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Climate Hustle

The contradictory nature of global warming skepticism

Posted on 11 September 2010 by dana1981

A major challenge in conversing with anthropogenic global warming (AGW) skeptics is that they constantly seem to move the goalposts and change their arguments.  As a consequence, they also frequently contradict themselves.  One day they'll argue the current global warming is caused by the Sun, the next that it's "natural cycles", the next that the planet is actually cooling, and the next day they'll say the surface temperature record is unreliable, so we don't even know what the global temperature is.  This is why Skeptical Science has such an extensive skeptic argument list.

It should be obvious that the arguments listed above all contradict each other, yet they're often made by the same skeptics.  As one prominent example, in 2003 physicist and skeptic Fred Singer was arguing that the planet wasn't warming, yet in 2007 he published a book arguing that the planet is warming due to a 1,500-year natural cycle.  You can't have it both ways!

It's a testament to the robustness of the AGW theory that skeptics can't seem to decide what their objection to it is.  If there were a flaw in the theory, then every skeptic would pounce on it and make a consistent argument, rather than the current philosophy which seems to be "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks."

It would behoove AGW skeptics to decide exactly what their objection to the scientific theory is, because then it would be easier to engage in a serious discussion, rather than the current situation where we're basically playing whack-a-mole with the favored skeptic argument of the day, which totally contradicts the favored skeptic argument from yesterday.

Just as one example, you can't argue that the Sun is causing global warming and that climate sensitivity is low.   Solar output has only increased by about 0.1% over the past century, and the way you determine the associated global temperature change is to multiply the change in solar radiative forcing by the climate sensitivity factor.  So they only way you could argue for a significant solar warming would be if climate sensitivity is high.  You just can't have it both ways - if climate sensitivity is low, it's not just low with respect to greenhouse gases, it's also low to solar activity, orbital variations, volcanic emissions, etc.  And if it's low, then the Sun has caused less than 0.1°C of the 0.8°C warming over the past century.  Similarly, arguing for a low climate sensitivity contradicts the climate has changed before argument for the same reason.  If climate sensitivity is low, it will prevent significant climate changes regardless of the cause, whether they be anthropogenic or solar or some other natural forcing.

If you want to argue that the warming is due to a natural cycle, then pick a specific natural cycle and research it.  Make sure there's a scientific basis to your argument.  For example, don't argue that it's due to a 1,500-year cycle when the planet wasn't warming 1,500 years ago!  But most importantly, don't contradict yourself by claiming that the planet isn't warming the next day.  These kinds of flip-flops are common on Anthony Watts' blog, which had a very schizophrenic six month period:

And that's when he's not arguing that the surface temperature record is so contaminated that we don't even know if the planet is warming.  Or that this supposedly unreliable data shows cooling.

But until skeptics start making some consistent arguments, Skeptical Science has set up a page listing all the skeptic arguments that contradict each other in order to make the mole whacking a little easier.

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Comments 301 to 350 out of 353:

  1. Baz #296: "Okay, there seems to be some mis-reading here again. Rob, first of all, 0.12 c per decade is NOT statistically significant - ask CBD if you don't believe me."

    Ask me? Ok.

    You appear not to know what "statistically significant" MEANS. It has nothing to do with the degree of warming, only the confidence that this warming represents a statistically valid trend rather than merely being an artifact of random fluctuations. A warming trend of 0.12 C per decade could be either statistically significant (the usual confidence level is 95%) or not depending on the data from which it is derived.
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  2. Baz, I dug around in the archives for a good writeup I remembered on statistical significance in the temperature data set.

    If you read the linked article you may better understand why these 'short term trends' you are relying on are not considered statistically valid trends at all. Ironically, you are dismissing a warming trend since 1995 which has greater than 90% confidence in favor of a 'flat' trend since 2001 which has much lower statistical significance.
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  3. Baz... I think you're actually not understanding the definition of "statistically significant." Statistical significance in climate is less a function of the rate of warming or cooling and more a function of the length of time.

    If you look at the current warming from the past couple of years it's coming at a very high rate. I don't know the figure off hand but say it's 0.45C/decade. That is still not statistically significant because it's just part of the noise. The up and down normal to the climate signal.

    Statistical significance is this:

    Confidence = signal over noise X square root of the sample size.

    That essentially means the climate is very noisy so in order to have confidence that you are looking at the actual "signal", and not just noise, you have to have a fairly large sample. In climate it's 20 to 30 years of data.

