“A Little Knowledge”: Why The Biggest Problem With Climate “Skeptics” May Be Their Confidence

Mon, 2011-06-27 05:53Chris Mooney
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“A Little Knowledge”: Why The Biggest Problem With Climate “Skeptics” May Be Their Confidence

Last week, an intriguing study emerged from Dan Kahan and his colleagues at Yale and elsewhere–finding that knowing more about science, and being better at mathematical reasoning, was related to more climate science skepticism and denial–rather than less.

Kahan’s team simply structured a survey in a way that no one—to my knowledge, at least—has done before. In a sample of over 1,500 people, they gathered at least four different types of information: how much scientific literacy they possessed (e.g., how well they answered questions about things like the time it takes for the Earth to circle the sun and the relative sizes of electrons and atoms), how “numerate” they were (e.g., their ability to engage in mathematical reasoning),  what their cultural values were (how much they favored individualism and hierarch in the ordering of society, as opposed to being egalitarian and communitarian), and what their views were on how serious a risk global warming is.

The surprise—for some out there, anyway—lay in how the ingredients of this stew mix together. For citizens as a whole, more literacy and numeracy were correlated with somewhat more, rather than somewhat less, dismissal of the risk of global warming. When you drilled down into the cultural groups, meanwhile, it turned out that among the hierarchical-individualists (aka, conservatives), the relationship between greater math and science knowledge and dismissal of climate risks was even stronger. (The opposite relationship occurred among egalitarian communitarians—aka liberals).

This is bad, bad news for anyone who thinks that better math and science education will help us solve our problems on climate change. But it’s also something else. To me, it provides a kind of uber-explanation for climate skeptic and denier behavior in the public arena, and especially on the blogs.

In my experience, climate skeptics are nothing if not confident in their ability to challenge the science of climate change–and even to competently recalculate (and scientifically and mathematically refute) various published results. It’s funny how this high-level intellectual firepower is always used in service of debunking—rather than affirming or improving—mainstream science. But the fact is, if you go to blogs like WattsUpWithThat or Climate Audit, you certainly don’t find scientific and mathematical illiterates doubting climate change. Rather, you find scientific and mathematical sophisticates itching to blow holes in each new study.

The Kahan paper explains this oddity—and it’s not the only study to do so. Here are some others which also detect what we might call a “sophisticates effect”—a relationship between more knowledge on the one hand, and climate science skepticism on the other, among conservatives:

Higher Education and Climate Skepticism. A 2008 Pew survey showed not only that Democrats and Republicans are polarized over whether they accept global warming, but also that for Republicans, having a college degree didn’t make one any more open to what scientists have to say. On the contrary, better educated Republicans were more skeptical of modern climate science than their less educated brethren. Only 19 percent of college educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college educated Republicans.

Increased Knowledge and Climate Concern. In a 2009 paper in the journal Risk Analysis, a team of social scientists found that “Among people who trust scientists to provide reliable information about the environment and among Democrats and Independents, increased knowledge has been associated with increased concern. But among people who are skeptical about scientists and among Republicans more knowledge was generally not associated with greater concern.”

Interaction Between Education, Politics, and Views on Climate Change. A 2009 paper in Climatic Change by Lawrence Hamilton of the University of New Hampshire found that in two surveys—of New Hampshire and Michigan residents—climate denial was inversely related to more education and more self professed knowledge of the issue among Republicans/conservatives. The author opined: “Narrowcast media, including many Web sites devoted to discrediting climate-change concerns, provide ideal conduits for channeling politically inspired but scientific sounding arguments to an audience predisposed to retain and repeat them.”

Self Professed Knowledge and Climate Polarization: A series of 2011 surveys by Hamilton similarly found that Republicans and Democrats who profess to know less about the climate issue are closer to one another in their views about whether global warming is really happening. By contrast, Democrats and Republicans who think they know a lot about the issue are completely polarized, with Republicans quite confident the science is wrong.

This is not an exhaustive list of relevant papers–but with these four studies, and the fifth Kahan study described above, I think everyone can see the pattern. If you are a conservative or Republican, then increased scientific literacy, increased mathematical ability, increased education, and increased self-professed knowledge about climate change are all associated with being more skeptical of the scientific consensus, and of the notion that global warming is a serious risk.

To me, there’s an interesting way to read this. It can be expressed as a familiar aphorism, which is actually a slight misquotation of Alexander Pope, pictured above: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

For the planet, anyway.

Comments

“(e.g., how well they answered questions about things like the time it takes for the sun to circle the Earth” Um … It doesn’t?

it should actually be an error. The quote about the earth circling the sun is accurately stated in the article.

