Monday, 29 December 2014

Voisin an opinion

You might just remember Ronald Voisin, engineer and holder of many patents from Silicon Valley.  He of the idiotic insect rubbish that he spread over three posts at WattsUpWithThat in the dim and distant past.  Perhaps he should have got out of the clean room more and breathed in the California smog and learned a bit more biology.

Well, he's back and voicing his opinion, or not, in this archived expression of conspiracy ideation.  He is cynically wondering what will happen to NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite 2.


I guess Voisin is doing what deniers so often do, getting the retaliation in first.  By telling the denialati what to think, they are saved the trouble of doing it for themselves.  So Voisin gives three scanrios for the OCO 2, the first public release of data being tomorrow and, one suspects, that data won't be easy for the deniers to digest.

Anyway, Voisin's first scenario is pretty twisted:
1) NASA will continue to report transparent scientific results that will quickly and stunningly turn CAGW upside down. We will all realize that global CO2emissions are not at all as taught, preached or predicted. That human emission to global atmospheric CO2 concentration is and always has been a small single-digit contribution. That if we shut human CO2 emission down completely tomorrow little would happen to the future trajectory of global CO2concentration. And indeed, had we humans never industrialized, little would be different about that trajectory over the past 60 years right up to today.
I think the first line up to "that" is pretty accurate.  The rest, well, is bilious nonsense and I predict Voisin won't want to be reminded of it in a few years time. 

Second scenario:
2) NASA will homogenize the data with such effort as to make the original data set unrecognizable. There will be lots of hand waving and we’ll endure continued lame explanations such as in the caption that was released with this initial data set.
The first line all the way to "with" might be correct because homogenising data is a scientifically valid exercise.  The rest is hand waving itself.

And the final, according the Voisin, scenario is:
3) The OCO instrument will suffer a premature and catastrophic failure. 
Maybe, but unlikely these days.  One of those new Russian killer satellites (sic) or one of the Chinese ones could take the OCO out but modern technology is a bit better than the late 1950s which Voisin might be remembering.  He, of all people, might know that satellites pretty much work as expected these days.  But satellites do fail, as did the original OCO, or rather its booster did (not forgetting the GLORY satellite which was intended to monitor aerosols in the atmosphere), so there is a slim possibility that it will fail.  And if it does, the conspiracy minded amongst the deniers will be all over it.   If past form has anything to do with it.

But there are other scenarios that I can see.
4  Valid and reliable observations support current ideas of climate change and its relation to carbon dioxide forcing the deniers into ever more convoluted explanations and conspiracy theories to explain the inconvenient truth away.

5  The OCO works past its expected lifetime and nothing catastrophic happens to it.
Now these are more like it.  I would say that, wouldn't I, since they are my scenarios.  I add them to show one of the non-sceptical ways of the denier-sceptic - that old three card trick.  By telling the unthinking crowd what to think, Voisin forgets to tell them that there are other possibilities.  I know his is an opinion piece but it is amazingly short of real opinion and ends with an appeal to his favourite insects. 

Another characteristic of deniers: they never seem to learn.

For some sites where Voisin could do some learning (I know, I know):

http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/
http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/39211/1/03-0563.pdf
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2006JD007375/pdf



 



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
Beachcomer
Boz
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
Moliere
O Henry
Sidney Sheldon
Voltaire

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

Catmando

(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.

More:
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).

Onward.
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
gases.

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.

Further:
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.

And
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 habituĂ©.  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:


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I've done one of those video mashup things

I've done one of those video mash up things featuring all the questions that Anthony Watts asked of John Cook and Michael Mann during the blessed Watts's grand tour of England.

Hope you like it.



Tee, hee.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

What Chance Have We Got?

There is no word for gullible in the English language.

Well, not a strong enough one anyway.  This is a post that has been fermenting in my brain for some time, ever since I accidentally landed on a TV show called America Unearthed which purported to show some link between a site in the USA and the ancient Maya.  We all know the Maya from the pointless and overhyped 2012 rubbish.  The show was equally rubbish.  If you want to know more, head here.  Jason Colavito does a better job than me of exposing the idiocy and lack of, well, anything resembling the truth.

America Unearthed is a pseudoarchaeology show presented as if the quest was the truth.  I didn't need more than a few minutes of my life to see its methods.  There were tantalising glimpses of evidence but no chance to see them properly.  There were hypotheticals that were accepted without any proper justification and there was straight assertion.  It was all wrapped in a negligee of doubt so transparent that its wearer should have been ashamed of themselves.

And there's more.  The same channel broadcasts a series called Ancient Aliens which is a bit like claiming Stargate SG-1 is a documentary series.  Same methods, same rules, same unreliable conclusions as America Unearthed.  I can only assume there is an audience for this sort of thing because there are multiple seasons of the programmes.  That's a lot of time and money spent on insulting people's intelligence.

It's frightening that a channel claiming itself to be a documentary channel can put out so much that is patently untrue.  But the H2 channel is not alone.  Other broadcasters put out equally misleading and untrue programmes masquerading as documentaries.  The good old BBC is not immune.  They hosted Henry Lincoln's shows that led to the infamous and discredited book The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail.  It happens.  Later the BBC made some amends by broadcasting a documentary that totally trashed the book. 

But documentaries have power because they slide past our eyes without the need for us to think too hard.  Some documentaries are very careful about what they present and how they present it, but in the end they are part of the entertainment industry and if they don't entertain while they are informing, then the viewing public might be tempted to see what is on another channel.  But it can be done.  Both the original Cosmos and the upgraded version this year managed both.  The World At War is both.  Spend your cash on the boxsets and educate yourselves.

Sadly, however, the Internet is where a good many will get there viewing outside of the established TV channels.  And there is a massive amount of junk out there.  If you are not the proud possessor of a word that means the opposite of gullible, you will buy into whatever you are watching.  And you can find lots more sites, videos and the like that will back up the first one.  Go on, try.  I Googled 911 evidence and found precious little actual evidence.  Apparently, Putin was about to release Moscow's archives on the attack.  I read that maybe half a dozen times.  I didn't find any that actually reported the release.  Let's call it a scam, shall we, because that is what it is.  Put out a rumour, real or invented, then bounce it around the echo chamber and it looks as if it might be a genuine thing. 

One of my bugbears is the denial of the Moon landings.  I was six when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.  I have no doubt it was real and genuine.  But I get told it wasn't by people whose actual knowledge of the events has been gleaned from, wait for it, a documentary.  Wow.  A documentary.  They can never remember which one but it was a documentary.  Perhaps I could counter that with the hundreds of documentaries that take the consensus view.  That is, the real one.

A denier is someone who believes the opposite of the truth even when they are given the truth.  Over the years I have noticed something about deniers.  They cannot agree on what the truth actually is.  There are multiple conspiracy explanations of 9/11 but there is only one that is correct.  Yes, it was a conspiracy - by a small bunch of people with the intention of flying aircraft into large iconic buildings in the north east of the USA to cause destruction and death and humiliate America.  It wasn't a conspiracy emanating from the US government.  I've been told it was because the government wanted to knock down the buildings.  Well, they weren't government buildings so it would be strange that the government would feel it could do so.  Secondly, it was a rather weird method - to fly plane loads of people into them not knowing that the buildings would collapse.  And to fly a plane into the Pentagon for the same reason?  That wouldn't work as a demolition method.  Just stupid and a moment's thought would tell you it wasn't true.

However, documentaries allow us to know without thinking.  Deniers also seem to think that the world is a binary place - black or white, right or wrong, left or right.  But that isn't the case.  It is a smeared, smudged, noisy place where the signal is often buried in the grime of reality.  Remember the days when you had to tune your radio and you could catch the noise between stations, especially on FM.  Remember listening to stations broadcasting from far away, how the signal would dip in and out.  Those days are gone, pretty much.  We don't experience the world in quite the same way, so it can feel natural that everything is neatly parcelled for out entertainment and we don't have to think for ourselves.

Strangely, as we grow it seems we become more sceptical.  Properly sceptical in most cases.  We see promises broken, we see the rise and fall of fashions and we see the press hype something only for that hype to falter.  So we learn that not all is as it seems.  We also learn that humans are fallible, that no one (not even Steven Fry) knows everything and we learn that some things are possible and that some things are likely. 

We also learn that people lie.

As an Englishman, I've kept a quarter of an eye on the Scottish referendum with no big interest in the outcome other than to wonder what might happen in the aftermath of a Yes vote.  It came in No so that doesn't matter.  What has been fun is the bickering that happens amongst politicians when something is being promised.  You learn that politicians will promise lots but reality often gets in the way.  Politics would prefer the binary world.  Reality just won't allow it.  Are politicians lying when they promise something?  Sometimes but it is easy to say they all are.  I suspect not all of them are lying.

But documentaries do lie.  The Great Global Warming Swindle did.  I watched it, thought the main premise was rubbish and moved on.  But there are many who seem to hold it as a sacred text almost.  For those, a better education awaits.  They won't get it from WUWT or Judith Curry.

Because the real information is out there.  To my Moon landing denial friends there is an absolute stack - videos (including unedited videos), photographs (the entire lot), rocks, hardware, witness testimony....  It goes on.

I had a chat with a 9/11 truther (LOL) the other week.  When I asked about the videos of planes crashing into the twin towers, I was told it was photoshopped (LOL).  I asked if the actual eye witnesses who saw planes strike the towers from the streets were lying.  My friend told me that was photoshopping too. 

Like I said, there is no word in the English language for gullible.  At least not one for being that gullible.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Courtier's Response

I have removed a site from my blog roll.  I did it because I have become fed up with the petulant attitude, the Victor Meldrew anger management issues and the lack of skepticism being shown on a number of matters by someone who claimed, a little while back, to be a true skeptic.  After bad taste and downright lack of serious thought, I've erased the site from my blog roll.

The host of that site won't be bothered by my defection.  What I care about is hypocrisy.  If someone says something you disagree with, acting like a teenager and throwing your teddy out of the pram doesn't look pretty.  So, Paul.  Sorry, you've thrown one teddy too many.  Stop acting like Willard Watts or throwing your weight around like Chrissy Boy Monckton.  Be skeptical.  Drop the  ideological concretion.  Consider that what others say might have some value.

Farewell.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Not listening - deniers are like teenagers

Well, a lot like this one anyway.


The loss of rational thought - hmm.  I'm not sure deniers actually lose that power, they just mangle it up.  The power of logic is commonly harvested by scientists and mathematicians to progress their work.  Deniers, on the other hand, twist logic into strange knots and accept the answers it gives, even if the answers are complete rubbish.
Let me show you an example of how using pure logic badly can yield ridiculous results:


 Time for a real world example.  Regular readers of this blog might know that Christopher Monckton is a common target for ridicule.  Let me not, therefore, be accused of anything like originality by mocking the Lord Monckton again.
This time it is not for his panacea snake oil substitute, or for his downright wrong views on climate change or his odd comments on academic behaviour.  No, I'm talking about Monckton the birther.
For those who live on the real planet Earth, a birther is someone who, for some reason, doesn't believe that Barack Obama was born in the USA.  So far as I can understand, this is the result of the man's skin not being the required flesh tone, and his politics not being the required fruitcake teabagger kind.  I won't bother explaining why the birther movement is wrong.  It's just so stupid.  No, I want to use a moment of supreme stupidity to explain why deniers are like teenagers.
Monckton wrote an article for the slightly deluded World Net Daily (correction of title 17/8/14) with the headline Obama eligibility odds: 1 in 62.5 quintillion.  The guff under the headline says that Monckton has crunched the numbers.  Well, he certainly crunches some numbers but you know one thing about those numbers just by looking at them.  I won't spoil it for you.  Go and have a look.
On second thoughts, since its Monckton, don't bother.  Just look at this, a list of some probabilities that Monckton created from thin air deployed in his calculation of the probability that Obama's birth certificate is genuine:
He cites:
  • The fact that the registrar’s signature-stamp on the electronic form can be moved about: 100:1 against.
  • Registrar’s date-stamp ditto: 100:1 against.
  • Multiple 1-bit monochrome layers and one 8-bit color layer: 60:1. (Experts twice found no such pattern in 600 file-optimization programs: I allow for 10 anomalous programs to exist.)
  • “Lavishly funded bureaucracy uses wonky typewriter:” 10:1
  • Human error: Certificate number out of sequence: 25:1
  • Incorrect birth date of father: 40:1
  • Use of “African” contrary to written form-filling rules and 20 years before the term came into common use: 25:1
  • Miscoded statistical data: 25:1 (official government estimate).
  • White halo around letters: 10:1
  • Chromatic aberration absent: 100:1
  • Other identity documents: Anomalously worded abstract on short-form birth certificate: 100:1
  • Two-digit year on selective service stamp against DoD written rules: 100:1 (actually impossible: no two-digit example other than that of Kenya’s “son of the soil” is known)
  • Non-citizen of Connecticut holds Connecticut social security number: 100:1.
Now, any number of things should give the game away that these numbers are not, shall we say, real.  They have no basis in reality.  My favourite is the last one.  A 100-1 chance that a non-citizen of Connecticutt holds a Connecticutt social security number would imply that 1% of all Americans would have such a thing.  That would be something like 2 million Americans.  I think the minions in local government in that state might have some explaining to do. 
The point is, of course, that the birth certificate was produced because the birther movement demanded it as proof or otherwise that Obama was born in the USA.  When it was delivered, the birther movement would not accept it.  They poured over it in microscopic detail to find anomalies that the rest of us would accept as those little accidents that life throws up.  As a for instance, my uncle, who died in 1982, had his name misspelled on his coffin lid.  The mistake was only noticed after the coffin had been lowered into the grave.  These things happen.  You can do what I did when I read that a "lavishly funded bureaucracy uses a wonky typewriter" - laugh and wonder who said it was a lavishly funded etc and why wouldn't a typewriter be wonky.  Inkjets and laser printers have made pecking at a typewriter a thing of the past, along with their imperfections.
Back to teenagers.  Those of us who encounter them on a regular basis know that, just like Kevin, between the ages of 13 and 19, teenagers commonly know everything and they know it best.  Deniers do that too.  I will grant that some teenagers are knowledgeable, just as some deniers are.  But that does not make them infallible.  Many teenagers are firmly sure they are infallible.  Deniers are just like that.  Confronted by the truth, deniers just dig deeper and deeper in an effort to find another flaw.
One of the great things about being human, in my opinion, is finding out that the centre of the Universe lies some distance away from me.  That there is so much more to explore than just the backyard.  You also learn that things don't always go as planned.  Some days it rains and you can't play in the garden.  And you learn that making stuff up doesn't always work.
I won't debunk Monckton's drivel.  That is done eloquently here and here.  Just to say it is indicative of his mindset and that of lots of deniers, if not all of them.  The denier thinks that just asking awkward questions is enough, and that making stuff up is acceptable.  But most of all, the denier thinks that reality is something that can be ignored.
When told the truth, deniers live up to their name.  They deny.  I first encountered the idea of deniers when I stepped innocently into the so-called Apollo moonlanding conspiracy.  There wasn't one.  The evidence is mountainous that NASA did land men on the Moon.  Six times.  That seems to be forgotten.  And the ignorance of the deniers is something that doesn't diminish.  No matter how often they get told, deniers don't learn.
I have maligned teenagers by comparing them with deniers.  Teenagers are actually more like octopuses - putting their tentacles out in all directions, learning in the same way a sponge absorbs water.  They don't act like deniers - they question because they don't know, not because they are trying to score points all the time. 
I've used Monckton's mathematical fantasy to illustrate the mindset of a denier - no matter what the truth is, they will still deny it.  As Monckton says of his own mental maths:
Don’t be misled by the simplicity of the method. It’s simple but sound. The result is solid.
How wrong he is.





Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Watt to see in England

So, Anthony Watts is coming to England to heckle see a couple of talks, one by John Cook and one by Michael Mann, in Bristol in September.  Since I gave Willis Eschenbach some advice on what to look for on his tour of the UK, I thought I might do the same for Willard.

The first thing to look out for is the fact that we, here, in England are extremely keen on thermometers.  Willard will see them everywhere.  Here are just a few examples:

 
 
 
Willard might notice that thermometers outside of churches even a mile apart are giving entirely different temperatures (in non-F units too which could confuse him) and that should give him more ammunition for his village heat islands project.
 
 
He may also like to go to Fenny Drayton in Leicestershire.  This is the geographical centre of England and therefore the place where the Central England temperature series is recorded.  I am sure he will find the thermometer outside the church where they are traditionally placed in England.
 


Having visited Central England, it is essential that Willard takes a trip to see the House Of Lords and play spot the Monckton.  That's right.  He isn't there.

There is a chance, however, that Willard will not be able to tell the difference between the Lords and Lord's.  To help him, here is a picture of the latter.  The game they are playing involves a bat, a ball and some fielders, only one of who has gloves.

So with a little preparation, Willard should enjoy his trip.  And if he keeps his mouth shut at the talks, he might even manage to look intelligent too.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Revealed - the leaked memo from the BBC's Head Of Crackpots

TO: Head of BBC News
From: BBC Head Of Crackpots

Subject: Crackpots providing balance to BBC news stories

Sir or Madam

I write in reply to your request for information on sources of information that could be used to balance news stories on scientific matters. 

Any mention of the Longitude Prize should require someone from the Flat Earth Society to be present to give the counter-balancing argument that although there is a consensus about the shape of the Earth, the science is not settled and I feel the BBC should recognise this fact.

The planned programmes celebrating the 45th anniversary of the first Moon landing should have a Moon landing denier present on the Breakfast sofa to counterbalance the space historians and retired Buzz Aldrin that will be there because, as we know, there is considerable doubt amongst some people who really ought to get out more or learn to use the Internet better and I feel the BBC should recognise this fact.

Talking of space, there must be a heliocentric solar system denier present whenever any astronomy programmes are talking about the planets.  Get rid of Brian Cox from Starwatching Live and replace him with someone who adheres to the Ptolemaic system.  I feel the BBC should reflect the doubt.

And on a similar subject, when the news covered the gravity waves left over from the Big Bang story a few weeks back, there was no fundamentalist Christian quoting Genesis.  I feel the BBC should reflect this point of view.

Evolution - do we need to have only scientists discussing stories about fossils and missing links.  What about Ken Ham to provide some counterbalance?  He knows his stuff, has a good line about bananas and is available at the drop of a hat.  I think the BBC should reflect this line of thinking.

But on the subject of climate change, I think it is right that we abandon the crackpots and idiotic thinking that this subject seems to attract.  Why do we think we can just bring on anyone who has opened a copy of the Mail On Sunday and proclaims themselves a climate change expert when there have been scientists who have been studying this all their adult lives and actually know what they are talking about?  I mean, that interview with James Delingpole just showed him up as an ignorant buffoon.  Nigel Lawson just comes across as a pompous twerp and God help us if we ever book Upper Class Twit Of The Century Christopher, Lord Monckton.  I feel the BBC would be going too far if we reflected their ill educated views.

I welcome your response.

Signed

Elias Mooseblaster
Head of Crackpots


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Of dowsing, Malta and the claims of Lord Monckton

As anyone with half an ounce in their skull knows, dowsing is the ancient art of making yourself look stupid with a couple of sticks.  I have done some controlled experiments myself on dowsing and have read enough on the subject to know that, alas, it is false.

Put bluntly, in most countries of the world, you can find water by digging a random hole anywhere you like.  Dig it deep enough and it will collect water in the bottom.  And that introduces confirmation bias.

Which brings me headlong into the testimony of Lord Christopher Monckton (again).  He says at WUWT the following (archived):
Niklas Mörner, the sea-level expert, has had his page got at on the ground that he sometimes dowses for water or other underground treasure. My late father once did that for the Maltese Government, and found three lost Punic tombs and a fine marble head of Seneca from the first century AD. My drawing of it (in the day before digital cameras) is probably still to be found somewhere in the Museum of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge. But I never had the knack for dowsing myself.
As far as I can discern, the only source for this claim of finding three lost Punic tombs is the current Lord Monckton.  There are two separate mentions of it at WUWT and one anywhere else (translated) that I can find:
"I can't do it at all-I've tried-but my dad could do it, and I saw him actually doing it once, because he had been summoned by the Maltese Government to find some Punic tombs, which we knew was in an area where there should be a way. We wanted to make sure that there is no led the way straight through the tombs. So my dad went up and down the fields with its attic, and suddenly there were translated, and he said ' grave here ', and they dug, and they found the Punic grave Chambers, among others. the most beautiful senecanske head, as I drew, and the drawing is now at the Museum of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge. There is the evidence, and you can even check it, but you can of course not like evidence, if they are not in accordance with your argument. I understand that you are more of a believer than a scientist. "

  Major General Monckton's obituary in the Daily Telegraph had this to say:
 Young Gilbert was educated at Harrow before reading Agriculture at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he converted to Roman Catholicism under the influence of Monsignor Alfred Gilbey.
This led him to become a founder member of the Strafford Club, in honour of Charles I’s minister who was beheaded for alleged subversion, and also to discover his talent as a diviner.
He used to win bets in pubs by playing a game in which he was challenged to find a signet ring under one of four caps; when friends tried to trick him by putting rings under every cap his rod defeated them by saying yes at each one.

A pretty story perhaps, but barely as dramatic as finding three Punic tombs that had been lost, for the Maltese government.

