## Away with the fairies

Journalist David Appell appears a couple of times in *The Hockey Stick Illusion*, firstly in Chapter 4, in the section entitled "Mann's mouthpiece", where he is the source (if perhaps not the ultimate source) of the (false) claim that Mann sent McIntyre an Excel spreadsheet. It's worth reading again if you have a moment.

Anyway, in the wake of Mark Steyn's book on Michael Mann, Appell has written to Jonathan Jones enquiring about the latter's comments on the Hockey Stick and the results have been written up in a blog post here. It's hilarious.

For example, Jones observes that bristlecones are not reliable temperature proxies and that principal components analysis requires data to be centred, before following up with similar scientific objections to a couple of other papers that Appell has cited in support of Mann. Appell's response to all of these objections is, in total:

This is clearly just a lot of hand-waving.

Read the rest of it too. The guy is away with the fairies.

## Reader Comments (231)

Bryan~ 'tis not possible to go any lower.

I mentioned this to my psychiatrist friend. He said: What? You want me to speak to a couple of bloody global-warmongers? No way! They're beyond any help I could give them!"

Appell's argument is that he has a theory of temperature that is so self-evidently obvious that any rigorous checking with reality is unnecessary.

An interesting and original take on 'science'.

Strange that somebody whose PH D research supervisor (http://insti.physics.sunysb.edu/physics/forms/profilesearch.cgi?lastname=sterman) specialised in Quantum Chromodynamics has never heard of one of the pioneers of the field..Richard Feynman.

Even stranger that he calls his blog 'Quark Soup'.

Here's Feynman on the need for experiment/observation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

Mr Appell would be wise to study it.

I'm having trouble following this allleged

Appel alarmist crapclaim.What exactly is he supposed to be saying?

PhD Physics

shame on you

Oh, I think I get it now. By 'suitable' mathematics, one can of course still do as Mann did and airbrush out the MWP to yield hockey sticks.

Punksta, I think what Appell is saying, is that anything he says is right. He has seen the bounteous riches, that only the Holy Hockey Stick can offer, by forsaking scientific credibility, and ignoring logical thought.

The Holy Hockey Stick is not just about life and death for millions. It is more important than that. Its about money.

Have we got an explanation of superappellentional yet?

Here's a plot of population with time. Blessed if I can see anything strange (or even 'super') about it. Nor anything remarkable happening at or about 1960.

Perhaps Mr Appell will enlighten us all?

http://blog.dssresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/world_population_1050_to_2050.jpg

Yeah, it's about money, and the lying and the fright is misallocating capital. The alarmists have already damaged the prospects of our progeny and ourselves, and it's getting worse.

=================

Extraordinary scenes from Appell. In his la-la land, apparently, to hypothesise is to know. If this is his philosophical starting point, then it is no surprise that he accepts methodologically incorrect, data-rigged drivel such as MBH. The pharmaceutical industry would love him on their side – give the minority of trial participants whose headache gets better 390 times the weight of those whose doesn’t, unethically cover up the failure of crucial statistical tests, and off to market we go. The biology says the drug should work, therefore it does.

However, I do agree with him that his argument sidesteps everything. Particularly the scientific method as currently practised on planet Earth.

Appell's 'super-exponentional' argument appears to be premised on the assumption that anthropgenic CO2 emissions are directly proportional to world population. But I suspect this is bollocks - the big growth in world population in the 1950s came in the developing world, where energy use per capita is minimal compared to the first world (where populations have not grown significantly since the 1950s). Regardless of this, anthropogenic CO2 emissions constitute about 3% of the total flux, and CO2 itself is only responsible for about 5-7% of the greenhouse effect. Just as a big percentage increase of a small number is still a small number, exponential growth, (even 'super'-exponential growth) of feck all is still feck all. I wonder if Appell has a Malthusian agenda?