Oh, wait, I guess you are probably looking through those Republican lenses, where right is wrong and wrong is right when it fits your political agenda.

it should actually be an error. The quote about the earth circling the sun is accurately stated in the article.

Oh, wait, I guess you are probably looking through those Republican lenses, where right is wrong and wrong is right when it fits your political agenda.

“This is bad, bad news for anyone who thinks that better math and science education will help us solve our problems on climate change.”

Uh, no – It’s “bad, bad news” for The Climate Scientology Cult you are promoting, as inevitably more people have woken up to your scams.

But still, it’s hilarious to see you idiots trying to spin this.

In almost every case where one of those “mathematical sophisticates” claims to have blown a hole in some aspect of climate science, you will find at least one show-stopping blunder or oversight.

Examples:

Studies claiming that the MWP was warmer than it is now often overlook the lack of syncronicity of warm spells around the world then. That is, hot spells in Africa, Europe, South America, etc, occurred at different times, indicating that heat was just “sloshing around” the planet (as opposed to the planet warming as a whole).

The “hockey sticks from random noise” argument overlooks one simple and obvious fact – the very algorithm used to produce the hockey stick will tell you whether the data you are processing is just random noise or does contain a real average temperature signal. All you have to do is look at the eigenvalue magnitudes. Compare Mann’s tree-ring eigenvalues with “red noise” eigenvalues and you will see a huge and obvious difference. The upshot – the hockey-stick principal component will tell you something about the hockey-stick *shape*, but nothing about its *size*. Look at the associated eigenvalue and you will see how *big* the hockey-stick is. In Mann’s case you get a *big* hockey-stick. In the case of random noise, you get a *tiny* hockey stick. No competent analyst would confuse the two cases.

The claim that high altitude/elevation stations were “dropped” to exaggerate warming overlooks one simple and obvious fact. The global-average temperatures shown by NASA etc., are not absolute temperatures, but instead are temperature *differences*. i.e. the warming signal is derived from the *differences* between current temperatures and 1951-1980 baseline temps (NASA baseline), not from *absolute* temperatures. So dropping stations from colder regions will have no effect in biasing the results, because it is the *difference* between current and past temperatures, not the absolute temperatures themselves, that go into the calculations.

I’ve talked to skeptical “mathematical sophisticates” a number of times, and none of them understood any of this until I explained it to them.

I think recyclenot’s response exemplifies the problem. He/she resorts to abuse of the individual rather dealing with the content, demonstrating utter confidence that he/she does not need to face facts (I know it all), or else possibly because he/she does not know what to do with facts. Sad.

I suspect that many of the “mathematically/scientifically sophisticated” types are “plug-and-chug” operators who depend heavily on rote memorization. When they step outside the bounds of their very narrow fields of expertise, they are as hopelessly “lost at sea” as the average non-technical person.

Not ad-hom –

Just a statement of facts from evidence I’ve seen (both professionally and personally).

Lots of engineers (who can be quite good in their specialties) can become hopelessly lost (without realizing or appreciating it) when they step outside their narrow fields of expertise.

In a discussion about CO2 and global-warming, I told one programmer (who really is quite good at what he does) that the eventual equilibrium sea level could end up several meters higher than it is now even if CO2 levels remain where they are.

His response: Why aren’t sea-levels that high right now?

It’s like he didn’t undstand why it would take block of ice a long time to melt if you took it out of the fridge and put it in the sink.

I was flabbergasted to hear something like that from him.

Not ad-hom – just evidence gleaned from my own observations.

Then refuting them should be no problem, shouldnt it? One would think.

It’s slam-dunk easy to refute most of their claims; getting them to understand (or to admit that they understand) the refutations is another matter entirely.

When you put an ice cube in a glass of water what happens to the water level? Then what happens when the cube melts? Do you know what the Archimedes principle is?

I must say I’m just “flabbergasted to hear something like that” from you.

Moreover, you’re ignoring other corollaries to large quantities of land ice melting. Scotland has risen 60cm above sea level since “global warming”.

What makes you believe the examples you mention are blunders/oversight?

For some, maybe, for others, just useful propaganda.

Here’s something to try.

Go out and grab a copy of Scilab (available at scilab.org) and install it on your computer. Take advantage of documentation, script examples, etc. to learn the basics of Scilab scripting.

Then start experimenting with the singular value decomposition (SVD) utility. Generate a matrix of random noise (i.e. white noise that’s been run through a filter to generate band-limited “red” noise). Compute the SVD. Look at the singular values (FYI, eigenvalues are just singular values squared).

Now generate a matrix of data with a strong signal (i.e. a waveform shared by all columns). Compute the SVD – compare the singular values you get here with your “red noise” singular values. Start adding random noise to your waveform (independent noise for each column in the matrix). Look at what happens to the singular values.

Now, write a script that implements the “short centered SVD” (Mann’s original approach). Run that on red-noise. Oftentimes you will get a leading PC that looks sort of like a hockey stick. Save off the eigenvalues from that run.

Track down Mann’s “hockey-stick” supplemental material and look at the eigenvalues generated by his tree-ring data. Compare with your “noise hockey stick” eigenvalues. You will see a *huge* difference and will understand why the “Mann’s method makes hockey-sticks from random noise” claim is just plain silly.

I know, I know. Its just that for many the errors/mistakes/oversights are not really errors/mistakes/oversights. I dont think McIntyre did not know he overinflated the “hockeystick from red noise” meme…

I hope you have shown Wegman et al where he wrong and get them to admit their mistake. I would also like to know how the world population’s emissions will be controlled and what temperature we are aiming for?

The algorithm can be explained fairly simply. Take a (higher dimensional) sphere, stretch it along each axis by each eigenvalue to give an ellipsoid, and then rotate it so that each axis lines up along an eigenvector (or principal component, as they are called), and the shape you get will fit the shape of the distribution. The eigenvalues are therefore just measuring the spread of the data in various directions.

If you feed in artifical data with more spread (or more variable spread), you’ll get higher eigenvalues. Simples.

However, it is well accepted by sceptics that, although the algorithm tends to mine for hockeysticks even in red noise and exaggerates them, that Mann’s analysis was indeed extracting a real physical signal. We can even trace where that signal comes from by examining the weights the algorithm assigns. It turns out to be entirely due to stripbark bristlecones in one small corner of the United States and the Gaspe cedars in Canada - in both cases it was already known that they were not responding to temperature.

Bark stripped off one side of a tree causes asymmetric growth and - when cored at certain angles - the appearance of a massive growth spurt. This is what Mann’s algorithm was extracting, and presenting as the temperature for the whole of the Northern hemisphere.

I hope you’ll be pleased to have found a “mathematical sophisticate” who did indeed understand this before you explained it, and is happy to verify that there is a real signal to be detected. It’s just a shame it’s not temperature.

Of course, this is known as “moving the goalposts” – the issues regarding Gaspe and the bristlecone data are quite different from the issue regarding the claim that a meaningful “hockey stick” can be extracted from random noise (the eigenvalue magnitudes say no).

Issues regarding Gaspe and bristlecones have been addressed in subsequent reconstructions (including reconstructions that don’t use *any* tree-ring data at all). And the results are pretty much the same… Gaspe/bristlecones or *no* Gaspe/bristlecones (or no tree-ring data at all, for that matter…)

I think Mandia pointed out in an SKS comment that several other temperature proxies (shells, boreholes, tree samples which respond to temperature) show a similar signal, and the probability that they are all wrong in the same way is vanishingly small. http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/shooting-the-messenger-with-blanks/

” the probability that they are all wrong in the same way is vanishingly small”

So you have made your case, except that there are lots of other proxies that arent wrong in the same way. These studies, though published in the peer reviewed literature, are not so heavily publicized. If you would like to call BS on this, I have plenty of examples to enlighten you.

What the strip bark hypothesis really does is not show the actual cause of the curve, but another possible explanation. What Mann does is assert a negative, which is that there is no other possible explanation for his curve. All it takes to disprove a negative is one counterexample, which you have provided. We can never know with “ontological certainty” the true cause. What we do know with certainty is that Mann case is currently in tatters.

The comments posted appear to be largely a discussion of math that has ignored your attempt at inflammatory posting almost entirely. I am sorry to have be the one to say this but you do seem to be the only participant whose posts are accurately described by your own comment. Maybe in the future when you disagree with people you should put out dialogue that lead to real discussion if you are seeking “relevant reply”.

H H Lamb’s “Climatic History and the Future” has many examples of the Holocene Climate Optimum being warmer, world-wide, and of long duration. Global sea level was 10 to 20 feet higher 3,000 years ago, and temperature 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer. The Medieval Warm Period, while warmer than present, was only the fourth warmest period since the end of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago, and the current warming is the fifth. The Little Ice Age 1350-1850 AD was the coldest of this 10,000 year period. Greenland ice cores show 9,100 of the past 10,000 years were warmer than any of the past 100 years. No tree rings had to be cored, bored, and interpreted - with their excess of growth variables such as moisture, carbon dioxide fertilization, and divergence from instumental temperature records, etc. - to create these records of past periods of natural warming. Mann’s hockey stick is a fragile prop for holding up a theory of a trace gas driving climate change, since it hasn’t in the past. In fact, the past periods of greater warming since the Ice Age all had low levels of atmosheric CO2, and each began and ended in a state of indifference to CO2.

