Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Double Trouble: For Whom the Tol Bells: and What 2014 El Nino is that?

Sou | 1:58 AM Go to the first of 19 comments. Add a comment

For Whom the Tol Bells

Greg Laden asked on Twitter "is this the end of Tol?  Shall he ask for whom the Bell ...".

It's really hard to resist making bad puns about tolling, isn't it, when you think of Richard Tol (if you've ever heard of him. If you haven't read on.) The remarkable thing is that the bell isn't Toling. Normally as soon as someone mentions Richard Tol's name "somewhere on the internet", up he pops, relishing the attention. Not this time however. Or not so far.

Collin Maessen of Real Skeptic has written a devastating take-down of Richard's latest swipe at the 97% consensus. You'd think he'd have given up by now wouldn't you. But he hasn't. Instead he's broadened out to misrepresenting not just the Cook13 97% study, but most of the other research papers that have gauged the level of scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Collin didn't just write an article pointing out the abominable flaws in Richard's short article. He asked the authors of the papers that Richard mentioned what they thought of his paper. Each of them found atrocious errors. Just one example to whet your appetite, it was a comment by Peter Doran (of Doran and Zimmerman 2009), who noticed (as did everyone else), that Richard seems to think that "scientific consensus" studies should count the uninformed, inexpert opinion of any Tom, Martha or Zhou who's never ever darkened the door of a university, let alone done any climate science research. Peter said:
To pull out a few of the less expert groups and give them the same weight as our most expert group is a completely irresponsible use of our data. It would be like me having a medical team tell me I need surgery to remove a life-threatening malignant growth, but going to my local Starbucks to get the opinion of the team of baristas and giving both recommendations the same weight.

I mean, would you expect any old (or young) climate scientist to be able to pour a perfect heart or double leaf?

Go and read what Collin and the other authors have to say. Richard Tol is reaping what he sows.

If you need some background on Richard and his battle with consensus, he wrote lots about it here at HotWhopper, with lots more here.

What 2014 El Niño is that?

Every time Bob Tisdale writes an article about El Niño, like his latest one (archived here), he talks about the "2014-15" El Niño, and compares it to the 1997-98 El Niño. For example, today he wrote:
The 1997/98 El Niño was extremely strong, while the 2014/15 event was extremely weak and intermittent.

What event? The current El Nino started early this year and is expected to continue probably till next autumn, 2016. So the proper comparison will be 1997-98 and 2015-16.

I know that the Pacific got warm last year, however it takes more than a warm ocean to make an El Niño. The winds have to cooperate as well. They didn't do that last year. They did cooperate this year, and it's already the strongest event since 1997-98, and might surpass it.

The Bureau of Meteorology didn't declare any El Niño last year. It declared one on 12 May this year. BoM said back in March last year that an El Nino might be forming, but it never came to fruition. NOAA didn't declare an El Nino last year either. It declared one in March this year. (NOAA had El Niño on watch status from March 2014 through to February 2015, but didn't declare one until March this year.) It was reported that the Japan Meteorological Agency declared an El Niño last December. However, when I looked it was a very weak statement, with the added "the atmospheric conditions does not indicate clear features of El Niño events". Not something I'd be hanging my hat on.

One reason I can think of for Bob wanting to insist there was an El Niño last year is because it was the hottest year on record so far. And Bob thinks that global warming is caused by El Niño events. So if it was the hottest year on record, by Bob's logic, there must have been an El Niño event. (Or it could be because last year he wrote more than twenty articles about the 2014 El Niño that never was, and he wants to save face.)

Bob has started writing about a 2015-16 El Niño, and his charts are using the comparison of 2015-16 with 1997-98, so he doesn't need to keep talking about some non-existent 2014-15 El Niño.


  1. I'd love to know how high the consensus is among scientists who do not have embarassing links to industry funded front groups.

  2. Tol is winning: many smart people are expending effort debunking his nonsense.

    1. Not that much effort, I'd have thought, and there's surely some enjoyment in it.

      Didn't Tol suggest that the Cook13 team should have contacted the actual authors, before he realised they had? Did Tol himself contact the people whose studies he claimed to represent before publication? Yeah, right, that'll happen.

      Tol seems to think he's Cool Hand Luke, winning by never staying down, but this is not Hollywood. This is a world where head trauma has repercussions.

    2. Yes, I'd not say Richard was "winning". Every time he says something stupid it reminds people that there is indeed something like 97% of scientific experts in climate, who agree that humans are causing global warming.

      Cook13 has been downloaded 385,188 times (as of this writing), which must be some sort of record for a scientific paper. Particularly one that was only published a couple of years ago.


