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Discussion > I have no idea what the skeptic cause is

"Is it worth mentioning that you're all off topic a smidge?"

A "smidge"?

I'll shut up now.

Oct 10, 2015 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"In the future, when you want to claim a post says something, you might want to try explaining why one should interpret it as saying that rather than making unhelpful remarks like this."

I already did.

I explained earlier that I considered the WUWT post to be ironic. You might not agree with that interpretation, but you ought to at least understand that being ironic would mean that the words had the opposite literal meaning to the intent. But you seemed to be objecting that the words in the piece did not explicitly express that intent, which suggested you hadn't understood that we considered it ironic.

"You can act as though disagreeing with you is ridiculous all you want, but it won't advance a discussion."

It wasn't disagreement with me I was referring to. It was not understanding what "irony" meant that I was questioning.

"Seeing as it seems nobody, either here or at WUWT, shares your interpretation, I suspect the ridiculous interpretation might be yours."

Several people here have already independently agreed with my interpretation. Hence the above queries as to whether you were really intending to point to the Tim Ball article as your example. Nobody could believe you was really using this as your best piece of evidence.

Who else here did you think shared your interpretation?

"But perhaps in the future I should just respond to all your remarks with "???!" I actually feel that's an appropriate response to several things you've just said, including one which is the epitome of obtuseness:"

You'd be very welcome to.

"When you conflated these two ideas, I drew attention to the difference and pointed out the inappropriateness of conflating them."

Ah! I see! I assumed that the reason you were criticising the absence of external review was the valid scientific one that we have less assurance of a claim's accuracy if it hasn't passed critical review. As such, if the claims had passed critical review elsewhere, just not at the IPCC, then the objection is invalid. The results were externally reviewed prior to being published in the IPCC report.

I take it then that you have a non-scientific objection, in which the distinction between IPCC review and journal review is relevant. Why is it a problem?

" If even after I clarify simple points they're still going to get misrepresented in obvious ways, I think we've reached it."

Natural language communication depends on a whole load of unspoken context. It's why computers have such a hard time understanding us. The same applies to people with very different worldviews, and the natural antagonism between them inclines them to assume deliberate misrepresentation.

I assure you, I'm not deliberately misrepresenting you, and I was thinking we were actually making good progress. I might sometimes make my points in a rather spiky way, but considering we started off the conversation with you attacking all sceptics as hypocrites, that's all part of the game, right?

--

"In some meaningful manner. I'm not sure how saying CO2 doesn't cause warming anywhere other than in climate models is meaningfully different than denying CO2 causes warming, but... apparently that's the level of discussion we've reached?"

Simple example - consider the statement: "Painting the white roof of my house black causes global warming". This is a matter of simple physics, it reduces the Earth's albedo. The Earth as a whole absorbs more energy from the sun. So it has a warming effect. It contributes to the total energy budget.

Now consider the statement: "Painting the white roof of my house black does not cause the Earth to warm." Now we're thinking of the multitude of different effects contributing to global temperature, noting that my house's albedo is a tiny, tiny fraction of the total, and is overwhelmed by the noise of other contributions. It does not cause the Earth to warm in the sense of the Earth's temperature rising if and only if my roof is black. If the other factors point up, it will go up whatever my roof colour. If the other factors point down, it will go down whatever my roof colour. It's not causing any change in the direction the temperature is going.

So what does "CO2 doesn't cause warming anywhere other than in climate models" really mean? I'd interpret it simply as a reference to the pause/hiatus. The temperature is not going up. The world is not warming. Therefore CO2 obviously can't be "causing it to warm" - because it's not.

We are interpreting "warming" here to mean an actual increase in temperature, as opposed to a contributory influence that pushes the temperature in an upward direction.

We get the same sort of natural language ambiguity when we say that forces cause objects such as cars to accelerate, friction is a force, therefore friction causes cars to accelerate! The car, we point out, is not accelerating but traveling along at a constant speed. Does that mean there is no friction?

Words normally have multiple meanings and interpretations, and we use our knowledge of the context to pick between them, usually so smoothly that we don't even realise we're doing it. The multiple hypotheses usually remain below the level of consciousness.

Long-time sceptics in the global warming debate tend to share a common understanding of such subtle distinctions and we can pick out the intended meaning of ambiguous phrases easily, simply by assuming that what he said must have made sense and picking the interpretation that does. If you go into the process assuming that what he said was wrong, it's pretty easy to find an interpretation in which he is.

I find it useful to go through this sort of process, because our unconscious assumptions can often hide gaps in the logic, and people with a different set of blindspots can sometimes see and reveal what we're missing.

The way I would look at it - back in the 90s there were two hypotheses: that natural background variation is large and the observed increase in temperature cannot easily be distinguished from it, or that natural variation is small and the large increase in temperature can only be explained by an artificial influence. If the latter hypothesis is true, then we would predict (as Hansen did) that the temperature rise would continue for as long as the artificial influence does, and this hypothesis would be falsified by the temperature not rising over a sufficiently long period of time to rule out the small level of natural variation we hypothesise.

