Adventures on the Hill

My post about Andrew Montford promoting Doug Keenan’s statistical models (well, statistical somethings), prompted Andrew to respond with a post of his own. In the spirit of harmony, I thought I might spend some time commenting there. I was pleasantly surprised by how it went; not because I achieved much, but more because it wasn’t a complete disaster. That was probably partly because my skin is thicker than it once was, and partly because the general behaviour was better than I was expecting (I’ve also learned what and when to ignore).

However, what I did encounter was a large fraction of all the standard contrarian arguments. In the spirit of Willard’s new Contrarian Matrix, I thought I might summarise as many as I can remember.

  • Isn’t energy only conserved in a closed system?

Well, it is conserved in a closed system, but really it’s just conserved. If you add energy to a system, the energy increases. If a system loses energy, the energy goes down. Ignoring quantum fluctuations, the total energy is always conserved.

  • Anders isn’t a scientist, but a corrupt activist :

This seems like a pretty standard accusation. I think Richard Betts and Myles Allen were accused of the same on B-H yesterday. Not quite sure what they think I’m campaigning for. Maybe, a better understanding of basic science. Other than that, not really much else.

  • We can’t measure the energy of the climate system with any accuracy :

I’m not actually sure if this is correct or not – if we can measure the temperature and density and know the equation of state, then I think we could determine the total energy. However, we’re not trying to measure the total energy. We’re trying to determine how it is changing, and this we can do with sufficient accuracy to establish if it is changing over some reasonable timescale (years).

  • The Feynman gambit :

There was the obligatory link to a Feynman video. I assume this was to illustrate that I’m not behaving as a scientist should, but which normally illustrates that the person who posted the video doesn’t understand what Feynman was saying.

  • We agree :

Apparently, despite all the disagreement, we actually agree. This is odd, because – if this were the case – you’d expect the other party to respond with something like “yes, I agree with you”, not “why are we arguing, you agree with me.”

  • Anders doesn’t understand what Doug and Andrew are saying :

This is again a little odd, given that I was also told I agreed with them. I think I do understand (and disagree with) what they are saying. However, those who claimed I didn’t understand what they were saying, then didn’t put any effort into explaining what they were actually trying to say.

  • Anders is fixated on radiative physics :

Well, it was hard to see why this is such a bad thing. This was, however, also combined with the standard “surface temperature depends on convection, conduction and evaporation” argument. Well, convection certainly plays a role, but radiation processes are a crucial part of setting the surface temperature and are especially important if you want to consider how adding greenhouse gases to our atmosphere might influence surface temperatures.

  • Physical models need to be verified :

This seems to be an extension of the Popper gambit. Not only must models be falsifiable, they also need to be verified. This would appear to indicate a significant confusion about the difference between engineering and basic science. Scientists use physical models to try and understand complex systems. How well the model replicates certain aspect of the system tells you something of the physical processes that control the system being studied. A model doesn’t, however, have to actually be verified before you can use it in this way.

  • Various latin quotes were bandied about :

Presumably this was intended to make the person using these quotes seem clever and intellectual. I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide if this was successful or not.

  • We can’t we be sure that it isn’t something else :

Sure, we can’t, but just because it could be something else, doesn’t invalidate our current understanding. The other issue with this argument is that if it is something else, and this something else is somehow significant, you’re counting on two unlikely outcomes. One is that something we haven’t thought of has a major influence on our global surface temperatures. The other is that our current understanding of the processes that we think do influence our surface temperatures is wrong. Anything is possible, but this seems rather unlikely.

  • You have to falsify the null hypothesis :

I clearly understand the concept of a null hypothesis. However, normally rejecting or accepting the null is a test that determines whether or not a particular hypothesis has some statistical validity or not. An issue in climate science is defining a suitable null. In this particular instance the claim was that there is only one null hypothesis and that it is an obvious null. I, however, still don’t know what it actually is.

  • I don’t believe in the power of back-radiation :

This was in response to me asking if they accepted the standard explanation for the greenhouse effect. I don’t really know if they do or don’t, but they don’t like the power of back-radiation. Well, that’s fine, because I don’t think it’s really all that relevant. Maybe some people describe the greenhouse effect using this kind of terminology, but that doesn’t mean that that is quite how they think it actually works. If you don’t like this terminology, use something different.

So, those are all of the basic arguments that I encountered on B-H. Although I don’t really like appeals to authority, and have largely avoided really describing my own credentials, I have now been studying physics or doing research for closer to 30 years, than to 20. My academic credentials are not outstanding, but they’re nothing to be ashamed of either. Given that, it is somewhat hard not to get a little irritated when someone with no (or very little) scientific experience – or credentials – tells me how science should work and why I’m wrong. This may explain why many don’t bother engaging in such discussions. To be honest, I can’t really see myself doing it too often either. I’m not even sure that writing my own blog is doing me any favours.

Something else that struck me is that Both Andrew Montford and Doug Keenan seem to be claiming that the Met Office agrees with them. Having read the Met Office’s response, it’s a little hard to see how they’ve drawn this conclusion (as it seems fairly clear that they don’t). However, I get the impression that the Met Office feels that it cannot be seen to be unduly critical of a member of the public (taxpayer). Well, I’m a taxpayer too and I don’t see how we benefit from a publicly funded, scientific organisation not making it clear whether they do or do not agree with someone’s criticism of their methods. Of course, it may be impossible to write something that wouldn’t be misinterpreted by people like Andrew Montford and Doug Keenan, but I would certainly encourage the Met Office to be a little more direct.

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46 Responses to Adventures on the Hill

  1. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I predict this OP will attract denier drones like flies to honey.

  2. John H.,
    Possibly. Something that I was going to add to the post – but didn’t – was how little Andrew seems to contribute to his own comment threads. I commented on why he didn’t address some of the misconceptions of his commenters – being someone with a science degree. I was told “why should he and why should anyone listen”. I certainly play a much bigger role in my comment stream than he does, and clearly do influence how comment streams progress. I think some see this as censorious. I don’t, and see no reason why I shouldn’t do so.

  3. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: That Andrew Montford will not set the record straight if a mistake is made by one of his loyal minions should surprise no one. Other than the denier drones, the people who come here to comment are, by and large, interested in an open and frank discussion of the issues presented in the OP. Your participation and guidance adds value to the discussion.

  4. > I get the impression that the Met Office feels that it cannot be seen to be unduly critical of a member of the pubic

    That would be unsexy.

  5. Willard,

    I get the impression that the Met Office feels that it cannot be seen to be unduly critical of a member of the pubic

    An interesting question is whether – if you’ve published a relevant scientific paper – you’re still a member of the public, or not?

  6. > you’re still a member of the public, or not?

    I’d rather be a member in the pubic, AT, if you get my drift.

    Joking aside, you’re perfectly entitled to underline that “I’m a taxpayer and I will stop breathing until I have satisfaction (at the risk of turning purple)!” as the usual populistic claptrap.

    I mean, you have Douglas claiming that

    The issue here is the claim that “the temperature rise since about 1880 is statistically significant”, which was made by the Met Office in response to the original Question (HL3050). The basis for that claim has now been effectively acknowledged to be untenable. Possibly there is some other basis for the claim, but that seems extremely implausible: the claim does not seem to have any valid basis.

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/5/27/met-office-admits-claims-of-significant-temperature-rise-unt.html

    I had to go at Tony’s to get that quote from the MET Office. Here’s the complete paragraph:

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The assessment that there has been a long-term upward trend in global average near-surface temperatures since the late 19th century is based upon three global temperature records, compiled from observations, by groups in the US and UK. The rate of global temperature rise on different timescales is summarised in table 1 below. The underlying trend over the period from 1880 to 2011 is 0.062 celsius per decade, giving a total change of 0.81 celsius. Such a rate of change has been judged by major scientific assessments to be large and rapid when compared with temperature changes on millennial timescales.

    Over this period some parts of the world have warmed at a much faster rate. The land surface average temperature has risen by about 1.1°C and Arctic temperatures have increased by almost twice the global average rate. The consequences of this warming are already seen across the globe. For example, northern hemisphere sea-ice and snow cover have decreased markedly, most glaciers have retreated and the risks of certain extreme weather events occurring have increased.

    8 Nov 2012 : Column WA225

    Statistical (linear trend) analysis of the HadCRUT4 global near surface temperature dataset compiled by the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit (table 1) shows that the temperature rise since about 1880 is statistically significant.

    [Some numbers here]

    Table 1. Trends fitted to monthly global temperature anomalies for HadCRUT4, with uncertainties describing 95% confidence interval bounds for the combination of measurement, sampling and bias uncertainty and uncertainty in the linear trend fitted to the data. The statistical model used allows for persistence in departures using an autoregressive process (ie that an individual value is not independent of the previous one).

    Statistical analyses and modelling of the global temperature record have shown that, because of natural variability in the climate system, a steady warming should not be expected to follow the relatively smooth rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. Over periods of a decade or more, large variations from the average trend are evident in the temperature record and so there is no hard and fast rule as to what minimum period would be appropriate for determining a long-term trend.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/121108w0001.htm#12110877000303

    ***

    Douglas’ beef is about the choice of that autoregressive model:

    What justification does the Appendix give for choosing the trending autoregressive model? None. In other words, the model used by the IPCC is just adopted by proclamation. Science is supposed to be based on evidence and logic. The failure of the IPCC to present any evidence or logic to support its choice of model is a serious violation of basic scientific principles — indeed, it means that what the IPCC has done is not science.

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/5/27/met-office-admits-claims-of-significant-temperature-rise-unt.html

    Since he does not have any justification, Douglas picks a random walk model instead. What his own justification then? Is he not supposed to abide by evidence and logic? Lo and behold: he finds it more plausible to represent natural variability!

    So Douglas switches between significance, validity, and plausibility as if these words were interchangeable.

    Anyway.

  7. Eli Rabett says:

    In the taking Feynman in vain sweepstakes, nothing, nothing ever gets even within a kilometer of Gerlich and Tscheuschner who thought that schematic illustrations of energy flows in the atmosphere are wrong because they “do not fit in the framework of Feynman diagrams, which represent mathematical expressions clearly defined in quantum field theory.”

  8. Willard,
    Well, that seems fairly clear to me. All I can think is that Douglas doesn’t really understand the role of statistical models, which might – more correctly – be called statistical analysis or, even, simply data analysis.

  9. BBD says:

    Yes, the upgrade of a non-model to a “model” begs the question.

  10. jsam says:

    After some reading – and sighing – at teh Goddard and Willard’s and Bishop Shill I reread http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~ed/home/hawkins_jones_2013_Callendar.pdf

    Serenity imposed iteself.

  11. Jsam,
    That is a nice little paper. I found this paragraph interesting,

    there is still much discussion (e.g. Delworth and Knutson 2000; Bronnimann 2009) over the causes of this early twentieth century warming, which may have had considerable spatial and seasonal variations. However, it seems likely that there were multiple causes, including an internal climate fluctuation, recovery from the large volcanic forcing at the end of the 19th century, as well as solar and anthropogenic influences.

    especially given those who claim that anthropogenic influences only operated in the second half of the 20th century.

  12. Chandra says:

    Anders, in the unlikely event that really do you think that Montford wants to further the understanding of climate science among his flock, or indeed in general, you only have to looking at this link [1] where he admires the ability of Australia’s government to cancel science and research funding. A lucky country he calls it. He is also quite happy to publish complete fabrications, for example his interpretation of research relating to GM crops and the Irish potato famine in [2]; his congregation is completely unconcerned when his lies are pointed out.
    [1] http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/6/4/hitting-back-at-scientivists.html
    [2] http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/6/13/the-inhumanity-of-the-environmentalist.html

  13. BBD says:

    ATTP

    especially given those who claim that anthropogenic influences only operated in the second half of the 20th century.

    Which ushers in the Ruddiman hypothesis summarised in Earth Transformed.. I was sceptical about the early anthropogenic argument, but it’s standing up to scrutiny: Ruddiman, Kutzbach & Vavrus (2011) Can natural or anthropogenic explanations of late-Holocene CO2 and CH4 increases be falsified?

    The Holocene seems to be a rather singular interglacial and perhaps, maybe, the vexed definition of the anthropocene might have to be stretched.

