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Two kinds of ignorance

February 25th, 2010

Also, in yesterday’s Fin, Geoffrey Barker accused Abbott of going for the bogan vote (paywalled), where bogan is taken to mean ignorant. Leaving aside the class/cultural analysis implicit in the term “bogan”, which I think is wrong, the argument is the same as I made in my post on agnotology, as his characterization of Rudd as a technocrat, not really at ease with the kind of politics that includes demands for authenticity and so on. Coming back to “bogan”, the big issue in agnotology is not ignorance in the ordinary sense of the term (people who don’t know much about political issues, and don’t care to learn – that is certainly part of the stereotypical bogan image, and may perhaps be descriptive of the actual demographic groups commonly associated with the term, though I don’t know of any evidence of this).

The ignorance associated with climate change delusionism and other rightwing factoids is metacognitive and has much more to do with the Dunning-Kruger effect of overestimating one’s own competence. The classic example is the kind of person who eagerly circulates reports that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. The only information content in such a report is that the person doing the reporting doesn’t understand the concept of statistical significance[1], and therefore is incapable of assessing any issue involving statistical analysis, of which climate change is a prime example.

The stereotypical candidate, in relation to climate change, is that of a 50+ male[2] with a business background in engineering or some similar field where practical judgement is accorded more value than theoretical expertise, and where a willingness to push on regardless is an important element of success. Journalists and opinion columnists[3], accustomed to “mastering a brief” at short notice are also highly susceptible – lawyers who may actually have to master briefs involving technical issues seem mostly to recognise that this is the kind of problem where expert judgement is required, as does the more sensible kind of economist[4]

fn1. Note for pedants. A Bayesian statistician would say that confusion over the concept of significance reflects the logical problems of the concept and the underlying classical theory of statistics. But that only makes sloppy misuse of the concept even worse. I’ll have more to say on this soon, I hope.

fn2. A demographic group to which I belong

fn3. This one, too.

fn4. This one, too, I hope.

Categories: Life in General, Science Tags:
  1. smiths
    February 25th, 2010 at 17:11 | #1

    something i wondered john is if there is a questionnaire you could hit people with,
    for example,

    if a person said to me “i dont believe in the value of professional graphic design, and i wanted to know whether they knew anything about the topic, i could ask
    - what programme do you use,
    - if you were producing something for print, what colour scheme would you use,
    - are pixels or vectors better for large scale printing
    - what bleed would you set and why would use registration or crop marks
    - how do you deal with over-print
    - would use rich-black for text
    etc, etc, etc

    i know nothing about statistics except that clever people say they lie,
    what questions could you put to people to ascertain immediately if a person knew anything about statistics and was therefore in any qualified to make judgements

  2. Alice
    February 25th, 2010 at 17:57 | #2

    Definitely you belong to fn(4). You dont need us to tell you this.

  3. E.M.H
    February 25th, 2010 at 18:58 | #3

    I fail to understand why those on the left have to resort to labelling climate change deniars as ignorant. Climate change deniars are those that are willing to ask questions, research and form their own opionions on the matter. Clearly those that are aware and informed about the matter cannot be labelled ignorant. This is in stark contrast to those on the left who accept the highly questionable science because it conforms nicely with their progressive, big goverment ideology. If anything it is those on the left that are ignorant.

  4. PeterS
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:18 | #4

    Heh! Dunning-Kruger strikes again.

  5. Alice
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:19 | #5

    @E.M.H
    Well EMH…on a stack of numbers alone…when you pit thousands and tens of thousands of reearchers over many years against the pit of a well funded vocal noisy denialist minority then I guess Ill take the majority consensus…if the market the advancement of mankind is a product of our collective intelligence…then you are losing very badly and are a supporter of ignorance.

  6. Fran Barlow
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:31 | #6

    @E.M.H

    I fail to understand why those on the left have to resort to labelling climate change deniars as ignorant.

    It’s either that or deluded or lying. Certainly, if we take you at face value, that you are ignorant is the least unflattering inference.

    This is in stark contrast to those on the left who accept the highly questionable science because it conforms nicely with their progressive, big goverment ideology.

    Projection. This is your methodlogy with a different cultural perspective. You persuade yourselves that this is the outcome and then take your position on the science from that.

    You don’t “form your own opinions” but borrow them from others barfely better informed than yourselves.

  7. Alice
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:38 | #7

    Alert Alert…it appears at last that people have voted on which economists are to blame for the GFC..

    It appears there are more than two kinds of ignorance but they all came from one kind of school…

  8. Alice
  9. Alice
  10. E.M.H
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:39 | #10

    @Alice

    Well Alice I guess your are, by definition, ignorant. By accepting the supposed majority consensus at face value without actually informing yourself of the facts, is of course ignorance.

  11. Alice
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:45 | #11

    EMH…if you dont mind Ill take the majority view on that…yet Id rather get my link working…on other majority consensus

    http://rwer.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/greenspan-friedman-and-summers-win-dynamite-prize-in-economics/#comment-757

  12. paul walter
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:45 | #12

    Must, coming from the “agnotology” thread, refer to tonight’s 7 30 Report on the sackings resulting from the abrupt cessation of the Insulation program.
    The first thing I read coming here, is Prof. Quiggin’explanation of the Dunning Kruger effect; “over estimating one’s own competence” and find meself unable not to extend his thesis to the current state of play as described by Heather Ewart, concerning the aborted Insulation program.
    Particularly after the subsequent interview with Rudd.
    As to other point, re Abbott going after the bogan vote, of course he must go after the boganist/ Hansonist vote in the maginals, because Rudd has these just now. Not least because of his obvious embrace OF boganism; the corpuscular clinch of its essential plank; anti intellectualism, science and logic, that so appeals to these folk.

  13. E.M.H
    February 25th, 2010 at 19:47 | #13

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran I enjoy how you swiftly jumped to the conclusion that I am either deluded or lying because I question the climate change orthodoxy. I would, however, expect nothing more from someone who is evidently uninformed and who simply hides behind thinly veiled insults.

  14. February 25th, 2010 at 19:51 | #14

    Pr Q said:

    Two types of ignorance.

    I think that climate skeptics follow Mark Twain’s version of the twin ignorance theory:

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    But the GOP was led by Lincoln during Twain’s time. The degeneration to Bush might account for the change of hearts and minds.

  15. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2010 at 20:24 | #15

    EMH, since you appear to be one of the subjects of our agnatological inquiry, I’d be interested in your response to the claim about “No significant trend in temperatures since 1995″. If you can’t see why it’s silly, we have our answer.

    If you can see why it’s silly, can you point to instances where you’ve set your fellow sceptics straight on their error? Again, if not, we have our answer.

    If you have attempted to point out to fellow sceptics what’s wrong with their meme du jour, I’ll (a) be the first to withdraw any suggestion that you are deluded or lying (b) be fascinated to see how you went with them.

