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Discussion > A single repository of scientific scepticism


I was going to argue in a more pragmatic way: you do not make the readings from a thermometer more accurate by taking more of them. If you have a thermometer with an error of 1°C, then taking 100 readings with this thermometer will NOT make the error in the thermometer reduce to 0.1°C; the average will still be 1°C wrong.

As we have no idea what is the accepted precision of the ARGO floats, how they are calibrated or how often they are calibrated, I would take their errors as the commonly-accepted ±0.2°C; the end result of all 2.5 million readings would be an average of x°C, ±0.2°C.

However, as Martin A has so effectively argued, what value is an average temperature? It is sea surface temperatures that drives the weather systems. It matters not that the average temperature of a column of ocean in the tropics is, say, 8°C; it is the surface temperature of 25°C that will determine whether or not a hurricane develops (other conditions existing).

Feb 29, 2016 at 12:25 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Matin A

"My" engineer described the mathematics in much the same way I described the text. He saw a lot of formulae, but they said very little. He certainly did not regard them as supporting the conclusion.

I used the word "obfuscation" about the text. It seems that you can obfuscate with mathematics.

Feb 29, 2016 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

We are not going to settle this statistical argument by playing mathematical tennis. I suggest we wait for TBYJ to finish his statistics course and let him adjudicate.

Feb 29, 2016 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Radical Rodent

Did you not read the paper on sensor drift I linked? They retrieved three floats and recalibrated their temperature sensors. All three showed a drift around 2*10^-3C.(0.002C)

Please do not make up your own figures.

Feb 29, 2016 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Please do not refer back to the Essex paper. I passed it on to an engineer acquaintance with more maths than myself for an independant opinion. His comment on its validity was negative.
Feb 25, 2016 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

"My" engineer described the mathematics in much the same way I described the text. He saw a lot of formulae, but they said very little. He certainly did not regard them as supporting the conclusion.
Feb 29, 2016 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

OK, EM I get the picture. He* saw some formulae but either he couldn't understand them or could not be bothered to do so. Evidently he did not come up with even a single concrete error or misconception. And because he could not make sense of the formulae, you expect me not to refer to the paper? Come off it, EM.

(And frankly, if it were anybody other than you, EM, I would by now be having serious doubts about the actual existence of this engineer.)

5 Conclusion

There is no global temperature. The reasons lie in the properties of the equation of state
governing local thermodynamic equilibrium, and the implications cannot be avoided by substituting statistics for physics.

Since temperature is an intensive variable, the total temperature is meaningless in terms of the system being measured, and hence any one simple average has no necessary meaning. Neither does temperature have a constant proportional relationship with energy or other extensive thermodynamic properties.

Averages of the Earth's temperature field are thus devoid of a physical context which would indicate how they are to be interpreted, or what meaning can be attached to changes in their levels, up or down. Statistics cannot stand in as a replacement for the missing physics because data alone are context-free. Assuming a context only leads to paradoxes such as simultaneous warming and cooling in the same system based on arbitrary choice in some free parameter. (...)

So far as I can see, the conclusion of the paper is very clear and perfectly valid. Did you actually read its conclusion? I am surprised you could not make sense of it. "Obfuscate" is an impressive word but I don't see how it can possibly be applied to the Essex et al paper.

*I did not say "your engineer" so I am not sure why you put quotation marks around "My" as if suggesting that I did. You yourself stated he was an acquaintance of yours, so nothing wrong in my referring to him as "your acquaintance".

Feb 29, 2016 at 6:37 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

All three showed a drift around 2*10^-3C.(0.002C)
And you believe that? They give you the answer you want to hear, and you lap it up, without a single question. I mean, seriously – three? Out of 3,500? In the incredibly hostile environment of the open ocean? And all show a drift of just 2 thousandths of a degree? And that doesn’t ring alarm bells with you? If nothing else, this AGW scam has shown that climate “scientists” are as prone to lying as ordinary humans, possibly even more so (“Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest” – Stephen Schneider, 1989), yet you continue to believe every utterance from them, no matter how absurd? You are even more gullible than I thought. Oh, and I haven't "made up" any figures; where I have made suppositions, I have clearly announced them so, with reasons why.

Feb 29, 2016 at 7:48 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

We are not going to settle this statistical argument by playing mathematical tennis. I suggest we wait for TBYJ to finish his statistics course and let him adjudicate.

I'm afraid I've missed a couple of deadlines, so won't be completing it again. Luckily I already did it a while back.

So... have we decided if there is a need / appetite for a repository?

