How we fool ourselves

by Judith Curry

Crowd sourcing examples of fallacious thinking from climate science.

While I have been very busy, I have kept the Denizen’s entertained with threads on politics and cancel culture.  Lets face it, that stuff has been on all of our minds lately, not to mention Covid-19.  The few climate science threads that I’ve managed have been relatively ignored in terms of comments.

Here is a brief window to get back to the roots of Climate Etc.  I would appreciate the help of the Denizens in fleshing out something that I am writing.  Here is the text that I have so far:


“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person too fool.” – physicist Richard Feynman

Cognitive biases relate to self-deception that leads to incorrect conclusions based on cognitive factors, including information-processing shortcuts (heuristics) (Tversky and Kahnemann 1974). Cognitive biases can abound when reasoning and making judgments about a complex problem such as climate change.

Cognitive biases affecting belief formation that are of particular relevance to the science of climate change include:

  • Confirmation bias: the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions
  • Anchoring bias: the tendency to rely too heavily on one trait or piece of information, such as the mean or previous results.
  • Framing bias: using an approach that is too narrow that pre-ordains the conclusion
  • Overconfidence effect: unjustified, excessive belief
  • Illusory correlations: false identification of relationships with rare or novel occurrences
  • Ambiguity effect: the tendency to avoid options for which the probability of a favorable outcome is unknown
  • Self-serving bias: a tendency for people to evaluate information in a way that is beneficial to their interests
  • Belief bias: evaluating the logical strength of an argument based on belief in the truth or falsity of the conclusion
  • Availability heuristic: The tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater ‘availability’ in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be

A fallacy is logically incorrect reasoning that undermines the logical validity of the argument and leads to its assessment as unsound.  There are many different classifications of fallacies. Below are some fallacies that I’ve seen used in arguments about climate science:

  • Begging the question is a fallacy occurring in deductive reasoning in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises.
  • Correlation implies causation is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to be cause and effect.
  • Fallacy of distribution occurs when an argument assumes that what is true of the members is true of the class (composition), or what is true of the class is true of its members (division).
  • Hasty generalization is the logical fallacy of reaching an inductive generalization based on too little evidence.
  • Statistical special pleading occurs when the interpretation of the relevant statistic is ‘massaged’ by looking for ways to reclassify or requantify data from one portion of results, but not applying the same scrutiny to other categories.
  • Fallacy of the single cause occurs when it is assumed that there is one simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.

The category of intentional fallacies is not about how we fool ourselves, but how we try to fool others. Examples of intentional fallacies used routinely in the public debate on climate change include:

  • Diverting the argument to unrelated issues with a red herring(ignoratio elenchi)
  • Ad hominem fallacy: asserting that an argument is wrong because of something discreditable/not authoritative about the person
making the argument.
  • Appeal to motive: challenging a thesis by calling into question the motives of its proposer.
  • Asserting that everyone agrees (argumentum ad populum, bandwagoning)
  • Creating a ‘false dilemma’ (either-or fallacy) in which the situation is oversimplified
  • Selectively using facts (card stacking)
  • Making false or misleading comparisons (false equivalence and false analogy)
  • Appeal to consequences of belief (argumentum ad consequentiam): an appeal to emotion that concludes a hypothesis or belief to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences.

I could use some help fleshing out each of these bullet points with examples from climate change, preferably with specific web links either to journal articles or media/blog articles.

Lets see how this works.  This is a technical thread for which comments will be moderated ruthlessly for relevance.

Thanks much for your help with this!

268 responses to “How we fool ourselves

  1. Pingback: How we fool ourselvesClimate- | Climate-

  2. Gary Hoffman

    Your quotation of Feynman contains a typo.

    • David L. Hagen

      Feynman’s article: Feynman RP. Cargo cult science. Engineering and Science. 1974 Jun 1;37(7):10-3.
      “Cargo cult science” is posted at 17 sites, with masters at Caltech in html and pdf:
      Parent URL:
      Persistent URL:

      Feynman explains numerous fallacies, and contrasts them with science. A key fallacy he highlights is:
      Failure to use the best demonstrated experimental method.

      in 1937 a man named Young … from a scientific standpoint, that is an A‑Number‑l experiment. That is the experiment that makes rat‑running experiments sensible, because it uncovers the clues that the rat is really using—not what you think it’s using. And that is the experiment that tells exactly what conditions you have to use in order to be careful and control everything in an experiment with rat‑running.
      I looked into the subsequent history of this research. The subsequent experiment, and the one after that, never referred to Mr. Young. They never used any of his criteria of putting the corridor on sand, or being very careful. They just went right on running rats in the same old way, and paid no attention to the great discoveries of Mr. Young, and his papers are not referred to, because he didn’t discover anything about the rats. In fact, he discovered all the things you have to do to discover something about rats. But not paying attention to experiments like that is a characteristic of Cargo Cult Science.

    • David L. Hagen

      Feynman emphasizes stringent skepticism:

      Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can—if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong—to explain it.

      Fallacy: Ignoring/Hiding Invalidating Evidence.
      Fallacy: Appeal to the crowd
      Compare Einstein:

      “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.

      [In response to the book “Hundred Authors Against Einstein”]”
      Fallacy: Inverting the Burden of Proof
      Claiming the current Lemming Science must be true by appeal to the crowd, and the minority position bears the burden of proof.
      (Contrast recent evidence:
      1) IPCC’s signature anthropogenic tropical tropospheric temperature warming prediction has failed testing against independent data – by two different groups.
      Demetris Koutsoyiannis shows that
      2) the corresponding predicted increase in Total Precipitable Water has failed, and shows
      3) Evidence that Temperature Leads CO2 not Lags.)

      • It is common knowledge that increasing CO₂ concentration plays a major role in enhancement of the greenhouse effect and contributes to global warming. The purpose of this study is to complement the conventional and established theory that increased CO₂ concentration due to human emissions causes an increase of temperature, by considering the reverse causality.” Dimitris Koutsoyiannis

        First came temperature rise with CO2 feedback. This is a fairly obvious property of the Earth system. Nor does Koutsoyiannis identify causes of precipitation changes in a system characterised by Hurst-Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics.

        It is not conceptually difficult – although Hurst statistics and Kolmogorov turbulence are paradigm shifting. Reading into it otherwise is an example of tunnel vision.

    • Rune Valaker

      Why has Feynman become the preferred science theorist of all climate “skeptics”. A growing part of the participants in Climate etc. discussion thread seems to be hard core deniers who flat out dispute the greenhouse theory. I do not think Feynman had said anything other than the blessed Fred Singer once said;

      “Now let me turn to the deniers. One of their favorite arguments is that the greenhouse effect does not exist at all because it violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics — i.e., One cannot transfer energy from a cold atmosphere to a warmer surface. It is surprising that this simplistic argument is used by physicists, and even by professors who teach thermodynamics. One can show them data of downwelling infrared radiation from CO2, water vapor, and clouds, which clearly impinge on the surface. But their minds are closed to any such evidence.

      Then there is another group of deniers who accept the existence of the greenhouse effect but argue about the cause and effect of the observed increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. One subgroup holds that CO2 levels were much higher in the 19th century, so there really hasn’t been a long-term increase from human activities. They even believe in a conspiracy to suppress these facts. Another subgroup accepts that CO2 levels are increasing in the 20th century but claims that the source is release of dissolved CO2 from the warming ocean. In other words, they argue that oceans warm first, which then causes the CO2 increase. In fact, such a phenomenon is observed in the ice-core record, where sudden temperature increases precede increases in CO2. While this fact is a good argument against the story put forth by Al Gore, it does not apply to the 20th century: isotopic and other evidence destroys their case.

      Another subgroup simply says that the concentration of atmospheric CO2 is so small that they can not see how it could possibly change global temperature. But laboratory data show that CO2 absorbs IR radiation very strongly. Another subgroup says that natural annual additions to atmospheric CO2 are many times greater than any human source; they ignore the natural sinks that have kept CO2 reasonably constant before humans started burning fossil fuels. Finally, there are the claims that major volcanic eruptions produce the equivalent of many years of human emission from fossil-fuel burning. To which I reply: OK, but show me a step increase in measured atmospheric CO2 related to a volcanic eruption.

      I have concluded that we can accomplish very little with convinced warmistas and probably even less with true deniers. So we just make our measurements, perfect our theories, publish our work, and hope that in time the truth will out.”

      • Colin Fenwick

        A growing part of the participants in Climate etc. discussion thread seems to be hard core deniers who flat out dispute the greenhouse theory

        I imagine there are many skeptics, like myself, that read the articles here but rarely comment and certainly do not fall within any of your subgroups.

      • David L. Hagen

        Rune Valaker provides supreb examples of committing:
        1) the StrawMan Fallacy (ignoratio elenchi, or irrelevant conclusion), mischaracterizing climate realists models.
        2) the Abusive Ad Hominem fallacy inferring an immoral Holocaust Denier.
        For real science on atmospheric absorption/radiation typically ignored see Ferenc Miskolczi modeling 11 greenhouse species, in 150 atmospheric layers with 1 cm^-1 resolution (~3490 lines), 5th order gaussian; 9 radiative directions.
        The Greenhouse Effect and the Infrared Radiative Structure of the Earth’s Atmosphere
        I recommend you study the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on
        Fallacies to understand them and begin to avoid them. AND study Feynman’s Cargo Cult Science for an exceptional exposition on how wide spread are such fallacies in “modern” “science”. Try studying ALL the evidence, not just the equivocation of “Climate Change” aka “catastrophic majority anthropogenic global warming”.

      • Ferenc Miskolczi isn’t ignored;

        but his hypothesis received no scientific traction, as did Gerlich & Tscheuschner (2009) and The Dragon Slayers. Present an alternative hypothesis that raises the slightest scientific interest, as Svendmark’s hypotheses have done, I’m all ears. Svensmark’s work initiated a multi-billion project by CERN:

        But who cares about GT, The Slayers and Miskolczi?

      • I do wonder, though, how infrared radiation from the Earth’s surface is prevented from escaping into space by an ever-diminishing number density of CO2 molecules, while infrared radiation emitted at the top of the atmosphere has no problem whatsoever in reaching the Earth’s surface through an ever-increasing number density of CO2 molecules.

        Riddle me that, Rune.

        And while you’re at it, explain how the supposedly very strong absorption/radiation coupling of infrared within a CO2 charged atmosphere allows one to assume something like an adiabatic lapse rate. It strikes me that the first law modeling of atmospheric convection should be strongly diabatic – i.e. having lots of radiative heat transport involved in the uphill convection.

      • “Why has Feynman become the preferred science theorist of all climate “skeptics”[?]”

        Probably because what he said is true.

        Do you deny that a prediction that is not born out by experiment invalidates an hypothesis? Are you a reality denier?

        People like what Feynman said because it was succinct, articulate, and indisputably true. There is nothing more sinister than that in play.

      • “while infrared radiation emitted at the top of the atmosphere has no problem whatsoever in reaching the Earth’s surface through an ever-increasing number density of CO2 molecules.”

        It does have a “problem”, however it doesn’t matter as the Sun does not radiate solely in the IR, as does the Earth. It’s a tad hotter is why. Look up the wavelength distributions of the Sun vs the Earth …..

        “How we fool ourselves” indeed.

    • Place a comma after the typo and get a funny insult.

  3. All intentional fallacies showed up in: Harvey, Jeffrey A., Daphne van den Berg, Jacintha Ellers, Remko Kampen, Thomas W. Crowther, Peter Roessingh, Bart Verheggen, Rascha J. M. Nuijten, Eric Post, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ian Stirling, Meena Balgopal, Steven C. Amstrup, and Michael E. Mann. 2017. “Internet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy.” BioScience:bix133-bix133. doi: 10.1093/biosci/bix133.

  4. How we fool ourselves… I all starts with the self declaration of “intelligence”!

  5. Entropic man

    Curious. Most of the fallacies and biases you describe tend to be seen in the writings of the climate change “sceptics”. Often they are put there deliberately in the hope that the reader will mistake them for valid arguments.

    It is almost as if their agenda was political, rather than scientific. 🤔

  6. Richard Harrington

    Don’t forget “Appeal to Authority”, and its close cousin credentialism. Climate science is a huge & complicated topic. Just because someone has a PhD or some fame in one area of climate science doesn’t mean that person’s assertions or arguments have more weight. It’s a form of credentialism.

    I’m not sure where the catastrophic, “we have to do this to prevent any possibility of harm “ argument fits. Perhaps “modal scope fallacy”? Roughly the issue is making decisions based on the risk but not the probability.

    • While this may be true, it never-the-less serves for most people as a “credibility filter”. It’s easy (and seductive) to dismiss someone’s perfectly sound argument on one point, because they might have gotten another point wrong. Or more pertinently, track record. This plays out particularly with the political polarisation of science whereby a logical and factually supported argument championed by someone who happens to have a political persuasion is easily dismissed as “partisan” by someone of another. I truly hate this.

      There is so much information and competing opinions out there, credibility serves as a crude but unfortunately necessary filter to work out who you are going to take seriously.

      Personally, I seek out people who are worthy of disagreeing with.

    • Keith C Campbell

      Re “we have to do this to prevent any possibility of harm”- this strikes me as a Straw Man. The actual argument is more like “we have to do this to prevent any non-negligible possibility of catastrophic harm.”
      The scale of suggested harm is important.

    • The “we must do this to prevent the possibility of harm” strikes me non-fallacious in the scientific sphere, because its terms include morality. It might be fallacious in an ethical/moral frame of reference, but not scientific, methinks.

  7. “It’s easier to fool someone than to convince someone that they are being fooled.” ———Mark Twain.

  8. Rick W Kargaard

    “Fallacy of the single cause occurs when it is assumed that there is one simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.”
    This would seem to apply perfectly to the Idea of CO2 as the cause of climate change.
    While it is possible and perhaps even probable that CO2 increases would cause a warming of the atmosphere there seems to be no evidence that it is a significant cause. There also seems to be no evidence that reducing CO2 results in a cooling of the atmosphere. I have difficulty envisioning a control knob that works in one direction only.
    The accepted fact of a slight warming in the last century and the accepted fact of a significant increase in CO2 levels does not actually even signify a correlation since the two do not seem to advance in lockstep. That observation alone would indicate that there are other and perhaps many factors in play.

  9. Judith Keep up your good work. I always enjoy reading your well articulated observations!

    Kind regards, Thom

    Thom Zaugg Cell: 647-236-0026 *****************************************

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  10. I’m not sure how you’re going to treat cognitive biases, but I think it’s important to look at them in a social context. In general, I find them most pernicious when applied within a group setting or when they lead to groupthink. I suggest looking at them from the direction of influencing decisions. I fairly recently wrote something related that might be useful if you want to frame your paper along that line –

  11. Strikes me simply boils down to lack of common sense, as driven by ideologies and political agendas.

  12. The Dunning-Kruger effect is important, as many politicians and “thought leaders” in the media don’t know what they don’t know.

  13. Straw man arguments:

    “Variants of the straw man include the hollow-man argument, which involves inventing a fictitious position and attributing it to the opposition, the iron-man argument, which involves distorting your own stance in order to make it easier for you to defend, and the steel-man argument, which involves distorting your opponent’s stance in order to make it harder for you to attack.”

  14. Cultural belief, can marshal all the listed biases and more. Writ small, this is group-think, as touched upon by John Marshall above. Writ large, this is as we see in say major religions or extremist political brands. It’s hard to speak more than anecdotally to its presence in climate science, because despite numerous quotes / incidents, this is not hard data and scientists are rarely sampled in surveys. But regarding the public, in the (polarised) US for instance, Dan Kahan at cultural cognition points out that the attitudes to climate change whether for or against are a matter of ‘who we are’, emotively, culturally, not ‘what we know’ (and the public are not climate literate to ‘know’ anyhow). For most countries not the US, the same principle applies even in the absence of such strong political polarization (a dominant narrative of certain imminent catastrophe is more than enough to drive this, with instinctive support and rejection), as I have shown here at Climate Etc via the lens of religiosity. This is measurable social data. But if you’re concentrating on the execution of the science rather than public attitudes, I’m not sure how useful this would be for your article. However, all scientists are people and all embedded within their societies; they are not Vulcans, they cannot be wholly insulated from what dominates the public domain (the name of the game is ‘catastrophe’ regarding public / authority narratives). So to quote Lewandowsky (!) it’s hard to see how there wouldn’t be significant ‘seepage’ at minimum. While cultural narratives may split publics and the ‘unorthodox’ side typically holds its tongue, elites, which can potentially include divisions of science, frequently champion orthodoxy.

  15. Another logical fallacy to add to the list:
    “Argumentum MichaelMannium”
    Which means basically destroying the journals, journal referees, scientists, anyone basically, who disagrees with me and hey presto! Everyone agrees with me! As Joseph Stalin put it, “no person, no problem”.

    • Good one. As david rose said, at least defining things in terms of Michael Mann has the virtue of simplicity.

      • What? The David Rose that fooled himself and tried to fool others with his ignorance of baselines?
        Surely not.

      • Ad hominem fallacy (asserting that an argument is wrong because of something discreditable/not authoritative about the person making the argument) : CHECK.
        Appeal to motive (challenging a thesis by calling into question the motives of its proposer): CHECK.
        Making false or misleading comparisons (false equivalence and false analogy): CHECK – starring Joseph Stalin himself, wow !
        Well done ! Go Team ! :)

      • So criticism of the 1935-1939 purges in Soviet Russia would be ad-hominem if it mentioned Stalin, and thus invalid?
        Good to know in advance of the coming green purges.
        Hail anonymous comrade Ort!

      • Crispin in Waterloo

        There is another type of error which is used by Mann and some of his papers. When working with proxies (as he does) he has a tendency to use various proxies with different levels or types of smoothing. For example if one uses annual tree ring widths as a guide to temperature, it has (at least) a 1 year smoothing and possibly 3 depending on local conditions. Physical temperature measurements at the same site averaged over a year are not a very good match because they are “sharp”. Using sediments, it is very difficult to get a 1 year resolution. Similarly, ice core gas measurements. The point is that concatenating data sets that have different smoothing applied (either by natural formation or mathematically treating data points) is not legitimate because the resulting impression might be very misleading.

        Using proxy information over centuries that has a 20 year effective smoothing and then using direct measurement in the current era will be very misleading, if the current measurements are not similarly smoothed.

        I don’t have a snappy name for this type of fallacy: concatenating sets of data with different natural or artificial smoothings, and presenting it as a single, internally consistent set.

  16. John Sutherland

    Jay Sutherland October 4, 2020 Reply

    Another cognitive bias may be associated with the use of models to simplify a complicated reality and then believing the model rather than the reality. Kevin Trenberth did this in 2008 when he asserted that the data had to be wrong because the temperatures did not rise to the extent predicted by the models (they still haven’t!).

    • Entropic man

      “Kevin Trenberth did this in 2008 when he asserted that the data had to be wrong because the temperatures did not rise to the extent predicted by the models (they still haven’t!). ”

      Look at the second graph here.
      Note that the current temperatures are running in the upper half of the AR5 projected range.

      Trenberth is answered. The pause was a temporary phenomenon and temperatures are back on the trend line projected by the models.

