Unnatural Stupidity

OK, I was peacefully watching the “news loop” (that’s what I call the half dozen news channels that I load into a ‘jump loop’ where I just touch one ‘jump’ button to swap from one to the next. Usually it is CNN, CNBC / CNBCW, Fox Business, Fox News, PBS / Al Jazeera / Link TV, BBC depending on what is ‘on’ at the time. A decent spread from all Points Of View most of the time.) Landed on CNN and they were nattering on about a Global Warming topic.

That ‘bit’ was focused on a new Natural Disaster Movie being touted by the maker. It is about glacial melt, mostly, and “global warming” as catastrophe. What caught my attention was a new level of idiocy in the Stupid Meme department. The speaker (that I think was the film maker) while painting a picture (with calving glaciers in the background) of runaway weather and pending doom said “Nature isn’t Natural anymore!!!”

That is one heck of a level of unnatural stupidity, IMHO.

But expect to see it ‘coming around’ as a slogan / talking point in the AlGore “Dirty Weather” campaign.

OK, that’s all I have on it, other than a pointer to the film. From The HuffPo:


James Gerken


‘Chasing Ice’ Follows James Balog’s Mission To Capture Climate Change

Posted: 11/02/2012 1:38 pm EDT Updated: 11/02/2012 2:01 pm EDT

There’s an “official trailer” and then a picture of the guy who I think was the speaker on CNN. James Balog. Here’s the caption under the picture:

National Geographic photographer James Balog (left) with director Jeff Orlowski at the premiere of their film, “Chasing Ice,” at the Museum of Art and Design in New York on Oct. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Starpix, Amanda Schwab)

So a Nat Geo photographer.

Has Nat Geo gone off the deep end too, or is it just one photo guy who believes in unnatural nature?

Much of the rest of the interview was more of a ‘community organizing’ movement hype, encouraging folks to get active and telling them ‘what they can do’. The HuffPo piece has some of that too:

“Use your voice.” Standing before the audience at the New York City premiere of “Chasing Ice” in October, photographer James Balog offered this encouragement to individuals wondering what they can do in the face of global climate change.

“Chasing Ice” follows the work of Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey project, a long-term photographic study of the impact of climate change on the world’s glaciers. It focuses on the expeditions of the EIS team to install solar-powered cameras overlooking glaciers in some of the most remote regions. Time-lapse images from these cameras show the glaciers retreating at a stunning rate.

Looks like the “trailer” on Youtube has an embed code, so here it is:

An alternate POV

What interests me out of all this is that such things as movies on “dirty weather” or “unnatural nature” or whatever, have a fairly long lead time to plan and prepare. That means the “meme” has been ‘in the works’ for a while. Which further implies that the folks who were hard pushing “Global Warming” most likely NEW we were headed into a ‘regime change’ in the weather as the PDO / AMO flip happen and as “global warming” returned to the more storm prone (and colder) patterns of my youth.

The weather NOW is substantially identical to what it was in the 1950s. It is not “dirty weather”, nor is it “unnatural nature”. It is the absolutely natural and consistently historical pattern of weather prior to the warm / stable phase of the PDO that we’ve had for the last 30 years. It is a 60 year cycle, so not all that surprising that the last similar storm to hit the New York / New Jersey area was about 60 years ago. (Though that one was stronger). Similarly, it is absolutely normal that glaciers that had relentlessly ADVANCED during the Little Ice Age would turn around and retreat during the rebound to normal warmth when that Little Ice Age ended. As we are at the end of that period, the retreat would be maximum now. As we enter the next cold phase, they will again advance after the turn is well underway.

So looking at this, it is clear to me that there is a “pattern”. One that says there is an understanding of what are leading and lagging indicators. That there is planning to shift to lagging indicators when an expected cyclical turn happens, and that implies a cynical understanding that this is a ‘put up job’. No, not by all participants. Many will be “useful idiots” picking up the latest twist and turn of the narrative and parroting it, blissfully unaware of ‘yesterdays story’ and how the narrative has changed. Yet the planners must know. Due to lead time. There is a small possibility of a ‘synchronous shift’ where the ‘narrative’ is mutated in real time with the weather cycle. That depends on fairly fast cycle times on things like making movies and writing scripts. It would also depend on a certain amount of ‘opportunism’ where, for example, you film a lot of things then ‘fix it up’ in the editing. But that’s a hard way to make a film. So the more likely is a planned and coordinated shift with understanding of what the natural cycle will do.

Thus the need to redefine nature as unnatural.