Maybe he meant supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

David Appell has an interesting argument which appears to have gotten lost in the barging. It boils down that in the last couple of millenia climate forcing has been roughly constant, and in the last two centuries there has been a large positive increase. This argument is reinforced by the latest on solar and volcanic forcings. Eli may add some detail to this, but Ms. Rabett calls.

lapogus wrote:

"Appell's 'super-exponentional' argument appears to be premised on the assumption that anthropgenic CO2 emissions are directly proportional to world population."

That's false. The CO2 data itself shows CO2 rose superexponentially.

lapogus wrote: "CO2 itself is only responsible for about 5-7% of the greenhouse effect."

Also false. It's more like 25% (see reference below), but it's more complicated than that even, because without the noncondensable GHGs the average surface temperature of the surface would be below freezing, meaning much water vapor would freeze out of the atmosphere, and the resulting ice-albedo feedback would decrease temperatures even further. As Ray Pierrehumbert wrote, "With regard to Earth's habitability, it takes two to tango."

“Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature,”

Lacis et al, Science (15 October 2010) Vol. 330 no. 6002 pp. 356-359

http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/la09300d.html

Latimer Alder wrote:

"Here's a plot of population with time. Blessed if I can see anything strange (or even 'super') about it."

That plot shows a superexponential rise.

Suppose some quantity increases at X% per year.

If X is constant, the change is exponential.

If X is itself changing, the change is superexponential.

Latimer Alder wrote:

"Appell's argument is that he has a theory of temperature that is so self-evidently obvious that any rigorous checking with reality is unnecessary."

and golf charlie wrote:

"Punksta, I think what Appell is saying, is that anything he says is right."

These are great examples of the insults and ad hominem attacks that fill this blog. Neither actually attempts to refute the argument. Instead, both resort to insults and personal swipes.

By the way, Alder, Feynman was a pioneer in QED, not QCD. And Feynman would understand my simple hockey stick argument immediately.

TerryS wrote:

"Perhaps you could provide me with a non blog reference to this superexponential increase."

Depends. Do you know basic mathematics, up to high school calculas at least?

If you do, you should grasp the argument immediately, no references required. If you don't, you won't understand any of this.

But I did give give a reference in my post to Hüsler and Sornette, "Evidence for super-exponentially accelerating atmospheric carbon dioxide growth," http://arxiv.org/abs/1101.2832

What data? Please specify your source (eg. Law Dome Ice Core)

The data I've seen show a near linear trend from 1750 to 1960. It doesn't look remotely exponential let alone "superexponential".

If you have a data source showing superexponentiality then please provide details together with the paper explaining how they derived the CO2 levels.

TerryS wrote:

"What data? Please specify your source (eg. Law Dome Ice Core)"

You know, you could actually read my blog post, or at least look at the pictures, and click on the links there for details, such as this one:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1101.2832

whose figure 9 is captioned, "Atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1000 CE to present. The data shown combines ice core and air measurements from different sources. See data section for more details."

Or, see the IPCC 5AR WG1 Ch6 Fig 6.7 p 485.

Or anywhere else. Graphs of these data are all over the place.

"The data I've seen show a near linear trend from 1750 to 1960. It doesn't look remotely exponential let alone "superexponential"."

What data? Please specify your source (eg. Law Dome Ice Core).

Yes, and beyond.

You seriously believe that this agrees with your argument?

First of all the paper you cite takes ice core data from 1850 to 1954 and fits it to an exponential model to produce an exponential rate of 0.0066.

NOTE: this is not a "superexponential" trend.

Secondly they take the Mauna Loa measurements from 1960 to 2009 and again fit an exponential model to produce an exponential rate of 0.016.

They then combine these two rates to claim it suggests the existence of a super exponential growth rate of CO2 over the combined period.

They also freely admit that:

"Therefore, we cannot reject the hypothesis that the exponential model is sufficient to explain the data for each time window separately.Now, as for it aligning with your arguments.

