Andrew Bolt vs percentages

Andrew Bolt may have the worst case of confirmation bias ever seen. To Bolt, whether something is true or not has nothing to do with its accuracy and everything to do with whether it suits him or not. Here in its entirety,

If the evidence were so strong, there’d be no need for such untruths

Dennis Ambler checks the statistics behind recently claims that 97 per cent of climate scientists believe man is heating the planet and finds evidence of some exaggeration:

However a headline of “0.73% of climate scientists think that humans are affecting the climate” doesn’t quite have the same ring as 97% does it?

Er, no.

He’s referring to Doran and Zimmerman’s survey of 3146 Earth Scientists. The graph below shows their results for this question:

Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

i-53bd554612884f2d57067c1845ddfc23-DoranAndZimmerman2009.png

So what’s Ambler’s argument that proves that the 97% is really 0.73%?


The response to this question was 75 specialists out of 77, so here we have our massive 97%.

It is disingenuous to now use the “climate scientists” as a new population sample size. The response figure of 3,146 is the figure against which the 75 out of 77 should be compared and in this case we get not 97% but just 2.38%.

Err, no. Percentages don’t work that way. If you want to know the percentage of the 3146 Earth scientists that said “yes”, you have to divide the number of them that said yes (about 2580) by the sample size (3146) to get 82%.

This is something that students are supposed to learn in primary school. I would imagine that even Andrew Bolt could do primary school maths, so the reason that he didn’t notice that
Ambler was wrong was because of his confirmation bias.

Ambler gets the number down further with this:

The original number contacted was 10,157 and of those, 69% decided they didn’t want any part of it, but they were the original target population. When the figure of 75 believers is set against that number, we get a mere 0.73% of the scientists they contacted who agreed with their loaded questions.

We don’t know how the non-responders would have answered, but it is clearly wrong to assume, as Ambler does and Bolt blindly agrees, that they would all have answered “no”. The most reasonable assumption is that they their answers would be similar to that of the responders and 82% of Earth scientists would say “yes”. And this does not contradict the 97% figure, which was for active climate scientists.

The sad thing is that I don’t think Bolt is lying — why write something so easily shown to be untrue? Bolt’s severe confirmation bias mean that he is a less reliable source of information than someone who lies strategically.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike
    January 9, 2011

    Reminds me of Bolt’s wonderful quote from some time ago regarding climate science:

    “Many of these issues are over my head”

    Aaaah, yep.

  2. #2 Sou
    January 9, 2011

    Come on, even Bolt can’t get away with pretending to be that stupid. He might not be the brightest light on the planet but he’s cunning enough and thinks that he can convince at least one or two of his readers if he repeats nonsense often enough.

    I strongly doubt he changes anyone’s thinking. All he does is repeat the already held ‘beliefs’ of some of the people who choose to read his junk.

    I generally take the stance that there is good in people if you look hard enough. All I’ve seen of Bolt is the contrary. I believe he writes a lot knowing it not to be true, because he thinks that’s what he’s being paid for. He’s just another crooked media hack, with not many brains and no character or spine.

  3. #3 FJM
    January 9, 2011

    Wow. I’m almost lost for words. He’s trying to overhaul one of the most fundamental principles in statistical analysis… that we can extract information about the whole population from a representative sample of that population. Unbelievable.

  4. #4 Kate
    January 9, 2011

    That is really quite incredible. Do people actually believe this stuff??

  5. #5 FrankD
    January 9, 2011

    It seems that the denialati are falling out amongst themselves. SPPI have also published a rant by Monckton, which “skewers” (according to the echo chamber) Australian writer Mike Steketee for daring to help reposition his employer into “we-never-denied-AGW” space (I haven’t sussed links with underscores, so you’ll have to google it).

    Just another spittle-flacked wibble, covering the usual bases – “its not warming, well yes it is, but not much, and any way its not us and you’re cherry picking which I’ll prove by chery picking back at you, its a one world government kleptocracy conspiracy, here’s some BS statistics, a Latin term I invented and a calligraphic flourish to finish, so take that warmists”.

    People at home playing Denialist Bingo are sure to fill their cards. But those like me who are warming to His Monckship’s increasing output of unintential comedy, might find it giggleworthy.

  6. #6 cth
    January 9, 2011

    tim, got an interesting Christopher Booker story you may or may not want to cover.

    Christopher Booker’s attempt in the Telegraph to imply that the Met Office published a forecast on their website in October predicting a mild winter:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8248146/The-Met-Office-fries-while-the-rest-of-the-world-freezes.html

    A Telegraph article from October:

    “A spokesman for the Met Office said: “This is not an official forecast, it’s data that would form part of a longer term prediction.

    “If you look at the whole picture across north west Europe, there’s a higher chance of a cold winter than a warm one.””

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/8090325/Met-Office-data-suggests-mild-winter-but-dont-forget-last-year.html

    I don’t know what’s worse – that Booker’s version of events is contradicted by an October article in the very media outlet he published his narrative in, or that the October Telegraph article based on interpreting a chart on the Met Office website as a Winter forecast contains a quote from a Met Office spokesman specifically saying not to use the chart as a winter forecast.