    • Alexander Carpenter

      Whatever you may say something is, it is not! The map is not the territory; the word is not the thing.

      Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity, 1933; 4th edition, The International Non-Aristotelian Library, 1958, II, 4, page 58

  17. David Albert

    The IPCC statement that all of the recent increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to human emissions is based on several of these biases but most notably the correlation is causation one. See for a discussion of the error and the correct way to check correlation. See also Harde 2017 and Harde 2019 for a better estimate of the amount of that rising CO2 that can be ascribed to human action.

  18. A consensus agreement of scientists is not scientific. A scientist should know that.

  19. Nice idea, Judith, but I think you are giving yourself a lot of work that many won’t even look at (and certainly wouldn’t understand if they did). And identifying specific logical fallacies can be very difficult when many threads are intertwined.

    You left out some forms of logical fallacy:

    1. The fallacy of superstitious thinking.
    When a proponent of mainstream climate science refuses to accept criticism of (or even evidence against) their belief unless their critics put up an alternative explanation, that is the logical fallacy of superstitious thinking.NB. That doesn’t mean they are superstitious, just that they have used that form of logical fallacy, as in: Our crop failed, there’s no other reason so we’ll burn the witch.

    2. Strawman argument.
    The climate web is littered with them, where believers in mainstream climate science demolish their own version of a sceptical argument. One example:
    Their strawman argument is “The apparent rise of global average temperatures is actually an illusion due to the urbanization of land around weather stations, the Urban Heat Island effect.”, which they demolish by arguing (a) that “Urban Heat Island Effect has been examined quite thoroughly (PDF) and found to have a negligible effect on temperature trends.” – citing – and (b) that urban areas are a tiny proportion of Earth’s surface area.
    The real sceptic argument is that UHI has not been handled properly because (a) it has been underestimated and (b) urban temperatures have been incorrectly spread acroos large areas.

    3. Flat-out lies. OK, maybe these aren’t really logical fallacies, but they are often dressed up as logic and occur a lot. For example:
    First, they acknowledge that “Overall, it is true that sea ice in the Antarctic is increasing.” but then they say
    “In fact, it is completely in line with model expectations that CO2-dominated forcing will have a disproportionately large effect in the north.”.
    This was dated 2006. The latest IPCC report at that time was TAR. TAR projected substantial loss of sea ice at both poles. (From AR4 “Key regional projections highlighted in the TAR [..] Substantial loss of sea ice at both poles was projected”)
    But in any case, there is a world of difference between “increasing” and “disproportionately”.
    – – –
    There’s so much more out there. I’ll keep an eye out for more and better examples.

  20. Robert Bradley

    Adam Smith’s concept of self-deceit and the need for an impartial observer In The Theory of Moral Sentiments comes to mind….

  21. Appeal to motive: challenging a thesis by calling into question the motives of its proposer.
    This is another flavor of ad hominem, I think, since it doesn’t go after the proposal; instead, it attacks the person making the proposal. The attack can go both ways on an issue as there can be motive behind the proposal and motive for rejecting a proposal.

    However, whenever someone asks you to sacrifice something or donate assets of any sort, it is always fair to ask what that person gains from your sacrifice or asset even if the gain is only indirect, then the proposer has a bias that should make someone skeptical of any claim they make about how important our sacrifice or asset will be. If that potential bias is not acknowledged up front, but is later discovered, the entire argument will likely be called into question whether the argument is fallacious or not.

    After all, if you lied about one thing (even by ommission) then what else are you lying about?

    Some of the indirect gains I’ve wondered about don’t even have to be monetary or acclaim, it may be that they prefer a different sort of economic scheme – capitalism vs socialism or communism for instance.

    Another indirect gain comes from what pays in the media: “if it bleeds, it leads”. Those who can discuss the “bleeding” tend to get the attention. The world has a long history of grifters who preach doom and gloom that only they can head off with other people’s “support”. These days, these can be more grant money for research into the are where “bleeding” is observed, or paid lectures about the “bleeding”.

    Perhaps this discussion should go under the danger of unacknowledged bias of the proposer, possibly even unacknowledged to themselves.

    By and large, I think that the larger the public change being proposed the greater the evidence must be that the particular change is necessary at all.

  22. Availability heuristic: The tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater ‘availability’ in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.

    Related to this might be a “plausibility heuristic” where the plausibility of an event is over or under estimated based on misunderstanding of actual probabilities of the events in question. Not related to climate science but one example would be when a test shows that a possible corruption of a bit by atmospheric neutrons is 1e-14 per bit-hour means that the event could never happen. In fact, with a 100 passenger airplane each passenger having a phone with 1 GByte of RAM, the actual probability of a bit corruption happening becomes 1 bit flip about 1 every 116 flight hours. With an average overseas flight being 9 hours, you get 1 bit flip every 13 flights. The frequency goes up when considering devices with even more bits. The assumption of the plausibility of a bit flip during a flight needs to consider many more things than just the per bit-hour rate to determine complete plausibility.

    Another from my field, if catastrophic event requires two random events to happen in a finite window of time, then the catastrophic event will happen no matter how small that window of time is. The designers must be able to show that those two random events leading to a catastrophic event cannot happen in any window of time that leads to a catastrophic event in order for the design to be considered safe. In other words, if there is nothing that prevents things from happening together, then you cannot assume they will never happen together.

    • Thx, I have the availability heuristic covered elsewhere, plausibility heuristic is a new one, i think it is relevant to climate science.

  23. Sören Floderus

    Mapping of politicization’s workings among science-communication and knowledge-acquisition agencies reveals a sizable MacKenzian (1990) certainty trough, in particular above Policy, expanding into also the open domain apparently attempting to block it. A key working related to funding is (groupthink- and self-deterrence-enhanced) prima facie closure as described by Agrell & Treverton 2015 (National Intelligence and Science, but certainly elsewhere and earlier too) as it leads up into and infects science itself. Duly considering this paints any climate-science systematic review (observant of also medium-term solar-climate linkage process lacking) unconvinced as one community (modeling) disappears and misrepresents another (paleo).

  24. “Cognitive biases relate to self-deception that leads to incorrect conclusions based on cognitive factors, including information-processing shortcuts (heuristics) (Tversky and Kahnemann 1974). Cognitive biases can abound when reasoning and making judgments about a complex problem such as climate change”

    This is an excellent analysis and something I have been looking at for some time. Here are two of my posts that relate to this principle.

    1. The James Burke analysis of climate change

    2. Confirmation bias and superstition in climate science

  25. François Riverin

    I just watched the latest 60 minutes show on forest fires in California. I would really had appreciated to hear in that report what Judith Curry says about that. Did Mann and Hanson fooled themselves and ourselves with their view. And why did the editor even bother to get a different point of view on that mather. Is science in Climate change really settled? Did Hanson really predict what is currently happening.

    • Didn’t watch it. I suspect they aren’t fooling themselves; rather they are trying to fool us.

      • Rune Valaker

        English is not first language, but “to fool” someone presupposes some form of deception, and if Hansen really believes what he says, it would be totally illogical to claim that by giving his sincere opinion of a question, deceive others. Some ad hominem fallacy going on here?

    • Rune Valaker

      While we talk about strawmen. Who says the science is settled, IPCC have never claimed that, but the “skeptics” whine about it all the time. Like all other science, some answers are reasonably safe to build on, while others are still uncertain but where we may be approaching a better understanding, while others are still open. Perhaps the most important question in climate science is the value of ECS where the IPCC operates with a range from 1.5 to 4.5 C. 1.5 is manageable, 4.5 C is a different question. How can one then claim that the science is settled.

      • “IPCC have never claimed that, but the “skeptics” whine about it all the time.”
        People who use the terms “denier” and “anti-science” and “basic physics” to chastise those who don’t agree with their dire forecasts of doom profess to be stunned and amazed that anyone “whines” that we’re told the science is settled.
        This is a great example of “fooling” oneself.

      • lemiere jacques

        …well.. but a lot of people purporting to be backed by science said it .. with very weak protests from the scientists..

        and what people think about climate not climate science..

    • I watched that last night. I recommend it for the project as it literally has every single fallacy represented.
      Although you could let it fall under “selective facts” the other amazing bit from the 60 Minutes piece is that they never, ever, asked Hansen or Mann or anyone else what governments should do about it. That’s because Hansen is an advocate of nuclear power and “climate science” says global warming isn’t bad enough to use functional alternatives to coal.

      Here’s another fun link. Everyone knows that recycling helps the planet and reduces GHGs by reusing products already made, right? And everyone knows that in reality recycling means a big truck runs through your neighborhood and all the recyclables are shipped across the Pacific Ocean to China where they are dumped into the sea or buried in the ground in landfills without any environmental regulations, right?
      Kind of like the last 30 years of global “climate policy” has successfully moved manufacturing from regulated coal power plants driving factories in the west to unregulated coal power plants in the east. Because “science” only counts western CO2.

  26. “Incidentally, my study of Kahnemann and Tversky led to a refinement of Likert Scales.”

    Here is the link to my paper on the Kahenemann and Tversky refinement of the Likert Scale

  27. Roger Knights

    Here’s a strawman example:

    Camille Ferey: “Populism against science: a new political cleavage?, Part 1”
    Posted on October 4, 2020 on the “Equality by Lot” site

    “many commentators talk about the threat of “distrust” that undermines the authority of science, if not of the authority of Truth itself, in our democracies. Furthermore, this dominant narrative confounds this phenomenon of skepticism (which is very real) with a different phenomenon, a political one: populism. The political cleavage is then reduced to a binary opposition between reason and populism, and consequently all criticism of scientific and political institutions is ruled out.”

  28. Geoff Sherrington

    Thank you for rather interesting post given that Covid-19 has taken some attention from climate change and broadened the scope. A quick first impression is that there are some effects in current science that might not be fully covered by your lists.
    1. Is there a place for the so-called Precautionary Principle?
    A recent example is the promotion of mask wearing without a clear scientific demonstration of harm/benefit.
    2. A common event in some scientific communication these days is the refusal by one party to debate the other. This has the capacity to distort the scientific outcome, perhaps as a deliberate tactic.
    3. In reality there is a difference in rigidity between the hard sciences like Physics and the softer social sciences. The many dot points that you list can have different answers for hard versus soft science. Would you like to nominate which of these is your main target?
    4. One of the main problems in current measurement science is the correct estimate, or even use of correct procedures to estimate, error and uncertainty. Without proper estimates, much of the discussion here can be about observations and outcomes that are wrong or temporary until better estimates come in. It is easier to argue about principles if the matters being argued are clear and durable.
    Geoff S

    • Hello Geoff, yes I am working on an essay re the precautionary principle, in context of climate change and COVID

      • Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), p349-352 has a good discussion on how the precautionary principle leads to illogical decisions.

    • Geoff,

      Here’s an example of where the Precautionary Principle (PP) is relevant: Let’s say you’re trying to get home as fast as possible, and come to a fork in the road.
      A) from previous experience you know the right turn will get you there in less than an hour.
      B) the left turn has been rumored to be a shortcut, but never proven. Following the PP, you should choose A

      But what if you came to a fork in the road you had never seen before, and had no idea which way to turn? Two unknowns, in which case the PP does not apply.

      Likewise, very little was initially known about COVID. WRT the novel virus, the risk/benefit of wearing a mask had not been clearly demonstrated by science, but neither had the risk/benefit of going mask-less.

      Two unknowns. The Precautionary Principal did not apply.

      • Article 15 of the Rio Declaration defined the precautionary principle in a transnational context:

        ‘Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

        The two elements are ‘serious or irreversible damage’ and ‘cost effective measures’. The planet is at threat of serious or irreversible change in a couple of areas – and with a few unknowns. Nutrient pollution and genetic diversity – not species diversity as yet but a reduction in populations of thousands if not millions of species. Cost-effective landscape management promises to bring things back from the edge in so many ways.

      • Bob

        With Covid the precautionary principle was writ very large.

        Ferguson, who was known to have made utterly unrealistic forecasts on such things as BSE and Foot and mouth disease, was still in an inner circle that was put into a panic by his forecast of 510000 deaths in the UK. This was transmitted to other countries.

        That was always utterly realistic, as well before the Govt put everyone into lockdown, people were already carrying out the measures needed, from social distancing to avoiding crowds, to hand washing..

        His forecast and the measures taken, made things worse not better.

        The idea that anyone would see a truck heading straight towards them and not take evasive action is nonsensical;. However, running three miles to the nearest cave system, climbing down into the depths, finding a crevasse and tucking yourself into it, is clearly wildly over the top, but rather than stand well out of the way of the covid truck our governments made us head for the caves in a good demonstration of the Precautionary principle. .

        This hysteria, over reaction, panic, call it what you will, is very relevant in climate change and is best exemplified by the worlds best known school truant as she is incoherent with rage imagining that before she came along people had never heard of climate change, let alone anyone was doing anything about it. Whether or not we are all being herded towards the caves is another matter.

        For a supposedly adult version of Greta’s hysteria you can do no better than read ‘The uninhabitable earth’ by David Wallace Wells whose opening sentence is ‘it is worse, much worse than you think. then descends rapidly into hysteria.


      • tony –

        > Ferguson, who was known to have made utterly unrealistic forecasts on such things as BSE and Foot and mouth disease, was still in an inner circle that was put into a panic by his forecast of 510000 deaths in the UK. This was transmitted to other countries.

        Really? That’s the best you can do in the context of discussing fallacious arguments?

        Someone makes a projection for a range of outcomes, contingent on a variety of parameters. Included is explicit notation that some of those parameters are extremely unlikely or actually already not applicable (such as the government taking no action to prevent spread of Covid or public behaviors not changing).

        And you cherry-pick from that range and ignore the conditionality of the projections and mischaracterizes the “forecast?”

        This is a good example of why this exercise by Judith is nothing but sameoldsameold. “Skeptics” seeking to confirm their biases, to make an argument that is absurd at face value: That fallacious arguments and fooling yourself are attributes disproportionately distributed to the “more concerned” side of the climate change debate.

      • Joshua

        You are ignoring the fact that as a result of his projection, which he gave to the PM and his cabinet and his expert advisers, and outlined once again in his discussions with them, his belief that this is the route the govt should take , and that the govt did take the route he argued for.

        I suggest you merely google Times , BSE, letter and you will see a takedown of his analytical skills and there are many more that take apart his covid forecasts.

        You seem to be confusing biases with facts. But here’s your chance to break out of the same old same old, by some insightful and original comment of your own that will stand out like a beacon amongst the tired old sceptic arguments, so go at it.


      • I thought this request was for help debating climate change realities vs beliefs and misrepresentations. Can’t you have it elsewhere. Model abuse is not an excuse, as it occurs all over the science patch, whenever it is used to predict things.

      • tony –

        You ignore my comment which pointed out how you mischaracterized the Imperial College report – which projected deaths from 10’s of thousands to 500k depending on how people reacted.

        As I’m sure you must know, in that kind of modeling outcomes will vary because it is sensitive to inputs and timing. It’s cetainly legitimate to debate the value of that kind of modeling, but you can’t have a reasonable debate if you cherry-pick from the high end of the range, ignore the conditionality of the projections, and generally mischaracterize the modeling.

        This is all about decision-making and risk assessment n the face of uncertainty – it requires approaches that avoid twisting the details so as advance politically-motivated confirmation bias.

      • tony –

        There’s also a lot of politically convenient hyperbole regarding the impact of the IC report, specifically:

        In the letter, the scientists said that although Ferguson was undoubtedly an influential scientist, the collaborative scientific effort to inform the government’s decision-making was quite different to that being suggested.

        “At the time of writing, Sage lists 56 participants, and receives inputs from a much larger number of advisors through dedicated sub-committees,” it reads. “The subcommittee focusing on modelling has so far included 44 contributors, most of whom are independent academic researchers, who themselves represent a large number of groups throughout the country and their ongoing work.

        “Hence, any scientific advice to the UK government, including advice which preceded the lockdown is the result of the work of hundreds of researchers throughout the UK.

        “In early March 2020, the emerging consensus amongst scientists involved in this country-wide consultation was that Sars-Cov-2 was circulating widely in the UK, it was capable of causing substantial hospitalisations and fatalities, and that in the absence of drastic social distancing measures, the healthcare system would rapidly become overwhelmed in the same way that it had been in northern Italy at the time. Although new studies and data have since emerged, this consensus has not changed.”

      • Regarding SAGE:

        I read an article which gave much more background on how the UK policies shifted (to some extent) earlier than the IC report and based on a more extensive range of inputs but I can’t find it. Oh well.

      • Joshua

        Brian is right. This is straying off Judith’s post

        My original point has been diverted by you believing again that you know more about the subject as it relates to the UK than you really do. We have been bored to death by months of the subject on UK TV, British newspapers, govt broadcasts etc so I do know the ins and outs, thank you very much

        One of the purposes of my response to you was to suggest that as our sceptical thoughts clearly aren’t good enough, why don’t you come up with some original ones of your own instead of criticising other peoples?.

        Judith would welcome some pearls of wisdom and sharp insight from a different perspective to the sameold sameold brigade.

        So please respond to Judith’s post direct rather than carry on the Monty Python £10 argument with all and sundry.


      • Gosh.

        Not always I read that :-).

        I was just no-platformed by my own professional institute – the UK IET – because activists complained that I should not be allowed to explain how climate control system works, and what the records of this system are over 1 million, 10,000 and 1,000 years of evidence. Apparently upset activist non members with no known relevant qualifications trump professional physicists and engineers who are long term paid up members of vast experience and expertise.. This is one example of why we cannot fight zealotry with reason, or play nice. Because they don’t, and are winning.

        PS The COVID models ARE a great example of why you should NOT use models for prediction. See also the link at the foot of this.

        Modellers inability to explain their failed assertions are only trumped by the stupidity of politicians who are simply talking head imbeciles with humanities and arts degrees, so clueless – in the UK anyway. A waste of carbon and wholly useless in managing reality in a technologically dependent society where you can’t make it up when we can count bodies. Far easier to lie about climate change threats most cannot check.

        “The science” is claiming R numbers are 1.5 when cases are falling. Interesting and total dichotomy. REALLY? That tells me no one has a clue how basic maths of GPs and common ratios (that are complex and changing in fact) even works, as I read it?

        But I digress. Freeman Dyson said it so well and succinctly after a life of serious science, so gets the last word. a 1 minute must watch :

      • tony –

        I thought the topic was how people fool themselves.

        I thought a good example would be how you characterize it as a “fact” that the IC report “forecast” 500k deaths. It would be just as “factual” to say that it “forecast” 50k deaths.

        Such cherry-picking is typical of the climate wars, and we often find it with respect to climate modeling in particular. But I won’t clutter the thread further as you’re clearly not interested in looking at how people fool themselves.

      • Brian

        ‘Modellers inability to explain their failed assertions are only trumped by the stupidity of politicians who are simply talking head imbeciles with humanities and arts degrees, so clueless – in the UK anyway. A waste of carbon and wholly useless in managing reality in a technologically dependent society where you can’t make it up when we can count bodies. Far easier to lie about climate change threats most cannot check.’

        Yes, quite correct, except I do not think it is an inability to express the material but that they are promoting one scenario over another, not merely laying out the options in a dispassionate fashion.

        In other words they are not really neutral but have a viewpoint and due to our imbecilic politicians are able to stress the model that reflects a certain viewpoint. We see it with climate models as well which put over the scenario that reflects the opinions of those promoting it as I have seen from my dealings with the Met office, the university of East Anglia and of course activists.


      • Geoff Sherrington

        Quite unclear what you are trying to tell me.
        My knowledge is guided by Yogi Berra: ‘When you come to the fork in the road, take it!’
        Similar to “If you laid the population of India, head to toe, around the Equator, about 89% of them would drown.”

  29. Nice to see some attention paid to the psychology of the planet’s #1 apex predator, humans. I have been following Kaheneman for at least 12 years and every time the subject of AWG comes up he says we are wired for failure. Maybe the Chinese will save civilization since they seem to think long term.

  30. If we believe the MSM, Putin would seem to care more about the future of America then do Democrat-Socialists.

  31. Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  32. I think Scott Adams’ book “Win Bigly” fits into this theme, but his point of view and approach is difficult to summarize. It is about persuasion and world view “filters” as he terms it. He posit humans aren’t rational and generally make up stories after the fact to explain their actions. There is a bit in the book about climate change and his view of it.

    From a review:
    Trump triggered massive cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias on both the left and the right. We’re hardwired to respond to emotion, not reason. We might listen to 10 percent of a speech–a hand gesture here, a phrase there–and if the right buttons are pushed, we irrationally agree with the speaker and invent reasons to justify that decision after the fact.

  33. A lot of fallacious logic bu rocket scientists over at NASA

  34. Robert Mitchell

    Here are some pertinent principles
    Employ intellectual humility (the principle of questioning ones judgement)

    Employ the scientific method.
    Giving equal consideration to thesis and antithesis
    Opinion carries no weight
    And falsification, the basis of modern science, is violated by claiming the science is settled.

    And my favorite, make the Mertonian norms a formal code of conduct for all scientists, similar to doctors Hippocratic oath.
    From Wikipedia

    The four Mertonian norms (often abbreviated as the CUDO-norms) can be summarised as:

    communism: all scientists should have common ownership of scientific goods (intellectual property), to promote collective collaboration; secrecy is the opposite of this norm.

    universalism: scientific validity is independent of the sociopolitical status/personal attributes of its participants

    disinterestedness: scientific institutions act for the benefit of a common scientific enterprise, rather than for the personal gain of individuals within them

    organized skepticism: scientific claims should be exposed to critical scrutiny before being accepted: both in methodology and institutional codes of conduct.

    • Profit is a major driver of much beneficial research. So in many cases are personal rather than collective goals. There is always an incentive of some sort, the Mertonian norms might not be optimal for scientific advance.

      • Robert Mitchell

        Without a formalised code of ethics there is nothing to prevent the politicization or monetary corruption of science. Groupthink prevails and people publish garbage to pay the bills. It also fourmulises an objective method of thinking that prevents personal beliefs dominating. dominating.

  35. “Correlation implies causation is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to be cause and effect.” Much of the early debate occurred in the smoking-causes-cancer debate in the 1960s,and is highly relevant to the climate debate. Trying to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between to two variables in a complex, chaotic environment is extremely difficult. The literature begins with Hill’s 1964 classic:

    • Mack
      And likewise, a lack of correlation does not rule out causation.

      • Bob: Well no, actually lack of correlation does rule out causation assuming the data is sound and the sampling is adequate.

      • Just Us Chickens

        Wrong. It depends on how deeply and broadly we look for correlation in a complex-system matrix of cascading interoperating influences. Even if we find none, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. Similarly, causation can happen in indirect and nuanced ways we may not know about or be able to measure.

        Talk of causation and correlation is an unfortunate artifact of habits of thought within an obsolete reductionist linearizing paradigm. Cause-and-effect is not necessarily sequential and direct in complex systems that manifest “emergences” that can be anticipated but not necessarily predicted with any precision.

        Causes are effects and effects are causes; this is a cognitive challenge recognized by the ancient Greeks, for starters, with their “proximate and ultimate causations.” Now we add more and more dimensions to the matrix.

  36. In sciences, we first guess before trying to test (the more likely explanations) and before expressing the whole thing in a strictly scientific language.
    During the first phase, we are at risk to fool ourselves. But the testing phase should allow to discard many errors.
    Climate scientists fooled themselves when they accepted model outputs (simulated data) to be as good as observational data. Since then, all went amiss.

  37. Obvious, surely, to those with an open mind – ‘Business as usual, nothing to worry about (in fact, it could all be great in the end), keep consuming oil and coal’.
    Generally, politicians and politically-motivated people say that, whereas the vast majority of scientists say the opposite. Can’t you see where the science is and where the politics is?

    In fact, this article seems to me to be coming from a political angle – ‘help me find examples where climate science can be said to be at fault, so that I can cast doubt on climate science’.
    How about instead (here’s a thought) write a scientific paper disproving whatever it is you want to disprove in climate science? You know, facts and figures, rather than playing semantic games to be lapped-up by your fans?
    Just a thought…

    • That was a reply to tonyb, by the way…

    • Jmurphy

      How is this a reply to mine? I say nothing about consuming coal and oil. Mind you if you have a serious alternative the world would be glad to hear of if.


    • Robert Mitchell

      The positive feedback mechanism that makes CO2 dangerous (water vapour positive feedback) violates Le Chateliers principle and thus the second law of thermodynamics. The declining water vapour in the upper troposphere confirms empirical falsification. Climate science never attempted to test their theory.
      They never employed the scientific method
      They violently resist any outside criticism.
      There is a people problem, not a science problem.

  38. With some relevance to the subject, but from a completely different field, here a couple of quotes from Profs Cyrus Gordon in “Forgotten Scripts” (I have noted archaeologists, towards the end of a distinguished career, tend to abandon the restrictions of the institutional dogma and speak out more liberally. It is where one gets nearer to the facts.)

    Qt 1 “Most scholars like to have a great preponderance of evidence (and even then there are many who will not face the facts). Outstanding innovators like Sayce (re Amarna tablets) work differently; they sense the significance of odd bits of material. If the theory is correct — further evidence will be found”.

    Qt 2 “A discoverer must not allow himself to be shouted down by the critics who are ever present to discredit any major contribution”.

  39. 1. Earth’s Without-Atmosphere Mean Surface Temperature calculation

    So = 1.361 W/m² (So is the Solar constant)
    Earth’s albedo: aearth = 0,306

    Earth is a smooth rocky planet, Earth’s surface solar irradiation accepting factor Φearth = 0,47

    (Accepted by a Smooth Hemisphere with radius r sunlight is S*Φ*π*r²(1-a), where Φ = 0,47)

    β = 150 days*gr*oC/rotation*cal – is a Rotating Planet Surface Solar Irradiation Absorbing-Emitting Universal Law constant

    N = 1 rotation /per day, is Earth’s axial spin = 1 cal/gr*oC, it is because Earth has a vast ocean. Generally speaking almost the whole Earth’s surface is wet. We can call Earth a Planet Ocean.

    σ = 5,67*10⁻⁸ W/m²K⁴, the Stefan-Boltzmann constant

    Earth’s Without-Atmosphere Mean Surface Temperature Equation is: [ Φ (1-a) So (β*N*cp)¹∕ ⁴ /4σ ]¹∕ ⁴

    Τ = [ 0,47(1-0,306)1.362 W/m²(150 days*gr*oC/rotation*cal *1rotations/day*1 cal/gr*oC)¹∕ ⁴ /4*5,67*10⁻⁸ W/m²K⁴ ]¹∕ ⁴ =

    Τ = [ 0,47(1-0,306)1.362 W/m²(150*1*1)¹∕ ⁴ /4*5,67*10⁻⁸ W/m²K⁴ ]¹∕ ⁴ =
    Τ = ( 6.854.905.906,50 )¹∕ ⁴ = 287,74 K = 287,74 Κ

    And we compare it with the = 288 K, measured by satellites.

    These two temperatures, the calculated one, and the measured by satellites are almost identical.


    The surface mean temperature equation produces remarkable results.

    The calculated planets temperatures are almost identical with the measured by satellites.


    Mercury….439,6 K…….325,83 K…..340 K
    Earth………255 K………287,74 K…..288 K
    Moon……..270,4 Κ…….223,35 Κ…..220 Κ
    Mars……209,91 K……..213,21 K…..210 K

    The 288 K – 255 K = 33 oC difference does not exist in the real world.
    There are only traces of greenhouse gasses.

    The Earth’s atmosphere is very thin. There is not any measurable Greenhouse Gasses Warming effect on the Earth’s surface.

  40. Oh, that’s just too delicious, a Climate Etc post looking for commenters to give examples of people fooling themselves.

    Wonderful stuff.

    • I think this brings up a good area to look at. ECS is from 1.5 to 4.5 C with 67% confidence. To say anything about the future temperatures is built upon this. If you look inside the machines, there are notes that say, we’re not really sure.

  41. Consider framing bias in the context of the UN 1988 resolution founding the IPCC.

    “[C]ertain human activities could change global climate patterns, threatening present and future generations with potentially severe economic and social consequences”

    “[C]ontinued growth in atmospheric concentrations of “greenhouse” gases could produce global warming with an eventual rise in sea levels, the effects of which could be disastrous for mankind if timely steps are not taken at all levels.”

    This includes both framing climate change as only anthropogenic climate change and not natural.

    Also includes negative theories without positive theories, which was how
    Kahneman and Tversky identified examples.

  42. Scott Adams red flags. The article is a good read and outstanding understanding for a climate science layman.

    So how do we know when to trust experts and when to be skeptical? Here are the red flags you should look for in order to know how much credibility to assign to the experts.

    Money Distortion

    Complexity with Assumptions

    The Important Fact Left Out

    Conflation of Credibility

    Economic Models

    The One Sided Argument

  43. Apologies if this comments appears twice, having difficulty connecting.

    1) Framing bias: IPCC was founded to specifically investigate human-induced climate change. This narrow framing has lead to a myopic view of the problem and induced a self-serving bias as non-human influences are ignored or downplayed. One should not underestimate the importance of “saving face” on subsequent actions and hidden motives – once they started down the anthro path admitting even a small non-anthro influence risks bruising their individual and collective egos.

    IPCC principles and purpose as stated at [emphasis added]:

    “The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of HUMAN-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.”

    2) Illusory correlations: Camille Parmesan and Edith Checkerspot Butterfly.

    Storyline described here by Jim Steele with links to papers:

    In short they looked for previously recorded populations, couldn’t find some of the southern and lower elevation ones, and declared a correlation with GLOBAL average temperature change while ignoring numerous LOCAL confounding variables, including habitat alteration in at least one location. Since the study was published, most of the southern populations they could not locate have indeed been located (either missed or re-established) and a new even further southern population in warmer Baja. The checkerspot larval stage is known to undergo diapause in cold/wet years – a dormancy similar to hibernation. They ignored what was well known in the butterfly community, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence unless you sample over many consecutive seasons.

  44. A great way to fool ourselves is confirmation bias

    As for example, in climate science research on polar bears begins with the assumption that climate change has rendered the polar bear into an endangered species with a decline in summer sea ice extent and studies polar bear sub-population counts and health conditions over brief time scales of 5 years or less and then interprets any differences found in terms of climate change and sea ice extent.

  45. Pingback: Monday Musings 5 October: When truth is stranger than fiction » Big Ambitions

  46. Philosophically, the notion of underlying single causal physical determinism underlying the AGW hypothesis– as if it were one of, for example, Newton’s laws– fails because, the assumption that all change must be expected as the direct result of an initiate cause is blind to the reality of spontaneity.

  47. Judith, your categories seem to presume ‘innocent’ error via logical fallacies or unconscious biases.

    I think there is another category, deliberate malicious misrepresentation for personal gain (grants, careers, peer acceptance). I gave a number of examples in essay ‘When Data Isn’t’ in ebook Blowing Smoke. Here is just one, from NOAA climate experts. In 2012, they announced that in 2014 they would shift state by state GHCN temperature anomaly from ‘old’ Drd964x to ‘new and improved’ nClimDiv. I illustrated the before/after for California, Michigan, and Maine. In sum, all but 8 of the 48 CONUS states got ‘new and improved’ additional warming from 1895 to 2012. Not a little, a lot. The Drd964x amount was 0.088F/decade. The new nClimDiv amount is 0.135F/decade. That is intentional, not some unconscious goof.

    • Curious George

      Fooling oneself can and does happen. Fooling others is known as propaganda, and works of its undisputed master Dr. Joseph Goebbels should appear in recommended reading. Look at them before Google disappears them completely (the process started at least two years ago).

    • Ristvan

      You’re assuming the upward adjustments were malicious, and not justified. An assumption is not evidence of wrongdoing.

      • Bob, so explain it otherwise.

      • Rud
        You’ve accused the climate experts at NOAA of being liars. The onus is on you to back it up.

        Imagine in a court of law;

        Skeptic: Your honor, I have reason to believe that NOAA’s been fudging the temperature record.
        Judge: That’s a serious allegation. What evidence do you have?
        Skeptic: None, but what evidence do you have that they haven’t been?

      • Bob
        There’s plenty of evidence of fraudulent altering of climate data that would be legally persuasive, as similar evidence has been in other high profile criminal cases.

        The overwhelming majority of adjustments to climate data are anti-clockwise rotations. The past cools, the present temperature warms. On average, the null hypothesis expectation would be a random distribution of adjustment outcomes including clockwise and anti-clockwise rotations, and no rotation. But it is always, always anti-clockwise. This is impossible by chance, a motivating factor is artificially rotating temperature records anti-clockwise.

        In Britain in the 1990’s there was a notorious criminal case of a Yorkshire doctor, Harold Shipman, who murdered hundreds of elderly patients mostly in their own homes. He would give them lethal injections of an opiate. Incredibly, the law was / is such that as the officiating doctor, if he declared by certificate that death was by natural causes, then police investigation was automatically averted and stopped. However one of the ways in which his 20 year string of murders was discovered was that people noticed that most of the patients who died under his care, died in the afternoon. At visiting time. This unnatural spike in the histogram of times of death alerted detectives to what was going on.

        Always-anti-clockwise rotation of temperature records is statistical criminal evidence of fraud in the same category as “death in the afternoon” evidence in the Harold Shipman case.

      • Phil
        “On average, the null hypothesis expectation would be a random distribution of adjustment outcomes including clockwise and anti-clockwise rotations, and no rotation. But it is always, always anti-clockwise. This is impossible by chance…..”

        No need to explain the obvious. Clearly, the adjustments were deliberate and not the result of chance.

        “….. a motivating factor is artificially rotating temperature records anti-clockwise.”

        And what if the CC adjustments were valid and not motivated by nefarious intent?

        The clock reference was apt because you’ve created a circular argument. Same reasoning as Rud.

      • Judge Judy: “How do you know the adjustments were nefarious?”

        Skeptic: “Because the outcomes were very lopsided, not at all random”.

        Judge Judy: Why do you insist the outcomes needed to be random in order to be valid?”

        Skeptic: “Because people die at random times, not just in the afternoon. Are you familiar with the Harold Shipman case?”

      • thecliffclavenoffinance

        Don’t be a fool — random errors would require adjustments that increased or decreased the rate of global warming. Actual adjustments almost always create a steeper warming trend, often by cooling the past. But also reducing the cooling from 1940 to 1975. There are many hundreds of “adjustments” every month. And many numbers are wild guessed (aka infilled), especially before World War II.

        I suppose you are fooled by the appeal to authority logical fallacy. Government bureaucrat “scientists” must be right. They’re big shots. … Are you interested in buying a 35 percent share of the Brooklyn Bridge?

      • @cliffclaven
        You’ve completely missed the point I’ve been trying to make. Maybe this will help……

        Cliff: “Don’t be a fool — random errors would require adjustments that increased or decreased the rate of global warming.”

        Judge Judy: “How do you know the errors were random?”

      • Plot the correlation between the adjustments and the CO2 concentrations, and you get 0.994.

        If you think that is anything other than deliberate, I have a nice bridge I’d like to offer you…cheap.

  48. The fundamental weaknesses of Climate Science which might merit discussion:

    I. What is temperature?
    Temperature is a property defined only in thermodynamic systems. The essence of thermodynamics is that measurements reflect path-independent properties. Should we repeat an experiment tomorrow on a sample of water, we expect today’s results, no matter the intervening history. Should, for instance, we take an experimental object on which the temperature at all surface point is prescribed by external constraints and measure energy fluxes at all or any points on its surface, reproducible results are expected. Were it otherwise, i.e. memory dependent, temperature and its adjoint entropy, defy definition.

    There seems a common belief that temperature can be defined in terms of the statistics of molecular kinetic energies. It is well-proved that for the system of maximum entropy, equilibrium, the temperature is spatially uniform and rms velocities are proportional to this temperature. This does not logically imply that populations of CO2 bending vibrational levels are locally determined by translational velocities in non-equilibrium systems. The notion of ‘local’ thermodynamic equilibrium implicitly presumes properties to be independent of gradients.

    II. The Manabe & Strickler Ansatz
    Early on, as early as Lord Kelvin, it was observed that thermal gradients in the Alps were close to g/Cp, perhaps implying this gradient to be an equilibrium thermodynamic property. This notion was quickly shot down by Maxwell and Boltzmann, until recently resurfacing as a fundamental presumption of Climate Science. In textbooks one finds this ratio is actually the gradient at which a gas becomes unstable with respect to convective breakdown and one might suppose that, at this gradient, energy fluxes change dramatically. A ‘constant’ gradient may also imply a narrow regime over which convective fluxes vary by orders of magnitude.

    A half-century ago, radiative energy flux calculations provedmeaningful only were a constant thermal gradient assumed. A ‘constant’ gradient implied a fixed convective energy flux, and a radiative flux reduction by increased CO2 needs be compensated by an increased surface temperature. The possibility that convection might also help compensate for CO2 changes was excluded.

    As many here have noted, the atmosphere is a dissipative system far from equilibrium, i.e. non-linear. To date, there’s little science around for discussing such systems quantitatively. Insight: Consider a tungsten filament light-bulb. At 120V it draws 0.5A. How much energy is it dissipating? (Hint: a tungsten filament is a highly non-linear resistance.) So, most of us already know how to solve a non-linear dissipation problem. But what if the problem were restated as: 100W of energy enters a system from a 5000K source and departs at 250K. What is the system’s rate of dissipation?. For a quondam physical chemist this was a challenging question and, when I had found the solution, I realized that one by the name Sadi Carnot had discovered it quite some time ago. Building upon this, one can derive a theorem that, for any non-linear thermodynamic steady-state, global dissipation (not entropy creation) is a minimum wrt internal variations of flux and temperature profiles. Qualitatively, nature seeks to minimize the work (dissipation) required to keep a steady-state from relaxing towards equilibrium. For restoration of a flux reduced by increased CO2, both radiation and convection changes come into play, their relative efficacies determined by a dissipation minimum.

    • thecliffclavenoffinance

      Get to the point !

      Why should anyone care about a very rough estimate of an average global temperature when not one person lives in the average gloval tempetature?

