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« Why doesn't the AR5 SOD's climate sensitivity range reflect its new aerosol estimates? | Main | +++Climate sensitivity is low+++ »
Wednesday
Dec192012

Cox and Ince on the scientific method

Pop-sci heroes Brian Cox and Robin Ince have an editorial in the New Statesman. It's about the scientific method and discusses its application to - among other things - climate:

Let us take the politically controversial issue of climate change as an example. Climate scientists make measurements of observable properties of our planet, such as sea surface temperatures and the area of Arctic sea ice. Over many years, these measurements have formed a large data set. The only grounds for arguing with the data would be specific technical issues with the measurements themselves. One could assert that the satellites measuring sea temperatures were not calibrated correctly, or that there was a methodological error in the measurement of the area of the sea ice. Such criticisms are relatively rare. A more common criticism is of the interpretation of the data using computer models.

All models are, by nature, an approximation to reality. But they are the best we can do, given our current understanding and the power of our computers. The important words here are “the best we can do”. There is no other way of predicting the probability of weather in the future. The only legitimate criticisms would be of specific issues with specific models, or of specific inferences drawn from them. It would certainly be wrong to assert that the ensemble of climate models from various research groups around the world encompassed all possible uncertainties about the future, but it is not logical to attack climate science as a whole, because to do so is to attack scientific method.

The timing of this article, coinciding as it does with Nic Lewis's observations about observational estimates of climate sensitivity, couldn't be better. Climatology needs to explain why the scientific method gets reversed in this area.

(I'm on the warpath about ranty comments. Please be nice and on topic)

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Reader Comments (70)

The only legitimate criticisms would be of specific issues with specific models...

Such as that all of them are inherently incapable of validation?

[The Met Office's claim that their ability to predict the data used to construct them validates them notwithstanding.]

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I do not accept any of this articles main points at all.
If "the best we can do" is rubbish then a legitimate criticism would be to ask why bother to predict?
Did Cox solve the Navier Stokes equations while I was not looking?

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Registered CommenterDung

but it is not logical to attack climate science as a whole, because to do so is to attack scientific method.

Why ?? They adjust data without any scientific basis or mathematical proof, they use inappropriate parametres which they then readjust, they use novel statistical methods which they appear not to understand or be able to verify. Not one member of the community has been prepared to speak of any of the misdemeanors done by the scientific colleagues, nor their adjustment processes which are clearly without justification nor their lack of uncertainty calculations, and on and on and on.

Cox still needs his BBC stipend and is being careful not upset anyone in the AGW community as witnessed by his interviews on the BBC. "There is a consensus so it must be true".

[BH adds: Let me play devil's advocate. Should you be criticising most of climatology for failing to speak out rather than for offences against science?]

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

"The only legitimate criticisms would be of specific issues with specific models"

As in:
-they have massively overestimated the effect of aerosols, and of water vapour feedbacks
-incorporate no modelling (or understanding) of long time scale global oceanic cycles like PDO and AMO
-cannot accurately model the subtle water vapour/condensation physics of the atmosphere.
-do not incorporate models for cosmic ray influence upon cloud formation.
-predict a tropospheric hot spot that in reality does not exist.
-cannot model the massive impact of one-off turbulent events such as hurricanes and typhoons that mix deeper water with surface through wave action or those circulation effects that drive el ninos/la ninas
-show no predictive capacity, or hindcasting capability beyond a narrow 20th century window that they are (post hoc) tweeked to match.
-cannot explain the wide ranging temperature variablity seen throughout the holocene - such as the 1100 year cycle minoan, roman, medieval, and modern warm periods, or the little ice age for that matter.


I am sure that others could add more.

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobL

Climate scientists make measurements of observable properties of our planet, such as sea surface temperatures and the area of Arctic sea ice

And then adjust them away from all reality based on what their models tell them the data should be.

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Well it's difficult to disagree with Cox and Ince, except of course the data sets that have been built up over a number of years must be built up in exactly the same way using the same methodology and instruments to provide accurate data. I for one don't believe that the HadCrut temperature data set is anything other than what the scientists have discovered, although having a gang of known activists scientists doing the "adjusting" might want me to call for a second opinion, just to confirm my trust.

Because they don't mix with, or listen to, other sceptical scientists they seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Richard Muller seems to have assumed the same thing,and is making a great to do out of finding the records correct while at the same time supporting almost every sceptical position.

(1) Sceptics do not believe that the temperature hasn't risen. Some may dispute the actual rise given the mysterious falls in temperatures in the 1930s in the GISS data set, but the fact that they have risen is not in dispute.
(2). Sceptics don't dispute human activities are having an effect on the climate, what's in dispute is that the size and nature of the effects. Alarmists with the field to themselve in the MSM have convinced many people that Sandy was an extreme event caused by global warming, what do Coxxy and Incey have to say about that when Sandy wasn't even a hurricane when it made land?
(3) Sceptics dont' believe that the models can forecast our future climate sufficiently for us to cause major disruptions industrial and social bases. Especially when the climate sensitivity is based on computer models that the observed data don't support.
(4) Sceptics don't attack climate science as a whole, many sceptics are themselves climate scientists. The only people I can think of who attacked climate science were are the Hockey Team who actively tried to stop papers being published that they didn't agree with (commonplace) and tried to get colleagues who did dismissed from their universities. As for "hide the decline" Coxxy and Incey clearly don't understand that hiding the decline wasn't the sin, the sin was using the failed proxies in the 20th century to prove there was no MWP.

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

In one of Stephen Potter's books (Lifemanship etc.) he mentions leafing through an article in a New Statesman, "That Way Madness Lies..." before discarding it. Plus ca change...

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Very sad that an apparently personable, intelligent boy like Brian can fail to understand that flat lining temperatures for fifteen years despite rising CO2 presents a bit of a problem for the model makers. Also a bit of a problem is the lack of a tropospheric hotspot, failure to detect a reduction in OLWR, failure to demonstrate increased water vapour and a failure of any of the 'attributions' to come true.

Very sad that the best that they can do is to convince our politicians that an economically suicidal energy policy is the only way to save the world. At least we can take comfort that Tim Yeo is making a few bob out of it.

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

"Over many years, these measurements have formed a large data set. The only grounds for arguing with the data would be specific technical issues with the measurements themselves."

Presumably tree rings are part of this large data set.

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Further on in the article, Cox and Ince write ...

Science is the framework within which we reach conclusions about the natural world. These conclusions are always preliminary, always open to revision ...

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Well. I go along with the following:-

“These socio-political-religious controversies risk damaging public confidence in science, partly because of the tactics employed by their advocates, which, if unchecked, will have grave consequences because we live in a society dominated by science.”

However I am quite sure that Messrs Cox and Ince totally miss the actuality of their statement.

We had a guess, (a beautiful guess) we used a model, (a beautiful model, the best we could do), as an experiment, the model gave a prediction, (a beautiful prediction) and to meet the requirements of the prediction we changed society placing more burdens on the public.

Then the prediction failed.

If we treat models as experiments, as substitutes for nature, then we do emphatically run the “risk in damaging public confidence in science”

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

In their editorial Cox and Ince did not define "science". Science includes observations, which they mention and models, also mentioned. But they fail to mention verification of the models as a necessary part of the scientific method and this is where they and Climatology generally, fail badly.
Forecasts and predictions without verification are guesswork. Only the passage of time can verify models of climate. Until climatologists acknowledge this, they are not being scientists, they are soothsayers.

Dec 19, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorley Sutter

"The only grounds for arguing with the data would be specific technical issues with the measurements themselves. One could assert that the satellites measuring sea temperatures were not calibrated correctly"

Well the ones measuring sea level and ice certainly aren't...

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/30/finally-jpl-intends-to-get-a-grasp-on-accurate-sea-level-and-ice-measurements/

Dec 19, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

I think the words used by Cox and Ince could have been chosen more carefully.

I wouldn't have chosen the words "The only legitimate criticisms... " because the definition of a scientist actually requires them to seek for legitimate criticisms of the corpus when they have the time and the money.

The last quoted sentence needs rewriting. Models incorporate and integrate many different aspects of the physical world. There can be many many criticisms of many individual components of the models. That is why there can be many sceptics who can have very different legitimate reasons for rejecting the models as being not fit for purpose when it comes to making serious predictions for the IPCC et al.

Put another way, it can be legitimate to reject a computer model as not useful, even if it is the best we have. If that same model consists of an aggregate of many disparate parts, then that is a problem for the modellers, not the sceptics. If a hundred models contained a common mistake that invalidated a single model, then I would reject all 100 of them.