  7. #7 cth
    January 9, 2011

    oh and in case you are interested here is the Met Office news release from October released very rapidly in response to media use of the chart saying DONT USE IT:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2010/probability-forecast

  8. #8 John
    January 9, 2011

    For once I agree with Andrew Bolt. If the deniers evidence were so strong, there’d be no need for such untruths.

  9. #9 EoR
    January 9, 2011

    I also covered Bolt’s mathematical ineptitude. Of course, using exactly the same (fantasy) principles, it must also be true that 0.019% of climate scientists don’t think humans are affecting the climate, since only 2 out of 10,157 said that.

    Bolt probably is stupid. Stupid to ignore the evidence in favour of political expediency. The SPPI, however, are clearly malevolent.

  10. #10 adelady
    January 9, 2011

    Don’t underestimate Bolt’s intelligence. I don’t know how clever he is, but he ain’t stupid.

    Of course, any intelligent person can allow their biases to distort their judgement, but Bolt is clever enough to ‘know’ when he is allowing this to happen. He’s so committed that he just ploughs on regardless. That is generally known as intellectual dishonesty, even if it isn’t outright lying.

  11. #11 Dave C
    January 9, 2011

    I had a bit of a go at this as well.

    As you say, Bolt’s confirmation bias is truly astonishing. He trusts Ambler so completely for no reason other than that Ambler’s assertion is ideologically convenient.

    How is it that anyone short of a paranoid lunatic can take the SPPI seriously?

    ‘Tis the sport apparently for denialists to have a quick rifle through the technical papers of people who do actual work to desperately find some trivial or even utterly spurious point of contention. Once made, it becomes an unbreakable denialist lore that the entire paper has been invalided, its author(s) shown to be frauds, any other papers they’ve written automatically debunked and any collaborators and organisations they’re involved with fatally compromised. This is what has happened here. Ambler’s “findings” will become accepted common knowledge among denialists, despite the truly embarrassing mathematical ignorance underpinning them. No denialist proposition is (or even can be) seriously disputed by the denialist community at large, no matter how logically, mathematically or empirically broken it is.

  12. #12 Don Smith
    January 9, 2011

    Looking back at the EOS article, I found this little tidbit interesting:

    The two areas of expertise in the survey with the smallest percentage of participants answering yes to question 2 were economic geology with 47% (48 of 103) and meteorology with 64% (23 of 36).

    Economic Geology. Isn’t that an area like oil/coal exploration?

  13. #13 Ken Fabos
    January 9, 2011

    I think Bolt knowingly lies. It may be telling lies for his anti-enviromentalism Cause and as an expression of the strength of his loyalty to it but he’s intelligent and aware enough to know it. What is far more disturbing is that he is allowed and even encouraged to spread such lies to the Australian public in a major newspaper.

  14. #14 Dave C
    January 9, 2011

    Don Smith @ 12:

    Economic Geology. Isn’t that an area like oil/coal exploration?

    Basically, yes. According to Zimmerman’s master’s thesis, the survey question asking for participants’ area of expertise gives “Economic Geology (coal/metals/oil and gas)” as one of the options.

    (Ambler didn’t bother getting a copy of this thesis. Despite working for an “Institute”, he apparently can’t afford the $2 purchase price.)

  15. #15 Sou
    January 9, 2011

    OT but not totally unrelated – would you believe that WUWT (via Monckton) is slamming an article in The Australian!

    Is this a sign the Australian is going to start writing closer to the truth about climate change or is it just a once off to show ‘balance’ after Julie Posetti exposed their chicanery?

  16. #16 adelady
    January 9, 2011

    Don’t know about The Oz, but the WTFUWT express is derailing at the moment under the “guidance” of a whole new heap of guest “drivers”.

    I’d wait for AW himself to get the steering under his own control before seeing if there’s any policy change there.

  17. #17 IanP
    January 9, 2011

    So Tim why dont you say that only 77 of the sample size 3146 were actually ‘specialists’ that were qualified to answer. Seems to me that the survey was massively flawed in many areas particularly the wording of the questions. The sample of 77 is representative of what? hand picked alarmists?

  18. #18 Vince Whirlwind
    January 9, 2011

    Good work, IanP.

    Next, you may realise that 75 of those 77 experts equates to 97% of the relevant experts.

    If you engage in further study of how to read statistics, you will discover that of the entire completment of 3146 scientists, the proportion is 90%.

  19. #19 IanP
    January 10, 2011

    Hey Vince – maybe those 77 experts all work for the UK Met office and were filling in questionaires instead of pushing buttons on thier magical black box computers? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8248146/The-Met-Office-fries-while-the-rest-of-the-world-freezes.html

    Vince – Do you knopw the difference between percentage and proportion?

  20. #20 Dave C
    January 10, 2011

    Do you knopw the difference between percentage and proportion?

    Oh dear me. Is that a trick question, IanP, or is bad maths contagious now?

  21. #21 IanP
    January 10, 2011

    Oh dear me Dave C – 0.9 is the proportion of 90%

  22. #22 Naed
    January 10, 2011

    I don’t care how specialised your field is, we shouldn’t be making policy decisions based on opinions. Trying to convince people of the science by saying that 97% of climate scientists believe man is heating the planet is ridiculous; the science should speak for itself. If one climate scientist presents scientific evidence that is verifiable and repeatable by other climate scientists then that is all that should matter. Opinions, no matter who holds them, aren’t science.