  49. H. Douglas Lightfoot

    As an engineer with extensive design experience, I know it is necessary to understand the science and ensure it is properly applied.
    The correct science about the role of CO2 in climate change is in technology that became available through AccuWeather in 2007, in the Gas Laws and in psychrometric charts. The last two are well within the education and scientific knowledge of engineers.

    First, to AccuWeather on your cell phone add Libreville, Gabon, on the Equator and McMurdo Station in Antarctica. As I am writing this it is 8:56 PM Sept 27 at Libreville; temperature is +26oC and RH is 78%. At McMurdo it is 8:56 AM Sept 28; temperature is minus 22oC and RH is 71%. These are real measured values of temperature and RH.

    Second, the temperature is (26 + 22) = 48oC higher at Libreville than at McMurdo and the time is exactly the same. Moving from the Antarctic to the Equator, the warmer air expands and the concentration of CO2 falls in accordance with the Gas Law of Charles/Gay-Lussac, i.e., at constant pressure, the volume of a gas is proportional to the absolute temperature. Thus, the CO2 falls by ((299 – 251)/(299)) = 16%. The effect of Boyle’s Law is ignored because it is very small as the difference in elevation is only 20 metres.

    Third, using a psychrometric chart or program, the actual water vapor content at McMurdo is 0.000378 kg of water per kg of dry air and rises to 0.0168 at Libreville.

    The key point is that as temperature rises from the Poles to the Equator, CO2 goes down and water vapor goes up. Pictorially: T↑, CO2↓ and WV↑. Actually, CO2 and water vapor move in opposite directions in response to temperature.

    In contrast, the IPCC reports claim increasing CO2 increases air temperature, the air can then hold more water vapor and this water vapor amplifies the warming by CO2. Pictorially: CO2↑, T↑ and WV↑. Note that for the IPCC, CO2 and water vapor move in the same direction with temperature.

    The example of Libreville and McMurdo provided here is proof the IPCC is wrong. Climate models are based on the IPCC concept and are, therefore, also wrong.

    The Equator is always warmer than the Arctic and Antarctic at any time of the day or night or season. The reader is encouraged to repeat the three steps and obtain similar results.

    Currently, the world is going rapidly down a path based on the incorrect science of the IPCC. It is time for engineers and their organizations to step up and protect the public.”

    For reference there is more information and diagrams at:

    • @Douglass Lightfoot

      Your comment is an example of the logical fallacy I mentioned upthread. In this case, believing a lack of correlation, or anti-correlation, is proof that CO2 has no effect on temperature or water vapor. Multiple variables can make something true appear not to be true.

      As Robert Ellison likes to point out, the climate system is complicated and chaotic.

  50. David Wojick

    Interesting taxonomy of faults in reasoning. The scientific question is how prevalent each is. I doubt most can be easily observed, if at all. In my 50+ years studying complex reasoning I do not think I have seen any of these, but it may just be that they are hard to see. Or perhaps they rarely occur.

    There is also the problem that many are used as epithets during strong disagreements. This is name calling, not scientific observation.

  51. There is a science of Earth system dynamics – although it doesn’t figure as a core climate process in popular thought. Much of the latter is a cultural construct – quibbles about models or intrinsic – indeed mathematically chaotic – climate variability – and mad hypotheses possible as a result of the dynamic complexity of the system. Everyone claiming the socially powerful imprimatur of objective hypothesis and observation. It is – by both sides – an eyes wide shut postmodernist narrative of reductionist science. What’s needed is this other approach based on an open investigation of system behaviour as a whole.

    ‘Though arguably appropriate for applications of theory to engineering and applied science, the associated emphases on truth and degrees of certainty are not optimal for the productive and creative processes that facilitate the fundamental advancement of science as a process of discovery. The latter requires an investigative approach, where the goal is uberty, a kind of fruitfulness of inquiry, in which the abductive mode of inference adds to the much more commonly acknowledged modes of deduction and induction.’

    Reductionist science aims to understand the pieces of the system – where the behaviour of the collection of pieces is more than the sum of its parts.

  52. Alan Cannell

    There is an additional factor which is ignoring or overlooking a variable. In the Theia collision hypothesis, for example, the spin of Theia is overlooked (assumed to go splay and not grind). For climate is the assumption that N2 has been constant for almost ever and ever. Wonderfully creationist & strainght from Genesis: made the birds on day 5, Adam on day 6 and then opted to take a breather in the Garden of Eden. While watching all the birds walking about and not being able to get a full gasp……

    • I have been seeing idea repeated a number of times recently. It is a view that derives from agnotology – a culturally driven ignorance. Where change is internal we may therefore neglect anthropogenic influences and all that implies for the cultural tribal conflict. In which one is either for or ag’in obviously.

      An unchanging climate is not remotely a view endorsed by science. Indeed – a chaotically shifting climate is the ruling paradigm.

      ‘Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small.’ NAS 2002

      In the words of Michael Ghil (2013) the ‘global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’

      The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) defined abrupt climate change as a new climate paradigm as long ago as 2002. A paradigm in the scientific sense is a theory that explains observations. A new science paradigm is one that better explains data – in this case climate data – than the old theory. The new theory says that climate change occurs as discrete jumps in the system. Climate is more like a kaleidoscope – shake it up and a new pattern emerges – than a control knob with a linear gain.

      This ruling scientific paradigm suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse gas changes and warming – as well as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation. An emergent state – of ice, cloud, dust, etc – with a new global energy dynamic persists for a while and then shifts again. As observed in climate data and described as Hurst-Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics.

  53. Judith,
    I think you need to include “rot in the tree of knowledge” as a major factor.

    One of the things to note is that the number of scientific papers has increased geometrically year on year in recent decades to reach an accumulation of well over 50 million papers. According to a 2016 article in Nature:-

    Recent bibliometrics show that the number of published scientific papers has climbed by 8–9% each year over the past several decades. In the biomedical field alone, more than 1 million papers pour into the PubMed database each year — about two papers per minute.

    Currently papers are being churned out at over 2.5 million per year.

    In Climate Science, according to a 2015 Carbonbrief article, there were around 15000 papers per year published at that time following extreme growth from the 1980’s. A bibliographic study by Robin Haunschild in 2014 looked at 222,060 papers on climate science published between 1980 and 2014, and commented that the number of climate science papers doubled every 5 or 6 years.

    Inevitably, this deluge of papers without a commensurate increase in QC systems has been accompanied by a fall in quality. A large number of papers are published with egregious errors and do not get retracted (sometimes even after the errors are brought to the attention of the Journal). A far larger number of papers are founded on an invalid epistemic base or use dubious methodology. Traditional policing systems (journal QC and institutions) are failing on all fronts to provide protection against this rot.

    Even an honest researcher might quite legitimately base his viewpoint on a flawed foundation.

    • > Inevitably, this deluge of papers without a commensurate increase in QC systems has been accompanied by a fall in quality

      There is nothing inevitable about that, simply as a function of their being a “deluge” of papers. It is perhaps inevitable that with a “deluge” of more papers there will be more poor quality papers. But that could well be accompanied by an even greater increase in the number of high quality papers.

      I would be willing to bet that if we looked back over time we could find very many poor quality papers with all manner of methodological errors which have generally been corrected for subsequently.

      The most relevant question to your assertion would be whether there is a higher % of poor quality papers relative to the % of high quality papers. To assess that you’d need to establish a system of metrics and then actually do some measurement.

      Otherwise you run the risk of the “kids today” syndrome, which has probably been around as long as there have been kids.

  54. Let’s test this out. Who lacks the bias to see the significance of this?:

  55. Interesting:

    From NOAA
    The Earth-Atmosphere Energy Balance

    “The average surface temperature of the moon, which has no atmosphere, is 0°F (-18°C). By contrast, the average surface temperature of the Earth is 59°F (15°C). This heating effect is called the greenhouse effect.”

    • Well, it happened that the calculated effective temperature for Mars,
      Te.mars = 210 K,
      and the satellite measured average surface temperature for Mars,
      Tsat.mars = 210 K.

      It is a coincidence.

      But it is impossible for the average surface temperature of the Moon
      0°F (-18°C)
      to be the same, as the average surface temperature of the Earth without atmosphere.

  56. Self-serving bias: a tendency for people to evaluate information in a way that is beneficial to their interests

    I see this from home solar panel owners who will look at their specific situation in regards to their electrical bill and then argue they are not a problem for the grid. That the cause for grid problems is somewhere besides solar panel owners.

    There are grid economics as there has been for the past 50 years. At the point of giving the panels away for free, they still don’t work.

    There’s what is called a buy-in. Once they’ve bought solar panels, and that is a project and a decision, they are now fanatic defenders of them. I call it a buy-in because I am suspicious that once they spend their money, they are now on the team. It’s hard to admit one was wrong.

    We see in cost comparisons between solar and natural gas electrical generation, that inability to do useful comparisons. Decision making information. This played out with California’s grid. Yet the cost comparisons used, the not useful ones, are given highest quality status. People look at the faulty cost comparisons, they use them, and they’re not supposed to do that. The require backup and they are non-dispatchable and then cannot provide baseload.

    When we see the marketing for solar panels, they do evaluations for you. It is beneficial to the company providing solar panels and maybe beneficial to the solar panel owners depending on if the regulators get smart and cut back on the give aways to solar. Valid arguments can be made for paying solar panel owners a negative price at times.

    • A counter argument might be that you are fighting a loosing battle against the exponential growth of a disruptive technology. We adapted to the internet and it changed us. Networked micro-grids are the next step. It’s not all about the money.

      • I am fighting against the governments subsidizing solar. What is California fighting? Their own solar policies. People are leaving. Your micro-grids will be built by the rich to protect themselves from the grid that is being ruined.

      • “I am fighting against the governments subsidizing “.
        You should be watching DARPA. Are you cool with what they are doing with AI?
        “Your micro-grids will be built by the rich”
        Exactly. Just like EVERY OTHER TIME IN HISTORY. I assume you think rich people are smart so why complain if they figure it out first?

        I can see the future TV car commercials that will boast about how their V2G cars can make any home a micro grid with a government subsidized home upgrade.

      • Ragnaar,
        In cased you missed it this FERC ruling should make it crystal clear that micro grids powered by RE and virtual power plants are the future.
        “FERC Order Removes Barriers for Distributed Energy Resource Aggregations in Wholesale Markets
        Wednesday, September 30, 2020

        On September 17, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued Order No. 2222 (the “Order”) to allow for the greater participation of distributed energy resource (“DER”) aggregations in organized wholesale markets.”

        Trivia pop quiz: Why did FREC name the ruling “Order No. 2222”?

  57. The fallacy of a certainly only achievable by Laplace’s demon. People invent wild and woolly stories that are incorporated into their world view with absolute belief. Say anything that sounds vaguely rational – as long as their friends believe it and there is an identifiable other. They then join clubs that would have them as a member and rise in the ranks to mind guard to preserve the group truth.

  58. I’ll speak to a form of bias that is one of the worst certainly in CFD and most of its application fields. Because of intense competition to sell codes and generate positive results, the literature is very biased towards positive model results. The result is a cultural bias that “if we get all the physics in the code and run the code ‘right’, the answers will be reasonable and ‘accurate’.”

    The way this works in practice is that someone develops a new algorithm or code and wants to “validate” the idea. They find some data for a case of interest and start running the code. The first results are usually not very convincing. But wait, CFD codes are giant machines with hundreds of “knobs” for gridding, dissipation schemes, turbulence models, etc. Maybe I just made some wrong choices. As knobs are turned, one often will find a much more convincing set of results. Now, the rationalization starts. The process that generated a wide range of results is thought of as a “learning process” in which gridding was improved, more accurate methods employed, etc. The supply of witches to be rounded up and burned is endless. These rationalizations are often sincerely believed, especially by those with little understanding of mathematics or turbulence model construction. This is the vast majority of practitioners. The final “good” result is then often published, ignoring the uncertainty information contained in all the previous “bad” results. The positive and misleading result in turn contributes to the cultural memes that led to the selection bias in the first place.

    It cannot be emphasized too much that these outcomes are hard to avoid in a highly competitive field where replication is very rare. All the incentives, especially the very strong incentives to bring in soft money in acedemia, tend to lead in this biased directions.

    I am now of the opinion that fundamental change is required. The field needs to shrink by a factor of at least 2 and institutions need to return to a hard money (or funded research position) model.

  59. Hi, my comments are focused on Judith’s title ‘how we fool ourselves”. Where we allow ourselves to decide where we fit within the controversy over greenhouse gasses or we may be giving advice.

    On a personal level most fallacies can be better seen as either statistic and modeling, naivety or the failure to recognise the validity of assumptions both explicit and implicit.

    Cognitive bias is avoided if the assumptions are checked.

    In an advisory role we provide advise within an environment of limited information and resort to a series of short cuts. The full form Precautionary Principle and the dichotomy, probability and consequence, used in safety management, and cost benefit ratios of the accountants are examples. These are used and I see as valid to provide “cover” for the decision maker.

    I have a strong bias to stochastic studies and modeling and thus enjoy reading Judith’s commentary.

  60. I often find myself debating communist supporters of the Castro dictatorship who believe Cuban Americans opposed to the regime MUST be Batista supporters. Because it has been 60+years since General Batista, the Cuban dictator who took over in 1952 and fled in December 1958, to be replaced by Fidel Castro, a communist dictator, I want to remind the audience that Cubans don’t have a genetic or cultural condition which makes them prefer to be ruled by a dictator.

    This is an example of the white/black no nuance approach we see used quite often.

    Those who use this tactic also tend to demean and insult others. In my case I’m called a “worm”. When I debate climate science and solutions I’m called a “denier”. And of course I get called “racist”, “fascist”, etc because I don’t support the Democrat Party platform or ideas.

  61. Steven Mosher

    “Confirmation bias: the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions”

    Example: asking readers to supply examples of fallacies in the climate debate.

    gotta love me some irony

    ‘Anchoring bias: the tendency to rely too heavily on one trait or piece of information, such as the mean or previous results.”

    or the existence of fallacies in the climate debate

    “Framing bias: using an approach that is too narrow that pre-ordains the conclusion”

    Searching for examples of fallacies as opposed to good arguments in the climate debate

    ‘Self-serving bias: a tendency for people to evaluate information in a way that is beneficial to their interests”

    Like drawing some conclusion from the existence of fallacies in the climate debate.

    I could go on.

    The bottom line, any time humans debate any topic for an extended period of time, you will find every species of fallacy known to man.

    what would be shocking is not finding any.

    • Of course it is valuable to consider the biases.
      Dr. C didn’t specify which perspective of climate debate from which to note cognitive biases, so there’s already bias in pushing on this.

      I have a copy Kahneman’s Thinking Fast And Slow which I highly recommend. I find it very interesting, but difficult to completely assimilate.

      The gist, however, is that actual thinking is costly and most evolution has been toward automatic processes, most of which are irrational.

      One of his examples being that when you are asked what:

      2 + 2 =

      you have and immediate response, but when you are asked what:

      14 * 27 =

      Your pupils dilate, you stop talking or walking or doing other things, and your blood pressure rises. Thinking is physically expensive and because of evolution, we don’t do it very much.

      The perspective is this –
      biases are the rule, not the exception

    • How about the fallacy that throwing out red meat will promote meaningful analysis?

      What’s that one called?

    • Dear Steven,

      You said, “…any time humans debate any topic for an extended period of time, you will find every species of fallacy known to man. what would be shocking is not finding any”. To be sure, even in day to day conversations never-mind a debate on any topic for an extended period of time.

      The first paragraph in Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” reads,

      “Rhetoric is the counterpart of Dialectic. Both alike are concerned with such things as come, more or less, within the general ken of all men and belong to no definite science. Accordingly all men make use, more or less, of both; for to a certain extent all men attempt to discuss statements and to maintain them, to defend themselves and to attack others. Ordinary people do this either at random or through practice and from acquired habit. Both ways being possible, the subject can plainly be handled systematically, for it is possible to inquire the reason why some speakers succeed through practice and others spontaneously; and every one will at once agree that such an inquiry is the function of an art.”

      Aristotle (350 BC), Rhetoric, Trans. W. Rhys Roberts, The Internet Classics Archive, MIT,

      Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were the foundations of a classical education in ancient Athens — and as I understand are currently being given some re-emphasis in UK schools — and essential to becoming a citizen and participant in civic discourse.

      These skills are well-worth rehearsing and discussing. How else are we to hone our argumentations skills and, with a little luck, improve discourse on matters of public import such as AGW? If all of these skills were given or had no room for improvement we’d have no need to offer logic and critical thinking classes.

      Humans do best reasoning in groups, sharing our doxastic labour (vetting candidates for belief). We’re limited in the number of groups we can belong to and the information we can pursue and consume. Both relationships and slow, deliberative thinking are metabolically expensive. Judith has a platform for what we’ll call the ‘baby on her doorstep’, a community of people sharing doxastic labour to which she is endeavouring both to contribute to and reap benefits from. I’m happy to participate, and hopefully contribute, to this end.

  62. The planets blackbody equilibrium temperatures (Te planets effective temperatures) cannot be considered as planets without atmosphere average (mean) surface temperatures.

    It is a fooling ourselves mistaken concept.

    And it is not proven by the observations.

    For Mars Te.mars = 210 K and Tsat.mean.mars = 210 K these two temperatures – the theoretical-mathematical abstraction’s value of Te.mars to be equal to the satellite measured Tsat.mean.mars is a coincident.

    This planets Te and Tsat temperatures equality is never observed again in the entire (measured) solar system.

    Instead of accepting this fundamental observation as an undeniable fact, we are fooling ourselves trying to explain the observed differences between the every planet calculated Te and the satellite measured Tsat.mean.planet.

    For Earth we have the greenhouse warming effect theories.
    For some planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune) we have the huge inner sources of heat theories.

    For some other cases we have the tidal warming theories (Jupiter’s and Saturn’s satellites).

    Every planet-case we are looking for an excuse-explanation to keep fooling ourselves with the
    Te = Tmean
    equality for planets without atmosphere.

    But the truth is there is not any measurable greenhouse warming effect on the Earth’s surface.
    The Earth’s atmosphere is very thin and it is very transparent both ways – in and out.
    And as for carbon dioxide – there are only traces of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Only traces… even children cannot be fooled about it.

    Why keeping fooling ourselves then?

  63. Was brought up around the phrase ‘Man in the Moon’ and so that’s a pattern that I automatically recognize when I see the moon. A friend from Asia pointed out that his culture sees the ‘Bunny in the Moon’. After ‘working’ on the problem, I could see the bunny pattern, but once I stop trying to discern that pattern, I see the ‘Man’ rather than the ‘Bunny’. It’s how our minds work, in ways we don’t consciously recognize. We fall back to our conditioning.

  64. Pingback: Biases in Science and Life | wryheat

  65. Climate science has lost its fresh eyes dynamic. The biases and fallacies above are partly to blame. It’s also hard to ignore the elegance of AGW. Some scientists are married for life to the theory. And thus no single data point or study will dissuade them from believing in CAGW. And it shouldn’t.

    But what about the evidentiary value of scores of new insights accumulated over decades. . Shouldn’t the cumulative impact of findings pointing to a greater role for Natural Variability be given more weight as that plays out over generations? Shouldn’t scientists in 2050 or 2080 give greater consideration to Natural Variability if the models are still running hot, and more predictions have failed and sea levels haven’t drowned cities and the Ice Sheets are still intact?

