William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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Today’s Posts Are At Breitbart

Head on over.

The white fury guy in the center is me before shaving.


Steve Bannon had me on his radio show Sunday night, which can be caught at Sirius Patriot channel 125. Robert Wilde has a summary of the interview which ends with this:

Briggs emphasized that “if you don’t remember anything else from this radio program listen to this: If you have a theory and that theory makes bad predictions, that theory is in error…Climate forecasters have made, for decades, lousy predictions. They are therefore in error…People should not rely on them to make decisions. Certainly, they should not rely on them to make legislation.”

I don’t have access to Sirius, but I’ve heard rumors past shows can be found for subscribers. Can anybody confirm that?

Lead article

Editor Bannon was very kind and put my contribution up as the lead article of Monday night: Left Panics Over Peer-Reviewed Climate Paper’s Threat To Global Warming Alarmism (which beats the heck out of the title I suggested).

That article starts:

You’ve heard it said that the science is settled. And it’s true. It is settled—settled beyond the possibility of any dispute. A fundamental, inescapable, indubitable bedrock scientific principle is that lousy theories make lousy predictions.

Climate forecasts are lousy, therefore it is settled science that they must necessarily be based on lousy theories. And lousy theories should not be trusted.

Go there to read the rest.


The editors very kindly also posted two letters, one from Bob Carter and another from Lord Christopher Monckton, defending Willie Soon. Here’s the introduction:

Editor’s Note: As reported by Breitbart News, the New York Times over the weekend ran a hit piece on astrophysicist Willie Soon, pressuring his superiors, Charles R. Alcock of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center and W. John Kress of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, to punish him after the publication of a peer-reviewed paper debunking climate models that predict carbon dioxide will lead to catastrophic global warming.

Go there to read the rest.

Article second

The editors really went all out for us, posting another article by Bob Carter (who did most of the writing on this one), David Legates, and myself, entitled The Silence of the Scientists.

In it we say:

The saddest part of today’s sorry state of climate research is that so many scientists choose to remain mute about these widespread abuses of scientific nomenclature and method. They fear intimidation.

Again, go there to read the rest.

We owe ’em

Breitbart has been amazingly supportive over this wholly artificial manufactured story. Head on over to express your thanks, drop them a line, add a comment.

And it’s not finished. Dastardly distractors are still going after Willie Soon. Why? Because these malevolent menaces can’t stomach disagreement. The Theory of Tolerance demands there exist only one opinion on any subject to which all must subscribe—or else. Soon and the other three of us dissented, so we must pay the price.

These science deniers have convinced Soon’s employers to open a formal investigation. Let them. They will discover nothing untoward. But since this is politics and not science, only God Himself knows what the outcome will be. Truth is the first and last victim of zealotry—with bodies of the innocent strewn along the way.

Incidentally, Soon’s employers, shivering under the vaporous weight of public opinion, put out a statement, in which they said, “Wei-Hock (Willie) Soon is a part-time researcher at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. He was hired to conduct research on long-term stellar and solar variability. The Smithsonian does not fund Dr. Soon; he pursues external grants to fund his research.”

In other words, Soon has to go out and find his own money as a condition of his employment. We call this a “soft money” position. So even though his squeamish employers know damn well Soon is without stain, they still had to kowtow to the uninformed.

Let’s not forget our purpose! As the Smithsonian did not when they closed their public statement:

The Smithsonian does not support Dr. Soon’s conclusions on climate change. The Smithsonian’s official statement on climate change, based upon many decades of scientific research, points to human activities as a cause of global warming.

Asinine. The first sentence contradicts the second. Soon, and Lord Monckton, David Legates and I, based upon our many years of scientific research, also agree that human activities are a cause of climate change. We say so clearly in “Why models run hot”!

Can nobody read any more?

Our finding is only that the risk has been wildly exaggerated and that human contributions are modest at best. And that, dear reader, is real science.

Update All of Appell’s comments go to moderation, where I can see if they’re relevant or not. And your comments mentioning his name go there, too. I’ll release all comments that follow the rules I set. Multiple people are answered in one comment, and comments are limited.

Government First Encouraged, Now Wants To Reduce Screen Time For Kids—Guest Post by the Blonde Bombshell

Citizen's at the release of Apple's new i-whatitz 12.7.

Citizen’s at the release of Apple’s new i-whatitz 12.7.

The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has been released, and is open for public comment. Allegedly, public comment is open until April 8, 2015, but the website claims that comments were closed on December 30, 2014 (see the last line of the page). Incompetence or clever legerdemain?