  16. Michael
    February 25th, 2010 at 21:45 | #16

    I find the demographic profiles particularly interesting. I should point out that I also know many people who fit into those categories who do except current climate science so they don’t go deep enough. It’s also quite a big step from not excepting the science to spending lonely nights posting the same old discredited memes on blog sites or swamping online newspaper comment threads. The overwhelming majority seem to be angry men who are authoritarian in their attitudes and prone to abusing people. They don’t display much curiosity about why so many people except the science and intensely dislike being analysed and catergorised as you have been doing on your site. Why should they care to spend their time like this if they have solid science to back up their theories? I suspect that they find AGW to be some kind of attack on their identities.

  17. Tony G
    February 25th, 2010 at 21:49 | #17

    “the person doing the reporting doesn’t understand the concept of statistical significance” otherwise he would realise that the indicated increased temperature trend represent a Type 1 error.

  18. SJ
    February 25th, 2010 at 22:20 | #18

    “…otherwise he would realise that the indicated increased temperature trend represent a Type 1 error”

    Tony G conveniently provides a demonstration of John’s point.

  19. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2010 at 22:21 | #19

    Type 1 error is relevant, but not in the way you suggest, Tony. The absence of a statistically significant trend (at a significance level of 5 per cent) means that if the null hypothesis true, there is at least a 5 per cent chance of a Type 1 error. the year 1995 has been chosen in the construction of the meme because it gives the longest period when this is true, so the chance of a Type 1 error is very close to 5 per cent, which in turn is a lot closer to zero than to one.

    So, the delusionist who quotes this claim is saying (roughly), “some say we ought to act now to protect ourselves from disastrous climate change. But (at least if we ignore the data on the warming trend before 1995), there’s still a 5 per cent possibility that we might just be observing chance variation” which doesn’t sound like good ideas.

    This is, of course, pretty much exactly what the IPCC says when it concludes that is “very likely that observed warming is caused by human activity” with very likely glossed as “more than 90 per cent.” (There’s also the possibility of a warming trend caused by some other factor, such as cosmic rays – as with chance variation, unlikely but not impossible).

    To repeat, anyone who uses this line as suggesting there’s a problem with AGW theory is demonstrating that they don’t understand first year stats.

  20. CrisisMaven
    February 25th, 2010 at 23:50 | #20

    Linkspam deleted – please don’t post just to promote your site – JQ

  21. Tony G
    February 26th, 2010 at 00:23 | #21

    In a statistical test, the null hypothesis (H0) is considered valid until enough data proves it to be wrong. When this occurs H0 is rejected and the alternative hypothesis (HA) is considered to be proven as correct. (i.e warming is PRESUMED to be occurring in the absence of other data)

    But, if data does not give us enough proof to reject H0, this does not automatically prove that H0 is correct. If, for example, Professor Jones wishes to demonstrate that the atmosphere is warming, he then conducts a test with a small sample, say 15 years, 50 years or 150 years in relation to a reasonable time frame say 2000 years (manipulating the shorter term data to supposedly filter out heat islands and station changes etc) , he then uses a comparison to a proxy temperature reconstruction of the last 2000 years, because he doesn’t have accurate data for that longer timeframe. The best proxy records contain far fewer observations than the worst periods of the observational record.

    Therefore it is likely – even when there is no warming – that our test will not reject H0. If H0 is accepted it does not automatically follow that warming is proved. This is because of the small sample size, the test is having a too small of power to be able to reject H0 and therefore the test is useless and the value of the “proof” of H0 is also null.

    This does not prove warming, but only that there is not proof enough to disprove warming. In other words, “absence of evidence” does not imply “evidence of ‘normal’ absence”

  22. Freelander
    February 26th, 2010 at 02:26 | #22

    @Tony G

    JQ has identified that many delusionists seem to have difficulties with statistical concepts. They also seem to have problems with logic. With the one sided test (in this case) if the null hypothesis of no warming is rejected that provides evidence for the alternative hypothesis of warming. The basis of climate scientists claims are not, however, founded on any simple (and somewhat ignorant) statistical analysis of the data.

    Their claims are based on their understanding of physics and chemistry and of the processes of climate. These have allowed them to construct models which replicate the historical record and which show the difference between what is happening and what would have happened without anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

    As for the statistical test, what it does show (if various assumptions hold and if the null is rejected) is that the pattern of temperatures was quite unlikely to have been produced if there was no warming during the period.

    It is always interesting to observe how desperate people cling on to what they want to believe long past the point at which they ought to have conceded, and the muddles they get themselves in in that process.

  23. jquiggin
    February 26th, 2010 at 07:47 | #23

    Tony, you’re almost there, and it will be interesting to see if you can make it all the way. As you say, the data for the 15 years or so since 1995 is not enough to reject the null hypothesis of random variation[1]. But of course we have 40 years of data showing a rising trend (and a good explanation for trends earlier in the 20th century). So, armed with an understanding of statistical significance you can now draw the following conclusions
    (i) We can reject the null hypothesis that the observed warming trend since 1970 has arisen by chance
    (ii) We can’t reject the hypothesis of a stable positive trend of about 0.15 degrees per decade since 1970.

    If you have understood these points, we will actually have achieved something here.

    fn1. That’s why, in the first IPCC report in about 1990, they did not reject this null, and argued only that we should be getting ready in case the trend was confirmed by more data, as of course it was.

  24. Nick R
    February 26th, 2010 at 08:16 | #24

    Tony G, as JQ indicates in (i), you have your hypotheses around the wrong way. The null is to be the more epistemologically modest of two competing hypotheses. That is, the burden of proof is on the scientists to demonstrate that warming has occurred rather than the skeptics to show it is not. So a lack of evidence helps, rather than hinders your argument. Take the data JQ suggests and regress it against a time trend and you will be able to reject the null that the parameter equals zero (i.e. no warming/cooling) at standard levels of significance.

    If scientists were mixing their hypotheses around in the manner you are claiming you would be right to be dubious of the results. I have read a number of papers on the issue and have never seen a schoolboy error like this though.

  25. sim
    February 26th, 2010 at 09:08 | #25

    I am sorry. I am new to this blog and I am from old parts of Europe. I have followed JQ for quite a while now. I agree with you, but my perception from here is slightly different. There are at least two types that you mention but that are stronger than you seem to think. First, sorry but in my experience economists (I am an economist) are probably the worst, both in agnotism and in Dunning-kruger effect. Put it in another way: it seems to me that “the more sensible kind of economist” is basically a tiny minority. Am I correct? Second, here, outside the commonwealth, there is also decent number of left-wingers that, if not delusionist (and some are), are, let’s say, at least strongly skeptical (and certainly not in an informed way).