  23. #23 ChrisK
    January 10, 2011

    Bolta doesn’t go far enough.

    75 as a percentage of the entire population of the world is only 0.000001%.

    That’s right, only 0.000001% of climate scientists believe that humans are affecting climate.

    So there.

  24. #24 IanP
    January 10, 2011

    According to the UK Met office web site they were named as one of the UK’s top graduate employers in a poll of over 15,000 students spread across 30 UK universities. Does that mean they are do a good job? are reliable? are accurate? or are they just well funded, and pay thier dull employees high salaries to get it wrong??

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/jobs

  25. #25 Vince Whirlwind
    January 10, 2011

    IanP obligingly – and tellingly – chomps down on the red herring in order to avoid the question.
    I’ll help you out, Ian: x/3146 = 90/100. Is that better?

    Meanwhile, Ian apparently believes that the UK Met Office employs 77 climatologists who are active publishers on climate change.

    What do you do at the end of the day when the clown shoes are off, Ian?

  26. #26 ChrisK
    January 10, 2011

    Naed,

    The problem is that one climate scientist may present scientific evidence that is verifiable and repeatable by other climate scientists, but then a newspaper columnist may distort the evidence so that it sounds like it means the opposite. Then people start to believe that there is serious scientific doubt about the issue when there is not, and those who don’t want to believe the science have an excuse to do nothing.

    If only science could speak for itself.

  27. #27 Dave C
    January 10, 2011

    Oh dear me Dave C – 0.9 is the proportion of 90%

    90% is a representation of the proportion 0.9.

  28. #28 ChrisK
    January 10, 2011

    IanP,

    0.9 is a proportion expressed as a decimal. 90% is the same proportion expressed as a percentage. As a fraction it would be 9/10.

    Do you ‘knopw’ what proportion means?

    As for the UK Met Office, I gather your point is “Look over there!”.

  29. #29 Sou
    January 10, 2011

    @ Naed #22, I agree with you the science should speak for itself. I’ll also point out a couple of corollaries.

    If people read the science that would be sufficient. Most people read the popular press, not the science, and without stats like ’97% of climate scientists and all the major scientific bodies agree that we are causing significant harmful changes to our climate’, then people would have great difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction.

    The other corollary is that ‘If one climate scientist presents scientific evidence that is verifiable and repeatable by other climate scientists’, then over a (probably short) period of time, 97% of climate scientists would accept that scientific evidence. The public will benefit from knowing this.

  30. #30 IanP
    January 10, 2011

    Vince – you’re the clown, not me. Why do you the need to be such a twot? I was only pointing out that 0.9 is a proportion and 90% is a percent.
    I suspect there are quite a few climatologists in the UK Met office but I have yet to find one that has much of a clue about the weather. Seems like the BOM face the same staff challenges.

  31. #31 zoot
    January 10, 2011

    Does the P in IanP stand for Plimer??

  32. #32 Naed
    January 10, 2011

    ChrisK,

    Science should and does speak for itself. While it’s unfortunate that not many people want to listen (and this is by no means limited to climatology) we shouldn’t be wrapping lobbyism up and presenting it as science.

    By all means, we should try to include the public in the scientific process, and where it’s possible to simplify complex ideas to allow laypersons to understand what’s being said, then I’m all for it.

    But trying to convince people that x is a fact because that’s the opinion of 97% of the experts in any field is bad for science and bad for our society as a whole.

  33. #33 ChrisK
    January 10, 2011

    Naed,

    I’m not sure that the point of the study is to convince anybody that something is a fact simply because of the number of experts who say so. It is more to counter the impression being given that AGW is somehow controversial within the field. The argument is frequently made that even scientists can’t agree about climate change, so it must be wrong, or at least highly doubtful. A similar tactic is used for evolution and other matters.

  34. #34 Dave C
    January 10, 2011

    But trying to convince people that x is a fact because that’s the opinion of 97% of the experts in any field is bad for science and bad for our society as a whole.

    Is it? It’s a very egalitarian but also naive notion that laypeople ought to be convinced by the evidence itself, rather than by the fact that the experts have been convinced.

    Laypeople (like myself) may be interested in what lies behind the experts’ reasoning. To that extent, I believe the experts ought to present the evidence in a manner that the public can digest (hopefully inspiring the next generation of scientists). However, we should be clear that this science communication, not science.

    In the end, our society relies heavily on the fact that other people know a lot more about certain things than we do, and that to some extent we each have to trust each other’s expertise. Nobody can escape that reality. That’s the price we pay for efficiency.

  35. #35 Naed
    January 10, 2011

    @ ChrisK,

    My major concern is that the science of climatology has now become a partisan issue and that’s just nuts. True, pure science should keep itself as far away from the politics as possible. Once you put on that white lab coat, your political ideology should reamin at the door.

    Instead, we seem to move further and further towards a political view on climate change. If Gallileo were alive today I believe he’d be disgusted to see that we still haven’t learnt anything after nearly 400 years. In all of this, I’ve not said anything hinting at my opinion regarding anthropogenic climate change. If I’m a warmist or a denier what difference does it make to the science. Eppur si muove!

  36. #36 Fran Barlow
    January 10, 2011

    Daen said:

    Trying to convince people of the science by saying that 97% of climate scientists believe man is heating the planet is ridiculous; the science should speak for itself.