    For the last few decades, evidence for Natural Variability has been looked at in isolation, or suspect, or of little value. As we move toward 2100, the science needs to view that evidence not only for its cumulative import but also its compounding effect. Those contra indicators might seem insignificant now, but as they grow over time, those findings ought to weigh on our minds and affect policy in an ever increasing way.

    A graph showing growth of an account with only 1% compounded daily eventually becomes parabolic, given enough time.

  66. Try this as comprehensive evidence we have of nothing unusual happening.


    There is comprehensive evidence that this warm period is colder than all the otherw for the last 8,000 years and follows a similar pattern to them, so nothing unusual i the observed change.

    Also, the amount of GHE is determined dominantly by water vapour and is NOT a control, the claimed S AGW contribution is 1.6W/m^2 variation in a 300 W/m^2 GHE, and simply alters the lapse rate hence SST. BUT that’s not the control, which is the evaporative response of the oceans to SST change by removing the surface heat and creating clouds that reduce insolation, and vice versa. This is the control, and is a strong and dominant negative feedback that ensures the stability of planetary climate. CO2 does nor because it cannot, it is a small perturbation to the system, easily corrected. As the facts show, an undetectable effect versus far greater historical change.

    I suggest we have comprehensive evidence of what actually happens and we know how it works. Both of these fact based realities show in very tsraightforward and fundamental physics way that the theories of AGW caused by CO2 as a cause of significant climate variability must be wrong, because they are not happening as observed, change is normal, and the planetary climate control is far more powerful than the prturbation that AGW can cause, if real as modelled.. The HTML window is mangling my text, hope it is OK as sumitted.

  67. The main bias is the belief that the natural variability of the annular modes, ENSO, and the AMO, is unforced. The nomenclature ‘internal variability’ explains nothing and begs no questions. It’s rather like the prisoners in Plato’s cave, with none seeing the role of the Sun. Nothing to say on everything that we need to know about most, the NAO/AO, ENSO, and AMO anomalies, and much talk about what we need to know about least, the global mean surface temperature.

  68. thecliffclavenoffinance

    I consider the biggest problem with “modern” climate science is tbe repeated, wrong wild guesses of the future climate we’ve been hearing for the past 50 years. Wrong predictions are not science.

    The two biggest problems with government bureaucrat climate “science” is the appeal to authority logical fallacy, combined with the suppression of academics who study, or want to study, and publish non-leftist consensus climate science studies and articles … by other academics, and sometimes by students too.

    • thecliffclavenoffinance

      I had to think about this before posting because it will insult a certain owner of this blog … but that never stopped me before:

      The belief that Ph.D”s know what they are talking about, even when they predict the future, is a big problem in “modern” climate science. This belief is shared by people who have earned Ph.D’s, and people who listen to them. This is a subset of the appeal to authority logical fallacy. When it comes to predicting the future climate, laymen are smarter than Ph.Ds, becaUse they are more willing to say “I don’t know”, which is the correct answer.

      • Steven Mosher

        ” When it comes to predicting the future climate, laymen are smarter than Ph.Ds, becaUse they are more willing to say “I don’t know”, which is the correct answer.”

        this is the flipside of the appeal to authority.

      • thecliffclavenoffinance

        No one listens to laymen or references their tweets, especially when they correctly say “I don’t know” about the future climate.

        The appeal to authority is leftists like you DEMANDING that we listen to their favorite scientists with Ph.Ds … who get attention, publicity and job security by predicting a climate crisis, even though they have no idea what the climate will be like in 100 years. They are afraid to say “No one knows”. They are afraid to admit their computer games are just their personal opinions that predict whatever they want predicted. They are afraid to admit their surface numbers include more wild guesses than actual measured temperatures before 1920, almost entirely in the Northern Hemisphere. All this adds up to only rough knowledge of the past global average temperature … and no possible reliable prediction of the future global average temperature. You often defend yhe junk science, but that is your fault, not ours!

  69. We have concentrated on co2 but surely we have another and earlier example of a belief that can be questioned due to lack of actual empirical evidence. Such a one is the ozone hole which seems to be one of the largest in recent years

    Last year there was a huge fuss made of the smallish hole with many proclamations that it was proof the Montreal protocol was working. Much less comment this year


    • Excelent point Tonyb. Way too much attention paid to first order effects.

      • Jack

        After researching further I note that earlier this year the arctic hole was the largest on record, exciting and concerning scientists. It was driven by exceptionally cold winter temperatures,


      • I think we may be missing the longer term effect of those massive SSW (Sudden Stratospheric Warming) events. Their fingerprints are on several extreme atmospheric disturbances over the last few decades. Unfortunately they have a very short observational record. I hope the ESA’s Aeolus LiDAR satellite gets to scan the next one.

    • Good catch, Tony.

    • There has been pressure for the R134a refrigerant to be replaced as it is still discerned to be a problem. Is it really or is this seasonal event due to 24/7 exposure to the Solar wind at spring time? You can rest assured there will be some other justification based on pseudo science created to reprise this scam on a regular basis by law to ensure a churn in the A/C business. THis is as Bill Gates MIcrosoft still does with operating systems, ensuring there is no support or backwards compatibility. What government calls anti trust corruption by law it is happy to impose on behalf of its making laws that rpofit them. That’s because the lobbysits have bought the legislating politicians up front. State sector organised crime.

      • There is a meme for that: “control-fraud racketeering.” Once we recognize the pattern, we discover it all around us. It’s even a human behavioral algorithm, and started with religion itself. Check it out…

      • Suggest you read the killer line at the end of Clive James’ “Mass Death Dies Hard”, indeed the whole thing for another very perceptive angle – from a humanities and arts guy. Same racketeering, different perspective.

  70. Framing bias is a dominant feature of the CO2 alarmist-warming narrative. There is a single story about back-radiation around which it all revolves. This is essentially:
    -sunlight is shortwave
    -sun-heated earth surface emits long wave IR
    -increasing CO2 slows the passage of IR heat energy from the surface space-wards
    -atmosphere heats up

    Now being a simple argument is not a problem per se if it is correct. It is for instance correct to warn someone, “don’t step off this cliff or gravity will make you fall a long way which is bad”. This is a simple argument depending on understanding of gravity only (Newtonian quite adequate) and is correct.

    However the back radiation CO2 story depends on several assumptions, one of which has been shown by straightforward experiment not to be true. It is assumed that in an IR radiation field realistic to the atmosphere, CO2 absorbs more heat energy than other gases. Thomas Allmendinger in 2016 showed that this is not true, at least in terms of heating of gases by IR. (He took care to exclude a container effect.)

    Allmendinger demonstrated that pure air, CO2 and argon heat up identically in a climate-realistic IR field. They heat up at the same rate up to the same limiting temperature.

    So that pillar of CAGW is gone – that was easy. Let’s all move on to something else.

    But not so fast. Maybe CAGW doesn’t need IR to heat CO2 more than other gases. Maybe it just needs to make more – or less – bounces between molecules and the cause the IR photons to hang around longer, and for heat to move upwards more slowly for complex indirect reasons. Maybe so. But this is not the CAGW argument as most understand it. This highlights the fact that there are several different greenhouse warming theories out there, some simple and patently false, for public consumption, others much more complex for the rarified tastes of an inner sanctum of scientists only. This was best explained by … Clive Best:

    Clive showed that the simple public version argument about greenhouse back-radiation is easy to show to be wrong. However behind the closed doors of the scientists’ guild the more serious argument is about emission height changing and gets out of the problem of the early extinction of IR in the air by contrivances such as the shoulders of spectral troughs and arcana about vibrational modes.

    This all looks like smoke and mirrors and is far from transparent and self-evident. Which doesn’t bode well for it being true.

    • I spend time presenting this at a more workmanlike level, and the argument is easy to destroy using the figures the “consnesus” present. As I said in my earlier post. Use their own weapons on them.

      The GHE effect to achieve the 288 deg surface temperature involves adding 300W/m^2 of GHE to the up and down LW IR radiation in the troposphere as described in the NASA diagram. The majority of this effect is from is Water vapour, a small part of it is CO2, and a smaller part due to whatever of the 120 ppm pf CO2 is from humans.

      The IPCC say this at worst has an effect of 1.6W/m^2, in 300W/m^2 total GHE. Catastrophe? Hardly. Bite me. This might produce a very small SST change IF there was no natural control of such perturbation. But there is.

      The GHE and the small human CO2 content of it are NOT A CONTROL, they are an effect within the overall system.

      The oceans will respond to such a change with strong compensating negative feedback that changes evaporation and cloud formation, currently at around 150W/m^2 per NASA, that can vary by up to 10% per degree in the tropics, to negate the change, an effect thjat has worked well since there were oceans, for extrairdinary asteroids and super volcanoes as well as for each regular ice age cycle interglacial warming, whose warming it terminates as the tropical oceans evaporation increases exponentially to reach saturated turbo feedback at 30 degrees SST, and start to spread North and South.

      What actually happens isn’t hard to grasp. It’s just PhD scientists are rubbish at explaining it, and argue over specialised points while ignoring the big picture of what actually happens in fact. TGHE is not a control, CO2 much less so, and the human bit of CO2 is tiny, per their numbers, and the whole thing is anyway well controlled controlled by the jpined up planetary control system of oceanic evaporation they never mention while arguing piddling bits of GHE. WHY? How to lose a perfectly winnable argument, choose the wrong agenda, CO2 effect, not how the system really works.

      Analog: If you insulate your home you don’t move your thermostat, the system takes care of reducing the heat input. Obs. Probably.

    • Steven Mosher


      • strawman
        You mean there are still more CAGW theory versions out there, beyond those that I mentioned? Which one is real and which ones are the straw men? Or do you prefer to keep us guessing?

      • Matthew R Marler

        Steven Mosher: strawman

        Specifics please

    • That is not how the GHE works.
      Look up Beer-Lambert law.
      In short path length matters, therefore the experiment you quote is irrelevant to the science.
      A path length of kilometres is a tad difficult to achieve in a lab.

  71. 1. The most common defence of any argument is ad hominem, or personal attack against the opponent. Same today as it was 2500 years ago.
    2. As for appeal to authority. As Socrates implied in Plato’s Collected Dialogs (Meno) the issue with ‘appeal to authority’ is it’s a general way to avoid debate. For example: one simply state’s ‘the IPCC are right’, or I agree with ‘97% of scientists’. One doesn’t have to give an argument used in an IPCC reports, know what the IPCC say in detail, or what the 97% are supposed to agree on. As such: appeal to authority is a pretence: pretending to know an argument but not actually knowing anything.
    3. Binary thinking, and the related False Dilemma fallacy forever turn subtle grey areas into yes/no, right/wrong issues. Often because, after becoming politicised, many feel they must take a side, which means the ‘other side’ are wrong on everything.

    We find these 3 fallacies very popular with the most ignorant of debaters; because one can use them without knowing any details of any issue. One simply has to know which side one is on.

  72. I think the 4th most common fallacy, after the 3 above, is projection. When projecting: one imagines, motives, beliefs and arguments your opponent never stated. For example: because you ‘know’ climate alarmism is a Marxist, globalist plot to institute world socialism, you, project those attributes onto the person you’re debating. Often by accusing them of only being a climate alarmist as part of a socialist takeover movement. This fallacy is equally badly used by both sides. For example: I think the accusation of ‘fossil fuel shill’ is as much a projection as it’s ad hominem.

  73. The ultimate counter argument that never fails.
    Donald J. Trump, Sept. 3, 2020
    “”Well, what’s your definition of control?” Trump replied, adding: “I think it’s under control.”

    “How? A thousand Americans are dying a day,” Swan said.
    “They are dying. That’s true. And you — it is what it is,” Trump said emphatically.”

    • Trump has many excellent arguments, for example, how about the argument that there would be fewer cases of Covid if you tested less? That’s pretty good.

      And Pence is no such either: His argument that Trump/Pence created more jobs in the last 6 months than Obama/Biden did in 8 years is an all time classic.

  74. No slouch….

  75. Wholly unmentioned here is the academic disease of mistaking idea for reality.

    • Your overriding point dominates practical lay. discussions with “Laymen”. And womone to ensure LGBTBLMAGW compatibility.

      But it isn’t what the question asked for.

      For you, then, as I answered the Framing question above, already:

      We KNOW from observations and calculations the climate control does not work and has not ever worked as described by the activists. Because that is inherentky unstable and the observations we have say otherwise, only theories suggest activist scenarios and they have not happened since 1979 for sure.

      Cycicly speaking andon the observations speaking it is cooler than since records began, there is no measurable difference in climate change cycles due to CO2, in measured facr. So it’s wrong. Models are guess, theories that are proven wrong by or right, by obsservation. In this clear statement is the answer to climate change from AGW influeneced GHE. GHE is not a control of climate,BT W. Evaporation is. Both these key points shoul be stated at eevry debate with non specialists, as they are fundamental to any such discussion.

      Not for Judith who knows, but I agree that it is important to explain what is proven or unprovable science and what is not, as expalined here, punch line is at 49 secs. I use this in my talks, or explain it my self:

      In my presentation I was also asked to explain what proxies were or rather, how we took those “proxies”, when ancient humans had no clue about measuring temperature. Its circunstab tial evidence, its better. Nature saved the temperatures for us when we had the technology to read them.

      But it makes explaining the reality of observations very tedious, so I am trying to do better. Below is a narrated video of my WIP PPT, presenting Feynman’s observations we actually have of what has really happened “since records began”, to test the theory,.
      The two slide preamble on how science works makes it too boring, so I must shorten ti, but it is spelling out exactly the point you make to lay people, so your comment would be most welcome. I need tighter script that makes the same points in half the time or less, for the first two slides, which the knowledgeable can skip, but not if you want to help me do it better. ;-).

      Don’t skip the others where the meat is, and do comment, on the facts and science:


      The other WIP talk is to explain the planetary control system, which was no platformed by my institute, the IET (UK IEEE). in particular that we know how the planetary control system works at the macro level, and the control is not the level of insulation in the attic, a change in the rate of heat loss within the control system is a controlled effect, a perturbation to the system, not a control, and the main control is MUCH larger and well known, and controls it. To say otherwise is simply deceitful, not science, just deliberately asserting a known false premise, as the reality of observation shows.

      1. Global Climate Control is not by GHE, or CO2’s small effect on it, in fact.

      2. We know what actually happens from the record of the past. There is no physical/observational evidence for a human effect now, it is not warmer now that any warm spell this interglacial, colder than the last 4. The models predict a rise that is above natural and not happening since 1979.

      How hard can this be?

      Facts tghat are as close as science can get. Unless you’re a believer – in any old Armageddon disasters coming soon you need saving from by a waiting con man – that never happen, fear is your thing? The hard of thought cannot be bought to the path of reality, Belief is easier. Hymn here:

      The lyrics are quite apposite to the problem we face.

      POINT: Why make it harder to make the point? To win through populist support you must have simple facts that people can check themselves and make obvious snese that inspires such acheckbecause people might accpt they are being lied to by politicians and activists, AND they can CAN check the facts.

      Wholly inaccessible radiative models of the troposphere by academic eggheads, or how much GHE there is and how much humans change it is not the real problem, so don’t spend much time on it. Who is that for? Not the people we need to understand, priestly BS. Better to say you will show that is wrong in fact and explain the reality. Use thicker loft insulation as an example if you like. Not a greenhouse that uses glass that is largely LW IR transparent in fact. So that’s Victorian science Gore/Nye BS as well. etc. If you allow yourself to argue their phoney science you lose.

      Activists 1 , Acdemicals Nil.

      Fact: GHE is not important in the variability of climate, just in raising SST 30 degrees.Change in the GHE is easily managed by the dominant control of the oceanic response.

      But you could go too far. Having @MarkSteynOnline explaining this is probably not the best idea, but having him a script consultant would be.

      REALIST (essential re brand) need to go more that way leaning than most academics seem able to, because of the Dunning Kruger effect and a lifetime of introversion in their cosy and over specialised intellectual bubble. WE an ag argue the facts. Just pick the right ones.

      As an engineer I prefer what works that I can prove over guesses that the data denies. I think most people think that way when the chips are down. So KISS applies. If you want to win a truly scieb ntific argument with Feynman’s “Laymen”

      Hope that is clear. Comment welcome. PM me or comment here, but I might miss a comment here. I have another life, just. IMO, IME, Probably. Caveat Lector.


      • Alas, being far away from home, I’m very limited present;y in my internet access. Thus I leave the extended corregenda to others, such as yourself, who recognize that evaporation–not radiation–is the principal mechanism of heat transfer from the surface of an aqueous planet to its atmosphere.

      • Nice of you to say so :-). I am working out a simple talk on this. Already no platformed by my own professional institution before I gave it, because the whole joined up system is so blindingly obvious and can be described using the tools produced by NASA and the IPCC. But academic “realists” can’t seem to bring themselves to discuss the primary weapon of oceanic control as dominant control of a piddly bit of CO2 related GHE, and water related GHE as well. I’m an engineering physicist. If you add to the attic insulation, you don’t change the thermostat. The system takes care of it for you. Same for the planet. GAIA 2.0

        I am trying to create a schematic that describes this visually. It’s probably a cartoon of 4 frames that makes it obvious to anyone.

        I expect you know Titan does the same with a GHE raised surface temperature and a liquid surface with the evaporated liquid from the oceans existing in all three phases in the atmosphere. Except it’s Methane. ;-). Whateverworks.

      • And thus to the Universe, and beyond!

        On An Untested Limb Here: One of my favourite bits of unbelievable bollocks in the radiation discussion is the idea that the so called quantum molecular scattering is lossless and no heat is transferred in the scattering. Look at the TOA spectrum again. If the scattering was lossless there would be no loss of energy and no dent in the TOA IR spectrum seen from space. So that’s BS. If the gap is there, the IR has lost energy in the atmospheric scattering processes – and warmed it. The emitted wavelength is degraded. Also CO2 plays little part in radiating heat to space, the IR only leaves easily when degraded to a frequency that is not attenuated by CO2. Whats wrong with that?

  76. James Hansen says it is necessary to fool ourselves because strict adherence to the scientific method risks climate catastrophe. Pls see

  77. Science was created to give more certainty to the notions of natural philosophy.

    “In experimental philosophy, propositions gathered from phenomena by induction should be considered either exactly or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses, until yet other phenomena make such propositions either more exact or liable to exceptions.

    This rule should be followed so that arguments based on induction be not be nullified by hypotheses.’ Newton’s 4th rule of natural philosophy

    This Harries et al 2001 graph below is empirical proof of increased photon scattering with higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. With all that logically follows from that. I am inclined to think that this empirical science cannot be nullified by the wild and woolly hypotheses I see around here.

    Mechanisms of major, global internal variability includes the sudden shifts in the volume of upwelling on the eastern margin of both the north and south Pacific Ocean. It is driven by surface pressure at poles that modulate ocean and atmosphere circulation and drive feedbacks in upwelling, winds, currents and cloud. Low level strotocumulous cloud over the upwelling regions of the eastern Pacific modulate planetary energy dynamics. Convective cells persist for longer over cold water than warmer. Thus there is a higher cloud cover in La Nina – or a negative PDO – than in El Nino. Cooling the planet.

