Why It Is Good to Have Two Sides of A Debate

With climate alarmists continuing to declare climate debate to be over and asking skeptics to just go away, we are reminded again why it is useful to have two sides in a debate.  Few people on any side of any question typically are skeptical of data that support their pet hypotheses.    So, in order to have a full range of skepticism and replication applied to all findings, it is helpful to have people passionately on both sides of a proposition.

I am reminded of this seeing how skeptics finally convinced the NOAA that one of its satellites had gone wonky, producing absurd data (e.g. Great Lakes temperatures in the 400-600F range).  Absolutely typically, the NOAA initially blamed skeptics for fabricating the data

NOAA’s Chuck Pistis went into whitewash mode on first hearing the story about the worst affected location, Egg Harbor, set by his instruments onto fast boil. On Tuesday morning Pistis loftily declared, “I looked in the archives and I find no image with that time stamp. Also we don’t typically post completely cloudy images at all, let alone with temperatures. This image appears to be manufactured for someone’s entertainment.”

Later he went on to own up to the problem, but not before implying at various times that the data is a) trustworthy  b) not trustworthy  c) placed online by hand with verification and d) posted online automatically with no human intervention.

This was the final NOAA position, which is absurd to me:

“NOTICE: Due to degradation of a satellite sensor used by this mapping product, some images have exhibited extreme high and low surface temperatures. “Please disregard these images as anomalies. Future images will not include data from the degraded satellite and images caused by the faulty satellite sensor will be/have been removed from the image archive.”

OK, so 600F readings will be thrown out, but how do we have any confidence the rest of the readings are OK.  Just because they may read in a reasonable range, e.g, 59F, the NOAA is just going to assume those readings are OK?

  • LoneSnark

    As a common engineering joke goes, “A researcher with a thermometer knows what the temperature is; a researcher with two thermometers is confused.”

    The pursuit of an accurate and reliable thermometer is on-going. This may be the 21st century, but in my laboratory it seems we will all have flying cars before we manage to get two thermometers to agree.

  • ADiff

    So it would appear NOAA’s criteria for accuracy is “kinda what we expect to see”?

    That’s wonderfully reassuring!

    It appears NOAA doesn’t care about accuracy, only the perception of accuracy…

  • Ike

    @LoneSnark

    A researcher with two thermometers is confused — unless he is studying climate science, and knows which of the two he ought disregard to keep his university funding.

  • intrepid_wanders

    @Ike
    …unless he is studying climate science, and throws out the TWO thermometers and goes with the COMPUTER MODEL.

  • Lance

    I’m here.

  • truth seeker

    Only throws out the two thermometers if they lead the computer model to obvious errors and keep all the dodgy ones that allow the computer model to appear to very roughly fit the current trend. Not 20 year old rubbish climate science but today’s perfect and infallible climate science.

  • Peter Whale

    Takes the difference between the two measurements calls it a heat island affect and adds it to the highest thermometer reading and then adjusts all future measurements by the same value added measurements and refuses to release method because your only trying to find something wrong with it.

  • Waldonation

    This post is typically disengenuous. Chuck Pistis does not work directly for NOAA. He is an “Extention Program Leader” for the Michigan Sea Grant which is a joint program for the U of M and Michigan State.

    There is no indication that skeptics convinced anyone of anything – that is propagandist b.s.

    And the only place that thinks this information is noteworthy is, predictably, the deniosphere, predictably making a mountain out of a molehill. Didn’t even make the news.

    The deniosphere is getting desperate during one of the hottest summers on record, with record floods in Pakistan, with floods in the American midwest, with a chunk of Greenland falling into the sea…

    Sure, it’s good to have two sides to a “debate” (which there really is none) but it would be better if one side didn’t make a Breitbart out of itself.

  • ADiff

    The challenges directly challenge the contention it’s the “hottest summer on record”, which is very much to the point. Unwillingness to answer such challenges except with ad hominem doesn’t exactly enhance CAGW advocates credibility, as witnessed I believe by the declining perception their arguments accurately portray reality.

