Your Humble Scribe Quoted in WaPo Article on Computer Models

The article onj climate modelling is here, and is pretty good.  My bit is below, from web page 3:

But Warren Meyer, a mechanical and aerospace engineer by training who blogs at www.climate-skeptic.com, said that climate models are highly flawed. He said the scientists who build them don’t know enough about solar cycles, ocean temperatures and other things that can nudge the earth’s temperature up or down. He said that because models produce results that sound impressively exact, they can give off an air of infallibility.

But, Meyer said — if the model isn’t built correctly — its results can be both precise-sounding and wrong.

“The hubris that can be associated with a model is amazing, because suddenly you take this sketchy understanding of a process, and you embody it in a model,” and it appears more trustworthy, Meyer said. “It’s almost like money laundering.”

I actually like my term “knowlege laundering.”

  • Dave

    Lots of exposure for you recently. You should run for office!

  • I have written computer models [not climate] professionally so I know more about them than the average person does.

    The less you know about computer models the more impressed you are by them. They are like sausages and laws, you don’t want to see how they are made.

    The piece of model illiteracy I see mindlessly repeated is that it is somehow easier to predict the behavior of a complex system 100 years in the future than it is 10 years in the future.

    Particularly in a chaotic system which is a chaotic as the earth’s climate is the exact opposite is true. It is much much much harder to predict 100 years in the future than 10 years.One reason is that the poorly understood interactions have a longer time to act so they have a more profound impact. An other reason is that the initial conditions have to be known much more precisely to achieve accuracy in the longer term.

    Read up a little on “chaos theory” since the earth’s climate is the poster child for chaos.

    The more you know about science the more immune you are to climate alarmism.

  • papertiger

    You know what it is? Google ads.

    That was the best investment by a skeptic I’ve seen. It was a shock to see a climate skeptic ad the first time.
    Now the ads give your blog the instant credit of familiarity.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if yours is the only blog the average wapo reporter knows about.

    How much did it set you back?

  • spangled drongo

    “The hubris that can be associated with a model is amazing, because suddenly you take this sketchy understanding of a process, and you embody it in a model,” and it appears more trustworthy, Meyer said. “It’s almost like money laundering.”

    Warren, that well describes the enhanced self importance that scientists adorn themselves with every time they quote results from these models. And these results are certainly false currency.

  • Cloneof

    How can you make an article about climate models, without mentioning Spencer et al 2008?

  • What’s funny is that Schmidt talks on and on about how well the models work backwards… and leaves out that they can’t predict future behavior worth a damn. After all, we’re 22 years past the initial Hansen predictions in front of Congress:

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/hansencomparedrecent.jpg

    Stupid reality won’t follow the models.

  • hunter

    Evil Red S,
    I noticed that as well. Gavin seems almost plaintive in defense of his position.
    Warren- congrats. I had not really paid much attention to your background before.
    When I think of the lengths true believers of to discredit you and other skeptics in contrast to your background, it reminds me of how shallow AGW really is.

  • Jess

    netdr,
    “back in the day” (what a great phrase), most of what’s now called “models” had another name – SWAG. Kept everyone from taking them too seriously.

    “Models/modeling” just makes SWAG official sounding. Great for grant apps.

    J

    (SWAG = scientific wild a** guess)

  • Andy

    An example of the accuracy of a computer model was one used to help prove evolution
    A robot was built with the ability to try random movements
    Over time time this robot became quicker and more stable to move over different terrain
    Thus the theory was proven except for the simple fact that the concept of quicker and more stable was presumed by the programmer as beneficial not by the robot. Therefore a computer model can easily be manipulated to bend data and outcomes towards a preconceived belief.

  • stan

    If the models are as flawed as critics say, Schmidt said, “You have to ask yourself, ‘How come they work?’ ”

    And the first one was verified and validated when?

    Gavin is a perfect example of the wisdom that it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

  • stan
  • An Inquirer

    Evil Red Scandi: to be balanced, I believe your graph should be updated for the last few months instead of ending in June 2008. It would be interesting to see how the current El Nino event would help observations get closer to the forecasts.

  • Waldo

    Well, to be balanced you should probably also include this excerpt:

    “scientists say that…they have only become more certain that their models work.

    “Put in the conditions on Earth more than 20,000 years ago: they produce an Ice Age, NASA’s Schmidt said. Put in the conditions from 1991, when a volcanic eruption filled the earth’s atmosphere with a sun-shade of dust. The models produce cooling temperatures and shifts in wind patterns, Schmidt said, just like the real world did.”

    Yes, yes I know – this is past climate, but what about the future? But if the models correctly predicted climate in the past I can see no real reason that they should be automatically disdained for the future. I suspect a good deal of this kind of denialist thinking is sour grapes – if the anti-AGW camp had models that predicted no change or a natural upswing or the like, they would be all over it. I suspect the same is true of “consensus.”