  26. Paul Norton
    February 26th, 2010 at 09:23 | #26

    The link to the Dunning-Kruger effect made interesting reading. Another demographic which seems particularly prone to Dunning-Kruger effect are ALP Right student politicians at Griffith University in the period 1991-2006. This may not seem like a terribly important demographic until you realise that the older ones among them are now moving into positions of considerable power and responsibility in the Queensland government, Labor Party and labour movement.

  27. Paul Norton
    February 26th, 2010 at 09:36 | #27

    sim #25, you make a good point about certain kinds of leftists who are delusionist or sceptical on climate change. In Australia they tend to fall into two main categories:

    * “Old Labor” people in the more conservative unions and the Labor Party who take a narrowly economic view of workers’ interests and have a dislike of environmentalists and other new social movement activists which is affective rather than intellectual – indeed, is anti-intellectual. The current Resources Minister Martin Ferguson is an example of this type.

    * Orthodox Marxists who dogmatically reject the concept of ecological or biophysical limits to the scale of human economic activity, who are uncritical optimists about technology, and who, through a very crude form of “class analysis”, have come to regard the environmental movement as a “bourgeois” or “petit-bourgeois” movement. The Strange Times website is an example of this type.

    The types of leftists who are most inclined to accept the reality of AGW and support environmentalism are:

    * The Greens (obviously).
    * Modernising social democrats in the Labor Party.
    * People who were old enough to have been in the milieu of the strongly Eurocommunist Communist Party of Australia prior to its dissolution in 1991, who were influenced by its openness to new social movement politics, and who have carried this into their subsequent political commitments (mainly in the Labor Party and the Greens).
    * On the far left, less dogmatic Marxists who have attempted to incorporate ecological concern into their critique of capitalism, and libertarian socialists and anarchists.

  28. Michael
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:08 | #28

    @Paul Norton
    Where do the La Rouchites and the LM Trotskyists (spiked online) regularly aired on counterpoint fit into this? Have you heard Austin William’s strange take on AGW and the selfishness of solar panels? There are some strange forces out in the extremes.

  29. Michael
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:12 | #29

    What seems to be in common in all these groups is the dogmatic rejection of

    Paul Norton :
    the concept of ecological or biophysical limits to the scale of human economic activity, who are uncritical optimists about technology

    In fact mainstream economics also seems to be built on this moronic falshood.

  30. Paul Norton
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:25 | #30

    Michael #28. I’d fit the LM Trotskyists and their associates such as Martin Durkin into the second of my two left-delusionist categories. The La Rouchites are generally on the right but some of them in Australia have formed a thing called the “Chifley Labor Party”.

    Michael #29, the classical economists of the 18th and 19th centuries (Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill) all wrestled with the problem of limits to growth and came up with scenarios for the human future ranging from extreme pessimism (Malthus) to optimism (John Stuart Mill’s expectation that at a certain stage of economic development human society would cease to grow in material scale and reach a “stationary state” where the emphasis would be on qualitative human, social and cultural development. Neoclassical economics proceeded to overlook this issue in favour of concentrating on marginal analysis.

  31. jquiggin
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:42 | #31

    Neoclassical economics doesn’t entail uncritical optimism about technology. Most C20 growth models incorporated continuous technological progress because that was, broadly speaking, the C20 experience. But the literature on sustainability, starting from the 1970s, uses the same basic model with more pessimistic assumptions about the substitutability of produced for natural capital.

  32. James Farrell
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:45 | #32

    Michael, by mainstream economics do you mean the ecoonmics whose textbooks all begin by defining it as the science of scarcity?

    On your other point, I think Paul’s ‘old Labor’ and ‘Orthodox Marxist’ positions are essentially the same, and that Spiked and Michael Durkin subscribe to it too. Michael Costa is another good example. The idea, immortalised in Orwell’s crack about vegetarians and sandal werarers, is that environmentalism is just an update of nineteenth century romanticism — a foolish fantasy at best and a middle class cause at worst.

  33. wilful
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:52 | #33

    one thing I would like challenged (from a philosophical standpoint) is the view that acceptance of climate change science is an ideological choice. There are plenty of moderate right-wing sorts out there, that vote for the Liberal party, that accept climate change as a fact. Just because you read the Australian doesn’t make you a gullible fool (though it helps).

  34. Michael
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:03 | #34

    @Paul Norton
    @jquiggin
    Thanks for your replies. I’m not an economist or historian, just an interested reader, so excuse my ignorance. I accept what you have said, but there doesn’t appear to be much policy making that is informed by a careful analysis of the limits of the ecological services that are being run down or degraded. It seems that whenever a range of scenarios are presented by researches on the ground the most optimistic ones get acted on if at all in policy (see commercial fishing).
    Maybe the blame is more fairly placed at politicians feet than economists. I’m optimistic about technology creating solutions to many of the problems associated with AGW mitigation and adaptation, but I’m not optimistic about them being used to achieve the mitigation. Technology has improved fuel efficiency since the 70′s but not fuel consumption per km or overall growth in car trips.

  35. Michael
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:13 | #35

    @James Farrell
    The science of scarcity seems to be mostly applied to pricing and distributing scarce resources not managing the ongoing renewable supply of them or understanding their cultural importance (traditional land owners). I’m also referring to the practise of acknowledging in theoretical terms that externalities exist and then not bothering to actually define them in reality and do the hard yards of solving them fairly. Nick Stern and Ross Garnaut being notable exceptions on AGW. There are many others to, but in practise their advice isn’t being put into practise so in my opinion neither are really mainstream.

  36. Michael
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:22 | #36

    @wilful
    That’s true. Where the ideology comes in is at election time. Ultimately you have to decide how you are going to apply your acceptance of the science. To vote for a party that is in practise rejecting the science and continuing to promote a high carbon economy is ultimately placing ideology ahead of science.

  37. Michael
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:23 | #37

    Michael :

    To vote for a party that is in practise rejecting the science and continuing to promote a high carbon economy is ultimately placing ideology ahead of science.

    This unfortunately might include labor and the coalition.

  38. Grim
    February 26th, 2010 at 13:44 | #38

    JQ @ #23,

    I appreciate your discussion of the finer points of accepting or rejecting the ‘Null Hypothesis’, but I’m just sitting here thinking to myself: So, if an expert fireman came and inspected my house and told me that his best judgement, based on years of evidence, is that there’s a 92% chance that my house will burn down, then I’m fully justified in not rejecting the H0 that “there’s an insignificant chance that my house will burn down”. And I should wait until the fireman can tell me that it’s now a 95% chance before I do anything about it.

    I also think that a tad too much fuss is made about Dunning-Kruger. The work of Carol Tavris re Dissonance Theory is also highly relevant, as is the idea of ‘belief complexes’ which has been discussed, albeit not explicitly by that title, in the preceding interchanges.

