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« A salvo of silliness | Main | Schmidt and Sherwood on climate models »

A parody?

When I started looking at this video by YouTuber "Veritasium" I thought it must be a parody. It just seemed so daft. But having studied the rest of his work I think he must be serious, and all the strawmen arguments, cherrypicking, out of date data, and plain old mistakes are actually his best shot at a contribution to the global warming debate.

You could almost play a game of bingo with it. See how many you can spot:

Perhaps he'd be better calling himself "Whoopsadaisium".

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Reader Comments (47)

Too tedious to watch more than a coupla minutes.

Dec 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Most of Veritasium's output is not too bad. But like many amateur scientists he's been hooked by the GW scam. Its the same with any other science channel on YouTube like SciShow.

Dec 28, 2014 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

Well put together genial film. Nice to see such creativity persists in fictional storytelling.

Dec 28, 2014 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBadgerbod

"I just seemed so daft." Correction needed!
[Ah, yes! Thanks. BH]

Dec 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

YouTube videos, like PowerPoint presentations, are almost impossible to analyze in motion. Slickness can be either the product of correct connections or smooth bridging of deep chasms. What he has done is identify the skeptics points, however. You would actually be able to have a debate with him.

Maybe that is what should be done: a point-by-point rebuttal, with a request for a response, and then a response to the response, like a real debate.

He is not stupid. He makes points that have at least the appearance of being on the right track, and he does it in a more pleasant manner than a Mann or Hansen or Gore would or could ever do, even if any of those jokers WOULD.

Dec 28, 2014 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Procttor

Do watch until the end. He plugs Naomi Oreskes.

Dec 28, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

@ Golf Charlie.

Under no circumstances would I want to watch anyone plug Naomi Oreskes.

Dec 28, 2014 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Throughout he was as certain as"Skeptical" Cook and then morphed into Naomi. OMG

Dec 28, 2014 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDEEBEe

@Martin A... and as horrible as the expression "flogging a dead horse".

Dec 28, 2014 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Perhaps this is an audition for a new series of Jackanory!

Dec 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Speaking of parodies, I see this in the Telegraph just now

"Britain unprepared for severe blackouts, secret Government report reveals"

"Increased death rates, rising public disorder and high-risk criminals on the loose among the likely consequences of prolonged power cuts, official assessment shows"

How can anyone question the great work of Ed Davey - clearly he works for Putin

Dec 28, 2014 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

very slightly off-topic.
The Guardian has now decided that after a "decent interval" the "Ship of Fools" story can be re-jigged as a success.
The real story - that a 12 year old boy was "having the time of his life" on one of the two remaining Argos and "we were going up and down getting some jumps at full speed", seems largely to have been overlooked.
So fathers do tend to spoil their sons at Christmas but letting young Robbie put dozens of lives at risk and getting THREE ships trapped in the ice, seems just too much "fun" !
(see Steve McIntyre - "Ship of Fools" )

Dec 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Bish, Potholer54 seems to be one of the more quoted YouTube CAGW proponents. I often get sent his videos by people who are trying to convert me back to my previous state of true believer. I'd imagine he's quite convincing to the uninitiated, maybe like this chap, until you do a bit of reading for yourself.

Dec 28, 2014 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSameas

Another flocker trying to shoulder his way to the trough....

Dec 28, 2014 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSweet Old Bob

Like SadButMadLad says scishow is the same. Very entertaining and informative, at least for a person (like me) wanting a cursory glance at the latest thingamabob or why-do-we-sneeze questions. But since I am more than average informed about the shenanigans in cli-sci I notice it when they cover CAGW like just another established fact. And it pisses me off.
I suppose they do that with other scientific "facts" as well. But I don't notice. Because I did not dig a little there. No interest/time for it. The shenanigans are not uncovered without a little digging. You dont read about 'em in the MSM...

But kudos y'all for intentionally watching that crap above. ;-)
I will not thanks. I'm in a good mood, why spoil that.

Seasons greetings to you all!
And Bish keep it up you rock!

Dec 28, 2014 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand


Now you know why there was a flood of Australian votes for Prof. Turkey in the Climate Prat of the Year on Pointman's blog. Despite the wishes of the host.
I voted for him because my preference Ed Davey wasn't available, probably lost in a blackout somewhere.

Dec 28, 2014 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

It was interesting to see a few pitons being inserted to aid the eventual climb-down.

From memory:-

"Back in the days when scientists believed in higher sensitivities"

"No one is saying it's going to be a catastrophe"

"It just might be a bit cheaper to think about doing something now".

By the time the sharper warmists have talked their sensitivities down to around 1.5 - I guess even the politicians will be able to figure out they've been scammed.

Dec 28, 2014 at 9:46 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

This is the problem that they just don't get. This guy, and his site, are very widely referenced in the online science geek world. But imagine you watch him and then discover he is so totally colossally wrong on CAGW, how many people will then never trust a thing he says again on other science subjects (much of which is true).

This is the worst damage CAGW hysterics are doing. Long-term, they are destroying trust in science and the scientific method.

Dec 28, 2014 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Veritasium. That sounds like latin for what in Russia would be known as Pravda.

Dec 28, 2014 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Truth

I already commented months ago. I could only manage the first three items - and all were straw men.

He did answer some points I made, but ignored the most important and failed to respond further when I pointed out the flaws in his initial reply.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoubting Rich

The origin of "Veritasium" is from the latin "veritas", which translates as "truth".
The You-Tube Channel, sub-titled "an element of truth", has some very good science videos.

The introductory video ends with the comment:-

The first principle is that you should not fool yourself.

This makes the video on global warming an anomaly, from someone who does not understand the subject.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

As his subscriber I am pretty sure he's serious here and is expressing his true beliefs. In fact most of what he says is true if put in proper context, it is just largely irrelevant to the current major climate skeptical position and it does not support his conclusions. On the other hand, he only made two videos about climate (the other one is pure propaganda and my guess is it was more of a paid advertisement than his own initiative) and all his other videos are very good and worth watching.

Here's also a WUWT article dedicated to the video:

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterKasuha

Veritasium. That sounds like latin for what in Russia would be known as Pravda.

Dec 28, 2014 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Truth

Pretty much nails it.
When a second-hand car salesman puts his arm around your shoulder and says "Trust me. Would I rip you off?", you start running. When a pub advertises "Free Beer", it will usually be "for all supermodels" or some such.

That doesn't mean the car salesman is bad at his profession, he may make a good living. But it is clearly marketing.

Consider. You get warmist sites that call themselves things like "Real Climate" and "Skeptical Science" (splutter), and then you get opposing people like, say, Bishop Hill, JoNova, Tallbloke's Talkshop. People who don't try and lure you in with a name that indicates a closed mind.

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:16 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Cheshired, the mind boggles!

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJakartaJaap

Dec 28, 2014 at 5:16 PM | cheshirered

@ Golf Charlie.

Under no circumstances would I want to watch anyone plug Naomi Oreskes.

LOL ... [snip]

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

He's running for president of the moronosphere and this is his inaugural campaign message. He's well on his way, about 97% of the way there, actually.

Dec 29, 2014 at 6:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterdp

The Mandy Rice Davis effect
Sadly passed away this year

Another activist another opportunist
Well he would say that would,nt he.

PS and how accurate is his past Data

Dec 29, 2014 at 8:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

'Climate change is....ocean acidification'

Run that one past me again, please......

Dec 29, 2014 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Another vid to wind you lot up. Marketing people not understanding the difference between C and CO2 all because of the misinformation from greenies. Delusional Dyson Marketing

Dec 29, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

I am dyspeptic with rage. Pass me a Rennie so I can alkalinify my stomach.

Dec 29, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

I can't help thinking of the global warming scam when I read this explanation of the millennium bridge sway.

"Chance footfall correlation, combined with the synchronization that occurs naturally within a crowd, may cause the bridge to start to sway horizontally. If the sway is perceptible, a further effect can start to take hold. It becomes more comfortable for the pedestrians to walk in synchronization with the swaying of the bridge. The pedestrians find this makes their interaction with the bridge more predicable and helps them maintain their lateral balance. This instinctive behaviour ensures that the footfall forces are applied at a resonant frequency of the bridge, and with a phase such as to increase the motion of the bridge. As the amplitude of the motion increases, the lateral force imparted by individuals increases, as does the degree of correlation between individuals. The frequency "lock-in" and positive force feedback caused the excessive motions observed at the Millennium Bridge."

