WATN: Force X from outer space

In my Where are they now? review of 2014, I unforgiveably forgot the sensation of the year, Force X from outer space. Its worth reviewing, because (a) its not quite dead yet (or perhaps more accurately its proprietors haven't yet given up hope of revivifying it) and (b) the original played out for so long that most people lost track of the errors.

If you've no idea what this is about - and you care - or if you need a refresher, then its probably best to go off and read The Notch-Delay Solar Theory because that helpfully lists all the drivel in one place, rather than the smeared-out-over-months that the original got. If you think I'm being dishonest by biasing you by calling it "drivel" well, tough; look through their web page and you'll see that they are less than honest in describing criticism of their work. Note, BTW, there's a semi-dangling update at the end where it all went quiet, but ter be 'onest wiv yer guv I'd lost interest in the details by then; Sou took that as the tombstone of the "theory" and it does seem to go rather quiet from there.

My criticism of all this is:

To simplify: DE has found that the spectrum of the global temperature signal (T) is consistent with simple red noise, when viewed broadly, over the timescales he is looking at; and this should be no surprise (but it is to him). He’s also found that the solar forcing spectrum (S) is also red noise, apart from the peak at 11 years. For reasons that are unclear, he has decided that S is forcing T (even though at other points he denies this assumption is build in, but it is), and therefore that the difference between the spectra represents the xfer function, and hence a notch filter. But another possibility is that S isn’t forcing T in any significant way. DE’s “force X” seems to me somewhat like the luminiferous aether – it only needs to exist if you try to impose your view on reality.

And I think that's most other people's view, too. Or at least, of anyone who bothered look at it in any detail. Few did. But, where did it go? It spawned a couple of posts here:

* the Bomb Plot - in order to try to make sense of their non-physical results, they ended up assigning a ridiculously high value to the atmospheric-bomb-test forcing. I found that there wasn't a good source for what the actual forcing was (answer: its so small no-one cares). That was from their part VII, I think.
* Battle of the graphs - for no apparent reason, other than to demonstrate their ignorance, they decided to misattribute some faked up graph to IPCC '95. Why they bothered I don't know, because it didn't help their argument. Still, its nice to be reminded that they're wrong about the small things as well as the large.

But what about the rest of the world?

The sound of silence

Oh, you've guessed.

The response of the denial-o-sphere must have disappointed the Novaites, because it largely ignored their theory, as did the world at large. Lubos ripped it apart, then took his post down, then put his post back up, then did the hokey-cokey and who knows what. WUWT gave it a guest spot, but with the unusually explicit disclaimer There are still many unanswered questions about this model. I provide this essay for the purposes of discussion, but I give no pro or con endorsement. There's little - oh, all right, no - intelligent discussion of the theory itself in the post or the comments, instead it fairly swiftly degenerates into an argument with Leif Svalgaard about TSI, and Willis Eschenbach complaining about them not releasing their data (broken by NikFromNYC suggesting "Anthony, just buy a gun. Point it at the center of your head. Don’t miss" which earns him a permaban, and the label of "warmist" from schitzree, tee hee). There was one more - A Cool Question, Answered? - found via Sou, who mocked it briefly - in which I make a gueat appearance as a Solar Denialist. I thought the D-word was banned at WUWT - perhaps not for People We Don't Like.

I'm not dead yet!

Although it all seemed over in July 2014, it got a brief walk-on-non-speaking part in the Stephen Wilde Hypothesis, which I'd probably take the piss out of if I'd bothered to read it, except on a quick skim it looks disturbingly like a borked-up version of the ozone-affects-winds-affects-climate stuff that we know and love. Amusingly, that's headlined

In 2015 the hunt for clues continues…

which brings up the immediate retort: yes, you really are in desperate need of A Clue. But thinking about it more, I'm reminded about the notorious "search for clues" for the meaning of Justice in the Republic, I think it was. Anyway, that's a despicable piece of propaganda masquerading as philosophy, which makes it a suitable cognate to the post.

Is there a lesson in all this?

