Yes, specific definitions matter.

Open Mind

A recent post at WUWT is titled “Needed: Accurate climate forecasts.” My opinion: the authors, Paul Driessen and David R. Legates, give us a stunning display of false and/or misleading claims.

Being mistaken about something, and therefore making false claims, is only human; in most cases we should correct, but not indict. Yet there are cases in which such behavior is genuinely culpable. When false claims come from those who really should know better, who indeed would know better if they were more interested in the truth than in pushing some agenda, ignorance becomes willful ignorance and therefore culpable. When those who really should know better make statements that are technically correct but clearly misleading, it becomes dishonesty. Is that what Driessen and Legates have done? You make the call.

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2 Responses to Culpable?

  1. John Vonderlin says:

    Yes indeed, specific definitions matter. That is why I thought Tamino’s blog post was not very good. My comment was in Moderation there, so I thought I’d visit here to repost it, as I’m always looking for Reality Checks concerning my interpretations of what I read and believe. I’ll return to peruse your site for a response and to see what you have to offer within a few days. Happy Holidays.
    “Looking at your CET chart it looks like two of the post 2000 Winters are the #7 and #17 coldest since 1900. If my eye (cataract in one) is accurate, how does that make “among the coldest in Centuries” (20th and 21st) misleading? Cherry picking perhaps, but your interpretation of centuries as 355 years was too. I’ve often seen “centuries” being used to denote from 1900 (or 1901) on to the present.
    Likewise “one of the coldest in memory in much” is sufficiently qualified enough that if it was in a commercial the FTC, wouldn’t even blink. “One of” is a very elastic term, “in memory’ reduces the time frame, as the average person in the United States, is 37, and “much” is so elastic as to be nearly meaningless.
    Looking at Alex’s chart, even without the Canadian Provinces, it looks true to me. For eight states to have had their Winter be in the top 12 coldest in 119 years and 10 more in their top 25 coldest in 119 years, how could you argue otherwise? Is 18 much of 50? If those states’ residents average only 35 years (37-2) of Winter memories, isn’t it also highly likely that the residents of the 26 states in the chart whose winter was in the top 50 coldest out of 119 would consider last Winter to be amongst the coldest in memory? If the average aged person in that majority of states views it as amongst the coldest in their memory why is to write that misleading?
    I won’t argue the 1995 warming, though I assume they are cherry picking some limited dataset that makes their statement defensible, if misleading. Which is pretty close to how I’d summarize your blog post.”

    • If you are going to post a comment which belongs at Tamino’s blog on Hypergeometric, the least you could do is link to the things to which you refer in the Comment itself. I don’t know to what “Alex’s chart” refers, for instance.

      Moving the goalposts is a form of cherry picking. You missed presenting the point entirely that proponents of the faux pause argue it for the past thirty years, repeatedly, without justification, apart from the “epicycles on epicycles” advanced by Tsonis, Swanson, and Judith Curry.

      The WUWT post to which Tamino is responding is a torrent of misinformation regarding how climate science — and indeed the basic physics of blackbody radiation — cannot be correct because it cannot explain weather variations here and there, recently or not, including one denier shibboleths, the Little Ice Age. Nirvana fallacy indeed, missing entirely that these have been confirmed outrageously many times, including your and my being able to have and use a modern computing system. (The engineering of solid state components cannot be done without a total mastery of blackbody radiation and the physics of things like molecular absorption and re-radiation from, say, carbon dioxide.) That’s not the only part of physics that pertains to climate science, but it is key, and does bring carbon dioxide squarely into a responsible role. (Readers should see Ray Pierrehumbert’s treatment, especially of thermodynamics, in his Principles of Planetary Climate for the rest. Also, his Python codes providing your very own climate models are really useful antidotes to rubbish like what’s published at WUWT.)

      I’m allowing this comment here both to rebut it and to make an example of it, for other prospective end-runners.

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