It is not the scientific method that is being criticised (or at least not by me), and I would like to see Cox and Ince explaining the point to the wider audiences they address. Sceptics frequently get stereotyped and accused of worse things than not understanding science.

Dec 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Your Reverence,

I DO have a bone to pick with the reliability of the data. I have to admit amazement that throughout this brouhaha, no one has raised the issue of the reliability of the historic temperature records for HUGE swathes of the planet.

When I stop to consider the history of the 19th and 20th centuries and their wars, unrest and social upheavals, I find it very difficult— nay, impossible— to believe that recordkeeping was unaffected, e.g. Russian temperature records (~1916-1946), Chinese temperature records (~1913-1978), Sub-Saharan temperature records (~1850-1978), ocean temperature records (~1850-1978).

I would be remiss were I not to give a nod in the direction of Anthony Watts and his surfacestations.org project for inspiring me to think about the integrity of the data collection system.

It greatly surprises me that little attention has been paid to the reliability (or the possible lack thereof) of the data.

Dec 19, 2012 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Climate science deserves no censure, on its own. But its history is tied intimately with the UNFCCC and the IPCC, and in large parts the two are inseperable. To that extent, there are systemic illnesses that need treatment (re Judy Curry's torquing hypothesis).

Dec 19, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Registered Commentershub

Diogenes

Exactly right. Such criticisms are not "relatively rare", it would appear.

Dec 19, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Is there a model which hindcasts the last Ice Age, and its ending?

(Let alone the comparatively piffling variations represented by the various Warm Periods and Little Ice Ages?)

If the models cannot deal with these enormous events, it is hardly worth troubling to make "specific" and "limited" criticisms of them.

Dec 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

Like most physicists, and indeed like most scientists, Cox must have of necessity paid little heed to the details of climate scaremongering, and would have been inclined to go

from: (1) CO2 absorbs infra-red, (2) CO2 levels are going up (3) IPCC spin saying 'thousands of scientists agree...' (4) sloppy student survey saying '97% of climate scientists agree ..' (5) the Met Office and the Royal Society are on board with the alarm (6) 'cool' groups like Greenpeace and FoE and WWF are also on board (boy are they on board!)

to: deniers of global warming and climate change are clearly cranks and their stuff is a load of bollox.

But he has, of course, made a very bad call with this. Superficial, hasty, wrong, unscientific, unhelpful, and most decidedly less 'cool' with every passing day. Perhaps Lubos could have a word with him?

Dec 19, 2012 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

If they really think that models are the best way of predicting future weather will they still be saying the same thing in 5 years time if average global temperatures continue to flat-line, or even drop slightly?

Dec 19, 2012 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I`m sure doctor cox values his frequent employment at the bbc.
It`s possible that he is all too aware he could be `Bellamied` and vanish into tv obscurity should he fall off the meme wagon.

Dec 19, 2012 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterbanjo

Exactly how does the removal of an inconvenient tree on a coral island fit in with conforming with the scientific method?

Dec 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man

"it is not logical to attack climate science as a whole, because to do so is to attack scientific method"

Since the majority of workers in climate science ignore the scientific method anyway, criticism of climate science is hardly an attack on the science method.

Considering Brian Cox advised us that BBC's "Climate Wars" was a good example of an unbiased science programme, why would anyone take this person seriously.

The best thing for science would be for him to stay at the BBC!

Dec 19, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

It is not logical to attack eugenics as a whole because to do so is to attack scientific method.

The problem with celebrity scientists is that being a celeb brings greater rewards than being a scientist I have always been in awe of Professor Cox's modesty and how he avoids being in every camera shot?

Mmmmmmmm this may be a a quiet rant :-)

Dec 19, 2012 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Why not go and say all this over on the New Statesman thread, where someone might hear you?

Dec 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

[BH adds: Let me play devil's advocate. Should you be criticising most of climatology for failing to speak out rather than for offences against science?]

It has to be both Bish. When I was studying my mentors were insistent that not speaking out was an offence against science. You cannot separate the activity of Mann and Hansen from the 'failing to speak' requirement. If all scientists followed their training and their consciences we would be deeply involved in intelligent discussion right now instead of this constant bickering and political lying that plagues science in the 21st century and the media would not be able to publish the utter rubbish that currently pervades all news outlets.

