Same Information: Different Opinion. Part 1, Attitudes to Natural Variation

MIKE Haseler was once a candidate for the Scottish Green party.  He has worked in the wind industry, has knowledge of precision temperature controllers and is a blogger.   He is also interested in how:

“The two sides in the climate debate look at pretty much the same information and come to very different conclusions. Having met both sides, and tried to understand their motivation and outlook, I am thoroughly convinced that both approach the subject in what they think is the right way and both are horrified at the antics of the other.” Mike Haseler

But Mike has gone further than just pondering (or asking the respective camps to complete a Myers Briggs profile), he has started compiling his own table of key differences between the two sides based on categories such as employment sector, definitions of ‘quality’, experience in decision making, ‘main focus’, and more.

You can examine Mike’s categories here…

http://scottishsceptic.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/sceptics-vs-academics/

There are several issues that Mike raises that I find particularly interesting.  But let’s start with just one:

  1. The idea that the sceptics and non-sceptics have a different point of view when it comes to natural variation.

Having studied evolutionary biology as an undergraduate and postgraduate, I initially found Mike’s somewhat casual use of the term ‘natural variation’ annoying – because he was not being honest to the Darwinian definition.  But thinking about ‘natural variation’ as a popular concept (as Mike does), perhaps there is something important here if we are to understand how two sides can come away with different interpretations of the same information.

I’m going to at least explore the potential for a variation in point of view on this issue to be important.

In particular Mike suggests that sceptics see natural variation everywhere, while the non-sceptic might considered it a ‘measurement error’.

Not so long ago, a young Sydney lawyer said to me that he was agnostic about climate change until he read Tim Flannery’s book The Weather Makers.  He said that the book made him aware of just how much climate change there has been in the past as recorded through the geological record, and so he became sceptical of Professor Flannery’s overall conclusions.

Did this Sydney lawyer have a predisposition to accepting variation as natural?  Was this predisposition a consequence of his upbringing or his genetics?   When most people read the Weather Makers, I assume they come to an altogether different conclusion.  I assume they come to understand the variation from Professor Flannery’s perspective because they are perhaps more focused on the message than the evidence as presented?

A propensity to see, and accept difference as natural and real, can extend beyond data to people.

I’ve read somewhere that some people believe everyone should be treated equally, while the other perspective tends to believe people should be treated as individuals.  Of course a central premise of the writing of Carl Jung is that the individual (the self), continues to drown in a sea of collectivism.   Could the relevance of variations in the temperature records, both proxy and instrumental, depend on an individual’s predisposition to accepting variation as natural or not, not only within the human population, but also within the temperature record?

I’m going to give Mike Haseler the benefit of the doubt and try a thought experiment…

I’m going to ask all INTJ’s to try and be ‘empathetic’ (borrowing a word from Mike Haseler’s table) to the alternative perspective…

Let’s consider for a moment the hockey stick: that iconic graph which purports to show that after centuries of stable temperature, the second half of the twentieth century saw a sudden and unprecedented warming of the ‘planet’ (borrowing a word here from Clive Hamilton).

The hockey stick featured in the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report as figure 2.20: a Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction.  It is now etched into many minds as a symbol of unnatural and unprecedented warming.

But can someone tell me by how many degrees Celsius the shaft of the hockey stick points up?   How many degrees has the planet warmed since 1900?

Seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.[1]

I hear one INTJ cry, irrelevant!

In fact, if you can’t read a chart, and many people can’t, then such a statement is telling someone something about natural variation since 1900.

Further how does the Medieval Warm Period fit into the hockey stick?

According to the official science it is just a ‘putative climate epoch’ that needs to be adjusted for. [2]

There is no Medieval Warm Period in the global temperature record as represented by the hockey stick.  And the Little Ice Age, which of course followed the Medieval Warm Period, is described as a period where temperatures were only 1 to 2 degrees Celsius below normal. [2]

But with the shaft of the hockey stick representing a temperature increase of 0.74 degrees Celsius then a period of cooling of up to 2 degrees should show up in the stick?

I hear a non-sceptic explain: But the hockey stick is really just a symbol.  It was never meant to be completely accurate representation of temperatures over the last 1,000 years.  We know there are many problems with it.  We know there are issues with smoothing the data so that the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age disappear, so to speak.  But we should nevertheless appreciate that the hockey stick is an effective way of conveying complex science to the public.  The hockey stick emphasizes that the last 150 years represents a period of unprecedented warming.

I can see that attitudes to variation in the temperature record are important.  But perhaps this little thought experiment just illustrates a contrived confirmation bias and groupthink, rather than the effective treatment of a data set that shows measurement error?

How difficult it can be to try and explain something from a different perspective?

***********

Links/Reference

1. National Climatic Data Centre, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at  http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cmb-faq/globalwarming.html .   Viewed 10th October, 2012.

2. IPCC, 2001.  Third Assessment Report, Section 2.3.3.

58 Responses to Same Information: Different Opinion. Part 1, Attitudes to Natural Variation

  1. John Sayers November 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    I have found that the most consistent concern shown by the alarmist (cos that’s what they are) friends of mine is guilt.

    “How on earth can we pour all this pollution into the atmosphere and NOT change the climate… We have to change our ways…. We are a curse on the planet… If we were all vegetarians we wouldn’t need to convert all the forests to grazing land…. and on and on they go – we are the guilty ones. We are not a part of nature, we are something else except they never seem to know what else.

