Why do people believe strange things?

Many readers who keep up with the blogs will be aware of the recent post at RealClimate concerning a recent review by Alan Carlin and John Davidson on the EPA Endangerment Finding. A certain blog, by one Thomas Fuller, discusses why the EPA should have listened to Carlin. Apparently the science in Carlin and Davison’s report is considered by Fuller and commenters to be “new evidence” that needs to be considered. Chris, feeling argumentive, decided to have a shot at the comments to see how this was so… I learned many new things in my visit, and I plan to document it in the best of scientific sources, a cutting edge research-database…

The blogosphere.

So here it goes…

I found that the “new evidence” was about the lacking hotspot in the troposphere, ARGO data showing a few years of cooling, the existence of a Medieval Warm Period and the Holocene Optimum. I also found that certain skeptics believe that the Urban Heat Island effect can explain much of the warming, and that certain groups who put out temperature products don’t account for any of this. I learned that climate sensitivity is an input put into computer models, where they automatically multiply 1 by 3.5 to get 3.5 C of warming per 2xCO2 (that’s why people get phD’s to model climate and study its behavior nowadays, take that gavin!!). When asked for peer-reviewed references, this was all supported, in total, by one paper on pan-evaporation.

As I said, this is all new evidence, apparently post-IPCC AR4. I also learned that the “warmists” don’t want to debate any of this new evidence. Oh, someone also mentioned something about a guy named Mann and Bristlecone pines, but I never heard of that.

In my vast blogging experience, I must conclude AGW is now a hoax. So I must ask those people who believe in things like radiative physics and “water vapor feedbacks” and who want to document things in journals…

Why do you believe in weird things?

15 responses to “Why do people believe strange things?

  1. Chris, you are so good! Please keep it up!

  2. The answer is simple, Chris: they have an obvious political agenda. I should add that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I don’t mind people coming to the debate with some loaded baggage; it makes the debate more active and thorough.

    More accurately, the problem is their discourse. Steve McIntyre recognizes this, which is why he snips *a LOT* of comments which he claims ‘over-editorializes.’ The AGW skeptics are virtually synonymous with that group of right-wing individuals that have become so comical in the light of Obama’s election. They are unwilling to EVER compromise. If the evil ‘liberals’ see AGW as a problem, they must deny it. Their political discourse is one of false dichotomy, over-simplification, and plan old hubris.

    Is it no coincidence that the recent posts at WUWT have had commenters venting all sorts of frustration against the Obama administration?

  3. I can tell you why I believe such things as the lack of a tropospheric hotspot as predicted by all the global warming models: It is because there isn’t one. The models show one. The real world measurement don’t. The models are very plainly wrong.

    While your effort to explain away that very embarrassing failure was a good effort, it was total bollocks. If stratospheric cooling you cited were really from greenhouse gases, the signature would have been strongest in the upper stratosphere. See the very charts you reference in your hot spot denial piece. In reality, the cooling is mainly a lower stratospheric phenomenon. I’m sure it placated those who so desperately want to believe they are right as the real world evidence ever more forcefully tells them they are wrong.

    I believe what I believe because I believe in science.

    Response– There very well could be a hot spot. We absolutely cannot say “it doesn’t exist” with the level of confidence you assert. The lower stratosphere is also being influenced strongly by ozone depletion, but the cooling extends to the mesosphere.– chris

  4. Ian Forrester

    Bryan said: “I believe what I believe because I believe in science”. Unfortunately, belief is not a necessary and sufficient condition, one must also UNDERSTAND science to be able to critically analyse and interpret data and information.

    Bryan, you should read the following discussions (and the paper by Santer et al. cited in those discussions) so you can fully understand why your comments are wrong:


  5. It’s an interesting thing, isn’t it Chris? ‘Skeptics’ love to trumpet with absolute certainty data that can be turned around to support their point of view. In one breath a skeptic can mock the USHCN and yet trust radiosonde data prima facia. Kind of brings you back to meteorological instrumentation as an undergrad…

    • Counters,

      Albert Einstein once said “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

      Einstein understood how science works. It isn’t about supporting my point of view. It doesn’t matter if side ‘A’ has more points, or side ‘B’ has more points. If a “scientist” posits a theory, and there is a single problem with it, the theory is false.

      That goes for the missing hot spot, and blaming stratospheric cooling on greenhouses gases despite the altitude signature being all wrong, and the EPA report.