According to the paper you cite the trend from 1850 (I wonder why 1850 and not 1760?) to 1954 is indistinguishable from an exponential trend and that is so low (0.0066) that a linear trend fits just as well. It is the period

after1960 that they are making the main claim for super-exponential.Terry S wrote:

"First of all the paper you cite takes ice core data from 1850 to 1954 and fits it to an exponential model to produce an exponential rate of 0.0066.

NOTE: this is not a "superexponential" trend."

Neither the CO2 increase or the hockey stick start in 1850, do they?

Terry S: Read harder. Their Figure 9 is clearly faster-than-exponential growth. Whether this kind of growth ends near the middle of last century or near present is irrelevant to the hockey stick argument.

David Appell,

If it is all down to CO2, why has it stopped getting warmer? Or do you view such a question as a personal insult or swipe?

Dismissing any conflict with your belief system, as a personal attack, makes you a true expert in the unique world of climate science.

25% ? That's funny and reminds me of an even funnier cartoon Josh did earlier:

Climate Control Knobs

David Appell (Aug 31, 2015 at 6:01 AM), when you say “That's exactly the beauty of my argument -- it sidesteps everything” I think you’re being quite literal because you’ve neatly avoided addressing all the arguments against it. For example, you say “That's why no one here has refuted it” when several commenters have already done exactly that (e.g. WFC on Aug 29, 2015 at 10:23 PM, MikeR on Aug 30, 2015 at 4:49 PM).

Also, I note that you do not deny my conclusion that you believe “the ends justify the means”. However, what really stuns me is your statement that “… my simple heuristic "proof" is correct. It's easy to understand, and obvious even”, which comes across as both patronising and arrogant. If it were that simple, why doesn’t the IPCC make a similar statement… why all the caveats about uncertainty?

Appell takes my remark

'[His] argument is that he has a theory of temperature that is so self-evidently obvious that any rigorous checking with reality is unnecessary'

as an insult or ad-hominem attack

It is neither.

Merely an inference from his many remarks like

'The Hockey Stick is an obvious result', 'QED' ' it would be far more surprising if the hockey stick WASN'T true.'

which all suggest to me that his scientific objectivity about the quality of Mann's reconstruction has been subsumed in the desire/belief that it MUST be true.

Perhaps he didn't mean to give that impression and I gravely misjudge Appell's true thoughts on the matter.

If so I counsel him to be more careful in his postings, phraseology and general demeanour. The solution to any such misunderstandings lies at his fingertips

Now some, not Eli to be sure, the bunny has too much experience with these sort of things, might think that most here should be arguing with Huesler and Sornette http://arxiv.org/pdf/1101.2832v3.pdf not Appell, but nobunny should be arguing that atmospheric CO2 has not increased strongly since 1850.

Wabbitt, do you think that the Eli is ever going to be sure about anything?

Or will he just continue boring the tits off us with the same phrase?

Eli Rabett, I read the paper, Huesler and Sornette http://arxiv.org/pdf/1101.2832v3.pdf.

It is to be applauded for recognising that the population time bomb fears were overblown. Many people get scared and then are unable to rationally admit that things aren't as as bad they thought. More people should admit that the oft predicted apocalypses have always been over-estimated.

But the paper has the following weaknesses.

1) The paper provides no evidence that ice cores provide good enough resolution to show that the current delta-CO2 is exceptional. They compare apples and oranges.

2) They say the following,

Which makes their conclusions hard to argue with. And pointless to argue with too.3) The paper is only evidence.

Appell knowingly misleads people. He knows that Marcott doesn't support Mann's flawed hockey stick. But he still pretends it does. So providing science is irrelevant to any debate with Appell. He would need a miracle to change his faith, - like St Paul on the Road to Damascus.

He is not a logical man.

Unless he is a logical hypocrite and a liar. But I prefer to believe he is just a zealot.Eli:

But's it's not a good argument. Not only is it a handwaving argument (so not even science), but the argument is also ignoring unforced natural variability.

