# Open Mind

## How Not to Analyze Data, part Deux

#### March 30, 2008 · 82 Comments

Recently a reader commented that Anthony Watts had been deleting comments from his blog, after the fact of having not only approved them, but responded to them. So I went to see for myself, and found out that the entire post in question was gone. Then a comment arrived here saying that not only was that post gone, so was part 2 of that series. I went to find out, but I hadn’t saved a link to part 2 of that series, so I waded through all the posts on Watts’ blog subsequent to part 1. Indeed I failed to find part 2 of the series. But what I did find, astounded me.

Not long after, the absent posts reappeared. I don’t know whether there was a technical glitch, or Watts was removing then restoring entire posts, but that’s neither here nor there. This post is about what I found.

We’ve already seen how Anthony Watts analyzes data. We’ve also seen the folly of how Joe D’Aleo analyzes data, the subject of another Watts post. We’ve even seen what seemed to be the height of folly, yet another post on Watts’ blog which was an essay by Jim Goodridge. I thought that nothing could come close to being as bad, even at Watts’ site. Then I saw this one by Basil Copeland.

Here’s what Copeland does: first he takes monthly temperature anomaly, and transforms it to what he calls seasonal anomaly. That’s just the difference between the month’s anomaly, and what it was 12 months previously. So, if the temperature for the nth month is $T_n$, the seasonal anomaly is

$S_n = T_n - T_{n-12}$.

Then he steps backward in time and adds up the seasonal anomalies. For the most recent month, out of N total months, that’s just $S_N$. For the next-most-recent month, it’s $S_N + S_{N-1}$. For the one preceding that, it’s $S_N + S_{N-1} + S_{N-2}$. And so on, and so forth, etc. etc. etc. He graphs the results of this procedure; for GISS data he gets this:

At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read his description. So to be certain that I interpreted him correctly, I took the GISS data and followed the outlined procedure, which gave this:

The plotted curves are identical, down to the smallest detail. So indeed I correctly interpreted his stated procedure.

Copeland then muses at great length about how these accumulated seasonal anomalies give so much insight into the trends that are present in temperature. His dissertation is hogwash. But what I’d really like to examine closely is what Copeland’s method really does. The most recent value (if we have N total months of data) for his “cumulative seasonal anomaly,” which I’ll call $C_N$, is

$C_N = S_N = T_N - T_{N-12}$.

The next-most-recent value is

$C_{N-1} = S_N + S_{N-1} = (T_N - T_{N-12}) + (T_{N-1} - T_{N-13})$.

The value preceding that is

$C_{N-2} = S_N + S_{N-1} + S_{N-2}$

$= (T_N - T_{N-12}) + (T_{N-1} - T_{N-13}) + (T_{N-3} - T_{N-15})$.

By the time we get to the 12th-most-recent value, we have

$C_{N-11} = S_N + S_{N-1} + S_{N-2} + ... + S_{N-11}$

$= (T_N - T_{N-12}) + (T_{N-1} - T_{N-13}) + ... + (T_{N-11} - T_{N-23})$.

This happens to equal

$C_{N-11} = T_N + T_{N-1} + T_{N-2} + T_{N-3} + T_{N-4} + T_{N-5}$

$+ T_{N-6} + T_{N-7} + T_{N-8} + T_{N-9} + T_{N-10} + T_{N-11}$

$- T_{N-12} - T_{N-13} - T_{N-14} - T_{N-15} - T_{N-16} - T_{N-17}$

$- T_{N-18} - T_{N-19} - T_{N-20} - T_{N-21} - T_{N-22} - T_{N-23}$.

This is just the sum of the 12 most recent values, minus the sum of the 12 values preceding that.

The sum of the 12 most recent values is twelve times the average for the 12 most recent months. Let’s call that average $A_N$. The sum of the 12 months preceding that is twelve times the average for those twelve months; let’s call that average $A_{N-12}$. So we have

$C_{N-11} = 12 A_N - 12 A_{N-12} = 12 (A_N - A_{N-12})$.

In fact it’s not too difficult to show that every value of the “cumulative seasonal anomaly” is 12 times the difference between the most recent 12-month average, and some previous 12-month average. To be precise, for any j we have:

$C_j = 12 (A_N - A_{j-1})$.

Now consider what happens as we step backward through time, i.e., the index j in this equation changes. The most recent 12-month average doesn’t change; it just remains $A_N$. But what we subtract from it is the 12-month average for the index value immediately preceding j. In other words, the time series of cumulative seasonal anomaly is exactly equal to the time series of 12-month running averages, ending with the month preceding j, subtracted from $A_N$, and multiplied by 12.

So what he’s really done producing his graph is equivalent to computing 12-month running averages, multiplying them by 12, turning that graph upside down, then shifting all the values so that the zero point is 12 times the most recent 12-month average.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a graph of plain old 12-month running averages of GISS data:

Does that look familiar? It has exactly the same shape as Copeland’s graph, but it’s upside-down. In fact, I’ll plot the data computed exactly according to Copeland’s method and 12-month running averages on the same graph, but with different axes. I’ll turn the axis for the 12-month running averages upside-down, change its size by a factor of 12, and shift it so that the two curves almost match (If I shifted it by an exact offset, the two curves would be right on top of each other and it would look like only one curve!):

Copeland makes a great big deal of the fact that there are negative values on his graph for recent times. In fact, that’s the foundation of his argument for a cooling trend in recent data. But negative values only mean that the most recent 12-month average (which for his data ends in January 2008) is cooler than that particular time’s 12-month average. The negative value at the end of 2005, for example, means that the last 12 months haven’t been quite as hot as 2005. But anybody familiar with GISS data already knew that; according to GISS data, 2005 is the hottest year on record.

In fact all of Copeland’s values are exactly proportional to the difference between the 12-month average ending in January 2008, which culminates in a very strong la Nina, and the average for some previous 12-month period. So not only does he argue for a cooling trend with data that amounts to comparing one single year to another single year, the “benchmark” he sets includes the recent strong la Nina. For some time, we’ve been subjected to claims that global warming stopped in 1998, which is nothing more than using too brief a time span and cherry-picking the start year as the intense el Nino of 1998, and which is contradicted by proper data analysis. Now Copeland manages to base a comparison on too brief a time frame, which ends with the January 2008 la Nina, and which is contradicted by proper data analysis.

But the most bizarre thing of all, the real jaw-dropper, is that he seems to be genuinely, blissfully ignorant of the fact that his “cumulative seasonal anomaly” graph is nothing more than a graph of 12-month running averages turned upside down.

It would seem that Basil Copeland doesn’t really know what he’s doing. It would seem that Jim Goodridge doesn’t really know what he’s doing. It would seem that Joe D’Aleo doesn’t really know what he’s doing. And it’s abundantly clear that Anthony Watts doesn’t know what he’s doing, and hasn’t the faintest idea what his contributors are doing either. But this is the guy who tells us not to believe the overwhelming majority of the worldwide community of climate scientists; he thinks he and his buddies know better.

I think I’m done with Watts and his contributors. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. And there are readers here who sincerely want to know more about climate science.

Since Watts is overwhelmingly likely to post more ludicrous analyses of climate data, I reserve the right to comment on them. After the Goodridge post Watts commented here, the main thrust of which was to insult me personally (but with polite language!), try to change the subject, and attempt to paint himself as some sort of enlightened investigator because he appreciated the value of learning from mistakes. Anthony … what have you learned?

