Category Archives: 97% consensus

97% consensus: redheads will go extinct with global warming

I’m still noodling Joe Loveland’s proposed speech code that’s ostensibly justified by a scientific consensus of 97% for human caused climate change.

Very much related, I happened across this on the impending extinction of redheads that global warming will cause.

I have my doubts this is true. But just in case, it turns out I was prescient in marrying a ginger/redhead. Got mine while the getting was good. Bought low, can sell high eh.

I might be overstepping my bounds as a non-scientist, but I do have various critiques of this theory. From the article:

Dr Alistair Moffat, boss of genetic testing company ScotlandsDNA, said: “We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and the north of England is adaptation to the climate. We do not get enough sun and have to get all the vitamin D we can.  “If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.”

Another scientist, who asked not to be named because of the theoretical nature of the work, said: “I think the gene is slowly dying out. Climate change could see a decline in the number of people with red hair in Scotland.”

This is a UK tabloid story essentially, so it’s got a frothy form and the quotes are kind of simplistic. They’ve shorthanded the occurrence of redheads in a population as a function of dim sunlight. That’s far from an adequate explanation. Post Darwin science instructs us that genetic mutations will more or less appear spontaneously within a population. Those traits persisting depends on whether they increase the opportunity to have offspring that will carry that gene and breed it into more children.

So being a redhead in a low sunlight environment might mean a greater ability to synthesize vitamin D, which in turn might lead to greater health, long life, and more opportunities to reproduce. Begat, begat, begat. We get more redheads, and certainly this might have been an identifiable trend in eras of poor nutrition and medicine.

What about now, when global warming and more sunlight negates the redhead’s advantage in synthesizing vitamin D? This advantage was probably already negated by modern nutrition and medicine. And the introduction of more sunlight would not constitute a reproductive disadvantage for the redhead. The redhead gene being established, it would probably remain until usurped by another gene. But that usurping gene might not have anything at all to do with an ability to synthesize sunlight for vitamin D. And the whole process of gene usurpation might take hundreds of generations.

So the extinct redhead theory is baloney, more or less. Let’s say more. Amirite? Amirite? I’m pretty sure I am.

In terms of the ongoing dialogue about who gets to say what, the questions that follow are:

Does a speech code get to filter my viewpoint out because it’s contrary to an assertion that is at least superficially ‘scientific’ in its acknowledgement of AGW?

Do I even get to make my argument as a non-scientist? There’s a pervasive trope out there that says non-scientists don’t get to engage in the AGW argument at all. Now this is a fallacy, but it’s still pervasive.

These questions are not as mirthful as my example. As I say, the redhead article is from a UK tabloid, so that’s kind of an easy call. But fact is…. And never mind that there is a 97% scientific consensus on climate change…. half the media stories we see on AGW are excessively speculative if not complete crap. Many or most of them are not actually expressions of science.

What’s glaringly obvious is that editorial staffs are encumbered by knowledge limitations, and they pick poor articles for publication. This is actually normal, and a reflection of the old Hayekian ‘knowledge problem.’ A person can only know so much.

What’s cloying then, is that with folly and error consistent in AGW articles, it does not stand to reason that editors should enforce a speech code that shuts out critics and contrarians.  They haven’t surpassed a threshold of reliability that’s earned them that.

97% consensus: What AGW talk Joe’s speech code will and will not restrict

To the extent this is a useful conversation and will continue today… for which there is certainly no guarantee…. I’d like to try and refocus. Pick up from yesterday re Joe’s article and my thread:

My argument is that ‘97%’, accurately understood and related, only represents the fairly streamlined premise that the scientific community is of strong consensus for human caused global warming.

Not how much it’s going to warm. Not how much damage it will do. Just that it’s warming, and that humans cause it. Because from the very diverse research paper set from which ‘97%” is calculated, that’s the common denominator: an assumption that it’s warming, and the understood implication that humans cause it. The Powerline link and the WSJ link make those explanations, and I’ve not seen that the tabulators of ‘97%’ would be in stark disagreement. You like Chait? I think there’s a Chait article that cedes that point but claims it makes an argument that a person like Chait would make about AGW. So for the layman to reflexively say ‘Koch brothers’ is to be recalcitrant or obtuse in response to a fairly benign detail. And to do so is definitely not ‘directly addressing the issue and backing up the arguments with research”.

Now, the WSJ article and the Powerline piece I think express some proper skepticism of the unanimity claimed. 97% is just too high in a world where no one agrees on anything. A conclusion of 97% has a feel of being contrived. I mean hell, why isn’t it 100%? Certainly you can find another 3% of noise in the dataset, and adjust for it. They go on to explain possible selection bias in the dataset of papers that were analyzed and maybe other improper assumptions, but as a whole really just argue the absurdity of the environmental left trying to come up with a persuasively high consensus number that is statistically credible by virtue of it not being unanimous.