Dec 29, 2014 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

I agree with the poster who noted that the less than alarming conclusion is indicative of a paradigm shift in the alarmist position.

Dec 29, 2014 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

@ Doug Proctor Dec 28, 2014 at 3:53 PM
"YouTube videos, like PowerPoint presentations, are almost impossible to analyze in motion"

I download them with the Firefox Addon "Video Download Helper" and then watch with VLC media player. This allows varying slow motion speeds, or frame by frame. There's also an individual frame snapshot facility.

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave Ward

Sigh, the same old qualitative arguments for what is purely an issue of quantity.

Interesting that his explanation for the 'pause' was that it doesn't exist. Perhaps he should publish jointly with EM*.

And the plug for Oreskes' Merchants of Doubt at the end is presumably an indication of where the 'impetus' came from. I imagine that declining an offer of such 'sponsorship' could have an impact on one's precious public reputation if the SJW mob somehow got wind of it.

It seems that sincere advocates of science and reason around the internet tend to avoid discussing climate insofar as is possible, and when cornered stick to the safely noncommittal qualitative arguments seen in the video.

* Of course, I harbour no strong opinions about the 'pause' myself - it just amuses me when people do.

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

That's a beautiful analogy, Martyn.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Here's also a WUWT article dedicated to the video:

Thanks, Kasuha, for providing the above link. Christopher Monckton forensically debunks each point. A superb rebuttal!

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

The video seems pretty good to me.....gets the science about right.

Where's the problem?

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMonty

None of the comments seem to engaged in the game of spotting “all the strawmen arguments, cherrypicking, out of date data, and plain old mistakes” in the short video. I have posted up 13 points at my own blog. Of particular note:-

1. “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”? The argument for the latter ignores major issues. For instance, the main hypothesis is that increased greenhouse gas levels causes warming, which in turn (allegedly) leads to adverse consequences. Also that a “global” problem requires “global” solutions.
2. Claims that whilst the average temperature from surface thermometers may have paused, the satellites show temperatures still increasing. He fails to distinguish between UAH satellite data (pause from 2009) and RSS data which has the longest pause. From 1979 to 2014 (the full period of satellite data), UAH shows the lowest warming of any data set.
3. Claims that the central estimate of climate sensitivity has reduced since the 1980s to the current 3oC. Nic Lewis compiled a table showing the central estimate is unchanged since 1979.
4. Shows a graph allegedly showing of IPCC projections allegedly based on 3oC climate sensitivity, showing 0.6-0.7oC of warming between 1958 and 2014. A calculation based on a rise in CO2 from 315 to 398.5 ppm would project 1.0oC of warming.
5. Completely ignores the other greenhouse gases that contribute to warming, such as methane and halocarbons.
6. The evidence for increasing water vapour levels in the atmosphere is from the average of 12 climate models, with completely bogus confidence intervals.

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Around 4:20 he discusses how well earlier predictions fared. For both the First Assessment Report (FAR, although I prefer AR1) and Hansen et al. 1988, he uses (unattributed) graphs from SkS. In both cases the "predicted" line was actually adjusted after the fact by the SkS authors. I think this is indicative of the lack of depth of the presentation, if not his understanding.

Dec 29, 2014 at 8:23 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Kevin Marshall -
Regarding your #4 above: "A calculation based on a rise in CO2 from 315 to 398.5 ppm would project 1.0oC of warming." [Predicated upon a 3 K/doubling sensitivity.] You have to be careful here, as the 3K figure is *equilibrium* climate sensitivity, which would not be reached immediately. The more relevant parameter would be the transient climate response (TCR), which the IPCC reckons as about 1.8 K/doubling (AR5 WG1, Table 9.5). For 1/3 of a doubling (315 to 398.5), that does work out to be 0.6 K.

Dec 29, 2014 at 8:38 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Actually, I rather suspect that "Veritasium" is meant to be reminiscent of "Veritaserum", the magical truth potion in the Harry Potter novels, though from the contents of his video, I also suspect that Veritasium has the "truthiness" of "sciency" stuff on his side here.

Dec 29, 2014 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Newkirk

HaroldW at 8:38 PM
The question I have is when does the transient sensitivity of 1.8K turn into the full sensitivity of 3K?
For the period 1958 to 2014, some will be transient, but the majority should be permanent. Otherwise there is another cop-out to say there is worse to come without evidence. This would add to the other cop-outs of aerosols and heat being lost in the oceans.