Categories: Global Warming · climate change

### 82 responses so far ↓

• Let’s see, two choices:

A. Interesting PCA/math/data shiznet from someone with a clue (albiet full of snark, meanderingly posted, mixed with advocacy).

B. Someone who doesn’t know math touting the work of various entrail reader sun-worshippers.

——————————

It’s a no-brainer to me to deal with subject A. I mean, it’s just more FUN. And interesting…which makes it fun. Do you really want to run this blog for the purpose of PR (even correcting your opponents PR) or would you like to run more of a salon for intersting discussion? It’s a no-brainer to me.

• non27

This could be fun, unless thousands people believe in those analysis and spread them all over the internet….

Tamino,

The same observation (moving average etc) was already done among the original comments to Copeland on Watts’ site.

[Response: Well well ... indeed it was. Good for Nick Stokes.

Looking further, I see that Basil Copeland replies, "I don’t think it is exactly the same."

Then Nick Stokes comments again, proving simply by crunching the numbers that it *is* exactly the same, and concluding, "Because the graph is upside down, it looks like the trend is down when it is up. And secondly, you’re interpreting the values as trends, when they are just scaled temperatures." Good on ya, Nick.

But as far as I can see, Nick's proof has just been ignored by Copeland and Watts.]

• Hank Roberts

> fish in a barrel

More like shooting at the decoys while the ducks fly on.

Seriously. Chaff, decoys, trolls, copypaste, smoke, and mirrors IS the message.

Fear, uncertainty, denial is the tactic.

There is good science to talk about — terrifying to the industries threatened, in this election year.

I’d love to see you settle on a one-word tag for the distractions, tag them and move on. Bot, troll, crap, innumerate, or just the climate bingo number for the assertion replicated.

Formatting the obvious troll postings in pink would suffice. Avoid, don’t respond to those time sink sucker traps.

• fred

You have to ask why. Not rhetorically. You have to ask why this is happening, and its happening on quite a scale. Why is it that people simply do not believe AGW and are trying their best to figure it out for themselves, often with odd and amateurish methods. No, its not because they are right wing zealots, or in the pay of Exxon, or any of those things. There is something fundamental here about the AGW and environmental movement and how its positioned in American culture, and its quite important to get to the bottom of it. Personally I think the free use of the expression ‘deniers’ and ‘denialism’, and the attitudes that go with that, has a lot to do with it. But whatever, there’s a big chunk of people who are not buying, and you have to figure out why.

[Response: I'd say that the deliberate disinformation campaign from well-funded organizations like the Marshall Institute has much more to do with it -- Anthony Watts didn't organize the recent climate-nonsense conference in NYC, he was just an invited speaker. The Bush administration's approach is rooted in the Lutz memo. The recurrent claims that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will "drive us back to the stone age" really frighten people. Continual appeals to "free market" solutions appeal to the fear of socialism and communism which is ingrained in conservatives. Don't underestimate the impact of plain old propaganda.]

• Basil

“So what he’s really done producing his graph is equivalent to computing 12-month running averages, multiplying them by 12, turning that graph upside down, then shifting all the values so that the zero point is 12 times the most recent 12-month average.”

By shifting the axis so that the zero point “is 12 times the most recent 12-month average,” we can read back in time and see other points in time where the data crosses this rescaled axis. At those points, there has been no net warming or cooling relative to the most recent point. That’s all I ever attributed to the graphs, and you haven’t shown that they do not show that. Showing that you can get from here to there in a more convoluted way doesn’t change what they show.

Basil

[Response: That is certainly *not* "all you ever attributed to those graphs." You suggested, because you actually believed it, that the "cumulative seasonal anomaly" was some magic-bullet indicator of trend when in fact it's nothing more than 12-month running averages *upside down*. You even gave the impression that it was somehow an especially skillful way to look for trends from an especially skillful trend analyst when you said, "It all depends on the “skill” with which we look at the data." You went a long way to pass yourself off as a skillful time series analyst, which in fact you are NOT, and your analysis as a skillful insight into trends when in fact it is NOT. Or do you really believe that comparing two separate 12-month averages is a more skillful trend analysis than linear regression? Do you really believe that trend analysis over a period as brief as 7 years, or 10 years, or ONE SINGLE YEAR, without even looking AT ALL into the issue of autocorrelation, or of probable errors, is "skill"?

You can't even claim to have known what you yourself were doing -- when Nick Stokes pointed out what your method really does you replied “I don’t think it is exactly the same.” Not only did you not understand what you were doing when you posted it, even *after* it was pointed out you *still* didn't get it.

Lucia applied *much* more rigor and skill than you did to this issue. She didn't go far enough, but at least she has the intelligence to know what it is that she *is* doing, she approaches it with a healthy does of humility, and she got a helluva lot closer than you did. And I don't consider her work garbage because she's trying to deal with the *real* analytical issues, she has an *inkling* of the complications involved in trend analysis of strongly autocorrelated data, and the autocorrelation structure is intricate enough that even ordinary remedies aren't sufficient with it when the time span is so short. She also shows some genuine humility, clearly expressing her uncertainty -- you could learn a hell of a lot from her.

You seem to think that you can invent your own method and declare it "skill" without even knowing what it does and that you can apply analysis out of a can when you don't understand why it may or may not be valid -- as your subsequent posts prove, particularly your amateurish application of the Chow test. You're just a guy who took some methods from econometrics and *thinks* he knows what he's doing, then has the arrogance to act like he understands it better than we do.

And by the way: your subsequent posts are bogus too. I was gonna let sleeping dogs lie, but now that you've had the gall to defend your ridiculous post, maybe I'll stomp all over them too. Bambi meets Godzilla.]

• So these are the guys that in an “honest” effort to audit the surface stations, eh? I’d rather have a fifth grader take pictures of the surface stations.

• TCO,

Check out the “Good Math, Bad Math” blog over at ScienceBlogs. Sometimes, demolishing bad analysis is informative. And fun.

In this case, it is important to do. WattsUp gets 300,000 hits a month. Anthony Watts has top posting rights over at Climate Audit. Anthony is accorded a LOT of respect among the denialists. Why would one let this garbage sit without response, and support by omission the fantasy that Watts has even a ghost of a clue.

• Hank Roberts

> Why would one let this garbage sit
> without response, and support by
> omission the fantasy ….

“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.”
— C. Northcote Parkinson

• Basil

So I take it civil discussion is out of the question?

Basil

[Response: You and Anthony Watts should stop the pretentious "civility" routine. Watts tries to paint himself as some sort of "gentleman" while he insults me and implies I'm a coward. He deletes comments from his blog ex post facto, without notice or explanation. The "gentleman" claim is hypocrisy; please don't follow in his footsteps.

Real civility requires more than just polite words. It requires honesty.

So: will you admit that your analysis is invalid? That you failed to get it even when Nick Stokes pointed it out to you? That when it comes to trend analysis, you really don't know what you're doing? Anything less is the kind of dishonesty which, however politely phrased, is an insult to the intelligence of every reader here and every reader on Watts' blog. Do that, and we can have a civil discussion.

You might as well admit it, because everybody knows it by now.

As long as you refuse to admit the truth, sensible discussion is indeed out of the question.]