    It does, but the vast majority of the public don’t speak the same language, find holding complex figures in their heads over time challenging, and find 15 second sound bytes that seem intuitively compelling hard to dismiss.

    The real point is not whether there can be absolute certainty CO2-based radiative forcing acts as described by the scientific community. The question is whether the the level of certainty we attach to this description suffices to found public policy. Here, the fact that 97% of the actively publishing scientists in the field regard CO2-based radiative forcing, its provenance in human activity and the associated impacts on ecosystem services of value to humanity as settled beyond reasonable demur ought to be decisive in shaping public policy, or, put another way, cast public policy which ignored this question as reckless.

    The public is not required to declare individually on scientific truth in this area, whatever that may be, any more than they should declare on the utility of this or that anti-psychotic drug or this or that judgement on air quality in cities. Most are never going to be qualified. Rather, the public should insist that public policy should, where it is pertinent, be founded in sound evidence and robust modelling arising out of scientific best practice. That is not a guarantee of optimal results, but it is measurably more likely to produce them than policies based on hunches or popular prejudice or folk wisdom or existential fear or hatred of intellectuals or the protection of the interests of privileged stakeholders. When we devise public policy on the basis of sound evidence and robust modelling arising out of scientific best practice we have a means for dealing with unanticipated negative consequences and for improving the results we do get.

    That’s why what 97% of actively publishing climate scientists think is salient.

  37. #37 stopmurdoch
    January 10, 2011

    You can start an illegal war that kills millions, wastes trillions and is based on lies because you have someone like Rupert Murdoch onside doing the propaganda.

    Murdoch isn’t going to get worried because sane people despise him and his trolls.

    Bolt is doing exactly what he is paid to do – ie: get that great big dark blue column above the “No” section of the above graph. It’s how you get things done when labouring under the unweildy chains of democracy.

    Newsworthy would be finding a writer at News Ltd who doesn’t consistently lie.

  38. #38 lathamorama
    January 10, 2011

    So, I went out into the street and asked 50 people if Tina Fey had a good reason not to go out with me. 40 of them said yes, but I had actually intended to ask just people who knew both me and Tina Fey. And, as it happens, I really wanted to survey the entire population of all streets everywhere. Thus it turns out that just 40 out of 6.5 billion people who know both of us think Tina shouldn’t call me up.

  39. #39 Mike
    January 10, 2011

    @31

    Surely not. I mean, Plimer has been fairly quiet since the relative PR disaster of associating himself with the Mad Loony Lord (whose rantings even certain rabidly conservative columnists tired of eventually) and groups of very grumpy conservative pensioners and retirees. Their tour “forums” were like Hillsong services – preaching to flocks of the faithful and supremely ignorant. His poor performance in front of Monbiot didn’t help his cause either.

    I suspect as the temperature record continues its march upwards, as it certainly appears to have done for 2010 by all observations, Plimer will fade into obscurity. History is generous to those who are proven right, but fairly brutal on those who are proven to be both wrong, and more than a little obnoxious.

  40. #40 ChrisK
    January 10, 2011

    Naed,

    But what should scientists do if their work is attacked on political grounds? If they stay quiet, the misinformation goes uncorrected, if they respond they get accused of being political. The issue has become partisan because of the political interests involved, not scientists.

  41. #41 Naed
    January 10, 2011

    @ Dave C

    A very valid point Dave. On reflection, I think the point that concerns me is that people are being asked to accept the 2 minute response of a survey as validation of the science. But you are right, there is every chance that this is an informed decision from an expert (given the surveyors attempt to remove all non-expert responses, this is quite likely true to).

    My problem is I’m an engineer, and there’s nothing more frustrating to me than being told something’s a fact based on expert opinion alone. I want to know the details!

  42. #42 zoot
    January 10, 2011

    I want to know the details!

    So get off your arse and visit [RealClimate](http://www.realclimate.org/) where climate scientists explain the details.

  43. #43 Clam
    January 10, 2011

    @31

    Does the P in IanP stand for Plimer??

    No, just Pee.

  44. #44 Naed
    January 10, 2011

    @ ChrisK # 40,

    My previous response (41) was for your previous message.

    Your comment here reminds me of [xkcd](http://xkcd.com/386/). But you are correct, it is not easy to keep this issue separate from politics. I’m not suggesting that is the scientists fault either, and am fortunate that I’m unlikely to ever be in a position where I need to defend my work on political grounds.

    @ Fran Barlow # 36

    I realise that I’m being overly idyllistic and that what you (along with ChrisK) are saying is true. I just wish that people would take more interest in the important things. Certainly I have made decisions without having or knowing all the facts that I could conceivably attain on an issue (nearly always at the fault of myself) but I always resent myself a little when I do.

    Anyway, thanks both (and to Sou too, though I didn’t get a chance to respond directly) for bringing me back to the real world.

    Cheers,
    Naed

  45. #45 Naed
    January 10, 2011

    @zoot # 42

    Lol – fair point (figuratively at least), it’s been a while since I’ve checked it out (I’ve read enough Fark threads on climate change to have perused most of the relevant sites). You’ve encouraged me to check out the updates.

    Thanks
    naed

  46. #46 jakerman
    January 10, 2011

    Naed writes:

    >*Trying to convince people of the science by saying that 97% of climate scientists believe man is heating the planet is ridiculous*

    Huh?