    Small changes in solar winds drive shifts in global systems. It is a dynamically complex system of thresholds, feedbacks and multiple equilibria in a global fluid flow problem way beyond the capability of any modern computer. What I am left wondering about is what thresholds there are in anthropogenic changes to the Earth system

  78. There is a ubiquitous subconscious model that the climate is an oscillator or a group of oscillators, such as a ball of springs.

    This is expressed routinely in the idea that more heat energy in the system leads to extremes of hot and cold, as if you were banging on this ball of strings, or adding energy to a sine wave and getting higher peaks and deeper troughs.

    Since thermal process have no rebound force, this idea is quite mistaken.

  79. Scott Felden

    I just wanted to point out that the “peak oil crisis” that was all the rage 15 or so years ago might be a good place to look for examples of biased thinking/bandwagon thinking. Investigating the false predictions of peak oil from a distance of about 2 decades foward should provide a template which can then be used to view current predictions regarding AGW, and an understanding of the pattern of thinking of both scientific and lay commenters that lead to supercilious yet false predictions.

  80. Pingback: Helping Curry Crowdsource Examples of “Fallacious Thinking From Climate Science” | Red, Green, and Blue

  81. How the greed and capitalism of the humans now threaten the natural world with destruction by climate change.

  82. Steve Hochman

    “Availability heuristic: The tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater ‘availability’ in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.” This is not a specific example, however, the 24/7 instant news cycle and ability to see “weather” events in real time provides an illusion that these events are occurring more often. When I was a kid, I remember family in NJ sending us a copy of the newspaper, which showed canoes paddling down Main St in Bound Brook, NJ. There were no live news feeds of locals saying “we’ve lived her 40 years an have never seen anything like this…” Had family not sent us that newspaper, we would never have seen an image or known about the flooding. Today? I tornado touches down in a cornfield and 20 minutes later the images, captured on a phone, appear on CNN, FOX and the Weather Channel. NOTHING is invisible anymore…therefore, frequency “seems” to be greater, even when the data does not support it. Imagine for one moment, the Blizzard of 1888 occurring today (30 ft – 40 ft snowdrifts) or even Hurricane Donna in 1960….the live images would be staggering…they would be immediately called “unprecedented”…and the news would surely be calling it the result of climate change. It’s life on Earth…but the damage caused by a Hurricane Donna TODAY vs 1960, when the East Coast was not developed like today? Armegeddon.

  83. A true logical argument is simply one in which the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. In debates around climate science, at least from my observation, these somehow appears never to be explicitly made.

    If one were to make an actual logical argument for CO2 induced global warming (whether in general or concluding as a quantity or effect over a period of time), in which the conclusion is absolutely valid by the rules of logic, then I believe that the reasons for scientific skepticism would be much more apparent. At the very least, a properly formulated logical argument would make it much easier for people to understand what is being assumed in order to support the conclusion, and this would in turn form a productive framework with which people could challenge the degree to which we should agree with the assumptions on which the conclusion is based.

    This also, of course, informs the idea of climate modeling. A model comes to a conclusion on the basis of its assumptions, which include an implicit assumption that there are no other unincluded relevant factors the inform the result. A very clear list of the key assumptions bundled into climate models would similarly, I believe, make it more clear on what basis there are reasonable bases for skepticism of model results.

    • T be incay ted while the model is running….

      Double, double toil and trouble;
      Fire burn and caldron bubble.
      Fillet of a fenny snake,
      In the caldron boil and bake;
      Eye of newt and toe of frog,
      Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
      Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
      Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
      For a charm of powerful trouble,
      Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

      Double, double toil and trouble;
      Fire burn and caldron bubble.
      Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
      Then the charm is firm and good.

      The old modellers skills have not changed, nor the desired outcome of belief.

      • Indeed. Nor the very human penchant for wading so far into doodoo of your own making that your best course of action eventually appears to be just powering all the way through.

        For mine own good
        All causes shall give way. I am in blood
        Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,
        Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

    • Steven Mosher

      “A true logical argument is simply one in which the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. In debates around climate science, at least from my observation, these somehow appears never to be explicitly made.”

      science ain’t logic
      No scientific conclusion is made with logical certainty.

      see induction
      see deduction

      • Logical validity is a separate concept from certainty. Certainty relates primarily to the argument’s assumptions. If scientific conclusions are never certain, that is because the assumptions on which they rest may turn out not to be true. That doesn’t mean that there is no benefit in structuring a scientific argument logically, however.

        If you come to a conclusion through deduction or induction, then you implicitly have to make an assumption that gets you to that conclusion, such as assuming that since something has been observed consistently in the past then it will continue to apply to the next in the series. This may be an entirely reasonable assumption.

        On the other hand, something along the lines of “CO2 is a greenhouse gas that adds heat to the climate system, and therefore adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause the climate to warm” is an illogical argument that requires additional assumptions in order to be logically valid. Those additional assumptions would seem to be exactly the ones that engender skepticism. Spelling out key assumptions helps people to understand how strong or weak a hypothesis really is. Moreover, explicitly spelling out assumptions helps to open up the possibility of falsifiability, which appears to be to climate science as crucifix is to vampire.

      • My theme: “You can only prove a definite theory wrong, or right” (not an indefinite theory) Feynman again.

        Three demonstrably untrue/false in fact definite statements from AR5, hence provably wrong, are that

        1. CO2 gets into the oceanic abyss from the controlling atmosphere, which it might but in fact definitely tens of Gt pa more enter from submarine volcanoes on the ocean floor, probably hundreds of Gigatonnes pa, whose contribution beneath the ocean dwarfs anything on the surface of the continents. A truly massive and wholly zeroed emission of the IPCC’s core scapegoat for climate change..

        2. The CO2 in the atmosphere cannot have been from human emissions that don’t equate to 120ppm change since 1950 that is 225Gt of the 750Gt. There hasn’t been enough Current high level is 34Gt pa from fossil burning, half of which is absorbed and the rest has a residence time of a few years. So where might it otherwise have come from? No prizes for that answer.

        3. The linked and overtly false definite assertion of “IPCC science” is the assumption human CO2 takes thousands of years to be reabsorbed by planetary systems, the dominant one being ocean photosynthesis by plankton, etc, when the natural CO2 takes a few years, given that the system evolved in an environment of several thousand ppm of CO2, so is more likely to absorb CO2 more effectively as concentration increases to the level it was at when photosynthesis sucked it all out of the atmosphere. WE do know current photosynthesis reduces its effectiveness in plants at current low levels by poisoning itself, and increases its use of CO2 in growth as the concentration rises. A basic principal of greenhouse plant growing and also hydroponics.

        4. Not sure if this most crucial fact is in AR5, but it is implicit throughout the whole partial science of GHE, so needs clear up front denial as wrong in fact..

        GHE is not a control, it’s a change in the lapse rate, thermal planet lagging, a tiny change in the 300W/m^2 of assumed GHE that is AR5’s 1.6W/m^2 may slightly perturb SST, but that is returned to equilibrium by the actual planetary climate control of evaporation and its consequences in the atmosphere.

        How else do the IPCC suggest the planet stablilised its climate so successfully against many massive exceptional events and many interglacial warmings over 500 Million years for sure?

        It was working before humans existed, and will keep working when humans are long extinct, controlled by the dominant effects, not the tiny peripheral noise humans have created in making the planet safer for them to co exist with , when nature is constantly trying to kill us through lack of food and shelter and attack us with disease.

        Most Green beliefs are provable delusional on their definite theories. So they don’t have too many of those, most are indefinite.

        So many lies, so little time.

      • Curious George

        “No scientific conclusion is made with logical certainty.”

        Nonsense. Scientific premises usually lack a logical certainty, but the conclusion follows from them with a logical certainty. As the premises are less than guaranteed, the conclusion itself is not guaranteed either, but it is reached in a perfectly logical step.

  84. Planet effective temperature Te and Planet average surface temperature Tsat.mean are completely different physics terms

    Planet effective temperature Te is the planet surface uniform temperature in Kelvin when assuming planet emits the incident on the sunlit side solar flux’s energy uniformly distributed on the entire planet’s surface (the sunlit and the dark).

    Therefore when we are referring to the planet’s effective temperature Te we have in consideration a uniform temperature at which the entire planet’s surface emits the same amount of the incident on the planet energy as the planet does with its actual temperatures distribution on its entire surface.

    So the planet effective temperature is calculated by the equation:

    Te = [ (1-a) S /4σ ]¹∕ ⁴

    a – is the planet surface average albedo (dimensionless)
    S – is the solar flux (W/m²)
    σ = 5,67*10⁻⁸ W/m²K⁴, the Stefan-Boltzmann constant

    What we do here is that we average on the entire planet surface the total energy of incoming solar flux, and then, using the Stefan-Boltzmann emission law, calculate the planet surface effective temperature Te.

    Te is a theoretical uniform temperature which does not exist and cannot be measured on the real planet’s surface, because planet’s surface cannot have a uniform temperature.

    Tsat.mean is a planet average surface temperature in Kelvin. Tsat.mean is a satellite measured planet average surface temperature.

    To have Tsat.mean satellite performs countless measurements on countless planet surface spots. Then computers produce the planet average surface temperature Tsat.mean.

    Tsat.mean is not a planet uniform temperature, so it cannot be compared with the theoretical mathematical abstraction planet surface effective temperature Te.

    Planet effective temperature Te and planet average surface temperature Tsat.mean both are planet solar flux and planet albedo dependent values.

    The difference is that Te is ONLY planet solar flux and planet albedo dependent value.

    As for Tsat.mean it is NOT ONLY planet solar flux and planet albedo dependent value.

    Tsat.mean is also a planet rotational spin N and planet surface specific heat cp dependent value.

    That is why we observe for the slow rotating Mercury and Moon the Tsat.mean satellite measured average surface temperatures being lower than the Mercury’s and Moon’s Te effective temperatures.

    For the faster rotating planets and moons in the solar system we observe Tsat.mean temperatures being MUCH HIGHER than the uniform theoretical effective temperatures.

    And that is why Earth’s satellite measured average surface temperature Tmean = 288 K, when Earth’s effective temperature Te = 255 K.

    And that is why the difference 288 Κ – 255 Κ = Δ33 oC does not exist in the real world.


    There is not a Δ33 oC greenhouse warming effect on the Earth’s surface.

    Let’s not fool ourselves anymore.

  85. Scott Felden

    I am not sure if the first post made it through, what biases do you think were the cause of the false peak oil predictions from the early 2000s?

  86. The fallacy of tunnel vision is a failure of critical thinking and problem solving skills. Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement production – from 1750 to 2011 – was about 365 billion metric tonnes as carbon (GtC), with another 180 GtC from deforestation and agriculture. Of this 545 GtC, about 240 GtC (44%) had accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 GtC (28%) had been taken up in the oceans with slight consequent acidification, and 150 GtC (28%) had accumulated in terrestrial ecosystems. Climate and ecologies are chaotic – and this implies that these systems are both unpredictable and vulnerable to small changes. Small changes initiate large and rapid changes in internal dynamics. It is the key reason why caution is warranted when changing such a fundamental system as the atmosphere. An example – carbon dioxide increase allows plants to reduce the size and number of stomata. Plants can access the same amount of carbon dioxide for growth and lose less water resulting in a change in terrestrial hydrology.

    There are implications for the hydrological cycle, fire regimes, biodiversity, vegetation structure, etc. It is impossible to foresee the ramifications of this. It is an example where the risk is of severe and irreversible change. But it is possible to return most of the atmospheric carbon increase to vegetation and soils in ways that improve agricultural productivity, enhance food security, conserve biodiversity and create more flood and drought tolerant food production systems. While buying time for the development of 21st century energy systems to supply cheap and abundant energy for the essential needs of humanity.

    It can be subsumed into reducing multiple and perhaps more significant and immediate pressures on the spatio-temporal Earth system than climate change. While building infrastructure more resilient to the extremes that nature has always thrown at us.

  87. Tony Bellows

    George Orwell has an interesting take on this in his article about the Oval Earth Theory, in which he points out that in the case of some science, for most people, at some point, we have to rely on expert authority. He takes the simple case of the shape of the earth.

    It’s not a fallacy, but an argument for the limits of knowledge and the need to rely on experts, which, of course, can be mistaken.

    His conclusion (full article above)

    “It will be seen that my reasons for thinking that the earth is round are rather precarious ones. Yet this is an exceptionally elementary piece of information. On most other questions I should have to fall back on the expert much earlier, and would be less able to test his pronouncements. And much the greater part of our knowledge is at this level. It does not rest on reasoning or on experiment, but on authority. And how can it be otherwise, when the range of knowledge is so vast that the expert himself is an ignoramous as soon as he strays away from his own speciality? Most people, if asked to prove that the earth is round, would not even bother to produce the rather weak arguments I have outlined above. They would start off by saying that ‘everyone knows’ the earth to be round, and if pressed further, would become angry. “

  88. UK-Weather Lass

    A.P. Wadsworth, the editor of the Manchester Guardian in 1950, made a decree that superlatives should be used very sparingly in the news, in every sense of the word, to avoid giving readers the impression they should be constantly in a state of excitement, anxiety or fear. It’s a pity the paper’s current editorial staff seem unable to exercise any restraint over superlatives at all.

    Is the evidence of superlative abuse across our media and in much of our current affairs another way of fooling ourselves to prevent reasonable doubt from being present in any matter under scrutiny, be it scientific or otherwise?

  89. An excerpt from my blog as food for thought (Series 4.2):…The upshot is that our cognitive errors (and biases) aren’t features of untrained, ignorant, or morally reprehensible people, but rather occur as a result of regularities in the human cognitive/perceptual system — a system that most often works incredibly well!
    The most highly-skilled and conscientious among us might be better equipped to recognize and avoid certain errors, but none escape making them. Fortunately, as noted, there are usually few serious consequences to these inevitable glitches. But sometimes our errors in judgment can be very costly — for ourselves as well as others; e.g. The Titanic. The problem, as Kahneman explains, is that it can be very hard — even impossible — to catch ourselves in errors leading to poor judgments. But this is not an entirely hopeless situation. With the aid of his book and some dedicated practice, we might correct ourselves before we do some damage. However, particularly for decisions with high-stakes, relying solely on one’s own judgment is an unwarranted gamble. The most reliable way to avoid mistakes is to seek an outside view from someone who is also trained to recognize systematic errors. Why? As Kahneman notes, what we humans are good at is noticing when others are “walking into a cognitive minefield.” And not only are we good at detecting others’ impending mistakes, but also we’re motivated to notice.  How? It’s fun to point out others’ gaffes! For these reasons, Kahneman says he “orients [Thinking, Fast and Slow] to “water-cooler gossips [since] it is much easier, as well as far more enjoyable, to identify and label the mistakes of others than recognize our own.” (pp 3-4, pp 417-481)Daniel Kahneman’s overarching goal in Thinking, Fast and Slow is not only to provide people the tools to identify cognitive/perceptual errors (and biases), but also to give each a language with which to use these tools to  provide “fair and sophisticated criticism” to others. And it’s this last point that warrants some criticism of its own. I’ll explain.As much as I recommend everyone read Thinking, Fast and Slow, I’m left with two worries.1) We’re not always willing to take correction from others, especially from those we don’t like. “Fair and sophisticated criticism” — however well-intentioned, polite, clearly stated, and accurate — uttered from the lips of someone we find morally reprehensible or intellectually inferior (or both) is often really hard to accept. In the worst case scenario, we might not only reject the criticism, but also pursue our (possibly) erroneous reasoning with all the more vigour — the so-called backfire effect. And if our mistakes are particularly costly, and embarrassing, we’ll often dislike our critic all the more. In this light, the current political polarization can’t be very healthy for decision-making on either side of the divide.2)In even the best of relationships, “fair and sophisticated” criticism can be taken as a slight and permanently damage friendships. There is always some risk of hard-feelings when we criticize another, and we tend to do a calculation before we open our mouths. Yet no matter how careful our wording, we can nevertheless be misunderstood. And there are other hazards. We make errors in judgment about when and how we should offer a criticism. To avoid this difficulty, we sometimes ask people to vet the criticism we’re about to offer another friend or colleague. But in so doing we’re relying on their own better judgments — which as we’ve seen aren’t always so reliable. And so on. The upshot is that we’re rather stuck in a best-we-can-do world where social risks weigh in our decisions as much as more concrete risks; e.g. how to safely cross a river. And in both cases, we are forever building bridges.What to do? A careful study of Kahneman’s book may go some way to removing barriers to listening to others’ criticisms; e.g. providing good reasons to be a little less sure of one’s own judgments and to value an outside view. And if these reasons are taken both to heart and to mind, we might foster a habit of humility. Humility being the stance that, well I might be wrong. Or, not quite as right as I think I am. But humility will take us only so far. Strong feelings — particularly repulsion or dislike, fear and shame — are difficult to surmount. As David Hume says, “These sentiments are not to be controlled or altered by any philosophical theory or speculation whatever.” Says he, “Nature will always maintain her rights, and prevail in the end over any abstract reasoning whatsoever.”David Hume. Eric Steinberg, Ed. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Hacket Publishing Company, Inc.: Indianapolis. 1993. (p 68.)Recommended reading as a complement to Thinking, Fast and Slow is Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind : Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. See, Just a Thought. 14.A study of Haidt’s moral theory alongside Kahneman’s work on our cognitive/perceptual errors and biases might well make the barriers to both offering and receiving criticism a little more surmountable.

    • PAM thanks for stopping by, I went to your blog, I like it, will read more when I have time.

      • Thank you Judith!

        I wrote my Honour’s Thesis on the Rhetoric of the Climate Debate. And I did an independent study on “Denialism” in my grad years. Oh boy, do I have examples for your project! I’m thrilled they’ll go to good use! I have to do some organising, but I’m on task. What kind of time constraints are you under?

        My best as ever, Pam

  90. Sorry I’ve posted without paragraph breaks. I don’t know how to edit my comment at this point. P

  91. There is of course a culture war in which truth is lost and the classical liberal values of democracy, the rule of law and individual freedom are sacrificed to the exigencies of power. It has contaminated popular culture well beyond those who have heard of Nietzsche or Heidegger – both plodding buffoons. And creates a social milieu in which any outrageous lie, misrepresentation or distortion is allowable. Even on trivial interpersonal matters postmodernism is everywhere. It permeates every corner of political life. Both sides. In climate science it results in unfalsifiable hypotheses usurping the centrality of empirical observation.

    The reality of this has been observed.

    Process can be modelled – locally if not globally.

    This and more has been observed.

  92. Earth’s Without-Atmosphere Mean Surface Temperature Equation is: [ Φ (1-a) So (β*N*cp)¹∕ ⁴ /4σ ]¹∕ ⁴

    Τ = [ 0,47(1-0,306)1.361 W/m²(150 days*gr*oC/rotation*cal *1rotations/day*1 cal/gr*oC)¹∕ ⁴ /4*5,67*10⁻⁸ W/m²K⁴ ]¹∕ ⁴ =

    Τ = ( 6.854.905.906,50 )¹∕ ⁴ = 287,74 K = 287,74 Κ

    And we compare it with the = 288 K, measured by satellites.