    Oh, and I am disappointed in the Post. Journalism standards have slipped. How sad.

  • PaulM

    Waldo, the models are full of fudge factors, tweaks and assumptions. Of course these parameters can be set so that when you run the model from say 1991 you can get something that matches the observations fairly well. Being able to predict the past is completely meaningless. Like netdr I have experience with similar (less complicated) models. You can get whatever result you want from these models – which is just what these climate scientists are doing. As netdr says, “The more you know about science the more immune you are to climate alarmism”.

  • An Inquirer

    Waldo, you are demonstrating a lack of understanding of how models are built — and for what purposes they can be useful.

  • Waldo

    I am an electronic engineer and teacher.

    I use models every day but these models can be verified and they work. We have an advantage in that we build the model then build the circuit and verify that they match in 1 day [sometimes].

    Climate scientists build the model and like Dr Hansen’s model it did fairly well for 15 years [too high but acceptable] then the earth cooled when the model predicted sharply climbing temperatures making it look foolish. The point is that if engineering models took as long as climate models to verify we would probably only be able to simulate a simple resistive capacitive network accurately.

    The models do not accurately model the built in stability of the earth because scientists don’t understand it well enough to model it. The “feeble early sun” paradox shows that the radiation received from the sun has increased by 25 % since prehistoric times but the earth hasn’t warmed appreciably. CO2 is a non starter as a theory because it isn’t visible in the rocks of the period. The stability is because of negative feedback loops which are poorly understood.

  • Ben

    “scientists say that…they have only become more certain that their models work.”

    That is the worst statement ever. The models fail over and over, so now they are more certain they have it right? Thats like saying the worst team in baseball is certain they will do better next year…probably true since there is no where to go but up. If you are wrong every time, you can be more certain that ‘maybe’ you will do better since next time you do have a chance at being correct versus 100% chance of being wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so go figure. The accuracy of these scientists is so low they make metorologists look like oracles…and heck maybe they should ask metorologists for some help in figuring out climate..

    Those of us who do modeling know enough to realize that you can’t model something you do not understand as well as climate…well at least accuratly that is. You can model anything, but the correctness is the key.

    And there is no sour grapes for us that are scepticle of the IPCC’s work. At least not from me, and I am still waiting on my check from big oil for my work on this…no idea when that is coming, but I am not going to hold my breath for it either.

    And the crowning achievement, I do believe in global warming. But I think the man-caused warming effect is magnitudes below what is stated by the IPCC , etc. People who don’t talk to sceptics tend to get these outragous ideas that we do not care about the environment, we are paid by big oil, and that we don’t believe CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    I am all for environmentalism, just smart environmentalism that is not based upon making Al Gore and others billionaires for coming up with a retarded scheme that does nothing for the environment in the long term and costs billions.

  • Mingy

    Its remarkable to read an article such as this – poorly researched, written by a clueless journalist, etc.. It manages to mention a skeptic (kudos), while not getting to the meat of the problem. I am not a scientist, but I took a graduate level modeling program a while back and the fact remain the same: as the prof used to repeat, over and over, ‘Models tell you nothing about nature, but nature tells you what is wrong with your models’.

    I’d like to think Schmidt and the others as smarter than they appear in the article, because their comments are laughable:

    1) Wrong or misleading information leads to wrong conclusions, not conclusions which are partially correct (acting as though false or misleading information on my spouse’s infidelity does not lead me to partially correct conclusions)

    2) Of course models based on past data predict the past. Only an idiot would think otherwise (mid you, they have to remove the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period, but still). You can by all sorts of computer models which give fantastic stock market returns in the past but you can’t buy a single one which delivers sustained above average returns on the future.

    3) If the models agreed, you could say something about their design (but not their predictive ability) – but I believe the models themselves offer different outcomes

    4) Finally, you cannot model chaotic systems at all. Even if the climate wasn’t a chaotic system – and it is certainly sensitive to minor variations, supposedly such as a few ppm of a gas – uncertainly would be proportional to element size. A 60x60x60 mile cube (216,000 cubic miles) would leave a *lot* of uncertainty with respect to outcome, especially since many features (lakes, riviers, topology, etc.) are a tiny fraction of these dimensions.

    Geez

  • hunter

    Schmidt talking about how reliable climate models have begs the question about why they were pushing them when they were less reliable.
    But it is easier to make the models work when you get to tweak the data, massage the data and fit the models to your data.
    But imagine the WaPo actually allowing a skeptic to be heard- the AGW true believers must be depressed.

  • Waldo

    Hey now folks, be fair. I only posted an excerpt from the article in question. I didn’t say these things, the scientists did.