    What this survey shows is that as one’s competence in the field increases, so to does the agreement with AGW.

    Why shouldn’t we use this to convince millions of people who vote but don’t understand the debate?

    >*the science should speak for itself. If one climate scientist presents scientific evidence that is verifiable and repeatable by other climate scientists then that is all that should matter.*

    The science does speak for itself, but millions don’t understand the language. So we check the opinion of competent people. The science speaking for itself persuades the competent more than the less competent.

  47. #47 Dave C
    January 10, 2011

    Newsworthy would be finding a writer at News Ltd who doesn’t consistently lie.

    That’s rather unfair – the News Ltd writers are not all clones of Bolt. Individuals like Megageorge have a lot going for them.

  48. #48 Mercurius
    January 10, 2011

    On TV, Bolt routinely bears the smug yet frustrated expression of man who relishes the smell of his own farts and is…straining…to…squeeze…another…one…out.

    I could say what I really think of him, but fear I might say something crude.

  49. #49 Ben Dover
    January 10, 2011

    Lambert…
    I think your IQ, which has has been hovering just above 80 for some time now, just slipped below 75. If I ask 1,000 people if you (Lambert) look honest, 97 percent would say NO. Of those 1,000 samples only 20 know you personally, and amongst those 20, 15 say YES you do look honest. So what conclusions can we come to ? Are you seriously suggesting that statistics indicate that you ARE indeed honest. You and you minions present very dodgy arguments and have the outward appearance of being corrupt.

  50. #50 Martin Vermeer
    January 10, 2011

    > My problem is I’m an engineer, and there’s nothing more frustrating
    > to me than being told something’s a fact based on expert opinion
    > alone. I want to know the details!

    Naed, if you have what it takes — and as an engineer you probably do — go for it! It’s rewarding. But, not everybody does. I also like to understand what’s wrong with me, but will take my doctor’s diagnosis over my own any day.

  51. #51 stopmurdoch
    January 10, 2011

    “News Ltd writers are not all clones of Bolt.”

    Of course not! That would be not only tedious and boring, but ineffectual.

    “Individuals like Megageorge have a lot going for them”

    Except for the fact that they are guilty by association and, like having every News Ltd writer and their dog on the ABC constantly, are being used by a totally discredited organisation to attempt to buy unearned/squandered credibility.

    It’s the old dog/fleas dichotomy.

    Sorry Mega fans, but one or two good columns or articles doesn’t excuse or “balance” a corporate lifetime deliberately devoted to the destruction of journalism and the proper role in democracy of the fourth estate.

    Mega is just a [roofer on the Deathstar](http://www.whysanity.net/monos/clerks5.html).

  52. #52 Ezzthetic
    January 10, 2011

    I see Bolt’s happily back to promoting [Monckton](http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/hows_wrong_can_a_warmist_be/), so what can you say.

  53. #53 John
    January 10, 2011

    It’s funny because Bolt was never that fond of Monckton to begin with. Unfortunately, the usually trustworthy denialists at The Australian actually publishing something sensible seems to have triggered a powerful, if completely misguided, response.

    I’m reasonably sure that Monckton’s bizarre screed has everything to do with trying to put the Australian back in its place as one the media’s chief deniers.

    If Monckton lost the support of the Australian just who would come to his next circus tour?

  54. #54 Wow
    January 10, 2011

    > Don’t underestimate Bolt’s intelligence. I don’t know how clever he is, but he ain’t stupid.

    If he’s willing to ignore evidence and education in one area, then IN THAT AREA he IS stupid.

    Rabbis are, in many areas of human endeavour, really rather smart people and highly educated. Yet, when it comes to their religion, they are willing to ignore all they know in order to maintain their religion. In those places, they are stupid.

    The professor who started the creationist museum is smart. He could do your son’s maths homework easily. But when it comes to paleontology, he ignores all his abilities and is, therefore, in that area, stupid.

    Stupid isn’t a 100% coverage.

    Neither is intelligence.

  55. #55 Wow
    January 10, 2011

    > Hey Vince – maybe those 77 experts all work for the UK Met office and were filling in questionaires instead of pushing buttons on thier magical black box computers?

    Hey, Ian, maybe there really IS 97% of relevant specialists agreeing with the IPCC and you’re just wailing.

  56. #56 Wow
    January 10, 2011

    > I don’t care how specialised your field is, we shouldn’t be making policy decisions based on opinions.

    Neither do the IPCC, the scientific organisations nor the scientists themselves.

    > Trying to convince people of the science by saying that 97% of climate scientists believe man is heating the planet is ridiculous

    Claiming that their belief is merely opinion is ridiculous, Naed. I believe that when you drop an apple, it will fall “down”. This isn’t an opinion, however.

  57. #57 John McManus
    January 10, 2011

    Whatever Bolt’s intelligence level, he seems to thinks his audience is supremely unintelligent.

  58. #58 John
    January 10, 2011

    Always the engineers.

  59. #59 John
    January 10, 2011

    Also Naed (Dean) is probably Brent.

  60. #60 Dave C
    January 10, 2011

    Except for the fact that they are guilty by association and, like having every News Ltd writer and their dog on the ABC constantly, are being used by a totally discredited organisation to attempt to buy unearned/squandered credibility.