    These two temperatures, the calculated one, and the measured by satellites are almost identical.

    The calculated planets temperatures are almost identical with the measured by satellites.


    Mercury….439,6 K…….325,83 K…..340 K
    Earth………255 K………287,74 K…..288 K
    Moon……..270,4 Κ…….223,35 Κ…..220 Κ
    Mars……209,91 K……..213,21 K…..210 K

    The 288 K – 255 K = 33 oC difference does not exist in the real world.
    There are only traces of greenhouse gasses.

    The Earth’s atmosphere is very thin. There is not any measurable Greenhouse Gasses Warming effect on the Earth’s surface.

    We had to answer these two questions:
    1. Why Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t affect the Global Warming?

    It is proven now by the Planet’s Mean Surface Temperature Equation calculations. There aren’t any atmospheric factors in the Equation. Nevertheless the Equation produces very reasonable results: = 287,74 K,

    calculated by the Equation, which is the same as the = 288 K,

    measured by satellites.

    Tmean.moon = 223,35 K, calculated by the Equation, which is almost identical with the

    Tsat.mean.moon = 220 K, measured by satellites.

    2. What causes the Global Warming then?

    The Global Warming is happening due to the orbital forcing.

    And… what keeps Earth warm at = 288 K, when Moon is at Tsat.mean.moon = 220 K? Why Moon is on average 68 oC colder? It is very cold at night there and it is very hot during the day…

    Earth is warmer because Earth rotates faster and because Earth’s surface is covered with water.

    Does the Earth’s atmosphere act as a blanket that warms Earth’s surface?

    No, it does not.

    • Albedo varies – as indeed does IR out.

      “On global scales, three things can affect this energy flow and therefore, the average global surface temperature. As shown in the figure below, they are the planet’s distance from the Sun, the planet’s surface reflectivity (albedo), and the planet’s atmosphere (through a process called the greenhouse effect).”,is%20determined%20by%20its%20size.

    • We have moved further from the incomplete effective temperature equation

      (which is in common use right now, but actually it is an incomplete planet Te equation and that is why it gives us very confusing results)

      Te = [ (1-a) S / 4 σ ]¹∕ ⁴

      a – is the planet’s surface average albedo
      S – is the solar flux, W/m²
      σ = 5,67*10⁻⁸ W/m²K⁴, the Stefan-Boltzmann constant

      We have discovered the Planet Without-Atmosphere Mean Surface Temperature Equation

      Tmean = [ Φ (1-a) S (β*N*cp)¹∕ ⁴ /4σ ]¹∕ ⁴ (1)

      The Planet Without-Atmosphere Mean Surface Temperature Equation is also based on the radiative equilibrium and on the Stefan-Boltzmann Law.

      The Equation is being completed by adding to the incomplete Te equation the new parameters Φ, N, cp and the constant β.

      Φ – is the dimensionless Solar Irradiation accepting factor

      N – rotations /day, the planet’s axial spin

      cp – cal /gr*oC, the planet’s surface specific heat

      β = 150 days*gr*oC/rotation*cal – is the Rotating Planet Surface Solar Irradiation Absorbing-Emitting Universal Law constant.

      • See above – but Stefan-Boltzman is not the core climate equation. Navier-Stokes is.

      • Robert wrote:

        “On global scales, three things can affect this energy flow and therefore, the average global surface temperature. As shown in the figure below, they are the planet’s distance from the Sun, the planet’s surface reflectivity (albedo), and the planet’s atmosphere (through a process called the greenhouse effect).”

        Robert wrote:

        “See above – but Stefan-Boltzman is not the core climate equation. Navier-Stokes is.”

        I looked in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for Navier-Stokes equations.

        “In physics, the Navier–Stokes equations (/nævˈjeɪ stoʊks/) are a set of partial differential equations which describe the motion of viscous fluid substances, named after French engineer and physicist Claude-Louis Navier and Anglo-Irish physicist and mathematician George Gabriel Stokes.”

        Robert, in Navier-Stokes equations there is nothing said about Earth’s climate, not a mention of the planet’s distance from the sun, not a word about planet’s albedo…

      • Clouds, water vapour. precipitation – it is all a fluid flow problem.

      • Christos:
        “Robert, in Navier-Stokes equations there is nothing said about Earth’s climate, not a mention of the planet’s distance from the sun, not a word about planet’s albedo…”

        “Clouds, water vapour. precipitation – it is all a fluid flow problem.”

        Robert, in Navier-Stokes equations there is nothing said about Earth’s climate,

      • “‘Perhaps we can visualize the day when all of the relevant physical principles will be perfectly known. It may then still not be possible to express these principles as mathematical equations which can be solved by digital computers. We may believe, for example, that the motion of the unsaturated portion of the atmosphere is governed by the Navier–Stokes equations, but to use these equations properly we should have to describe each turbulent eddy—a task far beyond the capacity of the largest computer. We must therefore express the pertinent statistical properties of turbulent eddies as functions of the larger-scale motions. We do not yet know how to do this, nor have we proven that the desired functions exist’.” Ed Lorenz 1969

        The change in heat and work in the Earth system energy content – thus warming and cooling – equals energy in less energy out. Incoming energy is measured to some precision – outgoing energy is measurable with substantial absolute imprecision. Outgoing energy – and its substantial variability from internal factors – snow, ice, cloud, water vapour, dust, etc, – can in principle be calculated as fluid flow problem in which the relevant properties of mass, and momentum are conserved. Although that still requires 1000’s of times more computing power. Nor have we yet proven that the desired statistical functions exist.

      • It doesn’t matter. It’s taken care of.

        We know that the massive oceanic feedback control by evaporation and cloud formation easily dominates the tiny effect on SST of the AGW that the IPCC claim of 1.6W/^2 in the 300W/m^2 that is the amount of GHE estimated to account for the difference between rocky atmosphere free planet and water covered Earth.

        This is only a tiny perturbation in GHE and hence SST, easily managed by the combination of the change in the evaporative response of 100W/m^2 to SST change and in the 50W/m^2 of Albedo, exponentially increasing with temperature and seriously powerful in the tropics at 30 degs SST.

        This powerful control has maintained planetary stability within a few degrees up and down for 500 Million years for sure, through asteroids, super volcanoes and mass extinctions. The planet is fine with or without us.. The carbon based froth gets trashed and recycled by something else springing up or crawling out of the ocean to start some new evolutionary pathways. The Planet is not bovered. Just isn’t. I suggest the maths is not hard, if you ask the right questions, and don’t make it hard so only climate geeks get it.

      • Hurst-Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics are based on remarkable observations of geologic time series – and equally of experiments in turbulence. From the small to the large – the mathematics is fractal and bound by uncertainty and unpredictability.
        CC BY-SA 3.0,

        Observation shows that low level marine stratocumulous is a positive SST feedback. Closed convection cells persist for longer over cooler water
        – before raining out to leave open cells with a lower domain albedo. Loss of cloud is implicated in the extreme of the ‘Eocene Optimum’.

        “Marine stratocumulus cloud decks forming over dark, subtropical oceans are regarded as the reflectors of the atmosphere.1 The decks of low clouds 1000s of km in scale reflect back to space a significant portion of the direct solar radiation and therefore dramatically increase the local albedo of areas otherwise characterized by dark oceans below.2,3 This cloud system has been shown to have two stable states: open and closed cells. Closed cell cloud systems have high cloud fraction and are usually shallower, while open cells have low cloud fraction and form thicker clouds mostly over the convective cell walls and therefore have a smaller domain average albedo.4–6 Closed cells tend to be associated with the eastern part of the subtropical oceans, forming over cold water (upwelling areas) and within a low, stable atmospheric marine boundary layer (MBL), while open cells tend to form over warmer water with a deeper MBL. Nevertheless, both states can coexist for a wide range of environmental conditions.”

        Fine scale modelling of low level cloud processes by climate geek Tapio Schneider aand his team at Caltech –
        – suggest the risk of rapid global temperature increases of some 8K.

        The challenge is find rational responses to Earth system risk. “This pragmatic strategy centers on efforts to accelerate energy innovation, build resilience to extreme weather, and pursue no regrets pollution reduction measures — three efforts that each have their own diverse justifications independent of their benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation.”,health%2C%20and%20the%20provision%20of

      • It takes a long time and a lot of work to be competent in ant field.

  93. Unavailability bias?

    Censorship by politically motivated groups:

  94. Another cognitive bias is the “Christmas means El Nino” bias. This is followed habitually by many climate scientists who routinely predict a Christmas El Nino every summer-autumn. Regardless of the actual state of the equatorial east Pacific. Right now we have a fairly large La Nina brewing (the opposite of El Nino). But that won’t stop the usual el Nino predictions – hopefully we’ll get some in this thread. (Predicting it every autumn-winter means that deep down they all realise that ENSO is phase-locked to the annual cycle, although they wouldn’t be caught dead using language like that.)

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  100. Here’s a few to get started.

    1) Greenwood, Veronique. “Physicists at the Gate: Collaboration and Tribalism in Science.” Undark. March 28, 2016.

    Online magazine article. Barriers to interdisciplinary research, including the hierarchy of the sciences. Examples, at least, of ‘overconfidence’, ‘self-serving’, and ad hominen circumstantial.

    2) Weart, Spencer. “Rise of interdisciplinary research on climate.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences110.Supplement 1 (2013): 3657-3664. p 3663.

    Excerpt from my own work with quotations from Weart’s article — Pam says: Scientists depend on the very same mechanisms of belief acquisition as laypeople to do science, particularly when they need to consult someone outside the domain of their expertise. Spencer Weart notes that “the most important mechanism [for encouraging universal scientific exchange on climate] was the one that had sustained scientific communities for centuries – you went to meetings and talked with people.” Says Weart, “As one scientist described the system, ‘Most successful scientists develop networks of ‘trusted’ sources – people you know and get along with, but who are specialists in different areas…and who you can just call up and ask for the bottom line….”

    *Note (from Pam) that we’re well-advised to consult people we know and trust, but some trade-offs are the potential for epistemic closure, lack of epistemic rigour (e.g., devil’s advocate), tension between collegiality and epistemic practices, etc.

    3) Evans, James A. “Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship.” Science. AAAS. Vol. 321, Issue 5887, pp. 395-399. July 18, 2008. DOI: 10.1126/science.1150473.

    Excerpt: If online researchers can more easily find prevailing opinion, they are more likely to follow it, leading to more citations referencing fewer articles. Research on the extreme inequality of Internet hyperlinks (14), scientific citations (15, 16), and other forms of “preferential attachment” (17, 18) suggests that near-random differences in quality amplify when agents become aware of each other’s choices. Agents view others’ choices as relevant information—a signal of quality—and factor them into their own reading and citation selections. By enabling scientists to quickly reach and converge with prevailing opinion, electronic journals hasten scientific consensus. But haste may cost more than the subscription to an online archive: Findings and ideas that do not become consensus quickly will be forgotten quickly.

    4) Leonelli, Sabina, “Scientific Research and Big Data”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

    Might be worth a quick perusal. And SEP entries usually have valuable bibliographies. This topic might overcomplicate your project yet, with Evans findings in mind our biases and errors are amplified by our access to data; e.g. search engines are crack cocaine for confirmation bias.

    I hope these are helpful. Please let me know. I have a wide variety of examples, from academic to popular media.

    Best, Pam

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  103. And, a few more:

    1 ) Howarth, Candice C. and Amelia G. Sharman. “Labelling opinions in the climate debate: a critical review”. WIREs Clim Change 2015, 6:239–254. doi: 10.1002/wcc.332


    i) “Some labels within the debate appear to have the intent of being pejorative, such as denier or alarmist, with the latter associated with ‘crying wolf’ or exaggerating danger. Indeed, the very idea of labeling someone as an alarmist, rather than as legitimately sounding alarm at the potential implications of climate change, implies a diminished importance to that individual’s claim and is thus inherently derogative.”

    ii) Denial “is also regarded as the most contentious of the labels, regarded by some as necessary to emphasize the potentially very serious opposition to climate change policy implementation, and obstructive by others, as its reference to Holocaust denial brings a ‘moralistic tone into the climate change debate that we would do well to avoid’*.” (O’Neill SJ, Boykoff MT. Climate denier, skeptic, or contrarian? Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010, 107: E151.) 

    [Pam’s Note: regarding the claim made by some, as noted by Howarth and Sharman above, that the associations of the word denial are “necessary to emphasize the potentially very serious opposition to climate change policy”: by parity of reasoning, “Feminazi” is thought by some to be a necessary term in order to emphasize the potentially very serious opposition to patriarchy!]

    2) Howarth, Candice C. and Amelia G. Sharman. Deniers Vs Alarmists? It’s time to lose the climate debate labels”, The Conversation, February 19, 2015, Online Article.

    3) You have read John Cook and Stephen Lewandowsky’s “Debunking Handook”?

    Good lord. What to say. I recommend that anyone here who has not read this little propaganda piece do so. The hubris … imagine two people each with the Debunking Handbook stuffed in back-pocket, each trying to insert their ‘facts’ into the gap they create in the other’s ‘mental models’ via Cook and Lewandowsky’s instructions. The climate ‘denier’ becomes an ‘asserter’ and vice versa. Or maybe they just cancel each other out. And I’m sure Cook and Lewandowsky are impervious to their own techniques. Hey guys, write down a time you felt good about yourselves … .

    Anyway, you might detect a little sarcasm. What is interesting to me, and may interest you, about the Debunking Handbook is not the Handbook itself but rather that it was given to me by my former-thesis supervisor. Not for academic purposes, but as a helpful gesture to correct some other’s misinformation. So what effect do you think a supervisor handing a booklet like this to his grad student has on her research? ‘This way be dragons’, especially when he indicates one of the authors is a friend. I can’t say whether he knew the effect this gesture would have on me or not.

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  106. Perhaps the worst thing about climate change is that many ideas vital if mainstream views are right (as I believe) and severe heating beckons would have been sensible if it were a damp squib or temperatures fell e.g. after a major volcanic eruption like Tambora in 1815. Examples include restoring fish stocks, less waste, combining conservation with careful use, silviculture and reducing the impact per head and probably numbers of conventional livestock. Instead of adopting such win-win options humanity has spent the last 40 years bickering about who is right. Future generations will struggle to forgive such idiocy.

    • Hello Iain,

      1) You might be interested in Howarth and Sharman’s discussion of a “mainstream”:“ Labelling opinions in the climate debate: a critical review”. WIREs Clim Change 2015, 6:239–254. doi: 10.1002/wcc.332

      I did a little work on the concept of a mainstream as well which I will review to see whether it is worth sharing. What do you mean by mainstream?

      2) Food for thought. I am currently working on an analysis of the conceptual territory under ‘future generations’ political rhetoric. I just wanted to point out that we are someone else’s future generations. If, cf Hume, the future resembles the past, then we can expect future generations to judge our follies as we judge those of our ancestors. Those judgments often change with context, e.g. the era, the region, and its political winds.

      Sometimes we mock the things our ancestors worried about, other times we romanticise them. Sometimes we worry about intergenerational justice, other times we don’t. Much depends on our political purposes.

      3) Are you familiar with Garett Hardin’s short article “The Tragedy of the Commons”? If not, I think you’d appreciate the read.

      You might also be interested in Collective Action Problems by Mancur Olson.

      Best wishes, Pam

    • Tim Palmer describes anthropogenic climate change as sliding a wedge under an executive decision maker. He talks about long term statistics of climate rather than impossible climate predictions.

      The real world system is one of multiple equilibria and abrupt shifts to more or less extreme states.

      “Since “panta rhei” was pronounced by Heraclitus, hydrology and the objects it studies, such as rivers and lakes, have offered grounds to observe and understand change and flux. Change occurs on all time scales, from minute to geological, but our limited senses and life span, as well as the short time window of instrumental observations, restrict our perception to the most apparent daily to yearly variations. As a result, our typical modelling practices assume that natural changes are just a short-term “noise” superimposed on the daily and annual cycles in a scene that is static and invariant in the long run. According to this perception, only an exceptional and extraordinary forcing can produce a long-term change. The hydrologist H.E. Hurst, studying the long flow records of the Nile and other geophysical time series, was the first to observe a natural behaviour, named after him, related to multi-scale change, as well as its implications in engineering designs. Essentially, this behaviour manifests that long-term changes are much more frequent and intense than commonly perceived and, simultaneously, that the future states are much more uncertain and unpredictable on long time horizons than implied by standard approaches. Surprisingly, however, the implications of multi-scale change have not been assimilated in geophysical sciences. A change of perspective is thus needed, in which change and uncertainty are essential parts.”

      Models are based on a nonlinear set of differential equations. Propagating chaos may one day be small enough to enable statistical analysis. Although models are temporally chaotic and the world evolves chaotically in space and time. Fine scale process modelling of the world requires 1000’s of times more computing power.

      I’d suggest as well that a lifetime of works by Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom is more significant for the theory of resource management than the allegory of Garrett Hardin.

  107. Will you include an argument ad baculum, appeal to the stick, accept this conclusion ‘or else’? Some think this argument a fallacy, others, self-included, do not. One is well-advised to believe, or say she believes, that which she believes a credible threat to cause her injury. (I have more to say on this matter in another post).

    Social pressure, the threat of loss of community and reputation in that community, is non-trivial. Some can more afford this loss than others. Social pressure itself isn’t a bad thing as this mechanism is just part of living in groups. Some social pressures are positive, e.g. don’t drive drunk, others negative, e.g. gangs.

    Social pressure can have both a positive and negative influence on our epistemic practices; e.g. the kinds of questions we ought to pursue in research, and those we ought to avoid. Protocols of collegiality and epistemic protocols often come into conflict. Collegial practices facilitate our epistemic practices, but can also constrain them – for better and worse.

    Social pressure can be enacted through arts and games. If one were to read all and only the titles of the following play (1) and interactive game (2), one would get its moral message. If and how they affect epistemic practices in research institutions and to what epistemic consequence is an empirical question. My experience is that by raising this question one is regarded, or suspected, a denier, but my experience is indexed to a particular milieu in a particular institution.

    1) Westcott, Ben. “Kill Climate Deniers’ perfectly predicts Brendan Smyth’s outrage”. Canberra Times online.

    The play’s director Julian Hobba says “there was nothing in the work that encouraged or endorsed violence … The work is a response to the paralysis around proper action to address climate change and it explores some dangerous ideas. However it does so satirically”

    Australian opposition member Brendan Smyth says “If you substitute any other group or organisation for ‘climate deniers’ there would be outrage. If we said “kill feminists” people would be furious or if we put a religious group in there, or a disability group in there or a disadvantaged part of the community in there, there would be outrage,” he said.
    “And there should be outrage over anything that says kill anyone.”

    Pam’s notes re: Hobba and Smyth’s comments above:

    Hobba’s views: There is often a tension around what is considered incitement to harm as in a hate crime, and free expression as in art. (Or what ‘art’ and ‘hate’ even are for that matter.)

    Smyth’s views:

    “Any”, “all”, and “anything” are strong claims and false. Many people would not be furious to substitute “paedophiles” or “Nazis/neo-Nazis” for “climate deniers”. Some draw parallels between climate deniers and the latter. Research on the former is stymied by public outrage.