Feb 29, 2016 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


It would be good to have a repository. This discussion just shows how the cultists just cycle from argument to argument without noticing what they are doing. Raff and EM cycle from one thing to another . Sceptics just harp on a hobby horse which the cultists cannot answer. However I lack the science background to contribute

Feb 29, 2016 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Actually, I was being unfair, EM seems to think that physics is like baking a cake.

Feb 29, 2016 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes


I would like to see a repository of genuine scientific evidence written from a sceptic viewpoint. Unfortunately quality control is likely to be a problem, as would credibility outside the sceptic blogosphere.

It would probably be a waste of your time.

Feb 29, 2016 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

BYIJ. I received the following:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I wish to inform you that we established a new web site:
which will contain:
a) raw data, facts, observations about climate, CO2, hurricanes, and so on;
b) discussions about these data;
c) news about ongoing debates, such as the US Senate and NOAA.

Please feel free to contribute. Scientific theories or models will not be
put on the site, just facts.

The web site will be both in English and in French.

I remind you about our previous work:

- The battle against global warming: an absurd, costly and pointless crusade.
White Paper drawn up by SCM SA. (English version)

- Second volume: Social consequences of the fight against global warming

(these documents have been downloaded more than 68,000 times)

Best regards,

Prof. Bernard Beauzamy
Chairman and CEO,
Société de Calcul Mathématique SA
111 Faubourg St Honoré, 75008 Paris - France
bernard.beauzamy [you know what goes here - MA]

Commiserations on the probability course. I'm still hanging in there and hoping that, now the combinatorial stuff is over and it moves into areas I'm more familiar with, it'll be a bit less heavy going. Thanks for the original alert as to its existence.

Feb 29, 2016 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Any scientific site to which entropic man did not contribute would be great.... Reverse entropy

Mar 1, 2016 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I love it that EM welcomes a sceptic repository as long as it conforms with his tightly closed mind

Mar 1, 2016 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

EM, Diogenes: that is the nub of it – how can we create a repository of facts when we cannot agree whether the data presented are actually facts? Case in point: did the Little Ice Age and Mediaeval Warm Period exist? Until the invention of the Hockey-stick™, both were accepted as having existed – there was sufficient historical data for this not to be questioned. Then came the discovery in 12 bristlecone pines that this was all a lie – and the contortions that the Believers put themselves through just to maintain this illusory “fact” have been quite incredible; the most interesting, for me, was assurance that the MWP only occurred over the SE portion of Greenland, allowing the Vikings to settle there. Every other proxy method used to establish the historical record has, we have been so faithfully assured, been wrong, in spite of (or because of? Who knows?) most agreeing with each other, while disagreeing with the Hockey-stick™.

Here are some facts that most do agree with:
1. The world has warmed about 1°C since the Little Ice Age (curiously, there is little questioning of the term, “Little Ice Age”. It makes one wonder…)
2. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased by about 200 ppm since… well, when? I had always assumed that it was also since the end of the LIA, but now realise that this is an assumption I have always made; am I right? As it is unlikely that there would have been significant monitoring of CO2 levels 200 years ago, how can we be so sure what they really were?
3. The population of humans has increased exponentially since the LIA.
4. The human consumption of fossil fuels has increased exponentially since the LIA; it is likely that the increase per person has also increased exponentially.
5. It has been demonstrated in laboratories that CO2 can act as a “greenhouse gas” (probably a misnomer, but it is now commonly accepted as such).
6. While the rise in CO2 concentrations has been more or less steady, the increase in global temperatures has not.

Other facts that many agree with:
1. There have been observable variations in the polar ice caps.
2. Diminishment of the Arctic ice has occurred before, in recorded history, encouraging the Victorians to seek the fabled Northwest Passage, though just noted in ships' logs, and various accounts during the 1920s and 30s.

Facts that many find questionable:
1. Global temperatures have been on a plateau since the turn of this century, while CO2 rises, unabated.
2. That there really does not appear to be much correlation between the rise in CO2 and global temperatures.
3. There is a greater correlation between solar activity and global temperatures.
4. There is evidence that cosmic rays have a significant effect on global climates.

Declaration of interest: I am a convert, so accept that I could be more avid in my argument against AGW than is healthy. Out of curiosity, are there any real examples of those who have been “converted” the other way, from sceptic to Believer?

Mar 1, 2016 at 5:46 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Out of curiosity, are there any real examples of those who have been “converted” the other way, from sceptic to Believer?
Mar 1, 2016 at 5:46 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Professor Richard Muller. The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

Note that he says "Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming." (Not "I am a converted skeptic".)

Weasel words to fabricate an impressive sounding headline: "I identified problems in previous climate studies that(...) threw doubt on the very existence of global warming."