    I think that’s a bit back-to-front. News Ltd should get credit for employing Megageorge. If News Ltd employed only people of his calibre, there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place, would there?

  61. #61 stopmurdoch
    January 10, 2011

    Ezz:

    Not “happily”. Desperately.

    John:

    Do you really think of Murdoch as a helpless waif prone to the whimsy of a fruitloop like the screaming great lord? Monckton is, like Plimer and Bolt, expendable in all of this but Murdoch is (currently) indispensible.

    When that changes someone else will take his place.

  62. #62 Paul UK
    January 10, 2011

    So Bolt doesn’t believe in democracy and voting??

  63. #63 John
    January 10, 2011

    >Do you really think of Murdoch as a helpless waif prone to the whimsy of a fruitloop like the screaming great lord

    Yes

  64. #64 Paul UK
    January 10, 2011

    Actually one assumes that Bolt is pro free markets and the use of marketing etc.

    So basically he wants marketing/advertising companies to change the way they operate.

    eg.

    “10 out of 1 million cats preferred ‘Lovely Chunks’ cat food”
    or
    “5 out of 3 billion women agreed that ‘Smooth Cheeks’ moisturiser made them look younger”

  65. #65 stopmurdoch
    January 10, 2011

    Gee PaulUK,

    I don’t remember much about john from here but I thought you were tuned in to the reason why Murdoch is a problem.

    Why do you think our host bothers with “The Australian’s War On Science”?

    Why do you think this post is of interest?

    It isn’t just so we can all sit about scoffing at how “stupid” Bolt is, surely? Do you think that is all that climate denialism is about? Do you think that if they can’t fool you, or anyone else here, then they can’t fool anybody?

    If they can fool more than about 25% of the population then they can get whatever they want.

    An example: Once I went to a town where Murdoch’s mob were saying the new controversial multi-national supermarket was doing really well despite protests from the locals. It was empty, and the local independent store was full.

    About an hour later, back in the capital, I mentioned this to a News Ltd reader. He said “No, you’re wrong. It’s doing really well, I read it in the paper.”

    I said “but it isn’t, I was just there, it’s empty and all the locals are at the independent supermarket”.

    He looked at me and said “No, you’re wrong. I was just reading about that in the Courier-Mail this morning.”

    Sorry to be contrary, but you and john have much more faith in the powers of logic and rationalism as applied to Monckton and Bolt than I do.

    Do I understand your argument to be: “Bolt loves the free market and democracy, therefore he wouldn’t be illogical or push an indefensible argument just for ideological reasons”?

  66. #66 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    January 10, 2011

    lolwut… Are there people who honestly believe that they can turn 75/77 and 2580/3146 into 0.0073?

    frank

  67. #67 Lars Karlsson
    January 10, 2011

    Worst SPPI report ever? (Though the competition must be quite hard).

  68. #68 Paul UK
    January 10, 2011

    stopmurdoch@65

    Do I have an argument to understand??

    The focus in order of priority for any blog is generally:

    1. The blog owners original post.
    2. Subsequent discussions in comments.

    Sorry to disappoint you stopmurdoch but I was responding with my own musings to (1) and not your discussion (2).

  69. #69 Holly Stick
    January 10, 2011

    Is there a current fashion among deniers to attack the UK Met office? Apparently UK people are unhapy that they were not warned about cold before Christmas:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/04/met-office-delayed-big-freeze-forecast

    And Lawrence Summers, one of the fantasists at Canada’s National Post, blames global warming activists for being in charge of the Met office:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/01/10/lawrence-solomon-what-happens-when-wwf-is-in-charge-of-the-weather/

  70. #70 Holly Stick
    January 10, 2011

    Sorry, that’s Lawrence Solomon, not Lawrence Summers.

  71. #71 Mike
    January 10, 2011

    @41

    My problem is I’m an engineer, and there’s nothing more frustrating to me than being told something’s a fact based on expert opinion alone. I want to know the details!

    Unfortunately, Naed, not everyone can know everything about anything in the time we have available – even engineers.

    Thus we regularly defer to expert opinion throughout our lives. If your cardiologist says you have a heart abnormality and need operation “x”, he can give you a simplified 15 or 20 minute explanation as to why. But he’s hardly going to sit you down for the 2 years it took him to complete his specialist cardiology training (on top of the 5 years it took him to do Medicine) and launch into a textbook explanation of how your heart works and why it isn’t working the way it should.

    Just as I don’t demand engineers explain to me the design specifications and engineering calculations they did before I drive over a bridge they’ve built.

    But then, maybe I should? Are engineers really that trustworthy? I mean, they have built things which have failed, after all……

  72. #72 Marion Delgado
    January 10, 2011

    Now you’ve done it! Bolt was forced to close comments after __0__ comments, due to your campaign against him!

  73. #73 Marion Delgado
    January 10, 2011

    Occam’s Razor would demand that backwards Dean is full of it, and the climate scientists are right. That being the case, it may be psychologically interesting that a certain personality type or subculture doesn’t understand the value of scientific consensus, whenever understanding that would cause cognitive dissonance with some ingrained and emotional beliefs, it’s not a path to correction.

    The details don’t matter, lurkers: the minute someone says that the scientific consensus is not the same as “what the science says” they’ve left the realms of not only science but epistemology and philology altogether.