    So, all these engineers and teachers and would-be modelers, where are your computer climate models? Some of you have very pointed critiques of the systems at hand, which I assume mean you have an expertise in the subject? Have maybe designed a couple of computer climate models yourself? Or do you know something about the subject (a graduate level course, let’s say) but no more than that?

    And please, Dr. Inquirer, let’s no go back to pretend erudition. No one looks good then.

  • Waldo

    The climate scientists do not understand the processes involved well enough to model the climate accurately.

    Modeling a climate is just like modeling anything else just more complex. I would say building models professionally for several years is the equivalent of a graduate level course or two. And my models had to actually work because the customer could tell if they didn’t. Climate model makers can always say “wait till next year” for 30 or 100 years until they retire and it’s someone else’s problem.

    The same rules apply to all models and the same pitfalls do too. I know a lot more about the problems involved than someone that has never built models professionally ever can. The more complex the model is the more probable it is that the output will be wrong. That is true of all models, Rube Goldburg models work poorly if at all.

    I won’t say I can program a climate model which is correct I say it is not within the capabilities of the best and brightest people on earth in 2010. [I am fairly smart but not that smart.] Even if they succeed we won’t know it until 2030 because only correct predictions will validate the model.

  • Waldo

    Well, netdr, Real Climate at least disagrees:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    In RC’s own words: “despite the fact these are relatively crude metrics against which to judge the models, and there is a substantial degree of unforced variability, the matches to observations are still pretty good, and we are getting to the point where a better winnowing of models dependent on their skill may soon be possible. But more on that in the New Year.”

    Now, I’ve read the arguments why we cannot trust RC(usually these center on the idea that RC is ‘politically’ motivated and its data cherry-picked or altered [the irony of CS posters writing this is entirely lost here])but I’ve found these arguments against RC et al pretty darn unconvincing.

    There is the argument that we will not know about the predictions for another hundred years, but if the models are accurate now, and for the last 20 years, why are we doubting they will be accurate in a 100 years? Seems maybe one can predict chaotic systems. The other argument – so eloquently described by the technical term “fudge factor” – is equally unconvincing because A) if one reads RC or any of Hansen’s papers, both are quick to admit that models are not perfect and both provide examples of why, B) according to the scientists the models are nevertheless broadly accurate and getting better, and C) I am pretty unconvinced that the posters here have actually taken the time to look at the model predictions or adequately understood them. There is a great deal of excited rhetoric about how scientists cannot accurately model a chaotic system but these responses tend to be very short on details and it would appear that they are incorrect.

    You are a very mature, reasonable poster, netdr, and I believe you when you say that you are an engineer etc., so I am not interested in a flame war. But, with all do respect and sincerely, I have to ask – aren’t you asking me, implicitly at least, to believe your word (as an engineer who by profession has done design and even some modeling but not climate physics) over that of a team of professional climate scientists? Why should I believe you?

  • Waldo

    I don’t expect anyone to accept my conclusions over their own. It would be foolish of me to ignore my own experience and knowledge of modeling and substitute that of some “authority” !

    I don’t understand why you think the models have accurately predicted the present.

    Here are the predictions of 9 models all of which clearly failed to predict the present lack of warming !

    Here are the predictions of 9 climate models stating in 1990

    http://www.ig.utexas.edu/people/staff/charles/wpe6.gif?PHPSESSID=5bad55a0170f76d1bc284698bb3d4f35

    Where do you get the idea that present models are fairly accurate ? Because realclimate says they are ?

    Think for yourself and check the predictions against reality.

    Here is the temperature data to evaluate them against.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.txt [Tainted by UHI though it is]

    As of 2008 :

    One model predicted no warming and is clearly the winner!

    The rest predicted between .25 and .75 o C warming.

    The real answer according to GISS is

    2008 = .44

    1990 = .38

    .44 -.38 = .06 o C

    So the one predicting no change is clearly the winner

    The error of the others about 1000 %.

  • Retnuh

    “2008 = .44

    1990 = .38

    .44 -.38 = .06 o C

    So the one predicting no change is clearly the winner”

    According to GISS it seems a little closer than you make it out. True, according to the two data points you picked out, 1990 and 2008, there is a very small difference in temperature change, but that’s misleading. If instead you had picked ’89 and ’07 you would have come up with a 0.38 difference (0.57 – 0.19).

    It’s pretty clear that GISS, whether it’s accurate or not, has been trending upward. On the lower end of 0.25 to 0.75 change perhaps, but still within that range in the given time frame.

  • Mingy

    Waldo
    The near term predictive ability of any model is irrelevant with respect to its skill in prediction. I’d even doubt your comment about the reliability of the models with respect to the past 20 years. Show me *all* the runs done 20 years ago (not cherry picking the ones which happened to come close, and no surviror biases) and lets discuss their accuracy. Besides the ‘climate scientists’ are always harping on about how climate is long term, where weather is short term – are you suggesting conclusions about the climate should be derived from the weather?