Sounds rather like a believer who "identified problems" and then set out to resolve those problems, rather than somebody who thought that the whole shooting match was a complete sham and then reversed their view.

Mar 1, 2016 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

That is why I asked about real examples. Anyway, this Muller chappy sounds a bit of a sham, himself; it is not necessary to doubt the very existence of global warming to be sceptical about much of the "science" in its study, its dire predictions, or the outrageous policies being enacted to "fight" it.

Ye gods! What is it about humans that demands a guilt complex? It used to be the Catholic Church which supplied the fix for this odd dysfunction; now, it is what harm we are doing to the world. As with so many religions, the bigger the sin, the more righteous become those who fight it. There is a man who is immensely proud that he has not sinned for several years – the DiCaprios and Thompsons, as well as the many more lowly individuals of this world will no doubt identify well with him, as it feeds a religious zealotry that could as easily be found in the Crusaders or the days of Cromwell: “We know this is causing you suffering, but it is doing you good!”

Mar 1, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Some people (a growing number in my observation) have adopted a mindset that every problem can be solved by applying the "villain and victim" template onto it. In years gone past, we solved problems by coming up with solutions, now people seem to want to apply an eraser to history instead.

When you apply the "villain and victim" template to social situations, life gets very simple. At heart we are basically still Neolithic hunter gatherers who have survived by getting good at making binary decisions about things - red berries bad, green fruit good. Cousin Ug good, stranger bad. Pointy stick good, floppy stick bad. It served us well when we had to think fast and didn't have time for cogitation. They call it System 1 thinking, that kneejerk reaction to something. In there lies all racism, bigotry, xenophobia, etc. (as well as a lot of good stuff, such as running from danger, avoiding painful things, favouring family over strangers etc.)

Now we're not in continual imminent danger, we have time to think about things. But thinking about a problem develops the complexities. When we see something like, for example, the refugee crisis, we have a kneejerk reaction based on our life experiences, social upbringing and personal disposition. For some it is a kneejerk of rejection, in fact I'd say that was almost everybody's natural first reaction - look at those scary strangers trying to come here, reject them.

But then you move to System 2 thinking, and you start to try to understand why they are doing it, all the complexities of war and economics, and you put yourself in their shoes, and sympathise with them, then you consider the effects their arrival might have on our social systems, our culture, etc. Perhaps you still reject them, perhaps you arrive at a situation where you feel a humanitarian urge to accept some of them, but not all of them. Perhaps you think the cultural impact is too great and it should still be resisted.

Whatever you come up with, your System 2 thinking does not come up with a perfect solution. Whichever you choose is imperfect, and will cause suffering and injury and harm. System 2 thinking takes a complex problem, and comes up with a messy solution, because in complex problems there are no simple solutions.

The enlightened among us accept this. It's better that messy reality is accepted and dealt with, we cannot stop all migration, and we cannot permit all migration. Solutions involve ending the war (itself another set of messy solutions) and trying to remove economic imbalances which drive migration (another set of messy solutions) and this is a horrible, messy, dissatisfying set of outcomes.

The weak of mind like to simplify things, and the "villain and victim" template does this.

Take the migration crisis, what's to be done. Simple. You take any complex problem and you identify the villain and the victim. In this case, the victims are identified as the poor migrants having to run from their homes, and then travel across Europe. That was easy. So who are the villains. The war-makers, obviously, and those who wish to obstruct the migrants in their involuntary exile.

In the simple-minded world of the simpleton, we have reduced the multiply complex migration crisis in the much simpler "bad guys make war and drive good victims to migration, then want to stop them coming into the country". Once you have identified the villains, you can whinge and moan on social media, at the Oscars, etc. to your hearts content. You are fighting for injustice, and anyone who doesn't agree with you is obviously one of the villains. We must let all migrants in and stop fighting middle eastern tyrants, no matter what they do.

It doesn't actually matter if the model used doesn't represent reality, or solves any actual problems. It provides a much-needed reassuring simple model of reality with no ambiguities or messy solutions. Some people prefer it to reality. The complexities they could not grasp or emotionally appraise. The simplicity they can, and it gives them an opportunity to explain it to their friends and convince them to join the fight against the villain.

Unfortunately, most people seem to prefer the simple myth to the messy reality.

Climate is the same. The science is patchy and inconclusive, the technological fixes only minimally effective. World governments are slow and stubborn. This is the reality of the situation. But bring along the "villains and victims" template.. and suddenly....

Social Justice Warriors 101

It's sad, really. I prefer to face reality, no matter how complex, than to retreat into a fiction of good and evil.

