The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Global Warming Deniers Get a Double-Dose of Pwnage

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 17, 2009

I’ve blogged here before about various claims made & tactics used by climate science deniers (I refuse to call them “skeptics” because they are not guided by evidence, merely ideology), but what I have to share in this post is truly damning stuff.  One of the things which is really interesting is what happens when a group of pseudoscientific ideologues (like global warming deniers) gets caught red-handed playing fast & loose with the facts…

Exhibit A: Statisticians Confirm Reality of Global Warming in Blinded Tests

Recently, one of the claims making the rounds has been that, contrary to the consensus within the climate science community, the Earth is actually entering a period of global cooling – this claim is patently fallacious, and anyone who has a basic understanding of statistics knows it.  But what happened recently, as reported in a widely-circulated AP story, really slams the door shut on this bogus claim: the temperature data for the planet was analyzed by a series of independent statisticians, all of whom found a warming (not a cooling) trend in the data.  And here’s the kicker: these statisticians didn’t know what the data were – in other words, the examination of the Earth’s temperature data was a blinded test!

Have you heard that the world is now cooling instead of warming? You may have seen some news reports on the Internet or heard about it from a provocative new book. Only one problem: It’s not true, according to an analysis of the numbers done by several independent statisticians for The Associated Press.

The case that the Earth might be cooling partly stems from recent weather. Last year was cooler than previous years. It’s been a while since the super-hot years of 1998 and 2005. So is this a longer climate trend or just weather’s normal ups and downs?

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

“If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect,” said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.

This result puts paid to the oft-repeated claim by GW-deniers that there is a cooling trend in the data.  Of course, the only reason why these pseudoscientists were able to get away with their false claims for so long was because they, as professor Grego said, have been cherry-picking the data and presenting it incomplete & out-of-context in order to give the impression that the Earth is cooling.  But, as we’ve seen, once the experimenter & statistician bias is removed from the analysis, which is the whole purpose of doing blinded tests, a very real and consistent warming trend is revealed.

But it gets even worse for the GW-deniers…

Exhibit B: An anti-GW petition & campaign “on behalf of” the American Physical Society has been exposed as fraudulent.

In the summer of 2008, a widely circulated story in GW-denier circles claimed that a large portion of the membership of the American Physical Society (a professional organization for physicists of which I am a member) had signed onto a petition rebutting the scientific consensus on global warming, and – further – that the APS leadership itself had reversed its stance on the issue…

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming.  The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science.  The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”

In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains,”There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

At the time, my b.s. detector went practically off the scale, because the day after publication the APS had released a statement (on that same page!) that was directly contrary to the claims in this article…

Update 7/17/2008: After publication of this story, the APS responded with a statement that its Physics and Society Forum is merely one unit within the APS, and its views do not reflect those of the Society at large.

When this annoying fact was pointed out to the deniers, many made claims about how there were “thousands” of physicists signing onto the petition claiming that GW-science was false – the implication being that the rank-and-file membership of the APS was revolting against the “establishment” (a variation on anti-scientific conspiracy mongering).  At the time, my b.s. detector went off again, because such a claim smacked so strongly of similar claims made by creationists that numerous scientists had “dissented from Darwinism”. Of course, such a claim is nothing more than an argument from popularity, but it’s even worse than that – it’s just a bald-faced lie, and it always has been!

That’s because evidence directly contradicting the GW-denier claims that the APS rank-and-file has revolted against the APS “establishment” on climate science has come to light:

Only 0.45% of Physicists sign Denier Petition

Despite seven months of intense effort to recruit physicists to sign a politically motivated petition disputing anthropogenic climate change, a mere, 0.45% of the American Physical Society’s 47,000 members signed on.

It’s a humiliating defeat for the climate change Deniers who make such false claims as ”many scientists dispute’ and ‘there is no consensus. The Petition drive was announced in the prestigous journal Nature, APS publications, numerous popular and electronic media, as well as heavily promoted by the petition organizers. Despite all of that effort and publicity, a mere 0.45% was all that they could manage.

Consider that the success rate for Nigerian email scams is estimated to be 0.1% to 0.2%, ie roughly speaking about the same. (Tip of the Hat to Grumbine for the genesis of seeking a comparison)

Of course the reason for that APS Council’s rejection is unrelated to the number of the signatories, but rather was based the quality of the alleged “science” justifying the call. The “scientific” claims are a sad cobbling together of the argumentum ad ignorantiam and appeal to authority logical fallacies, along with the unbelievably idiotic “it’s happened in the past” argument. As “science” it should embarrass a freshman.

**BTW, this graphic nicely illustrates the utter fail behind this stupid anti-scientific petition campaign…

Whoops – looks like the anti-GW science denialists got caught on this one with their pants down.  But that’s what happens in scientific circles if you make things up – whether it be the cold-fusion hoax, the global cooling myth, or lying about the number of legitimate physicists who agree with your pseudoscience – sooner or later the truth will catch up to you, and you’ll be revealed for what you really are… cynical, lying bastards with an ideological & political agenda.

Here’s a message to all you GW-deniers who’ve been pushing this crap over the last couple of years:

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5 Responses to “Global Warming Deniers Get a Double-Dose of Pwnage”

  1. greenfyre said

    Thanks for the mention … you might also enjoy
    Why real skeptics detest global warming Deniers

  2. TrueSceptic said

    Nice article Mattus. Now that I know about your blog I’ll make a point of visiting more often. :)

  3. TrueSceptic said

    Oh, you might enjoy Denial Depot: Blog Science for Real People arctic-sea-ice-staggering-growth is a good example of top quality Blog Science. ;)

  4. [...] Global warming Deniers Get a Double-Dose of Pwnage [...]

  5. You need think about it. Despite the emails, the overwhelming evidence showing global warming is happening hasn’t changed.
    “The e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus . . . that tells us the Earth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity,” Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a House committee. She said that the e-mails don’t cover data from NOAA and NASA, whose independent climate records show dramatic warming.

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