    There appears to be a contest on facebook as to who can post the most catastrophic link and get the most likes. Fukushima is probably No1 on the list at the moment, (Tony Abbott hate pages would be a close second). Monsanto, MacDonalds, Vaccinations, Chemtrails are always good ones, anything that mentions THEY – They are doing this, They are doing that, They are out to get us. It’s because we are guilty because we allow them to exist!

    Climate change is a major one – we are destroying the planet, we don’t deserve to be here, the dolphins are higher beings than us cos they don’t pollute the world. Whales don’t either and therefore we should protect them, in fact nature is holy – we are the sinners.

    Fortunately for me I give up guilt every New Year.

  2. Luke November 9, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    Or all just non scientific indulgent philosophical twaddle. You can get your philosophy cold haggis style from opining Scots or from international domain experts in palaeo.

    http://www.pages-igbp.org/

    Get updated -or go home. First person to quote CO2 Science loses.

    “The main conclusion of the study is that the most coherent feature in nearly all of the regional temperature reconstructions is a long-term cooling trend, which ended late in the 19th century, and which was followed by a warming trend in the 20th C. The 20th century in the reconstructions ranks as the warmest or nearly the warmest century in all regions except Antarctica. During the last 30-year period in the reconstructions (1971-2000 CE), the average reconstructed temperature among all of the regions was likely higher than anytime in at least ~1400 years. Interestingly, temperatures did not fluctuate uniformly among all regions at multi-decadal to centennial scales. For example, there were no globally synchronous multi-decadal warm or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age.”
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/04/the-pages-2k-synthesis/

    NEXT !

  3. Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic) November 9, 2013 at 2:01 am #

    Thanks for the interest.

    There are several issues with the hockey stick of which the two most important are the question of whether actual temperature records can just be spliced onto proxy records. The answer is yes – but only when it is clearly indicated to the reader that they differ so that they can judge for themselves if there is a disconnect. The problem with the hockey stick is that we know the two don’t fit, but they have been spray coated with greenwash to make them appear the same. This is wrong and is actually what the “hiding the decline” emails were also about.

    The second issue is about the specific hockey stick produced by Michael Mann. Having checked Steve McIntyre’s paper I would agree that Michael Mann selected for Hockey stick looking data and so it is no surprise … using the evolutionary analogy … if nature selects for good looking women, it is no surprise that women look good … what is more surprising is that all women don’t look the same.

    And indeed, I don’t even have to explain this “natural variation” as I have a whole article (why women love ugly men – http://www.scef.org.uk/index.php/scottish-sceptic/473-women-love-ugly-men)

    … which to summarise says that evolution must select for the less than perfect person otherwise we would all end up looking like one or two barbie dolls.

    However, we see the same thing in linguistics. E.g. why do languages have more than one gender? Why don’t we use all the possible combinations of letters (Yat, Yal, Yad, yas). So “natural” variation exists in many different areas.

    However, when it comes to the climate models natural variation is fairly basic because this is almost literally creationism versus evolution.

    In the creationist model, “god created” the creatures. As there is no mechanism to introduce natural variation, and children look like parents, over time through pure chance, the variance in a species would decrease from that which was naturally there in the “creation”. This is actually the standard climate model – variation is introduced at the start and it is assumed that this is enough. It would be liking having a language — where words went out of use, but no new words were introduced.

    In contrast, in the real world, natural variation continues to increase — alongside the evolutionary pressures restricting it. So natural variation is being constantly refreshed. This is like the real world where e.g. languages gain new words and continue to evolve.

    However, this fundamental flaw in the climate models has never been questioned because it is not very obvious over the short term that the models do not model natural variation. They appear to mimic natural variation due to the so called butterfly effect due to chaotic processes. But the analogy to this is the chaotic mixing of genetic material in sex. It is chaotic, it does mix things up … but overall, unless you create new variation then overall variation declines.

    I will now go and make the kids their dinner.

    For more on language see: Why men invented gender: http://scef.org.uk/index.php/scottish-sceptic/480-why-men-invented-gender

    And yes, the gender stereotypes are intended to be ridiculous.

  4. Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic) November 9, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Not sure I should have posted the link on Linguistic variation because this is more about the population of linguistic space rather than the variation of language. The variation and evolution of languages and populations are similar but the population of languages with words is more akin to the way a nesting colony of birds all tend to sit just out of reach of each other. Likewise words tend to be separated from each other … I will stop there as it will get far too complicated but if anyone is interested then I think the better article (but still not specifically about linguistic variation) was this: http://scef.org.uk/index.php/scottish-sceptic/519-matching-words-some-thoughts-on-linguistic-distance

  5. Beth Cooper November 9, 2013 at 3:26 am #

    Many points of view, fine. Lots of confirmation bias, yes, we can’t say with certainty
    we ‘know’ regardin’ science, remember the ‘Black Swan’ argument, we can only hold
    our theories provisionally. But doing science is supposed ter involve a methodology ,
    if applied , hatr tests your guess against the reality you purport ter be measuring,
    such as temperature measurement even if its a proxy like ice cores or tree rings.
    A clash of guess and data means refutation.

    And doing science ain’t nothin’ ter do with symbols, that’s fer the humanitees, looking
    at meanings in poetry or drama, or studying ritual acts in societies like Hebridean
    wedding rites or Balinese cock fights’n such. The Hockey stick is about measurements.

