Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Open Letter To Bob (or is it Bob?) Tisdale

Dear Robert/Roberta/Bob/Bobby/whatever,

How are you enjoying your retirement?  Last time I checked in with you the word on the interweb street was that you had chucked in the towel and gone to sit on a deckchair somewhere in the Florida Keys.  Appears you have taken your laptop with you because you are still churning out stuff and nonsense, mostly the latter.

Fowey Rocks lighthouse - is that an urban heat island I see in the distance?
So your postcard from Fowey Rocks lighthouse is mostly, let's say, useless.   There are 510x10e14 m2 making the surface of the Earth.  The lighthouse looks as if it has an area equivalent to a tennis court, that's 261m2.  I can't be bothered to calculate that as a percentage of the whole.  I think you might get my point.  The Fowey (pronounced, I hope Foy) Rocks lighthouse is not the globe and any graph you give that shows the area around it has not warmed cannot be extrapolated to the surface of the Earth as a whole.
Yet that is what you want the unthinking acolytes at WUWT to do.  Otherwise, why say:
The recent downturn in the data also doesn’t help their cause.

What I love most about your post is that you whinge about Sou at Hotwhopper's so called misdirections while at the same time doing precisely what you accuse her of.  Not that you are grown up enough to avoid the hypocrisy.  Oh, no.  And not without the unethical and downright immoral use of her real name instead of referring to her by her pen name.

For your edification, here are some famous literary pen names.  Can you give their real names?  Without looking.

Anatole France
Anthony Burgess
Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand - beloved of libertarians who don't understand what liberty is
C S Forester
Daniel Defoe
Dr Suess
Ellis Bell
Ford Maddox Ford
George Elliot
George Orwell
Harold Robbins
Ibn Warraq
John Lange
Joseph Conrad
Lewis Carroll
Martha Careful
O Henry
Sidney Sheldon

I bet you didn't know Ayn Rand was a pseudonym.  That might have punctured your love of her (I am making an assumption, correct me if I am wrong).

Anyway, Sou seems to have hit a raw nerve with you since you have now written twice about her, the first time in one of those open letters that you so love.  Remember your one to the TV producers.  That worked wonders, didn't it?  Have you ever considered that you are but a flea on the thick hide of an elephant?  Not ever much of an irritation.

But she has brought out the full allergic reaction in you.  Do you know where your epipen is?  Perhaps you better had, before your lips turn blue with apoplexy. 

Finally, Bobby, I shall quote Blaise Pascal:
Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
You still have not learned the lesson of brevity.

Yours faithfully


(the pen name of the felid in the iron mask?)

PS  AndThenThere'sPhysics take on the same subject is here.


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Saturday Funny - You're a denier if you believe this WUWT rubbish

Anthony Watts, so far as I can tell, has no sense of humour.  Like lots of men on a mission, he prickles at the slightest criticism and senses neither the irony nor the hypocrisy of his multiple positions (eg his hatred of tobacco and willingness to overlook the links between tobacco and the climate denial scam - see Merchants of Doubt).

But Anthony likes to post "funnies", usually cartoons by his favourite doodler, Tosh.  For example:
Used to demonstrate my critical point - not funny is it?
And sometimes there is a thing on Anthony's execrable site labelled "Friday Funny".  Yesterday it was You're a climate denier if... (archived) by guest blogger Mark Heyer.  If you're looking for something to tickle your funny bone, try elsewhere.  Like here, for example.  Nope, Mark Heyer, on this evidence, wouldn't know funny if it hit him in the face with a fish.

Let's look more closely:

Heyer says:
You believe that the atmosphere has continued to warm for the last 17+ years despite rapid growth of CO2. 97% of real climate scientists acknowledge that it hasn’t. They call it the “pause” or “hiatus” although there is no scientific evidence that warming will pick up again or when.
 Not a good start.  "You believe ... despite rapid growth of CO2".  I have put the key word here in bold.  Surely it should be "because" of rapid growth rather than "despite".  I think Mr Heyer has got this arse about face.  He doesn't believe despite the rapid rise.  I wonder if language is Heyer's first language.

And while we are at it, surely the correct word following "You" should be "accept" because science is about evidence and what that tells us and not what an individual scientist believes, unless, of course, you are  Roy Spencer or any of the other theological dimwits who signed the Cornish Pasty Alliance jape.

And 97% of real climate scientists...?  Where did that number come from?  Not Heyer's face, obviously.  He made it up (unless he can produce a citation for me) because it is the same number as Cook2013.  Real climate scientists?  I think we can be sure that this piece is bilious nonsense inspired by denialism and not intended in the slightest to be funny.