  14. Chandra,
    Yes, I have no real sense that Andrew is really interesting in furthering the understanding of climate science amongst his flock.

  15. > irritated when someone with no (or very little) scientific experience – or credentials – tells me how science should work

    I see this a lot too.Its not really meaningful; its just rhetorical trickery, in that people are “arguing” by attempting to bat words back and forth. There’s a whole pile of folk at JoNova’s – well, at any “skeptic” blog I suppose – who think they know how science works – but you know this, ref the earlier stuff about peer review. The further they are from science, the more certain they are as to how it works.

    Part of it is just defensive on their side – they have so few people they can pull up, they have to be “anti credentialism” most of the time. Unless they can find Lindzen saying something they like, in which case L becomes one of the worlds most respected scientists. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to have a discussion in which they present a coherent story.

    As to BishopHill, I gave up on him when he was too cowardly to discuss Lennart Bengtsson: http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2014/05/21/adventures-in-the-denialosphere/ I think he was somewhat embarrassed by his own lies.

  16. William,
    Yes, I agree. It’s not meaningful and my irritation is short-lived and getting less significant the more I involve myself in this topic. It’s hard to be too bothered by criticism from those who don’t appear to know what they’re talking about.

    I should probably have acknowledged that the title of this post was somewhat motivated by the title of your post that you refer to at the end of your comment.

  17. Pingback: Adventures in the denialosphere – Stoat

  18. John Mashey says:

    ATTP: you show evidence of being able to learn, as did some of us who encountered this earlier, including the following amusing experiment.

    See WIkipedia talk page on The Hockey Stick Illusion (HSI).

    1) This was getting ~20 edits/day, as some fought to reference every positive review, even by people with zero relevant expertise. I was finishing “Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report” (SSWR) and needed a short break for amusement.

    2) I posted the “dog astrology” topic above in the Hockey Stick Illusion Talk* page,
    The 20 edits/day dropped into stunned silence for a day.

    3) Then, people kept trying to *delete* the comment, which unlike edits on main page, is generally a no-no in a Talk page. They kept citing various Wikipedia rules. Connolley kept explaining why they were wrong and reverting their deletions.

    4) People did not address the comment, did not even attempt to refute it, but simply ignored it until it aged out and got archived (where it still is). There was absolute refusal to see the problems of incompetence and/or falsitication and intense beleif in the book’s credibility. Of course, in Wikipedia rules, the clear fact of internal contradictions/falsification (or in other cases, plagiarism) cannot be used unless it appears in a reliable source, and generally, detailed refutations of poor publications don’t.

    I.e., This is almost like Godel in Wikipedia: there are true propositions that cannot appear.
    For instance, the Wikipedia Wegman page mentions neither Deep Climate’s discovery of the plagiarism nor my SSWR, the topic only got covered because it appeared in USA Today, Nature, etc. (Generally, the rules on RS are OK, lest any random junk on blogs would get used, but it does lead to oddities. One can create a side-by-side showing massive plagiarism instantly obvious to anyone, and put it in a talk page, but it does not count unless it gets written about in a RS.)
    Now, if it were worth the bother, one could do an SSWR-like excruciatingly-detailed analysis of the errors, misinterpretations, selective quotes, falsifications in HSI, but it’s not worth it.

    5) But it was a useful experiment and an early indication of the strength of Morton’s Demons, which WMC had long battled in WIkipedia wars.

    6) As it stands, Montford gets attention from an intense set of supporters, gets interviewed, and sells books. If he simply said he accepted the consensus, who would care about him?

  19. Here’s what I tried many times to publish at our beloved Bishop’s this morning, in part or not, to no avail. The quotes are from Nullius. Readers should beware that Nullius and me have a past history at Keith’s previous blog.

    ===

    > The argument using the pure statistical models has been won.

    Not at all, because Douglas gerrymanders on this issue.

    If Douglas’ intuition makes him reject AR(1) as a plausible model, there’s no reason why it would make him accept a random walk as a plausible model for natural variability. Natural variability is not statistical phenomenon. Plausibility implies some physics.

    If Douglas only wanted to present a statistical case, it falters on MattStat’s argument that one can always find another model than is a better fit. This argument follows directly from what Ye Old Statistician observed at MattStat’s:

    Even when a model skillfully predicts external facts, there is no assurance that it has done so using the same mechanisms as the Real World™. The underdetermination of scientific theories guarantees that there will always be more than one model that adequately matches the data.

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=8061#comment-94259

    So watch the pea. Against MattStat’s argument that significance is insignificant, Douglas hand waves to “people” who “reasonably” tell him that “we need to model natural variability.” Against AT, Vaughan, Frank, and the MET Office who holds that to model temperatures as a random walk is a bit farfetched (to say the very least), the pea switches back under Nullius’, Douglas’ (and before them VS” and others) “pure” statistics argument based on random walks.

    ***

    In fact, Douglas himself agrees, if Doug McNeal correctly quotes him:

    Later in your email, you say:

    “The central question, though, is this: what statistical models should analyses be based on?. Any statistical model should have both physical realism and a good statistical fit to the data. The only statistical model of which I am aware that has been based on the underlying physics is fGn.”

    If we can agree that the central question is to decide which statistical models to choose, that AR(1) has limitations, and that our models should exhibit physical realism, to argue for random walks is simply inconsistent. No theory is supposed to stand tall against absurd or degenerate testing.

    ***

    > If you can work out a complete physical model that is constrained by well-validated laws of physics to an exact solution, yes. Or alternatively, a validated but approximate physical model might do. [W]e don’t have one. That’s the problem.

    This is where the agreement turns into a dispute. To repeat Richard Muller’s executive summary of the issue:

    What [Douglas] is saying is that statistical methods are unable to be used to show that there is global warming or cooling or anything else. That is a very strong conclusion, and it reflects, in my mind, his exaggerated pedantry for statistical methods. He can and will criticize every paper published in the past and the future on the same grounds. We might as well give up in our attempts to evaluate global warming until we find a “model” that Keenan will approve — but he offers no help in doing that.

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/11763136868

    If Douglas’ desiderata make him reject all the models known so far, it might be saner and more economical to ignore these desiderata, and simply nod approvingly when Douglas rants against science. Promoting inactivism by using “we agree!” while hiding statistical pedantry shows little interest for scientific questions.

    ***

    > Did you ask Doug’s permission before quoting from his comments?

    For now, I quoted stuff that he published on his website, and at MattStat’s. Douglas may not be able to claim the same. One does not simply publish private correspondence without permission.

    The reason why I ask if Douglas responded to Doug should be obvious to anyone who read Doug’s email. Where’s Douglas’ fGn model, with a demonstration that it’s the only model with Keenanian physical realism?

  20. GregH says:

    “Montford gets attention from an intense set of supporters, gets interviewed, and sells books.”

    It’s the Anthony Watts Make Big Bucks Blogging™ career plan.

  21. The proper link to our beloved Bishop’s post should be

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/7/3/where-there-is-harmony-let-us-create-discord.html

    WP reacts strangely when the “http” is omitted.

  22. On Jul 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM, Douglas J. Keenan hides his p(l)ea under the “pure statistics” shell:

    > I have never advocated adopting any particular statistical model for drawing inferences from climatic data.

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/7/3/where-there-is-harmony-let-us-create-discord.html?postSubmitted=true&currentPage=5#comments

    Douglas already forgot about his bragging about the exclusive physical realism of some fGn model.

  23. John Mashey says:

    Headlines and inter-geographic differences, even amongst those who more or less share the same first language:\
    In the US, “The Hill” can have many meanings, but the best-known led me to think upon reading the headine, “Wew! ATTP visited Congress!”
    But then, there are some resemblances.

  24. John Mashey says:

    ATTP: if you read enough of this, it is clear that some people replace any vestige of critical thought with chanting of slogans, and if you really want some good stuff, try the Discussions section of B.H., such as 1) the one on Force X or 2) Murry Salby: Relationship Between Greenhouse Gases and Global Temperature
    or 3) Discussion > Dr Murry Salby – lecture at Parliament 6 Nov.

    2) Is especially amusing to watch the reception of “Missy”, reach starts welcoming, but as she keeps asking reality-based questions, becomes rather less so..

