Ian Enting has been checking the claims Ian Plimer makes in his error-filled book. His list of errors and other problematic claims is here. [Link updated to version 1.7]. He’s found plenty that I missed. For example:

p 409: New Orleans sunk rapidly by about 1 metre in the three years before Katrina struck. This time (unlike p 303, item18) a reference is cited: by Dixon and others Nature, 441, 587-588 (2006) from radar satellite altimetry. They report a three-year average of -5.6±2.5 mm/year, with a maximum of -29mm/year (negative values indicating subsidence). They note that if the motion is interpreted as purely vertical, the mean and maximum become 6.4 mm/year and 33 mm/year.

The overlap between Enting’s list of 33 statements and my list of 59 statements is very small — just five statements are on both lists. We can use the Lincoln-Peterson method that ecologists use to estimate the size of animal populations to estimate the total number of errors and problematic statements in Plimer’s book. Let P be the set of errors and problematic statements in Plimer’s book and p be the number of elements in P and assume that Enting and I have produced independent samples from P. Then the fraction of elements of P in my sample will be expected to be the same as the fraction of elements in Enting’s sample that are also in my sample. That is, 59/p = 5/33 so p = (59*33)/5 = 390. That’s almost one for every page!

Of course, our samples are unlikely to be statistically independent since there are some errors that are so blatant (like the Swindle graph) that both us were certain to notice them. This suggest that my estimate of 390 errors and problematic statements is probably an underestimate.