We know why Heyer chose 17+ years as well.  It takes up back to 1997, the year before a large El Nino gave a record high global temperature.  But no warming since then?  Think not.  And the 1998 record has been beaten, but that's no so funny so he doesn't bother to mention that.

If you believe that the observed West Antarctica warming is caused by warming of the atmosphere. Recent studies show that the heat is coming from volcanoes below the glacier. Besides, air temperatures in the area are far below zero. Ice doesn’t melt in subfreezing air.
 This is worrying.  Which glacier are we talking about?  The whole of the West Anarctic isn't one glacier.  And look at this diagram to see that melting doesn't have to come from the atmosphere (and, indeed, the diagram doesn't even mention atmospheric melting):
And volcanoes?  If you want to know more (and Heyer probably doesn't), you can go here for education and outreach.  I think Heyer is a little misled if he thinks that the widespread warming is influenced so strongly by volcanoes.  And even Heyer's own image doesn't back up his assertion (not to mention no citations, but that is standard for this).

If you believe that 97% of climate scientists support the claim that global warming is driven directly by man-made CO2. It is true that 97% believe in climate change, which is the question they were asked, which is like asking them if the sun rises in the morning. Far fewer agreed with the man-made warming question and few of them agree on the details.
 My heart bleeds because I am forced to put my own hand up and say that I am a denier denier.  Well, sort of, because I am not sure that Heyer has it right but he certainly doesn't have it right in the second sentence.  In reference to Cook2013, which this refers to without attribution, we know that climate scientists and the raters of the abstracts were pretty much in agreement and the figure of 97% is well evidenced.  But it wasn't the same as asking them if the Sun (capital letter please, it is a proper noun) rises in the morning.  But no citations from Heyer.  Fill in your own reason for that.

And there's more:
You believe that climate models accurately represent the climate of the earth. They don’t. Even the scientists who run them and the IPCC agree that they cannot predict the future of the climate. This is now obvious to everyone since they totally failed to predict the leveling off of atmospheric temperatures since 2000.
From the IPCC 2007:
There is considerable confidence that climate models provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly
at continental scales and above. This confidence comes from the foundation of the models in accepted physical principles and from
their ability to reproduce observed features of current climate and past climate changes. Confidence in model estimates is higher
for some climate variables (e.g., temperature) than for others (e.g., precipitation). Over several decades of development, models
have consistently provided a robust and unambiguous picture of significant climate warming in response to increasing greenhouse

I think that is pretty definitive a statement of computer models are actually pretty good but there are caveats.   Of course there are caveats.  Scientists are trying to learn and honing their skills and the models all the time.  What deniers want, as shown by the "they totally failed to predict" sentence, is perfection.  They want the models to give the weather for 4 July 2076 so they know whether to pack an umbrella for the tricentennial celebrations.  Time for deniers to look at the real world.  For a calm voice on computer models, see SkepticalScience.

Back to Heyer:
You think that climate models accurately model the behavior of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. They don’t. They are completely unable to model the behavior of 97% of the greenhouse gas, water vapor and clouds. The dire predictions of runaway global warming from CO2 were based on the conjecture that water vapor would amplify the effects of CO2. The lack of recent warming while CO2 continues to increase shows clearly that water vapor is either neutral or in fact suppresses the warming from CO2.
Oh, look.  It's the previous point repeated, just with a different set of pseudoevidence.  And there is that 97% number again.  Where did that one come from?  Not out of his face, I'll bet.

If you believe that around 2000, CO2 magically changed its mind and decided to warm the oceans instead of the air. Some scientists speculate that this is the case but there is little or no hard science to support the notion. Some even speculate that the heat is going into the deep oceans, even though there is no way to measure it or find it. 
Well, genuine scientists know that CO2 doesn't magically do anything and many have spent time trying to understand why the rate of heating did change.  They are doing what scientists do: try to understand the world around them. It is incredibly impolite for Heyer to type this paragraph in the face of recent research.  I won't cover it here, I'll give Sou some traffic, but suffice to say that modern methods are measuring the heat content of the oceans.  So I think we can put this one down to ignorance.

You believe that man-made global warming is causing climate disasters. The International Red Cross reports that natural disasters are at a ten year low. Tornado and hurricane activity have also been at near record lows.
I don't know about you, but here in the UK we're starting to get used to the tail end of hurricanes ripping across our country.  It happened last October (I was up at 5.30 helping my dad's neighbour with his disintegrating fence when the storm struck) and it happened again this month.  Now, I know it has happened in the past but it feels like the phenomenon is both more frequent and stronger.  It will be up to someone else to examine if there is a trend, but that's what scientists do.  For Americans, of course, a hurricane doesn't count unless it wipes out a big American city, like Miami.