    Now the Hockey stick in its measurements has been shown ter be non rigorous, ref
    Climate Audit ‘Yamal A Divergence Problem,’ 27’09’09. You can look away but the
    detailed evidence is there, and doing science is about testing yr theory rigorously
    against the data and Mann et al didn’t.

    I have looked at the Hockey Stick from different points of view, initially acceptance
    and then with scepticism. The Yamal Divergence problem opened me eyes ter the
    problem of the blade. Crag Loehle’s multi proxy studies cross referenced with Tony
    Brown’s comprehensive study of the historical record including CET brought back
    the MW and LIA that had been eliminated in the long handle of the Hockey Stick.
    And there are many studies that indicate that these were global, including a recent
    study in the Indo-Pacifiic Warm pool. Cross referencing gives context.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Loehle-2000-year-non-treering-temp-reconstruction-Energy-and-Environment.pdf

    Mind you, yer can’t say with 100% certainty, not even 97%.You also cannot claim
    in science that one point of view is as good as another, if one is a better fit ter
    the reality it claims ter explain. All opinions are not equal. I think Bertrand Russell
    may have said that somewhere. Here endeth the rant fer today. Bts.

  6. jennifer November 9, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    Having read Beth and John Sayers, Luke and then Mike’s article ‘Women love ugly men’, I came away thinking once again of Mike Ghiselin and the extract from near the end of his book…

    Man’s brain, like the rest of him, may be looked upon as a bundle of adaptations. But what it is adapted to has never been self-evident. We are anything but a mechanism set up to perceive the truth for its own sake. Rather, we have evolved a nervous system that acts in the interest of our gonads, and one attuned to the demands of reproductive competition. If fools are more prolific than wise men, then to that degree folly will be favored by selection. And if ignorance aids in obtaining a mate, then men and women will tend to be ignorant. In order for so imperfect an instrument as a human brain to perceive the world as it really is, a great deal of self discipline must be imposed. Ghiselin 1974

  7. Neville November 9, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    Can you believe this further rubbish from Lewandowsky?

    http://climateaudit.org/2013/11/07/more-false-claims-from-lewandowsky/ I mean does this fool even read any of the trash that he quotes?
    What a bloody disgrace these wackos are and how much do unis around the globe continue to waste on just this kind of trash?

  8. Debbie November 9, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I think part of the problem is that organisations such as BoM have become overly fond of and focused on averaging and trying to forecast trends from the averaging which is not a particularly useful or realistic way to represent Australia’s (or any continents) highly variable climate/weather/water resources etc.
    Of course the methodology is increasingly statistically sophisticated and highly computerised and techie and sexy and fashionable. . .and has attracted massive funding to upgrade the computer systems.. . but. . .for what purposes?
    Unfortunately IMHO (and nearly an INTJ) it leads to final reporting that concludes such things as Australia was 30% wetter than average in 2012 which is almost meaningless in terms of its usefulness and application because it has homogenised (and consequently publicly dismissed/ ignored) areas that were in fact about average or in seasonal drought or seasonal flood or wiped out by black frosts or a short heat wave etc…..
    In reality, despite the sexy and fashionable high tech, an average is simply a calculation of past events over a timeframe divided by the number of years in that timeframe and means and medians are a variation of same.
    To be truly worthwhile and hence useful to a consumer of these products the information needs to be drilled down and regionally specific and presented in a ‘user friendly’ format that recognises the purpose or reasons why any user would want to use and access the information.
    I attended a 2 hour presentation by BoM on Thursday re their 2007 legislative brief to report on water resources.
    They were quite stunned that most of the audience while appreciating the enormous amount of data they collect was highly critical of the presentation’s focus on ‘process’ and ‘data’ and the failure to demonstrate how the information could be presented in a user friendly and regionally specific manner.
    There is no doubt they have this information and they could present it usefully. . .but it was clearly not what where their focus was and they became very uncomfortable when that became clear in the question time.
    From my perspective the over arching focus on Global Averaging suffers from the same problem to a large extent.
    The actual figure is not particularly high (0.74 in the above post) when juxtaposed with the actual variations. . .and when we look at specific regions temps can vary way more than that in a single day or a single season.
    So it begs the question. . .why such a focus?
    Maybe some of what Jen, Mike and John Sayers has said above provides some interesting answers?

  9. cohenite November 9, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    “which to summarise says that evolution must select for the less than perfect person otherwise we would all end up looking like one or two barbie dolls.”

    No, evolution selects for the average which is why ‘natural’ distribution curves are always Gaussian. There is some comfort in this for instance from looking at the results of the couplings of Hollywood movie stars whose offspring invariably look far uglier than their glamorous parents.

    I think what Mike is talking about is the inherent egocentricity of most people’s perspective of the world; as a lawyer I know the presentation of witness evidence always has to be filtered through that prism and removed or vitiated by as much objective evidence as possible.

    This has not happened yet with AGW which is the product of a subjective ideological perspective by those alarmists who support it, although the intrusion of objective evidence has now produced what David Stockwell describes as a “paradigm shift” in how AGW science is perceived according to the criteria of Kuhnian ‘normal science’.

    As Stockwell says here:

    http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2013/10/sea-change-climate-science/

    “The IPCC panel preparing the AR5 report may not have been devastated when they changed the likely range of climate sensitivity, which had stood at 4.5–2°C since 1990. The lower extimate has now been dropped from 2°C to 1.5°C. What has not been appreciated is that increasing the range of uncertainty is impossible in a period of Kuhnian ‘normal science’, where new information always decreases uncertainty.