    That's why I said, when you're talking about the "flattening" temps you are talking about data that is not statistically significant.
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  4. @Baz: "Please retract the "liar", and I've never said I am irrational."

    I'm not retracting anything, as you keep repeating the same debunked fallacious statement. Oh, and you did claim to not being rational. Not rational = irrational.

    "Re 'Where's the heat?' So 3 years is good enough for you?"

    Of course not, it's not statistically significant. It should be enough for you, however, since you originally claimed a five-year period was enough for you to change your mind about the warming.

    I can't believe you walked right into that one, too. What are you hoping to achieve, here, exactly? Get on people's nerves until they become rude so you can then complain how AGW proponents are ill-mannered?

    "I say again, the last 10 years of HadCRUt is flat."

    And I say again, that is cherry-picking, especially since other cycles (such as the PDO and TSI) are having a cooling effect during that period.

    Please pick a statistically-relevant period and base your opinion on this, otherwise my choice of the last three years (which shows where the "heat" is) is just as good as your choice of five or ten years.

    You've been unmasked, Baz. At this point, the wise thing to do would be to just stop commenting on the science until you've shown you actually understand it. Anything else is just digging yourself deeper in your own hole.

    "I didn't "carefully cherry-pick" that period, it was done by Phil Jones here"

    Another lie? The period was picked by the BBC journalist, not Phil Jones. Jones made a point of saying the warming trend was still there during that period, though it really was at the 92% degree of confidence. Of course, this was all before 2010, one of the warmest years on record, so who knows.

    Again, you've exhausted everyone's patience, here. Come back when your argument is scientifically relevant.
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  5. Daniel Bailey. Oh dear, you seem to have missed B in that BBC link and gone straight to C. Try again, Daniel, because YOU ARE WRONG. See MichaelM's quote above your post.

    MichaelM. Thanks, but I'm not confusing anything with everyday use! Prof Phil Jones states that the trend from 1995 to 2009 is not statistically significant. I didn't say it, he did.
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  6. JMurphy. "Irrational". The two sentences are not the same. Read them again.

    Re continuing warming. If you've read my posts then you'll see that I've said quite a few times that I accept bumps in temp along the way. I don't accept 10 years of flattened temps is conducive to continued global warming.
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  7. CBD, I need some time to read that!
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  8. Baz #306: "I don't accept 10 years of flattened temps is conducive to continued global warming."

    Take a look at the full HadCrut temp graph back to 1850;



    This clearly shows DECLINING temperatures from 1940 to 1950. Why didn't that 'disprove man made global warming'? Or the 'flat' period from 1960 to 1975? Why didn't the steep rise (0.2 C per decade) from 1980 to 2000 'prove' that we were in for 2 C additional warming by 2100 even assuming no acceleration of warming? Ditto the 0.5 C rise from 1910 to 1940... surely that meant we were in for continued 0.167 C per decade warming, right? Yet the drop in temperatures from 1880 to 1910 clearly indicated that we were heading into an ice age.

    There have been fluctuations, both up and down, more pronounced and/or prolonged than the 10 year 'level' period you are stuck on... so what is so 'special' about this particular minor fluctuation?

    Even setting aside the statistical issues... your position just isn't consistent with the historical record.
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  9. CBD. I've only read the first page so far, but it seems I'm leaning against Ken Lambert at post 12.

    The reason I didn't choose 1940 to 1950 is because the first period of warming was entirely natural! Man-made warming began in 1975 according to Tamino.

    When I see this:
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/trend
    ...I see a flattened temperature. I see no warming for 10 years. I see warming stalled, maybe stopped. Now we can argue about one data set, or the 'science' of only using 10 years until we're both blue, but THAT is what I see. I see that black line in the graph above and I wonder if the warming has stopped - and I'm not the only one. If there's no heat in the oceans then me, and others who think 'unscientifically' like me, are going to be right; and you, and others here, are going to be wrong. You cannot say at this stage that I am wrong in that belief, neither can I say you are. Only time will tell the truth.
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  10. Baz... What Phil Jones was saying is you'd need a few more years of data to achieve statistical significance, not that the rate would need to be higher.
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  11. Baz - you have been continuing to claim that 10 years of data is enough for you to conclude that warming has stopped.

    Given the noise in the data, seasonal variations, the Pacific oscillation, etc., 10 years provides very little statistical significance. You agreed with the 20-30 year range earlier in this thread; what happened to that agreement?

    Essentially you are arguing that the 10 years you have focused on (low statistical significance, very little support for anything but short term noise variations, still within the 2 sigma variations around the previously established trend) is more relevant than the 30 year, highly statistically significant (99.9999 confidence? Way less than a fraction of a percent chance that it's not warming, and we've just picked up noise?) record of a warming trend.