Mar 1, 2016 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I realise that I am BYJ's worst nightmare but I have got to join this discussion ^.^

BYJ is, like many others a fan of the scientific method or at least claims to be.
BYJ are you going to include the following in your scientific repository:

Geologists tell us that for 100 million years during the Devonian period, levels of atmospheric CO2 fell (almost to today's levels) at the same time as temperatures remained 'high'. For me this proves that CO2 has nothing to do with warming.

Mar 1, 2016 at 6:02 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I think it would be strange if people could observe any link between rising CO2 and temperatures during human lifespans. The planet reacts over much longer timescales than our lifetimes. All the talk about the pause is irrelevant.

There are no accurate average figures for optimal atmospheric CO2 for vegetation growth, different types of vegetation have different needs. However on average it is estimated that the optimal figure is about 1000ppm.
The actual atmospheric CO2 level today is about 400ppm, this means that our crops are virtually starving. Crops are not fully developed, not as healthy as they should/would be and not taking up all the CO2 that they could be taking.

One consequence of this situation is that as we manage to increase the level of atmospheric CO2 then the amount taken up by vegetation will increase even if there is no extra vegetation. However there is already extra vegetation; the greening of the deserts is already taking place. The amount taken up by vegetation would increase each year until we hit the optimal amount. Should the level of CO2 continue to increase then currently extinct vegetation would return and use up CO2 at even faster rates.

Mar 1, 2016 at 6:18 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The real mystery is why Dung thinks his reply is related to any of the posts which came before.

Mar 1, 2016 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

TBYJ indeed, like EM he never seems to think aqbout the inherent uncertainties in the claims he makes. Reliance on paleo or proxy data is inherently uncertain. What is better is directly measured data....but there is so little of that (50 years or so at best) tht we are almost forced to go to the soothsayers. The idea of EM that it is valid to splice crap onto the ARGO data series is beyond astonishment. Especially to justify an almost unmeasurable temperature increase.

Mar 1, 2016 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Diogenes: "...almost unmeasurable temperature increase…"? Given the environment that the instruments are in and the volume of data being measured by these tiny pinpricks of recordings, you could argue that any increase less than 1°C is really unmeasurable; you are talking of a rise of about 2 hundredths of a degree, which might be measurable in a laboratory.

I would still like to know how the ocean heat content has been derived, both since 1980, when satellite measurements might have helped, and before, when the reliance was on even more paltry ship-based measurements (perhaps a couple of million a year of the surface; considerably fewer for greater depths). The further back you go, the more sparse the data will become, as well as less reliable the instruments, yet, despite all this, the heat content of the world’s oceans, most of which has never been measured, is stated with such confidence, and used to scare the more gullible, such as Entropic man.

For sure, should the world suddenly start to cool, the argument will be switched, without even a pause for breath, as has happened before. However, it will still be the fault of the industrialised West, which must pay proper penance. Like I said, it is a cult of guilt, and we all must suffer for it (well, all except the “priests”, of course).

Mar 2, 2016 at 5:17 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent


"inherent uncertainties in the claims he makes." Perhaps the title of this thread needs qualifying then? RR just pointed out the inherent uncertainties in direct measurements so where does that leave you? Apparently paleo studies are not scientific, somebody should tell the scientists that they are wasting their time then. I assume you will assert that we can not be sure that the earth ever suffered an ice-age?


You asked for a repository of sceptical scientific knowledge, if one were to be set up are you saying paleo does not count? We have previous here of course because you think that maths is the be all and end all of science.

Mar 2, 2016 at 10:28 AM | Registered CommenterDung

You asked for a repository of sceptical scientific knowledge, if one were to be set up are you saying paleo does not count? We have previous here of course because you think that maths is the be all and end all of science.

It's not that I think maths is the be-all-and-end-all of science, it happens to be a fact. There is no science without mathematics. Science is the mathematical modelling of the real world. I'd be interested in your ideas of science which does not involve mathematics.

I have given no opinion on whether paleo would or would not be in such a repository, so the accusatory tone of your post is misplaced (and frankly bonkers, but what else would I expect)

Mar 2, 2016 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


You first said that my first post had nothing to do with any previous posts, my aim was to respond to the thread title. My first post included paleo and therefore I assumed that you did not think paleo was a suitable subject under your thread title, hence my question.
"and frankly bonkers, but what else would I expect" I seriously did not want to get into trench warfare again so please do not start with the personal insults mate?
"There is no science without mathematics" really? What about early metal work, bows and arrows, early pottery, the discovery of fire, early catapults (hand version) and of course the wheel. Mathematics is a tool which helped to develop all these ideas into better ones.

Mar 2, 2016 at 12:23 PM | Registered CommenterDung