    As for, “there should be outrage over anything that says kill anyone”, Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ was a box office hit. I don’t know that the Williams of this world were targeted as a result of this title. However, South Park’s ‘Kick a Ginger Day’ episode did play out with some real-world consequences. My red-headed son was unfortunately in junior high when Kick a Ginger was circulating in popular culture. What effect, if any, do morality plays have on research practices? (Note: Even if the plays have a negative effect, I am not advocating banning free expression. I am saying that negative effect should be on the table for discussion in a scholarly community.)
    2) Kate Hennessy, “Kill Climate Deniers: the provocative play that sneakily infiltrated Australia’s Parliament House”, The Guardian, September 26, 2016.

    Arifa Akbar, “Kill Climate Deniers Review – ecowarriors turn up the heat”, The Guardian, June 10, 2019,

    3) Skif, Eric. “The lone climate change denier interactive game”. The Guardian. Environment. January 15, 2016.

    4) Notes from my works: Peer pressure is explicitly regarded as a way to bolster action on climate change. Here are a couple of notable sources. Coral Davenport reports that global peer pressure was the “driving force behind the new deal” reached at the Lima Accord in 2014. The peer pressure tactic is nothing new. Says Davenport, “The structure of the deal is what political scientists often call a ‘name-and-shame’ plan.” Davenport, Coral. “A Climate Accord Based on Global Peer Pressure.” The New York Times. Dec. 14, 2104. And a newsletter from Arizona State University is dedicated to “Peer pressure’s potential to solve climate change.” The newsletter concludes that “social influence offers the most direct path to the behavioural tipping point that could save our planet.” Sustainability News. “Peer pressure’s potential to solve climate change.” Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Arizona State University. October 10, 2016.

    • Alexander Carpenter

      Pam, it’s a pleasure to have you participating here, newly for me. And not just because we are aligned on climate-science and general-science substance, but (probably) on politics as well and the psychodynamics (largely algorithmic) behind it. Even “gaslighting” qualifies as an algorithmic-behavior emergence. Example:

      All watch the Man behind the Curtain!

      Obi-Wan Kenobi: “This is not the Man behind the Curtain you are looking for…”

  108. I messed up my numbering. (2) should be “Skif …”, (3) Notes … — P

  109. Judith: For diverting the argument to unrelated issues, the California wild fires is a great example because the real cause is forest mismanagement – many references to link to.

  110. His master’s voice.

    and on pseudo science, which climate change SO is:

    “and they’re intimidating people”

    Also reprised as “Cargo Cult Science” – a classic cause and effect inversion.


  111. Stuart Harmon

    “There is an urgent need to-day for the citizens of a democracy to think well. It is not enough to have freedom of the Press and parliamentary institutions. Our difficulties are due partly to our own stupidity, partly to the exploitation of that stupidity, and partly to our own prejudices and personal desires.”
    Susan Stebbings
    From memory she also said, and I probably am paraphrasing, “When words lose their meaning man has lost his reason”

  112. It takes a long time and a lot of work to be competent in any field. What we have instead in climate science discourse is duelling incompetencies of wild and woolly hypotheses, denial of authority based on hand waving to authority or consensus built on lowest common denominator science. Combined with an ill-founded intellectual arrogance deriving from group identification.

    There is a first differential global energy equation. The change in global energy content – heat and enthalpy – is equal to energy in less energy out.

    d(H+E)/dt = Ein – Eout

    Energy out varies dramatically – e.g. ice, dust, cloud and atmospheric gases between glacials and interglacials. Emergent states as the complex internal system responds dynamically to relatively small changes in insolation.

    The way climate science is understood is more generally is by tribal narratives. Point by echo chamber rehearsed point. Both sides accuse the other of it – but deny it of themselves. Both claim the socially valued imprimatur of objective science. Both are completely unhinged.

  113. Robert:

    “There is a first differential global energy equation. The change in global energy content – heat and enthalpy – is equal to energy in less energy out.

    d(H+E)/dt = Ein – Eout

    Energy out varies dramatically – e.g. ice, dust, cloud and atmospheric gases between glacials and interglacials. Emergent states as the complex internal system responds dynamically to relatively small changes in insolation.”

    Ok with that, but shouldn’t we calculate the planet mean surface temperature first?

    Tmean = [ Φ (1-a) S (β*N*cp)¹∕ ⁴ /4σ ]¹∕ ⁴ (1)


  114. The example of the particle mass mentioned by Feynman has a modern analogy in paleoanthropology. With the discovery of the afarensis fossils (Lucy et al), human evolution got ‘shortened’ and this was ‘confirmed’ by mitochondrial data suggesting a last common ancestor with chimps about 6 Ma. Now this was based on an average reproduction rate (generation) for all large macaques, baboons, apes and humans, which was turned into a time scale – ignoring that this rate is also a function of time. A crass error. A spate of research came out ‘confirming’ this LCA date of 6 Ma and this dominated research in the 90s. It dawned on the community that this was wrong about 10-15 years ago, but rather than come out and say it was wrong(and face being discredited and by association, discrediting science, the LCA date is being pushed back at a rate of about 1 Ma every 2-3 years. (about 12 Ma in 2016).
    I think we may expect something similar with climate. The expected 2100 temperatures getting a little smaller every 10 years or son.
    Alan ISIPU

    • I’m Brian Catt and I support this message.

      Because it’s how the consensual sciences of inexact unprovable things change, one coffin at a time, more Coffin’ with COVID. It is already happening with the sensitivivty to CO2. See graph of the decreasing sensitivity of temperature to CO2 in the models. Which is why the UN are now bigging up other effects with even less power in fact, like methane from rearing animals, the way their minds work to attempt to stop human development by the increased control of nature and ability to protect ourselves from it is so obvious. UN Agenda 21 for the yet to discover it..

      PS/OBTW: I would like to repeat my blindingly obvious wisdom that GHE is not important in climate change. It’s just a slightly variable effect of our lagging to space, mostly a function of water vapour pressure. GHE itself is not a control, its a well controlled effect within the overall control system, bit like a pre set in electronics, or a trim tab in an aircraft, with AGW having a claimed effect of 1.6W/m^2 in the 300W/m^2 of GHE from mostly water vapour. That isn’t a lot more lagging in the attic, and the effect of the small SST change this creates at the the ocean surface is easily corrected by the massive evaporative response of the ocean that takes the excess heat to space, while forming more clouds to reduce insolation.

      This control is large. Currently at 100W/m^2 total evaporative plus latent heat of condensation and 50W/M^2 albedo, per NASA et al. This varies by up to 10% per deg in the Tropics. and IS the overall control of climate equilibrium. GHE is not. And AGW is 0.5% of GHE at worst, per the IPCC.

      Nothing to see here. What is wrong with this explanation of the climate system?

  115. Pingback: Curry: How We Fool Ourselves |

  116. Prof Curry

    You might also like to add ‘appeal to authority/celebrity/hero’ into your bullet points for ‘convincing others’.

    There are any number of media stories saying ‘XYZ comes out in favour of ABC’.

    The zoologist David Attenborough is regularly rolled out to promote climate alarmism e.g.

    although that link is, of course, about those complaining about his having been wheeled out.

    Here is the other side of the BBC coin, exposed by Breitbart, namely destroying the career of David Bellamy for being a climate skeptic – only of course written after his death (much good that did to resurrect the career of one of the UK’s leading ecologists):

    There is zero possibility that the BBC has ever adhered to its charter of neutrality where climate change is concerned (here is Charles Moore complaining about it: Not the least of its problems is that its ‘science editor’, David Shukman, has no undergraduate degree in science. It makes you wonder why any educated person would turn to the BBC for guidance on the subject….and it came as no surprise to me that finally, the BBC was forced to ‘fess up on the subject:

    The BBC was notorious for always bigging up the ‘seasonal forecasts’ of the Met Office (also a well-known climate alarmist organisation given false status as ‘experts’ due to their grand sounding title rather than their predictive credentials), despite them having a zero predictive utility. Here is the DT announcing the death of that waste of public money:

    Here is Greta Thunberg demanding one rule for her rants and another for those of her detractors:

    Ms Thunberg never stops insulting anyone who disagrees with her, but now she is complaining about personal attacks. She is unopen to the concept of educating herself first before engaging on the global stage…(this is not an ad hominem, it is attesting to the fact that Ms Thunberg is yet to complete her general school education, has no university education and has never performed any climate change research. As a result, it is up to her to prove that despite her educational virginity, she has martialled together sufficient understanding of highly complex issues to be able to argue like a scientist rather than be a spokesperson for a PR campaign crafted by well-endowed third party professionals).

    Not that it is just the alarmists that engage in this: represents a veritable treasure trove of ad hominems as it pursues an agenda supportive of big oil, big coal and nuclear power (note I am not saying that such an agenda is wrong, evil or unprincipled). Christopher Monckton is well known as a rottweiler prepared to use ad hominems with gusto (I know from personal experience that he will assert that someone has mental health issues if they raise fundamental questions about his character) – just look at him referring to Covid19 as ‘the China virus’, either under direct instructions from the Heartland Institute sponsors, from Anthony Watts himself, or from his superiors in the Security Services axis of Five Eyes organised crime (and that is absolutely factual, it is not an ad hominem – just look at the global evidence for CIA/MI6 sponsored black ops, fundraising through drug trafficking and sex slavery etc etc).

    James Delingpole is perhaps the most laughable example of projecting ones own sins onto others: his columns the past 15 years have been a veritable treasure-trove of puerile insults, pointing to a mindset still stuck in pre-adolescent gang culture. His strapline ‘because I am always right’ is designed to irritate anyone more mature than himself and most of it is down to Napoleon syndrome. He attracts those of similar mindset and the BTL comments on his articles are almost entirely free of adult argument. In the end, you conclude that his columns represent a way to get frustrations off their chest for many you tend to have little in common with.

    The scientific test to prove that both sides use self-righteousness and ad hominems all the time is to challenge both sides to BTL debate: if any of you have done so to a significant degree and not having been accused of being both a Marxist and a devotee of Boris Johnson; a climate zealot AND a climate denier; a Putin bot AND a Trump deplorable; a feminist AND a woman-hater; a racist AND an apologist for black degenerate behaviour; then you are all far better diplomats than I am.

  117. I think I am not answering the original question and writing too much so feel free to delete. But I hope my comments are of some relevance and interest. I wonder if engineering has many ways to reduce the occurrence of fooling ourselves issues, and these are not present in climate science which urgently needs to be treated more like engineering is as it is producing a product with massive implications. My comments on science may be wrong and my portrayal of engineering may just be my idealised interpretation of how it should be working.

    I spent my career as a mechanical engineer on product development, a lot of time investigating faults. In that and my mountain adventures I was always curious about how and why we make dangerous mistakes we could have avoided, but I never got round to making a proper study of it.

    I wonder if the reason engineering has made progress in this respect is a bit like evolution, survival. Engineering has to produce a product that works, not one that the customer thinks they want but doesn’t work. It seems to me the cleverer or more inventive you are and the longer and more thoroughly you’ve tried to make sure your product/theory etc is right, the longer you can keep fooling yourself. But in engineering there is a limit, (and/or we reach that point much sooner than science) where we can no longer fool ourselves our product didn’t fail. Similarly, a point where we can no longer fool ourselves it wasn’t our fault. Two reasons for that being that product failure is more obvious plus you have innocent victims and/or customers who soon realise that even though your product may look pretty and exactly what they wanted it doesn’t actually work, and they have power.

    In engineering, every day that passes that we fail to realise our product will fail the more severe the consequences. I wonder if engineering is much more likely to listen seriously to an engineer raising a concern even before any proper investigation and even after the product has been fully signed off (validated); raising that concern will quickly start the relevant work to look into it. I imagine science is almost the opposite; as an idea gains ground the risks to a scientist challenging that go up deterring them from doing so until they feel sure they can both prove it and convince enough people, which is probably going to be such a mammoth task, probably no one’s going to fund it or help them, or it is going to be dismissed because of who funded it, so almost no one will be prepared to take that task on. It’s probably more beneficial and safer to go with the consensus.

    I think in engineering we have to learn the right lessons e.g. aircrash investigations, from which I’m thinking we have effectively learned that the peer reviewed papers system, approved experts, consensus, precautionary principle are not the way to do it because they leave us too exposed to our weaknesses. As a result, in engineering the system we have to work in requires procedures, independent audit, certifications, plus we have sceptical customers which all make a major contribution to reducing many of these weaknesses, improving reliability.

    Some of my other thoughts which I’ll try to keep very brief:

    Effects to be wary of: LIMS; lost in mist scenario where we start to make everything fit our wrong version of reality. Epicycles, where we keep adding to the theory. Yesterday/today/tomorrow (YTT) where todays explanation is always right even though it means what we said yesterday was wrong, and same again tomorrow. Confident repair man, similar to YTT. DEBS (doesn’t exist blind spot); it’s totally off the radar, despite anecdotal evidence if it’s not proven, not in peer review paper or we can’t explain it; tunnel vision. ILLs; inconsistent use of logic levels. e.g. L1 (logic level1) for up is up, higher levels L2, L3, etc for down is up, or too many higher levels used. Foundation loss; using new explanations only for present and not (or not allowing for not being able to) reassess their impact on lower building blocks. Manual control; steering our theory through all the twists and turns. Infectious laughter; it’s funny because of who told the joke, how they told it and everyone else laughs even if no one can explain it. Magician effect; our weakness to make assumptions.

    Tools: TFMEA; failure modes and effects analysis adapted to analyse a theory. LL (logic level) analysis for consistency and complexity. Stake analysis; what are genuine stakes in the ground. Foundations implications analysis for new additions. Concerns log.

    But who owns this overall climate theory/project to take responsibility for proper structured analysis, management of it, holding the information, paper trail etc?

    Danger of precautionary principle: costs up weakening ability to survive the real as yet unrecognised looming disaster, distorted reality to make the wrong theory fit prevents us finding real issue, precautionary measures don’t fix the real problems, we stop looking for the real issue which will still strike with disastrous consequences.

    MIVE: management of innovators, validators, experts; correct management of those 3 being key to success or failure of a project. A management structure sharing power with procedures. Technical experts not in charge but are consultants to help innovators, validators and project management.

    Peer reviewed papers system: What drives, with balance and structure what work/projects gets done and how we review the literature? Is there a procedure reviewers must follow so we know what they checked? Engineering; much less formal, quicker report writing system but more structure and balance to deciding what work/projects need doing, reviewing, inclusion of (sceptical) customers. Procedures, audits, certifications for the lab, department, company etc with paper trail instead of peer reviewers.

    In science my impression is we assess and approve or reject the scientist, in engineering we realise that expert may not be good at all the roles needed or we may wrongly assess who is or isn’t suitable, instead we have independent assessment of the lab, department, company. Engineers are helped through potential weaknesses by the system, procedures etc.

    I’m sure most scientists are doing excellent, brilliant work, but if the system is wrong that effort and brilliance is wasted both for those in the consensus and those challenging it and we all suffer. There may be nothing wrong with the science system for a lot of science, but I’m very concerned it is not the right system for this kind of situation.

  118. Paul, your article is very good!

    “But who owns this overall climate theory/project to take responsibility for proper structured analysis, management of it, holding the information, paper trail etc?”


    Thank you

  119. I have been staring at this graph all morning – prompted by one of those interminable discussion of global warming and arctic ice. Arguments gleaned from echo chambers and paraded as knowledge. One of the problems is extrapolating linearly from short term instrumental data.

    The world is non-linear. Climate turns on a dime. The longest instrumental record by far is a 1000 odd years of levels in the Nile River. The remarkable analysis of Harold Hurst in the first half of the last century revealed fractal patterns in the data. There is persistence and shifts in climate states in the Nile Basin that we know today relate in part to ocean surface temperatures in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

    Can a shift in Arctic temps be discerned in the 1990’s?

    And how does this relate to circulation in the Atlantic Ocean and the AMO?

    A determinant of circulation in the North Atlantic is the polar annular mode – AKA Arctic Oscillation – and the related North Atlantic Oscillation. Using original terminology and remembering that it is not technically an oscillation. But how this works is anyone’s guess.

  120. Traces of carbon dioxide (400 ppm) in Earth’s atmosphere are not capable of warming Earth’s surface.

    Carbon dioxide (CO2 molecules) is beneficial for crops. It is not a warming factor because we are talking about trace gasses here.

    From the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

    Carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere

    “Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere were as high as 4,000 parts per million (ppm, on a molar basis) during the Cambrian period about 500 million years ago to as low as 180 ppm during the Quaternary glaciation of the last two million years.[2] Reconstructed temperature records for the last 420 million years indicate that atmospheric CO2 concentrations peaked at ~2000 ppm during the Devonian (∼400 Myrs ago) period, and again in the Triassic (220–200 Myrs ago) period.
    Global annual mean CO2 concentration has increased by more than 45% since the start of the Industrial Revolution, from 280 ppm during the 10,000 years up to the mid-18th century[2] to 415 ppm as of May 2019.[3][4] The present concentration is the highest for 14 million years.[5] The increase has been attributed to human activity,”

  121. We have few very serious reasons not to waste the fossil fuels, but Climate Change is not happening because of the burning the fossil fuels.

  122. Where’s Nic?

    • Yes, reserves are unknown and vary according to extraction technologies and costs. BTW, 11 Billion, then declining, people must consume resources a lot faster than 1.5B developed people or so. BUT …. much is recyv cvlable and there are synthetics that all the nuclear power we need can make to replace exhausted hydrocarbons, desalinate water, etc. All doable. The Simon abundance Index is interesting, the reality has been the Erlichs were self promoting anti social egotists working for the rich elites, and quite wrong in fact.

      The Simon Index proves the Malthusian nonsense wrong, the opposite of Club of Rome claims actually happens, because that was actually the rich trying to protect their own wealth and positions, and also increase control of the lives and numbers of the mass of people, because the fear losing it. They don’t understand it can improve for all people, not just them, because technology does not stand still, except when consensual beliefs of craft guilds and religions are in power. The more people there are, the more and cheaper their supplies can and have become in modern times ….. the Earth has a lot more to offer than is dreamt of in their narrow philosophies

      Real science from great minds based on innovation and discovery moves society ever forward, consensual craft science of lesser minds based on fear of change freezes progress. I said that.

  123. I think Dilbert sums it up. I do these STEM talks as part of science and maths days. This is what I should explain to those kids with disciplined brains who can think, or want to think, rationally. Don’t try.

    Just go in there and lie to the decision making PPE degree egotistical idiots, the thick public and the wannabe waddayagot pschopathic XR type zealots, to exploit their lazy ignorant belief systems, like all the other crooked priests, politicians and activists since for ever. David Rockefeller, Maurice Strong, MIchael Mann, Chris Huhne, Gummer, AOC et al. A much easier career, if you have no moral compass.

    Hard Science you have to prove that limits your beliefs to natural reality? Forgetaboutit. No money or career in the hard won facts of matural laws. The consensual pseudo science of the under educated mob you don’t need to prove, just agree on and make law, is the 21st Century meal ticket. The academics and engineers now supporting this culture are egotistical morons pissing on the shoulders of giants, in an academe that prefers the weak minded consensual to the bright, independent and rational thinkers, who apply scientific method and laws. No easy money in that, mate. IMO CEng, CPhys.