Mathturbation King

Nicola Scafetta has published yet another paper about his theory that the (probably tidal) influence of Jupiter and Saturn is responsible for long-term changes in solar output, and that these cycles are responsible for climate change on earth. You can read about it on WUWT. It doesn’t surprise me that the paper is due to be published in a journal which seems to me to be sinking further and further into disrepute, the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics. Nor does it surprise me that there’s really no physics in the paper, just mathturbation.

Scafetta begins by claiming that the distribution of lengths of the solar cycle is bimodal. He bases this claim on estimates of the lengths of individual cycles. To estimate the pdf (probability density function) of cycle length, he applies a kernel density estimator using a normal-distribution kernel. That method requires a parameter, sometimes called the “bandwidth,” which controls how much the estimated pdf is smoothed. More data allows for a smaller bandwith, sparse data do not. If your bandwidth is too small you’ll get too many “wiggles” in your estimated pdf.

Scafetta tries two different bandwidths, \sigma=1 and \sigma=0.5, which give these estimates of the pdf for solar cycle lengths:

On this basis, Scafetta argues that not only is the solar cycle length bimodal, but that:

If \sigma=0.5 is used, two peaks appear close to about 10 and 12 years. This double-belled distribution is physically interesting because it reveals that the solar cycle dynamics may be constrained by two major frequency attractors at about 10 and 12 year periods, respectively. Thus, the solar cycle length does not appear to be just a random variable distributed on a single-belled Gaussian function centered around an 11-year periodicity (as typical solar dynamo models would predict), but it appears to be generated by a more complex dynamics driven by two cyclical side attractors.

His choice of bandwidth 0.5 is entirely arbitrary, you can always choose a bandwidth which will make the estimated pdf multimodal, whatever the true underlying distribution. My theory: Scafetta went with the low bandwidth value because it gave him a bimodal pdf estimate.

There is a formula for an “optimal” bandwidth when using a normal-distribution kernel. Using that choice gives the estimated pdf shown as the black line here:

Note that the estimate using the optimal bandwidth is not bimodal. That doesn’t prove the underlying distribution in unimodal (any more that using Scafetta’s arbitrary bandwidth proves it’s bimodal), but it does show how weak is Scafetta’s evidence, and how poorly thought out is his argument.

Scafetta also notes that there are no cycles with estimated lengths between 10.55 and 11.25 years, and argues that this confirms the bimodal distribution of cycle lengths:

The bottom of Fig. 2 shows in circles the 23 actual sunspot cycle lengths used to evaluate the two distributions. No Schwabe solar cycle with a length between 10.55 and 11.25 years is observed. The existence of this gap reinforces the interpretation that solar cycle dynamics may be driven by two dynamical attractors with periods at about 10 and 12 years. In fact, the area below the single-belled distribution within the interval 10.55 and 11.25 is 0.17. It is easy to calculate that the probability to get by chance 23 random consecutive measurements from the single-belled probability distribution depicted in Fig. 2 outside its central 10.55–11.25 year interval is just P = (1-0.17)^{23}=1.4%, which is a very small probability. Thus, the solar cycle length does not appear to be just a random variable of a single-belled distribution.

This is just a logical fallacy. It may be unlikely to have no estimates (out of 23) in that particular range, but that range was only chosen because it contained no observed values. It’s much more likely to have no estimates in some range with equal total probability.

In fact Scafetta has failed to provide any evidence at all that solar cycle lengths don’t follow the plain old normal distribution. There is a very sensitive test for normality of the underlying distribution, known as the Shapiro-Wilk test. It gives a p-value of 0.67 — not even a hint that the distribution isn’t normal. This isn’t rocket surgery — it should be the first thing you do if you want to make claims about the distribution of a small sample of data. If you want to claim that a distribution is not normal, you should at least apply the most basic and powerful test! And if you can’t even muster evidence that the distribution isn’t normal, then you certainly have no evidence that it’s bimodal.

Scafetta’s argument about solar cycle lengths following a bimodal distribution is truly sloppy work. But that’s just the beginning. His entire paper would make a fine tutorial in how to “prove” a preconceived notion by abandoning any shred of real scientific skepticism. Unfortunately, that’s what we have to put up with from fake skeptics on a regular basis. They do this all the time — support nonsensical theories with shoddy, incorrect analysis.

I’m sick and tired of the amount of garbage that passes for science from fake skeptics. Frankly, it pisses me off that again and again, I have to understand their crappy theories better than they do. And it pisses me off that even though most of the readers of this blog will “get it” with ridiculous ease, the general public isn’t sufficiently math-savvy for me to persuade them of what’s bloody obvious to you.