Yes, that is based on a fair amount of ‘projection’. Unless you are privy to the planning meetings or ‘inside’ the tent, it is all you can do. What is clear is that nature is doing exactly what nature does: cycle. That the Global Warmers have a narrative shift in the works. That the shift had a lead time, and the results are ‘on time’. Not enough to prove anything; just enough to make me go “Hmmmmm….”

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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24 Responses to Unnatural Stupidity

  1. adolfogiurfa says:

    May Nature freeze all global warmers……..

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    In my opinion The National Geographic went off the deep end back in 1975, if I remember correctly, with a 13th addition dedicated totally to Eco-green views on water and saving the water environment and the planet. This was in the days of Man caused global cooling and the looming Ice Age. Pissed me off so much I canceled my subscription of over 20 years. Before that they normally just presented the facts and left opinion to the readers. Too bad! I loved the old National Geographic and had read nearly every Issue when I was a kid. pg

  3. DirkH says:

    “Has Nat Geo gone off the deep end too, or is it just one photo guy who believes in unnatural nature?”

    NatGeo had quite a bit of warmist alarmist nonsense the past few years. Trying to boost sales by fearmongering like everybody else.
    Green NatGeo reports about their Greendex, measuring your greenness and guilt, helping you become more green and feeling guilty.
    “This year’s Greendex report, conducted by the National Geographic Society and the research consultancy GlobeScan”
    “(How green are you? Find out with the Greendex calculator.)”
    Americans are less green and feel less guilty than everybody else. The fun thing is, the more green you are the more you feel guilty. I think it’s a kind of self-selection for gullibility.

  4. Gary P Smith says:

    Of course they understand the natural cycles. All they have to do is read the Farmers Almanac which used to be very accurate with long term forecasting due to their deep understanding of natural cycles and used it in the ‘secret forecasting’ models. Which makes me wonder…I haven’t read Farmers Almanac in years….have they gone ‘Global Warming’, or do they still prepare honest long term forecasts based on natural long term cycles?

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    On my blog I have a post on this conspiracy:
    On WUWT a commenter on a thread about a BBC refusal to comply to a FOIA brought up this pdf about several meetings at the BBC for the Internationally directed conspiracy to manage All entertainment and news from the BBC about AGW.

    Click to access Real%20World%20Brainstorm%20update%2030Jul08.pdf

    Emmmm…I wonder how much of our news and information is managed by This international NGO and UN conspiracy. pg

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    Some few years ago I read of the editors and publishers of the nature and environmental print establishment getting together (gourmet food, fine wine, exotic location, and high CO2 experience) each year to decide on the theme and image-symbol for the coming print cycle. The cycle now includes a web presence and, for some, TV and movies. As I recall the story, the idea was to select a cute and cuddly animal (Panda, Giraffe, Polar Bear Cub, Harp Seal pup) to promote ‘en masse’ [French, for in your face] so as to overwhelm and convince ‘the people’ that the threat being promoted was real and imminent. (Remember Johnny Carson saying there was a toilet paper shortage – and there was.) The pitch includes asking for a donation or renewed subscription, buying a Christmas subscription for a friend, and getting a gift if you do enough to help their bottom line. Gifts include stuffed animals, fancy printed tote bags, hats, or other such items. Many magazines now include a lot of futuristic (fact free) material. Not worth the time or money.
    Note: Newsweek mag to cease print edition at end of year.

  7. DirkH says:

    John F. Hultquist says:
    11 November 2012 at 4:35 pm
    “Some few years ago I read of the editors and publishers of the nature and environmental print establishment getting together (gourmet food, fine wine, exotic location, and high CO2 experience) each year to decide on the theme and image-symbol for the coming print cycle. ”

    Interesting. They’re emulating the fashion industry.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Odd… I regularly read Nat Geo up until high school graduation. (Library rat ;-) It largely gave me my geographic education. In the late 80s bought a canonical set on CDs that I’ve never unwrapped and haven’t bought an issue of it since…. But I’ve got all those old pictures on CD ‘somewhere’ ;-)

    FWIW, thanks to every iPhone being a TV studio, it is no longer possible to manage the news…

    Look what happened even in The Arab Spring with video from Egypt even as everything was banned. Look at China with official censorship and the various pathways that have grown to get past “the great firewall of China”… Australia going for censorship ‘for the children’ and a nearly instant ‘bypass’ Linux Release popping up.

    The basic information theory problem is that if you let ANY information flow, encrypted messages can flow. So if it’s not ‘air gap security’, I can get information through the firewall.