What of the tombs themselves?  There are 650 listed George Said's PhD thesis in 1994.  The late Lord Monckton discovered, according to his son, 0.46% of them.  Perhaps that's a goodish quantity. But wait.  The translated bit of Swedish Monckton says they were looking where they thought they would find them anyway.  So, if I were to go to a site where, for example, we might expect some ploughed out round barrows and I dowsed, there's a good chance I would find those barrows.  We are not talking tiny metal finds.  We're talking substantial structures.
The tombs here are cut into the cliff face
Here's one the archaeologists examined

By the way, Said has no mention of Monckton.  That's not really a surprise but, like so many of the other things the present Lord Monckton says, they are desperately hard to check.  Other clues besides just the twitching of rods could have been used - there does seem to be a pattern to where these tombs are found. 

So if his Lordship should alight here, perhaps he would be so good as to give a little more detail. Where, when, would be very useful bits of information. 

By the way, Niklas Morner has some very out of the way ideas.  He's like a quack archaeologist and was once reprimanded for damaging an iron age site in Sweden in his "researches".



Friday, 4 July 2014

Lord Monckton, the Wowbagger of the legal world

Lord Monckton, the third earlobe of somewhere no one has actually been to, has threatened so many people at the tiresome and recursive website WattsUpWithThat with legal action that, like Wowbagger of the Tertiary phase, he appears on a mission to personally confront every sentient being in the Universe.

You can imagine the scene at his solicitors when they open at 9.00am.

Phone rings several times, then goes to the answering machine.

"I'm sorry there's no one here to take your call at the moment, but if you have threatened to sue someone you have only ever met on an internet blog, our advice is to stay away from those sites.  We will send our invoice to the usual address."

Just in case his lordship arrives here.  This is satire.  You know, the stuff Juvenal did (and that you tried clumsily at WUWT).  And here is my mate George to make the most pertinent comment:


Friday, 20 June 2014

Awards Night

I would like to let all my readers know that tomorrow night is awards night at the Starlight Ballrooms, Las Paranoias (off junction 3 of the M25).  The night is being organised by the Non-International Commission On Denying Science (NICODS) and is their 0th annual awards evening.  Remember that evening wear is required and there is a vegetarian option if you don't want the chicken in a basket.

So on to the awards.

For literature -

There could be no one other than James Delingpole BA (Oxon), who is recognised for his magnum opus, Kumquats: Why The International Socialist Agenda 21 World Governance Climate Scientists Conspiracist Are Like Various Bits Of Fruit In My Fruit Bowl (£0.99 from The Works).  Delingpole, in ten heavily referenced to a crank website in New Guinea pages, explains why he is a paranoid tin foil hat wearing non-scientifically trained fruitcake, though that's not what he intended to do.
Form an orderly queue please ladies, he is British

For music -

Once again, no one came close to the latest whacky adventure in a long line of whacky adventures by Viscount Christopher Monckton, the world's only fruitcake sponsored by a chocolate biscuit.  Monckton's latest venture has been a remake of a famous sixties American sitcom, although he changed the title slightly.  In the States, Hey Hey We're The Moncktons, has been a rip roaring success and the first single from the album of the series has hit number 2 (although I may have misheard that and actually it is number twos). Anyway, I urge you to follow this link to hear Christopher Monckton sing "I'm A Disbeliever". dead link


For science -


It might be getting a little recursive here to say it but only Jim Steele could win this one.  How on Earth can someone so intelligent and knowledgeable(TM) be so, I don't know, grumpy about a cheese. In this case parmesan.  At least he provided some of the cherries for Delingpole's fruit bowl.

For economics -

The gremlins that ruined Professor Richard Tol's reputation and the 2009 paper on which financial wizard and sometime science writer Matt Ridley based his attempt to win his own prize and the NICODS award for literature at the same time.  Quite when those gremlins struck, why and how badly they have screwed up Tol's reputation remains to be seen.  The WUWT thought police, Smokey and the DBStealey Bandit, are expected to finger the collar of a man, namely Michael Mann, anytime soon on a stitched up charge of doing conjuring tricks at children's parties.
Tol's gremlins settle down with some snacks to watch the awards ceremony
dbstealey greeting a climate science realist

For international relations -

None other than Murry Salby who has made a name in international relations that Henry Kissinger and Prince Andrew can only envy.  Firstly he skips to Australia when he feels the hot breath of authority uncovering his unusual financial arrangements, then he finds himself stranded in Europe when the credit card he is using is frozen as he is off on a jaunt when a lecture hall full of students are trying to catch up on their sleep while listening to him drone on about zzzzzzzzz.
Salby, undecided which gesture to give

For jurisprudence -

[Please note, our lawyers, Sou, Grabbit & Runne, have reminded us that the Michael Mann v Mark Steyn case is ongoing and we should not comment on the idiocy of [redacted] comparing [redacted] to a child [redacted] because that may just influence the outcome of the case.]

