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« Simon says - Josh 91 | Main | The Spectator debate »
Wednesday
Mar302011

Incredible science - Josh 90

Simon Singh, at the Spectator debate, introduced himself as the least credible of the six speakers. Somewhat comically he then presented the audience with a credibility spectrum of people and institutions representing the alarmist and skeptical sides of the debate.

But if he is not credible, why would we believe what he says?

 

More cartoons by Josh here

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Reader Comments (19)

Some shades of Russell's Barber Paradox here.

Mar 30, 2011 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

But surely green is at the red end of the spectrum? (or have I mis-understood Post-Normal Science?)

Mar 30, 2011 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterR2

Of course Beaker has demonstrated the catastrophic effects of warming in the laboratory

Meep!

Mar 30, 2011 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterR2

Josh, bringing logic to a powerpoint fight could be considered unsportsman like behaviour.

Mar 31, 2011 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Not knowing who or what beaker was, I consulted the interweb, and became somewhat better informed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpcUxwpOQ_A

Mar 31, 2011 at 12:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Ah Beaker, my favourite Muppet; can't say that Singh is my favourite though.

Mar 31, 2011 at 6:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"Beaker, my favourite Muppet"

And with more integrity than Singh.

Mar 31, 2011 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Simon Singh's Credibility Spectrum: The Argumentum ad Verecundiam fallacy for Powerpoint users

Mar 31, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

I don't think Simon Singh was the least credible of the witnesses - although as someone pointed out his basic argument was the one used by the then pope to slap down Gallileo. No - the prize for least credible witness must go to Professor Sir David King.

Sir David in his presentation depended exclusively on the Hadley Centre temperature data (including even the Hadley forecast for 2100 which he expected us to take as gospel!). When someone asked why he had ignored the satellite data, he actually tried to claim that it was the satellite data that was unreliable!

He then also used the 400,000 year presentation for past climate that previously figured in the Al Gore "inconvenient truth" video. Even Al himself must by now be aware that the temperature rise on this graph leads the CO2 rise and that it shows the CO2 rise to be an effect of warming rather than the cause (the soda pop effect).

Sir David deserves credit, unlike so many of his fellows, for being prepared to stand up and argue his case in an open forum. There may not have been too many of the audience who were aware of its flaws and I suspect he may have won the debate on the night. But as an ex Government Chief Scientist so prominent and influential in the global warming debate his presentation was astounding.

I can't really say that I know what it means, but it appears either that his knowledge of the science is surpisingly superficial or that he is excessively partisan and quite comfortable with cherry picking the facts to suit his case

Mar 31, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

I don't think Simon Singh was the least credible of the witnesses - although as someone pointed out his basic argument was the one used by the then pope to slap down Gallileo. No - the prize for least credible witness must go to Professor Sir David King.

Sir David in his presentation depended exclusively on the Hadley Centre temperature data (including even the Hadley forecast for 2100 which he expected us to take as gospel!). When someone asked why he had ignored the satellite data, he actually tried to claim that it was the satellite data that was unreliable!

He then also used the 400,000 year presentation for past climate that previously figured in the Al Gore "inconvenient truth" video. Even Al himself must by now be aware that the temperature rise on this graph leads the CO2 rise and that it shows the CO2 rise to be an effect of warming rather than the cause (the soda pop effect).

Sir David deserves credit, unlike so many of his fellows, for being prepared to stand up and argue his case in an open forum. There may not have been too many of the audience who were aware of its flaws and I suspect he may have won the debate on the night. But as an ex Government Chief Scientist so prominent and influential in the global warming debate his presentation was astounding.

I can't really say that I know what it means, but it appears either that his knowledge of the science is surpisingly superficial or that he is excessively partisan and quite comfortable with cherry picking the facts to suit his case

Mar 31, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

I don't think Simon Singh was the least credible of the witnesses - although as someone pointed out his basic argument was the one used by the then pope to slap down Gallileo. No - the prize for least credible witness must go to Professor Sir David King.

Sir David in his presentation depended exclusively on the Hadley Centre temperature data (including even the Hadley forecast for 2100 which he expected us to take as gospel!). When someone asked why he had ignored the satellite data, he actually tried to claim that it was the satellite data that was unreliable!

He then also used the 400,000 year presentation for past climate that previously figured in the Al Gore "inconvenient truth" video. Even Al himself must by now be aware that the temperature rise on this graph leads the CO2 rise and that it shows the CO2 rise to be an effect of warming rather than the cause (the soda pop effect).

Sir David deserves credit, unlike so many of his fellows, for being prepared to stand up and argue his case in an open forum. There may not have been too many of the audience who were aware of its flaws and I suspect he may have won the debate on the night. But as an ex Government Chief Scientist so prominent and influential in the global warming debate his presentation was astounding.

I can't really say that I know what it means, but it appears either that his knowledge of the science is surpisingly superficial or that he is excessively partisan and quite comfortable with cherry picking the facts to suit his case

Mar 31, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

I don't think Simon Singh was the least credible of the witnesses - although as someone pointed out his basic argument was the one used by the then pope to slap down Gallileo. No - the prize for least credible witness must go to Professor Sir David King.

Sir David in his presentation depended exclusively on the Hadley Centre temperature data (including even the Hadley forecast for 2100 which he expected us to take as gospel!). When someone asked why he had ignored the satellite data, he actually tried to claim that it was the satellite data that was unreliable!

He then also used the 400,000 year presentation for past climate that previously figured in the Al Gore "inconvenient truth" video. Even Al himself must by now be aware that the temperature rise on this graph leads the CO2 rise and that it shows the CO2 rise to be an effect of warming rather than the cause (the soda pop effect).

Sir David deserves credit, unlike so many of his fellows, for being prepared to stand up and argue his case in an open forum. There may not have been too many of the audience who were aware of its flaws and I suspect he may have won the debate on the night. But as an ex Government Chief Scientist so prominent and influential in the global warming debate his presentation was astounding.

I can't really say that I know what it means, but it appears either that his knowledge of the science is surpisingly superficial or that he is excessively partisan and quite comfortable with cherry picking the facts to suit his case

Mar 31, 2011 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

At the risk of being criticised for myself appealing to authority, I find John Locke and Karl Popper illuminating on this subject (the appeal to authority).

When men are established in any kind of dignity, it is thought a breach of modesty for others to derogate any way from it, and question the authority of men who are in possession of it. This is apt to be censured, as carrying with it too much pride, when a man does not readily yield to the determination of approved authors, which is wont to be received with respect and submission by others : and it is looked upon as insolence, for a man to set up and adhere to his own opinion against the current stream of antiquity ; or to put it in the balance against that of some learned doctor, or otherwise approved writer. Whoever backs his tenets with such authorities, thinks he ought thereby to carry the cause, and is ready to style it impudence in any one who shall stand out against them. This I think may be called argumentum ad verecundiam.

John Locke, "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding", Book 4, Chapter XVII, 19

and

Today, the appeal to the authority of experts is sometimes excused by the immensity of our specialized knowledge. And it is sometimes defended by philosophical theories that speak of science and rationality in terms of specializations, experts, and authority. But in my view, the appeal to the authority of experts should be neither excused nor defended. It should, on the contrary, be recognized for what it is - an intellectual fashion - and it should be attacked by a frank acknowledgement of how little we know, and how much that little is due to people who have worked in many fields at the same time. And it should also be attacked by the recognition that the orthodoxy produced by intellectual fashions, specialization, and the appeal to authorities is the death of knowledge, and that the growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement

Karl Popper, Author's Note, 1993, The Myth of the Framework

For Locke, the appeal to authority does not advance us in "knowledge and judgment". For Popper it is inimical to the growth of knowledge, and merely shows that you follow the "intellectual fashion". These are better guides to thought than the whole global warming chorus put together.

Mar 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

David W

Re King's presentation:

When someone asked why he had ignored the satellite data, he actually tried to claim that it was the satellite data that was unreliable!

Why on earth did he do that, I wonder? If you look at HADCRUT3 since 1979 (length of satellite data sets) and compare to UAH/RSS, there's nothing much in it.

RSS trends a little higher, but not enough to make a fuss about. UAH and HADCRUT3 trends have essentially the same slope.

Mar 31, 2011 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I've had a few emails about the posting here made under the name "David W"

As a result I would like to say that the David W posting here is not me. I will always post under my real name.

Regards, David Whitehouse.

Mar 31, 2011 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Whitehouse

Sorry - some numbers missing from the above.

The average decadal trend since 1979 is:

+0.15C HADCRUT3

+0.14C UAH

+0.16C RSS

So HADCRUT3 is bang in the middle.

If we get unscientific and examine the trend for the last decade (2001 - 2011) we see this:

- 0.04C HADCRUT3

+0.09 UAH

+0.03 RSS

But remember, you are only allowed to reference data sets of this length if they show accelerating warming/sea level rise/ice melt/emissions increase etc.

Mar 31, 2011 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Danny Alexander - Beaker

separated at birth?

Beaker obviously has the credibility gene Danny is missing ;¬)

Mar 31, 2011 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

BBD

I did not say Sir David had used HADCRUT.

Without hard copy it is hard to be absolutely precise, but what he used was attributed to the Hadley Centre and was a land based history from 1850 and forecast through to 2100. The history was presumably a version of CRUTEM and the forecast was presumably based on one or other of the Hadley/IPCC scenarios.

As presented the part of the graphic in the period from the 1979 to 2010 looked nothing like either UAH or RSS and I do not think it would look much like HADCRUT either. I would assume that the reason he did not use any of these was that they were less compelling as evidence in support of the debating point he was trying to make.

Mar 31, 2011 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

Dave W

Sorry, when you said 'Hadley Centre temperature data' I took it to mean HADCRUT3. Which does start at 1850 (as you mention above).

However, you say 'a land-based' temperature history, which would be CRUTEM. Why would he throw away all the SST data from HadlSST? Odd.

Goodness knows what he was actually showing you. I would like to have seen it.

Mar 31, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

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