But, of course, reality is not what deniers deal in, and Sou, once again (I don't know how she does it but she nails these guys - they are almost always guys - time and time again), shows what Anthony and his cronies don't want his readers to know.  Reality isn't the same as the deniers' cherry pick.

And, with that perfectly practiced lack of irony that deniers and pseudoscientists the world over have, Heyer finishes with his side splitting pant wetting punchline:
Don’t be an anti-science climate denier.
As a piece of humour, this one is pushing up the daisies.

From the comments:
Chip Javert says:

Actually, it’s nice to see claims about climate change backed up by facts.
Chip must have been reading a different article or failed his reading for understanding tests.

Frank Lee MieDiere

Without the graphs they’re merely statements. I ALWAYS want the evidence shown – even for a humorous piece. 
And Frank doesn't know the meaning of the word humourous.

J Carlton brings in the R word:
I learned a long time ago to never argue religion with a true believer. No matter how much information you have, it’s just beating your head against a brick wall.
 And then adduces this cartoon to support what he is saying, without actually understanding what the cartoon is truly pointing out:
Used to demonstrate that a satirical point can be made in a funny way - this cartoon is not by Tosh but I guess you knew that when you read it

My word, deniers are humourless and ignorant*. 

So this week's Friday funny turned out to be anything but.  Perhaps Heyer could read this:

*For any deniers who don't get this cartoon, science is represented by the man in the lab coat and deniers by the schmuck in the baseball cap.  Science has its established truths which the denier is stating (not arguing) are not true.  Just because a denier says it isn't true doesn't mean that it isn't true.  Heyer exemplifies the Schmuck case.  Now do you get it?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Missing the trees for the wood

I am reliably informed that 9/11 was a government job.  I am reliably informed because someone has told me so and, simple soul that I am, I am convinced.  No, not by the someone, but by the investigation that was carried out in the aftermath. 

My friend, on the other hand, is so convinced that the government, for some unexplained reason, wanted the twin towers destroyed that when I told them I didn't agree with them, their anguish was palpable.  They had proof, they said.  Watch this YouTube video.  Well, I did, and wondered why my friend couldn't see how he had been duped by someone and it wasn't the government.  He had been sold a three card trick. 

Watch and learn:

Did you watch it?  Did your head explode?  Did you spot what was wrong with the video?

If you didn't spot the flaw, let me tell you.  It is just plain wrong.  And it is wrong for so many reasons that a three year old could tell it was wrong.  At 23:39 we are told that America has made top secret antigravity powered aircraft.  Well, they are either so top secret that no one actually knows about them or they don't exist.  I am prepared to say that they don't exist.

My friend has a problem with the way he processes the information he is given.  He just misses the ifs and hears the must bes.  If, as the video suggests, America chose to use a top secret ball shaped drone to fly into the World Trade Centre, they would have chosen a pretty rubbish object to do it with.  Much better to use the traditional plane shape since it is much more controllable.  In fact, there is about 100 years of plane shaped planes and the saucer shaped things that were experimented with just after World War 2 were quickly abandoned because they were, well, rubbish. 

But my friend doesn't know this and because he doesn't know this he is open to being gullible.  If only he were better educated.  If only he tested the evidence and checked whether what was being told to him were true or not.  He found the video on YouTube so he could have found the live coverage from the major news networks in the USA and the news that a plane had hit the towers was pretty much instantaneous.  Yes, a plane.  Eyewitnesses on the phone as the second plane said struck said it was a plane.  Were they lying?  Of course they weren't.  If you don't trust me...

I feel somewhat sorry for my friend.  After all, he has bought the lie.  He doesn't have the apparatus to check, the cognitive one.  He doesn't understand that for the story to be true, all the pieces need to fit.  It's like one of those sliding tile puzzles - you can move them all over the grid but there is only one correct arrangement. 

I learnt that lesson because I had some good teachers.  I don't just mean my school teachers.  I mean Carl Sagan, James Randi, Martin Gardner, Kendrick Frazier, James Oberg.  All people who knew a huge amount more than me.  I felt in awe of them because of their abilities but I found I could gain some of their talents by emulating them.  And the thing to emulate was to ask the right questions. 

For example, if someone tells you that the US government has made some strange ball shaped drone, ask for better proof than a videotape of an airliner.  And if someone says no plane hit the twin towers, ask why the first eyewitnesses said they did.