• Lazar

Fred;

You have to ask why. Not rhetorically. You have to ask why this is happening, and its happening on quite a scale. Why is it that people simply do not believe AGW and are trying their best to figure it out for themselves

Seeking truth ‘for oneself’ does not imply a position one way or another.

There may be multiple reasons why any individual believes, and wants to believe, in any single issue.

Seeking for truth is ingrained; it is survival-fit. That desire probably manifests stronger as times become more pressing.

That “big chunk of people who are not buying” is becoming smaller every year… pehaps you need to ask why.

• fred

Tamino, the problem is, if you identify acceptance of AGW with Democratic party politics, you should not be surprised when people with Republican sympathies refuse to accept it. They don’t accept Democratic ideas and proposals with any sympathy. They dislike and distrust the Democrats. What you’ve done is counterproductive. Its made a scientific hypothesis into a party political issue, which makes its assessment on its merits far harder not easier. Then you blame people for behaving politically on it. Of course they do.

To a European what is happening is very recognisable as a US cultural weakness: excessive premature resort to moral fervor and self righteousness about factual issues. Disastrous.

You aren’t going to have much success with Watt’s readers either, using your present tone. It will make some feel better, but not the ones you need to reach.

chriscolose, the merits of the surface stations project are independent of this stuff. That had to be done regardless. One can as little understand resistance and hostility to that, as one can the statistics attacked in this post. But, if you don’t think they are doing it right, join in and help and do some stations right yourself.

[Response: Let's not kid ourselves. You're the one who brought up the subject of the "environmental movement and how it's positioned in American culture." The way it's positioned is, that the fossil-fuel industry considers taking action about AGW a threat to their profits, so they use propaganda as a tool to obstruct it. Their puppets play on people's fear of loss of quality of life by talk about "knocking us back to the stone age," and use the "free market" argument to imply that any government regulation is tantamount to socialism or communism. As for the deceptive, anti-truth approach of the Bush administration, that's just a matter of simple fact -- even rank-and-file republicans get that.

And about the surfacestations project: I might agree that their examination of surface stations is independent of the garbage statistics we've seen on Wattsupwiththat, IF Watts and D'Aleo and Goodridge and Copeland would simply admit the truth when they're faced with it. But for the love of God, man, don't YOU see? These people tell us that two plus two equals thirty-seven, then when they're proven wrong they STILL won't admit it! That speaks volumes not only about competence, but about how much they can be *trusted*.]

• Gavin's Pussycat

Personally I think the free use of the expression ‘deniers’ and ‘denialism’, and the attitudes that go with that, has a lot to do with it.

The term gained currency in connection with the denial by some neo-nazis that the Holocaust ever happened. That is not the origin, however.

The expression “being in denial” in psychology has long existed, referring to the inability of people to face up to factual realities that are somehow painful or inconvenient for them.

But whatever, there’s a big chunk of people who are not buying, and you have to figure out why.

Most of the people who are “not buying” are just uninformed and are “buying” the denialist propaganda instead, mainly due to decibel logic, but also to an anti-intellectualist streak especially of American society. Same as with evolution.

It seems to me that the number of people truly in denial, in the psychological sense, is rather small. But they are massively amplified by moneyed vested interests, as HB pointed out.

A special place hold the “libertarians”, a secular sect very similar to the Marxists-Leninists of their day, believers in a Theory of Everything with ready answers to all questions. “Useful fools”, as my old friend Vladimir Ilyich used to call them — though not referring to corporate interests :-)

The problem is that you cannot tell on the face of it whether someone espousing denialist viewpoints is a perpetrator or a victim. That’s when you get friendly fire.

BTW I would settle for “flat-earthers”, the term CNN coined for the New York denialist get-together.

• fred

GP, do you think there is such a thing as sincere dissent from the scientific hypothesis? As in, when someone not unduly influenced, not for political reasons, not having any but mainstream Democrat politics, just looks at the studies and the data and takes a different view from you of them?

• Bob B

What about the 11yr and 22yr frequency components in the data?
By filtering the temperature set doesn’t his show them clearly?

• luminous beauty

fred,

It isn’t the sincerity of dissent being questioned, but it’s cogency.

When one looks at the studies and the data and takes a view different from what is actually demonstrated by the studies and the data, it is problematic.

• Basil

Why should I admit to having done something that was “invalid” when the point is the same whether you do it the way you want to do it, or the way I did it. As I show in this pic,

http://i32.tinypic.com/14bosb7.jpg

which is just yours with a couple of lines drawn on it to make the point, between early 2002 and now there has been no net change in the anomaly: it goes up, it goes down, it goes up, it goes down, and where it is now it is just back to where it was nearly six years ago.

And none of your ad hominem vitriol, or insistence that the chart must be drawn your way, or no way, changes that. Now, if you want to argue whether or not that justifies treating the end of 2001 or the beginning of 2002 as a “switch” point for purposes of regression, that’s fair game. I have little patience, though, for people who say “you should have done it this way, or that way” as if that discredits anything. If one thinks it does, then do it “this way or that way” and show that it does. To your credit, you’ve shown that there is another way to do what I was doing. But it doesn’t change what the charts show. Whether you do it “my way” or “your way” they both show no net change between the one point and the other. This is all much ado about nothing.

Basil

[Response: If you want to argue that 12-month running averages since early 2002 are a reliable indicator of temperature trends, that's one thing. If you want to argue that "no net change" since "nearly six years ago" is meaningful, that's another thing. If you want to utterly ignore the noise level in the data, the strong (and complex) autocorrelation structure of that noise, and never even bother to compute probable errors in trend estimates, that's another thing. You'd be wrong in every case, but we could have a civil discussion about it because at least everybody would know what you were doing and what you were claiming.

Instead you devised this "cumulative seasonal differences" routine, and you went to some lengths to make them out to be a key indicator of trends. It turns out that they're nothing more than 12-month running averages turned upside down. But you didn't even know this. You even denied it in response to Nick Stokes! The average reader gets the impression that it *was* some new, insightful way of determining trends. That's because the average reader wouldn't know what you were really doing. And that's because you didn't know what you were really doing.

But here you are, defending it by saying "the point is the same whether you do it the way you want to do it, or the way I did it." The point is that you didn't know that, but you did turn a simple analysis which almost every reader would comprehend into a complicated mess which most readers won't comprehend. I'm sure it impressed a lot of people. But if they actually realized that your entire analysis boils down to "no net change for six years," they wouldn't be nearly so impressed.

Maybe Nick Stokes said it best: "Because the graph is upside down, it looks like the trend is down when it is up. And secondly, you’re interpreting the values as trends, when they are just scaled temperatures."]

• luminous beauty

Basil,

If you were actually using a real linear regression from your hypothetical switch point instead of just drawing an arbitrary line between two points, you might have a point.

Except you wouldn’t.

• dhogaza

Whether you do it “my way” or “your way” they both show no net change between the one point and the other.

Which is a meaningless comparison.

Then why do you and Watts make a big deal of it? Why the post and the claims of significance?

• climatewonk

What I see at work in the denialist camp is AAGW — anything but anthropogenic global warming. Hence you see wacky charts and half-baked theories and papers published in non- and increasingly disreputable “journals” like E&E.