    So, as I see it, it is forces such as Dissonance Theory and ‘belief complexes’ that establish people’s ‘beliefs’ about particular things (eg AGW), and then it is in the stage of ‘post belief rationalisation/defence’ that Dunning-Kruger has its day. But it all comes down to the fact that the ‘normal’ human process of acquiring beliefs (yes, even for me and thee) is largely epistemologically vacant, and that leads to ‘complexes of belief’ that are, to all intents and purposes, ‘evidence immune’ – largely because no real evidence went into the acquiring of the ‘belief’ in the first place.

    Lastly, no response so far from E.M.H. which, though not unexpected, is sad, because I was really looking forward to his attempted ‘post belief rationalisation’.

  39. Paul Norton
    February 26th, 2010 at 15:36 | #39

    Grim, your first paragraph hits on a very important point which I made in a different form in a letter to The Australian which went unpublished there, but which I reproduce in this comment:

    “Despite my disagreement with much of Don Benjamin’s letter on climate change, I agree with him that it makes better sense to approach the debate in terms of different estimates of the probabilities of anthropogenic global warming and associated climate changes, rather than dogmatically insisting that AGW is either certainly happening or certainly not happening.

    “That said, what happens if we assume, for the sake of the argument, that Don’s hypotheticals are all correct and that the probability of AGW is 30 per cent rather than 90 per cent? This would mean AGW still being much more probable than many risks which individuals, companies and governments go to a lot of expense and effort to insure ourselves against.

    “Most people are discouraged from commuting by bicycle by a probability of an accident which is very much less than 30 per cent. Those, like me, who are not so discouraged nonetheless don’t begrudge the expense of a helmet as insurance against this contingency. People swimming at unpatrolled beaches have much less than a 30 per cent risk of drowning, yet authorities go to some lengths and expense to preach the ‘swim between the flags’ message. The likelihood of Australia being invaded by a foreign power this century is probably less than 30 per cent, yet we spend and will go on spending more on defence than on any conceivable climate change mitigation policy.

    “I think we should be prepared to pay the insurance premium for the planet and the future generations.”

  40. Chris Warren
    February 26th, 2010 at 15:56 | #40

    Norton’s presentation is typical waffle.

    Why should those who scientifically understand that global warming is definitely happening put up with Norton’s imputation that they are implicated in some “dogmatically insisting”.

    He needs to decide; what his knowledge and interpretation of the evidence is, and not play the “I’m too pure to be sullied” game of perpetual fence sitting.

    These drifters are just a waste of space.

  41. Chris Warren
    February 26th, 2010 at 16:05 | #41

    E.M.H :
    I fail to understand why those on the left have to resort to labelling climate change deniars as ignorant. Climate change deniars are those that are willing to ask questions, research and form their own opionions on the matter. Clearly those that are aware and informed about the matter cannot be labelled ignorant. This is in stark contrast to those on the left who accept the highly questionable science because it conforms nicely with their progressive, big goverment ideology. If anything it is those on the left that are ignorant.

    More nonsense. It is just such simple stock-in-trade I reckon it was drafted by a Turing Device. Anyway here is the superior Turing reply.

    I fail to understand why those climate deniers have to resort to labeling climate scientists as conspirators. Climate scientists are those that are willing to ask questions, research and form their own opinions on the evidence. Clearly those that are aware and informed about the evidence cannot be labeled ignorant. This is in stark contrast to those denying climate change who accept highly questionable skepticism because it conforms nicely with their economic, neutered government ideology. As we have seen it is the deniers who are ignorant.

  42. Chris Warren
    February 26th, 2010 at 16:36 | #42

    Norton @27 thus;

    “…old enough to have been in the milieu of the strongly Eurocommunist Communist Party of Australia prior to its dissolution in 1991, who were influenced by its openness to new social movement politics, etc.”

    Most of these are now regarded as dim-witted Aaronite fools who promised the world but delivered nothing.

  43. jquiggin
    February 26th, 2010 at 16:39 | #43

    Lastly, no response so far from E.M.H. which, though not unexpected, is sad, because I was really looking forward to his attempted ‘post belief rationalisation’.

    As with Tony G and sXh on the other thread, EMH seems to have gone quiet when asked to endorse or reject the delusionist meme of the day.

  44. jquiggin
    February 26th, 2010 at 16:40 | #44

    Chris W, please tone it down

  45. Ben H
    February 26th, 2010 at 18:06 | #45

    John,
    You might be interested in the links in the following post in the Climate-L mailing list on behalf of Clive Hamilton. Some of the comments on these pieces give a sobering indication of just how entrenched the denialist position is becoming in Australia.

    “Dear Climate-L readers,

    Below is a link to a series of articles I have written on the impact of climate skeptics on Australian policy.

    The first, published on Monday, exposes the campaign of cyber-bullying directed at leading scientists. The second and subsequent articles consider who is behind the spread of denial, how it has become linked to right-wing populism, where the “information” comes from, how public perceptions are diverging from scientific facts, and what the effects are on politics and public debate.

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2826189.htm

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2827047.htm

  46. Grim
    February 26th, 2010 at 18:18 | #46

    Chris W,

    Though you and I, and many, many others, may be in agreement that the evidence is in and that at least the ‘core science’ is well and truly settled, I still think I’d prefer to deal with any number of Paul Nortons than even a single Viscount Monckton or Ian Plimer. At least we might get somewhere with AGW amelioration. But yes, it does grate to have very good science denoted as mere “dogmatic insistence”.

    Paul N,

    In my former career, which involved quite sizable and costly IT projects, my employer insisted that, as standard practice, all projects maintain a ‘risk register’ that contained a list of all of the things we could think of that might negatively affect the project. For each risk we had to do our best to compute two quantities: probability of occurrence, and impact (generally based on cost of fixing but including the possibility of significant delay which may not be able to be recovered – like myki :-) – etc). The ‘risk factor’ was then calculated as ‘probability of occurrence’ x impact.

    Clearly, even a low probability event but of very high impact was a serious risk requiring amelioration strategies to be devised and contingency plans to be generated. Mostly, the risks never actualised because we did execute our amelioration strategies, but I think the ‘probability’ of AGW is very high and the impact enormous.

    I have occasionally wondered what a ‘risk register’ for Project Homo Sapiens on Planet Terra might look like. I think AGW would be well and truly way out in front in terms of both ‘probability of occurrence’ and of ‘impact’.

  47. Alice
    February 26th, 2010 at 18:56 | #47

    @sim
    Sim – in answer to your question – you are correct but it was ever thus.