    Or look at BitTorrent. Comcast (and some others) was trying to quash it. (For legitimate concerns. Cable is not designed for ‘upstream’ traffic and a zillion ‘little servers’ at the ‘wrong’ end.) The result was a couple of changes to BitTorrent (including encryption and port hopping on restart) and the eventual capitulation of Comcast. Police going after copyright law (and ‘porn’) have resulted in “swarm” software and things like TOR routing.

    So any ‘control’ of the news can only work ‘so far’. Even with AGW, the masses have started to smell a rat. For all the “four walling” of the One Point Of View, it’s not working. FOIA-2011 for example…


    Oh My! Green-guilt automated! ;-)

    @Gary P. Smith:

    I’ve got the 2010 or 2011 around here somewhere. It was forecasting cold… and was pretty right.

    There are two online sites, so not so sure which one is ‘the original’:


    doesn’t look like the one in the store…

    This one looks like the one I’ve bought: http://m.almanac.com/

    Picking one spot at random for a ‘long range forecast’:


    Annual Weather Summary: November 2012 to October 2013

    Winter will be colder than normal in the east, with above-normal temperatures in the west. The coldest periods will be from late December through early January and in mid-January and early and mid-February. Precipitation and snowfall will generally be below normal, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-November, early January, and early March.

    April and May will be warmer and drier than normal, with an especially warm first half of April.

    Summer temperatures and rainfall will be near normal, on average, despite a tropical rainstorm threat in mid-June. The hottest periods will be in early to mid-July, late July, and mid-August.

    September and October will be warmer and drier than normal.

    So “colder except when it’s warmer” ;-)

    @John F. Hultquist:

    And the result has been folks abandoning such media in droves…

    Heck, look at the massive growth in blogs and even Fox news. I have fairly high faith that the typical “folks” are just cynical enough to “trust but verify” right up until they smell a rat. Then they “flush and move on”…

    So IMHO such ‘managed infotainment’ can capture about 30% of the mindshare, and even that only until the ‘trend’ moves on. How many folks in the FSU really believed Pravda?

    I regularly watch Al Jazeera and Mosaic. They have much better Middle East coverage. Especially fun is that Mosaic has both Israeli and their Neighbors news. Lets you do a very quick A/B on claims. The propaganda just reeks. ( Press TV from Iran, for example, is clearly stage managed. Palestinian news can’t even say “Israel”, it is always “the occupied territories” or “the illegal occupier” or “the zionist occupation”… While Israel is always talking about the ‘settlements’… and peace keepers / security forces…)

    In an age where a youtube can go viral, it isn’t possible to hide the truth. (It is possible to provide enough Badjolina and Fuzzy Puppy coverage to make it hard to find… and distract the lookers.) Is it ‘enough’? Who knows…

  9. Mark Miller says:

    “Nature is not acting natural”

    This is another version of the climate modeler saying, “The model is right. It’s the Earth that’s wrong.” I remember reading that and being shocked beyond belief. “How could anyone believe that?” It also matches with what one climate modeler told me a couple years ago, that traditional science doesn’t apply, because, “there is not another Earth to use as a control.”

    I’ve finally figured out where this is coming from, and it’s going to sound scary loopy! These people think they know how the Earth is *supposed* to behave, despite the observable data showing how it *is* behaving. They use mathematics as their “pristine” model. They think if the Earth were operating naturally, it would operate the way they think it should, as their models demonstrate. The Earth is *not* operating naturally, because it has been “corrupted” by humans, so they conclude. We have “contaminated” what can be observed. So therefore, “It’s the Earth that’s wrong,” “Nature is not acting natural,” and no observations can be trusted as describing “What the Earth is doing,” because you are not observing how Nature really is. You’re observing the human effect on it! They think their models accurately describe the Earth as it *should* be, and what our effect on it is, and they don’t trust scientific observations of how it is *actually* behaving, because, you see, “That’s not natural.” Circular reasoning all over the place! It’s as if without observing Nature, they totally know “what is natural!” This is totally anti-science. Berezow and Campbell talk about this in their new book, “Science Left Behind,” that this twisted logic is understandable if you understand the Progressive mindset (though it’s still out of touch with reality).