Nobody sensible is claiming that the warming we've seen since circa 1975 is natural forced or unforced variability (so the blade, at least 1975-now is largely due to human activity).

On the other hand, the evidence seems to point MBH's hockey stick-like graph being wrong on the amount of natural variability in the "handle" of the graph: That is, the amount of natural variability is larger than suggested by MBH.

It happens that uncentered PCAs reduce the amount of variability in the reconstruction period. This isn't a hand-waving argument, it is demonstrable that uncentered PCAs have this property. Even Nick Stokes, who is as far from a fan of McIntyre as one could be and indeed at times has arguably slimed McIntyre, will admit, when heavily leaned upon, that uncentered PCAs have this property.

In fact, Nick's own analysis shows this. See here for my comments on this.

Ugh, I can't believe I am going to take time to explain this. But okay. Let's take population dynamics (because it is a little bit more widely studied, and easier to find simple tutorials).

Population dynamics are relatively simple. We can track the number of live births per year, which represent an increase in the population. We can also track the number of deaths. By taking the percentage of births and percentage of deaths, we get the birth rate, and the death rate, as follows:

b = Nb / N

Where Nb is the number of births in a unit of time (e.g. say 1 year), and N is the size of the population at the start of the year. Likewise we can get the death rate

d = Nd / N

Where Nd is the number of deaths in a unit of time. You get the idea. Now these rates are constrained. They cannot go below 0. The death rate should not go above 1 - okay, it could reach Nd+Nb / N, but that's a pathological case and also a strict upper bound. The birth rate could theoretically go above 1 (every woman has triplets in a year...) but again, it is practically bound, and cannot become arbitrarily large.

We then calculate the rate of natural increase (or decrease) of the population:

r = b - d

This represents the percentage change of the population, so if the birth rate is 1.2% and the death rate is 1%, our rate of increase is 0.2%. We can write this as a differential equation,

dN / dt = rN

This is the most trivial differential equation to solve and gives the result

N(t) = N(0) exp (rt) [ + C]

Where N(t) is the population at time t and N(0) is the initial population conditions. C is the constant of integration required to generalise the solution to the differential equation, but can be safely ignored for population dynamics which are asymptotic to zero.

Note: the result is ALWAYS an exponential, by definition.

Now r can indeed change. If the death rate falls over time, r can increase, and the rate of population change will increase as well. However, the new value of r still goes into the same equation as an exponential. It is not "superexponential", or "faster than exponential". It is still exponential, just a different exponential due to the change in the value of r. Since r is bounded, as discussed above, it cannot become some extra function of time that intrinsically changes the exponential nature of population growth.

In essence, the description of "superexponential" here is a bit like someone observing the sequence 5 raised to the power X (5^X), then noting the sequence 6 raised to the power X climbs faster than 5^X, and therefore declaring 6^X to be "superexponential". But it isn't. 6^X remains very ordinarily exponential.

So. Is this where I write "QED"?

Oh, the consequences of typing quickly without double checking. The +C stuff is nonsense. I thought to be general it should be there (as it would just disappear on differentiation), but of course when substituting back into the original equation would leave it unbalanced. So I said C=0 in this specific case above, when in fact C=0 for all cases. Doesn't change any aspect of the above, just annoyed to have a brain fart in the middle of a technical rant :-)

Spence_UK, at least you didn't have a brain fart writing for the IPCC. Those that did have never apologised for the millions wasted, jobs lost, and lives squandered. In climate science, this is nothing to be ashamed about, apparently.

David Appell

You made numerous posts since replying to mine, but none of them define "super exponential".

Given that none of your posts can be properly understood without that definition, perhaps you can supply it.

If this is the definition you rely on, can you please explain:

(a) what is X? And

(b) why did X stop changing in the 1960s?