    The ‘blow-out’ in the range of likely climate sensitivity can only mean one thing: We are no longer in a period of ‘normal’ science, but entering a period of ‘paradigm shift’.”

    This has been a long time coming and the time taken to reach this stage where incremental qualifications of the ‘certainty’ of AGW are being admitted by AGW scientists and supporters can be measured from the release of the first emails from CRU.

    The emails were crucial because they revealed a contradiction between the public and private scientific positions of the pro-AGW scientists. This is akin to a witness at law being caught admitting to a different position to the one he has presented to the court. The word for that is perjury.

    Luke has linked to RC and the latest modelling to prove the Hockeystick and the exceptional nature of today’s temperature. I’ll have a look at that after I take the dog for a walk.

  10. Luke November 9, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Quadrant – ROFL – this is an evidence based blog not a fiction book club.

    “Lets agree, for the purpose of argument, that the dominant AGW paradigm is of global temperature’s high sensitivity to CO2 doubling, resulting in an increase of around 3°C, which appears to be about the central estimate of the climate models.” errr NOPE !

    “Do failed models and their predictions of increasing extreme events, like hurricanes, droughts and floods, stress the climate models? Possibly not. From a physical perspective, these phenomena lie at the boundaries of the theory. Hurricanes, droughts and floods are ‘higher order’ statistics — extremes not climate averages. Surface temperature is only a part of the greater global climate system. Because anomalous behavior at the margins can be discarded without sacrificing the main theory, their power to confirm or reject the dominant paradigm is somewhat limited.” What drivel. Unmitigated non peer reviewed drivel. It’s just graffiti Cohenite.

    And now our bunkum advocate tries to spin a bullshit line about Climategate providing some unique insight into AR5 WG1 authors. You’re such a creep.

  11. Luke November 9, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    “No, evolution selects for the average ” more waffle !

  12. Debbie November 9, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Luke,
    You’re doing a champion job of missing the point at the moment.
    A bit guilty of quibbling over small numbers and being rather irrelevantly pedantic .
    You are appearing to summarily dismiss the topic of discussion in favour of focusing on a minor academic point.
    So what if 3deg (or 0.74 or 1.5 or whatever) is not the central estimate (aka average) of the climate models? IMHO. . .that quibbling is actually a symptom of the very issues that are being discussed here and perhaps part of the problem and not part of a sensible solution?

  13. cohenite November 9, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    ““No, evolution selects for the average ” more waffle !”

    Well, I can’t explain you any other way.

  14. jennifer November 9, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Cohenite (and Mike)

    I must admit that I am confused as to why you would suggest that evolution selects for the average. Can you provide a link or some explanation?

    There are various competing evolutionary theories, but I’m unsure of a single one that suggests evolution selects for the average. The more usual consensus is that evolution selects for the ‘fittest’ measured in terms of number of offspring.

  15. Johnathan Wilkes November 9, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    ‘that evolution selecting for the average’ had me puzzled too.

    In its simplest form the genes of the most prolific (fittest?) will survive and multiply but it’s conditional on a lot of other variables. Jen would know more about that than most of us here.

    One obvious variable is the social conditions we created for humans for example, the most prolific breeders are not the ‘fittest’ for survival by any means.

  16. bazza November 9, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and natural variation was all there was. He saw that all was not good so he created religion to explain a bit of the variation and what he was on about. But he muddied the waters when he forgot about the separation of powers so he allowed science to evolve to keep chipping away at natural variation. And all was good again.

    And as the rabbis said to god – his congregation did not seem to understand the bible story of creation. God responded that he did not get it either.

  17. cohenite November 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Jennifer I was thinking of the statistical effect known as regression to the mean, or as it is sometimes called reversion to mediocrity.

    In physics this effect is called Maximum Entropy Production [MEP] which is another reason why AGW is bunk.

    In evolutionary terms, or more precisely, in genetics, organisms breed towards the average for that species; exceptions or deviations from that norm are either too bad to survive or so effective they disturb the environment.

    I’ll have to dig up some papers on the topic. One of my mates is a psychologist who specialises in children and has mentioned the effect as it applies to intelligence a number of times.

  18. Luke November 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Evolution selects for what ever the advantage is – bad, mad, brilliant, big ears, little ears, average or indifferent. Send complaints to life on earth or God as required.

    3C isn’t a central estimate. All values are possible.

    To suggest a lower value is somehow fessing up and coming clean is fanciful smearing.

    Meanwhile back at the palaeo which indeed would put sensitivity near 3C presumable somebody was trying to make an intelligent point. Or perhaps a diversionary retro history trip back to the Hockey Stick and to whether Mann or Cookinelli are more relevant. For those needing comic relief Eli has some thoughts http://rabett.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/sufficient-for-thousand-losses.html

  19. Luke November 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    “One of my mates is a psychologist who specialises in children” why doesn’t Cohenite see a shrink that specialises in adults. Or maybe the quote is accurate and relevant.

    Who would know what selection pressures would be present in the lower Hunter – perhaps survival advantages for being a bogan and hanging around in shopping malls would be highly desirable.

