Paws for thought!

To follow up on my Pause for thought? post, I thought I might highlight a video that Brigitte mentioned in one of the comments. The issue I have with using the term “pause”, when referring to the slowdown in surface warming, is what has paused? If one uses the Skpetical Science Trend Calculator, only 3 of the 7 temperature data sets show trends below zero when considering periods greater than 10 years (i.e., if one considers periods starting prior to 2004 and ending now, 4 of the 7 datasets have positive trends). Also, all 7 have positive trends if one starts prior to 2000. Of course, they all have large uncertainties, so I’m certainly not claiming that one can rule out cooling, but the evidence for any kind of pause seems weak. If one then also considers ocean heat content data, Arctic sea ice, and Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the evidence for any kind of pause gets even weaker.

One could argue that we’re simply defining the term “pause” to mean “slowdown”, but that would seem slightly odd, and one should then be very clear that it refers only to surface warming. A comment from BBD largely illustrates my views with regards to this terminology

Poor terminology enables pseudosceptics and should not be used in the middle of a war of misdirection and misrepresentation by those who would mislead the public and policy makers. We should not be helping them in any way whatsoever. Time people stopped arguing over the obvious. You *do not* let the pseudosceptics dictate the very language of the public discourse. It is insane – but that is exactly what is happening.

In other words, why – when there are clearly people trying to claim that global warming has stopped when it clearly hasn’t – would we choose to use a term that appears to suggest that global warming has stopped? That seems like a poor way to communicate the significance of the slowdown in surface warming. Hence, I think the video below is a much better way to communicate about the significance of the slowdown in surface warming (it’s a good thing that I double checked this post, as I almost posted a video of how to change the switch on a Dyson vacuum cleaner, rather than a video about the “pause” in global warming).

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58 Responses to Paws for thought!

  1. Joshua says:

    >”…but the evidence for any kind of pause seems weak.”

    The pause in what?

  2. Joshua,
    In anything associated with global warming 🙂

  3. The word pause or hiatus is badly chose, apparent slowdown would be more accurate. Also from the perspective of the climate ostriches, by the way, because pause suggests that warming is resume soon.

    In view of this post, I would, however, almost argue that it is a good sign that scientists are using pause or hiatus. It shows that the war is limited to the blogs and that the scientists are simply doing their work, try to understand the world out there and are not influenced by the nonsense in the blogs.

  4. Victor,
    I partly agree with the latter part of your comment. I’d agree completely if I didn’t also see this terminology in the media, though. It’s certainly made it into the mainstream media and people like Andrew Neil, Matt Ridley, … are promoting it rather heavily.

  5. Kdk33 says:

    Changeintherateofchange

    Pause has, as was noted, connotations not all that great for either side. Arguing symmantics is pointless. Doesn’t do your “side” much good. Worse is arguing about temperatures by pointing to ice.

    Warming, per se, isn’t even the point. The point is how CO2 affects human prosperity. That’s why the changeintherateofchange matters. It speaks to how well we can tease out the anthropogenic part and predict future affects. It warmed before CO2 after all.

    Denying the changeintherateofchange might seem to some (egads!) anti-science.

  6. kdk33,

    Warming, per se, isn’t even the point. The point is how CO2 affects human prosperity. That’s why the changeintherateofchange matters. It speaks to how well we can tease out the anthropogenic part and predict future affects. It warmed before CO2 after all.

    That might be your point, but it’s certainly not mine. My point is purely about the scientific understanding of our climate and how it will be influenced by future increases in anthropogenic CO2 emissions. And by saying that, I’m not implying that understanding natural influences on our climate isn’t important, simply that what we’re interested in is the influence of anthropogenic emissions.

  7. Joshua says:

    >”…”Denying the changeintherateofchange might seem to some (egads!) anti-science.”

    What a horrible person, comparing people to Nazis. ‘/What kind of person compares people to Nazia?

    I am so deeply offended, on principle, that I will now start comparing kdk33 and millions of other people to Hilter.

  8. BBD says:

    It warmed before CO2 after all.

    Ah. The *real* kdk33 is starting to emerge. Thought it wouldn’t take long.

    Denying the changeintherateofchange might seem to some (egads!) anti-science.

    Who’s “denying” that there is a slowdown in the rate of surface warming? Nobody. So who’s being anti-science? Why, nobody. Smear by insinuation. This from the same chap who a couple of sentences earlier wrote:

    Arguing symmantics [sic] is pointless.

  9. BBD says:

    Worse is arguing about temperatures by pointing to ice.

    So ice melts when it gets colder. Thanks for straightening that out.

  10. Kdk33 says:

    Ok

    Ill take all I said and note that it applies just as well to your point. Ill also note that it is my point that policy should address.

    It would seem more genuine then if you were posting about how we could better understand the changeintherateofchange instead of grousing about word choice in the context of influencing policy makers (from your BBD quote).

    I’m not saying you are not genuine, but that the perception would be more so.

    Happy Saturday

  11. BBD says:

    I’m not grousing, kdk33. The point is valid. What interests me about you is that you have taken the trouble to pop up in comments and complain about what was said. Not to mention insinuate that ATTP is playing a crooked game:

    I’m not saying you are not genuine, but that the perception would be more so.