Ah, Major Mike fell for Easterbrooks fraudulous data handling of the GISP2 icecore. Here is something for you to read:
http://hot-topic.co.nz/easterbrooks-wrong-again/

And I think you should read Lambs book a little better. It seems you either did not read it at all, or simply do not understand it (also, one small hint: Lamb wrote it in 1977).

“Sloshing about”? That’s a ludicrous claim on its face. How on Earth can you contort the data to such an odd claim? We had warm periods and cold periods globally over the past two thousand years, and they align very much to multi-century warm periods around year 0 and 1000 and multicentury cold periods about 500 and 1500. These aren’t small decadal periods, but long periods that helped fuel rise and fall of empires. To claim that this is convection-only and that we have globally average temperatures constant during this time, you would need to show record warmth SOMEWHERE around 1800 to offset Europe, America, Australia, and Japan where we have solid records indicating the little ice age.

Finally, please do not omit the lack of a hot spot. Model predictions, and indeed the greenhouse gas theory itself say that there should be a spot warming about 3 times the surface rate 10km up at the point of maximum reflection of infrared radition. I have not heard any satisfactory reason why we cannot find this or why previous calculations were incorrect. The only proper explanation is either that 20th century warming was not primarily caused by greenhouse gases, or we do not properly understand how greehouse gases warm the atmosphere.

The proper answer to the initial question is that rational people who consider the facts can come down on different sides of a scientific conclusion when facts are in doubt. Despite claims to the contrary, there are legitimate concerns about the fraction of the warming that is caused by greenhouse gases, and thus the amount of warming that can be expected to occur. That is the crux of the issue. I, personally do not see evidence that presents a good case for dramatic action that will force millions into fuel poverty and drain funds from every humanitarian and REAL environmental cause on the planet.

“Studies claiming that the MWP was warmer than it is now often overlook the lack of syncronicity of warm spells around the world then.”

This is untrue. The results do synchronize around 1000 AD. Not perfectly, but fairly well. On the other hand, modern proxies do not show the magnitude of warming of the modern instrument records. So perfection cannot be expected. But the MWP proxies do show that the MWP was as warm as today’s proxies show today to be.

“In Mann’s case you get a *big* hockey-stick. In the case of random noise, you get a *tiny* hockey stick. No competent analyst would confuse the two cases.”

This is one of those cases where you are showing that your small knowledge is a dangerous thing. The hockey stick from random noise argument is only one element of the argument against the hockey stick. In addition to that, Mann’s most heavily weighted series was the Graybill series that cannot be reproduced. Lenah Ababneh did her doctoral disertation by looking at the same trees that Graybill looked at - except that she used a lot more trees. She found two things. First, the trees that showed heavy modern growth (the blade) were trees that had gone split bark. Then she looked at the trees that had not gone split bark and they showed virtually no increase in growth at all. So what Mann was using as evidence of warming was, in fact, nothing but an artifact of the Graybill trees going split bark.

Then, in Mann’s later proxy reconstructions he found a proxy with a very nice blade and used it because his selection method cherry picked proxies to correspond with modern warming. The only problem was that the data he used, the Tiljander sediment data, was used by him upside down. The blade that he used was a result of modern farming corrupting the data. Tiljander knew this and she noted it in her paper, stating clearly that the data was corrupted in the 20th century. But Mann both ignored her warning and turned the data upside down in order to get the upward hockey blade that he desperately wanted to show to exist in something other than trees. Mann has now published that upside down Tiljander data three times. The peers that reviewed his paper were silent about it all three times even though it was well know for the second and third publications. The prestigious science magazines were silent about it. The AGW blogs were silent about it. And all of those science organizations that claim to support AGW were silent about it.

“The claim that high altitude/elevation stations were “dropped” to exaggerate warming overlooks one simple and obvious fact. The global-average temperatures shown by NASA etc., are not absolute temperatures, but instead are temperature *differences*. ”

I don’t know of any skeptic that doesn’t know that the temperatures are temperature anomolies. I would suggest that you are jousting with windmills.

Rather interesting that similar hockey-stick results can be produced without the problematic proxies.

Dropping the Tiljander data from the reconstruction changes the results very little.

Furthermore, similar results have been produced from a variety of other types of proxy data (including proxy data that completely excludes tree-ring data).

If Mann’s results were “outliers” that could not be replicated by other researchers, or if someone publishes legitimate work showing that Mann’s reconstructions are not robust to data selection, then there might be something worth looking into. But the fact is, all you guys do is nitpick at small issues and exaggerate their importance. When Mann’s reconstructions were performed with modifications to address all of the above issues, his results did not change much.

