William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

I Made “Climate Denial MVP”!

Mine didn't have the white stripe, and was one model year earlier.

Mine didn’t have the white stripe, and was one model year earlier.

Gollum (who’s he? see this post on the political witch hunt of scientists) wrote yesterday to announce that a group of us made the “Climate Denial MVP” List.

I admit to being just a little proud of the distinction. I replied to Gollum saying, “When the hysteria ends and Science returns to the Real World, we’ll all be able to look upon this list and be satisfied that while everybody else had lost their way, we stayed on the path of Truth.”

The List (which is published under another name) appears at a site called “Inside Climate News” by one Katherine Bagley. Who’s she? A writer whose “print and multimedia work has appeared in…YouBeauty.com…” Here is what she wrote for my mini-biography:

Briggs is a statistician at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and a consultant at New York Methodist Hospital. More than two decades ago, he spent a year as a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. He is listed as an expert on the Heartland Institute’s website, where he wrote, “Climate change is of no real interest to anyone except climatologists.” Earlier this year, he co-wrote an article in the peer-reviewed Chinese Science Bulletin with fellow climate denialists Christopher Monckton and Willie Soon arguing that the IPCC’s models are inaccurate and the world won’t warm dangerously this century.

I also for one year drove a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda with a 273 cu. in. V8 automatic, red with curved rear window, chrome gas pipe, and AM radio, which I rebuilt and repaired and which I loved. Had to sell it when I got orders to PCS to Okinawa. Ah well.

How is my owning this gorgeous muscle car relevant to the work I’ve done in climatology? It isn’t. Neither is it relevant that Bagley wrote for YouBeauty.com to her announcing my coveted status on this MVP list. Whatever I or Bagley says on any subject must be judged by the merits of our arguments, not on who we are.

Our professional qualifications are interesting only to the extent that they tweak your interest into considering what we might say, or as possible reasons why what we have said was true or false.

That’s why I’m sure Bagley won’t mind that I pulled the same trick she pulled on me and left off a few of her more pertinent accomplishments. Those include also writing for “Popular Science, OnEarth, YouBeauty.com, Audubon, The Scientist and Science Illustrated, among others” and that she “holds master’s degrees in journalism and earth and environmental sciences from Columbia University.”

Since I’m guessing Bagley won’t be available to make corrections, here’s more about me.

My ties to Cornell are looser than Bagely lets on—I’m a Adjunct there—but I am a part-time consultant at Methodist, among other places (and why haven’t you hired me yet, dear reader?). I did spend a year launching enormous hydrogen filled balloons for the Weather Service. It is also true that climate change is of no real interest to anyone except climatologists, and I do say the world won’t warm dangerously this century (Bagely’s implication is that, of course it will).

Here’s what was left out (and which was available for a click). Both my Bachelor’s and Master’s are in the atmospheric sciences; my PhD is in mathematical statistics (with dissertation angled towards the atmospheric sciences). I served for several years on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability and Statistics Committee. I was also for several years an Associate Editor at Monthly Weather Review (if you don’t know what that is, you shouldn’t be reading Inside Climate News).

I have published in the Journal of Climate, and in several other like sources. On what subject? How to measure forecast goodness. And how to quantify how useful and valuable predictions are. Mixtures of physics, phrobability, and philosophy (yes, phrobability).

This is how I know that long-term climate models aren’t of much value. Models which predict out a handful of months ahead, however, have modest usefulness, diminishing as lead time increases. But those IPCC-like models which predict years ahead aren’t any good. You’d do better with persistence, which is the forecast that next year will look like this year. If a model can’t beat persistence, it shouldn’t be used. Simple as that.

Gollum didn’t mention if there’d be a trophy or honorarium. I’m guessing not. Climate science does not pay well to those unwilling to toe the Government Consensus line.

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Note I’m growing concerned about Gollum. He predicted the DOJ would enter the witch hunt, but so far it hasn’t. But he made that prediction before Senator Inhofe’s blowback; plus the DOJ is spending a lot of time trying to get their new rights-rights-rights boss installed. So stay tuned.

25 Comments

  1. Congratulations!
    I am jealous.

  2. I’m shocked!

    I’m shocked the Climate Denialism occurs on this site.

    Persistence? No! Let it be warmer this year than last.

    My neighbor was just complaining that they hatdly got to use their pool!

