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Friday round-up

Filed under: — group @ 24 July 2009

Two items of interest this week. First, there is an atrocious paper that has just been published in JGR by McLean, de Freitas and Carter that is doing the rounds of the denialosphere. These authors make the completely unsurprising point that that there is a correlation between ENSO indices and global mean temperature – something that has been well known for decades – and then go on to claim that that all trends are explained by this correlation as well. This is somewhat surprising since their method of analysis (which involves taking the first derivative of any changes) eliminates the influence of any trends in the correlation. Tamino has an excellent demonstration of the fatuity of the statements in their hyped press-release and Michael Tobis deconstructs the details. For reference, we showed last year that the long term trends are still basically the same after you account for ENSO. Nevermore let it be said that you can’t get any old rubbish published in a peer-reviewed journal!

Second (and much more interestingly) there is an open call for anyone interested to contribute to setting the agenda for Earth System Science for the next couple of decades at the Visioning Earth Science website of the International Council for Science (ICS). This is one of the umbrella organisations that runs a network of committees and programs that prioritise research directions and international programs and they are looking for ideas. Let them know what your priorities are.


533 Responses to “Friday round-up”

  1. 201

    Re 180. I hope you’re right, Wayne. It wouldn’t do any harm to have the press hold the deniers’ feet to the fire more often, and could do a lot of good. Their strategy to mostly throw beanballs would then be revealed.

  2. 202
    Martin Vermeer says:

    #187: Yeah this should get wider circulation. BTW it’s space-time warping (although perhaps a little misrepresentation makes it more convincing-looking)

  3. 203
    Rod B says:

    Jeffrey Davis (196), a picky OT correction. [edit – no more on Iraq please]

  4. 204
    simon abingdon says:

    Ray #193 If only 90% of the balls were black you’d be extremely lucky (only a 10% chance) to draw black 22 times in a row (0.9^22 = ~0.1). To have a 90% chance of doing so you’d need 99.5% of the balls to be black (0.995^22 = ~0.9). But since your number 22 comes out of the blue it’s hard to see what relevance there is to the assertion that “Our evidence is sufficient to claim 90% confidence that we are warming the planet”. How has this percentage been calculated? Is there some correspondence between AGW theory and your example?

  5. 205
    Steve Fish says:

    Steve Reynolds #176. I was unable to access rankexploits.com because of 404 Not Found and internal errors. As a scientist (retired) I find any accusations of censoreship or suppression of science by scientists to be both exceptional and very important to substantiate. Please try to post your information again here or elsewhere if this doesn’t work (it is not necessary to make an active link, although a little primer here or a link to one would be helpful). There are many non-experts who use this site for accurate information on climate science findings and we all need to be able to trust this source.

    I have to say that my previous attempts to verify accusations of suppression of science by the climate science community have not been fruitful, but I am trying to be vigilant.

    Steve

  6. 206
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Martin Vermeer, decent point but your ignoring the possibility of evidence morphing into dogma, which has been done by some in climate science.

    Huh. Welcome to Planet Reality. The real, non-invented problem is the certainty of made-up “evidence” morphing into dogma! There’s your criminals turned cops…

  7. 207
    Steve Reynolds says:

    182Chris Dudley: “There is a comment policy at Real Climate: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/comment-policy/

    If you feel that your comments have not been subject to that policy, then your best bet would be to no longer comment…”

    Actually, I think RC does follow its comment policy, although in a very biased way. For example this item:
    3.Only comments that are germane to the post will be approved. Comments that contain links to inappropriate, irrelevant or commercial sites may be deleted.

    It seems that most sites that present informed, thoughtful, and rational disagreement with RC are considered ‘inappropriate’, and comments linking them are deleted. Often links are allowed to much less informed and rational postings. I won’t speculate on the reason.

    For Jim Galasyn: “You mean you are physically incapable of posting links here?” Yes. I am certainly physically capable of submitting comments with those links, but if they are deleted, they are never posted.

    Another item:

    5.No flames, profanity, ad hominen comments, or you said/he said type arguments are allowed. This includes comments that (explicitly or implicitly) impugn the motives of others, or which otherwise seek to personalize matters under discussion.

    I think this is a good policy, and is well enforced if the target is on the AGW side. However, from comments I’ve seen, if the target is perceived to be on the other side, ‘ad hominen comments, … impugn the motives of others’ are very much allowed.