    Even understanding this, it’s still kind of baffling to me that these people have this obsession with ice. “The ice is disappearing” they warn forebodingly. Well so what? Would they be celebrating a new ice age, with advancing glaciers a few miles in thickness? I think somehow this appeals to the people who love the outdoors. Even if they don’t experience climbing on glaciers, they love looking at them. They add to the majesty of the landscape. These people mourn their passing. That’s fine, but it seems what they don’t understand is the Earth doesn’t exist for them. It is what it is. Our effect on it, such as it is, also exists, but what they don’t understand is the extent of our effect. They think it is total, they have no justification for it, and they go into the discussion of the science with that assumption predisposing all conclusions.

    I get a sense from watching this trailer that what they want to communicate is that their conclusions are real because they have pulled off an amazing piece of documentary footage, and the footage is what tells the tale. Speaking generically about documentaries, this can be true, but it’s not always the case. A picture can tell a thousand words, but those thousand words can be very misleading.

  10. DirkH says:

    Mark Miller says:
    12 November 2012 at 12:49 am
    “They think if the Earth were operating naturally, it would operate the way they think it should, as their models demonstrate. ”

    It’s a c*nfidence trick. What they do is this:
    a) They run their models with the supposedly enhanced CO2 greenhouse effect, with growing CO2 concentrations.
    b) They run their models without enhanced CO2 GHG effect.
    c) They look which model run fits the observed data better – it’s a).

    So they say, see, this proves a) is more correct.

    What they don’t explain, or are maybe to biased to see, is that they use the same flawed model for both a) and b) and that the comparison proves nothing.

    Personally, I think they’re not that stupid. They are rent-seekers and play this game consciously; it’s the science journalists who are so stupid that they believe it.

  11. Mark Miller says:


    “It’s a c*nfidence trick”

    That may be so. All I know is that the climate modeler I talked to said he had been doing it for about 25 years. He was very persistent in the defense of his conclusion, despite my reasoned opposition, exposing the fallacies in his thinking. The more I delved into what he said, the more I realized, with some shock and horror, that despite his claim that “the science tells us this,” he didn’t give a lot of credence to science in the matter. The way I’d describe it is he used the scientific literature as a prop. He’d shoot down whatever science disagreed with his conclusion, and tout whatever statistical analysis paper, ostensibly based on some measurement, supported his position, and call it the best “science” around.

    The trick was more about calling “math with data” science, not understanding the difference, or assuming the reader wouldn’t.

    The thing with the models is they keep having to revise them. I read a blog post a while back by a programmer, who had looked at these models for a long time, and found that on average the accuracy of the best ones lasted about 3 years. After that the measurements and the models diverge, and the modelers have to “go back to the drawing board.” Lately I’ve found they’ve found a new way of explaining the divergence: “The models are conservative,” which is another way of saying, “It’s worse than we thought.”

    There’s some evidence for the idea that these people do in fact know different, but would never admit it. I heard that scientists who witnessed the collapse of Mann’s “hockey stick” through Climategate were baffled by it, because they said that Mann’s other work, where he had specialized, and which had nothing to do with the climate issue, had been excellent. That was probably the main reason his “hockey stick” gained so much currency. His reputation preceded him.

    Carl Sagan is another example. I admire him, because he was one of the people who indirectly helped me learn about scientific thinking and practice, through his TV programs. I have since learned, though, that a significant part of his career was engaged in advocacy, not science. He was a huge promoter of the theory of “nuclear winter” during the Cold War. He did the same thing, saying, “The science tells us this,” and calling the few who disagreed “deniers of science” and “war mongers,” when all along his only backing was computer climate models and predictions. He also talked about the danger of AGW, but he was not as fierce an advocate of it, from what I’ve read, as people like, say, James Hansen.

    I read Sagan’s last book, “The Demon-Haunted World,” and I thought he gave great descriptions of the principles of science. As I read through it I wondered, “He knew this. Why did he buy into nuclear winter and AGW?” Was he also a part-time con-artist? I feel as though I can’t go that far without evidence, that these people know better, but are deliberately putting their scientific principles aside to promote pseudoscience. I’m more inclined towards the position that even very good scientists are capable of fooling themselves, whatever drives them to their myopia, whether it be fear, narcissism, or ambition mixed with pride that overtakes their skepticism. Some don’t like hearing this, thinking I’m being too generous.

    We’ve seen cases of scientists telling falsehoods through their work on this issue, but what I have not seen much of is scientists lying, where evidence has surfaced that they said something that wasn’t true, and knew it wasn’t. The only example I’ve seen was a case Dr. Bob Carter talked about several years ago, re. a scientific study re. the sighting of surface temperature gauges. Other than that, the best I can determine is the others are cases of deluded thinking, groupthink, and in the case of alarmist climate modelers, not understanding science, and its importance. Perhaps I’d need to look into the reports of the inquiry panels that were formed after Climategate broke to be convinced. What I remember is they determined that Mann and the others at the CRU misled the public, but that this was not an ethical violation, a fireable offense. All they got was a wrist slap. Whatever. It seems to me their actions called at least for a severe reprimand. All these institutions do by this is sully their reputations.