Among other things, the report is very concerned about how much time that children and youth are spending in front of screens (defined as “television and other types of media”). From the report:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than 2 hours a day of screen time (including television and other types of media) for children ages 2 years and older and none for children younger than age 2 years. However, children ages 8 to 18 years spend an average of 7 hours on screen time each day.

Very young children should not be consuming any electronic media at all, and the AAP is being very generous with suggesting 2 hours a day. What is remarkable is that school-aged children are in front of glowing screens for 7 hours a day. Only 7 hours? The report is not clear if the 7 hours include in-school screen time.

In the last quarter century, the cry has been that that “computers in the classroom” were “essential to learning” and to “prepare students for the workplace”—even though up to about 1978 there were virtually no computers in any K-12 institution. Today many children tote around a school-issued tablet. Children are wired practically from the moment they wake up, and this is the result of government meddling and indulgent parenting. Now that the monster has been created, the experts are busy creating “interventions” to reduce screen time. More from the report:

Multifaceted interventions to reduce recreational sedentary screen time may include home, school, neighborhood, and pediatric primary care settings, and emphasize parental, family, and peer-based social support, coaching or counseling sessions, and electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies.

This is the native tongue of the educrat. To suggest “electronic tracking and monitoring” as a serious solution is a blatant abdication of responsibility and a clarion call to passivity.

One way guaranteed to slash the dreaded screen time in half is to order the students to turn their school-issued tablets and other devices to the proper authorities. Another way is that mom or dad can put it away the device until certain chores are done. Moms and dads (at least those of another generation) were not burdened by having to coach or counsel their progeny when switching off the TV when the Saturday-morning cartoons droned on past noon. “No,” is a pretty good intervention strategy.

The problem that “reducing screen time” is supposed to resolve is obesity, as well as a host of other health problems, such as diabetes and cancer. It doesn’t follow that children and youth with reduced screen times will be running around outside.

Especially since some municipalities have criminalized unattended children. There will be fewer kids walking to school, and walking to the library after school.

What used to be gym class—where actual running around took place—has been overtaken by “health” class, where one would think that students would learn how important it is to wash their hands, eat broccoli, and run around outside. Instead, “health” is code for “sex” where students can learn about contraception and various ways to pervert the regular course of nature.

The government created this sorry state of affairs, but given enough money and time, they can create even greater problems. To address (alas, never to be solved) these new-found problems will require time, money, and a special commission.

Goon Squad Fails To Distract Public From Fact That Climate Models Stink: Update 3

The New York Times's Science Squad. Notice the superior rival paper, which is undoubtedly used as a crib.

The New York Times’s Science Squad. Notice the superior rival paper, which is undoubtedly used as a crib.

If you’re new to the site, don’t forget to check out the Classic Posts page.

Our continuing walk through Summa Contra Gentiles is postponed until next week. Feel free to pass this around, but only in its entirety and with a link back to the original.

All my efforts to educate reporters were in vain. It turns out they’d rather remain wallowing in their muck than learn about the subjects on which they write. The worst examples are Justin Gillis and associate at the far left New York Times.

So I failed. I was a fool to try. I let myself forget that I was dealing with a class of people where the gap between actual and perceived ability is not only wide, but is a gaping chasm. To expect mainstream science reporters to understand science is like asking an environmentalist to be reasonable. I should have remembered most journalists suffer from reporteritis, the degrading ailment whereby because reporters cover important people and events they come believe they are important, too. Sadly, there is no known cure.

Here’s the story. Lord Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates, and I wrote a paper called “Why models hot” which offers an explanation on why climate models are so awful. Which they are: awful. We received no money for the work, nor was any offered. We did the work entirely on our own time. Unlike journalists who have to conform to their employers’ ideological and political convictions and scientists who accept government grants in hopes of receiving more in the future, we were beholden to no one.

Listen: there has to be some reason for the repeated dismal embarrassing failure of climate models to conform to reality. We might be wrong about why they stink, but then again we might be right. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we are? No more having to fret and whine and worry about the sky falling! Something to celebrate, no?

No. Not if your existence depends on selling doom and scaring the wits out of the gullible. The cult-like Greenpeace and other True Believers understood that our paper cast serious doubt on the silly hypothesis that man-made global warming will soon kill us all—unless government expands by leaps and bounds. They freaked.