  8. 208
    wmanny says:

    The 50 signatories:

    In the spirit of playing the ball, not the man (though I note there has been no mention of NAS members Agnew, Austin, [Nobelist] Giaever, and Happer – it will be interesting to see who signs on moving forward) perhaps someone would like to dispassionately take on the text itself:

    “Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, accompany human industrial and agricultural activity. While substantial concern has been expressed that emissions may cause significant climate change, measured or reconstructed temperature records indicate that 20th – 21st century changes are neither exceptional nor persistent, and the historical and geological records show many periods warmer than today. In addition, there is an extensive scientific literature that examines beneficial effects of increased levels of carbon dioxide for both plants and animals.

    Studies of a variety of natural processes, including ocean cycles and solar variability, indicate that they can account for variations in the Earths climate on the time scale of decades and centuries. Current climate models appear insufficiently reliable to properly account for natural and anthropogenic contributions to past climate change, much less project future climate.

    The APS supports an objective scientific effort to understand the effects of all processes natural and human — on the Earths climate and the biospheres response to climate change, and promotes technological options for meeting challenges of future climate changes, regardless of cause.”

  9. 209
    stevec says:

    R. Pielke Jr has made some comments on the soon to be released NOAA paper The State of the Climate in 2008. From what I have read from the report his comments appear fair. Am I missing something?

  10. 210
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE Singer & “many periods warmer than today” (#39)…

    And what happened during those periods, like the end-Permian, when 95% of life on earth died.

    It’s amazing that a scientist familiar with geology & geological time scales would not consider that it just might eventually get hotter than now, that there might be delay time between GHG emissions and the over all warming of this big, beautiful earth. Even housewives understand a watched pot never boils….meaning it takes a very long time to heat up a big pot of water.

    Maybe Singer ought to get into the kitchen more often. He might learn some science.

  11. 211
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Rod B., can you support your champions with some evidence? Can you point to specific cases of corruption, or censorship, or dogmatic thinking?

    Why are these signatories not required to do any research, perform any science, before making suggestions about engineering our way out of a problem that has not been established as actually existing?

    Where is the evidence of the problem? Where are the papers that were not published? Where are the grant proposals that demonstrate a pattern of deceit?

    Waffle on a about judgments, gut feelings, whatever you prefer, but at the end of the day you’re committing the same error of which you so enthusiastically accuse the scientific community. Your particular dogma is that a fundamental problem of incompetence and corruption has captured multiple disciplines and is leading us down the path of perdition.

    Your dogma if you prefer to call it that is inferior because it has no supporting evidence.

    You and yours can’t produce this evidence, perhaps because it does not exist, maybe because you’re really not interested in knowing the facts, or possibly for some other unfathomable reason. Yet we’re supposed to take it on faith that we should ignite a major upheaval in the established process of doing science and in particular how climate research is being performed.

    Regarding the “non-partisan” body suggested by the signatories, can you propose a specific mechanism less susceptible to corruption than either the IPCC or the established scientific publishing arena?

    And before making remarks about the existing system, remember you have to produce -evidence- behind whatever assertions you’re tempted to make.

    How would the members of the “non-partisan” body be chosen? Would we include inferior scientists simply because they held a contrary position to the mainstream of research output? Would we need to lower the bar of acceptability for their work?

    And for that matter, what exactly does “non-partisan” mean? What factions are we speaking of? Have we even established that such factions exist? Can you identify them?

    Again the entire premise behind the Nature letter is that a serious problem is in need of correction, but we’ve not been shown a scintilla of evidence to support that claim. On that basis we’re supposed to accord these people respect and follow their faith wherever it may lead.

    Not likely.

  12. 212
    Doug Bostrom says:

    “I asked Doug a simple objective question (which he answered in the affirmative), and also made a simple declarative statement that all (except maybe one as it turns out) of the assertions in the open letter are judgmental, meaning interpretative of hard data. Which they are; and even though that doesn’t say one iota of their statements being correct or even anywhere near, your “dogma” can not permit my statement.”

    And you assiduously avoid the main point of what you’re forcing me to repeat, which is that some evidence of incompetence or corruption is a necessary requirement for these people to have any credibility.

    How exactly is it “dogma” to ask, for instance, how 2+2=5?

  13. 213
    Aaron Lewis says:

    One Question asked three ways:
    When we see “surprising” ice melt somewhere, does that mean some body of air is cooler than predicted (under conservation of energy); or, that more heat came into the system than projected by the models?

    Likewise, when we find sea water that is warmer than expected, does that mean that somewhere we should find air temperatures that are cooler than expected?

    Are we certain that the models correctly estimate the partitioning /equilibrium of heat between air, water, and ice? Perhaps, at current air temperatures, more heat is going into ice and water faster than the models estimate?

  14. 214

    #201, Lawrence, wait till the next article, of whatever gem a contrarian says… Might as well start!

  15. 215
    Rod B says:

    Oh! Lynn! Watched pots certainly do boil [smiley face]. With science and knowledge of the parameters you can calculate within seconds when a pot will boil.