  12. Michael Hart says:

    Mark Miller, I often have similar thoughts.
    My more generous thoughts are that the phenomena is a result of how public science is funded. Competition to secure funding requires the investigators to put forward the most “positive” view of their work to policy-makers and the public at large. (“Positive” here meaning “important”.)

    A couple of key points worth mentioning: Firstly, many are probably not aware that funding is often a peer-reviewed process, just like publication. So the consensus/group-think (call it what you will) not only mitigates against dissension in the literature, but also against funding research that is likely to generate such results. I see no easy solution to this problem.

    Secondly, what many self-promoting scientists say (literally) in public and to MSM journalists, and what they write in non-peer-reviewed publications, can often be wild exaggerations or over-simplifications. Who is best placed to tell them when they routinely over step the mark and are doing a bad job of communicating science to the wider world? Probably their peers. Again.

    In this context, it is interesting that Michael Mann has indeed been reported as taking a sabbatical to brush-up on his science “communication”. A question in my mind is how did that come about? Was it his idea, or was it suggested to him?

    (NB You may not have intended it, but your comment might be taken as meaning that Michael Mann is employed at the CRU in the UK, but I think he is currently at Penn State, Pennsylvania.)

  13. Michael Hart says:

    And by the word “suggested”, I mean “suggested in no uncertain terms”. :)

  14. DirkH says:

    Mark Miller says:
    12 November 2012 at 7:30 am
    “The way I’d describe it is he used the scientific literature as a prop. He’d shoot down whatever science disagreed with his conclusion, and tout whatever statistical analysis paper, ostensibly based on some measurement, supported his position, and call it the best “science” around.”

    See on this page: “degenerative research program”.

    “Lakatos claimed that not all changes of the auxiliary hypotheses of a research programme (which he calls ‘problem shifts’) are equally productive or acceptable. He took the view that these ‘problem shifts’ should be evaluated not just by their ability to defend the ‘hard core’ by explaining apparent anomalies, but also by their ability to produce new facts, in the form of predictions or additional explanations.[6] Adjustments that accomplish nothing more than the maintenance of the ‘hard core’ mark the research programme as degenerative.”

    There’s no research as degenerated as warmism, and if the warmists don’t recognize this, they must really be stupid beyond belief.

  15. KevinM says:

    I don’t expect a regime change soon. Even if the temperature trend turns around, it will be masked for some time by corrections. And the Arctic ice melt trend looks strong. Even if it reverses, this years low will hold the present decade average below last decade. What would break the CAGW down to its core handful is a continued flat-to-cooling trend into the 2020s.
    I’ve called 1998 as a repeat of 193x, and hope for a hint of cooling. If temps break warm before 2020, with satellite temp staying high, they’ll have me. I’m straddling both POVs at this point. In my gut I feel we’ve added a little warm, but the catastrophic talk triggers all my BS alarms. Eventually if we get within a reasonable range of the AR4 projections, I gotta give up the fight.

    No shame in being wrong. Shame is for staying wrong when change comes. For both sides.

  16. Mark Miller says:

    @Michael Hart:

    I’ve seen CU Boulder offer continuing education courses on how to “pitch” proposals for grants (though this wasn’t specific to scientific endeavors). They talk about how to identify funders’ interests, so as to more effectively make the pitch. I can countenance this somewhat, because it’s a best practice to “know your audience” when you present something, but this sounds like marrying marketing, maybe even politics, with academic funding, and that rubs me the wrong way. In my view, universities should be trying to attract people who are interested in knowledge. Making it about “selling” the research makes it sound like universities should be developing products that will eventually be sold, not expanding knowledge–which could be used by someone in the private sector to make something for sale. Not to say that commercial development from university research is bad at all. It’s just a matter how connected/disconnected that development is from the research activity.

    “Firstly, many are probably not aware that funding is often a peer-reviewed process, just like publication. So the consensus/group-think (call it what you will) not only mitigates against dissension in the literature, but also against funding research that is likely to generate such results.”

