Can We Have Some Standards?

I broke my finger recently bad enough I needed ten stitches, I should recover fine, but it makes typing more difficult. As a result, today's post is going to rely heavily upon things I've already said on Twitter.

The topic today is a recent story going around because of a paper which claims recycling ia a key source of plastic litter that's being found in oceans. The eye-grabbing quote used by the paper is:

While the quote is real, the subsequent interpretation This is a total fabrication. The quote in no way says that. In fact, the source it is taken from makes it explicitly clear this claimed meaning isn't correct. Despite this, the paper is getting a lot of publicity from the global warming "skeptic" crowd.

The GWPF, whose letterhead the paper is published on, issued a press release promoting the paper. Andrew Montford, a popular Skeptic blogger and member of the GWPF has been tweeting to promote it and even published an article to do the same. Watts Up With That, the largest Skeptic website, ran an article promoting it. So forth and so on. Lots of people like what this paper claimed so they somehow failed to notice its central claim is simply made up. That, or maybe they just failed to care.
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Does Anyone Else Think This is a Problem?

A bad storm hit Thursday, and I'm still dealing with the aftermath (fortunately, there was no real damage just a huge mess to clean up) so today's post is going to be a but light. I wouldn't even make one today except this issues blows my mind. Yesterday I saw Richard Betts tweet about a new paper of his, with this tweet in particular catching my eye:

This tweet surprised me because the IPCC didn't publish a single PDF for TCR, a matter Betts even discussed a couple weeks ago. What the IPCC did was publish PDFs from a dozen or so studies, not picking one or attempting to combine them into a single PDF. This means there was no single PDF Betts could have chosen to use in his paper as "from IPCC AR5." There were a dozen or so he could have picked from, but...
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Forget Joking

My last post has received a fair amount of pushback on Twitter despite nobody seeming to be able to find any error with it (save for some typos which I am glad to have fixed). There have been claims that I was wrong to accuse anyone of dishonesty, but in terms of objective matters, The only issue I can find where anyone has said I am wrong arises where I said:

Now, any curious reader would naturally wonder, "Why is Zeke talking about what Hansen's model could have projected from 1958 to 2018 when the model was made/used in 1988?" Zeke doesn't offer an answer. In fact, he doesn't even bother to refer to the issue, not even obliquely.

Zeke tells people we shouldn't judge Hansen's model by what he guessed would happen in the future because Hansen had to try to predict things about human behavior which he couldn't possibly hope to predict, but then, Zeke silently changes the the topic. Instead of looking at what Hansen's model might say about the future (as of 1988), Zeke says we ought to look at what Hansen's model says would happen from 1958 to 2018. That's a huge change in topic, one Zeke not only fails to discuss but completely glosses over.

Is it possible Zeke doesn't understand the difference between judging a person's projections about the future on what happens in the future and judging those projections on what happened in the past? No. That'd be stupid. Zeke clearly knows better than that. He knows fully well that including 30 years of what a model says about what has already happened along with 30 years of what will happen is misleading. He does it anyway.

I can find no defense for claiming it is okay to judge the skill of a model designed to project changes for the future by using 60 years of data, 30 of which were available at the time the model was made. A model was made to try to glean insight about the future, looking at decades of data from the past, and some people 30 years later are saying it is okay to judge that model by comparing its results to data where half of that data was used in creating the model.

That claim is... well, bizarre. I was going to offer a humorous demonstration of why by creating a fake model which would generate results which claim the planet would start cooling after 1988. That obviously didn't happen, yet my fake model would pass the very same tests I criticized with flying colors. My thought was that'd be a funny way of showing how nonsensical these "tests" are.

But then I decided I didn't want to. This issue isn't one I want to joke about. The joke version of this post would have been way more fun, but it also would have been less insightful.
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Thirty Years of Nonsense

I have always found the global warming debate weird. I am not a "denier" or "skeptic" in terms of viewpoint. I'm not even a "warmist" or "alarmist." I've been called all these things, but the truth is I just don't care. My view regarding global warming has always been very simple - the people who claim it is a serious threat act in such a bizarre way, I don't believe them.

Think about the Hollywood movies where an alien invasion is coming to earth Think about the movies where an asteroid is heading to Earth to doom us all. Think about the movies where the Earth's magnetic core is going to... I can't even pretend to follow the plot of those ones. The point is, think about how the scientists in those movies behave. Sure, they do "crazy" things, but they have this air of sincerity and absolute honesty which makes it clear the audience really should listen to them. They risk everything, with no possible benefit to themselves, to try to help humanity.

Now look at the global warming debate. It's filled with people who routinely refuse to do something even so simple as say, "Yeah, sorry, I was a bit unclear there." Getting even the simplest of errors corrected in the global warming debate is like pulling teeth. Time and time again, I've experienced a reaction where pointing out even the simplest of errors is met with the attitude of, "How dare you?!"

It's crazy. If you believed global warming is a serious threat we must all band together to combat, would you act like a political pundit aiming to score points, or would you act like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day and risk every aspect of yourself to try to make people believe there was a genuine threat?