I also see this debate as just a symptom of the cultural wars in the US (and Canada, to a lesser extent elsewhere) between left and right. It should be that the science is independent of politics, and most of the time, people would pay no attention to a science finding. It’s the implications of this particular finding and its social, economic and political consequences that causes such a divide. The fact that the implications suggest a change in the way we do things, especially the kind of and way we use energy, that has led to this divide.

There are too many vested interests involved with huge dollars at stake, for the science to be taken at face value. It has to be denied. It has to.

If the science pointed to some other cause than GHGs for global warming, and if the solutions did not involve changes in the level of or type of fossil fuel consumption, you can bet that this debate would not be happening.

It’s the oil (and gas and coal), stupid.

• Bob B

What about the frequency components in the filtered temperature data?

[Response: Exactly what filtered temperature data are you referring to?]

• Shouldn’t Climate Audit be auditing Basil’s analysis? Or this is where they play the “we’re not experts, just regular people seeking the truth” routine. The persecution commentary and comparison to heretic scientists of the Enlightenment is probably in full swing already.

• He’s referringto Basil’s latest two-part magnum opus over there.

Basil takes the temp record, smooths it with a Hodrick-Prescott filter to remove what he calls a “cyclical pattern in the data”, tries lambda of 100 and 7 for his filter. He isn’t done, but at this point he says:
“I believe that analysis of the cyclical component may show significant correlations with known shorter term oscillations in globally averaged temperature, and that this may be a fruitful area for further research on the usefulness of Hodrick-Prescott filtering for the study of global or regional variations in temperature.”

Going further with his ‘analysis,’ he goes on to “compute the first differences of the [smoothed] series to calculate the average rate of change over any given period of time.” Out of this he gets results with 11 and 22 year trends in “the rate of warming” which he claims correlate with peaks in the solar cycles.

• Bob B

• dhogaza

Shouldn’t Climate Audit be auditing Basil’s analysis?

Of course not. Basil’s graph doesn’t look like a hockey stick …

• Basil’s post is basically just another excursion into peering into the chicken entrails and finding patterns that nicely match your preconceptions.

In this case, it’s mildly amusing that he had to turn the temperature trend upside down along the way, and that he doesn’t seem to realize what he was doing.

There seems to have been a series of remarkably silly posts on Watts’s site (D’Aleo, Watts’s famous “histograms” one, the Goodridge one, and now this). They desperately need some QC over there. From comments in one of the threads, it sounds like Anthony has begun sending out potential posts to be “reviewed” in advance, hopefully by somebody with a bit more understanding. Maybe that will help.

• Fred, that’s a shrewd observation on the nature of the visceral reactions and of the hoi polloi (of our side).

The key thing though is to try in the science realm to understand the system (regardless of which political side it helps). The system is PHYSICALLY doing what it does regardless. If it’s marching along and submerges Bangladesh, cause that’s just how it works, than that’s the situation. Regardless of the right not liking carbon taxes.

Similarly, if the system has less sensitivity to CO2 or starts limiting (more) after a certain rise, than that also is just the situation. It doesn’t MATTER if those who like socialism more (or fear it less or like liberal Democrats or what have you) are right/wrong in that view. It doesn’t even matter if it is trendy in Germany, etc. The gas molecules don’t care!

I see the frequent conjoining of the poliltics and the science as a danger for being objective (and inquisitive) and also as derailing issue analysis in a disaggregative manner.

My personal beliefs are of course on the right (flexes latismus). And even include a devilish desire for the lefties to be wrong and to be brought up short (but the physics is the physics…the system is the system…and we will learn it indisputably one way or another eventually).

I also personally think that the AGW is most likely happening (has happened in 20th century).

This is NOT because I think the science to date is bullet proof. There are all kinds of issues with BOTH the paleoclimatology and the climate modeling. And both give me some pause in their complexity and in the some small inklings of signs that practioners may (honestly, but it is a common human failing) drive the results to a direction that they either want or where they think the answer is (rather than doing exploratory, revealing hypothesis tests).

The simple two reasons that I think it’s more likely than not that AGW is happening are: (1) CO2 is a greenhouse gas of some sort. (2) Temp has roughly gone up while CO2 has roughly gone up. I find these in an “Occam’s razor sense”, making my “betting Bayesian” hunch be that AGW is happening. I still think that there is much interest and benefit in tightening up the more involved rationales. If they can be made more bulletproof, than we can get a better support for whatever is happening (really know it strongly). Also I see correction of errors as MORE than the simple pleasure of finding mistakes in opponents. But also the benefit of TEACHING them to think more insightfully and more sophisticatedly about research methods. Also there are benefits to other fields in either validating new methods OR showing flaws to be avoided. (THIS is a very basic science PRL type of stance.)

• My favorite part of the new Basil entry is at the end. He tells us that using a lambda of 7 in his smooting, and then first differences, that “the correlation to the 22 year Hale cycle peaks is still there, and we can now see the 11 year Schwabe cycle as well.” He says he has detected “a strong correlation between the solar cycle peaks and the peak rate of change in the smoothed surface temperature trend.”

so, he claims to ahve dtected 11 and 22 year cycles.

He then gives us some backgroud on othe peoples claims to a 66 year cycle in sunspots - which his own analysis does not see. And THEN he claims:
“The periodicity revealed in the data, along with the strong correlation of solar cycles to HadCRUT surface data, suggests that the rapid increase in globally averaged temperatures in the second half of 20th century was not unusual, but part of a ~66 year climate cycle that has a long history of influencing terrestrial climate. ”

IOW, he is claiming that hisanalysis supports a 66 year sunspot cycle influence on climate, event hough his analysis did not detect a one. And, without any quantitative analysis of the strength of the effect on temperature overall, - hell, I don’t even see a significance test in there - that this is likely THE explanation for 20th century warming.

• Free Market

Fred, you’ve gotten to the central issue.

By the late 1980’s early 1990’s, it became clear that the American form of free market economics had delivered unprecedented prosperity to its citizens. In contrast, socialisms and centrally planned economies were in tatters. The Soviet Union had collapsed, and people in Cuba and North Korea were starving. China and India were moving toward free market economies. The proponents of socialism were devastated…but not defeated.

Slowly, a new political approach emerged. The argument went something like this: “yes, capitalism produces prosperity, but at what cost? All of this prosperity is ‘destroying the planet’. CO2 is produced by private property. CO2 causes global warming. Therefore Global Warming is caused by private property. Global warming will eventually cause floods, pestilence and disease. Urgent action is required. Limits must be placed on private property. Citizens of the planet must be made to take public transportation, private homes must be limited, private corporations must be highly regulated (as a first step, outlawed as a second step).” In such a scenario, the socialist will accumulate great power.

AGW is seen by capitalists (myself included) as nothing more than a political weapon in the service of socialism. Many, if not most, of the scientist who are the most vocal proponents of AGW, are strongly left leaning.

Capitalists will require proof. Its not acceptable to us to simply take the word of a scientist who is also a leftist. Science is about proof and not authority. Your side has been unable to present proof that (a) Man-made CO2 causes global warming, (b) the current climate is unusual by historic standards, and (c) warming is bad.

If you ask any capitalist if we think we should invest in ways to eliminate fossils fuels as an energy source, I think you will find the overwhelming majority of us say, yes. I want to eliminate fossil fuels and move to clean energy sources. But that’s not what this is about.

