Comments Posted By K_McLoud
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...yeah, but the guy is a freakin' creationist!!

can we pretty pretty please get at least one republican candidate who has at least a tentative grasp on what the scientific method IS?

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 19.02.2010 @ 18:53



Please don't ever quit, you're the only writer I've read who follows a thought process even remotely similar to my own.

Do you know any other writers who write about a similar brand intellectual conservatism?

Keep in mind that by "intellectual conservatism" I don't mean "moderate", I mean Conservatism that is well thought out, logically sound, and not tainted by populism or pop-conservatism.

What can people like us do to propel intellectual conservatism to a prominent place on the national stage?

finally, are people who think like us really "intellectual conservatives"? or are we "pragmatic libertarians"? or something else entirely?

Heh - gave up on labels long ago. Used to think I was conservative. Liberals told me I was conservative. Now conservatives are telling me I'm a liberal because I criticize conservatives and don't conform to every item on their litmus tests.

Go figure.


Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 24.11.2009 @ 14:44


you're changing the subject, its another red herring.

the core of your argument is:

"I'm right because my model fits the data"

This is however a fallacious argument, the way you derived the model it would have been remarkable if you DIDN'T get a fit.

Like I have said before,Using your methods, I could show an equally convincing correlation between global temps and the price of pork belly futures, it obviously wouldn't disprove AGW.

This is an entirely different argument than the climate scientists are making. They have established a phenomena based physics, specifically, emission-absorption spectra. They are then developing models to try and estimate the effect that phenomena will have in the future. They are not saying "we're right because our model fits the last 100 yrs of data". which is exactly what you are saying.

Now, I'm not convinced that AGW is real, and I'm certainly not convinced that if it is the consequences would be as bad as some say. But I base my opinions on the science, science can not be judged to be right or wrong based on the effects it has on our political stances.

while we were going back and forth over the math, you thought that an appropriate point would be:

"climate change is a mistake that takes away freedom and prosperity"

Science is not right or wrong based on whether or not the policies resulting from that science would be desirable. Vaccines are undesirable from a political standpoint, they cost taxpayer money and the government must take away peoples freedoms in order to coerce people into getting vaccinated. This is unfortunate, but it does not make the entire field of immunology wrong.

So, are you judging this based on the science? or based on the effect that science would have on your political stances?

if the former is true, then why even bother throwing out that last bit about freedom when you knew it was irrelevant to the discussion?

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 1.12.2009 @ 09:04

First off, pointing out that the models used by climate scientists have been optimized to fit the data is a red herring. They are not saying "we're right because our model fits the data", The purpose of their model is prediction. Whereas your entire argument essentially boils down to "We're right because our model fits the data." Its a HUGE difference.

But more importantly, I am quite convinced that there is a fatal flaw in your logic.

If you have two plausible causes, not mutually exclusive, then showing that the system's response can be explained using only one of the causes does not "prove" that the other cause did not significantly contribute to the system's response. This is especially the case when your model has been fitted to the data, making it entirely unremarkable that such a correlation occurs.

My "two guys pushing on a rock" analogy holds. I pictured the rock as moving, the observation was its acceleration (though I don't see how this is relevant). I also never assumed that "each of the causes contributes a part of the force", in fact, the example possible model I gave was:

"We cold easily derive a model where you have no effect on the rock (I push with 100 N, you push with 0 N)"

My rock example is really just a way to illustrate my point. The real problem here is that the core of your argument is logically fallacious. Even if I stipulated for the sake of argument, that the model was flawless, it would still not "disprove" or even cast doubt on AGW.

If you wanted to accomplish this goal (and if we're being honest, your goal should be to find the truth, not to disprove AGW,... but anyways...), you would need to show a similarly strong correlation between the empirical data and a model whose parameters were established completely independent of that data.

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 29.11.2009 @ 21:39

Dan Pangburn,

Firstly, the term "null hypothesis" is commonly used in science outside of statistics to refer to the fact that one's base assumption must be that nothing extraordinary is occurring. Its a similar concept to Occam's razor, or Carl Sagan's "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" mantra. Secondly, if we wanted to pick nits, I think a rather strong argument could be made that all observational and experimental science is rooted in statistics... but I digress...