Anyway copy/pasting claims from climateaudit (without citing any primary sources) is quite unconvincing.

Regarding the confusion between temperatures and temperature anomalies, you might want to talk to Watts and his crew – see http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/policy_driven_deception.html for more.

The “dropped stations” claim has been widely propagated in the climate-denial community and has been used extensively as a propaganda tool to smear NASA and NOAA

“Dropping the Tiljander data from the reconstruction changes the results very little.”

Dropping both the Tiljander data *and* the tree rings (at the same time!) changes the statistical significance of the results as calculated by Mann to such a degree that his core claim is no longer supportable.

“Furthermore, similar results have been produced from a variety of other types of proxy data (including proxy data that completely excludes tree-ring data).”

You got that claim by way of RealClimate and/or skeptical science which indeed plotted “a variety of other types of proxy data” to suggest rises in temperature *during the 1900s* and/or *since the Little Ice Age*. But if you look at the X axis you will see that that’s all most of them show, and it’s a claim that wasn’t really in dispute. To support Mann’s claims you don’t just need to establish the sharpness of the “blade” but also the flatness of the “shaft” of the hockey stick. Proxy records that start in 1830 or 1650 or 1490 do not in fact suggest “similar results” to those Mann got from strip-bark trees and corrupted sediments. If you think they do, be more specific: *which* proxies are you talking about?

Check out this comment thread on perhaps the Internet’s #1 denier web-site – it contains posts from a whole boat-load of skeptics who don’t know the difference between a temperature and a temperature anomaly: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/26/new-paper-on-surface-temperature-records/

“Studies claiming that the MWP was warmer than it is now often overlook the lack of syncronicity of warm spells around the world then.”

This is untrue. The results do synchronize around 1000 AD. Not perfectly, but fairly well. On the other hand, modern proxies do not show the magnitude of warming of the modern instrument records. So perfection cannot be expected. But the MWP proxies do show that the MWP was as warm as today’s proxies show today to be.

“In Mann’s case you get a *big* hockey-stick. In the case of random noise, you get a *tiny* hockey stick. No competent analyst would confuse the two cases.”

This is one of those cases where you are showing that your small knowledge is a dangerous thing. The hockey stick from random noise argument is only one element of the argument against the hockey stick. In addition to that, Mann’s most heavily weighted series was the Graybill series that cannot be reproduced. Lenah Ababneh did her doctoral disertation by looking at the same trees that Graybill looked at - except that she used a lot more trees. She found two things. First, the trees that showed heavy modern growth (the blade) were trees that had gone split bark. Then she looked at the trees that had not gone split bark and they showed virtually no increase in growth at all. So what Mann was using as evidence of warming was, in fact, nothing but an artifact of the Graybill trees going split bark.

Then, in Mann’s later proxy reconstructions he found a proxy with a very nice blade and used it because his selection method cherry picked proxies to correspond with modern warming. The only problem was that the data he used, the Tiljander sediment data, was used by him upside down. The blade that he used was a result of modern farming corrupting the data. Tiljander knew this and she noted it in her paper, stating clearly that the data was corrupted in the 20th century. But Mann both ignored her warning and turned the data upside down in order to get the upward hockey blade that he desperately wanted to show to exist in something other than trees. Mann has now published that upside down Tiljander data three times. The peers that reviewed his paper were silent about it all three times even though it was well know for the second and third publications. The prestigious science magazines were silent about it. The AGW blogs were silent about it. And all of those science organizations that claim to support AGW were silent about it.

“The claim that high altitude/elevation stations were “dropped” to exaggerate warming overlooks one simple and obvious fact. The global-average temperatures shown by NASA etc., are not absolute temperatures, but instead are temperature *differences*. ”

I don’t know of any skeptic that doesn’t know that the temperatures are temperature anomolies. I would suggest that you are jousting with windmills.

“Studies claiming that the MWP was warmer than it is now often overlook the lack of syncronicity of warm spells around the world then.”

This is untrue. The results do synchronize around 1000 AD. Not perfectly, but fairly well. On the other hand, modern proxies do not show the magnitude of warming of the modern instrument records. So perfection cannot be expected. But the MWP proxies do show that the MWP was as warm as today’s proxies show today to be.

“In Mann’s case you get a *big* hockey-stick. In the case of random noise, you get a *tiny* hockey stick. No competent analyst would confuse the two cases.”