    Regardless, there are numerous examples of models which ‘come close’ for extended periods of time then wildly diverge from observation. For example, stock market models with an inherent bullish (or bearish) bias are great if you happened to have entered a secular bull (or bear) market, then cost you all your money when things change. And those and econometric models are far better understood than climate models.

    With respect to being prepared to analyse and critique the models, are these source listing available? I thought even the data sets were proprietary (?). Assuming these codes are available, who has the resources? Governments pour billions of taxpayer dollars into creating ‘climate science’ and funding the computers to run the models – there is no funding and no resources for contrary research.

    Besides which, you don’t need a deep understanding of a climate model to understand you can’t model a chaotic system. This is Modeling 101. And, if you think you can model a chaotic system, it is because you are wrong, not because you can actually model a chaotic system. I’d like to know of a single exception to this. If the climate isn’t chaotic (and I’d *really* like to hear that argument, since cloud formation, sunspots, air and water circulation, and biological systems like the carbon cycle all are) I’d like to understand how any model with a mile or kilometer scale grid can model a system with important sub-kilometer scale influences. Assuming that argument could be made, how can a model with a grid three orders of magnitude greater show any skill at all?

    So, maybe one day, I’ll have a chat with my old prof (a very distinguished expert with a complete field of study named after him) and he could explain all this to me. Maybe some non-‘climate science’ with established credibility could step up and explain it all. I’d like to hear that, because it would mean all I was taught is false.

  • The assertion is frequently made that it is easier to correctly model 100 years of climate than it is to model 10 years. The assertion is that errors would cancel out !

    This is nonsense. A model is like an algebra test with 10 questions where the answer to #1 is the input to question #2 and the answer to question 2 is the input to question 3 and so on.

    If the feed forward is POSITIVE errors are amplified so that a tiny error in the output of question #1 becomes monstrous by answer #10. Even if the basic equations are perfectly understood [which they aren’t] the errors compound until the output is worthless.

    In a negative feedback system, which the climate alarmists assure is not the case, the errors would drive the answer to the set point and they would not accumulate as badly but they would still accumulate.

  • Waldo

    Ah! Excellent, netdr. I wanted to ask you about these very bits of information a while back but I believe you stopped reading that particular thread. But first let me respond to your post –

    *****“It would be foolish of me to ignore my own experience and knowledge of modeling and substitute that of some ‘authority’! “

    I will admit that I am a little disappointed to see the “authority” topos rear its silly head, netdr. But yes, I can see no reason to doubt an “authority,” aka an expert in the field. Simply calling someone an “authority” does not make them any less of an authority on the issue. We rely on “authorities” every time we go to the doctor or the dentist or drive or sit in an airplane…but I think I’ve posted this before.

    ****“I don’t understand why you think the models have accurately predicted the present. “

    Ummm….thought I made that clear. Did you read the RC post? That is where I draw the information from. I do not so a reasonable argument for why I should doubt these people. No one has presented one although a number seem convinced that they can read this material better than the authorities.

    *****“Here are the predictions of 9 models all of which clearly failed to predict the present lack of warming!”

    Is there a “present lack of warming,” netdr? Both graphics would seem to indicate otherwise.
    On the UTexas graph there are the predictions from nine computer models. The CCSR (dark green line) predicts a fairly dramatic temperature increase (5 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2090 – correct?); the MRI2 (maroon line) has the least dramatic increase (around 1 degree Celsius over the same time period). The other seven trend somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. None, as far as I can tell, predict “no warming.” I believe that you made that up.

    *****“Where do you get the idea that present models are fairly accurate ? Because realclimate says they are?”

    Yes.

    Now, are they as accurate as we would like? Apparently not. Do the scientists in question admit that there are problems with modeling? Yes, almost to a fault. However, it does seem to me that scientists are in the process of working out the complexities of climate science in an ongoing quest to understand the planetary system, so it might be reasonable to expect a fair margin of error. This is a staple of the denialist mentality which aligns so well with Creationsit, UFO-ologist and Bigfoot hunter theories – because current science cannot explain everything, it must not be able to explain anything. Which is just purely silly.

    *****“Think for yourself and check the predictions against reality.”

    Now, three honest questions, netdr. 1) Do you really, truly know enough to “think for yourself” scientifically in this regard? 2) I know you claim you were a tepid AGW believer until you looked at the “evidence,” but is that really true, or did you make up your mind and then start picking data that supported an a priori belief? And 3) you do have more than two specific bits of information, from two different sources, to base your conclusions on, don’t you?