For philology (that's something to do with studying words) -

Dr Roy Spencer, he of the jolly hair cut (though not as jolly as Richard Tol who, though he can't be here tonight, has combed his hair tonight in honour of his gremlins). Spencer, you may remember, got hot under the collar about the word denier, correctly pointing out that it was associated with the libertarian philosopher and pioneering sociologist and namesake, Herbert Spencer, 150 years ago, therefore being coupled in many people's minds with the Potato Famine deniers.
Crazy hair, crazy lack of knowledge

For philosophy -

None other than Dr Timothy Ball whose constant striving to join the dots and cross the teas of the world's conspiracy theories has meant that he has proven than Michael Mann was born in Kenya and therefore cannot be a professor at an American university while demonstrating that Richard Lindzen shot JR.

What's wrong with this picture?  The entire second line.

For social inclusiveness -

Willard Anthony Watts, resident of California, who keeps a bit of seaweed in his garage and uses that to make decisions on the climate.  Watts has won for his brilliantly effective method of maintaining polite discourse - insulting commenters to his site that contradict or correct him then deleting the comments where those commenters defend themselves, correct the lies about them or the misinformation.  This way there is no dissent, no arguments and definitely none of that antisocial yobbish behaviour that you might get if two people were allowed to discuss their disagreements.  And then there's dbstealey if the rational commenter looks like they might be winning.
That bloke off Fox News explains to Willard how he'd like to make him hot under the collar

Oh, and Watts thinks people might just not to taken in by this piece (archived) at his award [sic] winning science [sic] site.

Please note - we originally asked Seth McFarlane to host our awards, you know, so he could make some very tasteful jokes about clothes like he did at the Oscars the other year, but then he went and made that science series with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and included a programme that said global warming was real and caused by humans so we had to sack him on the grounds that his views and our did not quite coincide.  He naturally said that was McCarthyite censorship on every media outlet he could find.  Well, actually he didn't, but if he were a science denier he would have done because that way you can guarantee to get lots of noise for very little truth.

So instead, we got the only person qualified to do justice to our little awards ceremony, the peer without peer, the drama queen without a seat in the House Of Lords, Viscount(TM) Christopher Monckton.

Late update - Monckton can't make it because he is currently in negotiations with a major pharmaceutical company trying to persuade them to stop laughing at his attempts to claim he has found a cure for all known ills.  So instead, we have turned to Lamb Chop, the sock puppet of the late Shari Lewis.
Oh, look, there's dbstealey again (on the right - Mod.)
 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Has Anthony Watts been surrounded by idiots at his site for so long he thinks everyone is an idiot?

Short answer - yes.

Long answer.

This is how WattsUpWithThat works,

Anthony Watts puts up a post.  There are three kinds. Some basic bits of uncontroversial reportage which are uncommon.  Reposts of press releases with a short bit of non-commentary by Watts and often no link to the full story/paper to which he is referring. The third kind are the desperate pseudoscientific posts, usually guest posts by the likes of Tim Ball, Willis Eschenbach, Christopher Monckton and Jim Steele of the cherry picked, highly slanted and easily debunked variety. These are common.

The posts gather comments. Usually these begin with a brainless thumbs up. Sometimes someone will notice that the post has a flaw or, more likely, is a pile of fetid dingo's kidneys. The recursive idiots on the comment thread have their pickings of the rancid meat while the commenter who actually has a handle on reality tries to fend off the increasingly personal attacks.

In wades dbstealey, aka David Boehm, aka Smokey, aka mod.  From his privileged position, totally protected by Watts, he can make whatever comment he wants and usually he twists the words of the rational one, makes things up and ups the ante. He does not listen to reason, draws a comment that is a response to his insults and uses his moderator hat to shut down any discussion. Oh, did I mention that his hypocrisy knows no bounds. It is the climate change supporters who censor and shut down discussion.

Meantime the choir of idiots continues to sing to the organ grinder's unscientific tune.

And that, my friends, is how it works.

It is recursive and asymmetrical. You can't win by using reason because you're not allowed to. And Anthony wonders why real scientists would rather cross an eight lane highway rather than breathe the same air as him.