I did miss that he considered radiative heat loss, though the lack of an independently determined emissivity coefficient invalidates the fact that the energy balance results in the correct temperature. In other words, you can't choose the emissivity so that the temperatures agree with the empirical data and then argue that the model is valid because of that agreement.

The term "degrees of freedom" is commonly used in the systems modeling literature to refer to the number of parameters the optimization algorithm is allowed to vary in order to minimize the cost function. "Orthogonal dimension in the optimization parameter space" is also appropriate, but it just doesn't role off the tongue as nicely as DOF.

Which leads us to the real problem with the model now that the infinitely increasing temperature has been dealt with. We can nit pick on the exact number, but in creating this model, the author selected somewhere between 4 and 6 separate parameters specifically so that the model would resemble the empirical data. It is therefore entirely unremarkable that model resembles said empirical data. This is extremely important because the claim boils down to: "the model matches the data, therefore AGW is bunk".

Like I said before, give me any historical data set (poll results, sports stats, price of tea in china, etc...) the ability to fool around with integrals and derivatives, and 4 or 5 free parameters, and I could produce a correlation at least as convincing as the one presented in this article. Would that "Disprove" AGW?

In order to make an argument like that for a model, the parameters need to be arrived at independently of the data set you are trying to match. You can't cheat by looking at the answer key to come up with your own answer. For example, instead of choosing the emissivity so the the temps turned out right, you would need to arrive at the emissivity either via some measurement, or through some independent calculation such as doing a weighted average of the emissivities of the various gasses in the atmosphere.

Don't get me wrong, we optimize model parameters in order to match model outputs with empirical data all the time. But we do this in order to extract system parameters such as pole-zero locations, nonlinear phase plots, damping ratios, etc... We would never optimize a model to fit the empirical evidence, and then use that fit as evidence for some argument. Of course it fits, you rigged the game ahead of time so that it practically HAD to turn out that way.

All that being said, I have a problem with the basic logic behind the argument. Given that there are two plausible causes that are not mutually exclusive, can the fact that a model can be derived to explain the response with only one cause be used to "prove" that the other cause has had no effect? I don't think so.

To give an example, lets say you and I were both pushing on a giant rock. Observations show that the net force on the rock is 100 N. We cold easily derive a model where you have no effect on the rock (I push with 100 N, you push with 0 N). But that doesn't "prove" you weren't pushing on the rock. Its just as likely that I wasn't pushing at all, or that we were both pushing with 50N each, or any of the other infinite number of possible combinations.

What I'm saying is that since sun spots and infrared absorption are both plausible climate forcing mechanisms, and they aren't mutually exclusive, then showing that a model can explain the data without invoking one of those two causes doesn't disprove the effect of the other.

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 27.11.2009 @ 19:06

another extremely underhanded thing the author of that "study" does:

he continues the model prediction 30 years into the future by assuming that in the future sun spot activity will equal zero.

"The extension of this line beyond the present assumes that future sunspot count is zero. Future temperature anomalies depend on future sunspot counts and future PDO behavior neither of which can be confidently predicted."

So he admits his 30 years of "predictions" are worthless because they are based on entirely bogus assumptions. Then why would include 30 years of erroneous predictions on his plot? Why not just end the plot at 2009?

perhaps just an oversight? but then why write about it in the description?

perhaps he wanted to give the false impression that his model predicts future temperature decreases when it in fact predicts perpetual temperature increase?

We can't read his mind, so we can not know for sure, but the whole thing smells fishy enough to be highly suspect.

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 25.11.2009 @ 12:54

side note-

I just read over that link of yours and FYI, that analysis is total bunk. This of course does not support the AGW case, but that analysis employs some awfully sloppy math and doesn't "prove" anything at all.

top 2 reasons:
1) The model assumes that temperature increase is proportional to the time integral of the sun spot count. This is by definition always a positive integer.

