Archive for February, 2011

The Talkshop is now an ad-free zone

Posted: February 28, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in Uncategorized

I looked in on another pc to check the site yesterday and was distracted by the ads displayed. You don’t see them when you are logged in as the blog owner. I think they detract from the user experience. So I had a look at the options WordPress offer to get rid of them.

It was Hobson’s choice, so I splashed the $30 to remove the ads for a year. I want to make this a democratic choice for the talkshop readership, so if you approve, you can make sure the site continues to be ad-free by using the donate button I’ve placed on the left at the top of the sidebar.

If enough donations come in to pay again next year, we can keep the site looking clean. Thanks for your consideration.

[Update] Thanks to the wonderful generosity of contributors to this blog, we will be able to keep it ad free not only next year, but several. Plus I will invest in some further site enhancements as they become available and in some reference material I’ve been wanting to get. Thanks to all who donated for their generosity!

Grant Foster: Mathturbation

Posted: February 27, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in climate, flames, solar system dynamics

The censorship prone ‘Tamino’ (Grant Foster) on his blog, which I call ‘closed mind’ has a new post up which takes to task what he perceives to be ‘anti physics’ elements who think quasi-cyclic events such as the main oceanic cycles might have an effect large enough to bring into question the amount of anthropogenic greenhouse warming touted by his preferred version of the hypothesis.

Looking at the way Grant goes about torturing the data until it confesses to crimes it didn’t commit, the title of the post is a great one for a …statistician such as himself.

Yours truly gets a mention in comments from a guy named John Mashey, who says:

Some (not mashey to be sure) might think you’ve been picking up Rabett-isms :-)

I object to the leprechaun theory, which is clearly insufficient.
That is:

Les Chevaliers de l’Ordre de le Soleil gris

Posted: February 26, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in climate, Solar physics

Some years ago, the Team’s Raymond Pierrehumbert (raypierre) took a nasty swipe at a couple of French scientists, Courtillot and Allègre, who had written an interesting paper on solar variation, geomagnetism and global temperature. The norealcluemate article was entitled ‘Les Chevaliers de l’Ordre de la Terre Plate’, (The Knights Of the Order of the Flat Earth)

It would be fair to say that despite the sarcastic title ‘raypierre’s’ wit is ropier than rapier-like. His criticisms included an accusation of the incorrect attribution of the temperature data set used to Phil Jones, who denied all knowledge of it, despite being the originator, and the truncation of Courtillot and Allègre’s datasets at 1992, “to conceal the strength of the trend from the reader, and shorten the period in which the most glaring mismatch between solar activity and temperature occurs.”

Of course, we need hardly say this is a severe case of la casserole calling le chaudier noir, and indeed Steve McIntyre created a humorous post in relation to this soon after:

Now fast forward a few years and we see another solar paper by French scientists featured on the Team’s website, or as I jocularly refer to it ‘norealcluemate’.


Peter Taylor: Hidden History – Deep Mystery

Posted: February 26, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics

I am late to this debate – which is my favourite territory, but for which I get little time ‘cos I am out there doing policy (and some science). Its all very familiar – I spent some time at Oxford in the ’70s doing some research on the linguistic anthropology of perception..initially how tribal peoples perceived environment, causality and healing (very shamanic), but then with an interest (frowned upon by my superiors) in the way anthropologists as scientists peceived themselves and eventually broadening that to how scientists in general perceived themselves. Their language gives them away.


Freeman Dyson: On scepticism and the climate debate

Posted: February 25, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in climate, Philosophy, Politics

Kate over at WUWT has spotted this gem:

An interesting exchange of emails appeared in the Independent today between their science editor Steve Conner (who has no scientific qualifications whatsoever) and Professor Freeman Dyson -

25 February 2011

Letters to a heretic: An email conversation with climate change sceptic Professor Freeman Dyson

World-renowned physicist Professor Freeman Dyson has been described as a ‘force-of-nature intellect’. He’s also one of the world’s foremost climate change sceptics. In this email exchange, our science editor, Steve Connor, asks the Princeton scholar why he’s one of the few true intellectuals to be so dismissive of the global-warming consensus

From: Steve Connor
To: Freeman Dyson

You are one of the most famous living scientists, credited as a visionary who has reshaped scientific thinking. Some have called you the “heir to Einstein”, yet you are also a “climate sceptic” who questions the consensus on global warming and its link with carbon dioxide emissions. Could we start by finding where we agree? I take it you accept for instance that carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas that warms the planet (1); that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen since direct measurements began several decades ago (2); and that CO2 is almost certainly higher now than for at least the past 800,000 years (3), if you take longer records into account, such as ice-core data.

Would you also accept that CO2 levels have been increasing as a result of burning fossil fuels and that global temperatures have been rising for the past 50 years at least, and possibly for longer (4)? Computer models have shown that the increase in global temperatures can only be explained by the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations (5). Climate scientists say there is no other reasonable explanation for the warming they insist is happening (6), which is why we need to consider doing something about it (7). What part of this do you accept and what do you reject?

From: Freeman Dyson
To: Steve Connor

First of all, please cut out the mention of Einstein. To compare me to Einstein is silly and annoying.