    You’ve posted the same two graphics twice now (first back on the “Amplifier” post) – certainly you have more data and have done further investigation before drawing your conclusions, right? But even if you have, do you really know the literature so well that you can judge?

    The first graph is of nine computer simulations: all trend upwards – the degree to which they respond to climate forcings varies a great deal (and if you read the commentary at UTexas that accompanies the graph you will see that the team there is studying how and why simulations are so variable).

    The second NASA Giss graph also shows a steadily upward temperature trend. From 1900 (average mean -.07 / 5 year mean -.17) to 2000 (2000 average .33 / 5 year.45) is fairly conclusive. As Retnuh points out, you cherry picked a fairly flat section of the temperature gradient to compare. You cherry-picked your data and then removed it from its context. This is what I find so, so, so incredibly ironic about places like CS where AGW scientists are raked over the coals for just these various sins.

    I’ve posted before that I am somewhat of an AGW agnostic – I don’t know if it is happening or not. But more and more I am becoming alarmed, particularly when I come to places like this and read these kinds of commentaries. I think you tried to respond very hypothetically to Retnuh’s charge…but your algebra analogy is, frankly, weak.

  • Waldo

    Now Mingy’s comment is exactly the type of comment that I mentioned upstream here.

    Mingy wants to see all the models from 20 years ago but, I am willing to bet, has never looked for them and would not really evaluate them even if he/she/it had them. Mingy does not want the actual information or he/she/it could easily find it (go to the IPCC website, all their information is there for you to download; look around Real Climate, Mingy, they have links to the computer codes).

    But I suspect Mingy would rather make very broad, hypothetical, unsupported declarations like the one above.

    Mingy is probably like the rest of us – this stuff is extraordinarily complicated and the actual data is massive and impossible to read as a layperson. In this void of actual knowledge we jump to conclusions. It is much easier to do this than to admit to ourselves that we really are only amateurs.

    And this –

    “maybe one day, I’ll have a chat with my old prof (a very distinguished expert with a complete field of study named after him) and he could explain all this to me.”

    – is kind of odd. Why not just name this extraordinary person, Mingy? And why go to him/her when you can actually read what the climate scientists say? Very strange.

  • “The assertion is frequently made that it is easier to correctly model 100 years of climate than it is to model 10 years. The assertion is that errors would cancel out !

    This is nonsense”

    I basically agree. This assertion is usually made by people who have studied enough statistics and probability theory that they vaguely remember that the outputs of, say, a roulette wheel tend to balance out over time. So they assume that all systems behave in this way.

    However, there is no reason to believe that on hundred year time scales, the climate acts like a roulette wheel. As you point out, one problem is that surface temperatures are not independent of eachother like spins of a roulette wheel.

    In any event, one need only look at the Little Ice Age to see that the roulette hypothesis is false. Temperatures were consistently down for a period of a few hundred years. That would never happen if temperatures were to behave as the warmists seem to think they do.

  • Waldo

    *****“Here are the predictions of 9 models all of which clearly failed to predict the present lack of warming!”

    Is there a “present lack of warming,” netdr? Both graphics would seem to indicate otherwise.
    On the UTexas graph there are the predictions from nine computer models. The CCSR (dark green line) predicts a fairly dramatic temperature increase (5 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2090 – correct?); the MRI2 (maroon line) has the least dramatic increase (around 1 degree Celsius over the same time period). The other seven trend somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. None, as far as I can tell, predict “no warming.” I believe that you made that up.
    ***************
    Don’t confuse predictions with reality.

    I didn’t say they didn’t predict warming where did you get that idea ?

    Real temperature data even when contaminate by UHI shows almost no warming !

  • Here is the warming from 2000 to 2010 according to the satellites which are uncontaminated by parking lots and UHI.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2000/to:2010/plot/uah/from:2000/to:2010/trend

    The rate is: #Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00541508 per year

    [I could cherry pick dates to prove cooling but these dates are fairly representative and avoids the 1998 spike.]

    So we should pass crushing taxes to avoid 1/2 o C in 100 years ?

    That is silly.

    Except fore worthless models there is no reason to think more warming than this will occur.

    Don’t confuse model outputs with reality.

  • Waldo

    April 10: “I didn’t say they didn’t predict warming where did you get that idea ?”

    April 9: “One model predicted no warming and is clearly the winner!”

  • Waldo

    Now, help me out, netdr. Each one of these graphs from Wood for Trees shows a clear upward trend in termperature:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1970/every:12
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:12
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:132
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/last:360/trend
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/last:360/mean:12/plot/hadcrut3vgl/last:360/trend
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/last:120/plot/uah/last:120/plot/rss/last:120/plot/gistemp/last:120

    First of all, help me out here – am I reading these wrong?

