

  3. Wow. The concern trolls appear VERY concerned today.

    1. Isn't it strange how there's no deniers on for days and then we get two within seven minutes. Do they travel in convoys for safety?

    2. Milly, I think anon above is on your side. That means just one denialist troll. Well two if you count me but then I hadnt commented when you posted...

    3. They actually travel in pairs, dress conservatively with ties /hats/sensible shoes, wear their names (prefixed with Senior) on a tag or badge, carry a leather bound 'Heaven and Earth' Primer (or is that Plimer?) book, want to share their 'good' news on climate change, bless your house with fossil fuels, exhort you to come along to one of their presentations honouring their Lord M, try to leave you with one of their leaflets warning about Agenda 21, ...
      And always at an inconvenient time, like you're getting the scratchings for the races at Flemington, or trying to spike a keg for a mate's birthday party, or you're halfway through having your back hair waxed, ... Know what I mean?

    4. Indeed, 'twas all a misunderstanding (and I'm to blame for it). And michael worst is no relation (I'd be quite ashamed if my criticism were to sink to his level!)

  4. "Bob Tisdale" gets angry if you call him Wayman.

    This will get him angrier -- the process behind El Ninos, the Pacific Ocean ENSO, may be more predictable than people think.

  5. Some people with enough gray hairs and their memories still intact may remember that New York City was the scene of an earlier multi-hundred thousand march and rally in 1982. Back then the subject was the nuclear arms race. And while some will try to claim it was due to other reasons, after the march, first the rhetoric and later the actions of the Reagan administration changed from being dead set against arms treaties with the Soviet Union, to being in favor of them. I hope this march provides a similar change. -- Dennis

    1. I remember attending a rally for the same cause of 60,000 in Sydney in '82, and 100,000+ plus the year after (IIRC). An amazing experience.

      100,000 in Adelaide (out of a population of just over 1 million!) against the Iraq War was the most amazing experience - and it says a lot about the state of our 'democracy' that Howard just sneered at us all with complete impunity. And, let's face it, history has proved us right many times over!

  6. "100,000 in Adelaide (out of a population of just over 1 million!) against the Iraq War was the most amazing experience "

    You were there too? The things I remember most vividly from that were being stalled in Victoria Square and a tall bloke near me had to use his phone to take piccies of just how far down King William St the marchers were (didn't help much with knowing how long it would be to get going) and, much later, I got tired so I took a break at the museum cafe - and the march just went on and on and on down North Terrace.

    At least for those few hours, we thought Howard and co might have to listen.

  7. Sou, this week's Borowitz Report is the perfect rejoinder to Bob.

    1. Good one, Steve:

      Klugian said he was confident that, despite the impressive numbers for Sunday’s march, idiots would prevail in the ongoing climate-change debate. “At the end of the day, there are more people like us in Congress,” he said.

      Will that be the case after November or not?

    2. With all the blatant gerrymandering and voter suppression in the US it's hard to see much changing there for a good while. Not for the better, anyway.

    3. The current expectation is that the GOP will make gains in the house and senate. Makes me despair to think about it. I hope the polls are wrong...

  8. You realise that there will be none of those amusing 'its all over for climate science' comments over at WUWT. Well, at least until one of their resident recurring amnesiacs has a fit. It could be several days then.

    Perhaps we should run a sweepstake.

    1. They'll soon be congratulating themselves on how many more they could get to a counter-demonstration if this sort of gesture mattered, which it doesn't, of course, and anyway their sort of people (Hard Working American Families) have jobs to go to, unlike those damn' students and hippies.

    2. And when they are not working they are fighting for the American Way of Life.

      The ex governor (and vice presidential candidate)'s son "Track". their turning up in a stretched Hummer. the (alleged) drunken brawl. Am I living in some bizarre dream world?


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