    That argument really doesn't hold up, Baz. At all. I suspect you're suffering from confirmatory bias.

    If we don't see warming over 20-30 years, then we'll have strong support for the trend to have stopped or paused. That just hasn't happened yet. What you're looking at is equivalent to a a few cool days in early June (weather) - and from those claiming that summer isn't coming.
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  12. CBD #309: "The reason I didn't choose 1940 to 1950 is because the first period of warming was entirely natural!"

    Not precisely accurate. MOSTLY natural yes, but not "entirely" natural. Most of the 1910 to 1940 warming was due to increased solar activity, but the enhanced greenhouse effect was also starting to have an impact during that timeframe.

    I like to turn the 'natural cycles' bit back on the 'skeptics'. If you look at the graph you can pretty easily come up with alternating periods of about 30 years each with 'increasing' and 'decreasing' temperatures;

    1850-1880: increasing +0.1 C
    1880-1910: decreasing -0.25 C
    1910-1940: increasing +0.5 C
    1940-1970: decreasing -0.1 C
    1970-2000: increasing +0.5 C
    2000-2010+: 'flat'

    From this, it seems like the 'increasing' periods are showing more warming over time while the 'decreasing' periods are showing less cooling... or in the current cycle NO cooling. Which is the sort of pattern you would see if an accelerating warming trend were overlaid onto a regular oscillation.

    The temperature varies up and down due to a lot of different factors. If the 1910 to 1940 warming had ONLY been solar forcing then temperatures should have dropped back down to the prior level when solar activity declined... they didn't. That 1940 to 1970 period also had alot of aerosol pollution that is believed to have contributed to the cooling. Sorting out all the factors and how much of an impact they've had is a complicated mess... but if we were only dealing with various natural oscillations overlaying each other the long term average would be flat. Instead, it shows pronounced warming.

    If we ignore the underlying science you are correct... no one can say from the graph alone whether this is a brief fluctuation like others in the past which will be followed by a return to warming OR if we have now hit a peak and temperatures will begin to go back down. But we don't have JUST the graph alone to base our decisions on. We know from direct satellite measurements that there is currently an energy imbalance with more energy coming in to the climate system than is going out. We know that wavelengths of IR blocked by greenhouse gases are being measured in increasing concentrations at the surface and decreasing amounts in space. We know that long settled (~140 years) physics tells us that the increasing CO2 levels we are measuring will produce continued warming.

    In short, we know for a fact that the total climate system of the planet is continuing to accumulate heat. It has been settled unquestioned science for over a century and we are getting direct measurements of it happening. The fact that the SURFACE AIR TEMPERATURE hasn't reflected that ongoing accumulation much for the past decade is something we call 'weather'. The historical record shows that such fluctuations happen all the time. Right now the heat mostly isn't in the lower atmosphere (though the poles are an obvious exception)... but we KNOW it is still accumulating and thus it is inevitable that it will eventually impact surface air temperatures.
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  13. CBDunkerson wrote : "If you look at the graph you can pretty easily come up with alternating periods of about 30 years each with 'increasing' and 'decreasing' temperatures;

    1850-1880: increasing +0.1 C
    1880-1910: decreasing -0.25 C
    1910-1940: increasing +0.5 C
    1940-1970: decreasing -0.1 C
    1970-2000: increasing +0.5 C
    2000-2010+: 'flat'"



    Actually, and without trying to be sarcastic and belittling, we can use the 'Baz' scale to determine the reaction to each of those trends, just by using the sort of logic Baz has used to assert that he no longer believes the earth is warming :

    1850-1880: increasing +0.1 C ("Hm, looks like AGW is real")
    1880-1910: decreasing -0.25 C ("Hang on, it's not warming !")
    1910-1940: increasing +0.5 C ("OK, it is happening. I'm a 'believer'")
    1940-1970: decreasing -0.1 C ("Wait a minute, it's not warming...again")
    1970-2000: increasing +0.5 C (Oh, perhaps it is. I'll give it another 5 years")
    2000-2010+: 'flat' ("Ah ha - it's not warming. Prove it, using a 5 to 10 year trend !)
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  14. Rob, actually he said, "Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods."

    KR. I didn't agree with the 20-30 period at all, I accepted that's what the general consensus of opinion is on this site. I have said before that I display confirmation bias (a perfectly human trait), but I'm in good company here.