    This takes me back to something Obama said in 2009 in his speech to the National Academy of Sciences. He talked about “taking politics out of science” (hmmm…), and, “I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions, not the other way around.” I consider just the wording of this to be a gaffe. It got some chuckles from the audience. Still, I think it represents some confusion on Obama’s part about what science is about, but it matches rather well your description of how funding works. If peers agree on a set of “facts” as the legitimate basis for further research, then that forecloses on searching into the unknown, which is where great science is done.

    Re. Mann

    I agree. He’s situated in the U.S. You may be right about the university. I thought he was at the U. of VA.


    Your analysis seems problematic to me. What I’ve advocated for several years now is the idea of studying the thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere in relation to the issue of GHG, really studying and understanding it, because that is one of the central issues in the question. Like DirkH was saying earlier, just because you have a model that tries to cover a phenomena that is highly coupled, chaotic, and complex, and its results seem to match a temperature curve, does not mean that its assumptions in any way have bearing on the reality of what’s going on. It’s analogous to Ptolemy’s notion of epicycles for explaining the orbits of the planets, as seen from Earth. His theory was used for hundreds of years, and appeared accurate for much of that time, but we now have a much different, more accurate conception of how the planets make their orbits, particularly what causes those motions, making Ptolemy’s notions woefully obsolete. Epicycles explained the motions somewhat well, but made assumptions about the causes of those motions that don’t match what we can now observe. The implications of the differences between Ptolemy’s model and the model that’s developed since Copernicus were profound. Before you give up hope, I’d encourage you to think of the climate issue as a giant elephant, which a bunch of blind scientists are poking and prodding to try to find out what it is, each being able to grasp different aspects of it (the tail, the legs, the trunk, someday the big ears, and the extent of its height, etc.). If you don’t see that going on, but instead see a bunch of people saying they’ve found a new tree species…I’d take that with a lot of skepticism.

  17. DirkH says:

    Mark Miller says:
    13 November 2012 at 7:02 am
    “This takes me back to something Obama said in 2009 in his speech to the National Academy of Sciences. He talked about “taking politics out of science” (hmmm…), and, “I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions, not the other way around.” I consider just the wording of this to be a gaffe.”

    No; this is as much as he understands about anything (besides embezzling – he’s a pro in that.)

  18. dr furst dunaharm says:

    I’m continually amazed at supposed “scientists” tendency to take a relationship which has been demonstrated to have a sinusoidal nature in the past and extrapolate future values as if it were a linear relationship. Do the most basic tenets of calculus no longer apply?

    2nd derivatives are so much more telling than 1st derivatives in predicting a change over time.

    I graduated from Ga Tech in the early 80’s. Didn’t realize that fundamental mathematics had changed so dramatically. Must be Anthropogenic Mathematical Change or AMC…..

  19. KevinM says:

    I understand your argument Mark, it is possible to do thorough careful work and reach the correct result but for incorrect reasons. But at the core of their concept there is a grain of truth. GHGs make the surface warmer. Is the added warmth consequential or even measurable? I’ve been betting no it is not, which is how I started following posts here. Also unanswerable is where the temperature was going and at what rate without any added GHG. So my “temperature ramping up into the 2020s” is not a good test, its merely the best one I have available.
    The blind scientists look more like they’re classifying a playful tabby as a viscious tiger to me. But I also see people on what has been my side of the argument claiming there is no cat at all, just a bunch of blind old men grabbing each other in the crotch.

  20. Jason Calley says:

    @ KevinM As you say, there certainly is a grain of truth that the CAGW crowd base their argument — but I tend to think that the higher ups in the cause are not merely mistaken, but rather are dishonest. Why? For me the oh-my-God moment was when I ran across Watts’ surface station survey and realized that the most basic data of all, the raw temperature series, was being derived from stations which were predominantly inaccurate. “Oh wow! The climatologists are going to be in an absolute uproar over this! They will push for rigorous upgrades on the stations now!” I was sure that the big CAGW folk would push for good data. Instead, what I saw was mostly climatologists saying “No, the record is fine. We can adjust things to turn bad data into good data. Nothing to see here…” Sorry, but no scientist — at least no honest scientist — would just shrug off known bad data from known inaccurate equipment.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    @Mark Miller:

    There’s two classes I had in college that are becoming ever more valuable as time passes.