  20. Debbie November 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Luke,
    “Evolution selects for what ever the advantage is – bad, mad, brilliant, big ears, little ears, average or indifferent. Send complaints to life on earth or God as required”
    That is yet another champion job of missing the point.
    ‘Human evolution’ is being discussed and, interestingly, it is being highlighted that other mitigating factors apart from God or Mother Nature or whoever/whatever are creating pressure and influence on the basic theory of evolution.
    It is pertinent to the title of this post:
    Same Information: Different Opinion. Natural Variation

  21. cohenite November 9, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Unlike luke I am still searching for the inner child.

    AGW is about Humanity’s place in nature. Sociobiology informs us that humans build societies and social infrastructure as part of their natural evolution. That begs the question of whether human society especially Western society is so far removed from natural process that natural evolution has been replaced by another, human made evolution. In a lot of respects AGW is a discussion about whether that would be a good thing.

  22. spangled drongo November 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    When the warmers embrace GCMs and sceptics are sceptical, you really can’t say the information is the same.

    Warmers will possibly go into more detail, make more assumptions, accept the models’ projections and conclude what they always wanted which is “we are stuffed”, glass half empty.

    Sceptics are happy to look at history and the thermometer and run on form which is “we survived in the past and we will again”, glass half full.

    Warmers are Hollywood, sceptics are Real.

    Of course the smart warmers are a wake-up but want to win an Oscar.

  23. bazza November 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    I had thought Cohenite was the resident stats expert but he has had to phone a shrink friend on regression to the mean. You cant have it all in an arts degree. Regression to the mean also pervades human performance for example lawyer success. A lot of it is natural variation, i.e. random, luck whatever, depending whether the judge judges pre or post lunch for example.( yes, it is true!). Pity the poor lawyer. He has a win which he proudly and arrogantly attributes mostly to his skill, and not lady luck. So next case, maybe no such luck. But if he has a loss, of course it is bad luck. So lawyers never learn.

  24. toby November 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Many people think in a linear way and climate science has a tendency to think this way, particularly when building models. However the world is very much non linear and there in lies a fundamental flaw.

    I have just started a book “thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman which delves into human rationality and the profound effect of cognitive biases on our decision making. Perhaps when i get to the end I will have a further insight into why obviously intelligent and informed people reach such different conclusions. Now of course many have reached their position based on ignorance but that is certainly not the case here.

  25. Debbie November 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Toby,
    I read the book approximately 12 months ago. It is an interesting read and does relate a bit to this post. I particularly recommend chapters 26 to 33 where he examines the concept of risk and reward and the management of risk in quite some detail.
    He also has some interesting comments and insights on hubris.
    I have found that different people who have read this particular book can take home quite different messages. . .and some, unfortunately, wave it around like a bible.

  26. Beth Cooper November 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    Wiley nay-chur say, ‘Do not put all eggs in one basket.’

  27. Johnathan Wilkes November 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    @Debbie

    I have found that different people who have read this particular book can take home quite different messages.

    Very true Debbie, it was recommended reading for us.

    We do a lot of work for gaming people (horse racing greyhounds mostly and gaming software) and had to pay attention to ‘Loss Aversion & Prospect Theory’ I don’t know who were their research subjects but I can tell you the ppl we deal with are not like that at all.

    Not rubbishing it, it has some interesting ideas but I found it somewhat removed from the real world. I suppose with works like this is it’s almost inevitable.
    An easy read however, that’s a plus.
    Especially disagree with the notion that “people are generally rational” they are not!

    Wasn’t much use to me anyway.

  28. handjive November 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    Ms. M asks,”How many degrees has the planet warmed since 1900?”

    You will enjoy this demonstration of computer software SAP HANA and SAP Lumira using data from NOAA’s Hourly Climate Data FTP archive.
    Why?
    “Well Tammy Powlas asked me about Global Warming, and so I used SAP Lumira to find out whether temperatures have been increasing in Virginia, where she lives, since 1901.”

    You will see in this video, just how fast SAP HANA is to ask complex questions.

    Here are the facts!

    – 500,000 uncompressed sensor files and 500GB
    – 335GB of CSV files, once processed
    – 2.5bn sensor readings since 1901
    – 82GB of Hana Data
    – 31,000 sensor locations in 288 countries

    Here are a few facts about the data model:

    – We aggregate all information on the fly.
    There are no caches, indexes, aggregates and there is no cheating.
    The video you see is all live data [edit: yes, all 2.5bn sensor readings are loaded!].
    – I haven’t done any data cleansing.
    You can see this early on because we have to do a bit of cleansing in Lumira.
    This is real-world, dirty data.
    .
    Has the world warmed?
    Has Virginia warmed since 1901?

    The answer will be obvious before the end of the 10 minute youtube video:

    http://scn.sap.com/community/hana-in-memory/blog/2013/11/06/big-data-geek–is-it-getting-warmer-in-virginia–noaa-hourly-climate-data–part-2

  29. Jennifer Marohasy November 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Cohenite, Bazza et al…

    OK. Having thought about Cohenite’s reference to selection for the average, he is perhaps refereeing to ‘stabilizing selection’, as opposed to ‘disruptive selection’. There is a wikipedia link here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stabilizing_selection

    According to the information at the link stabilizing selection is a form of natural selection in which genetic diversity decreases and is thought to be the most common mechanism of action for natural selection because most traits do not appear to change drastically over time.

    This view would accord with the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory as first espoused in detail by Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould in 1972.