Greenpeace and like-minded zealots knew that there was no answer to “Why models run hot” except to admit climate models were a failure (but see this attempt at an answer by a real scientist). So they did what came naturally to the morally decrepit: they tried to change the subject. And the best way to do that, they thought, was to discredit the authors of the paper. That this kind of unethical ignoble oafish behavior has no place in science is nothing. Rank degeneracy comes naturally to activists and their puppy journalistic followers.

Now Lord Monckton has no regular position, and neither do I (not that I don’t want one). So True Believers had no traction with us (though I was hacked). Legates and Soon have jobs. The coward Greg Laden touted a petition to have Soon fired. The troubled David Appell tried FOIA-ing Legate’s employers, but it turned out that because none of us received any money for our work, there was nothing to see, and Legates’s employers turned him down.

But Soon’s employers were more generous and shared with Greenpeace Soon’s correspondence. But poor Greenpeace came away disappointed. We claimed we got no money—no nothing—from nobody. We claimed it because it was true. I tried telling reporters this until my fingers were sore (here and here), but none of them ever seemed to hear it. It’s as if they didn’t want to.

Well, Soon, like most other scientists in research positions, has at times accepted grants from sources other than our most beneficent Government. Greenpeace, for instance, often hands these kinds of things out (ask reporters why any scientist receiving Greenpeace money doesn’t forever after admit a conflict of interest). Since Greenpeace couldn’t discover what wasn’t there, they sent their ill-gotten goods to some folks in the press with no honor hoping merely by making an accusation they could cause a stink. A sort of variant of the “Hey Gillis, are you still sleeping with goats?” trick.

Any honest man would have thrown the emails back in Greenpeace’s face, as it were. But we’re dealing with mainstream reporters, not men. Somehow they convinced themselves that they were involved in a higher calling, that to cast wrongful aspersions on an innocent man was okay as long as it was for a good cause. Besides, they were only doing their job. There were “allegations”. They were just following orders.

Soon is an honest man and my friend. Not only has he done nothing wrong, he has done everything right. Like what, for instance?

Like co-authoring the paper “Why models run hot.” Were you aware, dear reader, that climate models have been promising gold but have been delivering low-grade manure for decades? Repeated extended horrifying terrible shockingly awful predictions have been passed off as sound immaculate don’t-you-dare-doubt-it SCIENCE for years and years and years and even more years despite their awful stench. How did this happen?

One theory is that the human race is insane. Another is that politicians, reporters, activists, and scientists anxious to improve their circumstance glommed on to what they saw as a good thing merely to enhance their own personal status, riches, and power. This is why actual performance doesn’t matter. This is why actual science is meaningless. This is a left-wing propaganda sheet sent a walking sausage to disparage a good man.

Nobody wants to see the end of the gravy train. Reality cannot be borne, not where there are offices to be secured, awards to be won, grants to be had. Those in power will do anything to hold off the inevitable.

Friends, don’t buy into their nonsense. Refuse to discuss their preposterous “allegations”—such a serious word! If you do, you grant victory to these malevolent beasts. Their intent was to distract and to have you talk about anything except the truth that climate models cannot be trusted. Don’t fall for it!

Let’s only talk about real science. Not one word about “conflicts of interest” except to ask journalists how they dare report on subjects in which they are so manifestly ignorant.

Use this anemic yet opprobrious goon squad attack to good purpose. Every time some citizen says, “Didn’t that scientist fill out a form incorrectly?” remind them that it didn’t matter if that scientist was as dishonest and reprehensible as Al Gore himself, what counts is whether his charge that climate models have been over-promising more insistently than a used car salesman who has fallen behind in his gambling debts is true or not. And it’s true.

Remind everybody that true theories make good forecasts and that false theories make bad ones. And since climate models make bad forecasts, they must be based on false theories.

Update On Twitter I put the question to Gillis whether he had received money from Greenpeace or other like entity. I followed up here and by email (below), but Gillis never answered, though he bravely blocked me on Twitter.

Gillis’s refusal to answer may raise suspicions in some minds.

Here is my email to Gillis:


I’m following up on this story. Have you ever received consideration of any kind (money, food, tickets, anything) from Greenpeace or any like organization concerned primarily with the environment? Same question but about contacts with progressive or “left wing” groups? Have you ever met with any individuals with ties to any environmental organization? Were all of these meetings in conjunction with your job, or were any on personal time?

I’ve tried reaching you by email and Twitter but have yet received no response.

My deadline is 8 am Sunday. I’d appreciate an answer by then.