    CBD. Genuine thanks for all your input. If I wanted to be like some on here are to me, I'd have to say you cherry-picked those time-frames to start from the Little Ice Age ending. But of course, I'd never do that!
    http://www.co2science.org/articles/V12/N10/EDIT.php
    Ooh, I bet some here are going to love that link!

    JMurphy. See graph at terrible website link above.

    Thanks all. I think I'll conclude my contributions here. However, I'm afraid I will be back. :)
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  15. Baz... Yes, that is exactly right. Given the general noise in climate you need 20 to 30 years of data to rise above a 95% confidence level. 1995 to 2009 falls just short of statistical significance, not because of the 0.12C figure, but because it's only 14 years. That's why the question was framed with that specific time frame.

    That does not mean that there has been any statistically significant warming or cooling (or flattening) in the past 10 years. It can't yet be reliably distinguished from the noise.

    This was my point. You call out the warming of 1995 to 2009 as not being statistically significant but at the same time you're telling us that the last 10 years are showing us that global warming has stalled or stopped.

    In this case you can't have your cake and eat it too.
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  16. Re: Baz (305)

    It is truly difficult to take you seriously anymore. Your contention that Phil Jones introduced the period 1995 to the present is contradicted by your source. Here's Harrabin's questions to Jones:
    "A - Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

    B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    C - Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?

    D - Do you agree that natural influences could have contributed significantly to the global warming observed from 1975-1998, and, if so, please could you specify each natural influence and express its radiative forcing over the period in Watts per square metre."
    Nowhere in his response to question A does Jones introduce the period 1995 to the present. Therefore, it is Harrabin who introduces your period in question into the interview, not Jones as you contend.

    This has become completely tiresome. I leave it to the reader to decide if you have said anything germane or of value at any point. At the very least, it is to be hoped that someone, somewhere, has picked up something of value from this exchange.

    The Yooper
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  17. re: Rob Honeycutt (315,310,etc)

    Thank you for making the math of this clear. I am neither a statistician nor mathematician so the notion of what constituted "statistical significance" was never completely clear to me until reading your last few posts.

    re: Daniel Bailey (316)

    I was one of the first to come to the defense of Baz but after reading this ENTIRE thread I am having a hard time believing that he is a genuine skeptic. It has become tiresome rehashing the same points over and over.
    Despite that I feel I have learned a great deal in the course of the discussion so I thank all who contributed.

    -pbjamm
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  18. Re: pbjamm (317)

    I, too, came to his defense to allow him more time to make his case.

    As you state, I believe he has now made it. I would, however, make the point that most skeptics do not necessarily disagree with the scientific method or even some of the basic tenets of global warming or the greenhouse gas effects; they usually differ in terms of interpretation of various niggling points.

    There is a different term for those who make an unscientific case for their position.

    But thank you for taking the time to make your voice heard here. New voices, and the different perspectives they offer, are always welcome.

    The Yooper
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  19. Baz, why dont you look at individual model runs? - (predictions for climate are made from average of many runs because it isnt possible to accurately initialise models and the internal variation in models is highly dependent on initialization). An individual run shows you an example of what normal climate physics will produce on a year by year basis. And surprise, you have periods of cooling, slow warming - and rapid warming, but giving 30 year trends. Nothing that contradicts model going on.
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  20. @Baz #314

    You have stated:

    "KR. I didn't agree with the 20-30 period at all, I accepted that's what the general consensus of opinion is on this site. I have said before that I display confirmation bias (a perfectly human trait), but I'm in good company here."

    Will you also accept that the reason this is the general consensus on this site is because this is how the term "climate" is defined within the scientific community? Specifically, here is the definition of climate from the AR4 Synthesis Report Glossary:
    Climate
    "Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system. In various parts of this report different averaging periods, such as a period of 20 years, are also used.
    Scientific dialog is most meaningful when participants are using well-established terminology in a consistent manner. There may be other web sites that would be more amenable to your redefining established terminology to suit your argument.

    Confirmation bias may be a perfectly human trait, but it is poison to scientific reasoning. I don't know to what degree any other bloggers at this site might be guilty of this offense, but if you, personally, are guilty of it AND aware of it, then you relinquish any credibility to valid scientific reasoning. This site is supposed to be about scientific evidence, not to validating preconceived conclusions.
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  21. "KR. I didn't agree with the 20-30 period at all, I accepted that's what the general consensus of opinion is on this site."