    The open letter never claimed that hotter global temperatures wouldn’t cause problems. One could infer something different from their words, and they might have surreptitiously hoped for this, but they didn’t claim it.

  16. 216
    Martin Vermeer says:

    For the record, I’m feeling decidedly unlucky over what my president understands, including (but not limited to) climate science.

    Obama is like Jesus: cares for you even though you don’t believe in him :-)

  17. 217
    Mark says:

    “Ray #193 If only 90% of the balls were black you’d be extremely lucky (only a 10% chance) to draw black 22 times in a row (0.9^22 = ~0.1). To have a 90% chance of doing so you’d need 99.5% of the balls to be black (0.995^22 = ~0.9). …

    Comment by simon abingdon”

    Nope, you’re assuming there that the chance of a black ball there is known.

    Currently, for the ball-puller (ooh-er missus!) this is not.

    Therefore if 90% of the balls pulled are black, you cannot yet say that 90% of the balls are black.

    There is a confidence limit on that figure.

    Now, if you’ve taken 20 of the 22 balls out and 18 of them are black, you KNOW that you can’t have anything less 2 white balls in the bag originally out of 22 (91%) and you can’t have anything more than 4 white balls in the bag (81%).

    But what if you’ve taken 20 out of a bag of unknown (but vastly more than the number you’ve taken out) size?

    That is where you have your CONFIDENCE LIMIT.

    90% +/- what?

  18. 218
    Steve Reynolds says:

    205Steve Fish: “I was unable to access rankexploits.com because of 404 Not Found and internal errors.”

    Try this:
    http://rankexploits.com/musings/

    Maybe the moderator will surprise me and let the link through.

  19. 219
    Rod B says:

    Doug Bostrom (208, 209): Who are my champions that you want me to support?? You don’t have the faintest idea who my champions are.

    Are you claiming the signatories have done no research, science or publishing in climate science? Or did you find a few who hadn’t and that’s close enough?

    “Waffle on a about judgments…”
    Though that was the crux of my assertion that, other than loud rants (erudite to be sure), you didn’t (and can’t) refute.

    “Your particular dogma is that a fundamental problem of incompetence and corruption has captured multiple disciplines and is leading us down the path of perdition.”
    Huh? Where on earth did you pull that from? (don’t answer literally; this is a family blog). I (nor the open letter for that matter) never said anything about incompetence and corruptness.

    I can’t conceive of a nonpartisan body if nonpartisan refers to science. If you’re referring to the statement, “It requests that an objective scientific process be established, devoid of political or financial agendas”, I don’t see how anyone can object to such an ideal. It does have a problem IMO that, like you I take it, I can’t envision such an ideal as a pragmatic reality.

    The current climate science community as a whole and (possibly…) the IPCC might be the least susceptible to corruption, though not free of susceptibility to corruption. Both are susceptible to some degree to bad science, the IPCC far more than the field at large because it’s primarily a political body.

  20. 220
    simon abingdon says:

    Mark #214 “We draw 22 balls (with replacement)” RTFQ

  21. 221
    Mark says:

    “Are we certain that the models correctly estimate the partitioning /equilibrium of heat between air, water, and ice? Perhaps, at current air temperatures, more heat is going into ice and water faster than the models estimate?”

    Perhaps they are.

    But then that would be seen in the spread of ensemble runs where some have the right physics in it to show this and some don’t.

    Then again, most likely they aren’t. Since you don’t have a theory about how this could happen, this isn’t yet even in the hypothesis realm. Merely WAGing.

    Still, what would happen in the physics we DO know about if any one of them were so?

    Ice: melt quicker. We can spot that.

    Water: well deep ocean isn’t currently in equilibrium with the CO2 content at the moment and as water warms, we get less temperature NOW but more CO2 later. This doesn’t sound good. Then again, that just means we must reduce CO2 ***now*** rather than later, so that when the ocean does burp, we’re already reducing the CO2 out there and hopefully we can avoid an alarming shift in CO2 to new and more worrying regimes.

    But we don’t have a good model of that yet and the discrepancy in energy terms isn’t huge.

    Yet.

    But the models will include anything that pans out. It’s what climate scientists DO for their money.

    Plotting to take over the world is merely a hobby…

    ;-)

  22. 222
    wmanny says:

    To the IPCC guidelines on uncertainties and away from Ray’s example, see:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4_UncertaintyGuidanceNote.pdf

  23. 223
    Hank Roberts says:

    Aaron, the climate scientists may want to answer some of your question; I’ll just flag that knowing the details matters enormously, but takes much longer than knowing the overall result.