Oh boy, I just read the drivelling dissembling nonsense in Huesler and Sornette linked by Halpern.

Yep, they create a "superexponential" population rate by assuming r is unbounded. In other words, at some point in the future, they assume every woman in the human population will be giving birth to literally thousands of babies every year.

No. Just no to that stupidity. The population growth rate r is bounded by physical constraints, and the growth rate is NEVER faster than the exponential defined by the upper bound of what r can be, no matter what r varies to within its physical limits, and no matter how far you project forward. So it is never "faster than exponential". Full stop.

I'd only read about 3 pages in at this point, and this wasn't the only error I'd seen in the paper. Since that error appears to undermine the entire point of the paper, amongst other problems, I couldn't see the value in reading any further. My conclusion from that: population growth nuts are still every bit as delusional as they have been since Malthus' time.

Appell says:

'That plot shows a superexponential rise'.

No doubt he can prove it by showing us the superexponential equation that describes the data.

I'm wondering what dictionary Appell is using to define 'superexponential' because I'm damned if I can find it in any of mine or any that I've consulted on-line.

Even OED appears to have no record of such a word.

MJ, see here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/superexponential

steveta_uk

Thankyou.

I am no wiser; though much better infomed!

Carrick seems to have nailed it, IMHO. Appell seems to feel that because of increasing CO2 the Hockey Stick is an obvious result. But that would indicate a belief that there had been no natural variability in Earth's climate... despite all the evidence that climate have varied in the past. As many have observed there is more evidence for recent CO2 forcing than the shoddy MBH.

Even more absurd is the compilation of every multiproxy reconstruction and even a few reconstruction evaluation papers and claiming they are all hockey sticks. Few if any show the flat, unchanging climate as MBH. And many of those other reconstructions used Bristlecones and a handful used Mann's PC1. No honest person who understands this could call those independent reconstructions.

It is strange behavior that so many still want to defend the shoddy methods of Michael Mann.

The definition of superexponential correctly provided by steveta_uk is a specific definition used in solving differential equations, and has nothing to do with Appell's incorrect use of the term.

Appell has created a non-standard definition of the term which he takes to mean rising faster than an exponential.

However, as my formalisation above shows, he is incorrect in this claim. His claim amounts to observing that the sequence 6^X rises faster than 5^X, therefore 6^X is "superexponential". This is complete nonsense. The sequence 6^X, or any composite sequence involving 5^X and 6^X never rises faster than 6^X, which is itself exponential, and not super-exponential.

The closest I can imagine to a series being "super-exponential" by Appell's definition might be iterated powers or factorials, neither of which are physically plausible descriptions of the systems that Appell is describing.

The preprint paper linked to by Rabbett makes an attempt to formalise population into a super-exponential form in the way Appell uses the term, but in doing so creates an absurd and unphysical model of population growth. This doesn't seem to bother the authors. Amazing. Also amazing that people who claim to understand science and mathematics would endorse this pseudoscientific garbage.

JimR, I concur that despite my frustrations with nonsensical mathematics, Carrick's observation is the big hole in Appell's argument. The point of Mann's hockey stick was to be able to dismiss claims that unforced natural variability led to large variations of temperatures in the pre-industrial period. Appell's absurd QED is completely silent on that.

Also, estimates of paleoclimate temperature standard deviation from different "spaghetti graph" have non-overlapping confidence intervals, an observation made in at least two peer-reviewed papers that I know of, showing that the different reconstructions do indeed contradict Mann's hockey stick. This is similar to what Brandon did with his graphs, only more formalised.

Spence _UK, and others on this thread, thank you!

With a bit of digging, you can undermine David Appell. Jonathan Jones did the same to Mann. David Appell is not happy.

I am not a climate scientist, but I realised over 10 years ago that stuff I was being told as fact, about climate science did not match my observations, and knowledge of history, geography etc. But I stupidly trusted the "experts". Everything was presented as a fact, and I felt embarrassed to speak out.