    One was a math class in symbolic logic. Nothing like learning how to REALLY think…

    The other was my very first programming class. Fortran IV taught by a clever teacher. The problem sets were crafted such that you WOULD make errors. Specific classes of errors that the test data would uncover. Then that would become the teaching point for the next step. We spent something like 3 weeks on one SIMPLE problem (something like ‘read in two numbers, make a percent, print it… later we had to ‘make a random number’). So right out the gate, you would get tripped up when some of the input data showed up as alpha instead of numbers. Then one was shifted by a space… then…

    After the very first problem when I only got 90%, I was peeved enough that I started ‘thinking ahead’ to how he would trip me up. Got 100% from then on out. I think that was his point…

    FREQUENTLY said was not to trust the output of the computer. To validate it via various means. Run one example by hand. Do ‘sanity checks’ on bounds. Program defensively.

    Once, programming professionally, I had a fellow programmer complain when I wrote the equivalent of:

    IF A goto (down there)
    IF B goto (below down there)
    IF Not (A or B) goto (error case)
    PRINT “You can’t get here ERROR!”

    He shut up when, one day, one of my programs printed out “ERROR!”… compiler bug…

    But that “never trust the program, VALIDATE it” has served me very well.

    Later I taught computer science at a Community College. Looking at how they were teaching various languages was frightful. It was all about the elegance and art of The Darling Language. How to build a pretty program and such. IIRC I audited a Pascal class and some other one. The Object Oriented folks are even more ‘into’ this mind set. Just trust the library of functions and you don’t even need to look under the hood…

    When programming started being taught to non-mathmaticians and non-engineers, it was done very much as an exorcise in “Look what cool things you can do!” and not “look how badly you can screw up”.

    IMHO we are harvesting the fruits of that now. Scientists who think that if they can write the code, it can’t be wrong, and think that their ideas must be right (after all, the program runs…)


    Maybe I ought to make a compiler for a new language… Called SCEPTICAL ;-)

    It would print compiler errors if you didn’t have decent bounds checking and type checking and error messageing and… Heck, have it periodically do a bogus run with numbers shifted and things randomly changed, then 5 minutes later print out “THAT one was bogus… Did you notice? If not, you are not skeptical enough…) ;-)

    Models can be a godsend for things like, oh, plastic flow in a mold. Cuts cost to make decent molds by $100,000 chunks. ( I know, it’s one of the things we did with our Cray). The problem comes in when folks make a model and then just believe it. About 1 in 10 model runs would predict a perfect mold, but we’d get a defect in the real product. Weld lines or scorch marks or voids.

    That was with ONE well characterized fluid at known temperatures and pressures.

    Any model just ‘informs your ignorance’ and tells you were to look for better results. It can’t prove anything nor does it tell you reality.

    FWIW, I think as scientists age (and especially if they become famous) they spend more time just accepting what other folks say and less time actually questioning the methods behind papers. So you get a Segan who is accepting what someone else said about Nuclear Winter, not reading the work himself. Fame starts to substitute for actual expertise…


    I think some of them ARE that Stupid, but some are clearly just programming their bias. IMHO, GIStemp is such a beast. Designed to ‘find warming’ via the way it homogenizes and interacts with the time domain bias of which stations are in vs out.

    @Michael Hart:

    And don’t forget that organization like the NSF have become political organs… so there is not ‘funding science for effect’…


    We’ve had a ‘regime change’ in the sun, and a matching shift of the atmospheric processes. Ocean next, then it’s Arctic Ice. All ought to be rolling by 2020.

    IMHO, the ‘hard part’ will be the next 4 years of US Government “push” for the agenda. That’s ‘only’ until 2016. Even if we go down cold and hard on the end of this solar max (about now to end of 2013) it will just be brushed off as ‘weather’.

    @dr furst dunaharm:

    First off, fun moniker ;-)

    But yes, looking for inflection points and overshoot – reversals is much more valuable than looking at linear trends… in stocks and in weather.


    Do you REALLY know that GHG makes things warmer?

    What I’ve seen is a woeful under appreciation of convection and the fact that an IR absorptive gas becomes a great emitter at altitude… There’s a reasoned case for more CO2 causing more effective radiation ‘way up there’ and convection making it irrelevant ‘down here’…

    @Jason Calley:

    For me, that was something of the same experience. Then I looked deeper and found that the adjustments were all ‘for the cause’… and that we had ‘science for effect’… and…
    It looked more an more like a ‘hide the pea’ and less and less like ‘find the truth’.

    We now have published peer reviewed papers asserting that the actual stations used makes no difference. With a straight face even. It is exactly like saying you can randomly change the thermometers DURING a calorimetry experiment, add them, swap them, number and location change; and have no effect. As that is known to be one of the easiest ways to screw up calorimetry, I was astounded folks would argue for it a “OK”.