    3. I'd say Tol and his ilk are winning bigtime and losing the planet for all of us.
      I concur entirely with numerobis' observation.
      Expense of effort debunking Tol's nonsens is taking thuggery seriously and that is what the electorate sees.
      You don't talk with thugs. You kick them out of sight.

    4. Sigh.

      You have to wonder what Tol is playing at? Is he playing the game of fabricating doubt, then letting confirmational bias do it's magic?

  3. From 1998–2008 he was an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Engineering and Public Policy

    Oh my, we overlapped! I kept wanting to take courses over there because they did really interesting stuff with lifecycle analysis and other global warming related things (no, really!). What an opportunity I missed.

  4. Collin provides quite a spectacle, with people taking issue with their own research.

    The Oreskes-Cook comparison is most clear-cut, because they used the same approach and even partly the same categorisation.

    Oreskes finds 75% in agreement, 25% no position, and 0% disagreement.

    Cook find 33% in agreement, 66% no position, and 1% disagreement.

    How could anyone claim that Oreskes and Cook find the same thing?

    1. Richard is so far gone that he's making up numbers. This is the equivalent of what he's done. Believe it!

      Let's say someone were to take a survey of 100 people, and ask the questions:

      Do you know of Richard Tol?

      10 people said "yes" and 90 people said "Who is Richard Tol?"

      The 10 people who said "yes", were then asked another question:

      In your expert opinion, is Richard Tol a nincompoop?

      And say the results were as follows:

      7 people said "Yes, Richard Tol is a nincompoop"
      3 people said "No, Richard Tol is not a nincompoop"

      Now any disinterested party who followed logic and could do arithmetic would describe the results as follows:

      Of the people who know of Richard Tol (let's call them the Tol experts), 70% are of the opinion that he is a nincompoop; and 30% are of the opinion he is not (they'd describe him another way).

      Richard Tol, would look at the responses and argue till he's blue in the face that 97% of people agree that Richard Tol is a nincompoop.

      All of which would support the opinion of 70% of the people who had sufficient expertise in Tolistry to provide an opinion on the matter, (and maybe the 30% who knew enough but would describe him otherwise, as well - there is insufficient information to judge the 30%).

    2. Oh, and by the way. I don't think anyone is claiming the 100% agreement (Oreskes) and 97% agreement (Cook13) are exactly the same. Hard to argue that they are not in the same ballpark, however.

    3. Richard, I do not believe you are actually stupid enough to think the "no position" percentage should be included. Please at least try to have a sensible engagement with the issues.

    4. Don't be too sure about that. Remember, Richard went on an on for months, arguing that Cook13 might be flawed because the abstracts would have got tired from being read by two or more researchers.

      Stupid is a very good description of that behaviour.

      BTW Richard won't be engaging on this thread anymore. He's shown that he doesn't know how to behave. He might have to go to some denier den, if they'll have him. (He's a warmist, after all, who agrees that "The consensus is of course in the high nineties. No one ever said it was not. We don’t need Cook’s survey to tell us that." So he's probably persona non grata on most denier blogs, too.)

    5. I claim that Oreskes and Cook find the same thing.

      It is a survey, what is relevant is the ratio between agreement and disagreement.

    6. In his comment and the associated figure and table, Tol has taken Oreskes' data and left the "no position" papers in for his calculation (thus yielding 75% consensus), but did NOT leave those in for Cook et al (thus yielding 97% consensus).

      This just isn't gremlins anymore, but outright scientific misconduct. Deliberate unequal treatment of data points to create a desired endresult.

  5. Or take Verheggen's study. In the sample selection phase, they decided that these are the people they want to ask. After having seen the answers, they decided that some are not worth listening to.

    1. That is just a smear from just another climate revisionist fraud. You should take that back, Tol.

    2. Richard is implying the decision about who is expert was arbitrary. It was not. It was based on publication history.

      Richard is arguing the equivalent of "Joe Bloggs, the local electrician, is as expert in climate science as someone who has authored more than 50 papers and has been researching climate for 30 years".

      I wouldn't even say Richard is desperate. I'd say he's gone over the edge. He's basically claiming that because he doesn't know how to tell the difference between a climate science expert and a non-expert, that no-one else can either. He's wrong.

      Richard demands attention, and this silliness is the only way he gets any these days. His own work has suffered from gremlin attacks and worse. That's probably why he's seeking to deflect. It's not working too well though, is it.

      I think permitting two comments from Richard here is more than generous, don't you? I'd normally allow people I've mentioned the courtesy of writing what comments they like, but Richard has shown that he doesn't deserve that courtesy. So no more.

  6. Not an expert on Tol, but still think he's a nincompoop. Does that count for anything?

    1. You could add your opinion about him it to his Wikipedia page...
      (for backstory, see http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2015/09/02/tol-on-ward-on-wiki/)


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