  48. charles
    February 26th, 2010 at 19:23 | #48

    “business background in engineering or some similar field where practical judgement is accorded more value than theoretical expertise,”

    As an engineer I would like to point out, yes we get our jollies by turning dreams in reality and yes we are allowed to use any trick in the book, including I might add theoretical expertise in our chosen field. Generally that includes a solid understanding of what statistical significance means, and the consequences of outliers, and I might add, how to fudge the figures to ran any dam argument we please.

    My own view is the weather is a complex non linear system, and that if you push such a systems out of it’s chaotic but stable state you really don’t know what is going to happen ( like economics really). Currently we are pushing the system.

    If you look at the historical data, when the system we are discussing has been pushed with increased CO2 levels, the planet first seems to heat and then it plummets into an ice age, and the plummet seems to happen very quickly. I’ve seem very little discussion at to why.

  49. charles
    February 26th, 2010 at 19:26 | #49

    Further the historic data leads me to believe your better talking about climate change, global warming could be very short lived.

  50. Michael
    February 26th, 2010 at 19:32 | #50

    charles :
    My own view is the weather is a complex non linear system, and that if you push such a systems out of it’s chaotic but stable state you really don’t know what is going to happen ( like economics really). Currently we are pushing the system.
    Further the historic data leads me to believe your better talking about climate change, global warming could be very short lived.

    So what if anything do you think should be done?

  51. jquiggin
    February 26th, 2010 at 19:43 | #51

    “Generally that includes a solid understanding of what statistical significance means”

    So, I take it you understand that the claim “there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995″ is merely an indication of the speaker’s ignorance of this meaning, and are happy to acknowledge that those on the “sceptical” side of the debate who parrot such claims don’t know what they are talking about.

  52. Thefutureisvegan
    February 26th, 2010 at 21:25 | #52

    @E.M.H I trust you can specify which part of the science behind the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming is questionable. Very eager to see you provide even some links.
    When you understand the science and all that underpins it then the tendency is indeed to look at deniers as er . . . less than competent and laugh a little behind your hand.

  53. charles
    February 27th, 2010 at 20:16 | #53

    The problem with picking the data from 1995 has little to do with “statistical significance” ( well I suppose in a way it has, there isn’t enough data to get a decent result) and a lot to do with using short term data to model long term trends. But if you want to run a particular argument and there are enough suckers to fall for it; well; the goal is dreams into reality. I assume someone is paying for the deception.

    Lets be honest, the whole “it ain’t getting warmer” thing has gathered it’s own momentum, it doesn’t really require professional input to keep the ball rolling. Look no further than some of the comments. Bet there isn’t an engineering qualification behind the lot of them.

    Is it morally reprehensible, yes, but seriously, a lot of rot that comes out of the economic profession also. You next post details some of it. I don’t believe all of it is due to professional stupidity; I assume someone is paying.

    You do however have to be careful dismissing the short term trend, as I pointed out, if you look at all previous events over the last million years the temperature goes up, reaches a peak and then falls very quickly.

  54. charles
    February 27th, 2010 at 20:29 | #54

    “So what if anything do you think should be done?”

    Well, if you look at the historical data, the last 10000 years have been pretty unusual. My view is the weather is in a particularly unstable state and if we move out of that state we are not going to get back there very easily. It very much looks as if the CO2 level is the controlling mechanism. The graph showing the temp and CO2 level follow each other pretty well. The the theory as to why the CO2 level matters looks pretty sound to me.

    In my view we have two options; use our brains, control the level of CO2 and extend the current state further; or let it go and adapt to the changes. We will do one or the other, I suspect it will be the later.

  55. jquiggin
    February 27th, 2010 at 20:45 | #55

    ‘well I suppose in a way it has, there isn’t enough data to get a decent result’

    More precisely, whoever started this ball rolling picked 1995, precisely because it’s as far back as you can go from the present without having enough data to derive a statistically significant trend. Next year, they’ll either have to change the date or (more likely) move on to yet another talking point.

  56. charles
    February 28th, 2010 at 06:33 | #56

    No John, they went back to 1995 because that is as far back you can go and get a line fit that has the temperature going down instead of up. Including a few more years changes the line direction, makes the result a little more robust, but from a statistical point of view is almost irrelevant. Twelve years or 20 years of data being used to represent data collected over 100′s of years, what does it matter, and as you have the 100′s of years of data why would you do it? Well unless you wanted to spread a bit of confusion.

    Fit a second order polynomial to the last 30 years of data, I bet the future tail will be pointing down. More years, higher order polynomial, should be better hay? If the tail is pointing down the future prediction will have us freezing in 100 years.

    “Next year, they’ll either have to change the date or (more likely) move on to yet another talking point.”

    It has been a pretty cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere ( and it is the yearly average that matters when it comes to putting a point on this line) our summer hasn’t been that hot; we are now getting tropical weather in Victoria ( hot wet instead of hot dry).

    I suspect you are going to have another year of pain.

    My view is both groups are focusing on the wrong thing, in other words you have been sucker punched by those spreading confusion and deceit. The real evidence is a solid theory on why CO2 matters; and the close correlation between CO2 and planet temperature found in the ice cores.

    My worry is the ice core results; every hot event has been immediately followed by a freeze. If we are lucky the hot event encouraged plant growth, the CO2 was removed and we froze. That won’t happen this time because we are still converting C and CH? into CO2.

    What if a temperature rise flips the ocean currents and what if it takes another freeze to flip them back again. People banging on about global warming are going to look silly, going to suffer years of pain because the long term trend is up, while the short term trend is down. Better to talk about climate change, and focus on the science that matters.

  57. charles
    February 28th, 2010 at 08:13 | #57

    And while I’m being a grumpy +50 engineer. Statistics is pretty much based on the random selection from a population and the tests of statistical significance generally tend to be based on the assumption that the population is normally distributed ( gaussian if your into hiding simple ideas behind the names of dead mathematicians). If you want to go a little deeper statistics uses a few values to represent a probability density functions; with the normal distribution done to death.

    I find it difficult to see how any of the assumptions are met when your talking about the behaviour of a complex non linear system.

  58. Ken
    February 28th, 2010 at 16:09 | #58

    Why is EMH trying to challenge commenters here with his “deniars are those that are willing to ask questions, research and form their own opionions” vs “those on the left who accept the highly questionable science because it conforms nicely with their progressive, big goverment ideology” assertions rather than challenge the scientists at the CSIRO or BOM or NCAR or NASA or NOAA or Hadley CRU … or any relevant department of any leading university?

    When it comes to the complex I don’t see anything wrong with looking to those with relevant expertise. If there were serious disagreements and competing schools of thought within climate science the layperson might have cause to step back and conclude there were serious fundamental issues to be resolved, but that isn’t the case with regard to climate – although there have been serious PR efforts to encourage people to believe that’s the case.

    I am very suspicious of the conclusions of amateurs when they are the direct opposite of almost the entire body of actual experts.