    Umm, but the 20-30 year period is determined objectively from the statistical study of internal variability. I notice that you have given links to this long ago. The point of doing such studies is to have an objective basis for that "consensus opinion". Can you think of a better way?
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  22. @Baz: " I have said before that I display confirmation bias (a perfectly human trait)"

    So, you recognized you are biased, but will not try to correct that bias? And you wonder why we don't take you seriously?

    It's human to be biased, but it's rather stupid to continue being in the wrong once your errors have been pointed out to you.
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  23. pbjamm.... Science journalist Peter Hadfield (aka PotHoler54) does a really good job of explaining it here.

    In fact, he has a series of videos on climate change that is really good. Highly recommended.
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  24. archiesteel. I'm honest! It's a rarity these days. That's why it actually really annoys when someone says I'm a liar or dishonest. No, I'm completely open about my scepticism, my confirmation bias, my 'illogical' choice of 10 years of data. As I tried to point out (and I'm sure I don't need to!) I'm not a scientist or in any science field. I'm what Americans call a regular Joe - I'm indicative of the vast majority of people out there (I know because in my job I get to talk to lots of people). We don't see what you see. Maybe seeing it scientifically is wrong. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see something an expert has been staring at for some time. You might see noise and incomplete data, I might see something entirely different. Give it just a passing thought, at least.

    If I get time later I'm going to pop back and show you what my experience was like on here. But if I don't get time then, have fun - and stay healthy Archie!
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  25. Trying again - my last posting was apparently harsher in tone than I had intended.

    Baz - If you wish to argue from admitted confirmation bias and statistically unsupportable timeframes, just keep in mind that reality is a harsh critic. Hence the focus here on peer reviewed papers, evidence, statistical significance, etc.

    It's very important to keep in mind the "Average Joe" when discussing topics like climate change - that's one of the reasons for this site. Everyone in the field should be aware of the need to present science clearly and often, so that when policy decisions are made, they can be made in an informed manner.
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  26. Baz writes: I'm not a scientist or in any science field. I'm what Americans call a regular Joe - I'm indicative of the vast majority of people out there (I know because in my job I get to talk to lots of people).

    Everyone speaks only for her/himself here. You're writing solely on behalf of Baz; you don't speak for "the vast majority" of Americans, let alone for "the vast majority of people."

    FYI, though, when evaluating how representative your opinion is, you might consider that a large majority of Americans says that the federal government should regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming.
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  27. It's likely we've taken this subject as far as we can, but it's worth noting that Mr. Baz's intractable position on climate change, impervious to evidence and reasoning, and by his own admission built upon a foundation of mistrust for the scientific establishment, is very suggestive of what I was alluding to back in Post #54.

    I must respectfully disagree with Ned. I feel it's quite relevant and significant that Mr. Baz's views are representative of a very large number of our fellow Americans, who feel that common "street learnin' " trumps a Ph.D. degree any day of the week. (It's all the more painful to me when my own colleagues feel this way!)

    This has much more serious implications than just a bar room argument over whether you'd rather be able to fly or breathe under water. Mr. Baz and his friends vote; so it's not as if their opinions don't affect the lives of people throughout the world. I do, however, appreciate his candor, which as he justly claims is quite uncommon.
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  28. Like Baz, I am also an outsider to the sciences (my last exposure to it being in undergrad courses some years ago before I switched majors).

    Unlike Baz, however, I am not prepared to suggest that an outsider with no special training or expertise on a subject is capable of overturning a body of evidence assembled by hundreds of people with both qualities on the basis of a single, statistically-insignificant trendline.

    I certainly will not dispute that skepticism of any claim made in respect to AGW is required. I would, however, think that claims that run against the grain (so to speak) are to be scrutinized as closely as claims that are in favour of the current scientific consensus.

    Also, on topic for this thread, the tendency for contrarian websites to espouse mutually-contradictory arguments simultaneously is surely a blow to their credibility as sources of rational discourse and/or reasonable criticism of the way in which climate science is conducted.

    Personally speaking, after reviewing the excellent summaries of the science on this site, as someone with little formal training or understanding of the subject I feel like I know a lot more about how climate science works and how it has come to the conclusions it has regarding anthropogenic climate effects.
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  29. Re: Composer99 (328)

    While I don't speak for John Cook's or any of the regular authors here, I'm sure that they welcome the feedback. If there's anything unclear in your mind on any of the posts or if there's a topic left unaddressed or that you'd like to suggest a post on, please do speak up.

    Contrarians tend to run into many pitfalls, perhaps the deepest of which is the Dunning-Kruger Effect, to which extremely knowledgable and highly trained people can fall victim to. Others are Cognitive Bias and issues with Critical Thinking.

