Sunday, January 31, 2016

Statistician Briggs savages the latest Michael Mann paper

I have commented about this paper before but the Briggs comments were not out at the time I wrote.  The Mann et al. paper says that the known pattern of global temperature changes is consistent with human influences and that the pattern of temperature changes is unlikely to have happened without human influences.

Briggs takes us on a tour of statistical theory with common-sense examples to help us understand.  He shows that the Mann et al. paper makes a lot of assumptions that are just that: assumptions, and wrong assumptions at that.

I will not try to further explain or simplify what Briggs has written because he himself has probably gone as far as one can in that direction.  Very broadly, however, I will note that what Mann et al have written about is probabilities only -- and the probable does not always happen.

And, if there are sufficient uniformities in events, we can know probabilities and thus make accurate predictions from them without understanding anything about the causes of the events concerned.  Probability is not causation. So Mann et al. could in theory make accurate predictions but still be totally wrong about the causes of the events concerned.  As it happens, however, Mann & Co. have never even been able  to make accurate predictions.  So it is quite clear that they do NOT know what caused the observed temperature fluctuations.

Thinking about all that, I had a closer look at the journal abstract (reproduced again below).  And it seems their reasoning is circular.  They clearly assume some figure for human influence in doing their modelling.  But it is the extent of human influence that they have to prove!  They get the conclusion they do because they assume what they have to prove!  The usual high intellectual standards of Warmists.

The Likelihood of Recent Record Warmth

Michael E. Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf, Byron A. Steinman, Martin Tingley & Sonya K. Miller


2014 was nominally the warmest year on record for both the globe and northern hemisphere based on historical records spanning the past one and a half centuries1,2. It was the latest in a recent run of record temperatures spanning the past decade and a half. Press accounts reported odds as low as one-in-650 million that the observed run of global temperature records would be expected to occur in the absence of human-caused global warming. Press reports notwithstanding, the question of how likely observed temperature records may have have been both with and without human influence is interesting in its own right. Here we attempt to address that question using a semi-empirical approach that combines the latest (CMIP53) climate model simulations with observations of global and hemispheric mean temperature. We find that individual record years and the observed runs of record-setting temperatures were extremely unlikely to have occurred in the absence of human-caused climate change, though not nearly as unlikely as press reports have suggested. These same record temperatures were, by contrast, quite likely to have occurred in the presence of anthropogenic climate forcing.

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 19831 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep19831

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Saturday, January 30, 2016

John Cook, the crook Cook

Shearer's cooks tend to be a rough lot and an old shearer once told me that there are three types of shearer's cook:  Cooks, crook cooks and wilful murderers. John Cook is not a wilful murderer.

He has written a number of articles (e.g. here) in which he explores the apparent mystery that a lot of people don't believe that dangerous global warming is going on.

He thinks the science is settled (even though his own research shows two thirds of climate scientists taking no position on global warming) so everybody should believe it.  He therefore puts forward various explanations for why some people do not believe it.  In effect he treats climate skepticism as a form of mental illness that needs to be diagnosed and cured.  Leftists have of course been calling conservatives maladjusted at least as far back as 1950 so Cook is offensive but hardly novel in his approach.

I can find nothing in Cook's writings that gives a reason why one should believe that catastrophic warming is imminent.  The known temperature facts are not at issue.  There was an overall warming during the 20th century of about two thirds of one degree Celsius and no statistically significant warming in the 21st century. That's what the Warmist data shows and I agree with it. So the warming we did have was trivial and even that has now stopped.  I would like Mr Cook to tell me what there is to worry about in that situation.

I live only about 15 minutes from where Mr Cook works so he could even come and tell me in person.  I in fact challenge him to do that.  What scientific fact have I overlooked?  I have not found such a fact so far yet but I am always open to new information. He wants to persuade people of the truth of his beliefs so let him start with me. My email address is

He will probably find out, however, that I taught research methods and statistics at a major Australian university for a number of years, so will run like a scalded cat from any contact with me  -- JR.

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Largest Solar System Discovered

Astronomers have discovered the largest known solar system, consisting of a large planet that takes nearly a million years to orbit its star.

The gas giant is one trillion kilometres away, making its orbit 140 times wider than Pluto's path around our Sun.

Only a handful of extremely wide pairs of this kind have been found in recent years.
Holy moly, a million years to orbit!

Warmists and the decline in trust of science:  The flat earth movement 

The one thing that is clear about Warmism is that it is heavily politicized.  Most Leftists accept the theory as fact and most conservatives doubt it. Certainly, most GOP Congressmen are firmly against doing anything about it.  And almost all the scientific voices we hear in the media are Warmist.

So roughly half the population think the scientists are fooling us, which they demonstrably are.  So Warmism has clearly disrupted people's trust in science.

But Warmism is not the only disrupter of trust in science.  The way official food and diet recommendations periodically go into reverse must also incite cynicism about scientific wisdom. Many conservatives say that the government has no business trying to dictate what people should put in their mouths and, if that dictum had been followed, medical science might have been spared the ignominy it has suffered.

So what happens when large numbers of people mistrust science?  It throws everything into doubt.  People tend to look for what makes sense to them personally and go by that alone.

And there are two well established scientific facts that were once virtually unquestioned but which have recently gained many doubters:  The benefits of vaccinations and the shape of the earth.  The antivaxxers risk the lives of their children by refusing all vaccinations and there are now once again people who believe the earth is flat.

Of these, the anti-vaxxers are the big problem.  If there are enough of them they destroy herd immunity and thus take away the only protections newborns have from various serious and life threatening illnesses.  Anti-vaxxers kill not only their own children but also other babies too young to be vaccinated.

Leftists, of course, don't worry about killing.  They cry compassion but are happy to kill millions with "incorrect" beliefs and allow killing of unborn  babies with no compunction at all. Conservatives, however, tend to value life greatly -- so from a conservative viewpoint very stern measures against anti-vaxxers could be justified.

But how can we justify such measures when their only clear justification is a scientific one and people have good reasons to distrust science?  How can we ask people to trust science when science is so obviously flawed?  So distrust of science is in fact killing babies.

But the distrust of science becomes really stark when we find that there really is now a flat earth movement.  There are now an evidently considerable number of people who do believe the earth is flat. They are in no way as dangerous as the anti-vaxers but just by their existence they show how seriously the reputation of science has been damaged.

The flat earthers are sometimes called an Alt-Right movement but I can't see that they have much in common with mainstream conservatives.  They seem mainly to be believers in spirituality and the occult -- and such beliefs tend to be strongest among Leftist voters.  I reproduce below an excerpt from one of the more prominent flat-earthers, Makia Freeman.:

Socrates, the father of philosophy, showed that questions are more powerful than answers; indeed, his questions were so powerful that the leaders of Athens put him to death for them. So, let us never be afraid to ask questions – it is the only way we can learn and be truly sure of things.

Whatever the answer turns out to be, the idea that the Earth on which we all live could indeed be flat has ignited intense curiosity and healthy debate – and has already shaken people out of their apathy and generated some genuine critical thinking. This in itself is a victory for freedom, because once enough people start to question their reality in every way, the global conspiracy being only held up by deception and subterfuge will collapse.

It Sounds Crazy, But Open Your Mind …

Virtually everyone who first comes to the subject of flat earth (myself included) is thinking: “Flat earth? Are you serious? You must be kidding. That’s crazy! Don’t waste my time. That Makia Freeman guy has really gone off the deep end this time …” I know, I know. That’s how I first reacted to this topic. Let’s face it: we’re all conditioned to believe the world is arranged in a certain way. Right from the moment we go to school around age 5, we are shown miniature globes of the world and told the Earth is a ball. Our society makes fun of people we perceive to be crazy or behind the times by deriding them as “people who still think the world is flat.”