Update Turns out that several progressive sheets all released the nonsense about Soon at the same time. Isn’t that a curious coincidence. Almost like these “news” organizations were more interested in advocacy than in reporting.

Update Say, maybe I was wrong and those who deny real science are more articulate and thoughtful than I at first supposed. Consider this email (which I edited only with asterisks):

From: Nick Meixler
Subject: your awful
Date: Feb 22, 2015 2:51 PM
Dear A**hole,
You are exactly what is wrong in science today. No wonder you deny climate change after being subsidized by the Koch brothers. Go f**k yourself a**hole. You are a shame to scientists everywhere and an idiot too. Who would have thought there would be an idiot astrophysicist, but you have proven it.
Go f**k yourself,

Nick, “your awful”.

Update I was on Breitbart radio Sunday night. Here’s a summary.

Response To Trenberth Over “Why Models Run Hot”

Kevin Trenberth

Kevin Trenberth

Update Be sure to come back on Sunday and see my wrap-up column.

A reporter from Nature who could not be brought to understand science was more important than fallacy or politics at least came out of his fog to ask a fellow scientist Kevin Trenberth to critique our “Why models run hot” paper. See this post for the details on this and other climate reporters. Here is Trenberth’s critique as given to me by the reporter (so God only knows if it’s accurate), followed by my response. Please at least read the penultimate response.

Very misleading opening:
IPCC does not make predictions: they have made scenario dependent projections and early projections in FAR were of just unrealistic GHG scenarios. The paper completely misrepresents IPCC in this regard.

Einstein said one should make a model as simple as possible but not simpler. There exist simple models, such as the MAGICC, that deal with a crude ocean as well as the land and response. These have proven useful in IPCC for interpolating global mean temperature between different scenarios. But such models have no hydrological cycle and are toys.

This model is even simpler. It has no recognition of land vs ocean and its distribution, or the atmosphere. It has no clouds or water vapor. It assumes a linear response to a forcing. Many of the past variations in climate are related to Milankovitch changes: the changes in the orbit of the Earth around the sun. There may be no change in radiative forcing but there can still be very large changes in climate: ice ages even. This is because of the distribution of the incoming radiation throughout the year and how it affects ice.
This model does not even handle that case. Yet it is applied over the past 800K years.

The model is then used to play toy games with a justification of some choices from IPCC.

A number of exercises are gone through to select some parameters but it is not easy to see what the tuning is to. Section 7 sets this up and ludicrously concludes there is no warming in the pipeline which is totally at odds with the heat capacity and response of the ocean. It also seems to be assumed for the scenarios (cf 8.3.2).

So there are a lot of “what if” statements without justification. For instance it is concluded in 8.4 that 74% of the warming since 1850 is anthropogenic whereas it seems likely that the value is greater than the observed value, because natural variability has recently suppressed warming at the surface.
It then goes on to take away another 0.6K because that is in the pipeline?

The paper ignores all of the literature related to the recent hiatus in warming related to small effects from missing forcings (mainly volcanoes) and natural variability, especially PDO and consequential burying heat in the ocean. Or that 2014 is warmest on record.

[1] “IPCC does not make predictions: they have made scenario dependent projections…”

This is false. Scenarios are projections are forecasts are predictions. All projection-slash-forecasts have the same form. They say, given this set of conditions, here is what the future will look like. If the conditions do not hold, then the forecast is not valid. The IPCC basically releases several forecasts, each with different conditions. To judge the efficacy of the forecasts, all we do is look for the conditions that obtained and then measure the forecast’s goodness.

As I’ve pointed out many times, simply saying that next year will be like last year beats the IPCC forecasts. In technical parlance, climate models don’t have (forecast) persistence skill (no matter how well they might fit or backcast past data). And that can only mean that the models on which the IPCC relies are busted, that the science is flawed in some way. The burden of proof is on the IPCC to discover why.

Side note: those who attempt to evade the force of a busted forecast, which logically implies an incorrect model or theory, often attempt refuge behind the “scenario” label. But it is a thin disguise.

[2] “[The Monckton et al. model] has no recognition of land vs ocean and its distribution, or the atmosphere…Many of the past variations in climate are related to Milankovitch changes: the changes in the orbit of the Earth around the sun…Yet it is applied over the past 800K years…The model is then used to play toy games with a justification of some choices from IPCC.”

Somehow, even though we go to great pains in the paper to admit the model is “irreducibly simple” and does not even pretend to capture all the physics of the climate, that it is simple is given as a criticism. We say, Our model is simple to which Trenberth replies Their model is simple! I’ve stared at this hard, and I guess the only thing I can take from it is that Trenberth agrees with us—Trenberth agrees with us—that our model is simple. Well then.