Almost as much as it pisses me off that the “throw some garbage at the wall and see what sticks” strategy has so confounded the voting public that we’re playing Russian Roulette with the next generation’s supply of food and water.

113 responses to “Mathturbation King

  1. Climate Ferret

    Even Anthony has reservations about this paper, probably influenced by Pielke Sr.

    Maybe it’s beginning to seep in to some faux skeptics head’s that publishing every bit of anti-AGW nonsense out there is just going to lead to a whopping great credibility gap for the whole enterprise.

    • Here’s Watts comment from the intro: “but I have a number of reservations about it, not the least of which is that it is partially based on the work of Landscheidt and the whole barycentric thing which gets certain people into shouting matches.”

      Scafetta responds: You say “…whole barycentric thing which gets certain people into shouting matches”

      Please note that the model that I present has nothing to do with “barycentric thing”.

      This is then followed by a sequence of ass covering updates… just another day in the cyber-circus.

      That’s about where I quit reading.

      On a more positive note this post on kernel density estimation has been extremely interesting and informative.

  2. Might I just suggest that if repeatedly debunking Scafetta “pisses you off” so much – then don’t bother to do it. If Scafetta publishes a dodgy paper in the “Journal of Mediocre-To-Wrong Science that Nobody Subscribes To” and Watts trumpets it as a new revelation, it really matters not one iota. Debunking these guys is mathturbation for the climate-change-enlightened but has little bearing in the grand scheme of things. That most people don’t even understand the proper explanation for the seasons is proof enough that the bulk of the public is not likely to every truly understand the technical aspects of climate change. Furthermore, setting the larger public straight on the facts, as admirable as this effort is, is not a prerequisite for making policy progress on this issue. Indeed there are truly thorny political obstacles to solving the climate problem. Skeptics and pseudo-skeptics are not the obstacles – they merely provide the political cover.

    • just a minor disagreement : I’m not a statistician myself, and Tamino’s post illustrated the use of kernel density estimator.
      So it was useful for the “layman statistician” impersoned by many scientists, in order to avoid this pitfall. At least, this is for me a good reason to read this blog.

      • Timothy (likes zebras)

        Agreed – the statistical competence of many practising scientists is a bit lacking. Even in mainstream climate science you will see some poor examples of statistics slipping through, though the natural process of science will correct mistakes made over time.

        So a book like statistical analysis in climate research by Storch and Zwiers should be read by many more people than take the trouble.

        It’s a natural tendency to wish to see more interesting bi-, or even tri-, modal distributions when these rarely occur.

        Perhaps tamino would benefit from looking at some papers where mistakes made, if any, have been done so without an ulterior motive. For example, I’d be interested to know what he thought of the remarkable tri-model distribution found in Woollings, T., Hannachi, A. and Hoskins, B. (2010), Variability of the North Atlantic eddy-driven jet stream. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc., 136: 856–868. doi: 10.1002/qj.625

    • And what of those of us who can understand Tamino’s analysis but wouldn’t be able to figure it out for ourselves? Do we rely on trust to determine whose information is reliable and whose isn’t, without understanding why? Do we trust someone to tell us who is right? If all I hear is one side of an issue, while the other side is silent because it’s too obvious to them to even bother — but if I don’t know that — then eventually I will be swayed by the ones arguing their side.

    • Eric,
      I’m afraid I disagree. The pseudoskptics provide a veneer of credibility to the otherwise purely ideologically motivated denialist/glibertarian/magic-of-the-marketplace assclams that dominate the current political climate–in decibels at least, if not in numbers. A captain of industry can place a paper like Scafetta’s latest glistening turd before a legislator–taking care to place a donation between the pages–and the latter will simply say “Sounds good to me,” and dutifully wave it on the Senate floor the next day. Without the cover, the obstacles are revealed for the lies they are.