WSJ / Heartland may be right, they may be wrong. I think they are on to something, and I think most reasoned people should too, as a competent grasp of statistics would lead one to question that unanimity figure. In any event, what they are not doing in this case is refuting the notion that there is global warming, and that humans cause it, and that the scientific community broadly agrees on this.

So you need not refute by saying by the scientific community broadly agrees that humans cause global warming. I read all your links on these, and they are fine, but irrelevant. They respond to a claim I’m not making.

This idea that newspapers and journals should enforce a speech code over global warming based on the 97% consensus figure is a pet notion of the academic / apparatchik / activist left. I call that the urbane left or urbane liberalism. You’re in that as a PR guy.

I think 97% is too high, but that’s not so important. It’s that you would take “97%” and extend it as a justification for stifling contrarian views on things for which there is far from 97% consensus. Like the extent and pace of global warming, and the cost effectiveness of proposed remediation schemes. Its a conflation of sorts, and as such a dishonesty.

So my pourpose is to disentangle the conflation and ask, are contrarian views on extent or cost benefit allowed under the speech code you prefer, or is that sort of blanket covered by ‘97%’?

97% consensus:  Joe Loveland, strawman killer

For what it’s worth, I’ll start by noting that from his writings I often observed Mr. Loveland’s liberalism to have great empathic qualities.  Which I think is just about the most important thing for a lefty, that being real concern for others as a motivation.  But aside from that, he’s an unremarkable political thinker.  He never steps outside his group think habitat to contemplate, acknowledge, or support observations at odds with urbane liberalism.  Call me crazy, but as a matter of universal truth I don’t think urbane liberalism is correct about everything.  Loveland does, as far as I can tell from Wry Wing Politics or Same Rowdy Crowd.

His typical thing is to frame liberal bromides in editorial earnestness, with maybe a few subtle references to the gaseous ‘ironic’ tropes lefties are fond of expelling.  That’s the ‘wry’ part.  This piece is par for the course.

I think you have to be profoundly obtuse or shallow to think there’s wisdom there.  It’s a list of doctrinaire assumptions about conservative climate change beliefs as they for the most part only exist in the liberal mind.  And it’s supposed to be so compelling that it justifies ignoring all rebuttals, including those that address substantive points for which there is very legitimate contention.

Calling ‘97%’ and saying you can’t argue back is weak everywhere but the liberal closed loop.  Beefs:

— Joe characterizes the ‘deniers’ as those who literally deny climate change.  Ya know, I guess those people exist… But I can’t think of any who have any standing, and I assert that ‘denial’ isn’t what the skeptic movement does.   Rather, the skeptic movement challenges the assumption of apocryphal AGW, apocryphal AGW being the justification for huge tax and cap schemes that liberals favor to combat global warming.

Thing is, there is far from 97% consensus on the enormity of AGW as a problem.  But Joe conflates a debate on enormity for some lack of acknowledgment.  This is a duplicitous strawman.

–The skeptics are also skeptical whether any of the remediation schemes would work.  Which is also something for which there is far from 97% consensus.  But Joe wants a censorship regime to prevent discussion of that as well.  Because 97% consensus.

—Conflating a proper skepticism of apocryphal AGW with flat earthers and other quacks is inaccurate at best, and douchebaggery at worst.

—“97%” itself as a piece of wisdom is some science and mostly art.  97% consensus on AGW is a very minimal proposition, it isn’t inherently persuasive, certainly not if by reading you can change yourself from ‘low-info’ to reasonably informed.  And it’s probably not 97% if you actually enforce a reasoned statistical discipline on the data set of papers.

I just don’t think saying “but, but 97%!” without bothering to engage the real arguments is going to work, whether or not you succeed at keeping the denialists out of Minnpost .  But Joe has defeated the strawmen once again.

Chait Stains: Chait vs Hayward, Powerline

Having seen the original Hayward 97% piece at the time, I thought it pretty formidable.  I’m not surprised Chait and some would be spurred to rebut it.

Note, Chait is (thankfully…) NOT using the Hayward article as demonstration of denier ‘ignorance’.  See Chait’s last paragraph:

“It’s a topic of serious debate in American politics because one of the two major parties is controlled by a movement that resorts to bizarre, paranoid explanations for facts that complicate its ideological priors.

So he’s describing this conflict as not a battle between smart and dumb, but something else.  And while I don’t agree there, Chait is certainly fairer and seriouser for couching it this way.

That’s merely a recurring theme I like to broach here though, and not an important point today.

The argument at hand is whether ‘97%’ is a scientifically meaningful number (The Chait / liberal perspective) or rather a impressive sounding but simplistic and dishonest talking point used to groom the acquiescence of a low info constituency (the Hayward / denier position).