[3] “A number of exercises are gone through to select some parameters but it is not easy to see what the tuning is to…ludicrously concludes there is no warming in the pipeline which is totally at odds with the heat capacity and response of the ocean.”

There are two mistakes here, a trivial and an important one. I’ll save the important one because Trenberth makes the same mistake thrice (ocean heat capacity here, later “natural variability”, finally “hiatus”). The trivial mistake is where Trenberth claims he could not “see what the tuning is to” etc., possibly because he did not read the paper carefully, the most charitable explanation. I commend to him Section 5 “How does the model represent different conditions?”, which begins with the words “The simple model has only five tunable parameters…” And to Section 6 “Calibration against climate-sensitivity projections in AR4”, which begins with the words “To establish that the model generates climate sensitivities sufficiently close to IPCC’s value…” And to Section 7 “Calibration against observed temperature change since 1850”, which… Oh, you get the idea.

Trenberth was being lazy.

[4] “…a lot of ‘what if’ statements without justification…concluded in 8.4 that 74% of the warming since 1850 is anthropogenic…”

The “without justification” quip is more laziness on Trenberth’s part. The whole paper is nothing but justifications about why this or that will happen conditional on our simple model. Trenberth is thus complaining that we use our model to make statements about our model. Subtracting the bluster, what we have here is Trenberth agreeing with us again.

He would have a good complaint were he to say something like, “Their model implies X, but Y is true, therefore I reject their model.” And he would be right in rejecting our model, too. Why, that would be the same criticism scientists like myself make when rejecting IPCC models.

And, lo, Trenberth does try his hand at this excellent rebuttal, as we see next.

[5] “The paper ignores all of the literature related to the recent hiatus in warming related to small effects from missing forcings (mainly volcanoes) and natural variability, especially PDO and consequential burying heat in the ocean.”

Also recall his “heat capacity…of the ocean” and “natural variability” critiques. What Trenberth thinks is his most damning criticism is instead glaring proof that Trenberth, and many other scientists, have lost their way. I have pointed out, time and again, that you must not say “hiatus” or “natural variability” or anything else like that. “Natural variations” do not and cannot explain the “pause” (I beg you will read the link).

A physicist sets out to model the climate. To do so, he must incorporate whatever physics he thinks are meaningful or probative to why the climate does what it does. Make sense? The physicist then releases a forecast (or “scenario”) conditional on that model. If the observations and forecast do not match, the model is busted. Something is wrong with it. It is not right. It is wrong. It is in error. It is a bad model. I’m not sure how I can be clearer.

Trenberth and pals have released forecasts conditional on various models all of which fail badly. These models did not correctly capture the observations. They are therefore wrong. These models purported to explain the climate, and the climate just is “natural variability“, it just is heat capacity of the oceans, it just is cloudiness, it just is land use, it just is everything the climate is.

If you somehow reject this obviously true proposition, what do you think the climate is that these climatologists have been modeling?

What is happening is Trenberth is blaming the observations for failing to conform to his model. It is reality that is in error, not his theory. This is a special form of insanity encapsulated by the aphorism the love of theory is the root of all evil.

In our paper, we tried to show how a vastly simpler model than the kind Trenberth touts explains temperature better than more complex models. We know—as in know—that the complex models have something wrong with them. We know this because their forecasts do not match observations. What we did was to suggest a plausible explanation why this is so. Hey. We might be wrong. Assume we are. Assume our guess is invalid, our paper worthless, and that instead something else is wrong with Trenberth-style climate models.

Then it is still true that something else is wrong with Trenberth-style climate models! Would we call this, oh I don’t know, a travesty? His models do not suddenly become correct because we made a mistake. What a silly thing that is to imply.

And anyway, our model, simple as it is, sure does look better when compared against reality, no? Not that our model should be used for much except as a clue to climatologists where to look for their mistakes. Mistakes mistakes mistakes.

[6] “…2014 is warmest on record.”

Oh dear, oh dear. Oh no. Trenberth couldn’t have possibly meant to deceive a poor reporter with a statement he knew to be false. Could he? That would be unethical. And Trenberth is a scientist. Or maybe Trenberth, an expert in his field, just didn’t know that ridiculous claim was false? That also can’t be, because if it was, then he couldn’t be much of an expert. Let’s be nice and call this a prolonged typo.

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