    The Yooper
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  30. Hello again! Ned, I didn't say that I am speaking for other people (did I?). What I think I said was that I am indicative of the vast majority of people out there. If you read the post you'll see what context that was placed in. I am sceptical (like very many) and don't fully understand the science (like very many!). I (we) look at a graph, I (we) see exactly what we see - we don't look at datasets. Do you see? That's the context in which I was trying to explain my choice of 10 years of data. As for confirmation bias, perhaps I might suggest people be a little more honest - with themselves and with others on here. No one is going to tell me that any of you would go to a Creationist website without your confirmation bias!

    Anyway, I really enjoyed the conversations and learned some things (especially from some of the links provided). Thanks to all. By the way Ned & CoalGeologist, I'm actually English, not American.

    KR, Points taken, that's what I like about this site, as there appear to be many knowledgable contributors.

    Could I take this opportunity to ask for your views on future Arctic ice? It's something I've been reading about for the past couple of days and I would like opinions. Many thanks.
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  31. Composer99. I'm not saying that ordinary mortals could overturn scientific consensus opinion, what I'm saying is that a scientist would look at a graph and not see anything to be concerned about, and put it down to noise or variations, whereas a 'regular Joe' might see a downturn in temperature. The regular Joes might turn out to be correct!
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  32. According to reasonably scientific inquiries as opposed to dubiously worded opinion polls (there's a difference) Baz is pretty much flat wrong in claiming to be part of a "vast majority of people out there."

    See this:

    Yale Project on Climate Change "Six Americas"
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  33. Baz #330: "No one is going to tell me that any of you would go to a Creationist website without your confirmation bias!"

    'I do not think that term means what you think it means.'

    Disagreeing with a position does not perforce mean that you have a confirmation bias against it. Rather, 'confirmation bias', indicates that you ignore evidence against your position and/or accept 'evidence' in favor of it... even if that 'evidence' is factually untrue.

    So, for instance... when creationists say that there are no 'transitional fossils' showing the evolution of wings (which they claim are 'irreducibly complex'... so complicated as to have to have been created in that final form rather than evolving over time) and steadfastly ignore the existence of Archaeopteryx (or 'flying' squirrels as a LIVING transitional form of the kind of wings evolved by bats) they are displaying confirmation bias.... believing something which is demonstrably untrue because it supports their underlying opinion.

    Show me one thing which 'those who accept the existence of AGW' believe which is provably false and we'll talk. Until then the confirmation bias is on the other foot so to speak.
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  34. @Baz: "Hello again! Ned, I didn't say that I am speaking for other people (did I?). "

    Yes, you did. You claimed to be Joe Average, to represent a majority of Americans, and you used "we" in that context.

    "What I think I said was that I am indicative of the vast majority of people out there."

    That is *exactly* the same as saying you speak for others.

    "I am sceptical (like very many) and don't fully understand the science (like very many!)."

    The problem is not that you don't fully understand the science, is that you cling on to fallacious notions even when people who *do* understand the science explain to you why you're wrong.

    If you want to learn the science, you'll have to start *listening* to those who know it.

    "No one is going to tell me that any of you would go to a Creationist website without your confirmation bias!"

    You don't understand what confirmation bias is. I suggest you start here for a simple explanation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

    "Could I take this opportunity to ask for your views on future Arctic ice? It's something I've been reading about for the past couple of days and I would like opinions."

    There are other threads on this site about this, but the short story is: it's declining rapidly, both in extent and density.

    "The regular Joes might turn out to be correct!"

    That is highly unlikely. If you don't care about statistical significance, then why not just look at the last three years, and see that the warming has restarted with a vengeance? :-)
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  35. CBD. I see a confirmation bias as a leaning toward finding truth in a position that confirms what they already believe. (and I don't want to get hung up on 'belief' in science!). I Googled it and got someting very close to my definition on wiki:
    "A tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true."

    However, that said, I would struggle to show a tenet of AGW that is provably false. I could always run with: 'Malaria will get worse with rising temps'! Oft stated, not provable!

    Anyways, what's your opinion on future Arctic ice?
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    Moderator Response: If you take a look at the upper left of the Skeptical Science home page, you'll see a box containing the word "Search..." Plug "arctic ice" into that box and you'll be presented with several better threads for taking up a discussion of the future of Arctic sea ice.

    In the interest of maintaining coherent discussion, please avail yourself of this advice.
  36. Baz - There's quite a lot on this site regarding Arctic ice: see here, here, and here as starters. It appears to be in fast retreat, but I would suggest asking questions on the appropriate pages (lest the moderators swat me with rolled-up newspapers).