    Beyond that considering the recent increases in Arctic icecap measurements, the brutal cold of the recent winter, and the record cold in the southern hemisphere, I think seizing on these events to dismiss any suggestion that CO2 is a significant contributor to climate is an example of jumping to a conclusion on the basis of isolated events, and evidence of flawed willingness to be objective about long-term trends….exactly as the CAGW advocates do with a flood in Pakistan which is magnified by vast increases in population and land use patterns relative to the many previous floods, many of which may well have been of equal or greater actual severity independent of impact to that new population, and to the calving of an iceberg larger than any since 1962, and several earlier that were larger… (gee, with all that terrible inevitable and irreversible ‘warming’ one must wonder however it managed to get ‘back’ after 1962..and before…)…. The exercise convinces only the most credulous, which contrary to the opinion of the majority of would-be arbiters of global destiny, most ordinary people (eventually) aren’t.

  • Shills

    Am I alone in having no idea what ADiff just said?

  • mmgood

    Shills: Well, there were a few missing commas, but I managed to parse ADiff in what I think was an adequate fashion.

  • Waldogood

    I think ADiff was complaining that I had not adequately met the putative “challenge” of the poorly researched, poorly argued, misrepresented information in Mr. Meyer and Mr. Watt’s posts. The rest of ADiff’s comment is a repeat, more or less, of his generalized plaint against anyone not convinced by these sorts of disinformation. The post was rather inarticulate; perhaps he was a little stoned?

    How about this, ADff: there is no “challenge” above, simply an attempt to dupe those of us who are actively thinking about the problem and a ready-made agitprop for those of you who are not. A little investigation would have revealed that UM-NOAA discovered a technological breakdown and made the problem public. They discovered incorrect data, admitted that the data was incorrect, then removed the incorrect data. They saw a problem, admitted there was a problem, and then took steps to correct it. GASP! Can we trust them? Furthermore, there is no evidence that this sort of technological problem is widespread – only one more unsupported allegation. And ADiff has enough gall to whine the old “ad-hom” line. Pulll-ease.

    There is no challenge, simply another example of how the deniosphere distorts the truth and makes unfounded charges against people and organizations who tell them what they do not want to hear.

  • ADiff

    Once again CAGW advocates dodge the question. Refusal to acknowledge criticism weakens faith advocates actually have any answers, suggesting the criticism’s possible validity. When rhetoric is substituted for science it doesn’t prove anything at all in scientific a sense, but does undermine the credibility of the CAGW advocates arguments, in general.

    Why do the surface and satellite temperatures diverge? Why does that divergence increase over time? Why hasn’t NOAA and agencies measuring surface temperatures responded substantively to challenges that record errors, siting changes, and land use effects contaminate their data? Why is one hot summer in Russia support for CAGW, when a cold winter in Europe and another in the Southern Hemisphere are irrelevant? Why is one large iceberg support for CAGW, when that very ice grew back after an even larger one calved there in 1962?

    Unsupported characterizations that these questions aren’t deserving of response is all I see or hear, not just here, but across the entire CAGW community. I can’t help but conclude it’s quite possible that’s so simply because that community just doesn’t have any other way to respond.

  • Glaxx Zontar

    “Sure, it’s good to have two sides to a “debate” (which there really is none) but it would be better if one side didn’t make a Breitbart out of itself.”

    I would very much love to see a televised debate because, to date, the debate has yet to begin!

  • Waldohappy

    So now our friend ADiff posts some questions which have little to do with the post at the top of the page. Fine. But I did answer your “challenge,” ADiff—the information is disingenuous, the rhetoric is biased, and the post is factually incorrect. There is nothing to argue. You have no challenge, simply misinformation. Perhaps I did not make myself clear. And-

    1. Why do the surface and satellite temperatures diverge?

    Do they? Where is this information? Hansen talks about it here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/01/2009-temperatures-by-jim-hansen/

    This is thick stuff and one must read for a bit to find it, but he does explain why. I guarantee you will not read this or give it its due (you’ll prefer a deniosphere blog posting) but it is there. I guarantee you will not read it and then you will later post the same question somewhere else and then complain that the scientists will not answer the “challenge” you’ve put before them.