    Second, why go here? – I’m sure this person is smart enough as a programmer, but my question is always “Why listen to a non-expert authority when you can listen to an actual expert authority” (you do realize that your reliance on Wood For Trees as an appeal to authority, right?).

    Third – did you cherry pick a single graph hoping to make your point?

    Fourth – Even if we accept this data, isn’t it manipulated?

    Fifth – Why did your moniker link back to CS? (Now it links to “http://climateskeptic/” which results in a “Server Not Found” page). Very interesting.

  • An Inquirer

    Sorry to go back to posts from April 8, but my schedule does not allow me to be a daily participant here.

    Waldo: “Hey now folks, be fair. I only posted an excerpt from the article in question. I didn’t say these things, the scientists did.” Actually that is not true. You added: “. . . if the models correctly predicted climate in the past I can see no real reason that they should be automatically disdained for the future. I suspect a good deal of this kind of denialist thinking is sour grapes – if the anti-AGW camp had models that predicted no change or a natural upswing or the like, they would be all over it.” It is this that prompted reactions such as a demonstration of “a lack of understanding of how models are built.”

    Waldo, I have become suspicious of your sincerity, and perhaps the feeling is mutual. However, I propose an examination of sincerity. You emphasize deference to experts. Okay: over 95% of proxy studies worldwide agree on the existence of the MWP. Yet, Professor Mann points out that his and eleven other studies essentially reveal no noteworthy MWP. So based on this preponderance of the experts, will you accept the existence of the MWP? If needed, we can point out that the other eleven studies were conducted by associates of Mann and that they all relied on controversial on a couple of controversial proxies and — questionable statistical techniques – and are not supported by physical evidence as are the overwhelming majority of studies. However, we should not need to get into this latter discussion — the preponderance of the experts should be enough.

  • An Inquirer

    Relying on Real Climate to evaluate the predictive reliability of climate models is like relying on a Russian judge to the sole evaluator of a Russian ice skater. Or relying on an American judge to be the evaluator of an American diver. Or relying on me to the evaluator of the usefulness of the model that I built for my doctoral dissertation.

    As is perhaps well known, I used to be an ardent believer in the theory that CO2 would be driving global warming, and I also relied on Real Climate for most of my information on climate change issues. However, spurred by my inquiries to the authors of the Real Climate – and their responses — I have become a skeptic.

  • An Inquirer

    Waldo: “And please, Dr. Inquirer, let’s no go back to pretend erudition.” I do not know what you mean by that. But for the sake of respectful conversation, I will ignore it.

  • Waldo

    I apologize, Dr. Inquirer, that was ruder than it should have been.

    Nevertheless, for the sake of honest conversation, I doubt a great many of the credentials you claim and I doubt the validity of your implied expertise.

    To the point: you say “Professor Mann points out that his and eleven other studies essentially reveal no noteworthy MWP.” This would appear to be incorrect – you have grossly oversimplified what Mann et al found. In Mann’s own words from the abstract: “Global temperatures are known to have varied over the past 1500 years, but the spatial patterns have remained poorly defined. We used a global climate proxy network to reconstruct surface temperature patterns over this interval. The Medieval period is found to display warmth that matches or exceeds that of the past decade in some regions, but which falls well below recent levels globally.”

    Do you see a difference?

    Here is the actual document in question: http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/MannetalScience09.pdf

    Let’s read it together, shall we? It is not very long and I will do the best I can with the actual science.

    In the past you have made authoritative statements and you have implied a level of expertise (usually academic) which I doubt and which have fallen apart on examination. It is not “sincerity” I doubt, Inquirer, it is “honesty.” At first I believed you and now I do not. I also doubt your objectivity, particularly when you make unsubstantiated comparisons to Russian ice skaters and the like. This does not sound the least like an academic scientist, at least not one I would trust (and yes, please spare me any pontification on how academics have agendas etc.; I know academic personalities very, very well by this point). In the past, as with the most recent example, your knowledge seems to have come straight from the blogosphere, where there is a great deal of deliberate misinformation and hyperbole on both sides of the issue.

    So let’s simply not try to pull the wool over each others’ eyes, my friend. Do not try to snow me and I will not try to snow you.

  • Waldo
  • ADiff

    One wonders if ‘Waldo’ ever tires of their endless (and endlessly redundant) sterile rhetoric and tired old propaganda….

    A troll, any other name, is still a Troll.

  • Mingy

    Waldo

    Last things first.

    Why not name the prof? Well, it was a while ago. Maybe I’m mistaken (but I note that you haven’t addressed a single one of my comments). The thing is, if you say anything which is, in any way, critical of AGW ‘science’ you can be, quite literally, compared to Hitler. That’s where the term ‘denier’ comes from. Its meant to invoke ‘holocaust denier’.