This is one of those cases where you are showing that your small knowledge is a dangerous thing. The hockey stick from random noise argument is only one element of the argument against the hockey stick. In addition to that, Mann’s most heavily weighted series was the Graybill series that cannot be reproduced. Lenah Ababneh did her doctoral disertation by looking at the same trees that Graybill looked at - except that she used a lot more trees. She found two things. First, the trees that showed heavy modern growth (the blade) were trees that had gone split bark. Then she looked at the trees that had not gone split bark and they showed virtually no increase in growth at all. So what Mann was using as evidence of warming was, in fact, nothing but an artifact of the Graybill trees going split bark.

Then, in Mann’s later proxy reconstructions he found a proxy with a very nice blade and used it because his selection method cherry picked proxies to correspond with modern warming. The only problem was that the data he used, the Tiljander sediment data, was used by him upside down. The blade that he used was a result of modern farming corrupting the data. Tiljander knew this and she noted it in her paper, stating clearly that the data was corrupted in the 20th century. But Mann both ignored her warning and turned the data upside down in order to get the upward hockey blade that he desperately wanted to show to exist in something other than trees. Mann has now published that upside down Tiljander data three times. The peers that reviewed his paper were silent about it all three times even though it was well know for the second and third publications. The prestigious science magazines were silent about it. The AGW blogs were silent about it. And all of those science organizations that claim to support AGW were silent about it.

“The claim that high altitude/elevation stations were “dropped” to exaggerate warming overlooks one simple and obvious fact. The global-average temperatures shown by NASA etc., are not absolute temperatures, but instead are temperature *differences*. ”

I don’t know of any skeptic that doesn’t know that the temperatures are temperature anomolies. I would suggest that you are jousting with windmills.

” the very algorithm used to produce the hockey stick will tell you whether the data you are processing is just random noise or does contain a real average temperature signal.”

This is complete mathematical balderdash. The algorithm can t tell the difference between pink noise and a genuine signal. Your failure to understand this is one of the reasons that you will never win over people who understand math with this kind of argument. You will notice that even the warmists dont make the above argument, what they say is that there is no pink noise, that absent CO2 forcing, weather amounts to white noise. I know you wont understand what I am about to say, because, like almost every warmist who has actually taken on the math that I have ever encountered, you see what you want to see only, but here goes: This explanation assumes what the explainer wants to prove.

Why you guys cant see that is beyond me. You will probably delete this comment, which is another reason that honest skeptics are underwhelmed by the force of warmist logic.

A genuine signal, common to the proxy time series *is* quite distinguishable from random-noise. All you have to do is look at the eigenvalue magnitudes.

If the proxy time-series are correlated with each other (i.e. by sharing a common temperature signal(s)), that will show up in the eigenvalue spectrum as just one or a few dominant eigenvalues.

If the proxy time-series are not correlated with each other (just random noise – no common temperature signal), then the eigenvalue spectrum will be much flatter.

Michael Mann’s tree-ring eigenvalue spectrum looks much more like the former than the latter.

It is you who don’t understand how to interpret the output of the SVD algorithm.

Since you claim so authoritatively it is balderdash, just send a link to, or cut and paste, some R code (or other code) which, when run, illustrates your point about hockey sticks emerging from pink noise. I assume you are so confident because you have done such numerical experiments yourself, so it should not be too much effort. As an alternative you could offer a mathematical proof showing how the SVD of pink noise generally leads to a hockey-stick eigenvector with significant eigenvalue. Dont bother, however, to send a link to Wegman or McIntyre/McKitrick code as their codes show they culled their simulations to remove from consideration those pink noise instances which did not produce hockey sticks. It is as if the Wegman team just copied M&Ms code… oh right, plagiarism … that rings a bell.

The data is collated from two different data sets, each set having being collected/measured in a different way. It makes no sense to analyze both types of data as one data set. Any competent analyst would know that.

I was actually wondering when they would try to spin this Fact to their advantage.
I have been saying this for a long time now to see how they would.
I Guess it just took this long to find an angle.

Not a bad attempt I do have to admit.
Not at all convincing to anyone who is literate but for the faithful it could seem reasonable.

Perhaps to Blonds and 13 year old wide eyed socialist little girls.

Actually Chris; The biggest problem with sceptics is that scepticism represents the essence of proper science.
The scientifice method demands it.

Then of course, the AGW hypothesis was unable to stand up to test and so it went.

It is so full of holes not that only the faithful and the dishonest (and the dumb) stay with it.

Anonymass-
You are not a rational skeptic, nor do you employ the scientific method. You are in a state of denial of the weight of the scientific evidence. As a result you rant rather than reason, attempt to bully by name calling, and forcefully reiterate unsubstantiated and false claims.

Interesting post - slightly departs from the usual approach which is to call skeptics a bunch of dummies.