    We’ve had snow on the ground for over two months! First that’s happened since I got here.

    We’ve past the third latest time in the year without 60F Temperature, and 60’s are NOT in the near future. We came close to setting below 0 record for the season. Persistence, no! Warming, yes!

  3. Nice car. Nicer quals!

  4. In a web search for “Gollum” I came across what must be his endearing side. As one can see, there is no need for worry.

    Your fortunate choice of the letter “B” allowed you to gain sixth position in the list. Congrats. But don’t rest on your laurels. More work is needed. Perhaps a better choice of last name like “Aaron” or “Aardvark” would improve your ranking.

    IIRC the Barracuda was a valiant car in more ways than one although the 64 Mustang was more popular.

  5. If you think she skimped on your BIO…

    Just paging through and saw the BIO for Jo Nova.

    Doesn’t mention a word about her and her husband being dyed in the wool greenies working (one or both) for the Australian Government when they were majorly concerned with ENVIRO and AGW

  6. Congrats.

    I learned a lesson from a job a long time ago. Management was trying to motivate the staff to adhere to the process better. People who made mistakes got a letter in their file.

    At first, people didn’t want to get a letter in their file. Then incidents happened and people started to get letters. Suddenly there was a “Letterman’s Club”. The Operations Manager discussed this and shook his head in disgust.

    Deterrents are only good as long as they remain deterrents and the actual impact is never truly felt. “Fired” is a deterrent that works pretty well. Even that is awkward these days. The goal is usually to drive the individual into quitting.

    You are in an elite group. Keep it up. I just wish I could hire you.

  7. Saw the latest HBO series VICE with my wife. Scared the living daylights out of her, especially the segment with the glacial geologist interview in Antarctica and his prediction of irreversible rapid sea level rise. Then there was the closing segment with “Uncle Joe” Biden, the eminently credentialed climate scientist cloaked in political cloth. His wrath and scorn for deniers was evident as was his pronouncement that AGW was settled science. I calmed my wife by telling her about 10,000 years ago, the ice was 2 miles thick where I went to college (The University of Dayton) and both the glaciation and ensuing melt occurred well before mankind emitted carbon. Of course the climate changes. It always has and always will. Impacts are well known from geologic and paleontologic evidence. Not well known is why. No fossil record explains and models fail. But according to Shane Smith, VICE presenter, the current state is irreversible already so doom is happening in real time. Uncle Joe vigorously concurs. Just one little question for AGW embracers…why the carbon tax?

  8. RE: “Whatever I or Bagley says on any subject must be judged by the merits of our arguments, not on who we are.”

    POTENTIALLY MISSED Opportunity to invoke Feynman (a guy the alarmists respect), where he touches on this very point in his one minute summary of what science is – and what ought to be posted as a permanent fixture on this blog-site given its ongoing return to this “denialist” theme:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

  9. Does being on that list mean that from now on you can triple the fees you get from “Big Oil” ? (/sarc)

  10. @Slywolfe .

    Hello Jealous, I am Spartacus.

  11. @Johan,

    Don’t think small, he should be able to increase his fees by at least two orders of magnitude. 🙂

    Of course, 100*0 is still 0. 🙁

  12. HOMEWORK REQUIRED — But Worth The Effort:

    Consider the Curious Case of Kirkby:

    For quite some time Dr. Jasper Kirkby & other like-minded researchers noted a linkage between solar activity, cosmic rays & climate (as measured by proxies) that seems rather compelling support for the contention that cosmic rays, moderated by solar activity, influence cloud formation and by extension, climate. Here’s summary of his/their thesis:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ygk98kEQfk

    The alarmists hated this and Kirkby, et. al, had difficulty getting support & opportunity to perform their CLOUD experiments (now still underway). One can find on-line some discussions about how this opposition was unexpected & cost the project time, etc.

    Stung by such obstacles in an arena (“science”) that’s ‘spozed to be “objective” Dr. Kirkby, et. al., have altered their approach – while still pursuing their original thesis – note the difference in tone & points of reference here:

    http://home.web.cern.ch/about/updates/2014/10/teded-animates-clouds-and-cosmic-rays

    Recall the old adage about ‘picking one’s battles’ (the lesson being that while there are many worthy battles worth fighting, most people are in such a position that it is only practical to be selective about picking the battles one fights).