    Biology’s just starting to be considered, e.g.
    http://www.sciencecodex.com/the_ocean_mixes_up_sea_life_but_the_sea_lifes_mixes_back

    But we’ve known for a long time that biology is involved over long time spans, e.g.
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?sourceid=Mozilla-search&q=plankton+greenhouse

    If you’re looking for good reading, there’s plenty.

    If you’re looking for someone to say everything is known, or an excuse to say that since we don’t know everything we can’t be sure about anything, you won’t find that in the science journals.

  24. 224
    Jacob Mack says:

    Mclean did not use proper methodology and his assumptions on “pre-inductrial,” CO2 is incorrect and he fails to keep in mind the logarhythmic relationship btw CO2 levels and warming effects. He correctly discusses some effects of ENSO, but all of this has been known for a long time; even proposed more than 3 decades ago before more evidence was uncovered to support such myriad of variability factors; (thermohaline, ENSO, Milankovitch cyles, convection, advection, etc…)

  25. 225
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oboy. I mentioned this in an earlier comment. Worth a quote and a nod to the modelers (what’s Dr. Le Quere been doing lately?)

    This is quotable (good job by some press report writer I guess, although not entirely new as suggested in the first paragraph, there have been other reports in previous years):

    http://www.sciencecodex.com/the_ocean_mixes_up_sea_life_but_the_sea_lifes_mixes_back

    —-excerpt follows—–

    Posted On: July 29, 2009 – 7:10pm

    “The perspective we usually take is how the ocean–by its currents, temperature, and chemistry–is affecting animals,” says John Dabiri, a Caltech bioengineer who, along with graduate student Kakani Katija, discovered the new mechanism. “But there have been increasing suggestions that the inverse is also important, how the animals themselves, via swimming, might impact the ocean environment.”

    Dabiri’s and Katija’s findings show this inverse to be true, and are published in the journal Nature….
    After a series of calculations, Dabiri and Katija were able to estimate the impact of this biogenic ocean mixing. “There are enough of these animals in the ocean,” Dabiri says, “that the global power input from this process is as much as a trillion watts of energy, comparable to that of wind forcing and tidal forcing.”

    While these numbers are estimates, they are likely to be conservative estimates, Dabiri says. “They were based on the fluid transport induced by individual animals swimming in isolation.”

    Dabiri says the next major question is how these effects can be incorporated into computer models of global ocean circulation. Such models are important for simulations of global climate change scenarios….

    —–
    And, no, just because this isn’t in the models doesn’t mean the models are wrong. The models know mixing happens. Some of the details about how that happens have thus far been left as an exercise for the scientists, which they’re beginning to fill in

  26. 226

    Tried posting via the comments popup => server error, so let’s see if this works from the main page.

    #154 Wayne Davidson: “My solution for any person or scientist siding with the contrarian point of view”… That’s the whole problem, isn’t it? “Siding with a point of view” is not science, it’s ideology or religion. I for one (and I don’t doubt this of any real scientist) would be ecstatic if the dire predictions of the mainstream were falsified in favour of a much less dire outcome. My worry is that this one-sided attack on the science is forcing scientists on the defensive wrt exploring even more dire outcomes, for fear of the being labelled “alarmist”.

    Anyone who has read the real scientific literature will know that the error bars go both ways, and those are the unknowns we know enough about to include in the models. The science of predicting tipping points is much less certain as far as I can determine.

    But I agree with your central point. These people are unable to predict anything useful; it’s all hindcasting with careful cherry picking and data massaging. That’s of course the irony of their position. They demand that the mainstream predict with greater precision than is really needed to make decisions, but somehow find it acceptable that they can’t predict with enough precision to make any kind of sense.

    There’s a simple lesson in this, in how to be a negative contrarian: imagine everything the mainstream could do wrong, make those mistakes yourself, then incorrectly accuse the other side of those very mistakes to distract attention from the inadequacies of your own position. Worked for tobacco can’t be bad for you, worked for HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, works for climate change inactivism.

    Sadly some people are impervious to logic, e.g. see the comment at my blog by one Greig, a frequent online commentator in Australia, in which he says “I disagree that simply because a hypothesis does not attempt to predict the future, that it is necessarily weak”. And this is someone relatively well informed who seems to have a science or engineering background.

  27. 227
    Jim Bouldin says:

    John Mashey (52):

    I believe you have raised an important issue John and made some very good points, as usual. It is one that has been on my mind recently also. I can’t necessarily speak to how general of a problem it is, but I do believe the system for commenting on published articles is faulty and needs to be overhauled, at least for some societies’ journals. To clarify, we are talking about peer-reviewed Comments–and responses by the original authors–not simple correspondences to the journal (like a letter to a newspaper).