    If I named my prof, people could easily triangulate back to me. And I have a job with a relatively high profile so I wouldn’t want that. I’ve already lost friends (non-scientists) because I’ve discussed such matters in their company. Thats the sort of BS this ‘science’ is all about.

    If you might point me to a source which has the source lists and data for all the climate models, perhaps I would have a go. If you could show me a source or sources which list ALL climate models which were extent 20 years ago, and what those predictions were, then I’ll go look at it.

    Who knows, if you can cite a single instance of a useful model of a chaotic system, of a model which works despite having cells size orders of magnitude
    greater than those of important features, or any other issues, maybe I’ll be convinced.

    You see, the way science used to work, scientists did science, not religion. Now, its ‘consensus’. Like the consensus that meant Einstein never got a Nobel for Relativity, or made Darwin the most hated scientist (among scientists!). The consensus view was stress and spicy foods caused ulcers too. You should have seen all the peer reviewed papers supporting that self evident (but completely wrong) fact.

    Now, I don’t argue about quantum mechanics or string theory. I don’t know enough to have an opinion. I do argue with creationists because evolution and biology is something I know a lot about.

    I admit, I don’t know a great deal about climate theory. However, I do know that if I had a thermometer in Russia today, it would tell me nothing about the temperature in Portugal. And, I don’t give a damned how many PhDs say otherwise, a Russian tree (let alone ice core) has even less insight into the matter, whether today, or from 200 years ago. So, you can crush me under the weight of peer reviewed papers which say otherwise, but, since it is untestable (once an important tenet of science was testability), I don’t give give a damn. Unless you believe in magic, assuming trees tell the temperature (and there is little reason to believe they can) you can’t tell me they know anything about the temperature somewhere else.

    With respect to computer models, only a fool would think they can model climate or stock markets. I don’t care how many PhDs, peer reviewed papers, etc., you have saying otherwise, you can’t do it. Thats not a faith based argument. Thats an argument based on a very broad educational background and a lot of experience.

    So, maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to see some evidence that I’m wrong, however. You can tell me the best computer model has predicted the climate for 20 years. Ok. Has it been modified since 20 years ago? Has the data set remained the same or was it tweaked? How many climate models were there 20 years ago? Is it not possible that 19 out of 20 bore no relation to reality, so a survivor bias means we only know about this one, because by happenstance, it got it right for a few years more. If there existed a model 20 years ago which could accurately predict climate trends on Cray 2’s then why are there complaints about the lack of performance available to run the models today?

    In any event, as I pointed out in my previous post, a model’s skill is not demonstrated by the fact that it, out of who knows how many models, ‘got it right’ for an extended period of time. This is the thought vortex which leads people to think they can model chaotic systems.

    I’m old school: if you want to destroy the world economy to save us from a looming 100 year disaster, and spend trillions doing so, rather than fixing the very real and observable societal and environmental problems which exist today you have to convince me, not the other way around.

  • Waldo

    Mingy, please – I’ve asked Dr. Inquirer not to B.S. I would ask you the same – no one is impressed when you say –

    “If I named my prof, people could easily triangulate back to me. And I have a job with a relatively high profile so I wouldn’t want that.”

    I mean, really. You were this amazing profs only student? You’re a double secret agent that will be exposed simply by the naming this dude/dudette? There are a couple that are that gullible here but I am not.

    And what comment would you like me to address? All you are do is reiterate your disbelief in climate science and climate models. You quite literally write that no matter what information you receive or who provides it you will not believe it or them. You’ve given yourself an easy out by refusing to look at anything and then insisting that someone provide you with the information which you could probably find with about two minutes on Google. But if you can live with this, I suppose so can I. In fact, there’s really nothing to discuss here…

    And no, ADiff, I do not get tired of the same old rhetoric. In fact, I find that I am needed here more than ever.

  • mingy

    Well there you go – you know more about me than I do! You don’t figure that his name, an approximation on when the course was taught, and a few other details here and there would narrow things down, do you? Anyhow, if an ignorant person like me can make statements which you chose not to address, what does that say about you?

    You make statements about the veracity of models and clearly you have neither information about those statements, nor do you know anything at all about computer modeling in general. If good enough for you that somebody working at a university says so, and you are done.

    What I clearly said was there is no way you could convince me that a tree in Russia hold information about the climate in Portugal. The tree are a perfect example of modeling and ‘climate theory’ run amok. They set up their temperate charts and from that point on, more or less, the measured temperature diverges from the observed temperature. Thats what ‘hide the decline’ is all about! But it wasn’t meant in a bad way so Jones is off the hook – except that it doesn’t explain why tree rings (apparently) can tell us the temperature a few hundred years ago, but they can’t tell about the measured and testable recent past! All you warmists need to know is the conclusion with no messy thinking in between.