Should anyone arrive here from WUWT wishing to have their fourpennorth, here is my comment policy.  Unless you are trying to part me and my money over erectile dysfunction matters or have found a long lost relative in Nigeria who, fortunately, has popped their clogs and left a fortune for me, if only I forward you my bank details, then I don't delete comments. If someone wants to make a prat of themselves, I prefer to leave it on the Internet for everyone to see.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Julia Slingo interview

The BBC radio series The Life Scientific hosted Julia Slingo of the Met Office. It is a very interesting listen. You can download it too.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/tls/tls_20140408-0930a.mp3


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Tim Ball says something astonishing

You know what I'm going to say.  Tim Ball hasn't got a clue.  How do I know?

In an article at WUWT (archived), he says this:
Climate is an average of the weather over time or in a region and until the 1960s averages were effectively the only statistic developed. 
In reply, perhaps just quoting from Wikipedia is simplest:
By the 18th century, the term "statistics" designated the systematic collection of demographic and economic data by states. In the early 19th century, the meaning of "statistics" broadened to include the discipline concerned with the collection, summary, and analysis of data. Today statistics is widely employed in government, business, and all the sciences. Electronic computers have expedited statistical computation, and have allowed statisticians to develop "computer-intensive" methods.

The term "mathematical statistics" designates the mathematical theories of probability and statistical inference, which are used in statistical practice. The relation between statistics and probability theory developed rather late, however. In the 19th century, statistics increasingly used probability theory, whose initial results were found in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly in the analysis of games of chance (gambling). By 1800, astronomy used probability models and statistical theories, particularly the method of least squares. Early probability theory and statistics was systematized in the 19th century and statistical reasoning and probability models were used by social scientists to advance the new sciences of experimental psychology and sociology, and by physical scientists in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. The development of statistical reasoning was closely associated with the development of inductive logic and the scientific method.

Statistics can be regarded as not a field of mathematics but an autonomous mathematical science, like computer science and operations research. Unlike mathematics, statistics had its origins in public administration. It is used in demography and economics. With its emphasis on learning from data and making best predictions, statistics has a considerable overlap with decision science and microeconomics. With its concerns with data, statistics has overlap with information science and computer science
 Tim, you might not have noticed this but those three paragraphs are just about the foundations of modern science.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, think thermodynamics. The quantum thing rose out of that.

In fact, Tim could usefully consult this page from Wikipedia, a lovely timeline which tells us much about when some statistical things were invented or first used, like Bayes Theorem (1761), using a line of best fit (1801), correlation (1888), student t distribution (1908).  Not a bad cherry pick from what is quite a long list.  The Royal Statistical Society was founded in 1838 and had Florence Nightingale as its first female member. 

Ball is, at least, honest:
 I am not a statistician. I took university level statistics because I knew, as a climatologist, I needed to know enough to ask statisticians the right questions and understand the answers.
Luckily, I took both A level and university level statistics so I guess I am better qualified than Ball is.  And, just like him, I am not a climatologist.  I studied biology.  Much more importantly, I don't have an ideological line on the climate so I don't know the answers in advance.  And I can understand, I think, the answers.  I am also sceptical - I check things.  I check them especially if I don't think they are true to start with, if they clash with other things I understand. 

Ball could have done that but in a moment of ignorance, he chose not to let light into his personal darkness.  It would have taken a few clicks of the mouse but that was too much.

There is a problem with being wrong and that is the frequency of being wrong.  People always make mistakes.  It is how often and how stupid those mistakes are that matters. 

I don't think many people who know of Ball think him particularly credible but an ideological rant like his piece at WUWT is not going to raise his credibility rating.  After all, he moans about the  missing standard deviation in the title but just once in the article itself:
Reduction or elimination of the standard deviation leads to loss of information and further distortion of the natural variability of weather and climate, both of which continue to occur within historic and natural norms.
The fact that science has trended away from standard deviation to the idea of 95% confidence levels has escaped Ball.  Presumably he knows what the 95% is: it is two standard deviations.  So science is much more interested in whether the discovery is less likely than Ball is.

Ball's article isn't really about statistics, its about bad scientists doing bad things like not mentioning variability, and those same bad scientists not caring about the variability of the climate.  I don't think climate scientists will lose sleep over Ball's latest dismal effort.  Instead, they will get on with doing the calculations.

But first, let's dip into the eleven comments this piece had gathered by the time I saw it.

Profitup10 says:
A very good piece that most climate change supporters will not understand nor believe. 
Mostly, I think because it is neither a very good piece nor one that climate change supporters [sic] will find hard to comprehend (other than that it is a disjointed and incoherent piece, but that's what you get from Ball).

Profitup10 is straightforward conspiracy nut.  Bit like the bouncing Ball.