      • Where I said “Skeptics and pseudo-skeptics … provide the political cover” you say “veneer of credibility” – by which I think we are more/less saying the same thing and are in agreement. However, what is achieved by “reveal[ing the obstacles] for the lies they are”? Politicians lie every day. They lie about climate change. They lie about the effects of health policy. They lie about the effects energy policy. They lie about the effects environmental policy. They lie about the effects of fiscal policy. Liberals do it. And so do conservatives. The reason is that their position on an issue is not determined by the facts as they understand them. Their position is determined by their broader values and political ideology – as well as a more practical assessment of what position is best supported by the constituency they hope will reelect them. If you want to influence this dynamic, you have to operate within it. You have to provide a conservative from a fossil fuel producing state a way to support reductions in fossil fuel burning that won’t get him/her dumped out of the next election. They don’t give rats ass whether that paper some aid slid across their desk came from a gold-plated academic or some crank. They don’t even care whether it’s right. They just care that it provides good support for their argument. If it didn’t they would just find some other way to justify their position. This is why I think Tamino is going to continue to be “pissed off” for a long time to come.

      • Eric,
        Ultimately, this is about a whole helluva lot more than simply setting policy. This is about whether humans can use the lens of science to correct the distortion their bias, fear and hope impart to the world around them. If a species cannot accurately perceive its environment, it will not survive in it.

        Now personally, I have no dog in that fight. I leave no hostages to fortune. I’d like to see both humanity and civilization persist a while longer. It seems silly for humanity to reject the lens of science it has developed simply because it doesn’t like the “framing”.

      • I would add my voice to those who see much value in taking the effort to construct rebuttals to nonsense, no matter how silly it might appear to those fortunate enough to already understand.

        There are many lay folk, along with vested interests in the business, political and ideological spheres, who would happily accept the denialist tropes if they were not corrected. Tolstoy said in War and Peace:

        “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

        and Edmund Burke said:

        “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

        Similarly, if scientific truth as best it is understood is not defended against attempts to subsume it with superstition, ideology, lies, propaganda, and/or plain stupidity/ignorance, then the advancement of human knowledge will cease and then reverse, until the achievements of Western philosophy are no more than chapters in history books sitting on the same shelves as the tomes that remember other fallen civilisations.

      • What kills me is that these guys deny that computer climate models are of any use, but then with some mumbo jumbo and numerology they claim to be able to forecast/ hindcast climate and the sun’s behavior back millenia.

        (And that has to be in the running for the longest abstract in scientific history.)

  3. Hang in there, Tamino. I, too, am getting angry and depressed about the fact that we are losing the political war. But I have my hopes that we have not lost yet, and if we do not lose it will be thanks to people like you.

    • But is it a fact? The public has been swinging back our way lately, as measured by actual polling. The Tea Party makes a lot of noise, and the GOP has made denialism a litmus test, but this will increasingly cost them support over time.

      • Kevin,

        The polls are misleading. It is very easy to say, ‘I want action on climate change.’ Until a person’s vote is determined by their desire for action on climate change, we are not winning the political battle.

        Ask yourself this question: are we nearer to a US climate change bill than we were three years ago?

        In Australia, our climate change legislation comes into force on 1 July. But on current polling it will be repealed when the current opposition sweeps to power in 2013. In 2007, we had bipartisan support for such a deal. We have gone significantly backwards.

        We are losing the political battle. We need to face up to that fact and turn it around.

      • Well, I’m doing what I can. I prefer to think that there’s some motion in the right direction–even though I recognize that arguing from consequences is the quintessential denier modality. Still, I think my perception is not without foundation.

        What scares me in this regard is the ticking of the climate clock. We don’t have forever, and two whole decades have now been (largely) wasted.

      • The public’s attention span is 5 minutes. Perhaps our little March heat wave got their attention. Wait until the next El Nino.

  4. Excellent analysis as usual, tamino-sama.

    I offer this for anyone who’s interested:

  5. Sorry Tamino, but you are incorrect : this is not only mathturbation, but also plainly astrology.
    Throwing away every bit of physic since the beginning of the XXth century, asserting without strong proof that a weak gravitational variation can strongly influence the color forces, electromagnetic forces and the strong gravitational sink working in the Sun core, believing in fine in mysterious forces governed by the planets, for me this yells astrology all over the place.
    And it gets even worse if you actually read the paper. At this point, we should hold Elsevier accountable for this garbage and ask for refunds.

    • And I finished reading the paper : not a single test of order of magnitude to support their assertion. Not even a simple calculation.
      We should maybe correlate the solar activity with the pirate activity : after all, lack of pirates is causing global warming, so maybe dead pirates go on the Sun and quieten it …

      Even a facepalm image cannot convey my feelings.

      • Binomial Bilk

        With methods of reliance
        and well-versed Physik
        they publish their seance
        in the journal, Mystique

        on the power of tides
        and music of spheres
        from things that glide
        in Kepler’s last frontier.