Dec 19, 2012 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Further on in the article, Cox and Ince write ...

Science is the framework within which we reach conclusions about the natural world. These conclusions are always preliminary, always open to revision ...

Dec 19, 2012 at 2:49 PM | Speed

Cox did a series for the BBC which I think was focused on the sun for one of it's episodes. During his presentation, which are always a little over dramatised for my taste, he spoke about how the sun warms the planet, how consensus is not science, etc, and in the next breath declared his undying devotion to AGW. He promotes his AGW believe at every moment on BBC and yet says things that are completely irreconcilable with tha believe. He is not stupid, he understands the problems and pitholes of statistics and yet produces a piece like that above. Either he is confused or rent seeking. Which is it.

At one time I thought he was being/was lining himself up to replace Patrick Moore. I hope that isn't true.

Dec 19, 2012 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Brian Cox is a poor scientist, hardly qualified to utter an opinion on this matter. For example, in his recent tv series "Wonders of the Solar System" he committed some schoolboy howlers.

He asserted that Venus is a planet with a windy turbulent atmosphere and is extremely hot at the surface because of "a runaway greenhouse effect," because it's atmosphere is almost entirely CO2.

As NASA, and almost any interested schoolboy will tell you, Venus is the calmest planet in the solar system and it's high surface temperature is due not to CO2, but to it's surface pressure being 9 bars, compared with the Earth's 1 bar, and that planet's distance from the Sun. Gas laws anyone?

The prof needs to brush up on his science.

Dec 19, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

Brian Cox and Robin Ince basic mistake is to take it for granted 'the Team ' and friends are actual following the scientific approach in the first place and therefore can only be judge in a certain manner . In reality its clear their acting more has advocates for political or religions views than scientists and are therefore subject to type of review seen in the none-science rolls given they have themselves decided to get down and get dirty .

Dec 19, 2012 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

But they are the best we can do, given our current understanding and the power of our computers. The important words here are “the best we can do”. There is no other way of predicting the probability of weather in the future. The only legitimate criticisms would be of specific issues with specific models, or of specific inferences drawn from them. It would certainly be wrong to assert that the ensemble of climate models from various research groups around the world encompassed all possible uncertainties about the future, but it is not logical to attack climate science as a whole, because to do so is to attack scientific method.

This pair simply doesn't understand the scientific method. Nor do they understand the legitimate use of computer models in the context of the scientific method.

The first and most important use of computer models is to derive predictions from theory when theory is sufficiently complex that computers are the only practical means of deriving predictions. Then the standard scientific method applies. If predictions don't match observations (with some caveats), theory is wrong, and needs to be revised.

The other legitimate use of computer models is to test hypotheses. Not really relevant here.

The problem many climate science critics, myself included, have is that climate science, and the climate modellers in particular, don't follow the scientific method.

When I read things like this, I can't decide if the writers are simply ignorant or being deliberately deceptive.

Dec 20, 2012 at 1:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Bradley

The important words here are “the best we can do”. There is no other way of predicting the probability of weather in the future.

That is one of the most intelligent comments I have read on AGW and I hope Matt Ridley reads it. I would follow up with what I expect would be the opinion of most physicists.

Freeman Dyson

“My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests.

They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.” –

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:56 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

It’s a shame that more BH regulars haven’t been sharing their wisdom on the New Statesman thread. Jeremy Poynton, Robotech and I have encountered only light opposition from a single troll, who’s just announced that he’s proud to be related to the Queen and a turnip.
I hope it’s not because you think that this kind of skirmishing is beneath you. NS readers may be few and far between, but if you can help show the sense of scepticism to a few decrepit leftwing academics and civil servants, you’re doing something to get the message out from within our charmed (and charming) circle.

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:39 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"Exactly how does the removal of an inconvenient tree on a coral island fit in with conforming with the scientific method?" (Grumpy Old Man, 6:33PM).

We don't hear enough of that tree, Grumpy,

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

Philip Bradley

"If predictions don't match observations (with some caveats), theory is wrong, and needs to be revised."


I would have thought so, but the Higgs Boson and dark matter are two examples of entities that have arisen from theories that don't work. AGW is another. Climate scientists are hiding behind that tradition.

Because science is so complex today, they were able to convince some that AGW exists.