    Punctuated equilibrium theory suggests that evolution in most sexually reproducing species occurs in sudden bursts interspersed with long periods of stasis. This accords with much of what one sees in the fossil record, and is contrary to the Darwinian view that evolution is a gradual process.

    I would suggest, however, that while “selection for the average” may be common, it is not normally a driver of significant evolutionary change. Rather, to repeat myself, it creates stasis.

    One can extend the analogy of Punctuated Equilibrium Theory to scientific progress. Indeed according to the Thomas Kuhn’s model scientific progress tends to occur in leaps, usually through ‘revolution’, rather than through incremental progress.

    So in the Kuhnian model of how science progresses, and in Gould’s model of how evolution progresses, most of the time there is a little/no obvious ‘progress’.

    Handjive

    Now I’ve dumped those thoughts I shall watch the youtube…

  30. cohenite November 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    “Regression to the mean also pervades human performance for example lawyer success. A lot of it is natural variation,”

    Law is continually evolving. The Common Law, or Judge made law is one of the great inventions of humanity. It is even capable of incorporating its own modifications such as Equity, another great invention which vitiates the harshness of the CL principles.

    Statutes or legislation reflect the society and its values which the Judges then interpret on the basis of CL and constitutional principles. That Judicial appraisal is also multi-layered with a hierarchy of appeal and modification. It is a dynamic process requiring continual adaptation. There is no natural variation; you are either at the top of the game or you are in legal aid or working for a bureaucracy.

    Don’t pontificate about things you know nothing about bazza. Stick to the simple stuff such as AGW.

  31. John Sayers November 10, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    There’s a saying “you are what you eat” I’ll go further “you are what you THINK”

    Luke thinks that AGW is a disaster waiting to happen and no input from us appears to change his mind.

    I think it’s not going to happen and it’s all bullshit.

    Any selective process Luke makes in choosing a mate is determined by his view, mine with my view.

  32. Debbie November 10, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Johnathan,

    ‘Not rubbishing it, it has some interesting ideas but I found it somewhat removed from the real world.’

    I responded in a similar manner.
    His research subjects were mostly from places like the armed forces, bureaucracy, big corporations and academe.
    Aversion to risk in such institutions can be remarkably different to those who live and work out in the rough and tumble world of small business, self employment and investment.

  33. toby November 10, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Thx for your thoughts on the book, i will maybe skip ahead to ch 26-33.

    JW, I would agree being rational is not that common…. ( a bit like common sense, its often very hard to find!) but from what i have read so far that is exactly the point he is making, we think we are rational but indeed we are not?

    As a result a whole heap of behavioral economics is developing to counter our apparent lack of rationality?

  34. bazza November 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Cohenite seems to be saying that chance and risk have no influence on the efficiency of justice system outcomes. He should read Kahneman – he has found an exception to all human experience. Maybe he was referring to continental law, but not for example the parole or legal aid systems which are lotteries. but I am pleased the system is evolving and has even discovered equity. It needed to. I did quote something from Kahneman here about a year ago to the effect that the less you now the easier it is to develop a coherent story.
    Re research subjects in Kahneman, I have seen his findings applied to Aussie farmers and they are no different in respect to some risk aspects to USA students.

  35. Debbie November 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Bazza,
    Please do supply the evidence of and/or elaborate on Kahneman’s findings applied to Australian Farmers. . .I am interested in your interpretation of said findings by Kahneman.. . and who did the research. . .and the origin or the purpose of the study.

  36. Debbie November 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Thought this may be found interesting and relevant to this post.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbotts-climate-change-achilles-heel-the-weather-20131108-2x6r8.html

  37. Johnathan Wilkes November 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    I might just put it back on my eReader and see if I would change my opinion by rereading some of it again.

  38. Luke November 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    “Luke thinks that AGW is a disaster waiting to happen and no input from us appears to change his mind.”

    More verballing ….

    And I must have missed the “input” – oh would that be the disinformation and drivel from Neville that you clowns think passes for science. Typically Cohenite’s mates love dodging peer review in “free range” journals and magazine “essays” And yes we know – it’s all a big conspiracy to keep sceptics from publishing. Wack wack wack.

  39. cohenite November 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    “Cohenite seems to be saying that chance and risk have no influence on the efficiency of justice system outcomes.”

    Cohenite is getting verballed by bazza is what is definitely happening. I subscribe completely to Voltaire’s dictum that “it is a rare litigant who recognises his own case”. Things may happen by chance in law but the filtering system and hierarchy of appeals minimises those. The case of the thug Loveridge is instructive.

    Loveridge was sentenced to 4 years after pleading to manslaughter during negotiation with the DPP.

    Enter public opinion and outrage and the possibility of an appeal against that sentence. The variation and the extremes get ironed out and corrected.

    How is the equivalent happening in AGW science; where is the appeals process? Has it all been left to the court of public opinion against even entrenched bias in the ABC and Fairfax media, academia, the bureaucracy and the gutless stupidity of politicians even such as Howard?

    In law the process is designed to minimise personal biases of the kind Kahneman describes. The process can be subverted however when political interference occurs and either decision making process is undermined or biased judiciary are appointed. In my opinion under Labour rule in Australia a generation of progressive judges were appointed. The Judgment in Loveridge is arguably a manifestation of that which began when Loveridge’s lawyers negoatiated a down-grading of the charge he was facing from murder to manslaughter. That was a classic case of Prospect Theory in action.

    Something similar has been attempted with AGW and its presentation to the public. But that presentation has undermined itself with a combination of increasingly apocalyptic new predictions and manifest failure of prior predictions. Unlike the law AGW theory has not been adaptive enough to regroup and redefine itself.

    Thank heavens one of the pillars of Western democracy, the law, is still surviving even as science self-destructs.

  40. bazza November 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    In comparison with the law, science is self-correcting and does not rely on n=1 case studies as in Loveridge.

  41. bazza November 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Thought I should jump to it Deb re your 1220pm concerns. It was in the Int J of Climatology 2013 ‘Farmers’ accuracy interpreting seasonal climate forecast probability’ Coventry and Dalgleish. It supports Kahnemans findings that humans , farmers included without a slur, are generally not very good intuitive statisticians. They have lots of cognitive biases, presumed adaptive, like recency, framing etc etc but it is one thing to show biases, another to show they are important. Anyway as Gigerenzer showed if you express forecasts as frequencies as BOM does, the problems are reduced. For example of a problem, some farmers interpreted a 30% probability of above average rain for a season ahead as meaning a pretty good chance of flooding rains.

  42. cohenite November 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    “science is self-correcting”

    Well, let’s hope so bazza and the whole edifice of sham science called AGW is turfed out along with the charlatans who advocated it.

  43. bazza November 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Is this the judicial equivalent of a lawyers lunch?
    The following suggests a big role for luck (and natural variation) in law. ‘Extraneous factors in judicial decisions’ ( Danzigera et al in NASA 2011 edited by Kahneman as luck would have it)
    ABSTRACT Are judicial rulings based solely on laws and facts? Legal formalism holds that judges apply legal reasons to the facts of a case in a rational, mechanical, and deliberative manner. In contrast, legal realists argue that the rational application of legal reasons does not sufficiently explain the decisions of judges and that psychological, political, and social factors influence judicial rulings. We test the common caricature of realism that justice is “what the judge ate for breakfast” in sequential parole decisions made by experienced judges. We record the judges’ two daily food breaks, which result in segmenting the deliberations of the day into three distinct “decision sessions.” We find that the percentage of favorable rulings drops gradually from ≈65% to nearly zero within each decision session and returns abruptly to ≈65% after a break. Our findings suggest that judicial rulings can be swayed by extraneous variables that should have no bearing on legal decisions

  44. Debbie November 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    I need a bit of self- correcting Bazza
    This comment here:

    ” I have seen his (Kahnemans) findings applied to Aussie farmers and they are no different in respect to some risk aspects to USA students.”

    bears very little resemblance to this one:

    It supports Kahnemans findings that humans , farmers included without a slur, are generally not very good intuitive statisticians. They have lots of cognitive biases, presumed adaptive, like recency, framing etc etc but it is one thing to show biases, another to show they are important.

    So is there a Kahneman finding on Aussie farmers and USA students re similarities to some risk aspects?

  45. Beth Cooper November 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    William Matthews video on statistical follies and epidemiology,
    make the evidence fit the theory tra la , model confirmation bias,
    tra la.

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/08/open-thread-weekend-40/#comment-411070

  46. Beth Cooper November 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    Comment can be viewed, 9/11/13 @ 2,22am JC Open thread.

  47. Luke November 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    “But that presentation has undermined itself with a combination of increasingly apocalyptic new predictions and manifest failure of prior predictions. ”

    “increasingly apocalyptic new predictions ” AR5 – well no actually – not at all

    And on it goes – More sophistry and misdirection.
    “manifest failure of prior predictions” are we at 2050 or 2100 yet – must have slept through my alarm

    Bazza do you know anything about statistical folly after managing the Darwin knock shop. And is it anything to do with folies bergere?

  48. cohenite November 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    “In contrast, legal realists argue that the rational application of legal reasons does not sufficiently explain the decisions of judges and that psychological, political, and social factors influence judicial rulings.”

    I’d hope so; otherwise the Appellate process would wither and die; of course appeals sometime proceed because “psychological, political, and social factors” did not impact on Judicial decision making.

    “We test the common caricature of realism that justice is “what the judge ate for breakfast” in sequential parole decisions made by experienced judges.”

    Judges don’t make parole decisions; they set minimum sentences but whether the recalcitrant is released on parole or not is decided by the Parole Boards; see Dawson, Toohey and Gaudron JJ said in Bugmy v The Queen (1990) 169 CLR 525; 92 ALR 552.

    Carry on bazza.

  49. bazza November 11, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    RE Debbie re your request for clarification on my two statements – tautology is a necessary (apparently) and sufficient response!

    RE Given Cohenite does not know about regression to the mean he must specialise in the other mode of decision making courtesy of New Scientist. “And there’s the more obscure non-regressive prediction, discovered and named by Francis Galton in the 19th century. When we are predicting non-regressively, we are predicting as if we knew everything – something Kahneman calls what-you-see-is-all-there-is (WYSIATI). This describes the phenomenon that we tend to make judgements that completely ignore the fact that we don’t have all the information we would need to make that judgement correctly.”

    And as for Luke revealing my Darwinian exposure, I suspect he is just trying on the “Prosecutors Fallacy”.