    First, some journals, not sure how many, do not even accept Comments at all. If you disagree with a particular article’s findings, you have no recourse but to submit a new paper presenting your evidence. Such a paper will, as you note, generally take a year or two to see daylight, longer if you have to collect/obtain/assemble/error check some new data or do some time-consuming new analyses. Very poor turnaround time, and a generally poor policy. One cannot help but wonder if some journals don’t want to have to admit that they may have published some bad science (even if that will in fact become apparent eventually).

    Second, even for those that do allow same, you will notice that there are not very many Comments published, compared to the number of articles published. That means that (1) either the science is very good, (2) bad science is not being responded to, or (3) countering viewpoints are being expressed in new articles (or perhaps now, blogs). Or some combination thereof.

    The putative purpose for allowing Comments to be published is to provide a short, directed and quick response to the particular propositions of a paper, to obviate any long delay in presenting alternative views. But it doesn’t always work this way. For instance, almost a year ago, I submitted a Comment regarding a paper* that came out in Geophysical Res. Letters (GRL) im June ’08. It was a highly flawed paper, but controversial, and so received quite a bit of popular press** as a “revolutionary” finding. To make a long story short, it’s been over a year now, and though finally accepted, the thing is still some (unknown) time from being published. There were some quite suspicious circumstances involved along the way and I had to make a fairly big stink about it, to keep it from being rejected (or accepted in a form unacceptable to me). And I had a very strong set of counter-arguments coming from several angles. It was far more time consuming, aggravating and cumbersome than it had any need or right to be. I also can’t help but wonder how it would have proceeded if a well known ecologist (Tom Swetnam, Jerry Franklin) had written the same thing, rather than a nobody like me.

    If the kind of experience I had is even marginally common, journals will have nothing to say as criticisms of papers appearing in them are increasingly taken to task in blogs, personal websites etc. They really need to create a forum for quick turn-around, well-reviewed, criticisms of published work. There’s no excuse for not doing so.

    * Fellows and Goulden, 2008. Has fire suppression reduced the amount of carbon stored in western U.S. forests? Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L12404, doi:10.1029/2008GL033965.

    **
    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/725/1
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=wildfires-may-improve-forests#comments

  28. 228

    #224 Philip, I agree, but we must take sides, however the contrarians are creating a false debate, which requires to take sides, and at least reject their propaganda, as it is truly a political stance that they take, rather than a scientific one. The true debate, backed by the correct majority, is how fast this warming is happening and how bad it will be in the next years, decades, because of AGW. The real focus should be there. But that doesn’t stop me from exposing contrarians as mouth pieces for inanity. I rather think that they, unwittingly, bring out the debate to the fore, and they should consider that all their attempts bring out what is best about science, raising the reality of now; sea ice melting, glaciers retreating, GT’s going up again and again is a necessary thing to broadcast, the more often the better. Crediting those who brought out the correct GT forecasts done in the past, is not done enough, the credibility of those being correct is the true reason why contrarians bark on the wrong tree, they cant compete with good science…

    “I disagree that simply because a hypothesis does not attempt to predict the future, that it is necessarily weak”

    Is the contrarian modus operandi; climate science is weak, it cant predict anything, anyones theory is as good as as anyone else. Therefore the false debate.

    The reply is “put up (a prediction) and stand by it or you are a nobody in this field.

  29. 229
    Rod B says:

    Martin, but as the book says, in the very final analysis I’ll be thrown under the bus!

  30. 230
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon Abingdon, the appropriate statistical model in this case is binomial statistics. You can show this in Excel–look at the probability of 22 straight successes, varying the probability of success until the probability dips below 10%. Or, you can look at reliability tables for sampling. Keep in mind that confidence is not really a probability as such.

    [Response: Actually, for any possible fraction of white balls (p = [0,1]), you can calculate the probability of getting 22 black balls (with replacement) as (1-p)^22, which will range from 1 to infinitesimally small. You can then calculate the probability that the next ball is W|p as (1-p)^22/ int_0^1{ (1-p)^22 dp} from Bayes theorem (assuming a uniform prior). i.e. P(W|p) = 23*(1-p)^22. The expected value of P(W) is then (I think) just the int_0^1{ P(W|p)*p dp} = 1/24 or just over 4%. (can someone confirm I got that right?). – gavin]

  31. 231
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Steve: Surprise!

  32. 232
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Jim Bouldin 29 July 2009 at 5:55 PM

    Playing devil’s advocate, I suppose staffing even at GRL is sparse, and reviewers capable of dealing usefully with particular comments are probably in even shorter supply. My SO is an editor and reviewer both, depending on the journal, and I spend significant portions of my soothing budget helping her stay calm about the demands on valuable time resulting from her commitment.