    2. Why hasn’t NOAA and agencies measuring surface temperatures responded substantively to challenges that record errors, siting changes, and land use effects contaminate their data?

    Perhaps they consider their data valid and such challenges bogus. Let’s take the one at the top of the page here, ADiff. Look at it closely. Follow it back to its primary documents. It is a bogus, disingenuous claim. I have already answered it—you just didn’t like the answer so you are ignoring it and predictably bringing up more dogmatic, unspecified and unsupported statements that probably have their genesis in a biased, un-researched, amateur blog posting somewhere.

    3. Why is one hot summer in Russia support for CAGW, when a cold winter in Europe and another in the Southern Hemisphere are irrelevant?

    Never heard anyone say they were (until you, that is). But I think the confusion might between weather and climate – and usually, when I see commentary from the people who actually do the work, the concern is for global, not local, trends. Again, this is disingenuous. Why can’t denialists play on an even field? Then again, a hot summer in Russia might be indicative of a trend. And we know that there are anomalies in weather patterns. So that might also be an answer to your question.

    4. Why is one large iceberg support for CAGW, when that very ice grew back after an even larger one calved there in 1962?

    Well, not sure it’s just “one large iceberg.” And I suspect you know this but will refuse to acknowledge otherwise.

  • ADiff

    Just for starters one might note that http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/01/2009-temperatures-by-jim-hansen/ doesn’t address satellite vs surface station divergence at all, and is only a discussion of Hansen’s analysis of 2009 surface station data only. It’s “thick stuff” indeed, but irrelevant to the question.

    Considering a criticism “bogus” a priori without answering them at all is exactly the point. That’s what NOAA & NASA seem to be about.

    No answer on CAGW advocates repeated ‘special pleading’. And finally, the calving in question was (at least initially) really “one large iceberg”…albeit huge…but but at all unprecedented. From Google News: “A giant iceberg that snapped away from Greenland last week is a signal that global warming is causing the island’s continent-sized ice cap to melt faster than expected”. That’s false attribution with the non-sequiter thrown in, as is so common with these ‘The Sky is Falling!’ yelps.

  • ADiff

    AGW is one thing, and something quite different, than the apocalyptic predictions and the Utopian (and dis-Utopian!) visions of CAGW activists, whatever their professional callings.

    For those of you who haven’t read it yet take a look at Scared to Death:

    From BSE to Global Warming: Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth by Christopher Booker & Richard North

    CAGW is just the ‘latest & greatest’ hysteria, and certainly won’t be the last.

  • Retnuh

    “The deniosphere is getting desperate during one of the hottest summers on record, with record floods in Pakistan, with floods in the American midwest, with a chunk of Greenland falling into the sea…”

    Waldwhatever,

    As I’m sure you would point out to a skeptic/denier (whichever you fancy) who brought up similar evidence about having a particularly cold season, weather is not climate.

  • ADiff

    Of course we just had one of the coldest winters in recent times in Europe and are having a record cold winter in the Southern Hemisphere… Which proves exactly what? Nothing much at all, and neither does the hot Russian summer or the Pakistani flood. The iceberg in Greenland was larger than any since 1962….which was larger…from which I can conclude, I guess, that ‘Global Warming’ has lessened since 1962, and well…it ‘grew’ back in the meantime…. So that too ‘means’ exactly nada. Except, of course, to the rhetorical uses of Alarmists and ‘advocates’ of whatever stripe.

  • Waldopriori

    Certainly, ADiff, you are well enough informed to know that some experts believe the European winter is a symptom of climate change. But fair enough—I would be impressed with your fair mindedness and caution if it was focused both ways. That is, if you gave Mr. Watts and Mr. Meyers blogs the same level or incredulity and examination that you give to alarmist claims. The very problem you have dodged entirely concerning Mr. Meyer’s post at the top of the page.

    My reaction to “Why It Is Good” is not, as you charge, an a priori rejection of anything—and a quick perusal of my posts would show this. I read Mr. Meyer’s post, read the post on WUWT, and then did a tiny bit of research to find that the blogs in question were severely slanted. De facto, that is the very opposite of “a priori.” You, my friend, are de facto an example of an a priori approach to believing the claims of the denialists, not the other way around.