I will never understand the irradiated forcing of an uncrimped superexponential squared pi, but it is nice to know that the experts writing this rubbish, haven't a clue either!

Many thanks to you all!

golf charlie wrote:

"If it is all down to CO2, why has it stopped getting warmer?"

1) It hasn't stopped getting warmer:

http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2015/08/latest-ocean-heat-content-numbers-show.html

http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2015/08/more-on-latest-ocean-heat-data-and.html

2) It's not "all down to CO2."

SpenceUK wrote:

"Appell has created a non-standard definition of the term which he takes to mean rising faster than an exponential."

Doesn't matter. I clearly defined what *I* meant by "superexponential."

"His claim amounts to observing that the sequence 6^X rises faster than 5^X, therefore 6^X is "superexponential"."

Wrong. You have seriously misunderstood the math I've presented.

"The closest I can imagine to a series being "super-exponential" by Appell's definition might be iterated powers or factorials,"

You need to read harder -- I clearly explained here what I meant by superexponential: a growth rate X%/yr where X is an increasing function of time.

The low-level of mathematics displayed here is disappointing.

Carrick wrote:

"But's it's not a good argument. Not only is it a handwaving argument (so not even science), but the argument is also ignoring unforced natural variability."

It's a great argument, that no one here has yet refuted.

Obviously, I'm not considering natural variability. Unless it's superexponential (it's not), it cannot undermine my argument.

Over sufficient periods of time, natural variability averages to zero.

"Nobody sensible is claiming that the warming we've seen since circa 1975 is natural forced or unforced variability (so the blade, at least 1975-now is largely due to human activity)."

Which I have in no way argued. Read harder.

"On the other hand, the evidence seems to point MBH's hockey stick-like graph being wrong on the amount of natural variability in the "handle" of the graph: That is, the amount of natural variability is larger than suggested by MBH."

What evidence?

"It happens that uncentered PCAs reduce the amount of variability in the reconstruction period. This isn't a hand-waving argument, it is demonstrable that uncentered PCAs have this property. Even Nick Stokes, who is as far from a fan of McIntyre as one could be and indeed at times has arguably slimed McIntyre, will admit, when heavily leaned upon, that uncentered PCAs have this property."

"Figure 1 (top) shows the result of these pseudoreconstructions for one realization of the white noise (with noise variance 50%) and (bottom) one realization of the red noise (high-frequency noise variance 50% and with 1-year lag autocorrelation of a = 0.8):

in both cases PCA-centerings has a small relevance for the final result and the differences are within the uncertainty range(Figure 1). The conclusion is essentially the same for all realizations and other constructions of noise. For instance, white noise with r = 0.7 yields a standard deviation of the differences of 0.006K; r = 0.4 yields 0.007K; red noise with a = 0.5 and r = 0.7 (r = 0.4) yields 0.01K (0.02K); red noise with a = 0.8 and r = 0.7 (r = 0.4) yields 0.02K(0.03K). Therefore, the differences increase slightly with the amount and redness of the noise, but they remain small, even in the case of high and red noise with a steep red spectrum."-- "Comment on ‘‘Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance by S. McIntyre and R. McKitrick," Hans von Storch and Eduardo Zorita, Geophysical Research Letters, v32 L20701, doi:10.1029/2005GL022753, 2005.

SpenceUK wrote:

"The point of Mann's hockey stick was to be able to dismiss claims that unforced natural variability led to large variations of temperatures in the pre-industrial period."

Wow have you ever misunderstood the hockey stick and the science!!

It's not even worth trying to correct you, you're so wrong.

Mike Jackson wrote:

"I'm wondering what dictionary Appell is using to define 'superexponential' because I'm damned if I can find it in any of mine or any that I've consulted on-line."

I have already defined it, both on my site and on this site, at my comment on Aug 31, 2015 at 5:23 PM. (I don't see a permalink.)