  74. #74 Marion Delgado
    January 10, 2011

    “My problem is I’m an engineer” – a gross slur on engineers, if I ever saw one.

  75. #75 Vince Whirlwind
    January 10, 2011

    Something WoW wrote earlier – “maybe there really IS 97% of relevant specialists agreeing with the IPCC” – reminded me of the problem I have with twits who for some reason dislike the product of the IPCC: the IPCC *is* the “relevant specialists”. Most of what the IPCC has to tell us has erred on the conservative side of things specifically because it’s all about canvassing various expert opinions and coming up with a baseline everybody can agree with.

  76. #77 Bernard J.
    January 10, 2011

    Perhaps this is more appropriate for the Open Thread, but as this one is about Bolt’s (and Ambler’s) difficulties with proportions, I am going to stick my neck out and comment on proportions myself.

    The extraordinary flooding of Queensland, including [yesterday's devastation near Toowoomba](http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/01/11/3110285.htm), [Grantham](http://www.abc.net.au/news/photos/2011/01/11/3110183.htm), and other towns in the area, is in large part a consequence of the La Niña conditions that the state is presently experiencing. The scale of these floods might not be quite apparent to international readers because Australia’s population density is so low compared to other countries, but rest assured that this summer’s events are setting records time and again.

    I’m prepared to say that the rise in [sea surface temperature around Australia](http://i55.tinypic.com/24kzbjr.jpg) are responsible for a large part of the intensity of the weather events that have hit Queensland this summer, leading to the extraordinary rains in [December](http://i51.tinypic.com/2efmjbr.jpg), and even in the [last week](http://i55.tinypic.com/263acdt.jpg). More importantly, I’m quite prepared to say that whilst they might have been “one in a hundred years” events in the past, they’ll be much more common in the future as the sea surface temperatures continue to warm and to give rise to La Niña events as strong as the current one, or stronger.

    Tony Abbott and his party members might be inclined to invoke biblical references by way of explanation for these events, but as far as I am concerned, climatology has a better handle on the matter. And climatological science says that the more we warm the planet, the more extreme weather events we’ll experience.

  77. #78 Donald Oats
    January 11, 2011

    All I can say is that my “Andrew Bolt…Day” T-Shirt is as good now as when I bought it last year. Please give generously (see Crikey FDOTM for details of T-Shirt etc).

    My greasy brain vaguely recollects reading a Bolt blog post more than a year ago in which this same topic was discussed and he made the same ahh judgements about how arithmetic should work.

  78. #79 Chris O'Neill
    January 11, 2011

    Ben Dover

    Bend over and what?

  79. #80 lord_sidcup
    January 11, 2011

    #69 Holly Stick – “Is there a current fashion among deniers to attack he UK Met Office?”

    Undoubtedly. Brooker, the GWPF, and others have all been wading in recently. The Met Office are a very easy target as they actually do forecasts and sometimes, inevitably, get them wrong. A perfect target for the asymmetrical conflict the deniers are waging.

  80. #81 Chris O'Neill
    January 11, 2011

    Bernard:

    I’m prepared to say that the rise in sea surface temperature around Australia are responsible for a large part of the intensity of the weather events that have hit Queensland this summer, leading to the extraordinary rains in December, and even in the last week.

    One degree C of warming increases the amount of water vapor air can hold by about 5% and consequently, the amount of rain it can dump by 5%.

  81. #82 Wow
    January 11, 2011

    Indeed, you’d have to show good case that this increase in average temperatures DID NOT cause more rainfall.

    It’s possible, but the default condition absent any other data would be that it has.

    Whether absent GW there would have been *no* flooding is a different question.

  82. #83 Wow
    January 11, 2011

    > My problem is I’m an engineer, and there’s nothing more frustrating to me than being told something’s a fact based on expert opinion alone. I want to know the details!

    As an engineer then, Naed, do you have problems with modern alloys whose effects are barely understood and development in modern alloys basically the same process as the 17th Century Alchemists?

  83. #84 FJM
    January 11, 2011

    @80

    As someone who spends a lot of time out in the field, I use the Met Office next day forecasts to plan ahead **a lot**. They’re usually right on the button about 90% of the time. When they’re not right on the button, they’re very rarely wildly wrong (i.e. it’s only a handful of times a year I go out expecting a nice day and get heavy showers, or vice versa when I haven’t went out).

    Not that it bears any relevance to the climate “debate”, but the criticism of the Met Office is entirely unjustified, especially since they don’t even do long range forecasts anymore.

  84. #85 Bernard J.
    January 11, 2011

    One degree C of warming increases the amount of water vapor air can hold by about 5% and consequently, the amount of rain it can dump by 5%.

    Chris, I probably didn’t make my point sufficiently clearly. The actual amount in this storm, whilst it is high, isn’t in itself the underlying cause for the flooding that’s been happening.

    Rather, it’s been raining and raining consistently for weeks merging into months, saturating the ground and making it susceptible to further deluges such as the ones being experienced this week.

    This ongoing summer rain is mostly derived from the oceans warmed during the current La Niña event. To the extent that the oceans are warmer than in the past, the resulting additional consistency of rain events, driven by La Niña, will have exacerbated the flooding beyond what it might otherwise have been.