I studied physics at university, I am smart enough to know my limitations. I have read the maths and I don't understand it. However I wonder if an entity that only exists for 10-22 seconds can really be said to be proof of the existence a particle that is so fundamental to the structure of the universe. 10-22 seconds is getting close to quantum limits.

'Undetectable' dark matter is already being pursued.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/nov/18/gran-sasso-dark-matter-wimps

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:28 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:39 AM | Registered Commenter geoffchambers

I got the troll busy and have him stuck in his circle logic to the point even he knows he's losing. May have managed to get him to STFU but we'll have to see how well he backpedals after a nights rest hehe.

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

Robotech
You did a grand job (and so did I and so did Jeremy). Without getting ranty, may I say that it would have been nice to see a letter from a Tol, a Betts, or even better from a Montford (“...as I showed in my book...”).
This editorial got top billing in a serious journal. Important-ish people read the Statesman - people who would notice if a Cox came off worse in an argument with a climate sceptic with clout.

Dec 20, 2012 at 7:04 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Diogenes above more or less made the essential point, which Cox seems to skip over, that the historical record is really not much good at all. To say what was the global temperature in 1850, or 1900 is, at best, an informed guess. Is it reasonable, on the basis of an informed guess, to claim that the world is significantly warmer than it then was? And then is it reasonable, on the basis of that second claim, to further claim that it must be Man what done it and the answer is global policy changes with uncertain outcomes? It does seem to me that the AGW-ers and their political friends are building something rather large on very small foundations. That approach, in the world of construction, usually leads to something called 'collapse' at some point in the building's life.

Dec 20, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Cox has condemned himself by publishing this. He knows nothing about the scientific method.

What institution gave him a Bachelor's degree never mind an appointment as Professor?

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterEpigenes

Just for my own personal sanity check here because I'm starting to rage pretty hard.

Are these 2 comments arguing against each other or agreeing with each other(i'm going with agreeing and arguing the same exact point)

"The data used in models to make bridges, planes and a host of other things has been tested again and again based on real data empirical or observational. The claim that somehow these models are not based in hugely known information as you make " We simply don't have real world data for every situation." is simply wrong on its face. You go ask any bridge designer or plane build or anyone that uses models in engineering and they will explain in great detail how the model is based in reality.

Then they will go onto explain to you how they still don't trust the model and do huge amounts of very costly tests to bring validation to the model. I can tell you for a fact no plane flies in the air because some model says it does... they only fly after they go through real world testing."


vs


"The finite element packages we use to design bridges for example are based on data that in itself is very basic to collect and can even be done on a benchtop. We then model very complex and unique situations (any new bridge is subject to a unique set of considerations that will never have been seen before) by breaking them down in to more and more simple elements which we use a computer to calculate and our model brings all this data together to give a final result or results.

We then of course take huge reams of real life data to compare with our model and make refinements. In complex situations however we don't have the chance to rebuild from scratch because of the cost orrtme involved. Boeing have to be confident that their models are accurate before they put a new airframe through physical testing if they don't want to waste millions of dollars."


Just a sanity check here before i go nuts.

Dec 20, 2012 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

robotech
No, you're not going nuts, despite the best effort of the Statesman's resident troll. I've suggested that it's Robin Ince that wrote the article, and Brian Cox who is doing the trolling.
I've thoroughly enjoyed that thread, despite the poor quality of the opposition. NS readers don't sem to be very interested in the real world, do they.

Dec 20, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

ok i was starting to worry i was going to lose it for no reason. Just double checking the sanity... I tend to misplace it often hehe.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

When challenged about their lack of accuracy after no warming for 8 years in 2006 , CRU said they did not attempt to predict "internally generated natural variations"...meaning we have not allowed for clouds, rain, volcanic ash, et al. Okay if they admit this prior to presentations but that clearly did not happen. They were in effect going to meetings with politicians saying the planet will heat up by 4c over the next 100 years...(as long as there are no clouds, rain etc in the atmosphere). The modellers and the scientists they worked for were economical with the truth so as to paint as grim a picture as possible. It was fraud.