Lets leave aside for the moment the highly suspect assumption that the temperature increase would be related to the time integral of the signal. The integral of a series of positive integers will perpetually increase and tend towards infinity over time. (since it by definition must always have a positive derivative)

What this essentially means is that the model predicts that the earth's temperature will tend towards infinity over time. Not only is this assertion ridiculous, it violates the first two laws of thermodynamics. This flaw alone is egregious enough discredit the entire analysis.

2) He uses at least 5 constants to "fit" the model. It is important to note that these constants are not independently analytically determined, they are optimized to fit the empirical data. The author readily admits that he does this "to get a value close to the temperature anomalies."

This means he essentially used an optimized model with 5 degrees of freedom to minimize the error between the model's response and the empirical data. This makes the model EXTREMELY weak. Given a model with five degrees of freedom, I could likely show a stronger correlation between earth's temperature and the average American's credit card debt, or the win percentage of the Boston Red Socks. In other words, the model is meaningless.

Like I said at the beginning, this does not support AGW. But it does mean that you shouldn't go touting that "study" around to anyone with any experience in mathematically modeling complex systems. And for the love of God, don't invoke some kind of vast conspiracy to explain why that garbage doesn't get published. My Undergrad statistics professor would have flunked me for turning in an analysis like that.

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 25.11.2009 @ 12:44

Dan Pangburn:

"I have yet to see sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis" Is the best a scientist can ever hope to say.

Once you say "I am CERTAIN, and no amount of evidence could ever convince me otherwise" you have removed yourself from the realm of science and firmly located yourself in the realm of ideology.(Al Gore's realm)

If you ask a good scientist about UFO's being alien spacecraft, he will not say "I am certain UFO's are not alien spacecraft."

He will say "I have yet to see sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis that UFO's are misidentified terrestrial phenomena"

There is a BIG difference, the former is a statement of ideology, the later is a scientific conclusion.

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 25.11.2009 @ 12:04

the game-

you said:
"[the fact that AGW does not exist] has been proven now…even more so than it was before."

It seems to me that in order to draw that conclusion from these emails, you must take one of two stances:

1) These emails show that every single shred of evidence for AGW is fraudulent.


2) The fact that any one piece of evidence for a phenomena is fraudulent can be taken as proof that the entire phenomena is non-existent, regardless of any other evidence.

Which of these stances are you taking?

(p.s. I strongly recommend you carefully read my earlier post and understand my position before you go railing against "anti-capitalist" and "false religion" straw men.)

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 24.11.2009 @ 22:20

First off,

Rick was justified in his use of the word "Denier", This however does not mean that all people who disagree with Al Gore are deniers. Both Deniers and Skeptics exist.

In their heart of hearts a true scientific skeptic says:
"I have yet to see sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis that human activity has no impact on the earth's climate"

In their heart of hearts a Denier says:
"Human activity could never effect earths climate, no amount of evidence could convince me otherwise"

In reality, the arguments of deniers boil down to two logical fallacies:

The argument from personal incredulity, i.e.:
"Do you have any idea how big the earth is? Us little humans could never effect something that big!"

and the argument ad hominem, i.e.:
"All those intellectual academics are liberals and crypto-socialists, they just want to shove government control of the economy down our throats"

If we're being honest with ourselves, both groups exist. Unfortunately, a fair amount of our fellow conservatives fall into the later group out of a general disdain for environmentalism and the governmental regulation that it inevitably flows from it.

Also unfortunately, we lack the superpower possessed by our liberal brethren that allows them to peer into the souls of men discern perceive their true intentions. This means that we cannot tell with certainty in which camp any particular individual lies unless they are willing to tell us.

So, after we do away with the denier mentality we are left with the obvious question of whether AGW has been sufficiently established as scientific fact to justify the social, political, and economic costs inherent in its mitigation?

It essentially comes down to a cold, unemotional, dare I say even, un-political cost-benefit analysis. This is where the legitimate scientific discussion lies. The question is: at what point do the potential benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions outweigh the costs of the reduction?

Here's a quote that could shed some light on this discussion from famous biologist Stephen Jay Gould:

"In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."

Comment Posted By K_McLoud On 24.11.2009 @ 13:49



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