But how do you know the Earth is a globe? Only because you were told so by your teacher, who was told by someone else, who was told by someone else, who was told by someone else, who was told by some “authority” or “expert”. We already know the tendency humanity has for worshipping those outside of itself, for unquestioning obedience to authority, especially other people in uniform, white coats or black robes. Somewhere along the way as a child, you were probably shown some books with photographs, but as has been well exposed, space photos and videos are easily faked, as NASA knows very well. Those at the very top of the pyramid, who control the media, publishing houses and the education curriculum, do have the means to pull of such a grand deception.

Is the Flat Earth the Mother of All Conspiracies?

The question of whether we live on a flat earth or globe-shaped earth is not some passing fad of little importance. If we have been deceived into thinking the earth is a globe when it is really flat, it conclusively proves just how easily we can be hoodwinked into believing lies and absurdities on a colossal scale. If we have been massively fooled about the very planet on which we live, we could have been fooled on any other topic in existence.

Is the debate over the flat earth the “Mother of all Conspiracies”? Not quite, in my opinion. If it’s true, it’s huge: I’d call it the second biggest conspiracy. The biggest conspiracy, though, is forgetting Who We Are – infinitely creative, spiritual beings having a brief human journey – and allowing other entities to siphon off our life energy. This includes the issue of what happens when we die (ie. whether we are forcibly recycled at the point of death through a soul net?)

In my opinion, flat earth is a close second, but ultimately, the two issues are connected; authors such as James of the Wing Makers have joined the two in their work — by describing our world as the Hologram of Deception and describing the phenomenon of forced reincarnation. The notion that we are entrapped in some kind of holographic quarantine is highly disturbing, yet deserves our full attention.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

DeLorean News

(Humble, Texas)
The DeLorean hasn’t been made for more than three decades but that’s all changing.

The car is going back to the future andinto production, 35 years after the last one was built.

“It’s fantastic,” said Stephen Wynne, CEO of DeLorean Motors in Humble, TX.

A Leftist view of the Cologne attacks

Australia has a far-Leftist webzine called "New Matilda" that I often read to get near to where the Leftist beating heart lies. It is not in mainstream politics so its writers can let it all hang out.  And they are of course enthusiastic defenders of Islam. Leftist haters and Muslim haters understand one another.  So I was interested to read their take on the mass sex attacks by young Muslim males on German women in Cologne on New Year's eve.

A recent article in "New Matilda" by one Randa Abdel-Fattah (I dare not guess his/her religion) gives a take on it.  Like most "New Matilda" articles it is long and rambling so I am not going to reproduce any of it but it can be summed up quite simply.  It is of course yet another exercise in moral equivalence and its central contention is that condemnation of the Cologne events is "racist".

Why is it racist?  Because Westerners too have done bad things in the past and we do not condemn such attacks when they are committed by white men.  That's the argument.

It is difficult to know where to start in refuting such a feeble argument but let's start with its central pillar: that the Syrians and others in Cologne were "brown".  I quote "Is the concern about sexual assault against women, or sexual assault against women when the perpetrators are brown men?"

As far as I know, Syrians would normally be classed as white.  They are not as fair as Northern Europeans but are pretty similar to Italians, who are undoubtedly white.  Let that slide however.  Maybe we are racist about off-white people.

That's not very plausible, however.  Not very long ago Australia's most populous State, New South Wales, was almost entirely run by people of Italian and Greek ancestry -- the Iemma administration.  And they were voted into power by the people of NSW.

So the question is whether we are equally scandalized by the same class of offence when it is committed by white and off-white people.  Abdel-Fattah obviously thinks we are not.  But he has a problem:  Where has there been anything remotely equivalent to the Cologne events that was committed by white people?  There has not been, of course.

So fat Abdul trawls through history back to the '50s to find some bad deeds committed by white men.  And he finds a few.  Even if we allow such things as comparable, however, he would have to show that they were not condemned by other whites.  He does not even attempt to do that.  His article is an outpouring of hate.  It is nothing logical

I think he should be called Abdul Fathead.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

We just had the hottest year on record – where does that leave climate denial?

Asks dodgy psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky.  I think I have addressed all his points before but a new lucubration from him is too much fun to ignore.  Lewandowski is the very strange social scientist who thinks you can make valid generalizations about a population without at first obtaining a representative sample of that population.  So his venture into climate science was bound to be amusing.

It is difficult to know  where to start but I was amused by this: "satellites don’t actually measure temperature. Instead, they measure the microwave emissions of oxygen molecules in very broad bands of the atmosphere"

One might as well say that thermometers don't measure temperatures either.  All they measure is the volume in a thin column of mercury or alcohol.

And even his most basic point -- embodied in his heading, which I reproduce above -- is amusing:  He condemns cherrypicking, as well he might, but does exactly that himself.  He takes the fact that the keepers of the terrestrial temperature record show a slight warming in 2015.  But he ignores the fact that any 2015 rise is best accounted for as an El Nino effect.  Even Warmist scientists concede a strong El Nino effect in 2015.

And if you adjusted for the El Nino effect, there may well be no warming from other causes at all. Such an adjustment could rather simply be done by using the atypical warming during the 1998 El Nino as a proxy for 2015.  Is Lewandowsky not curious about why no such adjustment has been done by the adjustment kings at NOAA, NASA and elsewhere? Why is that the one adjustment they have not made?  To ask the question is to answer it, I think.

And, in fact Warmist guru Kevin Trenberth does admit the unrepresentativeness of 2015: "My guess is that 2016 may not be warmer than 2015."  Trenberth, a climate change and El Niño expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research thinks the current El Niño may already have begun to peak (or have peaked) and thus that the second half of 2016 may cool down again somewhat.

So Lewandowsky's whole argument is a straw house built on sand.  To answer the question in his article title:  "Alive, well and thriving". Lewandowsky is quite simply an ignoramus.

And his boring and quite silly old claim, that a consensus must  be right, is wrong in two ways.  1). The century-long consensus about the causes of peptic ulcers now stands demolished after the discovery of helicobacter pylori. Why is a consensus about warming more robust than that?  2). There is no consensus.  Even "Mr 97%" John Cook showed that only a minority of climate scientists take any position on anthropogenic global warming.  See here.  Once again, an apparent inability to read in Lewandowsky.

And he really gets hilarious when he compares climate scientist predictions  to stockmaket investor decisions.  Is he unaware if how badly unstuck stockmarket investors came in 2008?  By his own analogy, Warmists are in for big predictive failure too.  Lewandowsky must also be the man without a memory.

I think I will leave it at that. I may already have been too unkind to an obviously very limited man.  And I have twice before (here and here) shown that Warmist aspersions on the satellite data don't hold up

At a news conference announcing that 2015 broke all previous heat records by a wide margin, one journalist started a question with "If this trend continues…" The response by the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Gavin Schmidt, summed up the physics of climate change succinctly: "It’s not a question of if…"

Even if global emissions begin to decline, as now appears possible after the agreement signed in Paris last December, there is no reasonable scientific doubt that the upward trends in global temperature, sea levels, and extreme weather events will continue for quite some time.

Politically and ideologically motivated denial will nonetheless continue for a little while longer, until it ceases to be politically opportune.

So how does one deny that climate change is upon us and that 2015 was by far the hottest year on record? What misinformation will be disseminated to confuse the public?

Research has identified several telltale signs that differentiate denial from scepticism, whether it is denial of the link between smoking and lung cancer or between CO2 emissions and climate change.

One technique of denial involves "cherry-picking", best described as wilfully ignoring a mountain of inconvenient evidence in favour of a small molehill that serves a desired purpose. Cherry-picking is already in full swing in response to the record-breaking temperatures of 2015.

Political operatives such as James Taylor of the Heartland Institute – which once compared acceptance of the science of climate change to the Unabomber in an ill-fated billboard campaign – have already denied 2015 set a record by pointing to satellite data, which ostensibly shows no warming for the last umpteen years and which purportedly relegates 2015 to third place.

So what about the satellite data?

If you cannot remember when you last checked the satellites to decide whether to go for a picnic, that’s probably because the satellites don’t actually measure temperature. Instead, they measure the microwave emissions of oxygen molecules in very broad bands of the atmosphere, for example ranging from the surface to about 18km above the earth. Those microwave soundings are converted into estimates of temperature using highly-complex models. Different teams of researchers use different models and they come up with fairly different answers, although they all agree that there has been ongoing warming since records began in 1979.

There is nothing wrong with using models, such as those required to interpret satellite data, for their intended purpose – namely to detect a trend in temperatures at high altitudes, far away from the surface where we grow our crops and make decisions about picnics.

But to use high-altitude data with its large uncertainties to determine whether 2015 is the hottest year on record is like trying to determine whether it’s safe to cross the road by firmly shutting your eyes and ears and then standing on your head to detect passing vehicles from their seismic vibrations. Yes, a big truck might be detectable that way, but most of us would rather just have a look and see whether it’s safe to cross the road.

And if you just look at the surface-based climate data with your own eyes, then you will see that NASA, the US NOAA, the UK Met Office, the Berkeley Earth group, the Japan Meteorological Agency, and many other researchers around the world, all independently arrived at one consistent and certain end result – namely that 2015 was by far the hottest year globally since records began more than a century ago.

Enter denial strategy two: that if every scientific agency around the world agrees on global warming, they must be engaging in a conspiracy! Far from being an incidental ornament, conspiratorial thinking is central to denial. When a scientific fact has been as thoroughly examined as global warming being caused by greenhouse gases or the link between HIV and AIDS, then no contrary position can claim much intellectual or scholarly respectability because it is so overwhelmingly at odds with the evidence.

That’s why politicians such as Republican Congressman Lamar Smith need to accuse the NOAA of having "altered the [climate] data to get the results they needed to advance this administration’s extreme climate change agenda". If the evidence is against you, then it has to be manipulated by mysterious forces in pursuit of a nefarious agenda.

This is like saying that you shouldn’t cross the road by just looking because the several dozen optometrists who have independently attested to your 20/20 vision have manipulated the results because … World Government! Taxation! … and therefore you’d better stand on your head blindfolded with tinfoil.

So do the people who disseminate misinformation about climate actually believe what they are saying?

The question can be answered by considering the stock market. Investors decide on which stock to buy based on their best estimates of a company’s future potential. In other words, investors place an educated bet on a company’s future based on their constant reading of odds that are determined by myriad factors.

Investors put their money where their beliefs are.

Likewise, climate scientists put their money where their knowledge is: physicist Mark Boslough recently offered a $25,000 bet on future temperature increases. It has not been taken up. Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt similarly offered a bet to an Australian "skeptic" on climate change. It was not taken up.

People who deny climate science do not put their money where their mouth is. And when they very occasionally do, they lose.

This is not altogether surprising: in a recent peer-reviewed paper, with James Risbey as first author, we showed that wagering on global surface warming would have won a bet every year since 1970. We therefore suggested that denial may be "… largely posturing on the part of the contrarians. Bets against greenhouse warming are largely hopeless now and that is widely understood."

So the cherry-picking and conspiracy-theorising will continue while it is politically opportune, but the people behind it won’t put their money where their mouth is. They probably know better.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sex as a motivator and its role in Islam

Sigmund Freud's speculations and formulations are not widely accepted by psychologists today but any reader of his "Psychopathology of everyday life" will surely conclude that he was a keen observer.  I think everybody should read that book.  The things he reported there were real even if his theories about them are disputable.  When I was doing my Master's degree in psychology at the University of Sydney, one of my tutors was the highly regarded John Maze, who was as much a philosopher as a psychologist, and it was his view that Freud alone was actually doing real psychology.  The rest of us were behaviourists or what not.  So that may be another reason why I have more time for old Sigmund than most contemporary psychologists do.

And one thing that stands out in Freud's thinking is the overwhelming importance of the sex drive.  Freud called it "libido" and put it behind almost all human behaviour.  And I think there is no doubt that he gained that impression from the counselling sessions he did with troubled people in his clinical practice.  So I take it as one of Freud's acute observations that the sex-drive is a pervasive and super powerful influence on human behaviour.

And the history of Islam bears that out.  Polygamous societies generally, including traditional Mormons, are known for the difficulties they create in young men.  If rich older guys have all the women locked up, what are the young men supposed to do?   Mormons mostly just kick the young men out into the secular world but Islam provides no alternative like that.  But it DOES provide a choice:  Die fighting the infidel and you will get your women in heaven.  The birthrate in heaven is apparently much more skewed than it is on earth.

And that is exactly what enabled Islam to be militarily successful for many centuries.  When non-Muslim armies faced Muslim armies comprised of unmarried young men, they were up against something quite alien to their own thinking:  Men who WANTED to die, fearless warriors.  That was very hard to combat for normal people with a fear of mortality.

Now, however, that does not work as well.  Western armies have advanced military equipment that makes a great rushing charges by fanatics simply obsolete.  The machine gun alone does that.  But young Muslim males still have the same sexual frustrations as ever.  So some do set out to be killed productively -- in killing unbelievers.  That is why many flock to ISIS.  ISIS enables them to become once more the men of old, who sacrifice their life for the promise of a heavenly future.

But it is still only a tiny minority who go that far for their faith.  I think it is clear that only a small minority of Muslims are certain of their heavenly future. So what do the doubters  do?

They molest non-Muslim women.  The vast scandals in Britain about mainly Pakistani men who made sex slaves of dumb young white British girls were perhaps the best known examples of that until the recent events in Cologne became known.

Speaking of the young men who make up most of the recent "Syrians" who have entered Europe as refugees, Geert Wilders describes them as "testosterone bombs" and that is a good and well founded application of libido theory.  Freud was right.  Libido is such a powerful motivator that it goes close to being unrepressible.  The young Muslims of Cologne essentially could not help themselves.  They MUST get some contact with females, even if they do it in a totally wrong way.

And it is not in fact in the West alone that they behave that way.  Young men are very predatory towards women even in Muslim countries.  That is one reason why men and women are kept drastically separate in such countries.  So young Muslim males are a very unsatisfactory immigrant group for any Western country.  They should all be sent home to the hellholes their foolish religion has created.

There is some further useful background on Muslim sexual hangups and the events in Cologne  by French female journalist Laurence D'Hondt here.  I translate her article roughly below.  She obviously knows the Arab world well:

Huge sexual frustration is at the root of the violence in Cologne

Events in Cologne recall the violence in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Both events reflect a sexual frustration that haunts the Arab world. With the rise of Saudi Wahhabism and the lack of economic prospects, young people no longer have access to the women of their own country.

We may recall the story of the French journalists who covered  the events of Tahrir Square in Cairo.  They were pushed,  touched and  in some cases, raped. Despite their knowledge of these countries, these experienced women journalists were shocked by the sudden violence expressed from these men who were there for  other purposes.

The events that occurred during the night of New Year in Cologne resemble the violence experienced in Egypt: men surrounded a  number of young women on which they literally melt with the aim of touching, pushing their hands where they can, because female  company is so difficult to access. Rape in this case is rare and usually the result of an isolated man with a deliberate intention to take action.

It is a unique form of violence that is basically unknown in European countries, but is, in contrast, common in Arab countries where the local police, knowing this, immediately intervene with  batons or other weapons. The lack of immediate reaction from the German police is probably partly linked to the incomprehension of what was going on in Cologne overnight on New Year's Eve.

Most young men -and women- young people growing up today in the Arab-Muslim societies have a totally restrained sexuality. Their literature and film are full of stories of their small and big frustrations. Whether taking the Egyptian film, "Women bus" whose story revolves around young men that rub against the body 'too' closely' to young women on transport in Cairo. Whether we read author Khaled El Khamissi which in "Noah's Ark", tells how a youth is deadlocked when he finds the lack of access to the labor market and a fortiori to sexuality, because he lacks the means to marry a woman.

According to a UN report conducted in April, 99.3% of Egyptian women and young girls were victims of sexual harassment, a phenomenon described as endemic. A similar situation in Yemen.  And that becomes commonplace in Iraq or Syria where the collapse of state structures gives free rein to violence against women. Even in the very liberated Lebanon, the author Rachid El Daif, tells in "Show me your legs Leila", how sexuality is disconnected from reality and how men and women are found only in fiction where the woman should aspire to virginity and the man to the omnipotence. The first victims of this frustration are Arab and non-Western.

In the Arab world today, sex is more than ever padlocked.
There are several reasons for this. They are economic firstly. Indeed,  in most rural and even urban areas of the Arab-Muslim world, marriage, which gives access to sexuality, is possible only by having the means to offer women the amount required by her family as a bride price. With no means due to the lack of economic opportunity, men are forced to remain living with their families and have only one outlet for their sexuality to try their luck with prostitutes or foreigners.

In recent decades, these economic blocks have been reinforced by restrictive religious considerations modeled on the Saudi Wahhabism: men and women are forced to live in separate worlds where diversity is seen as an invitation to debauchery and where any offender behavior or attitude is considered un-Islamic.

Thus it is not rare in Arab countries to meet men of 30 or 35 years who have never had the opportunity to touch a woman. This sexual frustration, told by literature and cinema is one of the engines of the violence today in the Arab world.

It was 20 years ago, that a Syrian lady offered ​​this reflection to me: "But I do not understand how men and women in Europe may lie next to each other on the beaches without pouncing on each other".  Yet she was 60, was Christian and Syrian by origin, living in Cairo ...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The New England Journal of Medicine promotes research secrecy

Charles Murray comments: "NEJM editors: Bullshit. If your data can't be shared, along with coding documentation, you've got something to hide"

Another Facebook commenter: "My favorite line: "other researches might "even use the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited." This is so stunning I have no words to express it.

NEJM and JAMA are the two most prestigious American medical journals so what they do and say is widely noted.  But both journals still publish a lot of rubbish.  See e.g. here, here, here, and here.

So I was not totally surprised at the latest NEJM article excerpted below. They advocate abandoning one of the basic  safeguards of science:  data transparency.  Science exists on  trust.  If a scientist reports a set of findings, other scientists will always believe what he says.  But, with various levels of self-awareness, scientists will sometimes misrepresent their findings. And that is no mean problem.  Around two thirds of research findings reported in leading journals have been found to be "unreplicable".  In other words, other researchers doing  the same thing fail to confirm the original finding. So two thirds of what is reported is apparently wrong.

Not all the erroneous findings are conscious and deliberate fraud.  Most commonly, the problem is that the author takes a rosy view of what is in his data.  There is something in his data that suits his preconceptions so he reports that and ignores other information in his data that is contrary to his expectations.

So to be sure that his data has been fully and dispassionately analysed, a scientist has long been held responsible for making his data available to other analysts.  It's a basic safeguard.  And if a scientist refuses to make his raw data available that basically tells you all you need to know: His work is faulty and he knows it is faulty.

So, now that we know how serious the unreplicability problem is, some journals are taking steps to circumvent it -- such as asking authors to pre-register their hypotheses to defeat data dredging.  But NEJM is doing the opposite.  They want to make it harder to check on the soundness of a research report!  That is so amazing that I am inclined to apply the usual suspicion:  I am inclined to suspect that the authors of the article (Dan L. Longo  and Jeffrey M. Drazen) have things in their own research past that they don't want to see the light of day.

And the reasons they give for what they advocate are so specious as to border on the hilarious.  They fear, for instance, that other scientists might "use the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited".  But why fear that?  That possibility is what data openness is all about.

And there is no doubt that closer scrutiny of many findings WILL "disprove what the original investigators had posited".  I have only once requested raw data from another researcher  -- a request that was refused -- but that was mainly because there was very often enough information in the statistics provided to show that the conclusions did not follow from the data.  I did and reported that often in my 20 years as an active social science researcher  and I still do it often on my blogs. I pointed to an example of it just yesterday.

So NEJM is in the position of defending crap science.

But why?  Are there any non-personal motives involved?  I suspect that it might have something to do with the battering Warmists have taken over their refusal to release their data.  And the reason for Warmist secrecy is plain.  The classic case was Michael Mann's "hockeystick" picture of climate history.  When he did inadvertently let  details of his data and methods leak out, skeptics showed that his procedures were so faulty that just putting random numbers through Mann's computer program would produce a "hockeystick".  Since we in fact live in a era of exceptional temperature stability (with year to year temperature averages differing by only hundredths of one degree), the Warmist claim that we live in an era of dangerous warming was always going to need heroic lies to support it.

And academics do generally support Warmism (It gives them a golden shower of research grants) so I think our medical authors may be wading in to give some skin of defensibility for the chronic Warmist secrecy.

The aerial view of the concept of data sharing is beautiful. What could be better than having high-quality information carefully reexamined for the possibility that new nuggets of useful data are lying there, previously unseen? The potential for leveraging existing results for even more benefit pays appropriate increased tribute to the patients who put themselves at risk to generate the data. The moral imperative to honor their collective sacrifice is the trump card that takes this trick.

However, many of us who have actually conducted clinical research, managed clinical studies and data collection and analysis, and curated data sets have concerns about the details.

The first concern is that someone not involved in the generation and collection of the data may not understand the choices made in defining the parameters. Special problems arise if data are to be combined from independent studies and considered comparable. How heterogeneous were the study populations? Were the eligibility criteria the same? Can it be assumed that the differences in study populations, data collection and analysis, and treatments, both protocol-specified and unspecified, can be ignored?

A second concern held by some is that a new class of research person will emerge — people who had nothing to do with the design and execution of the study but use another group’s data for their own ends, possibly stealing from the research productivity planned by the data gatherers, or even use the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited. There is concern among some front-line researchers that the system will be taken over by what some researchers have characterized as "research parasites."


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Poverty and IQ again

Charles Murray showed a couple of decades ago that the poor tend to have lower IQs.  And it was hardly a surprise that being dumb might keep you poor.  But the Left purport to love the poor so Murray was furiously attacked over his findings -- though he had not in fact said most of the things he was alleged to have said.  It was a very cautious and  scholarly book rather than any kind of polemic. The Leftist rage at Murray finally exhausted itself but Murray still has his marbles and is an active Facebooker so I imagine that he could give you more details of the "controversy".

Murray seems to have won the war, however. Leftists do now  occasionally mention the inverse correlation between lower social class and IQ.  Rather than say that low IQ causes poverty, however, they try to prove that poverty causes low IQ.  I dealt  with the latest such attempt a couple of weeks ago.

There was another attempt in that direction back in 2013 that I commented on at the time.  It claimed that poverty was very stressful and that the stress prevented your brain from working properly. I would have thought that middle-class careerists were under the greatest stress but let's leave that for the moment.  The title of the article was "Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function".  There is a journalistic rendering of the claim here.

I put the findings in context at the time, showing that the conclusions did not follow from the reported evidence.  I was not aware, however, that Jelte Wicherts also looked at the study around the same time.  Now that J.P. Rushton is deceased, Wicherts is probably the man who knows the research on IQ better than anyone else.  And he is fair.  If someone puts up a celebratory claim about IQ, Wicherts will look at that critically, and if someone puts up claims that disrespect IQ Wicherts will look at that critically too.  So I have a very favourable impression of Dr. Wicherts.

I have now come across his criticism of the 2013 study and it does not disappoint.  I reproduce the abstract below:

"Mani et al. (Research Articles, 30 August, p. 976) presented laboratory experiments that aimed to show that poverty-related worries impede cognitive functioning. A reanalysis without dichotomization of income fails to corroborate their findings and highlights spurious interactions between income and experimental manipulation due to ceiling effects caused by short and easy tests. This suggests that effects of financial worries are not limited to the poor"


Thursday, January 21, 2016

More Guns in Carry-On Bags

Airport security screeners in the U.S. found a record high number of firearms in carry-on bags last year, and most of them were loaded, officials said.

The Transportation Security Administration said that it found 2,653 firearms, 20% more than in 2014, and that 83% of them contained ammunition.

The agency suggested that the increase may be the result of better search techniques by airport screeners, although a moderate uptick in the number of travelers also may have contributed.
This is disturbing.

Chess Forbidden in Islam According to Saudi Mufti

As I understand, chess originated in the Far East and then moved to the Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time.

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh was answering a question on a television show in which he issues fatwas in response to viewers’ queries on everyday religious matters.

He said chess was “included under gambling” and was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”.

A "smashing" one tenth of one degree! Ya gotta laugh

Hansen emits no inaccuracy in what he says below.  The key to seeing what a risible emission it is lies in context and knowing what he does NOT say.

The glaring omission is of course a total failure to mention the satellite record -- but there is much more to amuse even in the small excerpt below. His claim that a temperature rise of one tenth of one degree "smashed" the temperature record would amuse most people but, in the context of the truly minuscule changes Warmists normally are burdened with, I suppose you can understand his excitement.

Even that one tenth is a mirage, however. Hansen is the king of corrections and adjustments but, in another amusing act, he makes  no attempt to correct for the El Nino effect. In the past, Warmists often found fault with skeptics who did not correct for the effects of the 1998 El Nino so it is quite a travesty that Hansen is not making any corrections for the current El Nino.  "Do as I say, not as I do" seems to be the gospel of the Green/Left

He is well aware of the current El Nino and describes it fairly but fails to mention that all or nearly all of that wondrous one tenth is due to El Nino, not CO2.  I showed yesterday why that is so.  The unusual "leap" in warming has no corresponding unusual leap in CO2 levels. Reality is so disappointing to the Green/Left.  But they have become experts at seeing only what they want to see  -- and Hansen has a well-developed talent in that direction.

And he HAS to see that one tenth as significant.  He admits that the past changes that have sparked proclamations of "warmest" years have been only in hundredths of one degree.  He is not blind to how trivial are the changes that Warmists hang their hats on.

We really should be a bit sorry for the old fraud. Warmism is his life's work but he must know by now that it is a castle built on sand.  He knows the numbers, unlike his disciples in the media.  And the numbers are not kind.  The reality that repeatedly emerges from them is that we live in an era of exceptional temperature stability.  How galling for people who fancy themselves as "saving the planet"!

Note finally that he uses the "adjusted" sea surface temperature record originally promulgated by Tom Karl.  The adjustments were very convenient to Warmists and Karl is very secretive about the deliberations that went into creating them.  As usual, getting research details out of Warmists is like getting blood out of a stone. Warmists don't subscribe to normal scientific ethics.  They can't afford to.

But at any event, why make any adjustment at all?  The satellite record covers both land and ocean evenly, simultaneously and comparably.  It is a far superior methodology to trying to create some comparability in the higgeldy-piggeldy thermometer data.  Because of El Nino, the satellite data might even show a small uptick for 2015.

All in all, the article is a rather good example of lying with statistics.  Everything he says is factually true.  It's just not the full story.

Global Temperature in 2015

James Hansen et al.

Update of  the GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) global temperature analysis (GISTEMP) finds 2015 to be the warmest year in the instrumental record.  Unlike the prior three record years, 2014, 2010 and 2005, each of which exceeded the preceding record by only a few hundredths of a degree, 2015 smashed the prior record by more than 0.1°C . The only prior record-raising jump of annual global temperature as large, probably slightly larger, was in 1998. The 1998 temperature was boosted by the strong 1997 - 98 “El Niño of the century".  The 2015 temperature was boosted by an El Niño of comparable magnitude.

The high 2015 global temperature should practically terminate discussion of a hypothesized “global warming hiatus”, as the past two warm years remove the impression that warming has plateaued.  Close examination (Fig. 1b) reveals that the warming rate of the past decade is less than in the prior 30 years, but such fluctuations are not unusual and can be accounted for by a combination of factors. The present GISTEMP analysis uses the NOAA ERSST.v4 (Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature, Version 4) 5 for ocean surface temperatures. Principal change in v4, relative to v3 that was used in recent years, is a revision of the ship SST bias adjustment, which Huang et al. 5 well justify.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oregon Protest

Since a group of around a dozen armed militants took over a federal building on a remote wildlife reserve in Oregon to protest government "tyranny" earlier this month, the public's response has been less than sympathetic.

The "militia" may well be a little peckish and cold, but at least they have now have plenty of lube to accompany all the dildos they've been sent in the post.

On Thursday, Max Temkin, a Chicago-based designer, posted to Twitter his order of a 55-gallon drum of person lubricant, which he kindly sent to the group many have claimed are domestic "terrorists".

World's hottest year declaration expected amid dangerous winter weather

Just a passing mention of El Nino towards the end.  No acknowledgement that it will be El Nino, not CO2, that is responsible for the recent high temperatures.  How do we know that?  We know it because previous El Ninos have been accompanied by big temperature jumps followed by much lower temperatures afterward.

And CO2 levels have not suddenly leapt. They cannot account for a temperature jump.  The following ppm figures from Cape Grim are for the recent November averages: 388.94 2011; 391.17 2012; 393.86 2013; 395.78 2014; 398.45 2015.  As you can see, each year brings an increase of around 2 to 3 ppm in CO2 and the increase for 2015 was of that ilk.  In percentage terms, the change from 2014 to 2015 was only six tenths of one percent! Hardly a change at all. Certainly no leap.

Warmists will of course seize on any rise as explanatory but to complete the argument they will have to give a figure for the climate sensitivity to CO2.  And at that point they will be in difficulties

Technical note:  I have used Cape Grim figures rather than Mauna Loa.  It seems so insane to situate an atmospheric measuring station beside an active volcano that I never even look at Mauna Loa figures.  Cape Grim is, by contrast, in a very isolated position at the Northwest of Tasmania -- JR

While the region braces for its first unofficial snow panic of the season, the government is about to announce that 2015 was the warmest year on record worldwide - probably by a comfortable margin.

Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies say they will release their annual reports on Wednesday.

While the final piece - official December climate data - has not yet been made public, the first 11 months of the year were so historically balmy that the declaration of 2015 as the world's warmest year, surpassing 2014, is all but a certainty, weather watchers agree.

The average annual temperature last year was at least 1.5 degrees higher than those during the 20th Century. And scientists at both agencies are expected to indict man-made greenhouse gases for the trend.

The announcement will come as a potential mega-snowstorm takes aim on the Northeast Corridor. Meteorologists on Tuesday warned of the potential for 1 to 2 feet of snow to pile up Friday and Saturday. Jersey beaches are likely to take a pounding from potent onshore winds, with major flooding possible.

But the weekend forecasts are still evolving. In fact, on Tuesday the respected European computer model appeared to cut back on its initial projections of double-digit snowfall accumulations for the Philadelphia region.

While the juxtaposition between the snow threat and the global-temperature report might appear ironic, climate experts have long emphasized that climate trends transcend local, short-term events - the hurricanes, heat waves, cold spells and blizzards that often get so much attention.

It is impossible, they say, to determine how a subtle increase in world temperatures could affect an individual storm. But the warming, they say, is very real.

NOAA and NASA maintain separate databases using slightly different - and quite complicated - methods. But their readings track closely.

The official database maintained by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, in Asheville, N.C., dates to 1880.

Taking the world's temperature isn't as simple as sticking a thermometer under the planetary armpit.

Daily high-low average temperatures at about 2,500 stations worldwide are taken on a month-by-month basis, explains government climate specialist Deke Arndt. The temperature is expressed relative to 20th Century averages, rather than an absolute reading. The planet's thermometers do not constitute a homogeneous set. They are located at different elevations and above different terrains.

So, rather than attempting to average temperatures in different environments, Arndt has said, it is tidier to measure how readings at a given site deviate from average readings at the same site.

For 2014, the center's globally averaged temperature was 1.32 degrees Fahrenheit [i.e. less than one degree Celsius] above the 20th Century average, the warmest on record. NASA compares its annual temperature with that of the 1951-80 "base period." The 2014 temperature was about 1.2 degrees above the base period's.

In all likelihood, the 2015 NOAA number will exceed 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which would beat the margin of error.

The December 2015 report isn't available yet, but from Jan. 1 through Nov. 30, the combined land-and-sea temperature was 1.57 degrees above the 20th Century average.

And evidently December was quite warm globally, with abnormally high surface temperatures over a vast expanse of the Pacific, the result of the ongoing El Nino event.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The latest attempt to keep the global warming theory alive

Contrary to all predictions, global warming stopped more than 18 years ago.  But Warmists didn't let go. They said that CO2 was still producing heat but that the heat had suddenly started being mopped up by the oceans.  What caused the oceans to come suddenly to that watery decision they cannot explain

But the explanation REALLY falls apart if there is no evidence of increased heat in the oceans.  And such evidence is hard to come by.  The oceans change very slowly, not suddenly.  And the only prominent Warmist who is actually an oceanographer -- Rahmstorff -- doesn't believe the heat-gobbling ocean theory. So the Warmists are a touch desperate at the moment

But salvation is at hand.  A new study is just out that purports to provide the needed evidence. The irrepressible  Chris Mooney summarizes it below.

In my wicked way, however, I have had a look at the underlying academic journal article "Industrial-era global ocean heat uptake doubles in recent decades" in Nature Climate Change

I note two things:  1).  They use data from the mid-19th century on to the present time. And there is no dispute that there was some slight warming over the late 19th and the 20th century.  So over their chosen period they are able to show warming.  They in effect "swamp" the 21st century data with earlier data.

2). They do eventually get around to looking at the 21st century explicitly and produce exactly the finding Warmists need.  But the finding is just a modelling exercise:  "Our model-based analysis suggests that nearly half of the industrial-era increases in global OHC have occurred in recent decades".  And you can get anything you want out of models

The Guardian also has a riff on the matter under the heading "World's oceans warming at increasingly faster rate, new study finds".  How consoling!  But how come the rest of the world is not getting warmer?  And how long will the greedy old ocean keep  gobbling up all the heat?  Pesky questions I think

Scientists have known for some time that when global warming occurs, the oceans will be the site of the most profound response.

The reason is simply that they are able to retain vastly more heat than the atmosphere. “Ninety, perhaps 95 percent of the accumulated heat is in the oceans,” said Peter Gleckler, an oceanographer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The physical reason is that water has a far greater heat “capacity” than air, requiring more energy to raise its temperature — something that is apparent to anyone who has ever tried to boil it on a stove.

Gleckler is the lead author of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change finding that, in the past two decades, ocean heat content has been rising rapidly and that, much more than before, heat is also mixing into the deeper layers of the ocean, rather than remaining near the surface.

“As the upper oceans have been warming over time, more and more of this heat is finding its way down into the deeper ocean, and our results indicate that the fractional amount of heat that is trapped in the deeper ocean is increasing as well,” Gleckler said.

“We find that the heat uptake of the global oceans has doubled since about 1997, compared to what took place prior to that over the industrial era. And that was a surprising result to us,” he added.

The research was conducted with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Pennsylvania State University.

We tend to think of global warming as an overall upward trend in air temperature — but that’s simply the most immediate way in which we experience it. From a scientific perspective, it is perhaps best understood as an energy imbalance between the Earth and space, with less heat escaping and more being retained within the planet’s system.

In this sense, the new study represents a strong confirmation of this overall energy-balance shift. If large volumes of heat are trapped on Earth because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, then inevitably, the majority of that heat must be stored in the oceans, simply because of their greater ability to retain such energy.

“The heat capacity of the Earth’s entire atmosphere is equaled by the top 3.5 meters [11 feet] of the ocean,” explains a fact sheet released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to accompany the new study.

“The overall global ocean heat uptake is a result, we know, of the increasing greenhouse gases,” Gleckler said.

Conducting the latest work required stitching together multiple data sources, including measurements from the historic Challenger expedition of the 1870s — a landmark moment for oceanography — and modern readings from Argo floats. Nearly 4,000 of these instruments are spread across the global ocean, providing temperature measurements as deep as 2,000 meters.

Scientists divide the ocean into layers, with the top portion — the one that is warming and, therefore, affects humans the most — extending from the surface down to 700 meters. The middle section spans 700 meters to 2000 meters deep, and the deepest ocean is below that.

The research suggests that two-thirds of heat accumulation has occurred in the upper layer so far, with the remaining third in the lower layers. But it also finds that the percentage stored deeper in the ocean has been increasing recently.

The consequences of upper-ocean warming are well documented. From the bleaching of corals to the potential for more-intense hurricanes, a warmer surface has profound consequences for anything living in the oceans (this is where most sea life is) but also on land. Heating the ocean also raises sea levels, because warm water expands.

The consequences of warming the middle and deepest layers are less clear and less immediate to those of us living at the surface, but they are also sure to be significant. The new study provided a global overview of increasing ocean warming, rather than any specific prediction of regional consequences. But warming the deep ocean could lead to changes in its circulation, Gleckler said. One key factor driving the oceans’ global overturning circulation is the density of water, which is in turn affected by its temperature.

On the bright side, Gleckler notes, you can argue that increasing heat burial in the deep ocean is, in some ways, good news for humans. If the heat wasn’t at depth, then more of it would be in the surface layer and the surface of the globe would be even warmer, and feeling greater effects, than it already is.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Monday, January 18, 2016

A man of faith clings to his faith in his final days

Warmism has such slight claims to be science that belief in it it is clearly a religion, a faith.  So when Piers Sellers, deputy director of Sciences and Exploration at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, was told that cancer would soon kill him he used that to evangelize for his faith.  He managed to get a sob story into the NYT reporting his diagnosis and adding that he was sticking to his global warming work to the end.

The piece had not even a pretence at scientific reporting.  All it did was to regurgitate the usual Warmist assertions.  So I initially disregarded it.  Some of my fellow skeptics, however, were apparently irritated by the article.  They felt that its emotional appeal might have some effect.  And I can see that they may be right.

So what could it be that kept this dying man going into his office to work on his climate-related projects?  The conclusion you are supposed to draw is that the matter is so urgent that he felt he had to carry on. But he is in a position to know that global warming in fact stopped over 18 years ago -- so it's hard to see any urgency in that.

Much more likely is Green/Left motivation.  He wants to get people under better control by the elite -- among whom he no doubt thinks he belongs.  His motivtion is an authoritarian one.  He sees his work as helping to bring about a "new world order" in which people like him will rule the roost. He is indeed evangelical -- in a way that Hitler, Stalin and Mao would understand  -- JR.

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How reliable are satellite temperature measurements?

Phil Plait

"Bad astronomer" Phil Plait is on another of his deceptive rants below.  He thinks the heavily manipulated and unevenly located thermometer data is accurate and the satellite readings are not.  So just a few observations:

He says that accounts of the "pause" show a flat trend line only because the starting point of the graphs concerned is in the El Nino year of  1998.  But that is not so.  I trot out my favorite graph below.

The graph in fact starts from 1997.  And think what would have happened if there had been no El Nino.  Without that big spike, the trend would be down, showing cooling.  Only that big 1998 upward spike cancels out the very low figures recorded in some subsequent years.  So Warmists should be thankful of the 1998 El Nino spike rather than pooh-poohing it.

But the issue of a starting date is important.  With many trend lines you can prove anything by cherrypicking particular starting and end points.  It's classic chartmanship.