  50. Debbie November 11, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Well yes. . .I now do remember that Bazza was one of those who were waving Kahneman around like a bible some time back, in particular re the WYSIATI concept. . .which is early in the book. . .chapter 7 “A Machine For Jumping to Conclusions”.
    It appears to me that this may also be a case of different readers taking home quite different messages.
    As nowhere did I get this from reading that chapter:

    “:This describes the phenomenon that we tend to make judgements that completely ignore the fact that we don’t have all the information we would need to make that judgement correctly.”

    He does NOT conclude that people COMPLETELY IGNORE that they don’t have all the information. . .he instead concludes that there can be a TENDENCY to draw hasty conclusions born from experience and confidence in the subject matter and also from connotative/emotional descriptors. (and of course confirmation bias and hubris).
    He does not conclude this as a fatal flaw but rather a trait that we need to be aware of and keep in check and use when appropriate and vice versa.
    Later in the book he also examines how this natural ability can be very useful and a can be trained as a skill.

  51. Debbie November 11, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    OOPS!
    Forgot to mention.
    and…..

    “RE Debbie re your request for clarification on my two statements – tautology is a necessary (apparently) and sufficient response!”

    Is that your way of admitting there is NO Kahneman study that compares risk profiles of Aussie Farmers and USA students Bazza ?

    I would indeed be interested to see such a study if one existed.

  52. bazza November 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Debbie, is it too late to get your dough back on the speed reading course? On your longer one above, it can be summarised by what I said about these biases etc being adaptive. On your OOPS, it is oops to you.
    ” I have seen his (Kahnemans) findings applied to Aussie farmers and they are no different in respect to some risk aspects to USA students.”

    bears very little resemblance to this one:

    It supports Kahnemans findings that humans , farmers included without a slur, are generally not very good intuitive statisticians.
    You wrongly conclude there is a Kahneman study on Australian farmers. A lot of science is about repeatability, testing if someones findings have a claim to generality. I do know that Kahneman came to Australia, I had dinner with him about a decade ago. Findings in psychology are worth checking given cultural biases exist but as far as I know the findings on humans in general being poor intuitive statistician applies generally. I am responding to clarify the record, not to try and get you sorted- I long ago gave up on that.

  53. cohenite November 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Can the odds of bazza continuing to verbal me be based on the fact he has already verballed me continually?

    Conditional probability, a variety of the “Prosecutor’s Fallacy”, can be seen in law, for instance the Kathleen Folbigg case. Another is the Chamberlain case.

    There are mechanisms within law to mitigate this tendency such as the Similar Fact rule.

    The reverse happens with AGW; past data is doctored, tortured and adjusted to produce things like the Hockeystick and the conclusion is made that the different circumstances occurring in the present is caused by AGW.

    Actually it is not the reverse because the exceptional circumstances are not proved so the probability of future circumstances being exceptional based on the current circumstances NOT being exceptional are unchanged.

  54. Debbie November 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    🙂 🙂 🙂
    ROFL!
    Bazza concludes that I need sorting and that I wrongly conclude from his earlier Kahneman comment re Aussie farmers & USA students.
    What he in fact did was use his own confirmation bias re Aussie farmers and a small section of ‘Thinking Fast & Slow’ to draw a questionable conclusion, vaguely reminiscent of Kahmenan’s concept of WYSIATI.
    On being questioned he ‘regressed to the MEAN’ (as in nasty).
    I assure you Bazza, that your ‘confirmation bias’ re my life and profression is of little interest. . .but you are most welcome to your opinion. . . as I am to mine. In fact, due to my generally libertarian outlook. . .I would be naturally inclined to speak up for your right to form your own opinion. . . even though I may not agree with the actual opinion.

  55. bazza November 11, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    all nonsense, Deb. I quoted peer reviewed research which showed not surprisingly Aus farmers were not great intuitive statisticians in general . We are all in the same boat. Even Kahneman admitted he was just as prone to common biases as people generally. His results are pretty robust cross culturally.

  56. cohenite November 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Now I see where you are confused bazza; you are talking about the capacity of individuals to be biased, which no one could dispute, and I was talking about the mitigation of that bias in systems such as the legal system which can reduce bias, as opposed to the AGW science system which amplifies personal bias.

  57. Debbie November 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Bazza?

    I think I agree with Cohenite re your recent comments.

    You are now becoming rather confusing.
    You say here that:

    ” I quoted peer reviewed research which showed not surprisingly Aus farmers were not great intuitive statisticians in general”

    Yet the comment before you wrote:

    You wrongly conclude there is a Kahneman study on Australian farmers.

    But before that you commented:

    It was in the Int J of Climatology 2013 ‘Farmers’ accuracy interpreting seasonal climate forecast probability’ Coventry and Dalgleish. It supports Kahnemans findings that humans , farmers included without a slur, are generally not very good intuitive statisticians.

    Is that an Australian study about Australian Farmers Bazza? Does it compare Aussie farmers with USA students?
    A link would help.

    Because. . . before that you claimed this:

    I have seen his (Kahnemans) findings applied to Aussie farmers and they are no different in respect to some risk aspects to USA students.”

    What exactly are you trying to say?

    No offense Bazza, but along with your comments about the legal profession and your rather ordinary comments about Jennifer, you also appear to think you’re somehow entitled to sneer at Aussie farmers and that you believe Kahneman agrees with your assumptions?

    And seriously . . .what do USA students have to with any of it?

    As I said earlier. . .some people are rather inclined to wave around Kahneman’s popular book like some sort of bible . . .and take home amazingly different messages after reading it.

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