• Shouldn’t Climate Audit be auditing Basil’s analysis?

Of course not. Basil’s graph doesn’t look like a hockey stick …

Doesn’t that depend on what kind of hockey stick you are talking about?

• fred

You treat them with ridicule and contempt because they have made mistakes in trying to come to grips with something they do not really understand properly. They do not trust the conventional view, they don’t trust its advocates. This is why they are trying to think it out for themselves. You need to ask why. You are making this worse by the anger and hatred you direct at them.

• Bob B

Lee, if there are indeed 11,22,66yr imprints on the temperature records, then it will be clear sunspots are somehow affecting the climate. It does not answer how and how much the effect is though.

• dhogaza

AGW is seen by capitalists (myself included) as nothing more than a political weapon in the service of socialism. Many, if not most, of the scientist who are the most vocal proponents of AGW, are strongly left leaning.

Shouldn’t this “climate science is a left-wing plot” kinda stuff go over to the open thread?

[Response: Indeed it should. To all readers, please move discussion of motives behind claims and their relation to the political spectrum to the open thread.]

• luminous beauty

fred,

Ridicule and contempt is not exactly translatable into anger and hatred.

Thinking that someone who ridicules ridiculous mistakes, because they are ridiculous, is acting out of anger and hatred, is too ridiculous for words.

That the person who is ridiculed might project his own anger and hatred at being ridiculed on those doing the ridiculing is, unfortunately, a not at all uncommon ego defense mechanism.

• climatewonk

“Slowly, a new political approach emerged. The argument went something like this: “yes, capitalism produces prosperity, but at what cost? All of this prosperity is ‘destroying the planet’. CO2 is produced by private property. CO2 causes global warming. Therefore Global Warming is caused by private property. Global warming will eventually cause floods, pestilence and disease. Urgent action is required. Limits must be placed on private property. Citizens of the planet must be made to take public transportation, private homes must be limited, private corporations must be highly regulated (as a first step, outlawed as a second step).” In such a scenario, the socialist will accumulate great power. ”

You are right that capitalism has provided many of its citizens with an unprecedented standard of living. The rest of your post is pure right-wing paranoia and should be moved to the open thread because it really is cluttering up the serious discussion of bad science with (ridiculous) politics.

I’m also not going to let my personal preferences for cheap oil and its trappings get in the way of my openess to the science and that is what I see happening on the part of deniers. Global warming can’t be happening and CO2 can’t be the culprit and regulation can’t be necessary because it goes against my belief system/source of income/politics.

If science increasingly points to CO2 as the culprit in global warming, I have to accept that. I don’t want to see capitalism ended - as if that is even on the agenda for any rational person. I want to see capitalism’s ingenuity used to solve the problems we have caused by developing without concern for the consequences.

Capitalism — the free market — won’t solve those problems on its own. What we are witnessing is the result of a market failure. We need regulation in order to address this market failure.

In the end, I would rather change my behavior than see my standard of living damage the ecosystem and harm people who have not benefitted from capitalism but will now pay the price of its unfettered development.

I don’t care if some moron wrote a book advocating communism as a solution to global warming. Don’t make the logical mistake of extrapolating from a tiny minority of extremists for the opinion of the majority.

• Petro

Free Market stated:

“AGW is seen by capitalists (myself included) as nothing more than a political weapon in the service of socialism. ”

It is great that you ejaculate this out so clearly. Now I have lost all doubts regarding the mental state of people like you.

• Gavin's Pussycat

GP, do you think there is such a thing as sincere dissent from the
scientific hypothesis? As in, when someone not unduly influenced, not
for political reasons, not having any but mainstream Democrat politics,
just looks at the studies and the data and takes a different view from
you of them?

Fred, good question — seriously. The answer to that depends on the evidential status of the hypothesis considered. First let me assume that you are talking about dissent among scientists. Then, there are two categories of hypothesis/theory/model/explanation:

1) Frontline science. Here, dissent and multiplicity of beliefs, lively, often passionate debate is the rule. Issues aren’t settled yet, new discoveries may upset common beliefs. The answer to your question is emphatically “yes”.
2) Textbook science. These are things that are backed up by multiple, independent lines of evidence. Falsification has been tried and has failed time and again. Here reigns — ugly word ­- “consensus”. Meaning that all people both honest and well informed accept the science on the merits. Your answer: “no”.

It is true that the line between the two is drawn in the sand. Remember your argument about the CO2 greenhouse effect: both you and I accepted it as valid textbook science. But then, I accepted the constancy of relative humidity as textbook science, and the starting point or baseline for our residual uncertainty. You did not. On cloud cover, we probably both agree that there is substantial uncertainty.

This example is a bit contrived. You apparently are not a (physical) scientist, I am, but not a climatologist. Both amateurs. We may both consider ourselves honest, but we are arguably both “uninformed” in subtly different ways. For such people there are two avenues open to settle the issue in their own minds:

a) Become “informed”, i.e., study in our free time to become professionally competent climatologists. Tall order, but somewhat possible for the simpler issues. (And no, “looking at the data and the studies” doesn’t begin to describe it.)
b) Accept that the climate scientists as a community know what the heck they are doing, and accept at least the textbook science. That’s what I have been doing when a) doesn’t work for me.

I would hold that for non-climatologists, it is not intellectually honest (is that what you mean by “sincere”?) to not do a), but nevertheless reject b). I hope that this clears up where I stand.

• Hank Roberts

Proof is available in mathematics, but is not available in science. The person posting as ‘Free Market’ could do well to start with the basic reading about what we do know and how what’s known develops.

• steven mosher

Lee if I published a paper wherein I claimed that Paris was located at 42.5 Lat and -72.5 lon, would you call me a hack? And if I did this twice what would call me?

Simple question.

• guthrie

Fred, assuming you are talking about the denialists and their dupes, you are assuming that they are doing this in good faith. The evidence available so far says that most of them are not. Such as with “free market” above.

• Fred,

No, we aren’t ridiculing them because they are trying to understand. We are ridiculing them because they claim they DO understand, and are claiming that their ‘analysis’ undercuts the standard view of the field. We are ridiculing Anthony because he is going back and altering the history of what was said on hs blog, by removing criticisms of what they said.

Here is yet another reason to ridicule them.

In the latest post by Anthony and Basil, they offer an explanation of Hodrick-Prescot filtering, with no quotation marks or citation:
“The first term of the equation is the sum of the squared deviations dt = yt − τt which penalizes the cyclical component. The second term is a multiple λ of the sum of the squares of the trend component’s second differences. This second term penalizes variations in the growth rate of the trend component. The larger the value of λ, the higher is the penalty.”

Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article on Hodrick-Prescott filter:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hodrick-Prescott_filter
“The first term of the equation is the sum of the squared deviations dt = yt − τt which penalizes the cyclical component. The second term is a multiple λ of the sum of the squares of the trend component’s second differences. This second term penalizes variations in the growth rate of the trend component. The larger the value of λ, the higher is the penalty. Hodrick and Prescott advise that, for quarterly data, a value of λ = 1600 is reasonable.”

It is an unattributed copy and paste from Wikipedia. I thought they sent this out for review? They do list this Wikipedia article in their bibliography, but they don’t attribute the quote. That is plagiarism, and it is, at best, amazingly sloppy. It also implies that Basil doesn’t understand this method well enough to explain it in his own words.