Your answer to that says everything. And now, with the 30th anniversary of the (in)famous testimony by James Hansen to the United States Congress in 1988, we get a perfect encapsulation of what that answer is. I'd like to discuss it.
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Waste of Time

I've been having a hard time finding things to talk about recently. The global warming discussion has gotten incredibly stale for me so I wanted to branch out and look at other things. However, when your focus is on how the world is insane, it's difficult to discuss anything except things involving Donald Trump. There's nothing new or interesting for me to say about him so...

quite frankly, it feels like a waste of time to talk to people. I was given a great example of this recently. I saw this retweeted by a person I follow on Twitter:

Both the person who tweeted it and the person who retweeted it are climate scientists. As such, I was baffled by seeing this. The small exchange which followed shows the futility of trying to have a discussion.
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A Moral Dilemma

I've been struggling with a decision for the last week or so. About a week ago, I happened to stumble into an online... let's say area, where people are, amongst other things, openly discussing illegal activity they engage in. I don't mean they're having vague discussions. I mean there are specific, verifiable details. I can even identify a number of the people involved in them by name.

The problem I'm faced with is I don't view the illegal activity in question as "wrong." I'm not saying it is good or should be legal. I just don't care if people engage in it. For the sake of discussion, let's imagine the activity was selling marijauna (it is not). Given the locations and quantities involved, people could be facing significant jail time if I reported them to authorities.

So here's the dilemma. Do I have an obligation to report criminal activity to authorities even if I don't have a problem with the activity itself? Legally, I know I might. On the other hand, people routinely fail to report criminal activities for any number of reasons. And everybody breaks some laws. I don't know how one draws a clear line between speeding/selling a narcotic which makes one okay and the other heinous.

Supposing I don't report what I've discovered to the authorities, what about the area I've stumbled into. It was obviously meant to be secure. Can I walk away without reporting the security vulnerability I discovered which allows anyone to enter, even by mistake? If I do, am I not (partially) responsible for any future cases of someone stumbling in like I did? But if I report the problem, aren't I actively assisting criminals and helping them get away with breaking the law?

As a final question, the problem with the security for this area which I accidentally exploited gives me administrative control over everything which goes on in it. I've also confirmed there are no external backups. If I don't report what I've discovered to the authorities or the people engaged in criminal activity, what should I do with that control? Do I ignore it and never go back? Do I monitor the discussions out of some sort of voyeuristic delight and/or attempt to ensure no criminal activities of a more serious nature get discussed? Do I shut down the server and destroy all the evidence? What is the "right" thing to do here?

Why is This What You'd Argue About?

As most of you will know, I have been critical of Steve McIntyre recently in regard to a number of issues, including simple things like him (basically) claiming a person using Microsoft Outlook couldn't possibly be using a Google e-mail account. In my criticisms of him and his writings, I have repeatedly discussed factual, verifiable matters. Steve has chosen not to address... well, basically any of them.

Today I'd like to discuss a bizarre case where Steve decided to take a stand and firmly say I am wrong. For the life of me, I can't figure out why this would be an issue he'd want to take a strong stance on.
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Just a Thought on Randomness

Humans are terrible when it comes to randomness. They're bad at recognizing it; they are terrible at producing it. I think most people realize this so I'm not going to go on about it at any length. Instead, I want to provide an example which I find amusing.

Years back, a video game named Fire Emblem came out for the Game Boy Advance handheld console. It was a tactical role-playing game in which units fight one another. Whenever units attacked one another, they had a chance to hit and a chance to get a "critical hit." As is common in anything with randomness, people often complained about how they were unlucky in it. Quite often, people would say they thought the game's random number generator (RNG) was biased.

They were right. Kind of. You see, the game developers knew people feel this way when playing games. They knew no matter how perfectly random results might be, people would think they saw patterns in it. To try to reduce the unpleasantness this creates, the developers decided to rig the chance to hit rolls. Instead of rolling one random number from 1-100 for the percent chance to hit, they made it so the game rolled two numbers from 1-100 and averaged them.

Yeah, that's right. If you have a displayed 99% chance to hit, the only way you'd miss is if you rolled the 1% chance twice, If the opponent had a displayed 10% chance to hit, their actual chance to hit would be much lower. Yet people playing the game routinely complained about the RNG being biased against them.

I thought that was amusing enough to share.

A Question

I hit a snag in a post I've been wanting to upload for the last week. It turns out a small mystery I discovered in the leaked DNC e-mails is not quite as small as I had thought. I've downloaded the full collection of DNC e-mails and started running down some ideas/leads, but I don't know if I want to pursue it.

The problem I'm facing is it has been twenty years since the infamous hockey stick paper was published. I've seen a number of articles and blog posts about this (e.g. here). This has me feeling a bit nostalgic. You see, despite 20 years of coverage of the hockey stick debate, the original hockey stick still holds a number of mysteries. The chart was the biggest icon in the global warming debate, yet to this day, we still don't know how a number of things for it were done.

Think about that. The figure is arguably the most iconic image in one of the biggest debates of the last two decades, yet nobody can answer simple questions like, "How did the authors decide which data to use?" That's crazy. Ask anyone, "How did the authors decide which principal components to use?" I guarantee you, they won't know the answer. Nobody does. Some people think they know the answer, but every answer which has been offered so far can easily be proven wrong. Yet people still offer them. People say things which are demonstrably false because they simply won't examine the question. Everyone who does examine it winds up coming away bewildered.

I find that amazing. I would expect iconic work to be closely examined so people could understand it and all of its nuances. Nothing could be further from the truth. Global warming advocates have adamantly refused to give the underlying work for the paper anything more than a cursory glance. Global warming Skeptics have latched onto a number of talking points to "refute" it, but few of them have any real understanding of what the paper did.

That leads me to a question. Does the validity or lack thereof of the original hockey stick matter? If a person could demonstrate, indisputably, it was fraudulent, would it matter? Is there any discussion of the original hockey stick which could possibly change anyone's mind or behavior about anything?

If not, I don't see any point in me talking about it. I'd be better off spending my time on things like the DNC e-mails.