    (For the uninitiated, it’s probably helpful to understand that reviewers receive no compensation for this picky and highly charged work, receiving as their only recompense irritable emails from editors demanding to know when reviews will be received. Scientists filling editorial slots also get practically nothing, in return for vastly more aggravation).

    Imagine the converse, with poor damping compared to what you see now. Then you’d probably have people like myself and Rod B. sticking our oars in the water, generating a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, etc., except in the case of professional journals our “contributions” would be actively destructive to progress.

  33. 233
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Rod B 29 July 2009 at 2:52 PM

    See if you can read this, and understand. I’ll try my best to be clear.

    “Are you claiming the signatories have done no research, science or publishing in climate science? ”

    No, I’m saying that by demanding a non-partisan oversight organization to supervise climate-related research, which they further demand be free from financial and political considerations, the signatories of the letter to which I am referring (that in Nature) are by implication expecting us to –understand and agree that the current system is corrupt–.

    They have not demonstrated that the current system is corrupt.

    They show no evidence of corruption, only what appear to be gut feelings. They are not being scientific about constructing their argument, though ironically they’re not only attacking science but are in fact in some cases themselves scientists.

    Would you like me to express this yet another way?

    Assuming I have made myself clear, do you agree with the letter writers that the current system is substantially corrupt?

    Regarding the dogma to which you appear to subscribe, it’s suggestive by your staunch defense of the ragtag group of contrarians and their unproven assumptions about climate-related research that you too adhere to the notion that something really stinks about the current climate related scientific community. You and they give the appearance of believing this corruption to be so threatening that it requires essentially a revolution in the scientific community in order to correct the situation.

    If you don’t agree that something is wrong with the current scientific community in the way the letter writers imply, without evidence, all you need do is say so and any further basis of disagreement for this particular discussion is done as far as I’m concerned.

    Do you agree with the implied charge made by the Nature letter authors? Is the current climate related scientific community so corrupt that we need a wholesale reconstruction of how climate research is performed?

  34. 234
    John Mashey says:

    re: #162 Burgy

    re: Moorad Alexanian (thank goodness, Googleable!)

    Since you know him, please help me with my research (into where anti-science comes from, especially in those few scientists who do it, and especially why certain physicists do this. My current category list may be missing something.)

    1) From examining his C.V., I find:

    a) A bunch of publications in peer-reviewed journals on two-photon interactions, Raman scattering, quantum optics, etc; certainly worthy areas. I.e., he seems a decently-published physicist, although I’m certainly unqualified to assess his contributions, other than what I can see from Google Scholar.

    b) No peer-reviewed climate-science publications (or any others I could find).
    He seems to have signed the OISM petition, so this isn’t new.

    2) Most scientists I know are conservative in what they say, and especially decline to comment strongly on scientific disciplines far away from their own field(s), or ones they have at least spent some serious time studying.

    3) The piece he signed in essence erases (see “agnotology”) the last 20-30 years science, not in his own area, but in another for which it’s hard to find evidence of expertise. Again, you know how big a field physics is…

    4) Might you ask him, most politely:

    a) Does he realize 3)? He is basically asserting the total incompetence of an entire other field that seems rather far away from his own.

    b) If so, does he have specific science to basically reject the work of large number of scientists? Is there some reason he believes their work to be of low-quality, in general? Has he seriously studied up? What are his sources?

    c) Can he say how he learned about this petition and decided to sign up?

    d) He is in UNCW department of Physics and Physical Oceanography. Does he talk to the folks who do the latter? (Might you know if there some “issue” here between Atomic Physics and Marine Sciences @ UNCW? I ask since some of the most intense politics I’ve ever seen were inside university departments.)

    e) And finally, suppose a bunch of (for example) atmospheric physicists petitioned the APS to essentially erase his last 20-30 years’ research from human knowledge. How would he feel about that?

    f) As you know, reputation matters in science. Do you think this enhances his reputation as a scientist or not?

  35. 235
    Phil. Felton says:

    Re #225
    Oboy. I mentioned this in an earlier comment. Worth a quote and a nod to the modelers (what’s Dr. Le Quere been doing lately?)

    This is quotable (good job by some press report writer I guess, although not entirely new as suggested in the first paragraph, there have been other reports in previous years):

    http://www.sciencecodex.com/the_ocean_mixes_up_sea_life_but_the_sea_lifes_mixes_back

    —-excerpt follows—–

    Posted On: July 29, 2009 – 7:10pm

    “The perspective we usually take is how the ocean–by its currents, temperature, and chemistry–is affecting animals,” says John Dabiri, a Caltech bioengineer who, along with graduate student Kakani Katija, discovered the new mechanism. “But there have been increasing suggestions that the inverse is also important, how the animals themselves, via swimming, might impact the ocean environment.”