And when the egregious Michael Mann says at the beginning of the video that 2015 will show up as the warmest year as far back as we have data, it might seem that he is on the side of the angels in the matter.  In assessing a trend, you should go back to the beginning.

But Mann does not in fact do that.  He goes back only a little more than 100 years.  If he had gone back a couple of thousand years -- to encapsulate both the Roman and the Medieval Warm periods, he would have to say that 2015 was among the cooler years in Earth's history.

So again, it is clear that the starting point for any trend is crucial to the result you see.

So is the 18 year pause just cherrypicking?  No.  If we want to know if the present is like the past we have to assess the present.  And the "hiatus" or plateau IS just simply there in the recent past.

Skeptics will have no problem with assertions below to the effect that there was warming over the 20th century.  There WAS a slight warming, as far as we can tell.  But by the same token Warmists need to accept that there has been no warming in the 21st century.  Whatever produced the 20th century warming is no longer there in the 21st.  Warmists postulate that there is a single systematic process going on that causes temperatures to rise.  But that may not be so.  We may simply be seeing random fluctuations.  And no cherrypicking of your starting points will disprove that.

Amusing that Phil Plait too stresses below the importance of not cherrypicking your starting points, even though he and his friends themselves do exactly that.  It's just another one of Phil's deceptions. James Taylor dissects another one of Phil's deceptions here.  And Matt Ridley has a go at Phil here

I could go on but most of the rest is just old boilerplate Warmist assertions that conflict with the facts so I will leave any further debunking of the piece to others.

In December, GOP senator, presidential hopeful, and outrageous science denier Ted Cruz held a Senate panel about climate change that could charitably be called a farce. He empaneled a series of people who ranged from lukewarmers (believing the Earth is warming, but it’s not dangerous, or not rapid enough to worry about now) to out-and-out head-in-the-sand deniers.

During the hearing, Cruz said a lot of completely false things, but two things he hammered over and again were the reliability of satellite data, and how those data don’t show any warming over the past 18 years* — the so-called pause.

As I’ve written many times, that "pause" doesn’t exist; we’re still getting warmer and have been for decades. He cherry-picked the data, looking only as far back as 1998, when a huge spike in temperature due to an El Niño event made it look like temperatures are flat since then (when you start high, it makes the rest of the graph look flatter). That’s hugely misleading, of course.

But it did make me wonder just how reliable the data are; I know that satellite measurements can be difficult to calibrate. Worse, satellites don’t actually measure temperature directly; they measure how much energy the Earth radiates, and that’s converted into a temperature. The conversion is dependent on a lot of theoretical models. How accurate are the models?

It turns out this is a good thing to wonder. Satellite measurements are not the most reliable method to get temperature. The folks at Yale Climate Connections have made a short video explaining this, and it’s very good. Watch!

The key thing to take away from this is that satellites measure radiance: energy radiated by the atmosphere as microwaves. They come from the air, but also from the surface, clouds, and more. Scientists then use models of what’s emitting these microwaves to disentangle all that and convert it to a temperature. But those models are sometimes not terribly accurate.

The best measurements have been and still are from thermometers in situ, at various stations across the globe, on land, over sea, and in the air. These data need adjusting sometimes too, but not nearly as much as satellite data. Thermometers more reliable.

I was also happy to see climatologist Andrew Dessler make a fantastic comment starting at the 4:00 minute mark, talking about the deniers who misrepresent or misinterpret the data:

The bottom line: You can’t cherry-pick when you start the temperature measurements, and you can’t cherry-pick the data sets themselves, even — especially — if they show what you want.

And remember, the satellite data are one small part of a vast amount of data that overwhelmingly show our planet is warming up: retreating glaciers, huge amounts of ice melting at both poles, the "death spiral" of Arctic ice every year at the summer minimum over time, earlier annual starts of warm weather and later starts of cold weather, warming oceans, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, more extreme weather, changing weather patterns overall, earlier snow melts, and lower snow cover in the spring …

Despite the claims of people like Cruz, Roy Spencer (yes, this Roy Spencer), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), we know the Earth is warming up, and we know humans are the reason why.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Are high CO2 levels preventing a new ice age?

That is what the article abstracted below finds from their modelling.  You can read here the amusing gyrations the authors and other Warmists go through in order to claim that we should still worry about global warming. But it follows that if we DID cut CO2 levels drastically that would bring on an ice age.  How does the precautionary principle handle that?

What their modelling told them was that we just missed the beginning of a new ice age a couple of hundred years ago  -- which is plausible.  The current intergalcial is already rather long compared to previous interglacials.  And they attribute that near miss to levels of CO2 that were unusually high at that time.  But note: The levels at that stage were NATURAL.  The near miss was before there was any significant industrial civilization.  So the claim that CO2 levels in recent times can be naturally high must rattle a few cages.  Perhaps your SUV is NOT responsible for the present high levels of CO2!

But how good are their models?  They claim to have backcast fairly well but that is a slender reed to lean on. A lot of nicely backcasting models have made a real hash of predicting our present temperature.

The big faults I see in their models are that they accept two conventional views:  That the climate sensitivity to CO2 is substantial and that the long term Holocene atmospheric CO2 level was 280ppm.  And model outcomes are of course very sensitive to the parameters used.  So if either of those assumptions is wrong, all the model outcomes are wrong too.

And skeptics do of course challenge the first assumption -- so if we are right, Schellnhuber & co are wrong.  But let's be charitable and give the repulsive Schellnhuber his preferred sensitivity figure.

Papal adviser Schellnhuber

That brings us to the second assumption -- which is probably wrong too.  Measuring the deep past through ice cores is a very shaky enterprise, which almost certainly takes insufficient  account of compression effects.  The apparently stable CO2 level of 280ppm could in fact be entirely an artifact of compression at the deeper levels of the ice cores.  Dr Zbigniew Jaworowski's criticisms of the assumed reliability of ice core measurements are of course well known.  And he studied them for over 30 years.

So in the end I think this study is a fairly improbable bit of speculation.  Fun though!

Critical insolation–CO2 relation for diagnosing past and future glacial inception

A. Ganopolski, R. Winkelmann & H. J. Schellnhuber

The past rapid growth of Northern Hemisphere continental ice sheets, which terminated warm and stable climate periods, is generally attributed to reduced summer insolation in boreal latitudes1, 2, 3. Yet such summer insolation is near to its minimum at present4, and there are no signs of a new ice age5. This challenges our understanding of the mechanisms driving glacial cycles and our ability to predict the next glacial inception6. Here we propose a critical functional relationship between boreal summer insolation and global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, which explains the beginning of the past eight glacial cycles and might anticipate future periods of glacial inception. Using an ensemble of simulations generated by an Earth system model of intermediate complexity constrained by palaeoclimatic data, we suggest that glacial inception was narrowly missed before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The missed inception can be accounted for by the combined effect of relatively high late-Holocene CO2 concentrations and the low orbital eccentricity of the Earth7. Additionally, our analysis suggests that even in the absence of human perturbations no substantial build-up of ice sheets would occur within the next several thousand years and that the current interglacial would probably last for another 50,000 years. However, moderate anthropogenic cumulative CO2 emissions of 1,000 to 1,500 gigatonnes of carbon will postpone the next glacial inception by at least 100,000 years8, 9. Our simulations demonstrate that under natural conditions alone the Earth system would be expected to remain in the present delicately balanced interglacial climate state, steering clear of both large-scale glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere and its complete deglaciation, for an unusually long time.

Nature 529, 200–203 (14 January 2016) doi:10.1038/nature16494

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Friday, January 15, 2016

Star Explosion

Astronomers have seen what could be the most powerful supernova ever detected.

The exploding star was first observed back in June last year but is still radiating vast amounts of energy.

At its peak, the event was 200 times more powerful than a typical supernova, making it shine with 570 billion times the brightness of our Sun.