  25. The violent agreement is increasing:

    Keenan is savaging a straw man. Nobody believes that a linear trend is a full description of climate change over the instrumental period. Climate forcings do not increase linearly with time, so it would be absurd to expect global temperature to. The linear trend model is simply a quick test of whether temperature is increasing. Replacing an oversimplified but informative model with a physically meaningless model is not progress.

    http://quantpalaeo.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/statistics-are-not-a-substitute-for-physics/

    An interesting tag:

    http://quantpalaeo.wordpress.com/tag/doug-keenan/

  26. Willard,
    Thanks, I knew I seen discussion of Doug Keenan’s work somewhere else. If he really has submitted at least 4 formal allegations of research misconduction then not only is he – in my opinion – a remarkably unpleasant individual, he really also (again, in my opinion) has no idea how scientific research is conducted. More people should be telling him to wind his neck in and stop bothering people who do know how research is conducted. He’s wasting everyone else’s time.

  27. I realise that my previous comment about Doug Keenan may be a little harsh. I, of course, don’t know him, so have no idea if he is – or is not – a pleasant person. Here, however, is some more context. In this Bishop-Hill post someone called Doug Keenan (and I have no reason to think it isn’t the same Doug Keenan) says:

    My background is that I used to work in mathematical research groups on Wall Street and in the City of London. There, I was introduced to time series, but most of my statistics is self-taught. (Time series are common in finance, and many of the best people are there, because of the salaries.)

    So, a background in mathematics and worked on Wall Street and in the City of London (how surprising) has self-taught himself statistics. This person now thinks that they are such an expert that they have caught out the bad practice of actual experts and, consequently, have apparently submitted at least 4 formal complaints of research misconduct (and in case it isn’t obvious, this is an extremely serious accusation to make). They also think that they now know more than the Met Office about how to analyze the instrumental temperature record.

    I find this astoundingly arrogant (which appears rather consistent with the parenthetic statement in his comment). If there is someone who has less appropriate initials, I have yet to encounter them (well, there is one other person, but I’ll let the readers imagine who that might be).

    Doug Keenan, if you happen to read this, I apologise for the tone of my comment but why not consider how your behaviour appears to others. This is not the behaviour of someone who is aiming to contribute positively to what is a serious topic. It is the behaviour of someone who either thinks their few years of experience makes them more expert than those who have spent careers working in these fields, or is the behaviour of someone who is actively trying to undermine the work of others.

  28. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, sometimes the English are so polite they contradict themselves. For instance, you apologize for the previous comment within that comment, ie, express regret for posting it. Clearly if you truly regretted it, you would have edited it to remove that which you regret before posting. Ergo, the apology is purely formal and should not have been offered (or accepted).

  29. Tom,
    You make a good point. I’m really apologising for being blunt, rather than for expressing the opinion I did. In retrospect, I sometimes regret being blunt. That doesn’t always mean that I didn’t mean what I said. I also don’t like removing comments. If I’ve said something, then I should leave it unless there’s a very good reason for removing it. Part of what I hope is that if I am being unfairly critical, then someone can come here and convince me that that is not the case. I’m always willing to be convinced that my view is wrong (and sometimes it is). Anyway, I’m probably talking myself in circles again, so I’ll stop.

  30. andrew adams says:

    DK was on the panel for the Climategate debate organised by the Guardian a couple of years back. From that admittedly brief experience it would be hard to disagree with Anders’ assessment.

  31. Andrew,
    Was he really? Is there any transcript?

  32. Here is Doug Keenan’s opening statement. He seems to have rather made up his mind about certain things. He also says,

    Moreover, in my experience, bogus research is widespread.

    All I would ask is what experience? If he means in the banking sector, though, he may actually have a point :-)

  33. AT,

    Nullius’ analogy is an argument for the plurality of models. It’s connected to the problem of justifying conventional choices in science. Conventionalism culminated with Poincaré:

    The axioms of geometry therefore are neither synthetic a priori judgments nor experimental facts. They are conventions; our choice among all possible conventions is guided by experimental facts; but it remains free and is limited only by the necessity of avoiding all contradiction (1902, p. 65).

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/convention/#Con

    You might be interested to know that Popper’s falsificationism was a way to counter both verificationism and conventionalism. So as you might guess, all these arguments have been heard before.

    The problem here is that if Douglas keeps to the statistical argument, he has no other means to discriminate models than a measure that he knows (or at least should know) may never provide him a satisfactory answer. I mean, Vaughan himself has a model close within one millikelvin:

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/12/04/multidecadal-climate-to-within-a-millikelvin/

    If we accept Douglas’ argument, we might as well reject all the models so far and start to work on Vaughan’s. And even then, there may be nothing in principle to forbid the possibility of an even more precise model than that!

    ***

    This is why Douglas needs to move from statistical testing to physics. But then, he’s stuck, for he’s no physicist, and he’d need to work with models that do not satisfy his statistical pedantry, at least until he finds a model like no one has ever saw before. As I see it, it’s just a Dutch book to win pseudo-scientific arguments. Were Douglas really interested in improving science, he’d have followed through Doug McNeal’s suggestions, that is to compare physically plausible models among them.

    Nobody’s forced to abide by impossible constraints, or as Frenchies say, À l’impossible, nul n’est tenu. Interestingly, Napoléon Bonaparte also said that “impossible” was not French. So I guess all that remains to say that unless you’re a French modeller, you can safely ignore Douglas’ demands.

  34. Willard,
    I rather caved in. Couldn’t resist one more go at the Bishop’s.

  35. > Couldn’t resist one more go at the Bishop’s.

    It was worth it, AT. It could make a nice post. I’ll post it at Michael’s, just as I did with Andy Lacis':

    http://planet3.org/2014/07/06/but-volcanoes/

    It will be named “But Random Walk”.

    A bunch of one-page answers like this may save lots of blogger-hours.

  36. ligne says:

    ATTP, there’s a small but significant typo in the final paragraph: “unduly critical of a member of the pubic (taxpayer)”. unless you’re suggesting that Keenan and Montford are [redacted] ;-)

  37. ligne,
    Thanks. A word that I normally should check carefully, and which I normally forget to do :-)

  38. Willard,
    Glad you approve :-) I had not realised that you wrote at Michael’s.

  39. > I had not realised that you wrote at Michael’s.

    I completely forgot I did, actually:

    http://planet3.org/2013/04/24/facing-ridiculous-claims/

    I could publish “But random walk” here, if you prefer. Next, we’d need to make a tweet out of this. Vaughan, perhaps?

  40. Willard,
    I have no preference. Making a tweet may be tricky, unless you just go for “yes, but random walk!”.

  41. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    There’s an audio recording of (mostly) the whole thing here.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/audio/2010/jul/15/guardian-climategate-hacked-emails-debate

    It says “Some parts of the debate have been edited out for legal reasons”, I’m presuming that it’s the bit where Keenan accuses Phil Jones of fraud. That would be the bit which best illustrates the point I was making above but he comes across as pretty arrogant throughout, as you saw from his opening statement.

    To be honest I don’t think it’s a particularly enlightening debate all round, no one really impressed me that much, except Watson.

  42. Here is a potential tweet, guaranteed to agitate:

    “We realists understand Fick’s law. The contrarians such as Beenstock and Keenan deal in F*ck’s law … as in making an expletive deleted mess out of everything they can lay their hands on.”

  43. Andrew,
    Thanks, I haven’t had a chance to listen to much of that but I may try. It now appears – based on recent comments by DK on Bishop-Hill – that I’m just a troll. I think he may have said the same of Richard Telford (I’m in good company at least), so I’m assuming that a troll – according to DK – is “anyone who disagrees with me”. To be fair, I haven’t been particularly complementary, so I wasn’t expecting anything better.

  44. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    I don’t think you’d have got a different response from DK if you’d been any more conciliatory. I read the links that Willard posted to Richard Telford’s blog and they are pretty damning (at least to my layman’s view), so it doesn’t surprise me if he’s been on the receiving end as well.

  45. Andrew,
    Yes, I don’t think it would have made any difference. So far, being conciliatory hasn’t really worked and being blunt and forthright hasn’t worked. The advantage of the latter approach, though, is that it’s hard to mistake the intent of what’s being said.

  46. Looking into my starred tweets, I stumbled upon this one:

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