Also interesting that the climate debate is mostly political. Its socialists versus capitalists.

A capitalist is a guy who is pursuing personal wealth openly. A socialist is a guy who secretly wants to keep the masses down in order to rise above them - so hes really just a more complex capitalist.

Socialist dictators live in luxury and create poverty for the masses.

AGW science proponents decry fossil fuel use and yet burn up as much as they can on the way to lush climate conference vacations.

Im not challenging the science but I am challenging the scientists. None of you really believe this stuff. Its just a scheme. A way to make a living and in the case of some like big Al Gore, its a way of becoming King.

Someone opined “Also interesting that the climate debate is mostly political. Its socialists versus capitalists.”

No it is physics (theory of AGW)versus political/monetary ideology (“skeptics” and those in denial).

This just shows that there are “skeptics” (and those in denial about AGW) out there who are smart enough to do an awfully good job of continuing to delude themselves and others, and who smart enough to rationalize their beliefs, and who are smart enough to deceive others.

The research also shows that “skeptics” are prone to fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect. So large are their egos, that “skeptics” are willing to repeatedly bet against the laws of physics.

“No it is physics (theory of AGW)…”

You’re overlooking one inconvenient fact:

Athropogenic Global Warming is merely a hypothesis – NOT a valid scientific theory.

For it to be a valid scientific theory, a means of falsification must exist.

AGW is as unfalsifiable as the claim that giant, talking rabbits exist.

“laws of physics”

This is what is so funny. The models, on which so much depends, are not based on physical laws. Physical laws go into them, sure, but becuase there is so much room for slop and adjustment, what comes out cannot be considered to be based on physical laws.

Wait, let me give your refudiation in advance: “The overwhelming scientific consensus says you are wrong and you are a tool of the Koch Brothers and Big Oil!”

Nowhere will you actually conjure a counter argument based in science.

A nice try for a positive spin but this is still bad news for the warmists’ mantra of ‘ignorant denialists’.
The fact is, many sceptics are very good at critical thinking. They see the big picture so much better than the people who follow the CAGW religion blindly. Just look what is happening in the UK or Germany or Australia and anyone can see where this thing is going economically. It’s just plain crazy and those (and other countries) will waste billions on crazy energy schemes before they finally wake up. Hank

Funny, I was thinking the same, in reverse. Many skeptics are very good at critical thinking, but they strangely seem to stop short of going the whole way, and instead seem to follow the denial agenda blindly. I’d love to see the skeptics present a persuasive explanation for the observed attributes of the climate system behavior over the last 50-100 years, and not hide behind arm-waving “its all natural variability”. Come on, get that critical thinking engaged and explain the physical processes the resolve the observations, and add it to the 99% of the published scientific literature that seems to indicate otherwise. Arguments of facts in the blog-sphere is not going to carry weight.

No reference to science here whatsoever. What we have instead is an attack on the poster, invidious interpretations of the posters motivations, and standard boilerplate argument from authority, as if no-one had heard these before.

Some of these replies might be trying to twist it more than they should. While it does say that increased science and math skills may increase the amount of skepticism for some people, for the egalitarians, it decreases the skepticism. This study goes both ways. All I pretty much got from it is that this is more than a battle of the masses, it’s a battle of the intellectuals. I’d be all for this, since it seems like intellectuals would have discussions, not arguments, constructive criticism instead of verbal abuse, but that isn’t the case. People on both sides resort to a low form of trolling on the internet (albeit with larger words than normal).

While science seeks to eliminate holes in research in the quest for knowledge, it should be done in constructive ways, not this hashing and gnawing at anything that seems to disagree with your point of view. The Science I know seeks to enlighten everyone as equals, not create a battlefield for us to take sides.

Hopefully we can start working together on everything, and true Science will start showing its face.

Your comment prompted to me think of a certain study, JA, which is discussed below:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/he/knowing_about_biases_can_hurt_people/

http://www.sunysb.edu/polsci/mlodge/lodgemotivated.pdf

Here is some of the discussion from the LessWrong Wiki:

Taber and Lodge’s Motivated skepticism in the evaluation of political beliefs describes the confirmation of six predictions:

1. Prior attitude effect. Subjects who feel strongly about an issue - even when encouraged to be objective - will evaluate supportive arguments more favorably than contrary arguments.

2. Disconfirmation bias. Subjects will spend more time and cognitive resources denigrating contrary arguments than supportive arguments.

3. Confirmation bias. Subjects free to choose their information sources will seek out supportive rather than contrary sources.

4. Attitude polarization. Exposing subjects to an apparently balanced set of pro and con arguments will exaggerate their initial polarization.

5. Attitude strength effect. Subjects voicing stronger attitudes will be more prone to the above biases.

6. Sophistication effect. Politically knowledgeable subjects, because they possess greater ammunition with which to counter-argue incongruent facts and arguments, will be more prone to the above biases.

“If you’re irrational to start with, having more knowledge can hurt you. For a true Bayesian, information would never have negative expected utility. But humans aren’t perfect Bayes-wielders; if we’re not careful, we can cut ourselves.”

“I’ve seen people severely messed up by their own knowledge of biases. They have more ammunition with which to argue against anything they don’t like. And that problem - too much ready ammunition - is one of the primary ways that people with high mental agility end up stupid, in Stanovich’s “dysrationalia” sense of stupidity.”

“You can think of people who fit this description, right? People with high g-factor who end up being less effective because they are too sophisticated as arguers? Do you think you’d be helping them - making them more effective rationalists - if you just told them about a list of classic biases?”

“I recall someone who learned about the calibration / overconfidence problem. Soon after he said: “Well, you can’t trust experts; they’re wrong so often as experiments have shown. So therefore, when I predict the future, I prefer to assume that things will continue historically as they have -” and went off into this whole complex, error-prone, highly questionable extrapolation. Somehow, when it came to trusting his own preferred conclusions, all those biases and fallacies seemed much less salient - leapt much less readily to mind - than when he needed to counter-argue someone else.”

I was a warmist. My education is MBA and due diligence is a big part of my work as I present and review financial information for companies seeking capital or potential investors wanting to evaluate an opportunity. I read the above article with interest…

I am now a sceptic. This is based almost completely on the clearly exhibited behaviours of Mann et al and the boys at UEA. I believe they have consistently attempted to frustrate access to their data, methodology, and code. The Hockey Stick and Yamal are prime examples. My educational and professional background tells me that people are hiding something when they are not forthcoming with information. This certainly seems to be the case with the above noted climate science.

Based on the behaviours seen I would advise investors (the people who will have to pay to support efforts to reduce CO2 emissions) not to invest because of the repeated efforts to frustrate due diligence.

It’s either open and transparent or it does not deserve a nickel of investment. S.

Your skepticism is misplaced – all of the data and code needed to verify the UEA’s work (as well as Michael Mann’s) are already available on-line. The data and code for all of Mann’s hockey-stick work (from his original work to his latest) are all on-line for anyone to scrutinize (Google is your friend here).

But no matter how much scientists put out there on-line for everyone to scrutinize, you deniers just ignore it all in favor of your pet conspiracy theories.

A classic example – the attacks on the CRU for their global-average temperature computations. You deniers have been accusing the CRU of hiding data and code so that nobody could cross-check their work. But this is beyond silly – it is incompetent and delusional. All of the temperature data used by the CRU are available from other sources. And as for the algorithm used to generate global-average results? That’s a simple, straightforward, well-documented procedure that a college undergraduate science/compsci/engineering student would have no trouble implementing.

A reasonably competent programmer/analyst, using nothing more than publicly-available raw temperature station data and free, open-source software development tools, should be able to perform a complete “sanity check” verification of the CRU’s global temperature results, and should be able to do so in just a few days (or even less, if he/she is a quick programmer).

Here is a repeat of material I posted elswhere:

1) The CRU’s global-temperature results can be independently verified without *any* assistance from the CRU – a competent analyst does not need *any* of the CRU’s data or code to perform a complete and independent verification of the CRU’s global temperature computations.

2) The independent verification can be performed in a few days at most by any analyst with reasonable math and computer programming skills.

……

This bears reiterating yet *again* – A college undergraduate with decent (and I mean decent, not exceptional) programming skills could perform an independent check of the CRU’s work even if the CRU hid every bit of its data and every line of its code. All of the temperature data, documentation, and software development tools needed to do this are freely available on the Internet to anyone who wants to download and use them.

Yea….. Good luck with that.

Even the “Scientists” at CRU have admitted that the data is either too corrupted or non existant to reproduce their results.

Garbage in garbage out.

Their results have been verified by NASA/NOAA, the Clear Climate Code folks (independent “citizen scientists”), tamino, and a whole host of others.

If you are reasonably competent, you should be able to code up a program that crunches GHCN raw data and gets results pretty similar to the results that NASA, NOAA, and the CRU have been publishing.

The anomaly averaging process is straightforward and well documented; coding up a routine that extracts the data from the GHCN temperature files and computes global-average temperatuer anomalies is just not that difficult.

You don’t need so much as a single byte of the CRU’s (which really isn’t “their” data – they get it from met/weather agencies around the world). Go grab the GHCN raw temperature data, read the associated documentation, write your own program and crunch the data yourself.

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