An insanity of global warming

The inexplicable lunacy of the learned

How was academia infected with the climate change madness?

Not the journalists, the businessmen, the bankers, the entrepreneurs, environmentalists, politicians, bureaucrats or even (or especially!) the earth scientists and climatologists — all their infections can be understood to some extent by understanding the various profits that would come to them once they accepted the madness, which slowly but inevitably they almost all did. (We’re talking about departments here, not individuals.)

We need not ask how the man in the street was infected with the madness, for he has been dragged kicking and screaming and had his very money stolen to fund it all. I suspect he’s more affected than infected, because it requires a special kind of dedication even to learn about climate change, whatever side you might take in the debate, and it’s the learning of it that infects you. Either way, the ordinary man has no choice.

No, the real curiosity is what happened to far-off academia, in disciplines and departments which have nothing to do with climatology. As far as they can be from normal life, as far as possible, one would imagine, from the implications of global warming — how could they be infected?

William M. Briggs has some interesting considerations to impart. (h/t – Barry Brill, via Australian Climate Madness)

Dr Briggs is talking about the Lewandowsky paper NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science, and so is everyone else, furiously. For it is a travesty of our proud science. What sets us apart from the animals is, in this paper, debased beyond imagining.

If science began in the Renaissance, it has surely reached its nadir here in the second decade of the 21st century. Briggs again:

Everything that could have been done wrong, was done wrong. Every bias that could have been manifested, was manifested. Every fallacy pertinent to the matter at hand was made. The conclusions, regurgitated from unnecessarily complicated statistical procedures, did not follow from the evidence gathered, which itself was suspect. In its way, then, the paper is a jewel, a gift to the future, a fundamental text to how easy it is to fool oneself.

The first sentence of Lewandowsky’s abstract is:

Although nearly all domain experts agree that human CO2 emissions are altering the world’s climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scientifi c evidence.

And I cannot resist quoting Briggs’s analysis of it. He says: “Isn’t that gorgeous? I count at least seven mistakes, and we are only at the very beginning!”

  • Mistake 1: Lewandowsky is not a domain expert, and by his argument is not qualified to speak on matters climatic, yet speak he does.
  • Mistake 2: His opinion about how to consider the science of climate change is therefore no more valuable than any other non-domain expert’s (about the physics), but he considers by this act of publishing that it is.
  • Mistake 3: He conflates voting with truth. His fallacy is to suppose that because the majority of domain experts say X, X is therefore true.
  • Mistake 4: He conflates numbers with weight of evidence. His fallacy is to suppose the minority of domain experts who do not agree with the majority are not to be listened to because they are only a minority.
  • Mistake 5: He confuses physics with economics, a vulgar but common error. It may be true that, say, temperatures will rise by 0.5o C in the next five decades, but it does not follow that any theory of what will happen because of this temperature rise is true, nor is it true that anybody’s suggestion to combat the adverse consequences of what will happen is therefore worthy of consideration.
  • Mistake 6: Since Lewandowsky committed this howler, and is obviously unaware of it, he cannot see it in the people he interviews, who often make a similar error. That is, when a civilian is asked, “Do you believe in climate change?” he often answers “No,” but the mistake is to assume he is answering the question as stated, when in reality he has answered the modified question, “Do you believe in climate change and should the government regulate, rule, tax, control, mandate, penalize, etc., etc. to combat this change?” Such an elementary mistake by a psychologist shows us just how far the madness has progressed.
  • Mistake 7: Lewandowsky, because he is not a domain expert, misunderstood the basic physics. There are no domain experts who do not agree that mankind changes the climate. The only matters in question are: how much? where? when? with what certainty can we know? Notice the absence of “What can be done?” because this requires expertise in human behavior, and that expertise is what is suspiciously missing in this paper.

My dears, I emphasize that this was merely the opening sentence, and that much worse was to come. But before that, there was one more error, more grievous than any other, embedded in his starting sentence. This is Lewandowsky’s befuddlement that any non-domain expert could deign to question “the scientific evidence” (when much of what is “science” is instead politics). He assumes that any who do so, even in the admitted presence of disagreement over what “the” science is, suffers from a psychological flaw. Science has spoken, thinks he, and therefore nothing remains to be said. An actual instance of doublethink, and really quite marvelous when you consider the economy of words used to express it.

Briggs concludes:

As I said, a book could be written, and probably will be written on everything that has gone wrong with this paper.

Redeeming features of this ill-begotten paper are impossible to find. Suggestions welcome.

31 Thoughts on “An insanity of global warming

  1. Andrew W on September 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm said:

    Mistake 1: Briggs is not a domain expert, either in climate science or in psychology, and by his argument is not qualified to speak on matters of climate, or psychology, yet speak he does.

    • Incorrect. Point it out.

      He speaks on logic and on putting together a scientific paper. Common enough among scientists, no specialty required.