Researchers think the explosion and ongoing activity have been boosted by a very dense, highly magnetised, remnant object called a magnetar.

This object, created as the supernova got going, is probably no bigger than a major city, such as London, and is likely spinning at a fantastic rate - perhaps a thousand times a second.

Al Jazeera America Shutting Down

Al Jazeera is shutting down.
The decision to go out of business was “driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” AJAM CEO Al Anstey was quoted as saying in an AJAM report.

“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” Anstey wrote in an email to staffers.

Al Jazeera Media Networks announces that Al Jazeera America will shut down on April 30th.
Too bad, eh?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Teacher Boasted About Sex with Student

(Hobart, Tasmania)
A former Hobart teacher has returned to jail after he bragged about having sex with a former student on Facebook.

Nicolaas Ockert Bester, 63, described the sexual relationship as "awesome" and "enviable" last February, the ABC reports.

In 2011, Bester, a former teacher at an exclusive Hobart private school, was sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail for having sex with the same 15-year-old student.
Reportedly, Bester drank a half bottle of wine when he made the comment.

Tip: JR

Tories should be sued over dangerous levels of NO2 (?)

Yes. This time it is NO2, not CO2.  Gaseous oxides seem to get a bad rap.  Whether British government policy can be mandated by the courts is an interesting issue.  In the absence of a written constitution, it could be possible.  But I doubt that there are binding precedents for it.  In Britain, the Queen in parliament has always been held to be supreme.  The various EU treaties could come into play, however.

And here's an interesting comment from an academic journal article on the subject:

"Studies have not demonstrated a clear dose-dependent health risk response to increasing amounts of these pollutants except at high concentrations. In addition, a number of studies examining the effects of ambient level exposure to NO2, SO2, and CO have failed to find associations with adverse health outcomes".

So the levels of SO2 in British cities may be no problem at all -- or at least a very minor problem based on weak statistical associations.  It wouldn't be the first time that Greenies have "cried wolf"  -- like the "acid rain" scare, for instance

The barrister wife of former Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday said the Government must be sued for continuing to allow dangerous pollution levels in the UK.

Justine Thornton, who will be made a Queen's Counsel next month, said the estimated 23,500 annual deaths from nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in the UK were `a national scandal'.

She said judges must take the government to task to take immediate action to cut pollution.

Critics, however, are likely to point out that it was the previous Labour government - in which her husband served as energy secretary - that offered tax breaks to encourage British motorists to switch to diesel engines.

Labour encouraged us to drive diesel cars because they produce less carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas which causes global warming.

Around 10million British motorists now drive diesels, but the consequences have been a rise in NO2, which damages the lungs and blood vessels and worsens asthma.

Labour's shadow environment minister Barry Gardiner has previously accepted that his party's decision was `wrong' and a `massive problem for public health.'

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled last April that the Government should `be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue'.

In order to tackle NO2 pollution, Ministers issued plans in mid-December to introduce clean air zones by 2020.

These schemes will see diesel vehicles charged to enter parts of Birmingham, Leeds, Derby, Nottingham and Southampton.

London will also introduce a low emission zone, charging for diesel vehicles, but under the plans it will only reach legally acceptable pollution levels by 2025.

Environmental group Clientearth, which brought the original court case against the Government, has warned it will bring a further legal challenge to Ministers within weeks for failing to do enough to tackle pollution.

The actions get the full support of Miss Thornton, who is a specialist in environmental law.

Writing in the Guardian, she said the Government has `soft-pedalled' on pollution by private motorists and `appears intent on watering down European legal limits for vehicle emissions'.

Miss Thornton added: `The stage is set for a fascinating tussle between law and politics. The UK court will have to roll up its sleeves and decide whether this Government is doing what it can to make our air as safe as possible.'

She went on: `Ten more years of dangerous air pollution in London puts a whole generation of children at risk. The quality of the air that our children breathe is too important to be decided behind closed doors by government and vehicle manufacturers.'

Alan Andrews, a lawyer for ClientEarth said he would apply for a case against the Government to be fast-tracked because people's lives were at risk.

He said: `This is such an urgent issue. The Supreme Court ordered Government to take immediate action. These plans are an outrageous statement... that the government doesn't intend to comply as soon as possible. It is an arrogant response that is simply not good enough


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Alabama Teacher and Student

Andrea Elliott Means

(Etowah County, Alabama)
The Etowah County Sheriff's Office says investigators have arrested and charged a Southside woman for having sex with a student while she was a teacher employed at the county school system.

Andrea Elliott Means, 28, has been charged with one count of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19.

Satirical site debunks 

I have over the years had various gripes with the Leftward lean of (e.g. here and   here and   here and   here).  They do a useful job of debunking myths, hoaxes and legends but they are far too quick to brand something favorable to conservatives as either false or undetermined.  They even have their own contemptuous word for a sentimental story favorable to conservatives.  They call it a "glurge".

So I was delighted to read the latest from The People's Cube -- a well-known satirical site run by Oleg Atbashian, a former Soviet citizen. And with that background it is easy to understand that Oleg skewers Leftism savagely.  I read most of his posts and have occasionally quoted them.

The gist of his latest is that Snopes have apparently taken some of his posts seriously.  Although his posts are perfectly transparent (they would not be good satire otherwise) they fooled the humorless Leftists running Snopes!  Talk about being hoist with your own petard!  Snopes did however eventually  wake up but continued their debunking of Oleg's "dangerous" humor.  For a while they gave the People's Cube as the source of the story but now they give no source at all.  The whole thing has tickled Oleg's funnybone and below is an excerpt fom his latest post in which he half-seriously lists his gripes with Snopes:

Snopes falsely described us as "a clickbait web site known for spreading malware," which is slanderous misinformation.

While our satire was clearly a response to Zakaria's asinine article gloating over the premature deaths of white males, which we extrapolated to the extermination of white females through Jihad, rape, and sex slavery, the Snopes's "debunking" omits this point entirely, stating only that "There was nothing to the report" and that "it was just another fake news item that apparently originated with a clickbait web site known for spreading malware."

At the very bottom of the page, however, the Snopes article is tagged as "satire" and "The People's Cube," while none of these words appear in the body of the article, which is what most people will read. Thus, Snopes was well aware that this was satire and who the author was, but it knowingly withheld this information from its readers, which is called "intentional misleading."

For a self-described fact-checking website that claims to be "the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation," such biased, slanderous, and intentionally misleading misinformation constitutes malpractice, as it violates public trust.

In addition to being unprofessional, slanderous, and misleading, this under-debunking was also plain stupid: if you want to lie about something, at least make sure you flush the evidence and wash your hands afterwards.

The author of the article is listed as one Jeff Zarronandia, "an American author and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for numismatics in 2006 and was one of four finalists for the prize in 2008. He was also the winner of the Distinguished Conflagration Award of the American Society of Muleskinners for 2005."

While this is obviously an attempt at a joke, this joker seems to deny the right to a joke to others. Besides, the very idea of listing made-up prizes, awards, and societies as his credentials on a fact-checking resource surpasses unprofessionalism and approaches imbecility. Perhaps Snopes should do some fact-checking on its authors before it attempts fact-checking satirical fiction.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fascism in America

Mussolini prophesied that the 20th century would be the century of Fascism -- and libertarians believe that came true.  Fascism was just a Leftist sect and modern-day Leftists have put a straitjacket on what Americans can and must do that is very reminiscent of what Mussolini did.  And the picture above symbolizes that.  It is of course a picture of the platform in the House of Representatives from which Obama will give his State of the Union address imminently.

Note that there are Roman Fasces (bundles of rods) on either side of the picture.  Mussolini too used that symbolism, which is why his political party came to be called the Fascist party.  Obama is as Fascist as any democratic leader today in his endeavour to rule like a king so it is very fitting that he will deliver his speech between two Fasces.

Background on Italian and American Fascism here and here.

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