Lots. The minor ones are stuff like: you really must stop paying any attention to the "skeptic" drivel, because life is too short. But what about lessons for them - making the admittedly unlikely assumption that they'd like to learn; and that they really are trying to do this "science" stuff and not just fill in the blog over the lonely summer months.

The major one is a variant on Feymann: The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. So you need someone to criticise your theory. People who read it and say "this is great" are useless, as are the people who don't even read it but still say "this is great". The "skeptics" have very few serious people they can talk to who can give them anything useful as feedback. As it happens, in this case, they did get a semi-usable answer from Lubos. But they didn't like what he said, so ignored him. Which was silly (for them, in this case. In most cases one should, obviously, ignore everything Lubos says that is related to climate).

For details, I refer you to the "2015 update" of “Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong.

More like this

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Fun in comet land. The great silences of space give one pause for thought in the face of the chatter and noise of Earth. Speaking of which, Paul Mason (who he?) says: By neoliberalism I mean the global capitalist system shaped around a core of neoliberal practices and institutions, themselves…
Hard on the heels of Wegman's farcical attempt to sue Mashey comes Watts's incompetent attempt to meat-puppet wiki. If you want to see my comments at WUWT that didn't survive moderation, you'll need to read stoat spam or just imagine them; I said nothing that wasn't obvious. My favourite, I think…
The battle of the graphs provides a learning opportunity says "American Elephants", and indeed it does, though possibly not in the way they're thinking. I haven't been able to clearly identify the source of this image (which is the reason for this post: I'll show you how far back I've managed to go…

So yer saying they were hoist?

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 04 Jan 2015 #permalink

@Hank: There may be some who are still claiming that solar forcing of climate change is a hypothesis that is pining for the fjords, but for now at least, it's generally considered (even among the pseudoskepitc crowd) an ex-hypothesis.

A paper in my library (Love et al., GRL 38, L21703, 2011, doi:10.1029/2011GL049380) gives the observed correlation between global temperature and sunspot number for 1868-2008 a p value of 0.9954, i.e., pretty much nonexistent. Geomagnetic activity is slightly better correlated with global temperature (p = 0.8171), but still well short of any reasonable definition of significant. That should have settled the question, if the people responsible (if that's the right word) for the notch filter theory read GRL, but I may be incorrect in making that assumption.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 04 Jan 2015 #permalink

The Notch Delay Theory makes perfect sense if you look at the graph in polarized n-rays while wearing aluminum contact lenses.

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 04 Jan 2015 #permalink

They should prepare a paper for the Journal of Scientific Exploration.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 05 Jan 2015 #permalink

Well, I lost a fair bit of time reading that WUWT post, including comments.

Monckton never fails to entertain - he's going to sue everybody for libel, apparently, just like he failed to do every time before.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 05 Jan 2015 #permalink

"...you really must stop paying any attention to the “skeptic” drivel, because life is too short."

Sorry, what were you talking about?

(i.e. I already have.)

By Chris Reynolds (not verified) on 06 Jan 2015 #permalink

From Amazon I note somehow that Roy Spencer's book seems to have acquired lots of positive reviews and a second edition - which apparently still contains the same modeling mess. I'm sure he was aware of our critique. I guess it's a characteristic of these "lonely & wrong" people to ignore all criticism?

By Arthur Smith (not verified) on 07 Jan 2015 #permalink

Did they ever get round to releasing the promised report that set out *exactly* how the analysis was performed?

By Dikran Marsupial (not verified) on 08 Jan 2015 #permalink

But now it's micro-volcanoes with sekret sulfuric acid injections. Kind of weak paper with estimate of "cooling since 2000" but no real knowledge of any type of natural background volcanic eruptions

Personally I think everyone is sampling noise and when someone figures out how much oversampling is required to push the noise out of the baseband, it's just noise.

By Tim Beatty (not verified) on 09 Jan 2015 #permalink

But what's behind Force X?

[Oh, oh! You're threatening violence against the denialists in your last panel, aren't you? That's just so typical of the reactionary establishment -W]