    • I have got Matt Brigg’s book on probability and statistics on my bookshelf, though I haven’t had time to read it yet

      He does seem to know a lot about Bayesian theory which is an important part of climatology

    • Richard C (NZ) on September 21, 2012 at 7:09 am said:

      The domain is data and statistics Andrew. As I pointed out to Ken, if the data is anonymized nobody knows whether it is climate, psychology, medical or any other time series data.

      This is one of the errors that J Venning made by accepting the statistical opinion of a climate scientist over the the statistical expertise of three professional statistical reviewers.

    • Richard C (NZ) on September 21, 2012 at 7:27 am said:

      The Chow test and breakpoint analysis (R&S93) don’t depend on the domain.

    • Yes, Richard, those “3 professional statistical reviewers” who shall remain anonymous, who submitted no evidence but are purely a crutch to fall back on by naive blog commenters who are in denial.

      How could Justice Venning even consider this unpresented fictional evidence from your statistically inclined mates who may not even exist.

      And how childish to smear Venning this way.

      Grow up Richard.

    • your statistically inclined mates who may not even exist.

      Sounds like Shroedinger’s Cat

    • Great Andy.

      Mind you, I am inclined to one particular solution of the wave equation in this case.

    • Huub Bakker on September 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm said:

      And here we have the nub of the whole problem with climate science. Unless you are a domain expert nothing you say is worth assessing. The big question of course is Who decides whether someone is a domain expert? In fact it goes deeper than that because the next question is What expertise is relevant to the domain? For instance, statistics is very important to the whole area of climate science yet, time and again, we find that the climate science ‘domain experts’ are not expert at statistics.

      I find, in the latter half of my career as a professional engineer, that such labels as ‘domain expert’ are worthless; either the person knows what they are talking about or they don’t (or they are suffering an ‘off’ day). There are many people who have expertise outside, or beyond, their acknowledged areas. When the rubber hits the road. It is only the correctness of the matter that counts. Since I don’t believe in other people telling me what to think, I will apply the ‘reasonable’ test to all statements, look up the data to verify the statements and even teach myself the material to allow me to make a judgement. I value blog sites that take me through the logical process to reach this understanding.

      When I talk to an audience about this topic I tell them not to believe a word I say; go and look up the answers themselves. It’s hard for most of the public though; they don’t have the education or wide experience that I have acquired that allows me to to this.

    • Richard C (NZ) on September 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm said:

      Spot on Huub. And how much credence do you place on domain “experts” when predictions are for decades or even centuries ahead?

      E.g.:-

      Mullan, A.B.; Bowen, M.; Chiswell, S. (2001b). The crystal ball: Model predictions of future climate. Water and Atmosphere 9, 10-11.

      The IPCC GCM reality to end of 2010:-

      http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/christy-fig.jpg?w=808&h=622

      I prefer Scafetta’s crystal ball for the moment (but I think that will fail too circa 2030 or even sooner):-

      http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/figure.png

      Dan Pangburn (via Climate Realists) is out of the money right now (page 12 pdf) but maybe in 2020 – who knows?

      http://climaterealists.com/attachments/database/2010/corroborationofnaturalclimatechange.pdf

    • Dan Pangburn on October 22, 2012 at 12:10 am said:

      That was an early paper. More recent work is spot on.

    • Richard C (NZ) on October 22, 2012 at 6:52 am said:

      >”More recent work is spot on”

      Interesting development Dan, I was wondering if you were still refining the model. It would be good to have something to look at and track over this century similar to Scafetta and CMIP5.

  2. Rob Taylor on September 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm said:

    Hmmmm… maybe this blog would be better titled:

    THE EXPLICABLE LUNACY OF THE DELUDED

    or, maybe

    WE FEW, WE HAPPY FEW, WE BAND OF DUPES…?

    Oh dear, RT, is that too harsh for you? It is, of course, nothing compared to the hate speech you spew out above:

    all their infections can be understood to some extent by understanding the various profits that would come to them once they accepted the madness…

    he has been dragged kicking and screaming and had his very money stolen to fund it all

    Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCarthy

  3. val majkus on September 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm said:

    loved the comment by one wag on Simon’s blog

    ‘he might be a statistician but he’s not a climate statistician’

  4. Australis on September 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm said:

    I was astonished to read that Simon Schneider was writing to the press in 1992 …. yes, 1992 …. advising that the science on AGW was settled, and no oxygen should be given any longer to the minority opinion.

    Two years later, the IPCC found (although altered by Santer) that there was still no convincing evidence that observed warming was human-caused.

    Now, 20 years later, billions of dollars have been spent on the “settled science” and we still see weekly press reports by some scientific group or other saying that their particular climate study needs much more work (and funding).

  5. When will Lewandowsky see his Paper published? Seems to be taking awhile.Why is that?
    I wonder how many times Rob did the survey on SkS? Or was it Hot Topic? Probably both !
    Questions , questions.

    • Rob Taylor on September 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm said:

      I wonder why Dedekind mucked up his stats? And why the Arctic, Antartic and Greenland ice is melting ever faster?

      I wonder what became of Monkton, will Delingpole ever find love and, if so, with a member of which species?

      Question, questions, questions…

    • And why the Arctic, Antartic and Greenland ice is melting ever faster?