    So, lets add that to the list: besides your inability to address a single point I’ve raised, do you actually believe trees in one place can tell about the temperature in another? Maybe Gaia is sending spirit messages? Because some clown with a crimson cape said it is so, so it must be so?

    Another thing worth mentioning in terms of the utility of computer models in science is that they has some role in disproving an hypothesis. For example, models of solar system formation couldn’t explain planet formation – and yet there be planets. The models were based on actual theory (the best theory there is – not heuristics or data mining like climate models) and because it is a relatively closed system, the inability of models to explain planet formation showed the theory was incomplete. This lead to a refinement of theory. Nonetheless, even though the models now ‘work’ it does not and cannot prove the theory definitively.

  • hunter

    mingy,
    Put the troll on a diet. Waldo cannot address issues, he is too busy pretending he is clever. That is the way of trolls.

  • Mingy

    hunter

    Good point. I have been traveling for a few days and it occurred to me that he is likely a lawyer or preacher. He seems to expect the structure of his arguments carry the day, not the content. Mr former profs’ name is irrelevant – he may be a great teacher, but I a poor student or vice versa – it makes no difference to the points raised.

    Ah, well – live and learn.

  • Waldamn

    ****”he [me] is likely a lawyer or preacher.”

    This is the funniest thing I have read yet on this thread. And it does strike me that CS is getting weirder and weirder. Actually, Mingy, I thought perhaps you were slightly unbalanced and I try not to antagonize people who I think might actually plunge down the rabbit hole if challenged, but okay. Let’s see what you have to say.

    *****”What I clearly said was there is no way you could convince me that a tree in Russia hold information about the climate in Portugal. The tree are a perfect example of modeling and ‘climate theory’ run amok.”

    What the hell are you talking about, son? There is nothing “clearly said” there. Why on Earth would you be looking for weather patterns for Portugal in Russia? I think you might be making some sort of comment about the reliability of tree-ring proxies, but taken by itself this statement makes no sense. I suspect that English may be your second language (and kudos for bilingual communication if this is the case) so that may account for the oddness and inexplicable nature of your commentary. If you are referring to a particular study in which proxies between Russia and Portugal are compared, post it – let’s actually take a look at it. This is one of my favorite things to do on CS.

    ****”They set up their temperate charts and from that point on, more or less, the measured temperature diverges from the observed temperature. Thats what ‘hide the decline’ is all about!”

    Again, what the hell are you talking about? Who sets up their “climate charts”? And how do you know that these “charts” diverge from actual temperatures? Cite your source. I think that you are completely wrong about this. Temperature is derived from historical data (weather stations), climate proxies, or more modern methods such as satellite measurements. If you are talking about something else, make it clear. If you are simply making something up, which I rather suspect, there is nothing to debate about – you are simply making things up. If you are talking about adjusting temperatures, then say that. Whatever it is you are talking about, if you want people to comment, make it clear – otherwise you will probably be dismissed as a nutcase.

    Perhaps you could sign up for a composition course at a local community college or something, clear up your writing style so you don’t write incomprehensible things such as –

    ****”it doesn’t explain why tree rings (apparently) can tell us the temperature a few hundred years ago, but they can’t tell about the measured and testable recent past! All you warmists need to know is the conclusion with no messy thinking in between.”

    And, I’m sorry Mingy, but I call bullshit on this famous professor of yours. No such person exists. You did not take classes with him. And no one cares what your job is.

    And hunter, you have been challenging people to put me on a “diet” for about a month now, and you can no more keep your brain off the thread than a denialist can actually read the copious literature easily available online for free (see Mingy’s demand that something provide him with the literature above). I drive you nuts and we both know it.

    Cheers.

  • NEILC

    Hello, ah another ridiculous set of posts i see: ADiff and Hunter yet again bring no scientific reasoning to the debate. In fact most of these posts would be met with a slap from any self-respecting scientist, pro-climate change or not. The fact remains, all of you above have no applicable knowledge, barring some randomly picked figures which you think will serve your purpose.

    Climate models: a lot of the skeptic argument seemed to based around the fact that models are tweaked and fudged in order to simulate the past. I would happily bet that you have all read in a blog that these models are ‘fed with data’ and therefore you assume they are leading the models to affect the outcome.

    You would not be wrong, but, crucially, the only data that is fed into these models as they run, are measured past changes in forcings such as solar output and greenhouse gas concentrations. In no way are the outputs of the models, such as warming trends forced, only the true values of VARIABLES which have a large bearing on the outcome. Would you rather they attempted to run the model but deliberately leaving out data to make it more reliable? i hope not.
    And once this is done, many models accurately predict recent and long past climate change. So…who wants to bring some SCIENCE to bear against this. Please, no mentioning of climate cover-ups or about how i am a troll.