[Response: I'll disagree a little bit. I think the Wikipedia explanation is a fine one, and doesn't need modification. I also think that failing to attribute the quote is a minor mistake; Wiki should have been credited, but the omission is hardly a capital offense.]

• Bob B, yes, sunspot cycles probably have an impact on climate. Hell, there is at least one paper in the literature deriving climate sensitivity from the impact of sunspot cycles on climate, and arriving at a value near 3C. Anthony and Basil make a huge illogical leap from detecting an imprint, to attributing THIS instance of change to that imprint, without doing ANY of the intervening work. And they do so in a way that displays their ignorance of even the basics of that field - such as the fact that such ‘imprint’ has been detected before, and that it supports a climate sensitivity near 3C, and that it is not sufficient to account for the temperature increases he attributes to it.

• Phil.

[Response: I’ll disagree a little bit. I think the Wikipedia explanation is a fine one, and doesn’t need modification. I also think that failing to attribute the quote is a minor mistake; Wiki should have been credited, but the omission is hardly a capital offense.]

Not a capital offence, but at many universities, including mine, a student doing thus in a term paper would earn a year off!

• I just tried to post this over at WattsUp in the ‘imprint of sunspot cycles’ part 2′ thread. But I’m apparently still kill-filed over there.
—-
Check out the work of Camp and Tung, here:
http://www.amath.washington.edu/%7Ecdcamp/Pub/Camp_Tung_GRL_2007b.pdf

Briefly, solar cycle influence on earth’s temperatures appears to be about 0.18C between peak and trough of sunspot cycle. Caluclating from the changes in insolation and the resulting temp response, and there fore the response to solar forcing including feedbacks, yields an equivalent CO2 forcing estimate of between 2.3C and 4.1C per 2x CO2.

IOW, the link between sunspot cycles and temperature has been examined, and it yields an estimate of sensitivity to radiative forcing that is perfectly consistent with that derived from the models and from other empirical observations.

• DocMartyn

“2) Textbook science. These are things that are backed up by multiple, independent lines of evidence. Falsification has been tried and has failed time and again. Here reigns — ugly word ­- “consensus”. Meaning that all people both honest and well informed accept the science on the merits. Your answer: “no”.”

The medial community tends to run on “consensus”, and treatement is highly restricted; it is also evidence based.

However, stomach ulcers are most normally caused by Helicobacter pylori and not be stress. Fifty years of treatment was wrong. Almost all stomach ulcers can be cleared up by antibiotics.

The same with middle aged erectile dysfunction. This was believed to be a psychological, and not a physiological problem; you need a shrink to explore your relationship with your mother, not a blue pill.

Common, accepted knowelege is often wrong or at least based on very shakey foundations. Computers have made this worse, now people can use very powerful, but delicate, models to describe systems, that are not only wrong, but are misleading.
In the late 70’s enzymologists believed that they could model enzymatic pathways, using kinetics data that they had from examining individual enzymes in isolation. They found this was not the case. Applying data derived from equilibrium or near-equilibrium thermodynamics failed in multi-component system. Thus was born flux control analysis; which describes the kinetics of irreversible thermodynamics very much better.

• OK, I’ve looked at Copeland/Watts’ latest post. It’s yet another example, not just of mistakes, but of grossly incompetent data analysis.

So I have two questions for readers:

#1: Is it worth my time to do another blog post explaining why?

#2: Who can tell me what’s wrong with his analysis as shown in figure 5 (the one with the correlation of 0.99846454)?

• I’ll hazard a guess:

The results of OLS regressions on smoothed data series are problematic if the effects of smoothing methods are not correctly adjusted for?

Not to mention far too many significant figures shown in the r^2 value, but thats just nitpicking.

• Kevin

@ DocMartyn:
There is an aphorism, a quote from Carl Sagan I believe, which points out the problem with your line of reasoning: “They laughed at the Wright brothers, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
For every ulcers/H. Pylori story there are thousands of diseases that were not mis-attributed that way. Do you have some particular reason to believe that the GW consensus, on which you seem to be trying to cast aspersions, is more like your H. Pylori story and less like most of the rest of medicine?
Also, the fact that ED can be treated with pills by no means rules out a psychological cause. You can treat a tension headache with aspirin–that doesn’t mean the tension itself isn’t stress-induced.

• Tammy:

Post another post if you want to, but please do it with some interest, not just to refute. I’m 99% sure that his stuff is crap…I’m NOT asking you to give it a chance. I’m just asking to step back and have some fun with understanding the math. This is probably a good example to learn something interesting itself about time series analysis.

Before I saw your comment on figure 5, I had already made a comment on Wattsup, that it didn’t make sense to me. Something seems off in having solar series on one of the axes and years on the other and then how he plots a regression. Just doesn’t seem like normal varying variable. Not sure how to express this. (He also blows off a few small peaks that don’t correspond to a solar cylce at all.)

• #1: Is it worth my time to do another blog post explaining why?

I think that nexus6 has already dealt with that pretty well here

[Response: That may explain the philosophy behind such posts, but it won't convince Anthony Watts or Basil Copeland.

I'll bet I can show it so that even they won't deny it any more! (although ... I might underestimate their ability to deny)]

• dhogaza

Yes, please work up another post.

• climatewonk

I don’t expect it will convince Watts or Copeland or their kind, but it will provide the rest of us with ammo.

• climatewonk

Fred, I think it’s great to encourage people to try to work through the equations and even download and work with the data if they have some background. But I don’t understand this “not trusting” scientists and the science they produce. Healthy skepticism is part of science and should be encouraged, but there is a clear difference between healthy skepticism, in which people wait to see evidence before accepting a claim, and people for whom no evidence is good enough.

Skepticism isn’t rejecting evidence out of hand and insisting for any other explanation. That’s why I refuse to call some people “skeptics” and use “denialist” instead. They are not skeptical; they deny the science and reject the work of the majority of scientists working in the field.

• Joel Shore

@DocMartyn: In addition to the very real problems with the attitude in your post that Kevin has pointed out, I have another problem with this attitude. Namely, I question what sort of prescription it gives us for using science to inform public policy.

I.e., does the fact that the scientific consensus can sometimes be wrong mean that we are to abandon the systems that we have set up (e.g., the National Academy of Sciences here in the United States) to give policymakers and the public the scoop on the latest scientific understanding in a certain field. In what cases do you want to ignore these conclusions and demand more certainty or demand to look at all the opposing science and in what cases are you going to accept them?

We have worked hard to make sure that the best science is used to inform public policy and apparently some people want to abandon these methods because they don’t like the results that they are coming up with. What exactly do they want to put in its place in order to prevent the use of science in public policy from being hopelessly politicized?

[Response: The public policy discussion should also move to the open thread.]

• A graph with two x-axes?

• I’ll vote for another post, but I’m going to channel fred here: I think that there’s a chunk of Watt’s readership who would be swayed by a continuing-ed-style criticism of Watts/Basil’s wrong-headed post, but who will opt out the moment they see strong anger or politics. If your response is written so that they make it all the way through the analysis & evaluation, the effect and reach of your lesson will be much greater. There are certainly good reasons not to take that approach, but you have a masterly style for that kind of exposition; in my mind it would be a shame not to take the opportunity…

• Paul Middents

I will go along with s2 on the problem with Fig. 5. Doesn’t a time series need time on one axis and time dependent variable on the other axis?