      Response– Just what is the “hotspot theory?” What does it have to do with the attribution or future prediction of climate change?

      The Popperian view of falsification and Einstein’s quote is on-target, but in the real world, things are just not that simple. You have to understand the quality of observations, the importance of a model discrepancy, the uncertanties in the theory, models, observations, and the robustness of various results. There is rarely such a binary nature to science topics as in “[if] there is a single problem with it, the theory is false” as scientific theories are usually very widely encompassing, with uncertain details and lots of room for investigation.

      Also, Einstein would probably want to look at the results of someone who said they were wrong, have them reproduce it, etc…continuing to repeat the same nonsense over and over is not exactly what he had in mind. You are simply not up-to-date with the hotspot observation-model discussion, nor do you understand its implications in the wider context of anthropogenic climate change. But being “preechr,” someone who I have corresponded with in other forums before, and someone who very clearly supports disinformation, it is probably not worth educating you about your misunderstandings. I have given up trying to argue with people who already know everything about why AGW is a hoax.– chris

  6. Bryan, you missed my point – which was the reason for the snarky ‘undergrad’ quip. The radiosonde data you’re using to justify your stance in the ‘hotspot’ debate (which, I might add, isn’t really a debate) is hardly a bullet-proof source. Radiosonde data has huge uncertainties associated with it. Thank about it – it takes time for an instrument to equilibrate with its environment and subsequently perform a measurement; radiosondes are rising at a high velocity, and it can be very difficult to interpolate data to the correct pressure levels.

    You raised us that the real world measurements falsify your ‘hotspot’. Take the raw data, consider the uncertainties, and prove it to us.

  7. Counters,

    I do not know how long of a leash I have here. It is only through Chris’ good graces that I am allowed to post at all, but I will try to briefly answer your question.

    The radiosonde data is made up from dozens of different makes and models of radiosonde which seem to agree with each other. It would be strange for all of them to have the exact same error, and all to only be effected in the area where the hot spot is supposed to be. That being said, it is the satellite data I find most intriguing. Specifically, the data coming from the AMSU-A on the NASA Aqua satellite which actively maintains a stable orbit. Unlike the NOAA satellites, there is no diurnal drift to compensate for on the Aqua satellite. The data is clean, and there is no tropospheric hot spot that corresponds with rising CO2 levels. In fact, currently the concerned area is the second coolest on record.

    Chris may be right about my not being up on the current debate, and there may be a paper, or blog post, or something out there attempting to refute the NASA Aqua temperature data, but I haven’t seen it.

    On the subject of the NASA Aqua satellite, I’m wondering if Chris has any comment on data seeming to show that clouds dampen the warming effect, not amplify it. I really don’t know the answer to this question, but doesn’t AGW fall apart if that is correct? Or at the very least, won’t every single IPCC climate model need to be significantly reworked?

  8. Bryan, you’re going to need to put up your data to prove your points. You’re still not seeing my point about radiosondes – they’re an imprecise, low accuracy instrument, with wide error bands associated with their collected data. Irrelevant point, though, until you can point us to the data supporting your assertions.

    • Fine. I can not post images in the comments, but the tropical troposphere data is plotted here:

      It is a plot of the 1980-2009 UAH T2LT (0.014), RSS TLT (0.09), CRU (0.103), NOAA (0.117), GISS (0.132), HadAT 850 hPa radiosonde (-0.001), UAH T2 (-0.013), and RSS TMT (0.066) centered on a 1979-1997 mean.

      There is no tropical tropospheric temperature trend that can be correlated to atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The tropospheric hot spot predicted by the IPCC climate models never formed.

  9. Bryan, look what a climate scientist says about your observation:

  10. Hard to accept peer-review in climate science when they ignore critics and instead circle the wagons. Dr. Rahmstorf has accepted the critiques of his 2007 paper that compared temperatures to model predictions. The critics complained about his 11 year smoothing. So in his 2009 update, he has switched to 15 year smoothing. Why didn’t the peer-reviewers, climate scientists, etc catch this, even when pointed out by bloggers and published?

    No the mistake was only accepted when the update with the old method showed a levelling off of temperatures, and that wouldn’t look good in the Copenhagen Report. So Dr. Rahmstorf switched to another bad method.

  11. Gavin's Pussycat

    MikeN, try to publish libel under your own name.

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