Tallbloke: Ravetz, PNS and the Climate debate

Posted: February 25, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in climate, Philosophy, Politics
tallbloke says:

David says:
February 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm
“If it may be urgent, then more resources must be put into normal science,”

More resources *were* put into normal science. But because at the time the ‘best science’ (heh!) said it was a problem with the atmosphere the money went to atmospheric science, partly because of the previous ozone hole issue the sudden expansion caused the recruitment of a lot of scientists very excited at the prospect of discovering something ‘very important for the whole of life on Earth’. Their output reflected that. This skewed the view of the summary makers, and is part of the reason the the climate question ‘went postnormal’. The politicians putting in the extra funding wanted answers ASAP and so they got them, predominantly from one branch of science, energised by a ‘big issue’. This of course produced an imbalanced answer.


The Tipping Point

Posted: February 24, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics

This is a partial repost from Climate Etc including the intro and two responses. See the original for the full monty.


"A spurious piece of nonsense built on bad data selection methods, selective data deletion and rubbish stats" -Tallbloke-

Hiding the Decline

by Judith Curry

To date, I’ve kept Climate Etc.  a “tree ring free zone,” since the issues surrounding the hockey stick are a black hole for conflict and pretty much a tar baby, IMO.  Further, paleoproxies are outside the arena of my personal research expertise, and I find my eyes glaze over when I start reading about bristlecones, etc.  However, two things this week have changed my mind, and I have decided to take on one aspect of this issue: the infamous “hide the decline.


Lisbon Reflections: A Tale of Tribes

Posted: February 22, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics
Romanes Ite Domum

Courtesy of


I still haven’t fully formed my thoughts about Lisbon in the wider context yet, but thought I ought to express something about my current take on things. On Judy Curry’s blog earlier this evening I came across a comment on a Lisbon thread by Werner Krauss. Werner attended with Hans von Storch, who several times characterised the various groups of skeptics as the tribes. At one point this irked me a bit, so I told him that if the mainstream wanted to characterise the sceptics as ‘the tribes’, we would characterise the mainstream as ‘The Roman Imperium’. He didn’t see the funny side of this, so I thought a cartoon by Josh might help. :)

Anyway, here is Werner’s comment and my reply:

In desperation I asked Fermi whether he was not impressed by the agreement between our calculated numbers and his measured numbers. He replied, “How many arbitrary parameters did you use for your calculations?” I thought for a moment about our cut-off procedures and said, “Four.” He said, “I remember my friend Johnny von Neumann used to say, with four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk”.

So said Freeman Dyson, one of the brighter stars in the physics firmament. When we try to understand the star which supplies all the energy Earth needs to maintain life on its surface, we have a problem. The problem is it keeps surprising us with its unpredictable changes in activity levels. It’s doing this at the moment in solar cycle 24. The top solar physics institutions made various predictions about the timing of the start of the cycle, and how high the ampliitude would be. They’ve been proved very wrong. A couple of individual solar physicists did predict a low solar cycle (low for the modern era anyway), including Leif Svalgaard, who predicted a max monthly sunspot number of around 70 for this cycle back in 2004. Leif based his prediction on phenomenological observation of the solar polar field strength, which has been diminishing for a long time now. Even this is looking a bit high at the moment though. I predicted 35-50 SSN in 2008 based on a planetary method.

In this post, we take a cycles analysis approach to looking at solar activity since 1600. Regular contributor Tim Channon has done work in the past in acoustics, and as part of his toolbox, he developed some software which uses clever techniques to break down complex sound envelopes into underlying frequencies and amplitudes. For fun and interest, we fed it with the Lean 2000 TSI reconstruction data to see what would happen. The result is shown in the graph below the break.

Miles Mathis: Democracy in Science

Posted: February 20, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in Philosophy, Politics



by Miles Mathis


In my 158 science papers to date, I have talked a lot about the physical and mathematical problems of the 20th century, but I haven’t yet addressed a political problem that underlies them all. That problem is the intrusion of democracy into science. I will have nothing to say about democracy as a theory of government: I will stick to the point and talk only about democracy as it affects science. Many will take this as an opportunity to attack me as an aristocrat or to tar me with with some other unsavory term of modern abuse, but they might as well not bother. They would be better off reading the paper before them than attacking me for a paper I did not write.

First of all, I will state something that should be obvious: science is not government. Yes, we have administration in science, which could be called a sort of government, but science itself is not the administration of science. Science is one thing and administration of science is another thing. That being true, we should also see that science, as science, is not “democratic.” Or, to be more rigorous, it is not egalitarian. No, it is hierarchical. The entire history of science is proof of that. The history of science is a history of great individual thinkers, of Archimedes and Leonardo and Galileo and Kepler and Newton and Einstein. It is not a history of committees and peer groups. Galileo did not succeed by a vote. Newton did nothing with the authority of a majority. Just the reverse. All these great people did what they did against the majorities of their times. You only have to study their lives to see that, in science and other hierarchies, the majority is always wrong. In both society and in science, the majority is always staunchly arrayed against anything new. They always were and they still are.