Category: climategate

Are Experts Ever Right?

No matter what the situation, there is always some expert ready to give an opinion on what should be done. The problem is, experts are more often wrong than right.

Don’t believe me? There are studies that show this, and those studies keep on coming.

In the financial world stock brokers are sometimes considered to be experts on stocks. Having been a stockbroker, I can tell you that most brokers have little expertise in picking good stocks. There is a famous book first published in 1973, “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, by Burton Malkiel. One of the things the book highlights is the fact that from an historical viewpoint, professional money managers, as a whole, did not produce stock portfolio gains even as high as the market averages.

Most importantly, you could buy a stock index fund mimicking the Standard & Poor’s 500 average, and you would do better than most professional money managers. Guess what? This hasn’t changed in the last forty years. There is another book titled, “Where Are The Customers’ Yachts?“. The title is  in reference that many of the yachts in marinas are owned by stock brokers, who make money whether the market goes up or down.

Then we have the medical experts, most of them being medical doctors. I have blogged about their lack of expertise, but will repeat the numbers. It is that important. In my blog, The Dirty LIttle Health Care Secret, I highlight the fact that almost 100,000 people are killed by doctors and hospitals every year in the United States. There is a name for this phenomenon, iatrogenesis. Everybody in the medical industry knows about this horrible fact, but nobody wants to talk about it.

We aren’t through talking about medical experts and their mistakes. A very well-known paper published by Dr John Ioannidis, a Greek physician and researcher with  a blue-ribbon background that includes being a professor of medicine and director at Stanford University, and an adjunct at Tufts University School of Medicine, takes aim at peer reviewed studies in the medical research area.

Up to eighty percent of randomized studies in the medical field have proven to be wrong. This is the figure that the Ioannidis team arrived at after reviewing years and years of studies. The reasons vary, but researchers are human, doing anything to acquire government grants to keep university research departments afloat. Data are adjusted to show a pre-determined outcome. Plus, up to 10% of the really large randomized trials are just wrong. How many substances have been identified to be bad for you, and then further study falsified those findings? It is common.

So much for the medical experts.

Climate science is in much the same shape. It was revealed in the ClimateGate emails that internationally prominent climate scientists cherry-picked data, doctored graphs, and produced fraudulent information to the general public to further their political agenda. Other crooked scientists have demonstrated bad conduct, like Dr Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University. He produced the infamous Hockey Stick graph that erased the historic Medieval Warm Period of about 1,000 years ago when the world was warmer than now, but without the influence of increasing greenhouse gases, i.e., carbon dioxide.  Efforts to defend Mann’s shoddy work and wounded reputation were organized by a left-wing communications company, Fenton Communications. Fenton started a website called Realclimate, where the primary blog authors are the same ones that have been known to perpetuate alarmist garbage in the climate science.

Ever heard of eugenics? Eugenics is a science about genetics that was promoted widely around the world in the early decades of the twentieth century. Its advocates believed that they could breed unwanted characteristics like homosexuality, low IQ’s, bad looks, etc. out of the population. This idea was taken to its logical extreme by Hitler’s Nazis when they undertook to eliminate entire populations of people like Jews, homosexuals, mentally retarded people, and people with other medical or hereditary conditions. There was a world-wide following of eugenics. It was the scientific consensus of the day. Now, we know better, or should. The experts were terribly wrong, but there are some who still push this pseudoscience.

How about Alar, the substance falsely accused of causing cancer in children? Alar was sprayed on apples to keep them on the trees to promote ripening. Although attacked by environmentalists who said they had evidence, nothing was ever produced to prove the allegations. Furthermore, half of Hollywood testified before Congress about how bad the stuff was, and even the EPA thought the use of alar was OK. The anti-alar publicity campaign was organized by a left-wing communications company, Fenton Communications.

The list of experts out of control goes on, and on. Why is this?

I believe that money is at the root of much of the bogus research. Most research in the US is funded by the government, and this automatically means that many research programs are politically motivated. There are literally thousands of climate scientists sucking money out of the federal government, almost all of whom preach catastrophic global warming. The government does not fund studies that propose to show that the alarmist are not correct. The whole scam started with the self-fulfilling system that promotes crises that produce votes, and that generate research money.

Some bogus studies misuse statistics. Many of the researchers are medical doctors, climatologists, or social scientists who have little training in mathematics. When you read a press release about a study, see if they quote a margin of error, like plus or minus 5%. If a margin of error is not mentioned, throw a red flag, and look into that study. You may be surprised at what you find. After all, journalists are not very good with numbers, either, and have no clue what they are publishing.

Expert opinion is fraught with risk. If so many experts are wrong most of time, how are we to make decisions?

Pay attention to your gut. Listen to your neighbors. Get a second medical opinion. If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Use your common sense.

Be very careful when checking expert information. Too many people put too much trust in experts and consensus. Everybody has their agenda.

Nate Silver – Lost In The Noise

The book is, “The Signal And The Noise: Why Some Predictions Fail – And Some Don’t”, by Nate Silver. This book is about the art and science of forecasting, and how some predictions are fairly accurate, and some are not. Being a self-proclaimed statistician and economist, Nate Silver has been a successful predictor in baseball, political elections, and on-line poker. Just winning in poker is impressive to me, but Silver managed to put his expertise into computer programs, and that’s where he makes his money, now.

The first part of the book is filled with stories of his salad days in the poker business, and how when the field got over run with players, he found it tougher to earn money. He has been successful in predicting political elections, using his own methodology.

Although being good at mathematical statistics, he comes up short when addressing scientific issues. It is not that Silver is incapable of the science, but he is an economist, and has misinterpreted noise as signal, a common problem that Silver is supposed to be writing about.

Climate Consensus – Silver realizes that the so-called consensus of climate scientists is defined from a very simple statement. I accept the so-called consensus view, and so do most climate skeptics. My cat would accept the consensus view which says,”The greenhouse effect is real. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Increasing carbon dioxide causes additional warming in the atmosphere, and mankind is the source of some of this carbon dioxide.”  OK. That’s it. Silver recognized this.

Extreme Weather – There is no evidence that accumulating carbon dioxide, or global warming will cause weather to become more extreme. More correctly, the available evidence shoes that global warming DOES NOT cause extreme weather. Period. That is an easy research project, The data is readily available on NOAA web sites. Silver did not do his homework.

Climate Models – Silver argued that climate model predictions are within a reasonable error, and if several are averaged, a more accurate forecast is achieved. Averaging forecasts is a theme that runs throughout other chapters. He argues that averaging several climate forecasts results in more accuracy. I think Silver seriously misreads the science on this one.

Climate models need to be reasonable models that can stand on their own. There are parameters in the model input that need to be realistic, but instead are just assumptions. They have shown over time that assumptions about clouds, aerosols, and sensitivity to carbon dioxide are significantly incorrect.

It is widely agreed among climate scientists (not modelers) that the models are running hot, meaning that their forecasts of global temperatures are out of bounds on the warm side. Silver interviewed Gavin Schmidt, a well know NASA modeler and political activist, but did not investigate the actual record and physics of the models. Schmidt makes his living running models for NASA, and is known to suffer from a political bias in his science. Silver scores a fail on science.

ClimateGate – Nate Silver really struck out on this one. He thinks that Climategate was all about a monthly published global temperature record called HADCRUT. This stands for the Hadley Center in Britain, and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Sadly, it is obvious that Silver never researched Climategate, and has totally missed the mark. Climagegate had nothing to do with the global temperature product.

Climategate was all about prominent scientists from the University of East Anglia fudging data; publishing fraudulent academic studies; endeavoring to silence skeptics by controlling the peer review process with well known scientific journals; and illegally conspiring to refuse Freedom Of Information Act petitions for data paid for by the public. These rogue British scientists did so in league with some American scientists, guilty of the same scientific crimes. The most infamous American was Dr Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University.

Silver defended Mann by saying that Mann had been cleared by a group of his peers. You should remember that academics are rather like cops and doctors. They do not squeal on their  buddies. Penn State actually gave Mann a  whitewash, not an investigation. Not once was a complainant questioned, and the Climategate emails were not introduced into evidence. All this information is available, and Silver believed Mann instead of doing the work necessary to find the truth. Mann is a bad apple.

ClimateGate Strikes, Again!

You might remember that right before the Copenhagen global warming convention, thousands of emails written by the greatest and most popular climate scientists were exposed to the public.The emails showed that these supposedly respectable scientists had been diddling the data, and spiking their algorithms to present a false story of rapid, and dangerous global warmng.

The ClimateGate emails played a role in making Copenhagen a joke of a meeting, along with record snowfalls, and President Obama in danger of becoming snowbound in Denmark. 

Now, we have an additional 254 megabytes of emails and documents in a zip file posted initially on a Russian web server. The Russian server seems to be down, now, but you can download he zip file FOIA 2011 here.

The traditional README file you find with downloads gives us a reason why the emails are being released.
*********************************************************
 FOIA 2011 — Background and Context ///

“Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”

“Every day nearly 16.000 children die from hunger and related causes.”

“One dollar can save a life” — the opposite must also be true.

“Poverty is a death sentence.”

“Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize
greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.”

Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on
hiding the decline.

This archive contains some 5.000 emails picked from keyword searches.  A few
remarks and redactions are marked with triple brackets.

The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons.  We are not planning
to publicly release the passphrase.

We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics such
as…

Then the release agent gives dozens of examples.

3066> Thorne:
I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

<1611> Carter:
It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much
talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by
a select core group.

2884> Wigley:
Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive […] there have been a number of
dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC […]

<2009> Briffa:
I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of
all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!
<3062> Jones:

We don’t really want the bullshit and optimistic stuff that Michael has written
[…] We’ll have to cut out some of his stuff.
<i>note: with this email it is apparent that the scientists are tired of Michael Mann’s bogus Hockey Stick study. They know the study is fraudulent, yet they still publicly defend it.</i>

<1485> Mann:
the important thing is to make sure they’re loosing the PR battle. That’s what
the site [Real Climate] is about.
<i>note: This email is from Michael Mann about Real Climate, a supposedly straight scientific web site run by a group of top scientists. Now, you find out it is all PR.</i>

<5111> Pollack:
But it will be very difficult to make the MWP go away in Greenland.
<i>note: The so-called consensus scientists have been trying to get rid of the Mideaval Warm Period (1000 years ago) when it was warmer than the present. The MWP defeats their claim that today’s temperatures are unprecedented. Now, you know it is all BS.</i>