    Good to see one of my former students doing well. :)

  36. 236
    John Mashey says:

    re: #232 Doug

    Anyone who’s done any of this knows how much work it is … but do you really mean that scientific publishing should not take *any* advantage of modern technology?

    It already takes work to select letters to the editor … but a letter is a poor vehicle in comparison with an article, and it is just plain silly for refutations of dumb articles to take a year or two, and it lowers the quality of information collected together. Sites that are tightly-moderated don’t collect junk, because random babblers stop trying.

  37. 237
    John Mashey says:

    re: #191 Steven T. Corneliussen

    Thanks, I may take you up on your kind offer later on, but I have a lot of work to do on this first.

  38. 238
    Martin Vermeer says:

    #230 Gavin:

    > (assuming a uniform prior).

    But that’s the twist, innit? In real life there’s likely to be a spike at p = 0. Just like real-life coins have a spike at (or around) p = 0.5.

    I can confirm your integral… substitute q = 1 – p and integrate the terms separately.

  39. 239
    Gavin (no not that one) says:

    [Response: Actually, for any possible fraction of white balls (p = [0,1]), you can calculate the probability of getting 22 black balls (with replacement) as (1-p)^22, which will range from 1 to infinitesimally small. You can then calculate the probability that the next ball is W|p as (1-p)^22/ int_0^1{ (1-p)^22 dp} from Bayes theorem (assuming a uniform prior). i.e. P(W|p) = 23*(1-p)^22. The expected value of P(W) is then (I think) just the int_0^1{ P(W|p)*p dp} = 1/24 or just over 4%. (can someone confirm I got that right?). – gavin]

    yes, that seems right. Using a beta conjugate prior (with alpha = 1 and beta = 1 so it is uniform), then the posterior distribution for the probability of success in a Bernoulli trial after witnessing no successes (s=0) and f=22 failures is p(q|s,f) = (q^s(1-q)^f)/B(s+1,f+1). Then the desired probability is obtained by marginalising over p(q|s,f), i.e. p(w) = \int p(w|q)p(q|s,f)dq = E_p(q){q} = 0.0411.

    Bit early in the morning for maths for me, so I can’t guarantee that is correct, and also I didn’t read the original question, so it may be the right answer to the wrong question!

  40. 240
    simon abingdon says:

    Going back to Ray #184 “Actually, 90% confidence does not equate to a 10% chance of being wrong. It is merely a measure of the amount of what the amount of evidence we have to date allows us to claim” and #230 “Keep in mind that confidence is not really a probability as such” and leaving aside for now calculation of the odds against drawing 22 black balls in a row, does a statement such as “I have 50% confidence that the next coin toss will be heads” make any sense? If not please provide me with a definition of the word “confidence” (as a quantitative measure) so as to give me some idea of what your assertion “Our evidence is sufficient to claim 90% confidence that we are warming the planet” can possibly mean. Thanks.

  41. 241
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gavin @230: Yes, I think that is right. The thing is, though, for the case stated, we have zero evidence that there are ANY white balls–just as we have zero evidence favoring the proposition that a)the globe isn’t warming; or b)that CO2 isn’t behind that warming. What binomial treatment gives that the Bayesian treatment doesn’t is the confidence–though the Bayesian treatment does produce likely intervals.

  42. 242
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., evidence does not become dogma. Evidence is what you use to avoid belief becoming dogma. That is an example of the fuzzy, imprecise, reactive and contrarian thinking that prevents you from understanding scientific inference.

  43. 243
    Fred Staples says:

    Actually, Mark (184)not all Physicists are earnest. One of the very few original lab reports which I looked up was Millikan’s famous oil drop experiment.

    He was measuring the charge of an electron, and he knew the answer.

    In the margin of his notes, beside a correct result, he wrote “good one, Publish”

  44. 244
    Gavin (no not that one) says:

    Ray #234: The posterior distribution of p(q|s,f) is sharply peaked at zero, and while we indeed have no direct evidence that any white balls exist, that doesn’t mean the available evidence suggests that it is safe to assert that there are no white balls, it depends on your prior beliefs, which are at least explicitly stated in the Bayesian formulation. That conclusion is equally applicable to the evidence for a lack of warming, if the Polya urn was a suitable model in the first place.

    BTW, arguably a credible interval is more useful than a confidence interval, but lets not go there! ;o)

  45. 245
    Gavin (no not that one) says:

    Simon #240: I would take “Our evidence is sufficient to claim 90% confidence that we are warming the planet” to suggest that the evidence constrains the value of the actual long term trend to be non-negative. In other words, the “confidence” is the probability that the value of the trend lies in a particular interval, without specifying its exact value.