    When it comes to stuff that really matters I’ll take the experts over all the amatuers every time.

  59. jquiggin
    February 28th, 2010 at 16:24 | #59

    “No John, they went back to 1995 because that is as far back you can go and get a line fit that has the temperature going down instead of up.”

    Have you looked at a graph of the data? Temperatures have risen since 1995, not fallen. They’ve been rising since 1970. The difference is that the increase since 1995 is (barely) statistically not significant, because there is not quite enough data to reject the null hypothesis of stability + random variation. (WordPress won’t let me post an image, but you can see it here

    If you use data for the last forty years, the null hypothesis of no change in temperatures is strongly rejected in favour of the alternative of an increasing trend.

    But, a better test in many ways is to look at the data since 1988 when the IPCC was established. Since there was already enough evidence to suggest the hypothesis of global warming was worth studying, this test is free of the problem of data mining (or, more pejoratively, cherry picking) evident in virtually everything done on the anti-science side of the debate.

  60. charles
    February 28th, 2010 at 20:11 | #60

    I now have; yes your right (a bow down before you a humbler man), abuse of statistics has been taken to a new level. The null hypothesis test ( both t and z) assumes you are sampling a normal data distribution. Very hard to see how you would pin that assumption down without enough error terms to check the assumption ( and I don’t see 1988 as much better) in fact if you look at the graph it’s pretty obvious that a linear fit is not appropriate as the error term is far from random.

    I would have gone for 1998 and shown that a linear fit has the temperature falling, and argued the global warming crowd are out of their tree. Opps been done, nothing new:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8299079.stm

    Or perhaps gone back to 1995 and fitted a second order polynomial, that would have us freezing out but off in no time.

  61. jquiggin
    February 28th, 2010 at 20:35 | #61

    I’m not sure if you are being ironic here Charles. Obviously, picking 1998 ex post as a starting point is dishonest cherry picking, but marginally harder to nail than the absurd error involved in the 1995 claim. The delusionists would have been better advise to stick with that one.

    As for higher-order polynomials I think Spencer of UAH has tested this approach to destruction.

    As regards the normality assumptions, they are problematic as usual, but given the length of the warming trend, you can use robust or non-parametric tests and you’ll get the same answer. Only someone who hasn’t looked at the data will reject the hypothesis of an increasing trend.

  62. charles
    February 28th, 2010 at 20:48 | #62

    No I just thinking about how I would run the denial campaign if it was my job, perhaps your right, 1998 would be too obvious. But I think I would go for the obvious.

  63. sdfc
    February 28th, 2010 at 20:56 | #63

    Wasn’t Fielding sucked in by the 1998 story?

  64. charles
    February 28th, 2010 at 21:06 | #64

    All that aside, we are talking about the output of a complex non linear system, the worst assumption you can make about such systems is that the output will be a linear response to the forcing function. Fitting linear functions to historic data makes that assumption.

  65. charles
    February 28th, 2010 at 21:11 | #65

    I think fielding is a special case, to stay in parliament after the next election he has to find a block of votes. Climate change denialists represent such a block and in the past few seemed to be willing to collect. Abbott seems willing, so I don’t know where that leaves Fielding.

  66. sdfc
    February 28th, 2010 at 21:25 | #66

    Charles I don’t think Fielding is a special case the no heating since 1998 argument gets trotted out by “sceptics” fairly regularly.

  67. Tony G
    February 28th, 2010 at 23:12 | #67

    Water vapour caused one-third of global warming in 1990s, study reveals

    “The research, led by one of the world’s top climate scientists, suggests that almost one-third of the global warming recorded during the 1990s was due to an increase in water vapour in the high atmosphere, not human emissions of greenhouse gases. A subsequent decline in water vapour after 2000 could explain a recent slowdown in global temperature rise, the scientists add……..

    The new research, led by Susan Solomon, at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who co-chaired the 2007 IPCC report on the science of global warming, is published today in the journal Science, one of the most respected in the world…..

    “What I will say, is that this [new study] shows there are climate scientists round the world who are trying very hard to understand and to explain to people openly and honestly what has happened over the last decade.

    Solomon said: “We call this the 10, 10, 10 problem. A 10% drop in water vapour, 10 miles up has had an effect on global warming over the last 10 years.” Until now, scientists have struggled to explain the temperature slowdown in the years since 2000, a problem climate sceptics have exploited.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/29/water-vapour-climate-change

  68. Paul Norton
    March 1st, 2010 at 08:33 | #68

    Chris Warren #40 does not get my point #39 and does not seem interested in doing so.

    Grim #46 does get the main point I was trying to make in the passage cited, which I should remind people was written (a) for publication in a newspaper whose readership includes a large number of people who we’ve yet to convince and (b) was written in an attempt to engage with someone who was seeking to argue in terms of probabilities and was suggesting that a 30% likelihood that AGW is happening or will happen is not really something to worry about.

    Perhaps I could have chosen my words more carefully to avoid the phrase “dogmatically insist” and to avoid implying an equivalence between those who are convinced by the core science (which, for all practical purposes, includes myself) and the likes of Andrew Bolt, but to get one’s knickers in a twist over that phrase whilst ignoring my main argument is a serious misreading of my post – or, given Chris Warren’s background, a symptomatic reading of ym post.

  69. Chris O’Neill
    March 1st, 2010 at 09:53 | #69

    @Tony G

    Water vapour caused one-third of global warming in 1990s

    And what, pray tell, determines the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere? Wouldn’t have anything to do with temperature, would it?

  70. jquiggin
    March 1st, 2010 at 10:09 | #70

    Tony’s comment illustrates the problem I’m talking about, and is typical of delusionists in general. Most of what they write requires the hypothesis that the entire scientific community (minus a few Galileos like Plimer and (!) Monckton) is engaged in a conspiracy to promote a bogus theory. But anytime the results of a study come out in a way that seems to suit their case (it doesn’t really, but we’re talking about people who don’t understand basic stats and can’t be bothered learning) they cite it as if peer-reviewed research was indeed the gold standard.

  71. Chris O’Neill
    March 1st, 2010 at 10:31 | #71

    charles:

    I would have gone for 1998 and shown that a linear fit has the temperature falling

    Not true for HadCrut3 any more (just). And it hasn’t been true for a long time with an estimator that includes the Arctic and Antarctic (GISS).

    No doubt it will be a long time before the anti-scientists stop saying that it’s been cooling since 1998 because there are still some clowns claiming it’s been cooling for the past decade.

  72. Ken
    March 1st, 2010 at 16:24 | #72

    @sdfc
    I remember Senator Fielding holding up the ‘inconvenient fact’ graph, that supposedly showed that warming had stopped whilst CO2 levels kept going up. If the rest of the graph (rather than the cherry picked small segment) was there at the same scale he’d have probably been about 3m up in the air!