Hayward argues that as a matter of math / method, you can never get to 97% affirming consensus based on what actually is counted.  The data set is a collection of 11000 or so papers and abstracts classified topically as related to ‘climate change’  MOST (2/3) of those do not do not take a position on Human AGW.  The rest do, say 3500.  97% percent of those express affirmation of human AGW.

Now the case can probably be made that 97% of 3500 is impressive enough in itself (Hayward argues it would not be impressive given institutional bias…).  But that’s not what is asserted.  Cook and the scientists insist that the dataset is all 11000 papers classified topically as relating to climate change.  When you perform the math this way (which seems to be the obvious way) ‘consensus’ on AGW is about 33%.

How do you get to 97% of 11000 when what you’ve actually counted shows 33% of 11000?  Cook and the scientists take 7000 papers that don’t take a position on AGW and claim that they affirm.

Hayward doesn’t say that 33% is the right number, but he does call bull on the idea that you can count 7000 papers that take no position as affirming.  Ergo, the ‘97%’ derived from this is fraudulent and dishonest.  Chait claims the opposite, and supports Cooks method:

“The papers that did not take a position on AGW were measuring some aspect of climate change without weighing in on its causes. A scientist can measure the melting of a particular glacier without discussing the increase in greenhouse gasses that has contributed to that melting. Likewise, one can write up a finding on Neanderthal bones without endorsing the Theory of Evolution, or calculate a rocket’s speed without explicitly endorsing the Theory of Gravity.  […….]  The papers that take no position on AGW are failing to take a position because it’s not a topic of serious debate among the climate science field. “

I’ll go on to afford Chait’s observation it’s due as a quality semantic argument.  But actually, I don’t think he’s right.  There’s no good methodological reason to assume say that a paper reporting the measurement of glacial melt affirms greenhouse gas / AGW as the causation unless the paper author instructs that this is a proper assumption.

Regardless, in this vein Chait and Cook assert that the 7000 of this type dealing with climate but omitting explicit affirmation of AGW can be tallied within the 97% consensus by virtue of their topicality alone.  IE, they have a climate change reference classification (which is probably somewhat broadly applied to papers), thus they must support the consensus position.

This has the appearance of another extraordinary logical leap, but understanding the trend in scientific thought as we do it very well might be more true than its not (but I think 97% is way too high a number…).  In any event it’s also not much more than an assertion, and it’s not ‘method’.  It’s intuition, it’s Kentucky Windage, this from the crowd that insists it has the weight of scientific measurement arguing in their favor in all cases.

That’s the point that Hayward makes.  Not that there’s no AGW, not that the trends in scientific thought aren’t what they are, but that ‘97%’ is a completely tarted up figure that’s taken on a life of its own in narrative and trope, and is dishonestly misused by liberals and the environmental movement.   I don’t see how anyone argues otherwise without reverting to a semantic observation that is in fact inferior to a proper statistical evaluation of the papers.

As we were saying: the derision of climate skeptics

Couple things:

Cupp is addressing what I alluded to, that being the speech code shaming and derision of people who merely would like to articulate the cost / benefit argument or the details of what actually is supported by consensus, and then have those observations be afforded the seriousness they deserve.  Maybe we’re right on the derision / speech code, maybe were wrong, but this is not a figment of our imagination.

Re the causality for extreme weather events, Nye is factually wrong as far I know.  Cuz I read, K?  The various studies are at odds, with what I would say is a bias towards climate change NOT increasing extreme weather.  In any event, there’s not consensus on this point, but he continues to assert it’s indisputable.  Bulllshit.  This is in effect a guy pulling rank in an argument by virtue of his status as a ‘smart guy’.  I don’t care how well regarded he is otherwise, this is an obnoxious douchebag move.

97% consensus

I’d like to write about ‘climate change’ more, but it’s one of those things where I’m not sure my outrage or skepticism is articulated better than anyone else who writes well on the subject.  Tough territory!

Do note this, an article about an administration climate change report and a quote therein.

“In the long term, the combined stresses associated with climate change are expected to decrease agricultural productivity,” the report says.

Part of the effort by the warmists is to shame, cast doubt, or delegitimize anyone who’s not a credentialed scientist from expressing their skepticism of ‘climate change’.

This is extraordinarily fallacious in general.  But for any given premise in particular, like decreased agricultural productivity, I’d add…. You don’t need to be a credentialed scientist to have proper skepticism for some of these assertions.  Being a historian of some astuteness is enough.

And I have enough astuteness…

I’d feel comfortable betting every dollar I ever earn that agricultural productivity doesn’t decrease. Not because of ‘climate change’, not ever.   Not in the 21st century.   Not in the 22nd century.  Not in the 23rd century.

I’m not a scientist, but I’d venture the chances of agricultural productivity decreasing are so mathematically remote that they are rightfully viewed as practically impossible.  That’s history talking.