    For the Polya urn example, the posterior distribution for q (the probility of drawing a white ball in a single trial) has a Beta distribution that is sharply peaked at zero (i.e. the maximum a-posteriori prediction is that there are no white balls in the urn). The expected probability is given by marginalising over the posterior and is 1/24, as Gavin (the real one) demonstrated. However we can also have a credible interval which tells us the values for q are plausible given the evidence. The narrowest interval would start at zero and widen until it covered 95% of the area under the p.d.f. at a value Q). We could then say that we were 95% confident that the probability of drawing a white ball is less than Q.

    HTH

  46. 246
    Martin Vermeer says:

    …please provide me with a definition of the word “confidence” (as a quantitative measure) so as to give me some idea of what your assertion “Our evidence is sufficient to claim 90% confidence that we are warming the planet” can possibly mean.

    Yes, source of frequent puzzlement. What it means is that, if we had at our disposal 10 “test Earths”, otherwise similar in properties, but lacking the increase in greenhouse gases; then one of these would be expected (i.e., a 10% probability) to nevertheless display similar temperature increases as we are seeing on our home planet.

    This is the frequentist definition. Problem with it being of course that we only have the one Earth we are actually experimenting on. But in the modelling universe, one can actually build such an ‘ensemble’.

  47. 247
    ccpo says:

    Re: the extended whine about censorship:

    I am an ardent AGW awareness activist and downright giddy when slapping denialists upside their heads. Yet, I’ve had messages not published here. Rest assured, if your post was not published, it didn’t deserve to be or was eaten by the Ghost in the Machine.

    By the same token, I have been banned from posting at Watts up. Call a spade a spade and that’s what you get. Go figure.

    Now kindly be quiet.

  48. 248
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon Abingdon,
    One would more likely state that the probability of a coin toss coming up heads is 50%. Confidence has to do with how well you know that probability. How wrong could it be? How often could the evidence used to derive the probability conspire to make you draw the wrong conclusion? Deriving a confidence level implies a statistical model. In the sense that the IPCC is using confidence, it is probably a Bayesian approach.

    Again, though, think of our problem with the jar: Our evidence only allows us to state that fewer than 10% of the balls are white with 90% confidence. We have no evidence that there are ANY white balls, and indeed we’d be foolish to bet the next ball would be white, regardless of the odds given. In a binomial sampling experiment, we can never establish that there are no white balls with 100% confidence. At some point, though, (and 90% is usually a pretty good level) the smart money knows how to bet.

  49. 249
    Mark says:

    “One of the very few original lab reports which I looked up was Millikan’s famous oil drop experiment.

    Comment by Fred Staples ”

    Uh, that’s not dishonesty as Plimer et al put it when talking of the IPCC et al.

    It IS an example of how if you know the answer you can get a wrong answer, though. The original value produced in the original experiment was wrong. Each subsequent trial to find it got a slightly different answer, but closer and closer each time to the right answer.

    How?

    Because they “knew” that the number should be “about” what they’d been told, they discarded data or didn’t publish at all if they had a figure wildly different from what others had.

    This doesn’t apply too well to AGW (and is, in any case, part of that “1-10% probability we have it wrong” thing, hence acknowledged: if you think you have something that realises that chance, prove it). It does apply quite well to denialists. They ignore any evidence that doesn’t say AGW is false. But if that self same data turns up something that can be spun or mutilated into saying it, suddenly the data is reliable.

  50. 250
    Mark says:

    “If not please provide me with a definition of the word “confidence” (as a quantitative measure) so as to give me some idea of what your assertion “Our evidence is sufficient to claim 90% confidence that we are warming the planet” can possibly mean.

    Comment by simon abingdon ”

    It is possible that the earth will be struck by a ELE asteroid before we get to 2050.

    It is possible that we will flip into another stable regime where there would be a massive change of climate well outside the range possible in this regime (see: Venus).

    It is possible that the Sun will go extremely active, irradiating the earth and causing much more warming that CO2 can manage on its own.

    It is possible that the Sun will go extremely quiet, reducing the irradiation of the earth and plunging us into a new climate.

    It is possible that we will meet an interstellar race who help us out of a hole (or enslave us to work in their sugar mines…).

    It’s possible that something we don’t know will change the whole game. If you don’t know what that is, then you can’t rely on it doing anything in particular: that would require knowing what it is. And there could be millions of things we don’t know about. The chance of any one of them happening is astronomically small.

    It isn’t 0% likely for any of these, though. So you can’t say “100%”. So say “90+%”.

    PS ask your actuaries about hedge bets and residual risk. They deal with the same “one in a million unforeseen chance”. They don’t have a model for it, but they work with it.


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