    Actually, just go to the "News Archives" page and search for "Arctic" - lots of topics.

    As to the accuracy of a "Regular Joe" - I'd have to strongly disagree. If an actual downturn shows up, it will be evident from the measurements and statistics. If a dip in current temperatures appears and is not statistically significant, well, then the "Regular Joe" is quite simply mistaken, i.e., wrong. It's just noise - and (as in 2010 with near-record highs) we're likely to see swings in the opposite direction. An insignificant apparent trend isn't actually a trend!

    This "Regular Joe" reasoning is a prime example of a "Common Sense" logical error, Baz - one of many ways to be incorrect.

    Last but certainly not least - confirmatory bias involves rejecting arguments that disagree with your beliefs, while accepting anything that supports your beliefs, regardless of the strengths of the arguments - sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "La la la la la...." when someone disagrees. That's quite different from evaluating the strengths of various arguments and deciding which ones hold up, which is what science is all about. Make certain you know what you are saying when you admit to confirmation bias!
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  37. @Baz: "However, that said, I would struggle to show a tenet of AGW that is provably false. I could always run with: 'Malaria will get worse with rising temps'! Oft stated, not provable!"

    That is not a tenet of AGW theory. It's a possible result of rising temperatures, i.e. a potential consequence of AGW theory being true. It is not in itself part of AGW theory.

    As for Confirmation Bias, KR summed it up nicely. Confirmation Bias is not something you accept as part of one's outlook on science, it's something you try to minimize and avoid as much as possible when engaging in scientific thought.
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  38. Baz, where did you pick up that it's a "tenet" of AGW theory that malaria will get worse with rising temperatures? It's certainly possible, but I've actually never seen a source make such a claim. I'm not saying such a claim isn't possible, but the fact that I've been digging around climate science for a while and haven't seen it suggests that it hasn't reached "tenet" status. Ugh, strawpeople.
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  39. Re Arctic Ice. Okay will read what is on this site and come back. But what I really wanted to know was opinions on 'future' ice (next year, year after, etc.).
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  40. Baz (@331)... I believe what the scientist sees in such a graph is all the underlying information and has a strong understanding of the mechanisms at work. If the scientist is looking at the chart and saying this is expected noise in the data, that's most likely what it is. If the average Joe says in contradiction that it's cooling he's doing little more than playing extremely long odds.

    Think of it this way: The scientist hears a strange sound coming from the engine of his car. Not being a mechanic he makes an uneducated guess that it's really nothing important ("Eh, older cars just make funny noises."). A real mechanic who listens to the car understands all the parts under the hood and has a good sense of whether this is a sound to be concerned about or not.
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  41. Re: Baz (339)

    Neven's Arctic Sea Ice blog is frequented by some of the most knowledgeable and veteran Arctic Ice watchers around. Numerous posts monitoring this year's melt season, with comparisons to previous years' along with running commentary. Several offer up thoughts about next & coming year's ice cover.

    See also Romm's Climate Progress post from the other day on the demise of the Arctic Ice. And this one.

    Tamino has several posts on this as well (ice loss following a "quadratic fit").

    The Yooper
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  42. Thanks Daniel. I'm afraid Joe Romm is running exactly as they say he does (at WUWT). First comment allowed, second never even made a show - just wiped straight off. Tried a third - same result. Censoring does nothing for debating the issues! Tamino did the same to me a year ago when I pointed out that he had made an error. Thanks anyway.
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  43. @Baz: I've had comments deleted at WUWT as well, what's your point? The science presented on Climateprogress and Tamino's is sound, contrary to the usual driverl at WUWT... (Exception made of the rare times where Anthony invites an actual scientist, who is then universally panned in the comments...)

    As for Tamino's, it's likely you didn't in fact spot an error (considering your unrepentant admissions of confirmation bias, non-rationality and basic misunderstanding of statistics.

    If Tamino removed your post, then he probably had a good reason to do so. Instead of whining, you should take the opportunity to learn where you got the science wrong and correct your position accordingly.
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  44. Re: Baz (342)

    On this post by Neven, he lists the July Century Melts (individual days of 100,000+ km2 ice area lost):
    Century breaks in July:

    * 2005: 10
    * 2006: 3
    * 2007: 11
    * 2008: 4
    * 2009: 11
    * 2010: 2
    Note the alternating pattern of melts. If we get a decent Arctic Dipole formation in 2011, most of the remaining multi-year ice will be advected out the Fram. Basically, if we don't see some open water at the pole in 2011, we will in 2012. Maslowski's prediction, 2016 +-3 years, was based on older data (he said it was conservative). Note the quadratic line Tamino fit to the existing pattern of melt (and he was nearly dead-on for this year's melt). At some point, the summer insolation/Arctic Ocean albedo will will pass a critical threshold/tipping point and the majority of it will be lost in a summer...