  12. kdk33,

    It would seem more genuine then if you were posting about how we could better understand the changeintherateofchange instead of grousing about word choice in the context of influencing policy makers (from your BBD quote).

    In a sense I am. If this just terminology used by scientists, it probably wouldn’t matter. It’s not uncommon for scientific terminology to remain unchanged, despite what it describes changing. The term “global warming” is – itself – an example. However, when communicating to the public, it can be trickier. It’s no good – in my opinion – using a term that typically means “stopped for the moment” to describe something that hasn’t “stopped for the moment”.

  13. Pingback: Paws for thought! | Garry Rogers Nature Conserv...

  14. Pingback: Paws for thought! | GarryRogers Conservation and Science Fiction: #EcoSciFi

  15. OPatrick says:

    Kdk33, would changesintherateofchange not be a more sensible term? Or are you arguing that there is a particular change that has taken place recently which you think has particular significance for our understanding of the climate system?

  16. Joshua says:

    Changeintherateofchange is also insufficient, IMO.

    Yes, changeintherateofchange is preferable to “pause,” in that it at least indicates that the phenomenon in question is being viewed in its relative context (in other words, a fluctation). But changeintherateofchange, like “pause”, fails to describe important specificity. Changeintherateofchange in what? What type of changeintherateofchange? How much changeintherateofchange? For how long has this changeintherateofchange been going on with respect to the larger context of rate (or change in rate)?

    Kdk33 wrongly assumes that pointing out those insufficiencies means denial (and I am soooo “outraged” that he would compare people to Nazis!!!!!!11), but also mistakes pointing out those insufficiencies with merely an argument about semantics.

    Kdk33 – the point is that the term “pause” is often used by “skeptics” to exploit uncertainties and to paper over important specificity – with the aim of pursuing a partisan agenda.

    “Skeptics” often say that they are interested in taking into account uncertainties. They often point out that “realists” paper over important specificity to advance an agenda. One would think, then, that “skeptics” would apply some honest-to-god skepticism to the rhetoric often used by other “skeptics.”

    If the point of focus is communicating about the science, and what types of policies should be considered in light of the probabilities of ACO2 influencing our climate, then “skeptics” and “realists” alike should acknowledge the insufficiency of the arguments being presented. Many “skeptics” have argued in the past that simply looking at trends in the global mean of SATs was potentially misleading in evaluating the policy implications of ongoing ACO2 emissions. I would say that at some level, that is appropriate skepticism.

    So what, then, would explain why “skeptics” have abandoned that due skeptical scrutiny? Any thoughts, kdk33?

  17. Anders, feel free to include the media in the UK and its two white colonies as part of the war field.

    Living outside this region, I had never expected something as awful as the denial-o-sphere to exist and only noticed it when I started blogging. Most of my colleagues still wonder why I am allergic to the misinformation machine called WUWT. They assume, without proof, that because these people call themselves sceptical, they are probably someone sceptical and thus lovable.

    Everyone lives in his own bubble.

  18. Rob Painting says:

    It would seem more genuine then if you were posting about how we could better understand the changeintherateofchange”

    Good point. Heat uptake by the Earth system has actually increased in the last 16 years when compared to the previous 16 years. And yet some people are completely oblivious to this. All that heat accumulating in the upper ocean will have consequences……..

  19. JCH says:

    Who was the first to called it the PAWS?

  20. JCH says:

    Good gawd I need a poofreader.

    Why does England think the unmentionable will end in 2020?

  21. BBD says:

    JCH

    I’m not sure, but I know Michael Mann would probably disagree as unless I’m getting muddled he thinks a persistent LN-like state akin to that during the MCA might emerge.

  22. Steve Bloom says:

    I think Canada and New Zealand are feeling left out, Victor. 🙂

  23. Kdk33 says:

    Joshua: I am not a spokesperson for any group, real or imagined.

    Rob: does that, for you, explain the changeintherateofchange. What started it? Do you think it will change back?

  24. Joshua says:

    kdk33 –

    Joshua: I am not a spokesperson for any group, real or imagined.

    I am not assuming that you are. I wasn’t asking you to be. Not at all. I am asking you why you think so many skeptics employ an empty rhetoric around the “pause.”

    You are being non-responsive. That is unfortunate. I think your perspective on this issue is somewhat interesting. But…

    (1) you have mischaracterized the argument w/r/t the “pause” on the other side of the debate, and..
    (2) it would seem that based on your perspective, you would have some kind of opinion as to why some “skeptics” exploit the “pause.”

    I’m not asking you for a statement of fact.

    FWIW – I disagree wiht some “realists” for many of the arguments they make about “deniers” and “trolls” and the nature of the debate. I But I have asked you a couple of questions in good faith that I think you have ducked, and when people don’t engage in good faith, as I feel characterizes you in this exchange, then I get annoyed with that also. Not that my annoyance is your problem.. but just sayin.’

  25. Steve Bloom says:

    Therateofchange is always changing, kdk. Hadn’t you noticed? Also, doesn’t “change back” rather presuppose something? While the England et al. speculation about an Indian Ocean-related contribution to recent trade wind changes is interesting and I’m sure will be pursued, one does wonder how any significant reduction in the rate of change could be occurring simultaneous with e.g. the trend discussed here. Is it perhaps more likely that the pattern of change is varying from the past due to circulation changes driven by anthropogenic warming?

  26. Kdk33 says:

    Joshua,

    You are asking what is known in the vernacular as a loaded question and I don’t want to play this silly game.

    You think skeptics employ empty rhetoric. Message received. This is, for many, a debate to influence policy. Rhetoric will abound and on all sides. Let’s move on.

  27. kdk33,

    This is, for many, a debate to influence policy. Rhetoric will abound and on all sides. Let’s move on.

    Why would you admit such a thing and not be concerned by that? I may have an unconscious bias, but my goal certainly isn’t to influence policy in any specific way. If I have a goal (and I don’t really) it’s simply to encourage people to stop mis-representing the science. If the science was being properly presented, policy makers could then use that to make sensible policy decisions. The science certainly doesn’t tell us what to do, but confusion about the science is unlikely to help. If you think skeptics are doing this and that it’s alright to do so, then I find that somewhat concerning.

  28. Kdk33 says:

    Joshua,

    Skeptics are engaged in a global conspiracy to destroy the planet. They hate their own children and wish to doom their progeny. They smoke cigarettes and eat fatty foods and drive V8’s. They are evil.

    I’ve been told they serve Heineken at meetings – which pretty much says it all.

    You can have the last word.

  29. jsam says:

    Congratulations to kdk33 for his recent appointment to the Stoat’s Burrow. Many are called. Few are chosen.

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/01/18/the-stoats-burrow/

  30. BBD says:

    kdk33

    You think skeptics employ empty rhetoric. Message received.

    Super. So now stop doing it. And with a nod to ATTP above, stop misrepresenting the science.

  31. Joshua says:

    Kdk33 –

    You are asking what is known in the vernacular as a loaded question and I don’t want to play this silly game.

    I get why you would react that way – but it really wasn’t a loaded question. I am asking, in good faith (but admittedly poor form), for you to comment on the empty rhetoric from the “skeptical” side w/r/t “the pause.” I don’t get how you say it is “silly” to question the use of rhetoric after you, yourself, are criticizing the rhetoric of others.

    I haven’t run across too many “skeptics” who are being as careful as you are when referencing “the pause.” As I indicated above, while I think that “changeintherateofchange” is still insufficient, at least it is better than the “pause in global warming” – rhetoric. It seems to me that if you think it worthwhile to make that rhetorical adjustment, which most “skeptics” aren’t, then you should be willing to criticize the rhetoric on both sides and not just the “realist” side.

    Seems to me that you are unwilling to criticize “skeptics” for using unscientific rhetoric even as you criticize “realists” for doing so. I find that kind of pattern interesting. It characterizes both sides of this debate, IMO, and I think that it reflects that people on both sides are not willing to account for the “motivations” in their own reasoning.

    You think skeptics employ empty rhetoric. Message received.

    So what do you think? Do you think that it is problematic to repeatedly describe what’s going on as a “pause in global warming.” I think that such a characterization contributes to the problems more than it helps. “Skeptics” have been saying that focusing only on trends in SATs is misleading – so shouldn’t they be consistent in that regard? From a skeptical perspective -which I would think is a perspective that is asking for control for biases – it seems to me to be counterproductive.

    This is, for many, a debate to influence policy. Rhetoric will abound and on all sides. Let’s move on.

    I think that part of moving on is for people on both sides to own the biasing influences. One way to do that is to acknowledge insufficient rhetoric on both sides. If you aren’t going to acknowledge the insufficient rhetoric on the “skeptical” side, who will? Monckton? Watts? the Pielkes? Spencer? Christy? Lindzen? Morano? Montford? Tisdale? Inhofe? I see none of them willing to be explicit in criticizing empty rhetoric from “skeptics.” Without discussing shared definitions, definitions that meet scientific standards, then folks on both sides will exploit ambiguity in the definitions for (IMO) counterproductive same ol’ same ol’.

    The reason why I put skeptics in quotes is because I see precious few that are willing to apply skepticism on both sides. Don’t you think that a consistent standard of skepticism is part of “moving on?” Or do you think that same ol’ same ol’ = “moving on?”

  32. BBD says:

    I think that part of moving on is for people on both sides to own the biasing influences.

    Physical climatology; paleoclimate.

    You?

  33. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    I don’t quite get what you’re saying… are you saying that you are biased towards physical climatology and paleoclimate? How do they play out as biasing influences?

    What are my biases? I will filter evidence so as to support politically left positions. I will filter evidence so as to be “right” about long-held perspectives. I’m biased against “skeptics” (but I like to think not skepticism). And in a kind of recursive loop, I’m biased to see motivated reasoning as explanatory for many aspects of the debate about the debate.

  34. BBD says:

    How do they play out as biasing influences?

    These are the influences that “bias” me to accept the mainstream scientific position on AGW. You often claim some sort of equivalence between those of us who accept the mainstream scientific position and those who reject it, citing “biases”. To be honest, I find this irritating because to me it smacks of false equivalence.

    However, possibly I have not really understood what you are saying properly.

  35. BBD says:

    And in a kind of recursive loop, I’m biased to see motivated reasoning as explanatory for many aspects of the debate about the debate.

    In my case – which I can speak for without assumption – the basis for the motivated reasoning is what I know about physical climatology which is supported by known paleoclimate behaviour. This motivates me to accept the mainstream scientific position on AGW but I don’t agree that there is an equivalence with someone who rejects the scientific evidence because they are a Southern Baptist or a staunch Republican (or both) or a libertarian ideologue etc.

  36. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    Both sides claim that only the other side is “actually” biased. Both sides claim that if they have a bias, it is towards the validated science (and hence, not really a bias).

    I think that what we know about human psychology and cognition is that people’s reasoning is subject to biases. Everyone’s reasoning. So when I see people claiming that they are beyond the influence of bias, except a bias rooted in an objective evaluation of the evidence and that their reasoning is simply an extension of an unbiased evaluation of the evidence, I get skeptical.

    It is hard for me to evaluate biases in scientific analysis, because I don’t have the needed technical background. So what I try to do is look for overt biases in other areas of reasoning – as that may be information to help me evaluate someone’s process of scientific analysis indirectly. It isn’t a foolproof system by any means. One can be biased in one area and unbiased in another. But when I see someone who fails to take obvious steps to control for their own biases, I consider that as information to use in evaluating their analyses in other, more technical areas. This is why you see me criticizing the rhetorical strategies being employed sometimes by “realists,” – because it seems to me that often those strategies are based on conclusions that have been formed w/o a careful evaluation of the evidence, or with a reliance on anecdotal evidence that is obviously vulnerable to all kinds of observer biases.

    You often claim some sort of equivalence between those of us who accept the mainstream scientific position and those who reject it, citing “biases”. To be honest, I find this irritating because to me it smacks of false equivalence.

    I don’t think that is accurate. I don’t claim some sort of equivalence, because I wouldn’t know how to evaluate the evidence in a way that can reach a conclusion of equivalence. I don’t know of the tools to reach that sort of precise quantification. Rather, I say that I don’t think that it is likely that there is some dramatic disproportionality – and further, that if people claim dramatic disproportionality w/o a careful validation and presentation of the related evidence, then their opinions are the product of motivated reasoning. Of course, I can’t rule out that even if someone has reached certainty as the result of biased analysis, they might still in the end be correct.

  37. BBD says:

    Both sides claim that only the other side is “actually” biased. Both sides claim that if they have a bias, it is towards the validated science (and hence, not really a bias).

    Sure, but the pseudosceptics are demonstrably wrong in almost all that they claim about the science, so they might reasonably be described as counterfactually biased.

    This is why you see me criticizing the rhetorical strategies being employed sometimes by “realists,” – because it seems to me that often those strategies are based on conclusions that have been formed w/o a careful evaluation of the evidence, or with a reliance on anecdotal evidence that is obviously vulnerable to all kinds of observer biases.

    Fair enough, but since the “realists” in question are supported by all the evidence, then problems with other aspects of their reasoning don’t undermine their basic position. This is not true for pseudosceptics. Hence my concern(!) about false equivalence when you say things like this:

    I think that part of moving on is for people on both sides to own the biasing influences.

    Surely you can see where I am coming from on this?

  38. BBD says:

    Rather, I say that I don’t think that it is likely that there is some dramatic disproportionality – and further, that if people claim dramatic disproportionality w/o a careful validation and presentation of the related evidence, then their opinions are the product of motivated reasoning.

    Really? Again I am worried that I haven’t understood you properly. Pseudosceptics embrace all sorts of demonstrable nonsense (see eg the ATTP blog for debunking 😉 ) and the “realists” simply reference the mainstream scientific position which is the product of careful validation. Isn’t this the exact opposite of what you are saying?

  39. BBD says:

    Mods: sorry that this has gone a bit OT. If there was a “Discussion” thread, I’d go there to continue 😉

    Joshua

    I’m not being disingenuous when I say I may have misunderstood you. Nor am I having a go. But I have often found myself disagreeing with what I think you are saying, and so I’m setting out my understanding of it so you can see where I might have missed the point.

  40. Rachel says:

    I don’t mind at all, BBD. I’ve been following the discussion with interest, so carry on.

  41. If you wish to “prove” to yourself that your arguments are better than those your opponents, you may pick the weakest arguments of the opponents, or you may choose to argue with an extremist who is obviously wrong. If you wish to really learn, how good your arguments are, you must argue with the most competent of your opponents, and compare your arguments with best of the contradicting arguments. Good scientists do that all the time, but how many that on climate blogs?

  42. OPatrick says:

    Pekka, in my view most of those running climate blogs from the ‘consensus’ side are desperate to do exactly that, Anders being a good example. The problem comes in trying to have constructive engagements with people who appear not to be acting in good faith. How do you get around that?

  43. Kdk33 says:

    Joshua,

    A pause is, in most dictionaries, temporary. If a someone describes the last fifteen years as a pause, that implies that warming will resume. They have tacitly conceded the larger argument.

    Yet you want to argue semantics.

    Why?

    At the 2-sigma level there has been no warming. Point out that other statistics say something different. Eg the trend is positive and at lower confidence it has warmed. Most people will agree abd the conversation moved forward.

    But maybe that isn’t what you want.

  44. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    I’m not being disingenuous when I say I may have misunderstood you.

    Not a problem. I like being challenged.

    Sure, but the pseudosceptics are demonstrably wrong in almost all that they claim about the science, so they might reasonably be described as counterfactually biased.

    From what I can parse about the science, I feel that at least sometimes it isn’t that they are wrong about the science, so much as they take a particular angle on the science. If I look at Kdk33 as an example, or NiV (I assume you haven’t forgotten him 🙂 ), it seems to me that they demonstrate a familiarity and facility with valid science. I can’t determine for myself that they are “wrong” about the science, but I can look at the logic of their arguments in a larger context, and ask them speak to (at least what seems to me to be) logical inconsistencies. When they reject doing so, or double-down of fallacious reasoning, then I use that as information to help guide me in their particular angle on the science.

    Fair enough, but since the “realists” in question are supported by all the evidence, then problems with other aspects of their reasoning don’t undermine their basic position.

    I think that there is, in fact, much uncertainty in the evidence. That’s where I see the assertion of being “supported by all the evidence” as a bit tricky. I can’t look at, say, Judith Curry’s arguments about the science and say that she is demonstrably wrong about all that she claims. The same could apply to Nick Lewis or RPJr. IMO, there are a wide range of arguments supported by the evidence, and there is a fairly wide variation in degree of evidential support for a lot of arguments. . As I understand the “fat tails” and Bayesian components of the probabilities related to climate change – there is a fairly large component of the evidence that boils down to some subjective evaluations. And I try to move forward from there to look at the implications of a range of possibilities, and to look for common interests aligned along that range, rather than try to look at the scientific evidence being categorically right or wrong.

    I look at someone like Mojib Latif or Von Storch and feel that there is a continuum of valid interpretations, and that at one end of that continuum, there is some overlap with some of the more reasonable “skeptical” arguments.

    Pseudosceptics embrace all sorts of demonstrable nonsense (see eg the ATTP blog for debunking )

    Sure, I see some “skeptics” embracing nonsense quite regularly. I don’t see that with “realists” as often, but I have to try to take into account my biases. I know that I am inclined to see nonsense on one side more than on the other.

    and the “realists” simply reference the mainstream scientific position which is the product of careful validation.

    I really don’t know how to respond except to say that I try to read the scientific arguments to the best of my ability, and I don’t see it as being so black and white. I’m aware that I might be overcompensating for my own biases.

    Isn’t this the exact opposite of what you are saying?

    If the differences in the approach to evidence is as black and white as you say, then it would be. But I guess that just as I see that “skeptics” are wrong in their exploitation of uncertainty, in their frequent mischaracterization of what climate scientists say, etc., – I so see a parallel on the other side. For example, if I read Anders having a technical exchange with someone like Connolly,, and then I see a “realist” saying that “skeptics” are anti-science or lacking in knowledge about the science, there’s no way that I could accept such proclamations except as a matter of faith and quite likely in a biased manner. I can say that given the prevalence of view among experts, Connolly is more likely wrong, but how can I know that he is simply rejecting validated science if I can’t follow the discussion?

  45. Joshua says:

    Kdk33 –

    A pause is, in most dictionaries, temporary. If a someone describes the last fifteen years as a pause, that implies that warming will resume. They have tacitly conceded the larger argument.

    This is largely a non-sequitur. It seems to me that you are serially avoiding the point that I am making.

    But that said, I will address that point. When “skeptics” argue that there has been a “pause” or often sometimes even a “stop” in global warming, they have not “tacitly conceded” the larger argument, as “the pause” is used, largely, as evidence that there is no realistic possibility that ACO2 can significantly affect the climate. I see that implied argument again and again. There is a reason that they say “the pause in global warming,” instead of saying “A relatively short term flattening out in the longer term trend of significant rise in SATs, which of course is only one metric of global warming, and which does not comprise scientific evidence that ACO2 does not imply a serious risk to a severely changed environment.” The reasons for the choice not simply a matter of brevity or a meaningless matter of semantics.

    As you argue that the “changeintherateofchange” is a more accurate description, then surely you know that the way that the “pause” has been used rhetorically is empty. It seems to me that it is unreasonably difficult for you to just be straight forward about that.

    Yet you want to argue semantics.

    Quite the opposite, actually. The difference is certainly not just one of semantics. The differences are scientifically significant. And I think that you have provided evidence that you know that.

    Most people will agree abd the conversation moved forward.

    This runs counter to what I see. In fact, what I see is that when “realists” try to engage about the scientific meaning of the “pause,” “skeptics” use all sorts of techniques to do anything other than “move on.” One of those techniques is to argue that there is no meaningful difference between saying that there has been a “pause in global warming,” and saying that what we’re seeing is like any short-term trend of moderation within a larger, significant trend, and as such, not strong evidence so as to significantly alter the probabilities of significant impact from our climate being altered by continued release of ACO2.