    The corollary, which Dr. Kirkby (& many others) have figured out, is that of the battles one chooses to fight, methodology matters. On methodology, SunTzu’s “Art of War” applies (reference deceive/deception).

    I’d wager the CLOUD experiment’s researchers are still working toward the original hypothesis Kirkby presented in the first link, above. Just under salable marketing that doesn’t induce opposition/obstacles from the alarmists in positions to [again] do so [if not lulled into complacency].

    No doubt, many other researchers have infiltrated the alarmist community [via deft use of the proper references ]to undermine it with facts & findings gleaned from research supported by funding [some from alarmists themselves] to pursue findings the alarmists would otherwise have opposed & undermined had they recognized what the real objective was/is.

    HERE’s the QUESTION: Who is/are more effective at injecting rationality into a highly partisan/political area of research – those that oppose it overtly, bluntly and directly…or…those that play along with the jargon while infiltrating it with research & findings that bring unwelcome facts into the mainstream?

    Time will tell.

  13. Wow! Top denialist in the climate denial contest. I’m impressed.

  14. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

    March 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    I just want to point out I have been using the title “Climate Denialist” for several years now.

  15. The irony is they use the word ‘denialist’ in the same sense Christians used the term ‘heretic’ in prior centuries.

  16. ’64 Barracuda … red … slant six. Great car except brakes. I was mocked by coworkers for driving a ‘Barramarlin’. A good family car.

  17. Briggs mate

    You have ARRIVED!

    I can stop worrying now.

    Cheers

    H

  18. As for Feynman, I am well enough acquainted with what his views were on many things I hold central and dear, yet I think he really wanted the truth — and if you’ll pardon the expression, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” If you don’t agree, read his commencement address that goes by the name “Cargo Cult Science.” Even if you do agree, read it. I have great respect for him and pray for the repose of his soul. I have long believed, and experience confirms, that there are only two kinds of people in the world: Those to whom truth is absolutely everything, and those to whom it does not matter.

  19. Just a followup, because my editing ddin’t work out like i wanted:

    More Homework on Jasper Kirkby:

    From the few interviews that Japser Kirkby gave this one shows he has even extended the relevance of the CLOUD experiment:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/dec/14/climate-change

    It shows how much an experienced experimenter can achieve., and his remarks about what climate models use instead of facts is revealing. CLOUD is some great research, for me still exciting to wait for what will come out of it.

  20. Well the author of the MVP List( or the accolade list like i would call it) obviously is not aware of the law of unintended consequences.

    Like me, if i read a name of a baaad denialist, i often look him/her up at the smear experts of desmogblog. Its like a climate sceptic google, you get a good result including links to blog etc. And you know the denialist had some impact.

    So thank you (https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherinebagley) for making another list where people can see on one page who is not following the party line.

  21. Milton Hathaway

    March 17, 2015 at 3:52 am

    I am curious why the recent Briggs et al paper has gotten the CAGW folks so riled up this time. Could it be that the balance of power has finally shifted in the sound bite wars, from “97% of scientists agree” to “If the models don’t fit, they ain’t legit”?

  22. Hit lists like these are so junior high school. The cool kids gotta publicize who to bully lest anyone be confused.

  23. Brad: Agreed. I suggest all MVP’s put a plaque on their wall and website saying they are “climate realists” and proud to be labelled as deniers by those who do not understand science. I recommend the same for Congressmen labelled by the OfA website (Organize for Action–Obama’s propaganda site). People should proudly
    display their accomplishments.

    Ken: My belief is those who inject rationality will win in the in end. So far, appeasing the fire breathing dragon just gets people third degree burns. Many labelled “deniers” are not and there’s no evidence that keeping a low profile will help. Dragons are always hungary, eat their young when food get scarce, and cannot be appeased. Some can inject facts slowly, others must keep on pointing out that the dragon is real, doesn’t care and no one is safe. It takes both.

    Gary: Yes, that is what happens when an immature, greedy, lazy population votes in adolescents to run the country, stealing from the working, giving to the not working and engaging in continual bullying and harrasment of its subjects (while claiming to oppose bullying and harassment, of course). Too few stood up and objected so now the bullies run the show. How to stop it? Not sure—that would have required adults be elected and current congressional behaviour indicates maybe 5% – 15% adults exist therein. We’re in for a long haul on this.

  24. I’m surprised this list wasn’t on a more appropriate site, like Buzzfeed or Huffington Post.

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