    Actually Fielding’s use of that graph is quite informative of how denialist arguments are framed – the selected bit of a selected graph (and don’t mention the fastest warming region on the planet being left out of that data set), or the complete passing over of short term variability vs longer term trends, or the other measures and indicators of climate change from ocean heat content and sea levels to changes in ice sheets and minimum sea ice levels, or the passing over of issues like lag time between emissions and effects on temperatures… etc.

    When it’s about selected ‘facts’ in isolation rather than looking at every fact available – especially when the selections show the opposite to the whole – I think there is cause to get suspicious.

  73. charles
    March 1st, 2010 at 20:25 | #73

    Chris

    “variance adjusted local mean”? What variance have we accounted for in doing our adjustment (seriously I am curious if you know)? I assume it is something generated from the series before 1998.

    Try the unadjusted global mean:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1998/trend, note that it is down unlike 1997 and 1996 and 1995.

  74. Tony G
    March 1st, 2010 at 21:25 | #74

    JQ said @20;

    “to promote a bogus theory. ”

    It is not I who is calling into question your scientific “theory”. In the above case “Susan Solomon, at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who co-chaired the 2007 IPCC report on the science of global warming,” who is .

    JQ, it is delusional to say that the science is settled, especially when people like the IPCC’s co-chair Susan Solomon admit “there are climate scientists round the world who are TRYING VERY HARD TO UNDERSTAND and to explain to people openly and honestly what has happened over the last decade”. see my above link again.

    Chris ‘O’

    You have a degree and I don’t.
    Can you please elaborate on what you mean by this?;

    “And what, pray tell, determines the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere? Wouldn’t have anything to do with temperature, would it?”

  75. Chris O’Neill
    March 2nd, 2010 at 01:51 | #75

    @charles

    “variance adjusted local mean”? What variance have we accounted for in doing our adjustment (seriously I am curious if you know)

    You’ll have to look in Jones et al. (2001).

    Try the unadjusted global mean

    Yes, they can still say that. Any cherry-pick is a good cherry-pick. Of course, the trend is not significantly different from zero in either case with HadCrut3. And of course, that doesn’t stop the anti-scientists from saying things like “no warming since 1995″ and also trying things like “it’s been cooling since 1998″ even though statistical significance is absent in either case, especially with the cooling since 1998 claim.

  76. Chris O’Neill
    March 2nd, 2010 at 02:09 | #76

    @Tony G

    people like the IPCC’s co-chair Susan Solomon admit “there are climate scientists round the world who are TRYING VERY HARD TO UNDERSTAND and to explain to people openly and honestly what has happened over the last decade”.

    In that case they’re trying to explain the weather because that’s the only thing we can detect a change in within a decade.

    Can you please elaborate on what you mean by this?;

    “And what, pray tell, determines the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere? Wouldn’t have anything to do with temperature, would it?”

    Pretty simple, the warmer the oceans and the atmosphere, the faster water evaporates from the oceans and the more water vapor the atmosphere can hold => more greenhouse effect from water vapor in the atmosphere. This feeds back into ocean and atmosphere temperatures so a positive feedback loop occurs. Fortunately that feedback loop is stable at existing temperatures but if the ocean ever exceeded 60°C then that loop is expected to go unstable.

  77. Tony G
    March 2nd, 2010 at 12:33 | #77

    Chris O’ Said;

    “from water vapor IN the atmosphere.”

    Chris, it is a misconception that the air holds water; air simply acts as a transporter of water vapour and is not a holder of it.

    “The thermophysical properties of water-air mixtures encountered at atmospheric conditions are reasonably approximated by assuming they behave as a mixture of ideal gases. For many practical purposes the assumption that both components (air and water) behave independently of each other is reasonable. Therefore the physical properties of an air-water mixture can be estimated by considering the physical properties of each component separately.”

    CHris O’
    What you are saying put “pretty simpl[y]” is “the warmer the oceans and the atmosphere [get] the more water vapor [the] more greenhouse effect from water vapor in the atmosphere.”
    You seem to be implying that if it gets hotter the more water vapor IN the atmosphere. I disagree with this assertion.

    In an air-water vapour mixture the amount of water vapour can fall with rising temperatures. The amount of water vapour can also go up with a falling temperature. The amount of water vapour can stay the same or on some occasions, rise with increasing temperatures.
    What drives the amount of water vapour in air is the absolute pressure. i.e.
    Pressure 101.325kpa; T 70C = 50%
    Pressure 101.325kpa; T 80c = 32.9%

    Warmer temperatures do not necessarily translate to more water vapour in an air-water vapour mixture, Chris please explain how “warmer the oceans and the atmosphere” equate to “more greenhouse effect from water vapour in the atmosphere.” Considering warmer temperatures do not automatically equate to more water vapour in the atmosphere?

  78. Chris O’Neill
    March 2nd, 2010 at 14:19 | #78

    @Tony G

    “The thermophysical properties of water-air mixtures encountered at atmospheric conditions are reasonably approximated by assuming they behave as a mixture of ideal gases. For many practical purposes the assumption that both components (air and water) behave independently of each other is reasonable. Therefore the physical properties of an air-water mixture can be estimated by considering the physical properties of each component separately.”

    And how, pray tell, is that inconsistent with saying water vapor that water vapor is in the atmosphere?

    You seem to be implying that if it gets hotter the more water vapor IN the atmosphere. I disagree with this assertion.

    It’s not an assertion, it’s an observed fact.

    Warmer temperatures do not necessarily translate to more water vapour in an air-water vapour mixture

    We’d be rather unlucky if it didn’t. Otherwise rainfall would take a major hit with a less humid atmosphere. It normally doesn’t start raining until humidity reaches 100%.

  79. Tony G
    March 2nd, 2010 at 15:43 | #79

    Chris O’Neill

    It would be interesting to see your observed fact, but I can’t your link to work.

  80. charles
    March 3rd, 2010 at 19:19 | #80

    “You’ll have to look in Jones et al. (2001).”

    This simple quote underlines many things wrong with the current debate.

    1) The discussion started with the Chris asserting: “there are still some clowns claiming it’s been cooling for the past decade”.
    And the proof was a link to a graph that uses a “variance adjusted mean”. I asked for details of what variance was used to adjust the mean ( I assume generalised least squares is being used in some way, I am curious as to how). Instead of an explanation I got from the person willing to call others clowns a link to a paper. A a paper that looks very interesting (based on the snippets I can find on the web); but:

    2)The paper is behind a paywall, normally this wouldn’t be an issue as I would be studing something and be able to get at it through the library, but this year I am a normal joe. Interested or not I have to pay to find out why Chris feels he can assert that those using the raw value are fools ( given I got a link and not an explanation I suspect Chris is using blind faith in the hope that the faith is well placed), or, without reading the paper believe or dismiss Chris’s claim.