Dec 30, 2014 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Kevin Marshall --
The general idea is that the response to a step increase (say, a doubling) of pCO2 is a rise in temperature which asymptotically approaches the ECS. TCR is defined as the increase in temperature after year 70 of a 1%-per-year increase in pCO2 (which at 70 years is a doubling). Mathematically, one can't derive one from the other, but GCMs suggest that TCR is ~45-65% of ECS. This seems to hold true even with the observational analogues: e.g. the Otto et al. paper gave a central estimate of TCR as ~1.3 K and ECS as ~2.0 K (if I recall correctly).

The shape of a step response is expected to resemble figures 3 & 5 of Hansen et al., "Earth’s energy imbalance and implications" (2011). I would not vouch for the ECS given in that paper (3 K/doubling), but the shape seems reasonable (if unproven), with a relatively rapid reaction for the land and ocean surface, and a more delayed response as the deep ocean equilibrates. The figures in that paper show that it requires multiple centuries before the ECS is attained.

Dec 30, 2014 at 4:57 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Trefjon: Yes, I noticed the softening of the position, too. But it didn't bring me any comfort. It was never what these turkeys were saying that scared the sh*t out of me, it was the revolving-eyeballed passion with which they said it, and their general disconnection from reality. That hasn't changed.

Before long, they will be asking for most of the world's wealth to be chucked away on preventing a barely detectable change, as a matter of principle. And who says they won't be listened to?

Dec 30, 2014 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Gus

Lagged responses - at least of the order of lag in Fig 5 of the Hansen et al - so not undermine the conclusion that can be drawn from a simplistic calculation based on climate sensitivity of 3K and no lag. The reason is that CO2 levels have been increasing year-on-year for at least 70 years. (I think Law Dome ice core data shows a slight drop around 1940). Not only that 50+ years of Mauna Loa data shows that the annual incremental increase has been steadily accelerating, from about 0.7ppm annual increase in the 1960s to >2ppm in recent years. If CO2 is the major driver of warming in each decade the rate of warming should be higher than the last. The pattern of observed warming suggests sine wave pattern, around a steady increase since WW2. Broadly there are three phases
1. 1945-mid 70s = no warming or slight cooling.
2. mid-70s to between 1995&2002 - warming at up to 0.2k a decade.
3. Last 12-18 years - no warming.
Whether lagged or not this is inconsistent with a sensitivity of 3K. The major inconsistency is the switch from the warming phase to the current "pause".
It might be consistent with 1.5K sensitivity, and is certainly consistent with warming patterns observed (for unknown reasons) about 1000 and 2000 years ago.
The errors of Veritasium reinforce one another.
By the way. Look again at Hansen's Fig 5
It is arguing that the lag in most climate models is greater than what is actually the case. In particular, after 10 years there should be 55-60% of the warming effect from a CO2 rise, instead of 45%. So instead of 0.3k of warming in 2001-2014 from the CO2 in that period, they are arguing for at least 0.2k of warming based on 3k sensitivity. Further, using zero lag, for the period 1973-1998 HADCRUT4 exactly matches the warming from the CO2 in that period. With the lagged response there could be up to 50% too much warming.

Jan 1, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Clearly a very bright articulate guy .... Would be good to get him on our side .... Is there any way to get him to think abiut some if the obvious rebuttal points ??

Jan 1, 2015 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterImranCan

Regarding Veritasium's use of SkS, here's a lightly edited version of a comment I made at Kevin's blog:

The graph in #8 is unattributed in the video, but is from SkS. The author (Dana) claims — I take nothing for granted at that site — that the “adjusted projection” is derived from Hansen’s 1988 “B” projection curve, having reduced its gain (presumably scaling by 1/1.1) because scenario B forcing was about 10% higher than observed, and further reduced its gain (presumably by a factor of 3.0/4.2) to approximate a 3.0 K ECS rather than the 4.2 K ECS of Hansen’s model.

In other words, Hansen’s 1988 “B” curve didn’t get forcing quite right and was pretty far off on sensitivity. But if we change those fundamentals retrospectively, we can make it match up. That constitutes a prediction showing “remarkable agreement with observations”, according to Veritasium.

Jan 2, 2015 at 2:55 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

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