    Then we have the confusion of temperature for heat. From the lay public, ok, I can see that. But I had those two sorted out in early High School… ( and perhaps before then, I don’t know for sure, but it seems like it’s been nearly forever… I remember someone talking to me about water and ice and constant temperature with added heat at single digit years…)

    So we are treating temperature as a heat proxy SYSTEMATICALLY. Just crazy. Ignore all the tonnage changes of precipitation… (We’ve had much more the last year or two as we’ve done the cooling shift. Look at the floods globally. All that is HEAT leaving the oceans… going to the top of the air and radiating to space as the rain condenses and falls…)

    On my infinite “todo” list is see if I can find long duration global precipitation data that isn’t so full of holes as to be useless… to see if there is a demonstrable ‘water cycle’ of about 60 years duration… (Wonder what rainfall records exist from the Dalton and Maunder?….)

  22. Chuck Bradley says:

    The output of a model can be useful when you plan what experiment to perform or what data to collect.

  23. Mark Miller says:

    @E.M. Smith:

    Re. programming defensively

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get too much of that when I took CS over 20 years ago. I had TA’s who would sometimes check for edge cases in our programs in their test data, but the department didn’t do this consistently. We weren’t taught about defensive programming, that I remember. We were just expected to know it sometimes, which isn’t an effective teaching strategy. Programmers can fall into thinking like mathematicians, where the goal is to just program for “what the program is supposed to do,” expressing it the best we know how, and not anticipate what could go wrong. I learned defensive programming once I got out into the work world. That’s what a lot of IT shops have complained about for years. CS graduates don’t know how to do this, and so they write code that crashes, and/or gets hacked.

    A good part of what I learned was not in the sense of detecting badly formatted data, but detecting malformed data structures. In one of my first jobs out of school I worked on a report generator that had a language interpreter built into it. It had 20+ linked lists in it (it was written in C) that cross-linked to each other! If one part of the logic changed a “cluster” of nodes in different lists that related to each other, and there was logic in another that expected that cluster to be in a certain (old) configuration, the program crashed. So I learned to anticipate all sorts of problems that could happen where the configuration of memory was incompatible with the logic that expected to read or manipulate it.

    I agree with you about the “let the API handle everything” approach. That’s stupid. The main complaint I’ve heard re. that is that programmers have no sense that *what* API calls they make can have a significant influence on the performance of a system. They tend to use whatever is familiar to them, or is easiest to use. They have no sense of the Big-O function.

    I heard a programmer suggest recently that developers are spoiled, because they use souped up machines with all the newest whiz-bang features. They should use the *worst* hardware that can be found, as their dev. machine, so they can see how inefficient their programs are. He related this to how older programmers developed a discipline about coding for efficiency, because they *had* to. That was the computing culture in which I was educated. They had to deal with small amounts of memory and slow CPUs, and still squeeze performance out of them.

    The main thing I’d like climate modelers to learn is what you said about models, and stop trying to build climate models right out of the gate. It’s apparent to me that climatologists don’t understand the climate as one coherent concept yet. They’d turn themselves into a “hard science” if they’d focus in on aspects of the climate system, and work on getting the error bars *really* small on them. Gradually the big picture would be “build out.”


    Neat idea. :D

    A consistent experience I’ve had is one of the best learning experiences on a computer is investigating and improving something that’s broken. I know I’m just opening up the floodgates for jokes, but I haven’t seen a language interpreter/compiler that was “broken” for educational purposes, though I saw students improving on a “broken” operating system for an OS course while I was in college, called NachOS.

    From what I’m hearing, CS is turning more and more into SE, and that’s unfortunate. CS and SE should be taught separately. Engineering without science is going to be a dud!

  24. DirkH says:

    E.M.Smith says:
    13 November 2012 at 10:43 pm
    “FWIW, I think as scientists age (and especially if they become famous) they spend more time just accepting what other folks say and less time actually questioning the methods behind papers. So you get a Segan who is accepting what someone else said about Nuclear Winter, not reading the work himself. Fame starts to substitute for actual expertise… ”

    Sagan was part of the TTAPS team himself that made a ridiculously wrong, stupid and idiotic simulation of the Earth.
    “In 1982, the so-called TTAPS team (Richard P. Turco, Owen Toon, Thomas P. Ackerman, James B. Pollack and Carl Sagan) undertook a computational modeling study ”

    Details about the wrongness of the work:

    Bone-chillingly stupid. Thanks for the Internet, it shows what a charlatan Sagan was.

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