        How could their ilk
        not cry when Shaprio-Wilk’ed?

  6. Interestingly, over at WUWT ( this gets posted, but it is pretty clear that Watts dares not go for it. He can’t evaluate it himself, he makes that plain, but he won’t endorse it, only present it with disclaimers. That is some kind of progress: presumably he knows it is going to get scrutiny from you and others, and likely ripped up.

  7. Yup; the fake sceptics are desperate to find jigsaw pieces that don’t appear to fit into the half-finished* jigsaw puzzle that is our understanding of global warming to date. And so keen are they to make it appear that the emergent consensus picture is wrong, that they actually try to manufacture their own contradictory pieces. More on this analogy in this ClimateBites blog post.

    *Don’t hold me to the half-finished: we won’t know how far we’ve got to date until the overall picture is complete (which, of course, being science, it never can be).

  8. I particularly like the way he finds the biggest possible interval with no values, and then show how unlikely it is that there are no values there.

    Maybe someone can come up with a new statistical test, which tells you how likely finding a gap larger than some value in your data is.

    • Monte Carlo simulation!

      Based on 10,000 simulations, I estimate the probability of at least one 0.17 gap among 23 randomly selected samples is 0.3057 and the probability that the gap surrounding the median would be 0.17 or greater is 0.0776.

      P.S. sorry about any multiple postings. This sudden demand by wordpress that I login is most annoying.

      • John Brookes

        Thanks Ernst. We all want to see patterns, and Scafetta is no exception. But you shouldn’t justify them by misusing statistics.

  9. John Brookes,
    The really sad thing is that friends who know Scafetta say he isn’t a complete idiot. He seems to have become a Keplerian mystic mistaking the voices in his head for the music of the spheres.

    [Response: I’ve seen enough of his other work to know that Scafetta has “skillz.” But his stuff about climate is … in my opinion … loony.]

  10. BTW Snarkrates is Ray Ladbury–as I now have a WordPress account, it insists I post under than handle.

    BTW Tamino. It appears the Open thread has gotten buried. Time for a new one?

  11. I agree with Bratisla — it’s astrology. But don’t tell people. Too many people believe in that crap!

    Maybe instead of refuting these mathturbatory offerings, a more effective communication would be to submit papers (maybe just one) with exceedingly more ridiculous ‘models’ (found through data-mining) to explain temperature anomalies. Pirates is not a bad idea, but I’m talking about something that would be more likely to get attention in AGW-denying media. Example variables: numbers of porn websites, numbers of gay marriages, estimated illegal aliens, immigration from former Soviet states, market share of US auto manufacturing, etc. Dump a bunch of this stuff into a model and try to show that declines in things they like and increases in things they don’t like are conspiring to cause global warming.

    If they bite it will be clear to moderates that they have no credibility. If they don’t bite, then it shows that their opponents aren’t necessarily just grasping at whatever they can to institute their new left totalitarianism. Actually, another good mathturbatory exercise would be to find a model that would better advance the goals of leftists (example variable: executive pay) than global warming via CO2. Why let others set global warming in a political context? I mean, that’s going to happen, but scientists can contribute to the boundaries of that context, and by so doing demonstrate that CO2 isn’t very much a left or right wing issue compared to other things.

  12. FYI, there are at least two papers in the works critiquing Scafetta and Co.’s curve fitting nonsense. One of them which I think is particularly impressive was submitted to a journal a couple of days ago.

    Personally I’ll be glad to see this nonsense addressed in the peer-reviewed literature. Scafetta has been regularly publishing riffs on the same curve fitting climastrology for almost a decade now (though I do think there have been a couple relevant response papers).

  13. Tamino
    I really do understand you are tired of this: “…again and again, I have to understand their crappy theories better than they do.”
    But you do an excelent and very important job of showing us how a professional statistician works. It makes every one of us who understand (some of) it stronger in arguments about climate change.
    We are not loosing the political battle entirely. Breaking news in Denmark today is an ambitious and broad political deal (almost every political party in parliament) about future green energy.

  14. When I saw the post title on my blogroll I thought, “Aha! A post about Bob Tisdale…” Good post anyway, even if I had totally forgotten about Scafetta.

  15. I was a bit intrigued by the ‘crater lip’ round the hole in his solar cycle length data, intrigued enough to tap a out quick calc of my own. I still find the hole but it is somewhat filled by points from the ‘crater lip’ falling in, one from each side which would likely play merry hell with the bi-modal distribution calculation.
    Reckon its down to how you handle the lumpy monthly sunspot data but it must make this bit of the thesis yet more shaky.