    The last saturating deluge is simply the volume that was ‘needed’ to manifest the flood, just as the next several days of what will be heavy rain will further add to the overall flooding. :-(

    My point is more about the warmth driving the relentless consistency of the rain, rather than it’s volume on any one occasion. That’s why I linked to the December chart as well – to try to indicate that it’s been rain, rain, rain for weeks merging into months.

    Even for Queensland, that’s unusual weather.

  85. #86 Bernard J.
    January 11, 2011

    One degree C of warming increases the amount of water vapor air can hold by about 5% and consequently, the amount of rain it can dump by 5%.

    Chris, I probably didn’t make my point sufficiently clearly. The actual amount in this storm, whilst it is high, isn’t in itself the underlying cause for the flooding that’s been happening.

    Rather, it’s been raining and raining consistently for weeks merging into months, saturating the ground and making it susceptible to further deluges such as the ones being experienced this week.

    This ongoing summer rain is mostly derived from the oceans warmed during the current La Niña event. To the extent that the oceans are warmer than in the past, the resulting additional consistency of rain events, driven by La Niña, will have exacerbated the flooding beyond what it might otherwise have been.

    The last saturating deluge is simply the volume that was ‘needed’ to manifest the flood, just as the next several days of what will be heavy rain will further add to the overall flooding. :-(

    My point is more about the warmth driving the relentless consistency of the rain, rather than it’s volume on any one occasion. That’s why I linked to the December chart as well – to try to indicate that it’s been rain, rain, rain for weeks merging into months.

    Even for Queensland, that’s unusual weather.

  86. #87 Chris O'Neill
    January 11, 2011

    My point is more about the warmth driving the relentless consistency of the rain, rather than it’s volume on any one occasion.

    We should expect consistently more rain because of warming over the whole rain period as well.

  87. #88 Shirley
    January 11, 2011

    Leaving aside Mike Steketee’s article, what is the response of The Australian to the Queensland flood disaster? Build more dams and dam the greens! But the editor might have to backtrack after quoting Cambell Newman saying ‘the Wivenhoe Dam is protecting the city from a repeat of the huge floods of 1974′.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/managing-the-force-of-water/story-e6frg71x-1225985222643

    Dams may play a role in flood mitigation but to argue that the current extent of the Queensland flooding could have been significantly alleviated by building more dams is disingenuous especially up in Toowoomba or on the Fitzroy flood plain. It appears to me to be a diversionary and a wedge tactic by the Australian coupled with a good old greenie bash.

    Sorry for being off topic but I am sure that Andrew Bolt loves his dams as well.

  88. #89 adelady
    January 11, 2011

    Dams! Loved it. Watched teev news of Rockhampton where they estimated that 1 and a half Sydney Harbours were flowing down the Fitzroy each day.

    So, precisely how many Sydney Harbour sized dams would they need to hold that in check?

  89. #90 Ben Lawson
    January 11, 2011

    It seems that Andrew’s Canadian equivalent, Lawrence Solomon, printed the same arguments in the Financial Post a few days before Andrew. Funny that.

  90. #91 AmandaS
    January 11, 2011

    I just keep looking at the Queensland floods and, beyond hoping everyone comes out of it safe and well, all I can see is adaptation and mitigation.

    Queensland is what adaptation and mitigation looks like. I can see how economically responsible that course of action is.

    Sigh.

  91. #92 Ron Clay
    January 11, 2011

    Ben Dover

    Bend over and what?

    Phil McCracken

  92. #93 Jeremy C
    January 12, 2011

    My prediction with the floods in Queensland is that to get the economy back on track the coal mines will be given extra resources and space to start producing again rather than just letting people rebuild the economy according to need.

    The other interesting issue that has been raised is that with the floods Australia has just lost a huge resource of top soil and agriculture is going to be hard hit just from this requiring even more CO2 emitting methods to get it back on track.

  93. #94 Wow
    January 12, 2011

    > Phil McCracken

    > Posted by: Ron Clay

    Or Phil McCavity.

    Which doesn’t get better if you use his full name: Phillip McCavity…

  94. #95 Ron Clay
    January 12, 2011

    Or Phil McCrevis.

    Glad to see you have a sense of humor Wow. Wasn’t sure.

  95. #96 jakerman
    January 12, 2011

    >*Or Phil McCrevis*

    My year 10 physics teacher was called Mike Hunt. While we called him Mr Hunt, I coundn’t understand why with his surname, he used the name Mike rather Michael with staff and parents.

  96. #97 Fran Barlow
    January 12, 2011

    I coudn’t understand why with his surname, he used the name Mike rather Michael with staff and parents.

    Maybe he was amused/intrigued by the reactions of people who had worked it out. Maybe he took a perverse pleasure at being able to say the words and get away with it in circumstances where everyone had to pretend not to notice.

  97. #98 jakerman
    January 13, 2011

    I remember as As 15yo we’d hope Mike was his middle name and try and come up with the best first name to match. Favourites were Roger or Phil.

  98. #99 Fran Barlow
    January 13, 2011

    Considering the famous C Everett Koop, any name starting with C would have done.

  99. #100 Philip Machanick
    January 13, 2011

    Tim: “Here in it’s entirety” should be “Here in its entirety”.

    On the Qld floods: an often-ignored point about global warming is that 90% of the extra energy goes into the sea, which may have something to do with the hydrological cycle.