    This doesn't mean NO summer ice; just that so much volume has been lost that the majority of what's left will be seasonal (winter ice) from that point forward. Some ice should linger just north of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland for a few more years. By 2013 we'll have a better idea of when even winter ice will cease to exist...

    The Yooper
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  45. Daniel, what's your opinion on the theory of a falling PDO that may cause considerable Arctic recovery, and then later (with a falling AMO) the possibility of it being brought back to 'normal'?
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    Moderator Response: I betcha there is a more appropriate thread (maybe more than one!) for that question. Follow Ned's example.
  46. Archie. Usual stuff then! Thanks for your always-delightful comment. I did spot an error, and thought I was being kind by pointing it out. It wasn't on a scientific point, but a numerical one.
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  47. Re: Baz (342)
    "Tamino did the same to me a year ago when I pointed out that he had made an error."
    Couple of points to make here:
    1. Tamino is a professional time-series data analyst; he checks his work microscopically for errors before posting. The errors I've seen have been typo's only, and are acknowledged cordially when pointed out. About his data analysis skills...the man has probably forgotten more about statistical analysis than any 3 posters on Skeptical Science know.

    2. How the message is constructed is often more important than the message itself. It's not what you say, but how you say it that is paramount. Diplomacy & tact may get you room for debate...
    Hope that helps.

    Baz (345)
    "Daniel, what's your opinion on the theory of a falling PDO that may cause considerable Arctic recovery, and then later (with a falling AMO) the possibility of it being brought back to 'normal'? "
    Not an area of expertise for me, but since you asked for an opinion: no evidence exists for either the PDO and/or AMO having any meaningful effect that possibly explains the warming seen to date (the warming introduced by the hand of man has now reached the point of perturbation of the system that natural cycles have been over-ridden). As such, they are immaterial.

    The summer of 2007 initiated such a catastrophic loss of multiyear ice (through ice advection) that a long term "recovery" of the ice became a fait accompli. That's when the "death spiral" began. The ice now remaining is on life support; the only question remaining is how little time left it has.

    The Yooper
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  48. Baz... Actually, archie is right. Both those guys will quickly delete comments with very basic level errors from either side of the fence. I've had comments deleted as well.

    I totally understand why they do. When people post basic erroneous material it leads to a long engagement that takes everyone off topic. Here at SkS you usually only get a warning and are redirected to the proper discussion thread.
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  49. @Baz: what was the error? A typo? Did Tamino correct it?

    You're attacking the reputation of a well-respected scientist, and an expert in his field; the least you could do is provide evidence.

    Why don't you show others the same courtesy you expect for yourself?

    Earlier you were quite rude and ill-mannered by basically saying we were close-minded for criticizing WUWT's status as a scientifically legitimate web site. I have yet to hear you apologize for such a broad accusation...

    So, please, substantiate your allegations. What was the error, and did Tamino fix it? Thanks.
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  50. Yet again I have to post a reply that clarifies what I said! I find this very tiresome. I think that WUWT is a very good website, not scientific like this one, or Tamino's, or Climate Audit. As you see if you look there now (as I just have) WUWT run non-climate pieces very often like the present Google-Earth meteor crater, and solar storms. If you read back you'll see that I was berated for going there! I find this behaviour very odd, to say the very least. I certainly wasn't rude (I never am) and there's a huge case of kettle/pot there!

    On the subject of Open mInd, no the 'typo' wasn't fixed while I was there, but I never went back to find out. I couldn't even hope to find it now.

    Archie, you've achieved what you wanted. I'm leaving this forum as I cannot devote my precious time to construct meaningless posts like this that serve no purpose in AGW debate. As an ad hominem is just not me, I'm going to leave it there for you to think over.

    Thanks to everyone for being patient and clarifying points. If we don't get the peak in temp that the UK Met Office is predicting in 2014, or if we get falling OHC, then I'll pop back to get your opinions based on that. However, if temps rise, and OHC goes up, then you won't need me back here. I hope, not for personal reasons, that I'm right and you're wrong.

    Thanks to 'the moderator' for allowing me my posts. Cheers.
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