This isn't a difficult game to play but it requires persistence because 911 Truthers, Climate Science Deniers and Moon Landing Hoaxers will repeat the same old handful of untruths time and time again.  Our old friend Lord Monckton has been repeating the same old untruth about the temperatures not going up since [insert starting point according to your cherry pick here] for as long as I care to remember (which actually in his case is about thirty seconds but in reality is a lot longer).  Since it would appear that 2014 is about to be one of the hottest years on record, if not the hottest, reality would seem to have shown Monckton to be wrong.  But reality isn't something Monckton seems to have much truck with and it would be a fair bet to say he will be repeating the same old same old next year regardless.

I'm not sure why I found reality to be more exciting than the conspiracy theories that seem to come up like mushrooms, often nurtured by the same growth medium.  Indeed, mushrooms is quite a good metaphor here - feed on manure, kept in the dark, sprout anyway. 

Because we understand the basic science so well, it is churlish to try to go against it.  Because we understand how the world works, we have great confidence in things like planes flying and saucers crashing.  My friend doesn't know it yet but one day he will probably realise his error.  It might be soon or it might be many years in the future, but it will happen.  The reason I am so confident is this: he will grow weary of being told he is wrong and finally check some of the evidence, and when he does so he will finally realise that his view of the world cannot work.  It would have to be so perfect as to be impossible. 

This is the fatal flaw of the denialist world view.  The denier wants everything to be perfect.  They want the world to fit their worldview, to conform to them, to do what they want it to.  But the real world is, like Brian Cox has just told me, like a game of cricket.  It has rules but it also has chance and the two combine to make a more or less predictable event.  We know the form of a game of cricket, but we don't know the details.  As more information is added, we start to see how it will end up.  Deniers don't understand that.  They want to know the result beforehand.

If you want to do some homework, watch Brian Cox's latest series.  I hope you get it wherever you are in the world.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Anthony Watts concern trolls his own site

From Anthony's latest post:
[NOTE: I've always believed that people who taunt others while hiding behind fake names aren't really contributing anything except their own bile and hatred. The two people that came to mind when I read this article were Dr. Joshua Halpern of Howard University aka "Eli Rabett" and Miriam O'Brien aka Sou Bundanga/Hotwhopper. These people are supposed to be professionals, yet they position themselves as childish cowards, spewing invective from the safety of anonymity while taunting people who have the integrity and courage to put their real names to their words. The best way to combat people like this is to call them out by their name every time they practice their dark art. To that end, and not just for these two losers, I'm stepping up moderation on WUWT. If you want to rant/spew from the comfort of anonymity, find someplace else to do it, because quite frankly I'm in a position in my life where I don't have the time to deal with this sort of juvenile crap. Be on your best behavior, otherwise its the bit bucket for you. Moderators, take note.. - Anthony]
I occasionally comment at WUWT but I do it anonymously.  I also do it using a real name.  Many have tried but none have succeeded in identifying who I am behind this mask of anonymity. 

Curiously, of the first twenty or so commenters, there was barely one with a full name so congratulations must go to Dyrewolf, njsnowfan, PiperPaul, Klem and Gekko for failing the irony test so quickly.  Indeed, Anthony (Willard Anthony Watts for long) fails to see the irony in this too.  And he certainly fails to see anything beyond the end of his nose.

Now, I don't know if Anthony read the full article but I doubt it.  The abstract and the press release that Anthony links to do not mention climate commenters but Anthony decides to do so.  And when you look at the tetrad of "narcissism, Machievellianism, psychopathy and sadistic personality" that the authors of the paper were looking for, you can't help but wonder what kind of mirror the commenters, and perhaps the contributors, to WUWT look in each morning.

But then again, when I have commented what I consider to be a fair comment at Willard's site, I get accused of being a troll.  So I have just examined myself.  Narcissism?  Not when you look like me - consider Lieutenant Columbo as a sartorial role model.  Machievellianism?  If Anthony knows what it means then I don't think he could apply it to me.  Psychopathy?  Doubt it.  Not in my profession.   Sadistic?  Really, I wouldn't have lasted more than 25 years in my profession with a sadistic or psychopathic tendency.  So I don't think I am a troll.

Nor do I think this research was really about the run of the mill commenters, the ones who think they have a valid point (even when they are mistaken).  No, this article was more likely about the vicious, nasty sort of internet habituĆ©.  I think we can name some, even through the smoke screen they put up.  In the end, the word troll is over used.  Most now take it to mean someone who dares to contradict the party line on the site where the comment is made.

Now here's a musical interlude: