## “More than half” is the same as “> 50%”!

A while ago Judith Curry wrote a rather confusing post about the IPCC’s attribution statement (that more than 50% of the warming since 1950 was anthropogenic). Gavin Schmidt responded on RealClimate, and Judith Curry has been promising to respond to Gavin’s article for quite some time. Well, the response is now here and it is a classic. It appears to be related to there being some confusion regarding the meanings of the terms most, more than half, and > 50%.

I’m slightly surprised that Judith is confused by these terms, so I thought I would parse the IPCC statement to try and help. The IPCC attribution statement in question is below, and I’ve inserted bolded bits to try and explain the terms in question:

It is extremely likely (in IPCC speak, this means more than 95% probability) that more than half (this means > 50%) of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 (this is the thing that the other thing is more than half of) was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together (us). The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period (we probably contributed most).

This is nicely illustrated in the IPCC attribution figure, which I reproduce below. The orange bar is the net anthropogenic contribution, and the black bar is the observed warming between 1951 and 2010. It shows that the best estimate for the anthropogenic contribution is that it contributed most of the warming since 1950 (in fact, probably slightly more than most). The error bars are likely ranges, which means > 66% probability. To get the 95% probability, you need to extend these by a factor of 2. It’s clear that even if this was done, these error bars would still not be large enough to really allow for less than half of the warming being anthropogenic. Therefore, it is extremely likely (> 95% probability) that more than half (> 50%) of the warming between 1951 and 2010 was anthropogenic (us).

IPCC AR5 attribution figure (Fig 10.5 in AR5 WG1)

So, I’m somewhat surprised that Judith was confused by this attribution statement. It seems fairly clear to me. I did end up in a brief Twitter exchange with Judith Curry, in which the following exchange took place

Well, the more than half refers to more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010. The observed increase in global average surface temperature cannot be 220% of the observed increase in average surface temperature because…..ummmm…..that doesn’t make any sense.

Maybe this is an appropriate time to point out that Spinal Tap wasn’t a real documentary 🙂

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### 69 Responses to “More than half” is the same as “> 50%”!

1. dana1981 says:

You didn’t include a link to Curry’s latest post, and people should thank you for that. I made the mistake of reading it, and all I can say is OMG. She literally spends 1800 words trying to figure out the title of this post: whether “most” and “more than half” are the same as >50%. No joke:

Hmm . . . the AR5 didn’t use ‘>50%‘, but rather elected to use ‘more than half‘.

Hmm?!? It’s mind-boggling. And she still seems to have a hard time grasping that the anthro contribution could exceed 100% of the warming attribution.

This woman is a climate scientist. I have to keep saying that, because I really have a hard time accepting it.

2. Dana,
I didn’t include a link. I probably should.

3. Eli Rabett says:

4. miker613 says:

As I posted on her site, I really have no clue what she wants with all this semantics. I wish she’d drop it.

5. Joshua says:

I have pestered Judith about picking up again in response to Gavin’s response to her response.

I was hoping that in doing so, she might advance reasoned discussion – in a context where such discussions are rather few and far between.

There seemed to me, to be some hope that, remote as it might be, that Judith would build on the positive elements of the previous exchange around differing points of view.

So after saying that she would respond to Gavin, and then saying that she wouldn’t, and then saying that she would, and then quite a long delay – it seems to me that she rather picked just a slice of the previous exchange and leveraged that slice to, instead of advance reasoned dialog, address perceived grievances in a rather antagonistic manner. Build upon the previous exchange? Not so much.

Need I say it?*

It is interesting to me that Judith and other “skeptics” complain about “realist” scientists being unwilling to debate, and then cynically squander the opportunities for reasoned debate when they arise.

It’s almost as if the relish the opportunity to view themselves as victims.

*it = sameolsameol

6. Joshua says:

miker –

And I noticed how lonely it was.

Perhaps your interlocutors on this site can take that in as evidence.

7. miker613 says:

I wasn’t the only one there; I saw also Peter Lang, and a couple of +1s he got for it. So not totally lonely.

8. verytallguy says:

I think Judith is arguing with herself:

Lewis and Curry give TCR 1.05 – 1.8 as the 17-83% range; TCR 1.33 is the midpoint

Plug the numbers in and you get:

TCR % of warming attributed to Co2
1.05 49%
1.33 62%
1.80 84%

And on the semantics,  does the statement in AR5  not explicitly state that the best estimate is ca. 100% or did I imagine that?

9. vtg,

I think Judith is arguing with herself:

Lewis and Curry give TCR 1.05 – 1.8 as the 17-83% range; TCR 1.33 is the midpoint

Yes, I noticed you’d pointed this out to Judith.

And on the semantics, does the statement in AR5 not explicitly state that the best estimate is ca. 100% or did I imagine that?

Yes, I think that is what was meant when they said most.

10. The word “most” for “basically all” is not such a good choice. With many categories, most can be quite a small part, just the biggest category. However, I do no know how it is possible to misinterpret: “The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period”. But I am probably naive.

11. Arthur Smith says:

Actually I think that was NOT what was meant by “most” and you’ve confused things a bit up in the top article by using “most” to mean “around 100%”. “Most” probably was an unfortunate word choice in AR4, so it’s good they’ve clarified. But the important point is there’s a Bayesian probability distribution function for human attribution centered on about 100%, with very little below 50%. Curry just seems to have a lot of trouble (or enjoys muddying things) on these sort of Bayesian estimates.

12. Arthur,
Yes, I think you’re probably right. I had been tempted to ignore the most but thought I’d include it since it appeared to be one of the terms that Judith had included in her post. I did wonder if someone would pull me up on it’s use 🙂

But the important point is there’s a Bayesian probability distribution function for human attribution centered on about 100%, with very little below 50%. Curry just seems to have a lot of trouble (or enjoys muddying things) on these sort of Bayesian estimates.

Yes, that’s essentially it.

13. Victor,
I see you’ve made the same point as Arthur. Maybe, I should have thought a bit more about the term most.

However, I do no know how it is possible to misinterpret: “The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period”. But I am probably naive.

Yes, I don’t understand this either. I know I’m naive.

14. Vinny Burgoo says:

What a difference a weekend makes. Our host re ‘most of recent global warming’ in Cook et al: ‘I think the word “causing” means “causing”, but I don’t really want to argue about it specifically.’

https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/the-designers-of-our-climate/#comment-43837

(But yes, Prof. Curry does seem to be a mite befuddled.)

15. Vinny,
I’m not sure your point. I didn’t feel like repeating arguments I’ve had before. In this case, I agree with Victor and Arthur, that my use of “most” was poor. Sometimes I agree. Sometimes I don’t.

I realise now, that I hadn’t appreciated that the most came from AR4, and was really the AR4 equivalent of more than half in AR5. Teach me to focus more on getting the spinal tap video in at the end, than on the post itself 🙂

16. izen says:

The confusion over a component of a process contributing more than 100% to the final output is not a blind-spot confined to Dr Curry.

Whenever the possible interpretation of the IPCC statement is unpacked, to make clear that it could mean more than 100% of the warming is from CO2 there are always a set of responses that find that obvious evidence that the scientists are talking nonsense. It is logical from their concept of causation that is something is a cause of something else it can only ever be 100% of the cause. It is meaningless to claim something could cause MORE of something than what can be observed.

It seems to be linked to a reluctance to combine positive and negative causative agencies in a multi-factored analysis.

The observed change, in this case global temperatures since 1950, is the 100%, but the causative factors can be positive OR negative and sum.
So from the attribution graph above, it is possible that CO2 caused 120% of the warming and Aerosols caused -20%.

However some people are never conceptually comfortable with combining causative agents with contradictory influences.

There are also several Heavy Rock/metal bands that are convinced that Spinal Tap IS a real documentary, of them, but with actors and names changed to protect the guilty! -grin-

17. toby52 says:

Have you noticed how most arguments with deniers quickly end up in numerical or semantic squabbles ? What is a scientist? What is consensus? What is science? Is it 97% or 95% consensus? What does >50% mean? Does a “pause” mean a “hiatus” or a “halt” ?

18. Vinny Burgoo says:

ATTP, Spinal Tap also had a useful lesson on the perils of overly casual definitions.

19. Everett F Sargent says:

Years ago (AR4), Curry stated something to the effect that attached 90% (very likely) directly to the most statement (>50%).

I distinctly remember listening to that live IPCC webcast, and the words “most” and “very likely” and it didn’t take me long to figure out exactly what the IPCC was stating.

I tried to correct Curry on her own blog (EFS_Junior), and Gavin at RC also tried to correct Curry at that time (and I replied (in that thread) to Gavin to the effect of THANK YOU!).

IMHO, one must always show the error bars, and do the necessary RMS (sqrt(sum components^2)).

It’s now 2015 and Curry still doesn’t get it!

20. Nigel says:

But these go to eleven – classic!

21. whimcycle says:

Judith ‘gets it’. That 220% tweet was as Sarah Palinish a response as any I’ve seen, and her Cruz defense answered a question no-one asked. She is a political animal now, in no hurry to bite the only hand feeding her.

22. izen says:

It is always possible to find ambiguity in language,often reflecting ambiguity in the subject, most often a failure of exposition or comprehension.

But I do not think the objections to the use of the word ‘most’ are justified. I agree –
@-vv-” With many categories, most can be quite a small part, just the biggest category.”

So there are specific contexts in which most could be less than 50% or not the dominant factor. But I doubt such contexts are discussed without the comparison made between the size of the homogeneous group and the diversity of the majority. I doubt there is any ambiguity in those fields where most is used to refer to a minority category.

Most is rarely ambiguous in context. It can be that the context is inadequately explained, but in some cases it is that the context is not known or deliberately ignored.
If the use of the word most ever does seem ambiguous then trying to determine the context and references of the usage is generally sufficient to clear it up. Unless you are motivated to avoid the implications.

But most of the time, most people have no problem understanding most of the various uses in diverse contexts in which the word most is most often used.

23. Infopath says:

Lou Ferrigno understands 110%… and he’s not even green anymore! 😀

24. Bobby says:

Wow, just wow. So, we’re to understand that a professional climate scientist, Curry, didn’t understand the attribution of CO2 to global warming from the IPCC report because of word choice. We’re to understand that she still came to the wrong conclusion even with a supplied graph that allows the reader to calculate that GHGs produce more warming than what is observed. And then, Curry went on to blog and argue with another professional climate scientist, Gavin, over the same material while still not understanding the core point. In fact, it took her over four and a half months (not including the time from the release of the IPCC report) to realize her error. Whether or not she agrees is besides the point. A layperson could get it, any scientist should get it and a climate scientist should hand in their badge if they didn’t get it. Seriously, WTF.

25. harrytwinotter says:

Toby52

“Have you noticed how most arguments with deniers quickly end up in numerical or semantic squabbles ?”

I am a cynic, I think that outcome is intentional. I believe Dr Curry knows she is nit-picking semantics. In doing so, the denier “appears” to present a counter-argument which is useful in maintaining doubt in the mind of an observer. The fact that the counter-argument is nonsense is irrelevant to it’s effect.

26. Marco says:

Allow me to do some mind-reading today (actually, I am mostly going to throw a stick and then run away):
I think Curry considers the possibility that there is a natural factor (let’s call it WARM) which over the period considered has increased forcing such that the temperature would have increased by 2 degrees. At the same time there has been another natural factor (let’s call it COOL) which over the same period has decreased forcing such that the temperature would have decreased by 2.1 degrees.
If anthropogenic (ANTHRO) factors then increased forcing such that the temperature should have gone up by 1 degrees, but the temperature has gone up by only 0.9, she can argue that WARM is much more important than ANTHRO.

It’s analogous to the “natural CO2 emissions are much bigger than anthropogenic emissions!” shtick. It’s not completely wrong, but definitely not right either.

27. Marco,
Going along along the same lines as you, I think that would be fair enough if the more than half referred to more than half of the potential warming, but – of course – it’s not. It’s more than half of the observed warming.

Of course, Judith could accept the IPCC attribution statement and still argue that there are these large natural contributions that somehow cancel so that anthro contributes more than half. That, however, may be harder to justify than arguing that the IPCC statement doesn’t make sense?

28. Roger Jones says:

It seems Judith was bitten by the uncertainty monster and has not quite recovered. Post-traumatic uncertainty syndrome or PTUS could become a recognised condition if it persists and spreads.

29. In my view the whole confusion started by the emphasis given to detection and attribution rather than confirmation and estimation.

Discussing detection and attribution starts logically from the prior of no AGW, takes the observed warming as the primary evidence and looks, how that warming can be explained. In that logic there’s no point in discussing AGW that’s not only part of that (less than 100%). That’s the logic Judith Curry has been pushing quite consistently. Unfortunately the wording of IPCC reports supports in many cases that logic.

The correct logic in my view, and supported by the history of discussing AGW, starts from the theoretical understanding that there certainly is an AGW, and that the rough order of magnitude corresponds to a TCR not far below 1. Then we proceed to see, whether that’s consistent with the observation, and to estimate the strength of AGW. In this approach 100% of observed has no special status. This is clearly the way most scientists and people commenting here are thinking. Unfortunately IPCC did not follow this approach consistently leaving the opportunity to argue in the way Judith has been arguing, not only on this specific semantic question, but systematically with her Uncertainty Monster, which is almost the opposite of the uncertainty monster of others.

30. Tom Curtis says:

In defense of Judith Curry, “most” does not always, or even typically mean “greater than 50%”. Rather, it is the superlative grade of one of two sequences of graded quantifiers, ie, many, more and most, and much, more and most. From context, it is the latter that applies to the IPCC AR4 statement.

Because it is the superlative grade of a graded quantifier, what “most” means depends on the comparison. As a result, we can grammatically and truthfully say of an election result that:

“Most votes were against the candidate from the Galumphing Party, but never the less they received the most votes.”

These semantic facts about “most” may explain part of Curry’s confusion. It also means parsing the IPCC AR4 statement by simply saying “most” means “greater than 50%” is just wrong. It is certainly possible that, in context, “most” means “>50%” but that depends on the actual comparison made.

“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

I would argue that the comparison here is between warming caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and warming not caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, so that in context. I think that is fairly clear, as can be seen by simply comparing the statement with the two clauses in my sentence describing a fictional election result. The statement is similar in form to the first clause, not the second. The comparison is implicitly between “warming caused by anthropogenic factors” and “warming not caused by anthropogenic factors”.

The odd thing about this episode, however, is that I do not have to rely on such arguments from context. The IPCC also wrote (first bullet point):

“It is likely that increases in greenhouse gas concentrations alone would have caused more warming than observed because volcanic and anthropogenic aerosols have offset some warming that would otherwise have taken place.”

So, the IPCC AR4 was absolutely clear that there was a very good chance (>66%) that increases from greenhouse gases alone would have caused more than 100% of the observed warming. Given that, it is a real stretch to suppose that the preceding statement actually entertained the idea that the anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution could have a probability greater than 10% of causing less than 50% of the warming.

What I find interesting is the contrast between the first bullet point in the IPCC statement and Curry’s claim that:

“Until this exchange [with Gavin Schmidt], it never occurred to me that the IPCC’s attribution statement was attempting to convey AGW attribution that was possibly outside the range of 0 to 100% …”

It never occurred to her to consider the possibility explicitly entertained, and given a 66% or greater probability by the IPCC in the first bullet point under the statement under discussion? That is tantamount to an admission that she has simply not read the report. Indeed, that she has not even skimmed it. That she should have spilt so many words arguing about the meaning of what the IPCC said without even examining the first bullet point is far more shocking to me than here exhibition of the minor illiteracy of not being up on the subtleties of context.

31. Tom Curtis says:

Marco, I was going to argue along similar lines before going of on a different tangent. The problem with that line is that the IPCC is clear (particularly in AR5) about the small size of natural forcings and of natural variability. By exclusion, therefore, “WARM” must be a non-natural, non-anthropogenic forcing. At this stage we then have no interest in whether it is intended to be forcing by LGM, theogenic forcing. In neither case is it a scientific theory, and need not be entertained unless explicitly proposed and backed by empirical evidence. So while the introduction of WARM and COOL might help explain Curry’s “220%” comment, it in no way digs her out of her intellectual hole.

32. Tom,

In defense of Judith Curry, “most” does not always, or even typically mean “greater than 50%”. Rather, it is the superlative grade of one of two sequences of graded quantifiers, ie, many, more and most, and much, more and most. From context, it is the latter that applies to the IPCC AR4 statement.

Yes, given that I managed to stuff up most here, I’ll grant you that.

The problem with that line is that the IPCC is clear (particularly in AR5) about the small size of natural forcings and of natural variability. By exclusion, therefore, “WARM” must be a non-natural, non-anthropogenic forcing. ….. So while the introduction of WARM and COOL might help explain Curry’s “220%” comment, it in no way digs her out of her intellectual hole.

Yes, exactly.

Pekka,

In my view the whole confusion started by the emphasis given to detection and attribution rather than confirmation and estimation.

Yes, I think I agree.

33. Sou says:

I interpreted Judith’s “other piece” to be the piece counteracting the piece that warmed the world more than 100%. In which case she will need another “other piece”. Hypothetically:

Piece A: greenhouse warming, accounting for, say 110% of the warming.
Piece B: counteracting cooling, say 220% (Judith’s “other piece” number)
Piece C: the other “other piece” needed to balance the equation back to 100% of warming.

Pieces B and C would pose a huge challenge to the rocket scientist from down under, greatly exceeding any Force X and the Notch. Could be a bit tricky for Judith to explain what could cause such huge forcings, that have so far gone undetected.

34. Sou,

I interpreted Judith’s “other piece” to be the piece counteracting the piece that warmed the world more than 100%. In which case she will need another “other piece”. Hypothetically:

Except that the attribution statement refers to half of the observed warming and, unless my logic is horribly flawed 🙂 , the observed warming cannot be 220% of the observed warming.

Okay, I guess one could say that there were lots of other factors that all somehow almost cancelled, but as Tom points out, AR5 shows the other factors and this clearly isn’t true for them. So, if Judith wants to argue for other factors that somehow produce double the observed warming and then cancel this doubled warming, it’s got to be something other than anthropogenic, the Sun, volcanoes, and internal variability. Magic?

35. Andrew Dodds says:

Sou –

Or we could have a ‘cooling factor’ of 220% counteracting a man made warming of 320%. (Of observed warming).

Since that’s the simplest explanation – and we can expect this mysterious, massive cooling factor to go away at some point (subject to it existing in the first place), the obvious conclusion is that Judy thinks a Climate Apocalypse is just around the corner.

And I thought I was a raving alarmist..

36. Marco says:

Lest anyone wonders, I most assuredly do not think ‘my’ argument in any way would look good on Curry. It’s just the only way *I* could imagine Curry would be thinking in order to get to her rather convoluted complaints about what the IPCC/Gavin said, and that “220%” response to our host.

37. victorpetri says:

@Marco,
No no, you broke rank now, it’s tars and feathers for you.

38. jsam says:

On a slow news day run a hair-splitting post and let the pedants run wild.

Net effect. Nil.

39. BBD says:

Now that is tr0lling.

40. BBD says:

Previous was @victorpetri, obviously.

41. BBD,
It’s not trolling, it’s projection.

42. Tom Curtis says:

Anders, I think Curry’s 220% comment is most logically taken suggest that, hypothetically there could be factors A, B, and C such that A contributes 110% of the observed warming, B contributes 220% of the observed warming, and C contributes -230% of the observed warming; and that in that case it would not be correct to say that A contributed most of the warming, even though it would be correct to say that it contributed more than 50% of the observed warming. The point is a purely hypothetical exercise to tease apart the meanings of “most” and “more than 50%”.

She is almost certainly not (and it would be uncharitable to interpret her as) saying that the observed warming could be 220% of the observed warming, in which case the contribution of 110% of the observed warming does not contribute more than 50% of the observed warming (which is, however, how you have interpreted her).

43. Tom,
Yes, as you say, if we were sticking with most then there could be another contribution that exceeded the anthropogenic contribution (of course, a contribution without any physical basis at this stage).

She is almost certainly not (and it would be uncharitable to interpret her as) saying that the observed warming could be 220% of the observed warming, in which case the contribution of 110% of the observed warming does not contribute more than 50% of the observed warming (which is, however, how you have interpreted her).

Maybe I am being uncharitable, but it seemed such an odd response to my tweet, that I couldn’t really help myself.

44. Roger Jones says:

Pekka,

that is not how attribution works. Attribution works by saying there is a global warming component that takes a time series beyond the range that could be achieved by natural variability only. Attribution of a proportion of change is the next step and that is where >100% of observed warming comes in. It’s possible, but its likelihood was not assessed in AR5 (too uncertain).

The IPCC conclusion of >50% is a consensus statement taking into account knowledge of all the other factors so is conservative (Hencse the 95%) The confirmation and estimation you refer to is an IPCC assessment, which serves as a meta-analysis of the many D&A studies. Not different but an overarching assessment.

45. Sou says:

ATTP I was thinking of the second sentence of the attribution statement, which Judith quoted as being “The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.” And which is where the CO2 warming could be say, 110%, came from. That’s why I figured she got caught up in knots thinking that if CO2 could cause more than 100% of warming, say 110% – then why couldn’t there be an “other piece” at 220%.

I got that from her comment:

curryja | January 20, 2015 at 11:25 am | Reply
ATTP and Tobis and Sou are ‘confused’, they think of course 110% is more than half. They think it is even funnier and stupider of me to respond but what if the other piece is 220%? If % are unconstrained between 0-100, you don’t know.

I am thankful to Denizens who are able to see the problems with this. Twitter can be painful, but I would expect better from those with Ph.D.’s in science.

https://archive.today/gC5t3#selection-13483.0-13507.155

But it’s impossible to know what she is thinking. Since she has to ask if 50% is the same as a half, then I can’t see getting any sense from her. I’d have expected better from her. Not much better p’raps, but a little better.

46. Everett F Sargent says:

Stout has a really good link to an article at SA:

Wallace’s Woeful Wager: How a Founder of Modern Biology Got Suckered by Flat-Earthers

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/rosetta-stones/2015/01/12/wallaces-woeful-wager-how-a-founder-of-modern-biology-got-suckered-by-flat-earthers/

We still have Flat-Earthers, Curry and their ilk are not too different, they make faith based arguments, and at the same time call climate science faith based, the ‘I dont know’ or ‘I don’t accept’ anything climate scientists say POV (go over to Curry’s place and watch ‘verytallguy’ deftly avoid the ‘CO2 is not anthropogenic’ argument).

As bad as WTFUWT? is, IMHO, Curry’s place is the #@\$% stain of climate science, where the ad hom is the 1st line of argumentation. Methinks that Curry has read way too many works of philosophy and that once one goes there (and stay’s there) you really do lose sight of which way is up (and that because Curry is stuck in that philosophical place, she has no time at all to police her own site, way too busy coming up with new ‘up is down’ posts).

Curry is certain about her uncertainty! (and that you all should as certain as she is)

47. victorpetri says:

@Everett
Way to go to go ad hom on Curry and subsequently call it her 1st line of argumentation.
Although her blog seems to be an incredible, unnecessary difficult mess, about what seems to be a kindergarten type of argument, I cannot find much ad hom in it.

48. Willard says:

> Methinks that Curry has read way too many works of philosophy and that once one goes there (and stay’s there) you really do lose sight of which way is up […]

I think you’re confusing me and Judy, Everett.

***

> I cannot find much ad hom in it.

Start here, victorp:

http://judithcurry.com/category/sociology-of-science/

49. Willard says:

Judy’s a gift that keeps on giving:

Isn’t the real issue that Science has been coopted by UN bureaucrats and politicians to advance anti growth immoral social agendas? Searching for transparency in this snake pit is hopeless. Debating with the obfuscators only leads to more obfuscation.

http://judithcurry.com/2015/01/19/most-versus-more-than-half-versus-50/#comment-666426

Judge Judy’s response:

At one point i was planning a post on Bert Bolin. Maybe I should resurrect this idea

http://judithcurry.com/2015/01/19/most-versus-more-than-half-versus-50/#comment-666427

Richard may be urging Judy about ad homs in three, two, one.

50. Everett F Sargent says:

victorpetri,

For clarification, I was referring to the prefetuskiddygarden ilk (yes, most definitely an ad hom) that comments on Curry’s blog (not all commentators over there, just those who do use the ad hom as their 1st line of argumentation (e. g. Shub immediately comes to mind)), not directly to Curry’s posts themselves.

But, if I were to go there, not saying that I would actually go there though, and do the whole MO thingie, it’s pretty much the same old tried and true tactics of the Denier industry, plus Curry stands to gain \$\$\$ for being an outspoken critic.

I really don’t much bother commenting over there any more (but I go there sometimes in the same way I frequent WTFUWT? as in rubbernecking a train wreck, the sight of body parts and what all, morbid curiosity), the signal-to-noise ratio is like 1E-666.

51. John Hartz says:

Perhaps Curry ‘s unstated goal was to divert attention away from the disturbing implications of 2014 being the hotest year on record. If not, she needs to hone her smoke and mirrors skills.

52. Willard says:

@mattwridley may suspect that Michael Tobis’ argument hits home:

ATTP and Tobis and Sou are ‘confused’, they think of course 110% is more than half. They think it is even funnier and stupider of me to respond but what if the other piece is 220%? If % are unconstrained between 0-100, you don’t know.

I am thankful to Denizens who are able to see the problems with this. Twitter can be painful, but I would expect better from those with Ph.D.’s in science.

http://judithcurry.com/2015/01/19/most-versus-more-than-half-versus-50/#comment-666406

Here’s one of these tweets:

53. Willard says:

Another tweet:

54. matt says:

Gavin
> “What is that [50:50] based on? It is a quantitative statement so presumably must be based on a quantitative calculation…?”

Judith
> “I’ve written 100,000’s of words on my blog and published several papers on this topic”

Gavin
> “Of those “100,000s of words”, perhaps you could point to just the ones that provide the basis for your estimate? Or better yet, the published paper from which it is derived?”

*crickets*

Perhaps Judith did not reply to the last comment because she did not see it but her latest response certainly doesn’t provide any analysis.

55. matt says:

Judith: About 50:50 (middle tercile) cos uncertainty monster

“There is evidence suggesting that when people do not know the answer to a probability judgment their answer is 1/2 or 50% (Fischhoff & Bruine de Bruin, 1999).”

56. KR says:

“…what if the other piece is 220%?”

We do have a candidate for that other piece, and a term thereof – Climate Elves (here, @2:50).

“toby – Have you noticed how most arguments with deniers quickly end up in numerical or semantic squabbles ?”

Indeed, such as yammering about the definition of ‘acidification’ (mistaking a verb expressing direction of change for an adjective describing current state). The facts regarding AGW are clear, and ‘skeptic’ arguments on the facts quickly run afoul of reality. It seems that red herrings, strawmen, ad hominems, misrepresentation, cherry-picking, and semantic gaming are deniers only options. Oh, and yelling, lots of yelling…

57. Bobby says:

I’m still stuck on Tom’s comment above:
“It never occurred to her to consider the possibility explicitly entertained, and given a 66% or greater probability by the IPCC in the first bullet point under the statement under discussion? That is tantamount to an admission that she has simply not read the report. Indeed, that she has not even skimmed it. That she should have spilt so many words arguing about the meaning of what the IPCC said without even examining the first bullet point is far more shocking to me than here exhibition of the minor illiteracy of not being up on the subtleties of context.”

58. Eli Rabett says:

Isn’t the real issue that Science has been coopted by UN bureaucrats

Not even a half step from Maurice Strong and Agenda 21.

Yep, Eli, she’s abandoned sciency-sounding arguments for the conspiracy trump. She’s now unambiguously in the denier camp.

60. Ken Fabian says:

I admit my own interpretation, depending on context, would be that “most OF” would be greater than 50% of the total, but “THE most” would indicate it’s more than any of the other components of that total (without necessarily being greater than all other components combined). Without the “of” or “the” or other suitable qualifier then context should indicate which. The most important point is that if the point is to obfuscate then it’s a useful bit of distraction and misdirection; “look over there – an ambiguity!” Add in components that have negative values and it can become “look – ambiguity and confusion” that could lead to misunderstanding. ie it assists in obfuscation.

61. mt says:
62. matt says:

Mal and Eli are right. The conspiracy nonsense has been going on for a while (particularly in the form of a cartoon at the end of a post, or “Hmmm, some might find this interesting [insert embarrassing nonsense JC does not want to put her name to]”). It seems to be getting out of hand. A recent one…

“JC note: I am deleting the following text ‘the timing of the NASA/NOAA press release on warmest year was motivated by the timing of the President’s SOTU address’”

The PR was on 2014 being the hottest year*. It was released during the 1st month of 2015. Those NASA/NOAA folk are a crafty bunch.

63. izen says:

@- ‘the timing of the NASA/NOAA press release on warmest year was motivated by the timing of the President’s SOTU address’

This line that Dr Curry now seems to repudiate? Has been replaced with one in which ‘warmest year’ is now enclosed in scare quotes.
So apparently it is no longer acceptable to suspect a January announcement made in January to be political expediency, but the claim that 2014 was the warmest recorded year is now treated as dubious.

64. ” she’s abandoned sciency-sounding arguments”

I can pinpoint when she truly went over the top which was around the time of the Bose-Einstein statistics debacle. Her claim was that cloud nucleation activation was governed by low-temperature B-E statistics.

A real scientist would admit that they were wrong and move on, but only someone with an agenda and that could get their acolytes revved up enough to defend their misguided notions would be that stubborn. Politics and religion will do that to a person.

Amazing to watch the descent from science into political madness.

65. ligne says:

izen> it would seem that denial is a conserved quantity.

66. Rob Nicholls says:

‘Skeptic’ argument #67,431: “The IPCC uses confusing terms like ‘most’.” Almost as entertaining as Curry’s submissions to US Senate sub-committees (or whatever they’re called).

67. Eli Rabett says:

Eli prefers sounds like science to sciency. WTF

68. matt says:

Good pick-up Izen. I missed that despite it being in the same paragraph but I’m sure her regulars didn’t. The conspiracy continues