      How can the Antarctic ice be melting ever faster when we have just reached a record high for sea ice?

    • Incidentally, I already commented on the sea ice Antarctica issue here

      http://www.climateconversation.wordshine.co.nz/2012/09/the-unstoppable-mwp/#comment-118490

      The west Antarctica peninsula, which is showing warming, as opposed to the rest of the continent, is of course the subject of the controversial Steig et al paper where the warming of the peninsula was smeared out over the continent using some dubious statistical techniques

    • Tamino has a good comparison of the massive fall in Arctic sea ice extent vs the almost imperceptible change in Antarctic sea ice extent.

      http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/poles-apart/#more-5650

    • Rob Taylor on September 22, 2012 at 3:43 am said:

      Because, dear Andy, unlike in the Arctic, there is more to Antartica than sea ice…

      http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/20100108_Is_Antarctica_Melting.html

    • Richard C (NZ) on September 22, 2012 at 11:53 am said:

      “I wonder why Dedekind mucked up his stats?”

      Please explain what you’re alluding to here Rob?

      If it’s this:-

      [144] In response to the critique Dr Mullan recalculated most of the sites changed temperature adjustments applying the RS93 methodology. He concluded that the Coalition had incorrectly calculated the adjustments and if the RS93 methodology was applied correctly it resulted in adjustments close to those calculated in the review using the alternative method that NIWA had employed.

      Then the “Question, questions, questions…” are:-

      1) What are Dr Mullen’s statistics credentials?

      2) Why are Dr Mullen’s statistics credentials to be favoured (contrary to Judicial Oath) by a judge (Venning) over Bob Dedekind’s and others including professional statisticians?

      3) How can justice have been served if the details and methodology (what was it?) of Dr Mullen’s “recalculated” adjustments were not made known to the court.

    • In fact it was Mullan who mucked up the stats. He claims “…if the RS93 methodology was applied correctly…” however he is the one who changed the RS93 method to suit himself. He claims that the RS93 recommendation that a short time period be used is in fact entirely flexible, and so instead of using 1 or 2 years, as specified in the paper, and shown in the example, he claims 10 years should be used. Basis? None.

      In fact, RS93 states explicitly that this approach will “seriously invalidate the model”.

    • Richard C (NZ) on September 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm said:

      [144] also implies that Mullen was unable to replicate the Review’s results:-

      “….resulted in adjustments close to those calculated in the review”

      “close” being the operative word – how close?

      NZCSET adjustment results were “close” to those of the Review too but it’s the early adjustments that are critical. I think I recall that there were at least a couple of early steps that NIWA apllied that are not required from application of R&S93 break-point mehodology.

  6. One explanation to the question posed in the article was answered by Jerome Ravetz, the philosopher who coined the term “Post Normal Science”

    His terse explanation is
    “bootstrapped plausibility”

    Judith Curry mentions this in her series on overconfidence in IPCC’s detection and attribution

    • That’s a really good article. Bayesian logic does my head in. It’s good to see even the experts struggle as well.

    • Simon, glad that you found the article useful

      I agree that Bayesian statistics is difficult, but I feel that it is an essential part of understanding recent climate trends.

      This is why I have just purchased Matt Briggs’s Breaking the Law of Averages which, despite its “dummy’s” style cover looks like it is going to be an essential and technical read

  7. Pingback: The Lewandowsky Affair | New Zealand Climate Change

  8. I would like to extend to you personal invitation to check my feature length documentary on the “cold facts” of Global Warming entitled “The Boy Who Cried Warming,” available in full at http://www.theboywhocriedwarming.com. The virtual premier has been enjoyed by over 12,000 viewers due to a grassroots campaign effort of handing out flyers and emailing people just like you! We are independent filmmakers without corporate sponsorship, every view counts to us, and we would truly appreciate if you would take a look and (if you enjoy the film) encourage others to check it out. The list of websites mentioning our film growing, and we would be honored if you would join the growing list distinguished sites below:

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    • Rob Taylor on September 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm said:

      No thanks, I prefer “The Innocence of Muslims”, as it has better production values and is more considered and thoughtful….

  9. Richard C (NZ) on September 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm said:

    ‘Lewandowsky’s Backdating’

    By Steve McIntyre

    In today’s post, I want to discuss Lewandowsky’s backdating of the blogpost in which he purported to “out” four skeptics, a claim that he re-iterated and embellished in a subsequent academic article, Lewandowsky et al (Fury). In response to a recent FOI request by Simon Turnill, the University of Western Australia stated that, based on their examination of records at Lewandowsky’s blog, it had been published on Sep 10 11:50:00 Australian Western Time

    Read More »

    http://climateaudit.org/2013/08/01/lewandowskys-backdating/

    Fascinating, and chuckles in comments:

    EdeF – “Just added “hanich” to my spam filter”

    And,

    tlitb1 – “I was monitoring the Shaping site around that time (almost polling it every 5 minutes to my shame) looking for new thread’s appearing as I found Lewandowsky increasing eccentricity rather entertaining”

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