Media extrapolating a trend from a single data point: 2018 Heatwave Edition

Posted: September 5, 2018 by oldbrew in Analysis, climate, media, opinion, Temperature

Image credit: BBC

Warren Meyer writes: ‘The implicit plea in this post goes beyond climate — if you are claiming a trend, show me the trend data. I can be convinced […] but so often the actual data never matches the arm-waving in these media sources.’

This article in something called Inside Climate News seems to be typical of many I have seen this year.

Because we have had much attention in the media on heat waves this year, there must be an upward trend in heat waves and that is a warning signal that man-made global warming is destroying the planet.

Typical of these articles are a couple of features

1 – Declaration of a trend without any actual trend data, but just a single data point of events this year

2 – Unstated implication that there must be a trend because the author can’t remember another year when heat wave stories were so prevalent in the media

3 – Unproven link to man-made global warming, because I guess both involve warmth.

I have no idea if well-publicized heat waves this year are a harbinger of an accelerating global warming trend. But since we are discussing “trends” it struck me as useful to actually liven up the discussion with some actual trend data, ie data for more than one summer.

There is a real danger to extrapolating trends from volume of media coverage, as I discussed here. If you don’t want to click through, I have a funny story in the postscript.

Continued here.

  1. ivan says:

    This demonstrates the Peter principle in the MSM. Since non of the so called journalists appear to have any scientific nous they think their shouting in the echo chamber means something – it doesn’t.

    There is also the Streisand effect coming into play – the more they mention it the more people hear about it and because more people are talking about it the more the MSM mention it, the echo chamber really echoes.

    To try and draw any meaningful conclusions from anything in the MSM is the equivalent of trying to see the future in chicken entrails and has the same results.

  2. Phoenix44 says:

    You have a few active people in the media, who work extremely hard to tell the story they want to tell, an a much larger group of people who are not terribly interested in whether this stuff is true or not, and have no desire to put their head above the parapet.

    That of course is why extremists and activists are able to take over not just media but all sorts of organisations.

  3. oldbrew says:

    The more you have to advertise a product, the greater the suspicion it can’t be much good. All the more so when its rivals and critics are largely excluded from the media.
    – – –
    More media jiggery-pokery…

    Software Expert: New York Times “Committing Massive Fraud” And Hiding All Temperature Data Before 1960!

  4. stpaulchuck says:

    “the sky is falling” based on one leaf – the story of the LSM