• Gavin's Pussycat

@ DocMartyn: P. Lewis does a better job at debunking your tired old “argument” better than I ever could:

• Harold Brooks

#2: Who can tell me what’s wrong with his analysis as shown in figure 5 (the one with the correlation of 0.99846454)?

I’m not sure if you meant this as a test question or as a request for information, but it’s a result of correlating the sorted values for a pair of series. If you take 2 series of random numbers, the correlation between the two series will be ~0. If, however, you take those same series, and sort each one, the correlation between the sorted series will approach 1.

The result in Figure 5 tells us that as you go back in time, the number we assign to years gets smaller. In other words, 1880 happened before 1980.

[Response: Ding ding ding!!! You win (sorry there's no cash prize).

By the way, that's not the only problem with it. But it's the one that's clear, without even having the data at hand.]

• dhogaza

Yeah, two x-axes, he’s saying his 11-year sunspot cycles peak every 11 years …

• DocMartyn

@ DocMartyn: P. Lewis does a better job at debunking your tired old “argument” better than I ever could:

Which of my tired old arguments was debunked?

Have you had a look at flux control theory and its application to non-equilibrium thermodynamic system?

• What’s a good test for testing the correspondance of peaks in (whatever that manipulated temp shiznet is that he has) with sunspot cycle?

• By the way, for those who haven’t seen it, Atmoz has a relevant and highly elucidating post (albeit slightly premature) that pertains to these matters:

http://atmoz.org/blog/2008/03/31/using-an-accurate-global-temperature-index-to-diagnose-global-climate-change/

• Mike B

From Watt’s blog

Anthony: Yes we hope to. I had a number of qualified people including a published climatologist, solar scientist, a statistician, and a certified consulting meteorologist (among others) look at this beforehand. We’ll see what new insight the comments bring.

Hmmmmm….. wonder if we’ll find out who those people are and why they didn’t comment on it.

• steven mosher

TCO,

What is the latitude and longitude of paris france?

• Peter S

@Gavin’s Pussycat
[quote]Personally I think the free use of the expression ‘deniers’ and ‘denialism’, and the attitudes that go with that, has a lot to do with it.

The term gained currency in connection with the denial by some neo-nazis that the Holocaust ever happened. That is not the origin, however.

The expression “being in denial” in psychology has long existed, referring to the inability of people to face up to factual realities that are somehow painful or inconvenient for them.[/quote]

Of course, and in psychology ‘denial’ has a mechanism. A person in ‘denial’ can often be recognised by his (or her) search for others to use to bolster that state of denial - and thus form a group whose sole function it is to mutually sustain the person’s state through complicity. In reference to your comments it is appropriate to note that a neat example of such a group (and the psychology underlying ‘denial’) was the nazis. And a defining aspect of ‘denial’ is the person’s urgent felt- wish to establish his idea of a ‘utopia’ to replace the real, everyday, environment he exists in, which - for reasons that are themselves denied - he cannot agree to participate in. Such is the ‘completeness’ of the state of denial that the person in it (along with his mutual accomplices) will build complex and highly rational-sounding systems which have two functions: a) he believes they offer irrefutable ‘proof’ to those outside of the group that his ‘utopia’ must be established in place of the real world, and b) they provide a mutually sustaining protection of the denial (and its wish) within the group. Tellingly, such a denial mechanism also involves the conviction that the real world is somehow ‘unclean’ (as opposed to the ‘purity’ of the demanded alternative) and that this uncleanliness will be the primary cause of the ending of the existing environment (c.w. the nazis).

Of course for ‘denial’ to be successful (that is, for it to survive being revealed), each new generational grouping has to develop a new set of objects, a new complex rationality and a new type of uncleanliness in order to mask - or hide - the state of denial that is driving the person (mankind has already seen through the denial of the nazis so there would be little success for today’s generation in choosing the same material as they did and, were they to do so, they would be immediately aware their own state).

From a psychological point of view, a person does not necessarily have to seek out and use groups to sustain this state of denial. Anyone can tread a solitary path using identical themes and wishes as a group… usually such people are given the clinical diagnosis of ‘hypochondriac’.

Finally, perhaps the most common symptom of the denial mechanism (and another function of protecting its state from self-discovery) is ‘projection’. Here a person or group will project all the worst aspects of their own denial onto external others and accuse them of being in the state of denial. This is most clearly seen when the words used are easily ‘mirrored’ to reveal that they are infact unwittingly giving a remarkably vivid description of the author himself. The denial ends when he can recognise this himself - which, as you say, is a painful realisation.

• TheWonderer

HB,

I enjoy the process of discovery and learning new ideas, not so much pouring over other’s mistakes, intentional or otherwise. Perhaps I have just spent too much time grading papers.

My suggestion is that you make a point to intersperse some posts exploring the issue of global warming from that inquisitive standpoint in between your denialist smackdowns, both of which you do extremely well.

BTW, I’m still waiting for you to put up a page with a periodically updated version of your post from last fall, “Graphic Evidence”, as you said you would.

[Response: There have been enough "post it" responses, that I'm going to do a post about Watts' and Copeland's latest.
Then I'm taking a lengthy hiatus from refuting wildly erroneous analyses; there are just too many of them to keep up with! And while it's valuable to refute nonsense, it's more valuable to post about real science.
]

• dhogaza

What is the latitude and longitude of paris france?

This is the equivalent of a spelling flame, Mosher.

Have you corrected your cross-posts that butchered HB’s “bet” yet, or are you allowing that misinformation to stand uncorrected?

[Response: Yes he has, at least that's what he said in commentary here, and I believe him.]

• TCO

Mosh: Look it up in a book. And keep on topic.

• Brian D

Point of interest: I just showed Watts’ page to a friend of mine in the social sciences (cognitive science) with little to no physical science background. I didn’t tell him any details, just linked the page directly and asked him what he thought of it (although he asked for definitions of “solar cycle” and “CRUT”, which I provided). It took him under two minutes to figure out that, in his words, “All this graph tells me is the rate of solar cycles per 20 year increments!”. It’s a bit simplistic, but yeah, it correctly identifies the problem. He and I joked for a bit, and determined that a funny way to counter that would be to plot the *minimum* rates of temperature change vs. the solar maxima on the same graph — unless I miss my guess, this would result in a comparable correlation with the exact opposite conclusion, showcasing for even the densest viewer that this analysis is stupid.

As I was typing this, a friend of mine (a physicist (graduated this year) this time) asked me what I was doing, I showed him the same graph, and he called it for what it was within fifteen seconds. It makes you wonder what, exactly, Anthony asked his “reviewers” to look at, since I’d assume that they’d have at least undergraduate science education.

HB: And while it’s valuable to refute nonsense, it’s more valuable to post about real science.

Agreed wholeheartedly. I, for one, greatly appreciate your science blogging; your posts have been among the clearest summaries I’ve seen in a long time and have been very, very helpful in my explanations of the subject to others.

Sometimes refuting the denialists just gives them something to point to when they say “See? The debate isn’t over!”

[Response: Looks like it's a tie between me and the physicist.]

