Re: [asa] Letters to Sam Harris a "Maladjusted Misotheist"

From: PvM <>
Date: Wed Dec 06 2006 - 14:02:12 EST

It seems that Janice is ignoring Augustine's fair warnings and instead
is insisting on defending the indefensibel. Well, we shall see where
such a position leads.

For instance, the hockey stick graph, which Janice called a red
herring because the program used to match the data to such a graph
matched random data to such graphs as well. This is like blaiming a
program which matches a straight line to data for doing so.
Those more familiar with statistics would realize that the parameters
of the match will have an associated strength. While hockey stick
graphs based on random data are statistically insignificant, the data
for global warming is hardly insignificant in this aspect

So when I point out this, Janice responds with the following

Janice: The red herring is yours, sorry. Tim Lambert is a
__computer__ scientist at the University of New South Wales.

Indeed, Tim Lambert is a well educated scientist at a respectable
university whose knowledge of statistics has gained him much notoriety
for having exposed such people as John Lott and now many others for
carelessly abusing statistical data.
I notice that Janice, like so many before her, provides no defense of
what she originally called a red herring.

If as Janice is suggesting, the operative relevance is 'climate
science' then she may as well throw in her towel as a review of peer
reviewed articles has shown that there exists a strong consensus.

Your friend can stay up to speed on "climate science" here: December 6,
> 2006
> "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Excerpted from the item
> below which quotes "CLIMATE" experts and what sort of weight they give to
> other sorts of scientific opinions:
> "Among experts who actually examine the causes of change on a global scale,
> many concentrate their research on designing and enhancing computer models
> of hypothetical futures. "These models have been consistently wrong in all
> their scenarios,..."

This is a fascinating cut and paste but even someone who would be
unfamiliar with climate science would frown at such a statement
"consistently wrong in all their scenarios". It does not require much
research to find out that the opposite is actually true.

I do not blame Janice for relying on poor scientific arguments as she
is obviously 'informed' by poor sources and I hope that I can
contribute to at least improving her arguments, lest she wants to
continue her journey to prove Augustine right.

For instance when it comes to global computer models we learn from
more reliable sources that

-------begin quote------
According to the IPCC, the majority of climatologists agree that
important climate processes are imperfectly accounted for by the
climate models but don't think that better models would change the
conclusion. Scientists point out that there are specific flaws in the
models, such as albedo errors, and external factors not taken into
consideration such as possible indirect solar effects mediated through
cosmic rays that could change the conclusion above. GCMs are capable
of reproducing the general features of the observed global temperature
over the past century [15].
-------end quote------

Of course, there are still many unknowns, such as reliable data
coverage, and a full understanding of all the mechanisms that go into
modeling the many aspects of global circulation. Despite these obvious
shortcomings however, it seems self evident that the above statement
about climate models being consistently wrong is a foolish one, and
not supported by the actual evidence.

I will address the obvious fallacies in the rest of Janice's posting
later, I just wanted to point out that she was relying, once again, on
unreliable data sources, leading her to follow a path which leads to a
fulfilment of that which Augustine warned us against.

The operative rule is that one takes the stance that one's argument is
wrong and that the data one is using is suspect, one then does
research to prove that point and if the argument still holds despite
this critical analysis then one can more safely use it without running
the risk of running afoul of Augustine's warning.

For instance, the hockey stick 'red herring' as Janice called it was
easily shown to be based on flawed arguments that the program
generated hockey sticks from random data. The argument may sound solid
to the uninformed reader but anyone familiar with statistics would
realize that this is hardly a relevant argument, it is not about the
program matching hockey stick graphs but about them matching the data
in a statistically significant manner.

People like Tim Lambert, whose reputation proceeds him, have a field
day exposing such fallacies and Deltoid, Lambert's science blog, is
nominated, not surprisingly as one of the top weblogs.

In Christ


To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Dec 6 14:02:52 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Dec 06 2006 - 14:02:52 EST