For the implicit NBV hypotheses built into a lot of the climate models, including Hansen's, this point has been reached.

Tim Ball in his article screwed the logic in backwards, taking the natural-only hypothesis as the null, which certainly doesn't help. But I would interpret the article to be making the argument that the pause falsifies the models that blame the observed warming (the actual temperature increase) on CO2. This does NOT in any way imply that CO2 does not contribute in the direction of higher temperatures.

The idea that Hansen wrote a paper to disprove global warming is clearly ridiculous. We can tell from that alone that irony is obviously at work here. I'd therefore be more inclined to suspect the same of any other statements in the same article. By being over-certain that NBV was small, in order to make his prophecy of doom more scary, and pretending the argument was only about greenhouse physics, in order to make the attribution case more convincing, Hansen inadvertently 'disproved' AGW. But since the argument depended on both NBV and GHE, we don't necessarily have to disagree with the GHE bit. I think Tim elided the distinctions somewhat for humorous effect - it's funny if we can make it sound like Hansen is implying more than he is - but within the somewhat looser bounds of humorous irony I don't think it goes too far wrong.

That's just my opinion, though, as seen through the perceptual filters of my own worldview. Others can obviously differ.

Oct 10, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

"Is it worth mentioning that you're all off topic a smidge?"

But that's all part of the fun!

Oct 10, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

NiV, it isn't what Ball wrote that is important, it's whether Anthony was letting the cause down by posting it. In my view Anthony may post whatever he likes. I only hold him to the standards of normal discourse. Not to some view of the sceptic agenda he has not signed up to.

Oct 10, 2015 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

I tried taking a little while away from here to see if that'd help things make more sense. It doesn't seem to have helped. I'm coming back to disagreements like this, from geronimo:

Brandon keeps substituting "warming" for "temperature increase" in Ball's first sentence. I don't know why, but his first sentence was to the effect that the only place CO2 causes "temperature" increase.

It's apparently wrong here to refer to temperature increasing as warming. Why? I have no idea, but it apparently justifies remarks like:

You would do well to read what's written carefully and stop putting words into other people's mouths.

And nobody seem to find this at all peculiar. Nor does anyone seem to find it peculiar Nullius in Verba responded to me saying he should explain why a person should believe his interpretation of a post is correct by saying:

I already did.

I explained earlier that I considered the WUWT post to be ironic.

Which shows he knows he didn't explain why anyone should believe his interpretation; he merely explained what his interpretation was. So immediately after claiming to have done what I said he should do, he explained he did something entirely different. He then started talking about how I apparently didn't understand him!

I swear, it doesn't seem to matter how simple the sentences being written are. Nothing that gets written seems to be represented accurately. And when I point this out, even that gets misrepresented!

Natural language communication depends on a whole load of unspoken context. It's why computers have such a hard time understanding us. The same applies to people with very different worldviews, and the natural antagonism between them inclines them to assume deliberate misrepresentation.

I assure you, I'm not deliberately misrepresenting you...

I never said anything about anyone deliberately misrepresenting anything. Misrepresentations happen for all sorts of reasons. If I can't write simple sentences without people over-stating them to claim they're wrong, what's the point of writing anything? Just look at this:

The idea that Hansen wrote a paper to disprove global warming is clearly ridiculous. We can tell from that alone that irony is obviously at work here.

Nobody said "Hansen wrote a paper to disprove global warming." What was said is he wrote a paper which Tim Ball claims did so. A person doesn't have to set out to do something in order to wind up doing it. This is such an obvious misrepresentation of what's been said, and yet, somehow its being used as a basis for an argument.

I feel like my response to every comment in this thread for the last three pages could have just been, "Learn to read." Because honestly, the communication here is terrible. Maybe it's my fault. Maybe there's some hugely important distinction between things like "warming" and "temperature increase" that I'm just not seeing. I don't think so, but... maybe. I don't know what I could do about it if so though. At this point, I just don't know what I could do to make anyone understand anything I say.

Oct 13, 2015 at 2:05 AM | Registered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Brandon,
RE: your comment,"learn to read".
Do try to take your own advice.

Oct 13, 2015 at 3:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

'Maybe there's some hugely important distinction between things like "warming" and "temperature increase"'

There is. There are currently 60+ scientific papers explaining why the Earth has warmed and there's been no temperature increase.

Oct 13, 2015 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Brandon
I thought I was the pedant par excellence on this site!
Let me try again.
1. You need to have a sense of humour or a sense of the ridiculous or a sense of irony. If you are lacking these then please desist because you will never understand what is going on.
2. Nobody is seriously suggesting that Hansen has disproved the greenhouse effect or global warming or the effects of CO2 or that he was trying to do any of those things.
3. What Ball is saying (tongue in cheek) is that if you take the various scenarios that Hansen proposed and follow his arguments to their logical conclusion then it could be said that he has (in effect) proved the null hypothesis that it's all natural variation or, put another way, that CO2 is not driving global warming.
Simples.
There is a place for a little light relief in this whole depressing business, surely!

Oct 13, 2015 at 1:43 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson