This new paper may explain the widespread belief in the value of Michael Mann’s methods and the ‘bet’ on the Hockey Stick

Over at Steve McIntyre’s, there’s a fascinating discussion going on about the relevance of the hockey stick in the context of the Myles Allen mis-identification of the temperature record in a 2011 conference on Climategate as being the hockey stick issue rather than the paleo-record, Yamal, and “hide the decline” tricks being the central issue.

Allen in front of temperature history.

Allen is in a furor defending himself and his misstep, even going so far as to suggesting Bishop Hill is picking “the least flattering” photos to put in the blog post when in fact it is nothing more than the default thumbnail from YouTube. Even the Communicate 2011 website featuring Allen’s presentation uses the same thumbnail (scroll down). The FAIL on display here is hilarious.

In the middle of all this there’s a new paper which may explain why so many scientists, the IPCC, NGO’s, and governments bet on the hockey stick as the “hot hand” in the climate science card game. The paper has a prescient title:

Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice? Implications of Gambler’s and Hot-Hand Fallacies in False-Expert Setting
by Nattavudh Powdthavee, Yohanes E. Riyanto (May 2012)

So why would I point out a paper on gambling as being relevant to the hockey stick? Because, the hockey stick was in fact a huge gamble on the part of “The Team”. They knew full well the science in it was shonky, but they hedged their bets with techniques (such as Mike’s Nature Trick) that gave a result that they felt sure would be “bought” by the scientific community at large. It was a good gamble at the time, but as Climategate has shown us, it may have been a winning hand with a one time jackpot, but they are losing the card game as the other players slowly realize they have a cheat in their midst.

At the blog “Stumbling and Mumbling” there’s a review of the paper with the headline:

============================================================

The strong demand for charlatans

In the improbable event of ever being invited to give a commencement address, my advice to graduates wanting a lucrative career would be: become a charlatan. There has always been a strong demand for witchdoctors, seers, quacks, pundits, mediums, tipsters and forecasters. A nice new paper by Nattavudh Powdthavee and Yohanes Riyanto shows how quickly such demand arises.

The predictions were organized in such a way that after the first toss half the subjects saw an incorrect prediction and half a correct one, after the second toss a quarter saw two correct predictions, and so on. The set-up is similar to Derren Brown’s The System, which gave people randomly-generated tips on horses, with a few people receiving a series of correct tips.

And here’s the thing. Subjects who saw just two correct predictions were 15 percentage points more likely to buy a prediction for the third toss than subjects who got a right and wrong prediction in the earlier rounds. Subjects who saw four successive correct tips were 28 percentage points more likely to buy the prediction for the fifth round.

This tells us that even intelligent and numerate people are quick to misperceive randomness and to pay for an expertise that doesn’t exist; the subjects included students of sciences, engineering and accounting. The authors say:

Observations of a short streak of successful predictions of a truly random event are sufficient to generate a significant belief in the hot hand.

(h/t to Marc Morano for the link)

==============================================================

To me, this sounds exactly like what happened with the Hockey Stick, as it was that “a-ha” moment for many people. IPCC had a “hot hand” and everybody started betting on it. Matt Ridley elucidates on that very issue in the CA comments

Matt Ridley Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

Far from being an irrelevancy, for me personally, the MBH hockey stick was absolutely vital in first extinguishing my scepticism then fiercely re-igniting it. When I first saw it, I was blown away by the clear evidence of unprecedented climate change, and I immediately told people I was no longer sceptical about climate change, a subject I had not been paying much attention to or writing about at that point, but had expressed some doubts about in print a few years before. That it had been published in Nature was good enough for me at the time. Aha, I thought, a smoking gun.

Then when I came across Steve’s work and realised how full of holes both the method and the data were, and that the IPCC was not interested in listening the criticisms, it made me doubly sceptical about not only paleo-climate data, but climate change theory generally, Nature magazine’s standards and — following the farcical enquiries — the British scientific establishment’s willingness to be bought. The hockey stick was by no means the only thing that caused me to change my mind twice, but it was the most salient.

=================================================================

This paper would seem to explain why so many bet on the shonky science of the Hockey Stick, and why they keep betting on it even though that “hot hand” has disappeared. I loved this part about ‘“the law of small numbers” – i.e. those who believe that a small sample of signals represents the parent population from which it is drawn‘ because it explains Yamal and the cherry picked ten sample set to a fault:

Core YAD061, shown in yellow highlight, the single most influential tree

They write in the paper:

There is little economic theory in this area. Rabin (2002) and Rabin and Vayanos (2010) outline a model in which believers of “the law of small numbers” – i.e. those who believe that a small sample of signals represents the parent population from which it is drawn (Tversky & Kahneman, 1971) – will be willing to pay for services by financial analysts after observing randomly occurring streaks of profitable financial performances predicted by these professionals. This fallacious belief in the hot-hand of a financial expert arises as a consequence of the gambler’s fallacy, which is defined as an individual’s tendency to expect outcomes in random sequences to exhibit systematic reversals.

The authors suggest that an investor who believes that the performance of a mutual fund is a combination of the manager’s ability and luck will, at first, underestimate the likelihood that a manager of average ability will exhibit a streak of above- or below-average performance. Following good or bad streaks, however, the investor will revert to overestimate the likelihood that the manager is above or below average, and so in turn will over-infer that the streak of unusual performance will continue (see also Gilovich et al., 1985). The implication of this is that believers of the law of small number will be happy to pay for real-time price information provided by experts, such as stockbrokers or managers of actively-managed funds, even when it is well-documented that actively-managed funds do not outperform their market benchmark on average (see, e.g., Fama, 1991)

The parallels to the bets made on the Hockey Stick, and the continued faith by many that Mann came by his “hot hand” scientifically and the betting was sound are quite plain. It is another example of confirmation bias.

Here’s the paper and abstract:

Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice? Implications of Gambler’s and Hot-Hand Fallacies in False-Expert Setting
by Nattavudh Powdthavee, Yohanes E. Riyanto
(May 2012)

Abstract:
We investigated experimentally whether people can be induced to believe in a non-existent expert, and subsequently pay for what can only be described as transparently useless advice about future chance events. Consistent with the theoretical predictions made by Rabin (2002) and Rabin and Vayanos (2010), we show empirically that the answer is yes and that the size of the error made systematically by people is large.
Text: See Discussion Paper No. 6557  

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99 thoughts on “This new paper may explain the widespread belief in the value of Michael Mann’s methods and the ‘bet’ on the Hockey Stick

  1. This stuff is outside my area of scientific expertise. It does fall close in to my philosophy and history background. This kind of thing as been going on since day one of the human experience. Charlatanism is more often then not in the “eye of the beholder” or judge. In hindsight humanity has always paid for and often dearly for advice that has little or no true substance. I will say, knowing full well I will receive the wrath of the believers, all religions are little more then charlatanism, with no foundation in reality except to concentrate power and wealth in a ruling class.

  2. At Dr. Curry’s site I recently asked the question, not entirely rhetorical, “Haven’t you scientists done enough damage?”. This fellow Myles’s resounding answer is “NO!”. Like so many alarmist perverters of science he is just the chap we need and has landed on the world’s stage at the right time. Someone hand him a mic and stand back.

  3. The “Team” enrolled to provide a science figleaf to a derivative styled pyrimad scheme. Carbon Climate Forcing was all about FORCED Carbon Commodity Marketing. Carbon Forcing is part of a trifecta of government funded Carbon science lies. There is no ‘sustainable fuel’ system that can provide more than the initial investment energy, with the exception of direct burning of plant material. Hydrocarbons are a direct result of Earth’s internal fission process where higher order atoms break into the Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen ‘elemental’ atoms that form petroleum. AGW, green energy and peak oil are all government funded Faux Science to create Carbon shackles and Carbon chains for humanity. The Team chose the wrong ‘hot hand’.

  4. Athony:

    You think this is news?

    (shake of head in astonishment)
    ,
    People believed the ‘hockey stick because they wanted to believe it, and some still do.

    The ‘hockey stick’ is bunkum. Within the week of its publication I was complaining at its ‘stitching’ together of two dissimilar data sets (although I then did not know that malpractice was conducted to perform ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ to ‘hide the decline). Nobody wanted to know about my objection because they liked what they saw when they looked at the ‘hockey stick’.

    Indeed, nobody wanted to query the ‘hockey stick’ because it was useful. It was adopted as the poster-child of the following IPCC Report despite being a single analysis which overthrew existing understanding from climatology, history and archaeology. The ‘hockey stick’ would have been a curiosity which was only mentioned in passing but for the fact that it was useful.

    And examination of its validity would not have been a lonely investigation by MacIntyre and McItrick (M&M) but for the fact that all the mainstream ‘climate scientists’ found the ‘hockey stick’ to be useful. Nobody questions what they want to believe.

    M&M proved their case so cogently that two investigations commissioned by the US Congress each concluded that M&M were right. So, the IPCC gave the ‘hockey stick’ little prominence in their next Report because because it had become an embarrassment.

    But AGW-advocates still cite the ‘hockey stick’ because they want to believe it.

    And some think it is news that people wanted to believe the ‘hockey stick’. (shake of head in astonishment, again)

    Richard

    REPLY: Well then given your illuminated admonishment, its probably best that I stop publishing altogether (especially on holidays like today), and shut down WUWT. We can’t have people astonished that I’m wasting my time precious time (that I could be spending on holiday with my children) with non-news items now can we?

    I’m off then. – Anthony

  5. Next, we need to investigate crowd belief in the political rhetoric of campaign speeches. My hunch is that all crowds, no matter their affiliation, are sheeple willing to ride the rails of whatever their pet politician has to say. And I mean ride those rails right through garbage dumps and yet think they smell flowers.

  6. However, this game also takes place in a surreal hall of mirrors universe where the definitions in the rules keep changing: ie the morphing of “global warming” to “climate change” to “extreme climate disruption” etc.

    Then there is the retrospective “adjustment” of data…

    Must be a successful business model. This casino has taken in $70 billion in the last 4 years.

  7. This is why people will seek out an investment fund which has a couple of lucky quarters, only to lose it all in the next quarter. The average return of actively managed funds is usually lower than index funds. The experts can’t even match a pair of dice. But it won’t stop people from pouring their money into the fund that everybody’s talking about.

  8. People believed the ‘hockey stick because they wanted to believe it, and some still do.

    There are still Fakegate deniers out there, after Gleick fessed up. The desire to believe is something to behold.

  9. Hmmm,

    When does the ‘hot-hand’ of scientific proof show itself? Maybe all ‘proof’ is just a circumstance of a long local run in our very small corner of the universe over our infinitely small slice of eternity.

    Hubris works at all levels to make people (all people) believe they know more than they do.

  10. I’ll be amazed if most will understand the implications of this post. It’s far more incisive than any Unabomber picture, and depicts the CAGWers in a most bad light.

  11. Anthony:

    I am pleased that you are to spend time with your family on a holiday.

    But I fail to understand why you think I implied that you should

    stop publishing altogether (especially on holidays like today), and shut down WUWT

    In fact, I am a fan of your efforts and of WUWT in particular. But that does not mean I think I should be required to assert that everything on WUWT is worthwhile.

    Support includes pointing out when I assess things are less than the worthwhile. Others may disagree and tell me why they think my assessment is wrong. If they do, then my post gives them the opportunity to correct those who share my opinion.

    Anyway, if you want me to withdraw from making comments on WUWT then I shall.

    Richard

  12. Interesting article. However, I would say the hockey stick falls short of even being a random prediction come true by chance, for the simple reason that the prediction it entails implicitly, has not come true. It would be as if a trader simply showed some algorithms and a back test correlation, and investors believed that it would correctly predict the stock market.

  13. This tells us that even intelligent and numerate people are quick to misperceive randomness and to pay for an expertise that doesn’t exist; the subjects included students of sciences, engineering and accounting.

    Heh. Somebody needs to notify Ohio State…

    Researcher Ellen Peters of Ohio State University said that people who are higher in numeracy and science literacy usually make better decisions in complex technical situations.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/27/apathy-over-climate-change-it-isnt-about-science-literacy/#more-64359

  14. Richard I have no idea what your problem is here. Yes we do allready know about the hockey stick, but..

    Myles Allen thoughts, etc are most definately new news, as is his comments at Bishop hill
    And the rest is current as well.

    So, not sure what you problem is.

    Myles very recent article, about Will.I.am, article in the Guardian also being part if the new news.

  15. Anthony gives us all a voice against immense odds. I thank him for all of his continued efforts. It is still not clear if the force of darkness will be overcome as the political control of government has reached pervasive heights world wide.

  16. I’m with FauxScienceSlayer – it’s all about money; smoke and mirrors are merely the best methods for delivering that money into the intended pockets.

  17. richardscourtney says:
    May 28, 2012 at 8:42 am

    You think this is news?…

    People believed the ‘hockey stick because they wanted to believe it, and some still do.

    Richard, this post does much more than say that people believed the hockey stick simply because they wanted to.

    This post outlines the science that deals with people’s willingness to continue/discontinue their beliefs based on contrary/supporting evidence.

    How on earth did you not realize this?

  18. The Hockey Stick should be compared to market manipulation by the Big Banks, not the seemingly prescient guesses of a fund manager for a couple of quarters.

    Both market manipulation and global warming have the same outcome – the little guy is screwed.

    PS: Thanks Anthony – WUWT is the little guy’s fight back manual!

  19. The shallowness of the man astounded me. Many significant points were raised by BH commenters.

    Instead of responding to them, he compained that BH had not selected a flattering photo, complained that some commenters had been rude about him, and then flounced off like a prima ballerina who had discovered a hole in her tights.

  20. Dennis Nikols says:
    May 28, 2012 at 8:23 am

    …It does fall close in to my philosophy and history background. This kind of thing as been going on since day one of the human experience. Charlatanism is more often then not in the “eye of the beholder” or judge. In hindsight humanity has always paid for and often dearly for advice that has little or no true substance. I will say, knowing full well I will receive the wrath of the believers, all religions are little more then charlatanism, with no foundation in reality except to concentrate power and wealth in a ruling class….
    ___________________________________________
    That always reminds me of this song.

    Worms of the Earth
    Words and Music by : Sir Volodomir Kambionets, OL (Bob Esty)
    CHORUS:
    For we are the worms of the earth
    Against the lions of might.
    All of our days we are tied to the land,
    While they hunt and they feast and they fight.
    We give our crops and our homes and our lives
    And the clerics tell us this is right.

    And they’ve beat us before and they’ll beat us again
    But we’ll drink from their helmets tonight….

    http://www-cs.canisius.edu/~salley/SCA/Bardbook/worms.earth.html

    video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrARHJE9Las

  21. @ Richard Courtney
    For goodness sake calm down. Just because you’ve read something presented here you don’t like or consider it not worthwhile, doesn’t mean you have to rant on about it? I for one thought the paper was worth looking at and added to my knowledge?

    Some people like Marmite some detest the taste, neither are wrong :-)

    As regards to Myles Allen he “worked” for UNEP that for me says it all.

  22. Pamela Gray says:
    May 28, 2012 at 8:51 am

    …My hunch is that all crowds, no matter their affiliation, are sheeple willing to ride the rails of whatever their pet politician has to say. And I mean ride those rails right through garbage dumps and yet think they smell flowers.
    _______________________________________
    I have often wonder how many people are individuals/leaders and how many are only followers. I saw a comment once in a book of fiction, that only one man in 200 was a born leader. In prison of war camps, this person was singled out and broken so the typical followers would never be any trouble there after.

    I have never been able to verify the truth of that snippet but it sure sounds about right.

  23. Dan Gardner’s book “Future Babble” is chock full of excellent examples and quotes on precisely this topic. He starts off his Chapter 8 with the following quote that describes perfectly what the hockey stick was for the IPCC-

    “The Commanding General is well aware the forecasts are no good. However, he needs them for planning purposes.”

    Gardner quoted Kenneth Arrow, Nobel economist, who described a response he received during WWII when he and a colleague demonstrated that the long-term weather forecasts were useless.

  24. Anthony-
    Isn’t the mantle of AGW hung upon the notion that “this time it’s different”?

    The Hockey Stick shows that the current warming trend is (or at least was) “unusual” and “unprecedented”. If climate, temperature, weather, extreme weather events truly are no different today than they were in centuries past, then the whole theory unravels.

  25. Barry Woods:

    Thankyou for your comment addressed to me at May 28, 2012 at 9:35 am.

    To avoid the possibility of my replying out of context I copy your comment here.

    Richard I have no idea what your problem is here. Yes we do allready know about the hockey stick, but..
    Myles Allen thoughts, etc are most definately new news, as is his comments at Bishop hill
    And the rest is current as well.
    So, not sure what you problem is.
    Myles very recent article, about Will.I.am, article in the Guardian also being part if the new news.

    Firstly, I am sincerely grateful for your writing,
    “Richard I have no idea what your problem is here”
    Because it provides the opportunity for me to explain my post at May 28, 2012 at 8:42 am.

    It is obvious from Anthony’s response that some read what I wrote as saying other than I intended. But I had not anticipated the seemingly angry reply from him. And his response was my first indication of his dislike at my posting on WUWT. Of course, if Anthony wants me to desist from posting on his blog then I will (he can tell me privately or publicly). I would regret that, and your post invites me to explain myself: so I do sincerely thankyou.

    As you say, Allen’s presentation and the Guardian article are current. But they each have their own threads on WUWT.

    This thread is about what it is suggested can be inferred about the ‘hockey stick’ affair from consideration of the paper
    Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice? Implications of Gambler’s and Hot-Hand Fallacies in False-Expert Setting
    by Nattavudh Powdthavee, Yohanes E. Riyanto (May 2012)

    The only pertinent conclusion in that paper is that people want to believe information which they can use to their personal advantage.

    That conclusion is a truism. It is a trivial fact known to everybody.

    There are many strong reasons to reject the ‘hockey stick’ and nothing is added to those reasons by asserting the obvious fact that some people wanted to believe the ‘hockey stick’ and some still do.

    People who still want to believe the ‘hockey stick’ look for anything which can defuse opposition to their belief. And they claim objections to the ‘hockey stick’ are trivial. WUWT has rightly earned a very high reputation, and it seems likely that those people will cite as example of trivial objection to their belief anything on WUWT which is trivial.

    Hence, I see no value in this thread. Indeed, I see this thread as possible ammunition for those who would wish to damage WUWT. And I tried – but clearly failed – to say that.

    Again, thankyou for providing this chance to explain myself. I understand that those who disagree with my view may take this as an invitation to sstate their disagreements.

    Richard

  26. Anthony, you do a bang-up job. Have a nice holiday at the beach you deserve it.
    …….
    richardscourtney says: @ May 28, 2012 at 8:42 am
    ……
    Richard, I usually enjoy your comments. However this one is off base.

    Those of us who have been at WUWT and following the CAGW congame for years have to realize WUWT gets new readers all the time. Anthony using this newest start by Myles Allen to do a review of the mess not only keeps us up to date on the shenanigans but it also gives WUWT an opportunity to educate new readers on what the fuss is all about.

    All of us who are active commenters have to keep in mind the huge silent audience that WUWT has.

  27. Re Matt Ridley’s remark about the hockey stick being the point at which he (temporarily) became a CO2 alarm believer. Our last disastrous Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, said the same thing (without the temporary part). I think that was in 2000, when Mavericky Mc-anti-Republican made global warming his signature triangulation ploy. Terrible senator, worse presidential candidate, but he went through hell and back for us. Happy Memorial Day John.

  28. No Hockey Stick = No Problem
    I know we know this, but just to always re-emphasize: if we bring back the Medieval Warm Period et al, and the Little Ice Age, and normalize the non-existent runaway accelerated warming of the 20th century, you see than that there is nothing unusual about the current climate or temperatures. It’s all normal, natural.
    You know what that means? There is nothing wrong with the climate. You know that means? There is no problem. So quit trying to throw a monkey wrench into industrial civilization, and quit potting to carry out “war crimes trials” for those who oppose your insane radical (83% carbon cuts) plans!

  29. Another gem from Gardner’s book, on page 233-

    “An assertion that cannot be falsified by any conceivable evidence is nothing more than dogma. It can’t be debated. It can’t be proven or disproven. It’s just something people choose to believe or not for reasons that have nothing to do with fact and logic. And dogma is what predictions become when experts and their followers go to ridiculous lengths to dismiss clear evidence that they failed.”

    For the hockey stick, the paleoclimatologits’ prediction of multi-centennial stationarity of tree growth response to teleconnected local temperature has been utterly destroyed by the divergence problem displayed by their own highest quality tree ring data of the last half century.

    Its the IPCC’s version of late 19th century physics’ ultraviolet catastrophe.

  30. Miles Allen expected to ride in and we all gasp at his authority and submit. It did not work out that way. He showed that he did not actually understand the logic of the hockeystick and what it therefore meant. Posters basically tore a strip off him, he was shown to be woefully ill informed.
    Question is…does he sulk off in a huff, in denial?
    Or has that nagging doubt now been placed…where he might start to look at his colleagues (aka Judy Curry) with a diff light.
    Yes Professor Miles..you were conned by your mates, you put your trust in a bunch of spivs.
    Now are you going to accept it, wake up and smell the coffee. Or take the kings shilling and still pretend it did not happen.

  31. Can we hope that Lincoln was right?

    You can fool some of the people, all of the time…all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.” (PS: You can fool some of the people, ALL of the time..that keeps us in business…PT Barnum!)

  32. …and what Gail Combs says!

    Isn’t that the same philosophy 101 from Orwell……”all it takes is good men to say nothing…” or words to that effect.

  33. Fun thing is, when I first saw the Hockey Stick it was in The Skeptical Environmentalist by Lomborg. I thought, “wow, that’s astonishing, reading the temperatures of the last 1,000 years from tree rings, didn’t think they could do that. What’s the grey area, ah, the error bar, gets ever wider into the past, now that makes sense, ok so that’s our first attempt at reconstructing temperatures, interesting, maybe they will be able to nail it down some more in the future as science progresses.”.

    But then, many people completely ignored the grey area, especially journalists…

  34. mikef2, The quote is
    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” by Edmund Burke

    <Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729 – July 9, 1797) was an Irish political philosopher, Whig politician and statesman who is often regarded as the father of modern conservatism. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke

  35. @Richard S Courtney

    Chill babes! I often agree with you and admire your work in many areas. But on this one you have badly misjudged the mood music. If I didn’t know better I’d think you have a big chip on your shoulder and have come determined to pick a fight with your chums rather than The Bad Guys.

    And remember, not everyone here has been studying this topic since nineteen hundred and frozen to death. It may not be news to you but will be to some. They too have a right to air their opinions.

    Several deep breaths, then chill……LA

  36. Dennis Nikols says:
    May 28, 2012 at 8:23 am
    “I will say, knowing full well I will receive the wrath of the believers, all religions are little more then charlatanism, with no foundation in reality except to concentrate power and wealth in a ruling class….”

    Even though I consider myself agnostic I completely disagree. The scriptures of many of the world’s religions describe things that probably actually happened.

    Are these guys trying to look like astronauts? ;-)

  37. Off the wall comment, and question.

    I am not a gambler. I do not deal on the stock market, my money is in safe guaranteed savings plans that pay out 4 – 5 %.
    Am I a typical sceptic ? other threads suggest that people form their views based on common values, rather than any scientific reason.

    Maybe if we could find a high roller or card shark who is also sceptical of ‘one tree mann’ we could put two threads to bed at the same time.

    [Moderator’s Note: EO, your e-mail does not work. Could you please supply a valid e-mail address? Thank you. -REP]

  38. richardscourtney says:
    May 28, 2012 at 8:42 am
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    I read this comment as a criticism of the scientific community, not of you Anthony.

    I consider that Richard has raised a sound observation. It is indeed a facet of human behavoir, and this response can indeed be a weakness.

    This response pattern is immortalosed in the Simon & Garfunkel classic, the Boxer: ” Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” and Shakespear famously exploited the weakbess that follows in Macbeth when Macbeth thought that no harm could beset him since one of the witches had prophecised: “Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of woman shall e’er have power upon thee” and this led him to underestimate the threat posed by Macduff.

    I agree that many were all too ready to embrace the hockey stick when really it ought to have been subject to particular scrutiny in view of the flat shaft which all but got rid of the LIA and MWP which events were standard lnowlege. The blade was one thing, but the shaft went against known history and should have led to much scepticism. For the reasons given by Richard, proper science went out of the window.

  39. If you want to see this effect yourself, and you have Excel, create a “Random Walk” by creating a column of cells with this function “=RANDBETWEEN(-1,1)”, then create a second column that is the cumulative sum of the first column. Create 500 points or so and plot the second column. Hit F9 a few times to recalculate the random values and see what the chart does.

    It is quite amazing to see how the result can have extended periods of increasing or decreasing values. This is why repetition is so important in science. One could run an experiment and get a strong statistical correlation between two values, even if the actual relationship is purely random. It also shows why gamblers can have extended winning (or loosing) streaks by random chance. It isn’t skill.

  40. DirkH says:

    May 28, 2012 at 11:28 am
    Dennis Nikols says:
    May 28, 2012 at 8:23 am
    “I will say, knowing full well I will receive the wrath of the believers, all religions are little more then charlatanism, with no foundation in reality except to concentrate power and wealth in a ruling class….”

    There you go. Either by accident or design you have proved Dennis’ point. Every proof ever put forward by any church has been shown to be false. Starting with the Turin shroud and ending with bones in boxes in the UK. All were designed to rob the ignorant(pilgrims) of their hard won money.

  41. I understand the streak stuff quite well … I used to write software for perception experiments, and had to develop a way to “over-randomize” the presentations because streaks were causing people to develop biases. Mathematically random sequences do not feel random, to put it simply.

    But I doubt that the acceptance of the hockey stick has anything to do with randomness or human perception. It has everything to do with raw greed, raw murderous evil, and wild power-hunger. The people who wanted the “science” knew exactly what they were after. They needed a way to gain infinite power and infinite riches, and they commissioned Mann’s work because it seemed like the most “scientific”-looking scam among the available choices at the time.

  42. I had a similar thought comparable to Pamela Gray’s comment. I think that there must a few politicians who deliver snake oil to their constituents in just this fashion at all levels of the republic.

  43. DirkH says:
    May 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

    ….Even though I consider myself agnostic I completely disagree. The scriptures of many of the world’s religions describe things that probably actually happened…..
    ____________________________
    Do not disagree, however the non-inheriting sons of the nobility (who could read and write) went into the church or the military. This put the noble class of what ever civilization in control of religion as well as the military. It is one of the reasons separation of Church and State was written into the Constitution.

    We are talking about CONTROL of the population and not religion per se. Eons ago I remember reading about a religious young man who left the church after getting a Phd in several dead languages so he could read the bible in its original form. He was horrified by the “Mis-translations” Wish I still had the link but it was two computers back.

  44. From the paper (quoted at Stumbling and Mumbling):

    Observations of a short streak of successful predictions of a truly random event are sufficient to generate a significant belief in the hot hand. [My emphasis]

    You betcha . . .

  45. @Richard S Courtney

    Richaard, I sincerely hope you continue to post on WUWT, I have enjoyed your comments and anticipate doing so in the future. Everyone gets a little short once in a while. What surprises me is that Anthony stays as calm as he does.

  46. @RichardCourtney
    This thread is about what it is suggested can be inferred about the ‘hockey stick’ affair from consideration of the paper
    Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice? Implications of Gambler’s and Hot-Hand Fallacies in False-Expert Setting
    by Nattavudh Powdthavee, Yohanes E. Riyanto (May 2012)

    The only pertinent conclusion in that paper is that people want to believe information which they can use to their personal advantage.

    That conclusion is a truism. It is a trivial fact known to everybody.

    That was NOT what the paper was saying. What the paper said is that even though individuals know that a data series is random, if they are given two correct forecasts of that random data (by definition this must be just coincidence) they will believe the forecaster for the next prediction – even though the series is random so logically forecasting cannot be possible.

    Obviously as you state if that forecast of random data fits with the recipients bias then confirmation bias will also play a role. But that was not what the paper was showing.

    To quote again
    “Subjects who saw four successive correct tips were 28 percentage points more likely to buy the prediction for the fifth round.

    This tells us that even intelligent and numerate people are quick to misperceive randomness and to pay for an expertise that doesn’t exist; the subjects included students of sciences, engineering and accounting. The authors say:

    Observations of a short streak of successful predictions of a truly random event are sufficient to generate a significant belief in the hot hand.”

    However, your leap to an incorrect conclusion shows interesting confirmation bias ;-)

  47. @omnologos says: May 28, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Agreed. Climate Jihadis (copyright me) is the way I look at them. Look hard, and they are fundamentalists, Never liked fundamentalists of any hue. Never will. This lot are beyond the pal.

  48. Warren in Minnesota says:
    May 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I had a similar thought comparable to Pamela Gray’s comment. I think that there must a few politicians who deliver snake oil to their constituents in just this fashion at all levels of the republic.
    _______________________________
    Oh very much so. Before the 2010 election I called everyone I was thinking of voting for and asked pointy little questions. After the election I found they flat out lied to get my vote. GRRrrrr.

  49. The stick was always critical to the AGW message. It appeared to be the only really significant EMPIRICAL evidence for a strong human effect on climate. Without it the advocates need to rely on models, which have failed the test of prediction and clearly to no adequately simulate natural variability. So the stick needed to be defended tooth and nail.

    With the stick gone, the advocates are in their last stages of reality denial, as one can discern from their yet more radical and more shrill claims and warnings. “Climate science” has become a form of astrology in which everything that happens is made to fit the dogma, but nothing is definitively predicted.

  50. then delete my previous post- ta
    and this one

    [Reply: Thank you. Now check your mail. -REP]

  51. Richard S Courtney, It baffles me why you spent a lot of time reading and discussing something you find has zero value. When I come across a thread that doesn’t interest me, I skip it and go on to something that does interest me. What I find interesting, others may not (and visa versa). So I see no point in wasting my time to stop and complain about how useless I think a thread is.

    When you’re invited to dinner and the host serves an item you don’t care for, do you just skip it and eat the things you like? Or do you force yourself to eat it and then spend the whole evening berating your host for serving a food you don’t care for? If you do the latter, don’t be surprised if you upset your host and are not invited to dinner again. Most people understand what common Courtesy is. The good thing is, it’s not rocket science so it should be easy to learn.

  52. This tells us that even intelligent and numerate people are quick to misperceive randomness and to pay for an expertise that doesn’t exist; the subjects included students of sciences, engineering and accounting.
    ————
    I thought all of this kind of stuff was pretty well known already.

    In fact the same kinds of issues can just as easily mislead people who see cycles everywhere and even people who produce prognostications for the mining industry.

  53. Slightly off topic…. but where are the trolls?
    Why is that when a thread directly questions the work of one of the team, the trolls show up to defend it with some of the most obscure links and ridiculous assertions one can imagine. Yet here we are in discussion of the fundamentals of science and belief, and narry a troll to be seen.

    I was hoping that Phil Clarke would show up here. Over on the Yamal thread, I have him so tied up in knots that he has not stated clearly for all to see that Briffa’s Yamal reconstruction could not possibly represent global temperatures and challenged me to provide evidence that Briffa, the IPCC or anyone else ever made that claim!

    Bringing this back on topic…. If (which I doubt) Phil Clarke actually believes his own drivel, this is an excellent example of cognitave dissonance (which is a big part of what we’re discussing here though nobody has yet used those words in this thread). Backed into a corner on the impossibility of Briffa’s ten trees representing global temperature, Phil Clarke not only stipulated to it being impossible, but then turns around and tries to claim that it was never presented as a representation of global temps in the first place.

    So deeply is he invested in his world view that “Briffa is right” that his own logic defeats his own argument. Is he stupid? Havig debated him in several threads, I can assure you he is not, he is very clever and his manipulative deceptions are at times very sophisticated. But he’s shot off both his feet and is now aiming for the knees to protect his belief that Briffa’s work is legit.

  54. Time to add Bafflegab Pays by J. Scott Armstrong, University of Pennsylvania, to the mix

    “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” Simply put, this is the advice that J. Scott
    Armstrong, a marketing professor at the Wharton School, coolly gives his fellow academics
    these days. It is based on his studies confirming what he calls the Dr. Fox hypothesis: “An
    unintelligible communication from a legitimate source in the recipient’s area of expertise will
    increase the recipient’s rating of the author’s competence.”
    Eight years ago, Dr. Myron L. Fox gave a celebrated one-hour talk, followed by a half-
    hour discussion period, on “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education.” His
    audiences were professional groups, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and
    educators; afterward, on anonymous questionnaires, they said they found the lecture clear and
    stimulating.
    Fox, in short, was a smashing success. He was also a complete phony—a professional
    actor whom three researchers had told to make up a lecture of double-talk, patching raw material
    from a Scientific American article into nonsequiturs and contradictory statements interspersed
    with jokes and meaningless references to unrelated topics.

    To test whether such bafflegab also pays in print, Armstrong asked 20 management
    professors to rank the academic prestige of 10 management journals that had varying degrees of
    readability according to the well-known Flesch Reading Ease Test. Sure enough, the top-rated
    journal was the hardest to read; the lowest-rated one, the easiest…..
    J. Scott Armstrong, “Bafflegab Pays,” Psychology Today, May 1980 p. 12

    So much for science by “authority” and “Peer-reviewed papers” Scott Armstrong has several other papers and studies that punch holes in pompous Phds. Armstrongs other papers can be acessed via http://jscottarmstrong.com/

    Armstrong also has a website : The Global Warming Challenge. It might be a good addition to WUWT.

    We are still waiting for the dangerous warming that Mr Gore and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change promised us was already happening. With the satellite temperature data in for the month of March (see the bet-tracker graph to the right) we have had six months in a row of temperatures below the 2007 average upon which Scott Armstrong’s bet was based. Armstrong remains ahead overall, and the prospect of dangerous warming during the period of the bet looks increasingly remote….

    ….I am the marketing professor, and I was invited to testify because I am a forecasting expert. With Dr. Kesten C. Green and Dr. Willie Soon, I found that the global warming alarm is based on improper forecasting procedures. We developed a simple model that provides forecasts that are 12 times more accurate than warming-alarm forecasts for 90 to 100 years ahead.

    We identified 26 analogous situations, such as the alarm over mercury in fish. Government actions were demanded in 25 situations and carried out in 23. None of the alarming forecasts were correct, none of the interventions were useful, and harm was caused in 20. Mr. Krugman challenged 2 of the 26 analogies, “acid rain and the ozone hole,” which he said “have been contained precisely thanks to environmental regulation.” We are waiting for his evidence.

    “What’s the punch line?” he asked. I recommended an end to government financing for climate change research and to associated programs and regulations. And that’s no joke.

    Dr. Armstrong is the kind of guy you really wish you could take courses from. Too bad I am about 800 miles too far south to take any of his Marketing courses.

  55. TYPO
    Over on the Yamal thread, I have him so tied up in knots that he has NOW stated clearly for all to see that Briffa’s Yamal reconstruction could not possibly represent global temperatures and challenged me to provide evidence that Briffa, the IPCC or anyone else ever made that claim!

  56. The role of the “law of small numbers” in climate scientology goes beyond The Hockey Stick. “Global Average Temperature” (GAT) generally increased throughout the 20th Century, and though warming has stalled for 10-15 years, alarmists insist it will resume with a vengeance. It’s like a financial advisor whose stock market system “worked” when the market was rising: “Don’t worry, my foolproof scientific system [CAGW theory] post-predicted the earlier bull market [warming], so the market [GAT] will resume its climb any day now, and soon you’ll be rich [doomed]. Trust me, numbers don’t lie.”

  57. “…all religions are little more then charlatanism, with no foundation in reality except to concentrate power and wealth in a ruling class….”
    —–

    Because the ruling class has misused and corrupted religion to maintain power over people doesn’t mean all religion is charlatanism. That would be like declaring all science to be charlatanism because some are willing to misuse and corrupt science for power and personal gain. Neither science nor religion would be of use to charlatans if there wasn’t some basic truths and power to be found in them. In both cases, the trick is to be wise enough to discern truth from falsehood so you don’t end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  58. Gail Combs says (May 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm): “Oh very much so. Before the 2010 election I called everyone I was thinking of voting for and asked pointy little questions. After the election I found they flat out lied to get my vote. GRRrrrr.”

    Did you perhaps reveal, even unintentionally, which answer would get your vote? If so, next time try to elicit the answer that won’t get your vote, and see if the candidate(s) takes the bait. :-)

  59. This sounds right. Given the actual information that Briffa had but disregarded, as learned by McIntyre, I think the team went for the home run (the Nobel Prize and money) and expected the science to follow. It simply did not occur to them that they were wrong.

  60. A long time ago, as an engineer, then as a manager, then as an executive responsible for major investments for a major Fortune 100 company, I learned to: Show the uncensored data, then show how & why you formed the final data & your conclusions. This training produces very humble engineers, honest engineers & informed decision makers. Unless you know what when into the stew, your sure to miss the baloney!

    That’s what all CAGW & the Hockey Stick has been all about, hiding the uncensored data & getting the baloney!

  61. davidmhoffer says:
    May 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    TYPO
    Over on the Yamal thread, I have him so tied up in knots that he has NOW stated clearly for all to see that Briffa’s Yamal reconstruction could not possibly represent global temperatures and challenged me to provide evidence that Briffa, the IPCC or anyone else ever made that claim!
    ========================================
    David, ask him, since Briffa’s temp reconstruction fell apart because of rising CO2 levels…..was his reconstruction a measure of temp increase…or CO2 increase

  62. Friends:

    Please note that I am only providing this post to point out an error of fact which has been posted by two people, has not been corrected by others, and would be a distortion of the discussion if not corrected. I am not writing this for any other reason.

    The error is most clearly expressed by Ian W when he writes.

    What the paper said is that even though individuals know that a data series is random, if they are given two correct forecasts of that random data (by definition this must be just coincidence) they will believe the forecaster for the next prediction – even though the series is random so logically forecasting cannot be possible.

    And, therefore, he and another commentator assert that my understanding of the paper by Powdthavee & Riyanto is mistaken. That is an error of fact.

    That conclusion of the paper by Powdthavee & Riyanto is not directly relevant to discussion of the immediate adoption of the ‘hockey stick’ because the ‘hockey stick’ was adopted (by the IPCC and others) when there was only one datum: i.e. the MBH ‘hockey stick’ itself).

    However, that conclusion (of Powdthavee & Riyanto) confirms the truism that people want to believe information which they can use to their personal advantage. And if the paper by Powdthavee & Riyanto is not confirming that truism then it has no relevance to the ‘hockey stick’ debate.

    As an addendum intended to shut-down possible mischievous responses to my presenting this post, I add the following.

    Several people (whose opinions I respect) have said I have been in error in this thread when I (twice) tried to explain why I think having this thread on WUWT is a mistake. They may be right because I often make mistakes. But the claim that I made a

    leap to an incorrect conclusion [that] shows interesting confirmation bias

    is clearly not true and I suspect it is mischievous.

    Richard

  63. Thanks to Anthony for giving us this holiday post. I am a little too jaded to believe the people who foisted this scheme on us were fooled by a lucky streak. This was a conscience effort to bilk taxpayers and everyone involved knew it all along.

  64. @Richard S. Courtney – I’m back online for a bit while we prep for the next holiday event.

    You are most welcome to continue posting, and no I don’t expect people to like everything but there are days when I have my limits for “no good deed goes unpunished”… today is one of those, especially when I could have easily posted nothing at all. I don’t take many days off. I constantly wrestle between wanting to get my life back and keeping this blog going. For today at least, you made the choice easy.

  65. Dennis Nikols
    “I will say, knowing full well I will receive the wrath of the believers, all religions are little more then charlatanism…”

    Not wrath but just a hint that this statement lacks logic. ‘Because all my previous girlfriends ended up with someone else, therfore my wife is going out with someone else.’
    There is such a thing as trust, however cynically exploited by many.

  66. richard verney, above, appropriately quoted the line, “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”. I think we all recognize this weakness. I’m sure I have it. But I think this line from a poem by Edwin Morgan that I learned at school teaches us more: “Deplore what is to be deplored, and then find out the rest.” In other word, finding faults is easy.

  67. @richardscourtney

    I’m pretty sure you did not realize what you said in your first comment.
    Your completely dismissive and rude statement to Anthony was, “Old news. Heard it. Don’t care.”

    Then Anthony said, “Don’t care that you’ve heard it. Others haven’t. My time is precious. This holiday time was well spent.”

    You said some nattering stuff after that. All old news, old complaints, so I didn’t care to read it. It was easy. You should try it yourself sometime.

  68. Krugman started by recalling that in Herman Kahn’s 1968 book The Year 2000, Kahn predicted that by the end of the 20th century the average worker would put in 30 hours a week and would enjoy 13 weeks of vacation. Quite wrong, Krugman noted. Kahn had been far too optimistic about
    the advances of technology and the benefits they would deliver. But Krugman had learned from Kahn’s mistake, he said, and so he was able to make a series of predictions, including: “the growth of the Internet will slow drastically,” it will become clear by 2005 “that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s” and “10 years from now the phrase ‘information economy’ will sound silly.”

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/12/29/dan-gardner-the-worlds-top-100-thinkers-cement-their-record-of-failure/

  69. When your political/philosophical ideology decides that something like “redistribution of wealth” is key, and, that somehow, the unbalanced use of fossil fuels by the “oppressors” is the key to that unbalanced wealth, AND, you have a massive, unbalance of progressive, liberal, and otherwise counter-culture hippies staffing major universities EVERYWHERE…is it REALLY surprising, that the political/philosophical ideal of “ends justify the means” uses any means necessary, including, faking scientific evidence, to back their agenda? Oh, and this SAME philosophy (Marxism…I’ll just go to its ROOTS and leave the rest of you to dispute me) also describes the critical success factor of “useful idiots” (Thanks Lenin…your movement is alive and well). Fools and damn fools are the target of most progressive academicians, politicians, and journalists. I am NOT one of their targets.

  70. I have a good friend who has a masters degree in biology, a real science. She is a firm believer that man is causing the planet to warm, and CO2 is the primary culprit. I have been an AGW skeptic since I first heard of AGW. Since I was a scuba diver, my knowledge of the mixture of gases and their percentages in the atmosphere, and the laws of physics that pertained to those gases, made me doubt CO2 could not be doing what the AGW alarmists were claiming. When I point out the miniscule amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the lack of proof that CO2 emitted by man is warming the planet, I still can’t dissuade her from her belief. She has latched on to the AGW bandwagon and will not let go.
    One of her “proofs” that AGW is real is the “hockey stick” graph. The first time I saw Mann’s graph, I noticed the absence of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. Although I’m an accountant, I am also a student of history, and the glaring absence of these historical phenomena raised my skeptic antenna. Something was wrong with the methodology used if historical warming and cooling was missing. Although I have pointed out this flaw to my friend, it means nothing to her (after all she’s a biologist and has never been even remotely interested in history). As Paul Simon wrote so eloquently, and Richard Verney quoted above, “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”.

  71. That the behavior discussed is well know is true. That it continues in spite of that knowledge is also true. That all of us are subject to seeing patterns in noise is part of being and saying alive. Our brains, if they are anything at all, are magnificent pattern recognition engines. So much so that it is very easy to perceive patterns in noise.

    What we don’t do often enough is stop, take a deep breath, think, and carefully check our premises and calculations one more time and then do it again. However, if you think you see a mountain lion about to pounce on you, make sure you don’t take too long to make up your mind what to do.

  72. The three tree rings game:
    There are three bristlecone pine cores.
    One shows a rise in temperature, two show a decline but you don’t know which.
    You have to find the bristlecone pine core which shows a rise.
    You pick a core but don’t know whether it shows a rise or decline.
    A second core is revealed to you which shows a decline in temperature.
    Which of the remaining two cores is most likely to show a rise in temperature, your original
    choice or the one you didn’t choose?
    Algorithms on a postcard. :o)

    http://www.theproblemsite.com/treasure_hunt/door_hint.asp

  73. Alec Rawls says: May 28, 2012 at 10:38 am

    You caught my ambivalence on poor John McCain. I was/am a Republican Party activist volunteer. And I worked to get him elected. (Vote for the wrinkley old dude and the hot chick!) While there was horror that “I AM the ONE” would do what he promised (and he hasn’t failed there), there was just a smidgen of relief when McCain lost. Poor John McCain believed in AGW/Cap and trade AND the efficacy of socialized medicine. He also put his name on McCain-Feingold.

    (As county party treasurer, I curse his name every time I have to make out a filing. And his mother, father, dog AND the horse he rode in on.)

    If someone is going to destroy these United States, I want a “D” after their name. But, yes, he did go to hell and back for us, a hell where Jane Fonda and John Kerry should spend eternity.

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  74. Lionell Griffith says:
    May 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm
    …..What we don’t do often enough is stop, take a deep breath, think, and carefully check our premises and calculations one more time and then do it again. However, if you think you see a mountain lion about to pounce on you, make sure you don’t take too long to make up your mind what to do.
    _______________________________________
    As my ponies would say – run first ask questions later. They will run a safe distance away from a noisy new lawn tractor for example and then stop and assess the situation. Too bad a lot of people are not as smart as my ponies. They just keep running and never stop to see if the sky is really falling. http://rgifs.gifbin.com/320sw0sw7847.gif

  75. I am glad to see comity restored between our good host Anthony, and Richard S. Courtney. Like many others, I also often look forward to a cogent summation, comment, or lightning-like argument in support (or dismissal) of a new thread from him. Dr. Courtney is often a model commenter, one who’s example informs my thinking and influences my post’s compositions, I hope. Any other outcome than the present one would be a loss to me. Thank you all.

  76. orson2 says: @ May 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I am glad to see comity restored between our good host Anthony, and Richard S. Courtney. Like many others, I also often look forward to a cogent summation, comment, or lightning-like argument in support (or dismissal) of a new thread from him. Dr. Courtney is often a model commenter…
    ___________________________________
    Yes Dr. Courtney’s comments are well worth reading. Seems we all have off days.

    I am amazed that Anthony has managed as well as he has despite provocation. I certainly know I do not have the type of even temperament he has displayed over the years.

  77. richardscourtney says:
    May 28, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Anthony:

    I am pleased that you are to spend time with your family on a holiday.

    But I fail to understand why you think I implied that you should

    stop publishing altogether (especially on holidays like today), and shut down WUWT

    In fact, I am a fan of your efforts and of WUWT in particular. But that does not mean I think I should be required to assert that everything on WUWT is worthwhile.

    Support includes pointing out when I assess things are less than the worthwhile. Others may disagree and tell me why they think my assessment is wrong. If they do, then my post gives them the opportunity to correct those who share my opinion.

    What you didn’t and don’t “get”, Richard, is that the issue is: attention on the issue. Since persistent belief in the discredited Hokey Schtick is itself a problem, this is a report on another shot at dispelling it, plus a focus on the crucial emotional fallacy that enabled it to be persuasive.

    It often takes more than one shot to bring down a charging grizzly.

  78. I don’t really think it is useful to hang psychological tags and motivations, to the warmist conformity, wrt to climate consensus. Almost anything that can be said may easily be turned, end on end, and thrown back at skeptics. Just recall – what happened to the term “cognitive dissonance” or “confirmation bias”. These terms were used as a club by both sides.

    I am more comfortable with the “Noble Cause syndrome” and “Peer conformity” as normal pressures in modern society. That some delusional characters take advantage of these tendencies, surprises me not at all. It is the role of the realist to point out the delusion of the consensus climate science and prevent propaganda madness.

    Unfortunately, the skeptical\realist voice was very weak, for a very long time, and now the question is: Will we succeed in reversing the impressive momentum of unrestrained CO2 induced CAGW? The fat lady hasn’t sung… yet. GK

  79. James Ard says:
    May 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    This was a conscience effort to bilk taxpayers and everyone involved knew it all along.

    I doubt their conscience was urging them to bilk taxpayers. T’was a conscious disregard of their consciences what done it.

  80. Ian says:
    May 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm
    @Gail Combs
    Chinese modus operandi: “Punish one, teach a hundred”.
    IanM

    “Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres…” –Voltaire

  81. richardscourtney says: The ‘hockey stick’ is bunkum.

    The hockey stick is very good science … it’s the interpretation that is bunkum!!

    it shows that if you select trees for their correlation with modern temperature rise, there is almost no correlation with known events in the past. In other words, that these “proxies” when selected for their fit to modern temperatures, show little “predictive” power of past temperatures.

    In other words, the hockey stick was proof of the uselessness of these tree rings as a proxy for temperature in the past. Which makes all other tree-ring proxies questionable.

    And it is about time someone took Mann’s data shoved his interpretation where the sun don’t shine and instead demonstrated that when a correct scientific interpretation is applied, it proves that tree rings (or at least this set) have no correlation with past temperature

    … just to explain. If you select the trees which match the upswing in temperature (as Mann did), it tells you nothing about the present – because you selected the ones that just happen to fit – and if they fit??? However, if trees were a proxy for the past, then you would expect trees which best represented modern temperatures to also best represent past temperatures (i.e. before accurate temperature records). If they are good proxies, we would expect correlation, so that they all rose and fell together … as one would expect of something responding to temperature.However, if there was no correlation between the trees we would expect them to add together randomly to produce a flat graph.

    In other words, you select trees that show the strongest modern temperature response, you would expect them to all rise and fall in the past … not to randomly cancel out but no. They produced a flat graph, thus proving there is no correlation between tree rings and known climate events in the past. There are two possible interpretations:

    1. That there was no climate in the past … a patently absurd suggestion which only a scientifically illiterate moron would pick
    2. That tree rings do not correlate with past climate and cannot be used as a proxy for past climate. (at least this set over longer periods – there is evidence of short term response to events like volcanoes)

  82. Hmmmmn.

    A few things:
    We KNOW absolutely that dendrochronology using tree ring thickness differences over the years is valid: many different trees in the same area will change ring thicknesses at the same year, and by combining/overlapping many different trees over their many different years you can get a long continuous record of something.

    But … of what though? Only of relative tree growth rates. What caused the differences year-to-year (water, shade, heat, growing season changes, storms, fertilizer)?

    As asked above, is there really a valid assumption for dendro-climatology’s assumed tree-mommeters?

    Most important – what is the c”correction” for the recent rise in CO2 since 1960 that has been measured? If all growing things on the planet – as measured in the several hundred scientific papers at Idso’s website – are now growing at 13 to 27% faster rates than before, what is Mann-Briffa correction to tree ring thickness since 1960?

    What did that (missing ??) correction do to his assumed relationship between tree ring thickness and temperature in the recent past, and the far past?

    Constant temperature + greater CO2 => greater ring thickness
    Greater temperature + constant CO2 => greater ring thickness

    What were CO2 levels when the “average” sea water was cooler and warmer from AD 600 through AD 1850: MWP to LIA to Modern warming period?

  83. For me it was the ice-core fiasco that first convinced me to be pro-AGW and then subsequently to realise that AGW theory was a big lie. The early graphs of the ice-core data suggested that CO2 and temp moved hand-in-hand so it was easy to suggest that CO2 did indeed cause increases in temperature as the theory suggested, It was not until I printed out the data as graphs myself that I convinced myself that CO2 was lagging temperature, did not cause exponential feedback in temperature and that increases in CO2 could not reverse an unexpected decline in temperature. It was at this point I realised that a significant number of climate scientists were indulging in a bare-faced lie for some reason, and that this lie was being condoned by Wikipedia and many people in the media. It also became clear to me that some people would not open their minds to even a small element of the truth no matter how clear you made it to them. Of course the ice-core data is no longer considered a central plank of AGW evidence – clearly the “lie” within that “evidence” has become too toxic for the movement.

    It is interesting that Derren Brown was mentioned in this topic. It has always amazed me the number of people prepared to believe each week that Derren has performed a “miracle” when he makes it clear week after week that what he is doing is nothing more than conjuring tricks. It is an astonishing demonstration of the power of suggestibility in some humans and frightening that so many can be so easily duped. I firmly believe that for humanity to make real progress we need a cure for suggestibility.

  84. Scottish Sceptic:

    At May 29, 2012 at 12:57 am you say

    richardscourtney says: The ‘hockey stick’ is bunkum.

    The hockey stick is very good science … it’s the interpretation that is bunkum!!

    No.
    The ‘hockey stick’ is the obtained conclusion from an incorrect interpretation of results from a mistaken method for data selection.

    The conclusion from an incorrect interpretation of results from a mistaken method for data selection which provides a wrong indication is very bad science.

    However, as you say,

    it shows that if you select trees for their correlation with modern temperature rise, there is almost no correlation with known events in the past. In other words, that these “proxies” when selected for their fit to modern temperatures, show little “predictive” power of past temperatures.

    So, if you want to be pedantic then I would accept an amendment to my statement that says
    The ‘hockey stick’ is bunkum: it results from an incorrect interpretation of results from a mistaken method for data selection. A correct interpretation of the data shows that tree rings do not indicate temperature.

    But I prefer ” The ‘hockey stick’ is bunkum” .

    Richard

  85. Louis says:
    May 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    “…all religions are little more then charlatanism, with no foundation in reality except to concentrate power and wealth in a ruling class….”
    —–

    Because the ruling class has misused and corrupted religion to maintain power over people doesn’t mean all religion is charlatanism. That would be like declaring all science to be charlatanism because some are willing to misuse and corrupt science for power and personal gain. Neither science nor religion would be of use to charlatans if there wasn’t some basic truths and power to be found in them. In both cases, the trick is to be wise enough to discern truth from falsehood so you don’t end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    ============================================================
    Don’t blame God for what men have done in His name without first finding out what it was God wanted done.
    And, yes, Gail, there ahve been errors in translation but those are men’s doing.
    Since I’m approaching the border of that sometimes fuzzy line and so the mod doesn’t pull what must be his increasingly itchy snipper finger, I won’t go any further.
    (If it is pulled, no offense taken.)

  86. jayhd says:
    May 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm
    “and has never been even remotely interested in history”

    Exactamundo!! I find this to be be true in many “believers of the cause”

  87. Ryan says:
    May 29, 2012 at 2:42 am
    “I firmly believe that for humanity to make real progress we need a cure for suggestibility.”

    I found out recently that hundreds of people sent letters to the coast guard requesting that they rescue the people stranded on Gilligan’s Island. You can imagined the look of astonished incredulity on my face. I realized then why telemarketing still exists.

  88. Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice? Implications of Gambler’s and Hot-Hand Fallacies in False-Expert Setting

    That seems to fit hand in cookie jar with

    Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments
    Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Department of Psychology, Cornell University

    Here’s a good read that goes with this
    The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is
    By ERROL MORRIS

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/

    What sparked Morris to write those blog posts was Donal Rumsfeld’s speech that included the bit about “unknown unknowns”, the things you don’t know you don’t know about which may come along and bite your backside. Ie. What things the Iraqi armed forces might be capable of that the US had no knowledge of and no way of finding out until *surprise* they did it. Hard to prepare for that, especially when some clueless lunkhead wants to know your strategies for all unforeseen circumstances.

    An example he gives is he doesn’t know the melting temperature of Beryllium and he knows he doesn’t know that, but he could easily find out. That’s a “known unknown”. Where he could have expanded would be a person who doesn’t even know there’s an element named Beryllium. Such a person wouldn’t even know they don’t know anything about it.

    Ignorance of that level is fairly easy to remedy, simply ask the person if they know the melting temperature of Beryllium. The answer you’ll get back is likely to be “What’s Beryllium?”. Given a bit of curiosity and access to the web or even an encyclopedia set, that person’s newly known unknown will soon become something they know.

    Where the trouble comes along is with the people who flat out refuse to fix their own ignorance when informed about something they need to know, which they did not know they didn’t know anything about. For them, a conversion from an unknown unknown to a known unknown is an annoyance, not a learning opportunity.

    With climate scientists, there’s a huge amount of stuff they know they don’t know about how weather and climate works. There’s also a vast amount they don’t know they don’t know because it either hasn’t cropped up in experiments or observations or experiments and observations that would reveal some of that vast unknown unknown about the atmosphere haven’t been done yet. The problem with the AGW pushing ones is they just don’t care about what they don’t know, whether or not they know they don’t know it. The “settled” science and consensus of their fellow believers is good enough for them.

  89. @Gail Combs:
    “I have often wonder how many people are individuals/leaders and how many are only followers …”

    I have a recollection of reading something General Sir Brian Horrocks wrote:
    “In any group of 10 men, 1 is a natural leader, 1 will lead if he has to, 6 will follow,
    and 2 would rather not be there”

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