    Anyway, looks like we’re stuck in a rut where you say I’m arguing about semantics and I say I’m not. Probably well past time to pronounce the horse and call the glue factory.

  46. jsam says:

    At the 1-sigma level surface warming continues as expected. http://davidappell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-pause-that-aint.html

  47. Pekka, in my view most of those running climate blogs from the ‘consensus’ side are desperate to do exactly that, Anders being a good example. The problem comes in trying to have constructive engagements with people who appear not to be acting in good faith. How do you get around that?

    The posts of this site are certainly not strong examples of, what I wrote. Some sign of that might be in some posts, but in general the posts are about issues, not about proving the superiority of the author. Better examples can be found in comment threads.

    Some of the well known sites that support strong action against climate change have discussion threads filled by very strong attacks against people who disagree with the dominating audience rather than of genuine discussion of the issues. By genuine discussion I don’t mean at all that all stupidities should be given equal value with scientific arguments, but I do mean that when arguments are discussed that discussion is on the argument, not on, how misdirected the person is, who has presented it, or built on making assumptions on the motivation of that person. Hopeless cases are better dismissed than attacked again and again without end.

    Some of the best and more technical skeptic sites are guilty of something along the line of my comment. They pick individual details, which are weaker in some main stream research, but not very significant. Then they attack those weaknesses, and imply that revealing a weakness in a detail is a serious blow against science.

    We can see behavioral patterns, but it’s often very difficult to know, whether an apparent bias reflects genuine views of the person or indicates that he’s not writing in good faith. We have also the dilemma of the double ethical bind, which means that emphasizing various factors in very different ways is ethically equally right. That’s the case as long as the values are genuine and of comparable ethical weight. Outright lying is never right, but de-emphasizing an issue that another person considers very important may be perfectly legitimate.

  48. OPatrick says:

    The posts of this site are certainly not strong examples of, what I wrote…. Better examples can be found in comment threads.

    I don’t think the original posts are designed to be water-tight arguments, rather stimuli for discussion.

  49. My impression is that very few climate sites are not built in some way around the climate policy related views of the host(s). The subjects and content of the posts are selected
    to promote that view. Some of the real science sites like that of Isaac Held appear different. He seems to be explaining issues based on their inherent interest rather than policy relevance.

    The site of Science of Doom is not maintained by a research scientist, but it has a somewhat similar approach. SoD has mostly tried to explain the behavior of the atmosphere as far as that has been possible using arguments understandable to a significantly wider audience. Some knowledge of physics is, however, probably needed to follow that site. Recently the blogs have been on paleoclimatology, and largely on difficulties of that line of study. In a way these recent posts have shown skepticism, but in the sense skepticism is part of proper scientific enquiry.

    I enjoy the type of discussion SoD presents, but that approach has it’s limits. It’s not possible to present all valid science at that level of detail on the net. Therefore we must understand that the site is about the easy part. Good professional scientists go much deeper and obtain valid results that cannot be made understandable to a wide audience in all detail. The present society is in many ways dependent on the deeper knowledge of experts, and that applies to climate science as much as it does in other fields of expertize. Those experts must also recognize that maintaining this trust at the proper level depends on their behavior. The political controversy adds to the importance of the right approach in presenting science.

    My views on what’s the right way may differ from those who favor open activism of scientists. This is in part just the question of the best tactics for getting the message trough, but that’s not my only argument. The other is that the more careful approach is also safer for the science itself, it’s closer to what scientists would choose, if the issue were not so policy relevant.

  50. BBD says:

    Joshua

    From what I can parse about the science, I feel that at least sometimes it isn’t that they are wrong about the science, so much as they take a particular angle on the science.

    Is in fact what I wrote:

    Sure, but the pseudosceptics are demonstrably wrong in almost all that they claim about the science, so they might reasonably be described as counterfactually biased.

    So we agree on that, at any rate 😉

    I look at someone like Mojib Latif or Von Storch and feel that there is a continuum of valid interpretations, and that at one end of that continuum, there is some overlap with some of the more reasonable “skeptical” arguments.

    I can’t say I’m familiar with any of the “more reasonable sceptical arguments”. Can you give me a couple of examples? Or do you really just mean low-ish climate sensitivity? Because that isn’t a sceptical argument as such, rather a (slightly extreme and poorly supported) scientific one.

    For example, if I read Anders having a technical exchange with someone like Connolly,, and then I see a “realist” saying that “skeptics” are anti-science or lacking in knowledge about the science, there’s no way that I could accept such proclamations except as a matter of faith and quite likely in a biased manner.

    And I would agree with you in this example. But I think it is very easy to show that pseudosceptics are very heavily reliant on misrepresentation of the science to advance their arguments. Whereas “realists” are not, so I think my point stands: this is asymmetrical, and the tendency towards counterfactual bias characterises only one side of the field.

    I can say that given the prevalence of view among experts, Connolly is more likely wrong, but how can I know that he is simply rejecting validated science if I can’t follow the discussion?

    I have no problem with reasoning by inference. If we look at the comments over at the Connolly’s blog we see scientists engaging with Ronan and the THS blogger. It is not necessary to follow all the technical detail for a clear picture to emerge: there are serious misunderstandings on the sceptic side of the argument. We can infer who has the right of it quite easily without succumbing to bias.

    Anyway, enough for now. Thanks for explaining your thinking; I see where you are coming from a little more clearly now.

  51. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    So I say this….

    From what I can parse about the science, I feel that at least sometimes it isn’t that they are wrong about the science, so much as they take a particular angle on the science.

    And you say this:

    Is in fact what I wrote:

    Sure, but the pseudosceptics are demonstrably wrong in almost all that they claim about the science, so they might reasonably be described as counterfactually biased.

    So we agree on that, at any rate

    I’m not sure I follow. I was trying to say that at least with some “skeptics,” it isn’t that they are wrong about the science but that the way that they prioritize, or organize a hierarchy of evidence, differs from that of “realists.” I don’t think that is the same thing as saying that they are categorically wrong about the science.

    As a non-scientific example, I think of the argument that some “skeptics” make about the fallacy of “appeal to authority.” At a root level, appealing to the authority of experts is fallacious; i.e., that a high prevalence of experts agree on an issue is not dispositive. The problem, IMO, is when “skeptics” simply dismiss the fact that there is a prevalence of view – by arguing that a high prevalence in expert opinion is categorically irrelevant (made even worse because their attitude about the importance of a prevalence of experts views is inconsistent). On the other hand, there is, I think, a reasonable objection to when “realists” reference that prevalence of views as if it should be considered dispositive – since such an argument is, also, fallacious. (Keep in mind, I am not saying that every time that a “skeptic” accuses a “realist” of “appealing to authority” it is a valid accusation. I find that often, “skeptics” accuse “realists” of saying that a “consensus” proves something scientifically” when in fact that is not what the “realists” have said.)

    I see the same sort of “balance’ (as it were, I’m not claiming some quantified proportionality) in the argument about the reliability of “modeling.” All models are wrong and some are useful. But there is no understanding the world without using models of one sort or another – so no one can categorically reject the use of models. But this is what I often see “skeptics” doing. In other words, going from “all models are wrong” to “no models are useful.” On the other hand, certainly climate modelers are aware of the subjective evaluation of some ambiguous parameters. As such, to discuss the output of modeling w/o basically always talking about the caveats seems to me to risk not sufficiently prioritizing the axiom of “all models are wrong.” I remember back to the claims made by artificial intelligence researchers about how modeling would enable computers to reproduce how humans communicate within short-term time frames, and how they had to keep expanding that time frame and re-calibrating the goals when confronted with the contrast between their ability to model and the complexity of the behavior they were trying to model. (My brother is in signal processing [related to bio-medical modeling], and he has talked to me about a problem with a tendency towards over-confidence of modelers as a kind of systemic bias.) So at some level, I think that “skeptics” are right to focus on the risks of over-reliance on modeling (of the sort we saw in the financial crisis). For me, the question is how to prioritize competing and at some level irreconcilable conceptual frames. Therefore, IMO, on both sides, there is always a danger of being overly-categorical, just as there is always a danger in being too relativistic, or equivocal, or creating a ‘false balance.”

    .

  52. AnOilMan says:

    As I’ve said before… a pause isn’t good enough. For this to be a natural cycle, the temperatures must go down.

    But as nothing of the like is occurring, and indeed the oceans are sucking it up. This so called, ‘pause in surface temperatures to the exclusion of measurements of the energy imbalance’, is nothing to write home and brag about. Its just the usual cherry picking…

  53. Pingback: Another Week of Anthropocene Antics, March 2, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  54. JasonB says:

    Joshua:

    I was trying to say that at least with some “skeptics,” it isn’t that they are wrong about the science but that the way that they prioritize, or organize a hierarchy of evidence, differs from that of “realists.”

    I disagree with this based on my own experience. Almost all “skeptics” I have encountered are simply wrong about the science, often in very obvious ways that makes me seriously worry about our education systems. I’m also surprised when I encounter people who say they can’t see for themselves when the arguments are invalid; I suspect they haven’t given themselves enough credit and put the effort in to trying, because it’s generally not that hard. On many occasions, once you’ve worked it through and understood where they were coming from, it’s a real face-palm moment, but I guess that until you’ve done it’s easy to understimate how stupid their argument was.

    There are others who accept almost all the science but then claim that there is too much uncertainty to warrant action (i.e. they are certain that the uncertainty all goes one way so there’s no problem) or they simply cherry-pick the evidence to derive a low climate sensitivity. I view that as simply wishful thinking because I’ve never managed to get one of them to explain why they’ve chosen the evidence they have and ignored the rest. As I explained on a recent comment thread here, it seems to me like there is no legitimate reason, they simply picked the weak point in the chain of reasoning that starts with CO2 is a greenhouse gas and ends with us having to pay more tax (or whatever), and decided that there’s enough uncertainty at that point for them to stake their ground while maintaining some semblance of legitimacy by saying “well, we accept the science, we just reach a different conclusion to you”. Their “acceptance” of the science is entirely tactical; if uncertainty at that stage was reduced enough to make it difficult to maintain their position, they’d simply search for something else, because they are using the science to support a position, rather than using the science to form a position.