• Gavin's Pussycat

> DocMartyn: Which of my tired old arguments was debunked?
> Have you had a look at flux control theory and its application to
> non-equilibrium thermodynamic system?
Most certainly not. And don’t try to change the subject. I’m sure you have a drawer full of these stashed away, and I already have a daytime job, thank you very much (and did I point out that you expended your credibility?)

• fred

Tamino, what you should have done is write to them after the first one, tell them they are at risk of making fools of themselves, say that though you disagree with them profoundly on AGW and their approach, you would contribute your expertise in time series analysis and do it for them. Or refer them to someone who would help. Or give them a reading list at least. You’d have made a friend and maybe improved the public understanding and avoided the dissemination of sceptical absurdities.

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Pratical wisdom about human nature.

To some others on this thread, lets just notice that the warm rush of justified righteous indignation is unattractive in others and in ourselves, a profound danger to our spiritual wellbeing.

[Response: Anthony Watts is on a mission to discredit the surface temperature record; it's part of his ambition to discredit the science of global warming. You're suggesting I help him?

And I ALREADY did four posts showing the amateurish state of data analysis from Watts and his pals -- no, worse than that, there are actually some talented amateurs in the world, but Watts and his crew don't include any. After the last one, I asked him what he's learned. Now you suggest that I do the work for him?

Instead of trying to impugn my efforts as a "profound danger to our spiritual wellbeing," you should inform Watts that his efforts are a profound danger to truth.]

• steven mosher

yes dhog, i did over at lucias. i’ll link if you like but id rather have you read lucia and find it. it in the tetter totter of temperature

• Free Market [sic] posts:

[[ CO2 is produced by private property. CO2 causes global warming. Therefore Global Warming is caused by private property.]]

Straw man argument. Nobody is saying that. A factory in North Korea produces the same kind of output from combustion as a factory in the US.

[[AGW is seen by capitalists (myself included) as nothing more than a political weapon in the service of socialism. Many, if not most, of the scientist who are the most vocal proponents of AGW, are strongly left leaning. ]]

You know that Jim Hansen is a Republican, don’t you?

[[Capitalists will require proof. Its not acceptable to us to simply take the word of a scientist who is also a leftist.]]

Ad hominem. Who the arguer is makes no difference. Either they’re right or they’re wrong. Address the issue, not the person bringing it up.

[[ Science is about proof and not authority. ]]

No, it is not. Science never proves anything. It can only disprove things. Proof is for law courts or mathematics.

[[Your side has been unable to present proof that (a) Man-made CO2 causes global warming, ]]

The first clear evidence for that was provided by John Tyndal in lab work in 1859. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. No one with any competence in the field denies that. Period.

[[(b) the current climate is unusual by historic standards, ]]

It’s warming faster than any other period on record.

Our agriculture and economy are adapted to the stable climate we’ve had over the last 6,000 years or so, not some hypothetically better warmer climate. In reality the anticipated (realized, in some cases) effects of global warming are more droughts in continental interiors (cf Australia), more violent weather along coastlines, and sea level rise. Global warming, if unchecked, will cause millions of deaths and trillions of dollars worth of property damage. That’s the fact. Whether you’re a free market freak or a socialist has nothing to do with it.

• dhogaza

Mosher, glad to hear you straightened that out, good job.

• TCO

“Anthony Watts is on a mission to discredit the surface temperature record; it’s part of his ambition to discredit the science of global warming. You’re suggesting I help him?”

Yes. It’s like a negative proof. I’m not saying to waste time on points that are tedious. But don’t be scared of digging into interesting ones. Heck, if you do and somehow you find out that surf temps are wrong…well…you’ll have discovered truth. It’s not about winning arguments but about revealing nature.

Note that I say the same to Steve M and am VERY dissapointed that he never shows attempts to prove things wrong in the AGW area that didn;t work (of his). Only showing those where he finds a fault. Those times where he tests for something wrong and DOESN’T find it are interesting as well.

• Hank Roberts

• steven mosher

I don’t think surface stations or rather the work of surveying sites harms the truth. It’s collecting data. Data that NOAA believe is important. What people want or try to make of that data is another matter.

Let’s just consider a few things. Peterson, Parker, and I believe Hansen have all promoted the following hypothesis.

1. we see little UHI in the surface temp record because urban stations are located in cool parks.

Now, that’s a good hypothesis. we know UHI exists and we see efforts to curb UHI with programs like tree planting and green roofs. So why doesnt UHI infect the surface record? peterson offers an explanation. Climate stations are in urban cool parks. Parker and I believe hansen, also support this hypothesis.

there is another hypothesis. RURAL sites have micro site warm bias. this too is a hypothesis.

So. we know UHI exists, but we dont ( accepting peterson’s analysis) see it in the surface record. why?

A. urban sites are in cool parks
B. rural sites are contaminated.

How do you decide between these two hypothesis?

Survey the sites. collect the data. then analyze.
pielke did a small study of this. peterson countered it. what to do? collect more data.

Second point. many people ( gavin for example and eli, i believe ) have pointed out that microsite bias exists but it probably evens out.

That too is a good hypothesis. we see siting issues that cool sites and siting issues that warm sites. How do we TEST that they even out?

survey the sites and do the analysis.

Will it matter to global warming. Not in a material way. the warming seen since the mid seventies will not magically disappear. the satillite record and the SST record and a host of independent lines of measurement suggest that the planet is getting warmer.

Will our estimate of the increase in land temps be improved? That’s an open question. Some think the system we have today is adequate. Others, like Peterson and Hansen, disagree. hence we have the CRN in the US, and hence the WMO is pushing to get better instrumentation of the surface record around the world.

since we are funding an improvement to the collection of surface data, this implies that the existing systems has some flaws. those flaws need to be assesed, measured, and documented.

Finally, if you believe that the surface record is pristine, and if you believe that scrunity of it is futile and pointless, why wouldn’t you encourage your opponents to waste their time taking pictures.

[Response: Please take discussion of the value/validity of Watts' investigation of surface stations to the open thread. I'll even start a new one so it's easy to find.]

• steven mosher

No problem Sir. But for the record, it’s a volunteer documentation of stations. It is not Anthony’s investigation. It’s a lot of people. I’d see it as great science project for people to learn about instrumentation, recording data, keeping records. Not ground breaking stuff, but the nuts and bolts stuff than many rely on. just the facts maam.

• steven mosher

Dhog,

I clearly made a mistake, so why not correct it?

Let me ask you this. If I published that Paris France was located at 42.5N and 72.5 W and you pointed out my error and I refused to fix the error, what would you think of me?

If 4 years later i repeated the same error, what would you conclude?

Simple question.

• TomH

Scafetta and West have done a more vigorous and very interesting statistical investigation of solar variability and climate, and they also discuss the 11 and 22 year cycles. They also claim that up to 69% of warming can be explained by the sun. Any thoughts on their work?

http://www.fel.duke.edu/~scafetta/pdf/opinion0308.pdf

[Response: There are very serious problems with the work of Scafetta & West, many of which have been addressed on RealClimate (see also the links within that link). As for the opinion piece you link to, looking at their graph already indicates problems, particularly the phrase "smoothed to stress the 11-year modulation."

It's no surprise tha blog posts are vulnerable to substandard data analysis. But what most non-scientists are not aware of, is the journal publications are too. The quality of work is certainly a lot better than blogs, but it still amazes me what sometimes makes it past peer review into the literature.]