    I’m not willing to pay, dismiss the claim or accept it, I am left ignorant and once again cursing the mess that scientific publishing has got itself into. Expecting people to have blind faith in journals ( peer reviewed or not) is not the way forward. Nor is calling people clowns because they are a little sceptical. Using sophisticated statistical methods does not make the answer right. To make a judgement you need more than the assertion that your a clown.

  81. charles
    March 3rd, 2010 at 19:26 | #81

    (minus a few Galileos like Plimer )

    Interesting turn of phrase. The church has come out and apologised for what they did.

    http://4thefirsttime.blogspot.com/2007/09/1992-catholic-church-apologizes-to.html

    I wouldn’t be casting Plimer as Galileo as that would make him right and the his opponents wrong.

  82. Michael
    March 3rd, 2010 at 20:02 | #82

    charles :
    I wouldn’t be casting Plimer as Galileo as that would make him right and the his opponents wrong.

    Sarcasm – useful for detecting dementia.

  83. Alice
    March 3rd, 2010 at 20:28 | #83

    @charles
    Sarcasm entirely warranted Michael when faced with comments like this one

    “Nor is calling people clowns because they are a little sceptical. ”

    If they would like to wait a while longer they will be called things far worse than clowns. Try imbeciles for example. Clowns is fairly mild I would suggest.

  84. charles
    March 3rd, 2010 at 20:44 | #84

    Alice

    Interesting comment. So that is what it has come down to, name calling?

  85. Michael
    March 3rd, 2010 at 22:01 | #85

    @charles
    What is your opinion of Plimer’s contribution to the debate? Did you think JQ was being serious casting Plimer as a Galileo?

  86. Chris O’Neill
    March 4th, 2010 at 04:08 | #86

    Tony G:

    You seem to be implying that if it gets hotter the more water vapor IN the atmosphere. I disagree with this assertion.

    I should point out before citing the observed relationship between variations in atmospheric temperature and water vapor that it is a simple physical property of water that it’s vapor pressure above water in a confined space increases with temperature. There would have to be something pretty strange going on for the atmosphere not to follow this to some degree. Anyway here is the observed relationship between variations in atmospheric temperature and water vapor.

    BTW, Tony G, how, pray tell, is saying that water vapor is in the atmosphere inconsistent with your following quote?

    “The thermophysical properties of water-air mixtures encountered at atmospheric conditions are reasonably approximated by assuming they behave as a mixture of ideal gases. For many practical purposes the assumption that both components (air and water) behave independently of each other is reasonable. Therefore the physical properties of an air-water mixture can be estimated by considering the physical properties of each component separately.”

  87. Chris O’Neill
    March 4th, 2010 at 04:26 | #87

    charles:

    “You’ll have to look in Jones et al. (2001).”
    This simple quote underlines many things wrong with the current debate.
    1) The discussion started with the Chris asserting: “there are still some clowns claiming it’s been cooling for the past decade”.
    And the proof was a link to a graph that uses a “variance adjusted mean”.

    No, the linked graph was for the trend since 1998, not the last decade which is where the clown reference was made. If you check the graph for the last decade, you’ll find the unajusted mean has a clear positive trend. This is why I call people who still say it’s been cooling for the past decade, clowns. I think your misunderstanding underlines one thing wrong with the current debate. People are not careful to get their facts right.

  88. Freelander
    March 4th, 2010 at 05:07 | #88

    @charles

    Presumably, if you look at the paper you will find the answer or a reference to the technique used. If I was Jones, I too would, by this stage, be labeling these people clowns – an entirely appropriate appellation that could only be faulted for its charity.

  89. Tony G
    March 5th, 2010 at 20:45 | #89

    Chris ‘O @ 36;

    “it is a simple physical property of water that it’s vapor pressure above water in a CONFINED SPACE increases with temperature.”

    Chris, are you classifying the atmosphere as a confined space?

  90. Chris O’Neill
    March 6th, 2010 at 03:41 | #90

    “it is a simple physical property of water that it’s vapor pressure above water in a CONFINED SPACE increases with temperature.”

    Tony G:

    are you classifying the atmosphere as a confined space?

    Anyone with at least normal intelligence might have guessed what I was implying from my sentence that followed the above:

    “There would have to be something pretty strange going on for the atmosphere not to follow this to some degree.”

  91. Tony G
    March 6th, 2010 at 09:54 | #91

    “something pretty strange going on for the atmosphere not to follow this to some degree.”

    So explain to me Chris, “how, pray tell,” YOU can have our atmosphere behaving with”some degree” of a confined space?

    Here is a question that someone with at least normal intelligence could answer with a simple yes or no;

    Do you classify the atmosphere as a “confined space’? Yes or No.

  92. Chris O’Neill
    March 6th, 2010 at 16:58 | #92

    Tony G:

    Here is a question that someone with at least normal intelligence could answer with a simple yes or no;

    Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or No.

  93. G Tony
    March 7th, 2010 at 11:41 | #93

    CHris O

    Your lucky I cant retort, JQ seems to be blocking my posts Tony G.

  94. jquiggin
    March 7th, 2010 at 13:03 | #94

    Paranoia, I’m afraid, TG. I haven’t changed anything, and you’re not in the moderation queue, so you’ve probably used one of the Forbidden Words, like c@sino, or soCI@LISm.

  95. Tony G
    March 8th, 2010 at 10:18 | #95

    Test

    wasn’t working yesterday so I will try again today

  96. Tony G
    March 8th, 2010 at 10:34 | #96

    Chris, just because you’re into “confined spaces” and “beating” doesn’t mean others share your passionate enthusiasm for such solitary endeavours.

    It is understandable you need to change the subject, considering you are wrong to assert that warming simply equates to more water vapour in the atmosphere. You neglect the fundamental fact that the relative humidity is “pressure dependent” and so relative humidity can also rise or fall independent of temperature fluctuations.

    See wiki relative humidity ‘pressure dependence’.

    Are you also still trumpeting the success of the solar panel scheme? I’m still LoL on that one.

  97. Tony G
  98. Fran Barlow
    March 8th, 2010 at 11:41 | #98

    For the record Tony, on of my posts, — a response to Strocchi — went into moderation for 24 hours so I doubt it has anything to do with you. PrQ always says when he is moderating someone, so I assume it is technical.

  99. Michael
    March 8th, 2010 at 12:53 | #99

    @Tony G
    The article you link to is over a month old and is mainly cheap shots rather than a sober analysis of the scheme. The interesting thing to note about all these green schemes is that there is a lot of unmet demand for these services. I had a house assessment done and it was very useful. The assessor was able to point out a few things I had over-looked, some of which I can do without spending much money. I didn’t apply for the loan because most of the other things that remain to be done are large projects I’m not ready to start yet.

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