    At a root level, appealing to the authority of experts is fallacious; i.e., that a high prevalence of experts agree on an issue is not dispositive.

    An appeal to authority is only fallacious when the authority is not widely accepted as a legitimate authority on the subject in question.

    If the person rejecting the appeal to authority is actually doing so by demonstrating that the authority is wrong, then that’s fine. (I’ve concluded various so-called “skeptical” scientists are wrong about something on many occasions, for example, despite them being more highly qualified on the subject than I am — but I’ve only done so after I’ve seen the flaw in their argument.)

    But if they are rejecting the appeal to authority purely on the basis that it’s an appeal to authority when the authority is actually widely accepted as such, then that’s ridiculous — it’s a rejection of the whole notion of expertise. I’ve even seen the argument that the fact that so many scientists agree on AGW in itself is evidence that AGW is a hoax!

    You can reject an appeal to authority when the authority is not recognised as a legitimate authority. If someone argues that smoking is bad for you because his Aunt Mimi said so, then that’s a fallacious appeal to authority [*]. If someone argues that smoking is bad for you because the Surgeon General said so, that’s not a fallacious appeal to authority. It doesn’t prove that smoking is bad for you, but it does mean you actually have to argue your case rather than being able to dismiss the other side outright as a fallacious appeal to authority, and unless you can mount a strong case, nobody should take your rejection of the authority too seriously.

    This does mean that if someone was to try to use the fact that a prominent “skeptical” scientist supports their view, I would have to demonstrate the flaw in their argument (or that the scientist in question is widely regarded as a crank) rather than simply dismiss it out-of-hand as a fallacious appeal to authority.

    One of the great ironies, of course, is how often “skeptics” dismiss mainstream views as an appeal to authority and then, in the next sentence, support a fringe view by claiming a certain scientist agrees with them. And how often you see comments by people decrying expertise and appeals to authority, and then putting “PhD” on the end of their name as an appeal to their own authority, effectively saying something like “You don’t have to take the views of these so-called experts seriously. Trust me, I’m an expert.”

    [*] Unless his Aunt Mimi happens to be the Surgeon General, or another recognised authority on the subject, of course.

  55. Steve Bloom says:

    Very well put, Jason. Thanks!

  56. Joshua says:

    Jason –

    I’m also surprised when I encounter people who say they can’t see for themselves when the arguments are invalid;

    I am certainly not suggesting that I don’t see many times where “skeptics” promote arguments that seem to me to be fundamentally invalid on a technical basis. What I am saying is that there are times when “skeptics” present technical arguments that can only be judged by someone with intelligence and background knowledge that far exceed my own.

    There are others who accept almost all the science but then claim that there is too much uncertainty to warrant action

    I don’t think that people who make such claims are doing so with full consideration of all the evidence, as I don’t think that there is enough evidence to support that kind of certainty. I do think, however, that there is enough uncertainty that action requires a full analysis of the range of probabilities related to different action. I think that some “skeptics” make some valid points in that regard, although just about every one that I’ve seen discussing those probabilities goes too far by considering any action (directed at mitigation) to be a non-starter, which can only be done, IMO, by ignoring a host of uncertainties.

    (i.e. they are certain that the uncertainty all goes one way so there’s no problem)

    Bingo,

    it seems to me like there is no legitimate reason, they simply picked the weak point in the chain of reasoning that starts with CO2 is a greenhouse gas and ends with us having to pay more tax (or whatever), and decided that there’s enough uncertainty at that point for them to stake their ground while maintaining some semblance of legitimacy by saying “well, we accept the science, we just reach a different conclusion to you”. Their “acceptance” of the science is entirely tactical; if uncertainty at that stage was reduced enough to make it difficult to maintain their position, they’d simply search for something else, because they are using the science to support a position, rather than using the science to form a position.

    For the part, I agree.

    An appeal to authority is only fallacious when the authority is not widely accepted as a legitimate authority on the subject in question.

    I don’t agree. An authority, or a prevalence of view among authorities, is not dispositive. Treating such expert opinion as if it is dispositive is, IMO, fallacious. The prevalence of expert opinion is information, it is important information, for me to use in evaluating various probabilities if I can’t analyze the science myself. And even if I could, the prevalence of expert opinion should be considered as a check against my own biases.

    One of the great ironies, of course, is how often “skeptics” dismiss mainstream views as an appeal to authority and then, in the next sentence, support a fringe view by claiming a certain scientist agrees with them.

    Agreed. Although some might quibble about whether that is irony or hypocrisy.

  57. Most of the skeptics we hear about make fundamental errors in their argumentation, but then, how many of those who accept the main stream science understand the science? The difference is perhaps that most of them are willing to admit that they don’t understand practically anything but believe some people as authorities, be they scientists, politicians, or some other people presenting such views. Of course also many skeptics are willing to refer to their chosen authorities.

    Some studies have found that open skeptics are actually better educated than the population as whole. That’s quite possible as education may make people trust more their own understanding or intuition than warranted.

    Net argumentation is highly selective on the participants favoring both ends of the spectrum, while the majority doesn’t read the discussion, and when they read, they are less likely to contribute.

  58. BBD says:

    It’s a waste of time, Jason. See upthread.

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