Dec 21, 2012 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterjames griffin

I am amused by the number of sceptics stating with apparant certainty that no temperature change has occured since 1998 or 2003, depending on whether one regards 1998 as a typical year or an outlier.
( I'm inclined to the latter view. )

The global temperature records have a variability which generates 95% confidence limits of approximately +/- 0.1C. On that basis we can only be 95% confident that the temperature has increased over the last 9 or 14 years by no more than 0.2C or decreased by no more than 0.2C. CRU and other climate researchers have clearly stated their uncertainty.

Why are the sceptics willing to go so far beyond the evidence? It is odd to see them criticising scientists for being unscientific, while being blatently unscientific themselves.

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man

Imagine you are have 95% confidence that your flight is going to crash. Is you going to fly or is you going to chill out and have another joint ?

This is the news for the scientifically illiterate. It is highly likely that temperatures haven't risen since 1998 (or 2003).

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:42 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Entropic man


The BBC's environment analyst Roger Harrabin put questions to Professor Jones, including several gathered from climate sceptics. The questions were put to Professor Jones with the co-operation of UEA's press office.

Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

C - Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?

No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant.

Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?
An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I've assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.

Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different (see numbers below).

I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.

So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8511670.stm

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:44 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

esmiff

Your comments rather support my argument. The first repeats the assertion that temperatures have not changed in recent years, a statement which you cannot support statistically. "Highly likely" as used by IPCC indicates at least 90% statistical confidence.

The second, Professor Jones' interview, extends the point about statistical analysis of temperature records. He carefully makes clear which inferences from the temperature record can be regarded as statistically significant and which cannot.

As a rule of thumb for Hadcrut and other datasets, if two annual global temperatures are more than 0.2C apart, there is very likely (95% confidence) to be a genuine climatic reason for the difference. For example, 1998 stands out as a record year because of the extra heat released by one of the most extreme El Nino events on record. If there is less than 0.2C difference the reason may be a genuine effect, random variation or there may be no difference.
For more normal rates of observed warming, around 0.1C/decade over the last century,,you need at least 20 years of data to demonstrate a statistically significant change to 95% confidence.


The scientifically illiterate, of course, do not appreciate such sublteties, which is why they are swayed by dubious arguments such as yours.

Dec 22, 2012 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man

I ran my Jones interpretation past a Russell group science head of dept. No problems.

I have absolutely no interest in science, climate or otherwise. I am interested in politics. There is nothing in the temperature record that suggests there is any reason for starving the poor or freezing the elderly on the altar of extreme right wing green politics.

I had a girl friend who was deeply involved in the green party. Everyone I met was an academic. It is fundamentally based on intellectual arrogance and hatred of the masses.

Dec 22, 2012 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Entropic man


Right wing green politics, are you mad ?


http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sealed/gw/nazi.htm


Green Party admits leading activists on BNP list (2008)

The Green Party was forced to admit today that two of its former leading lights were on a list of British National Party members leaked on the internet this week.

The party conceded this morning that Keith Bessant, a two-time parliamentary candidate, and Rev John Stanton, a former local party chairman, had defected to the far-right nationalist organisation. Mr Bessant, who ran for MP as a Green Party candidate in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in 2001 and 2005, claims to have left the BNP soon after joining.

A spokesman for the Green Party claimed today that Mr Bessant was in the BNP not because he was a racist but because he felt they had better environmental policies. “He formed the opinion that the BNP climate change policy was more radical than ours,” he said

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5197862.ece

Dec 22, 2012 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

I should add that I have a maths degree from what was then a top 10 UK university and I have never met an honest climate fanboy. From James Hansen all the way down to entropic.

I also have contempt for establishment fawning geeks.

Dec 22, 2012 at 2:01 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Cox and Ince write:

"All models are, by nature, an approximation to reality. But they are the best we can do, given our current understanding and the power of our computers. The important words here are “the best we can do”. There is no other way of predicting the probability of weather in the future. The only legitimate criticisms would be of specific issues with specific models, or of specific inferences drawn from them."

Their words reveal a most astounding ignorance of scientific method. Ptolemy, who did not have the benefit of Galileo's scientific method, might have claimed the same thing about his model of the universe. As we all know, Ptolemy's model of the universe contained false assumptions that mislead astronomers for centuries. Today's climate models are in worse shape. They are incomplete. They are incapable of implying true observations about future dates, including even trends. Often "the best we can do" is a total failure. Yet these authors offer that history of failure as a defense of their models. Preposterous.

Dec 22, 2012 at 3:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

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