    [Response: I already estimated the times of minima (and therefore the cycle lengths) by smoothing the data with a lowess smooth and taking the minima of the smooth. The derived periods do not show the “hole” from 10.55 to 11.25 yr that is present in Scafetta’s data, so yes indeed that bit of the thesis is on even shakier ground.

    The values in Scafetta’s table (which don’t come from him) appear to be derived by estimating the time of cycle minimum as the time of the minimum smoothed sunspot number, with “smoothed” meaning a 12-month moving average (covering 13 months but with half weighting for the first and last months). That’s not so smooth a smooth! Also, when there are multiple moments with the same smoothed value for a given cycle, the final one is chosen as the cycle minimum time, a choice I’m skeptical of.

    It might be worthwhile to re-compute the times of cycle minimum and the estimated cycle lengths using a better smoothing method, just for its own sake.]

    • Re Response
      My method matched your assumptions about how the data Scafetta used was derived except I took a 12 month sample as workiing from the mid-point of the sample doesn’t affect the answers (& took the mid point of multiple minimums where it does!)
      Another difference I note now looking at the whole set of data (rather than just the hole in the data) [a difference which would not affect my ‘hole-filling’] is that Scafetta’s data has had its twelve-months-per-year converted into single decimal places. Now that’s a bit revolutionary (perhaps in a Lagrangian sort of way (or at least French), don’t you think?)

  16. The probability that Scafetta really needed is not hard to find (it’s three lines in R).

    If you have an independent random sample of size 23 from some continuous distribution, then the probability that there exists some interval of total probability 0.17 with no sample points in it is about 31%. Not a very small probability.

    This result doesn’t depend on the distribution you were picking from, because you can transform it to uniform via the probability integral transformation.

  17. A valuable explanation for those, like me, who understand just enough statistics to be dangerous.

    The thing that leaps to my mind, though, is this:
    Even assuming Scafetta is right, and that Jupiter & Saturn *do* influence solar cycle length (and thus solar forcing), what has that got to do with the recent warming, which has departed very strongly from the pattern of solar forcing?

  18. As an interested student of AGW, but with no math or scientific background, it is posts like this which help me to avoid falling for traps that the experienced can see. Thank you for hanging in there, to help wayward travellres.

    From now on, if I see a reference to the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, which published the paper without caveats, I will regard it as even less reliable than WUWT, which at least warns I’m a bit concerned over the quality of the peer review for this paper. To have found something even worse than WUWT has restored my faith in human iniquity.

  19. Horatio Algeranon

    “American Pi”
    (Whose circumference is precisely 6 times its radius, by legislative
    — Horatio’s rendition of Don McClean’s classic (Sorry Don)

    A long long time ago
    I can still remember how
    The mathturbation used to make me smile
    And I knew if I had my chance
    That I could make the public dance
    And maybe they’d be con-fused for a while
    But February made them sweat
    With every heat wave we would get
    Bad news on the doorstep
    I couldn’t take one more step
    I still remember that I cried
    When I heard my paper was denied
    Something touched me deep inside
    The day the Denial died

    Bye, bye Miss American Pi
    Played the Monte on my Auntie but my Auntie was sly
    Those climate-science blogs were doing maths that don’t lie
    Bloggin’ this’ll be the day that I die
    This’ll be the day that I die

    Did you write the blog of lies
    And do you have Koch and Exxon ties
    If the SourceWatch tells you so?
    Now do you believe in crock and troll?
    Can mathturbation save your mortal soul?
    And can you teach me how to lie with snow?

    Well, I know that you are in denial
    Cuz I’ve watched you bloggin’ for a while
    You just kicked out the science
    Man, I dig that fibbin’ and deniance

    I was a lonely skeptic bloggin’ buck
    From a big-car-nation, with a pickup truck
    But I knew I was out of luck
    The day the denial died
    I started bloggin’


    Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
    And Gore grows fat, with a roiling tone
    But, that’s not how it used to be
    When the Jester blogged for the King and Queen
    On a blog once voted “Best We’ve Seen”
    And a voice that came from you and me
    Oh, and while the King was stooping down
    The Jester stole his Bloggie crown
    The courtroom was adjourned
    BEST’s verdict was returned
    And while Tony read a post by Mac
    The Inhoax started up a PAC
    And we were goin’ on attack
    The day the denial died
    We were bloggin’
    Helter skelter in a summer swelter
    The Joes threw up a neuron melter
    “Temps are high …but falling fast”
    It landed foul on the grass
    The mathturbators tried for a journal pass
    With the Jester on the sidelines (from The BEST)
    Now the half-time air was rank perfume
    Cuz NOAA played the marching tune
    We all got up to leave
    Since we never could believe
    The mathturbators tried to take the field
    The science band refused to yield
    Do you recall what was revealed
    The day the denial died?
    We started bloggin’
    Oh, and there we were all in one place
    Degeneration lost in hyperspace
    With no time left to start again
    So come on Mac be nimble, Mac be quick
    Mac Flash broke another hockey stick
    Cuz hockey is a Canadian’s only friend
    And as I watched him on his blog
    It seemed that he was just a cog
    Despite the words he’d spoken
    The Hockey Stick wasn’t broken
    And as the CO2 climbed high into the air
    And warmed the earth and people there
    The bitter truth had been laid bare
    The day the denial died
    He was bloggin’
    I met a girl who blogged the blues
    And I asked her for some happy news
    But she just smiled and turned away
    I went down to the Sacred URL
    Where I’d seen the mathturbators twist and twirl
    But the denial wouldn’t play
    And on the web the skeptics screamed
    The Tony’s cried, and the Morano’s schemed
    The skeptics all were croakin’
    The denier spell was broken
    And the mathturbators I admire most
    The ones who loved to lie and boast
    They took their last trend and were toast
    The day the denial died
    And they were blogging…

    Bye, bye Miss American Pi
    Played the Monte on my Auntie but my Auntie was sly
    Those climate-science blogs were doing maths that don’t lie
    Bloggin’ this’ll be the day that I die
    This’ll be the day that I die

    [Response: In my opinion, your best yet.]

    • Well-appreciated, Horatio. One of those bittersweet moments of cultural production where the product is spot on but created for a condition that should never have existed.

    • Seconded. I sit in humbled awe.

    • In my opinion, too, Tamino. By far. Someone ought to record it and put it on youtube …

    • I am adding “deniance” to my vocabulary!

    • I love it! A little weak on the meter and several lines left unchanged, but overall it was great. Thanks.

    • Brilliant! Agree with the idea of a recording. I imagine scenes of caricatured denialist culls trying to outdo each other with their stupidity.

      • Yes. As soon as I read that, I thought “we need to get in touch with the group that recorded the ‘Denial Tango'”.

    • Horatio Algeranon

      Thank you for your support …but Don McClean deserves 99+% of the credit. Horatio just changed a few words here and there — surprisingly few, actually.

      …and perhaps Tony and the Stationstalkers would record it, since it is their anthem, after all.

    • Daniel J. Andrews

      wow!! Second all those responses to wanting to see this made into a video. Wish I had the musical talent to do it.

    • It’s definitely up there with the classic Mathematical Pi (the delicately removed word in this version is also relevant to this thread, if you’re wondering).

    • Your best to date :) Bravo!

    • Horatio Algeranon

      OK, Horatio made a lame attempt at a recording

      Prolly should have gone easier on the mathturbation.

      It’s kinda hard to fit it in.

      Oh well.

      • not bad at all, though, horatio!

      • Wow, I actually got some chills listening. One guitar, maybe a couple syllables chopped, and I predict a youtube sensation (put a running climate reel with some beautiful and some sad climate images)…Could you leave out the “the” before denial? “The day de-nial died” ? Plus you only need one syllable of mathturbation – maybe mathturbatn’ and swallow the end? Tough that word…

      • Let me rephrase that “perhaps you could drop or just swallow” the last syllable of mathturbatn’?

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Everyone will be glad to know (Horatio is sure) that the “mathturbation issue” has been resolved.

        Horatio decided to 86 the word entirely and go with sinonyms : “math-wank” (sounds like music anyway, right?) and “wankers” (which describes even the ones who don’t know any math)

        Horatio has omitted “the” before Denial as per Utahn’s suggestion.

        Also, geetar would be good, but Horatio don’t play (just clarinet and that might sound kinda funny)


      • I loved it! You have a very pleasant voice. Occasionally the meter was a little off, but your timing compensated very well.

        Now if we can get some Indie band to do it with appropriate background music…

      • I’ve got a version coming–rhythm tracks and rough vocals today; tomorrow, clean up vocals and add some horns.

      • That’s great, Kevin, but HA’s vocals aren’t bad (aren’t soaring talent either but hey, “aren’t bad” means pretty good).

        You could collaborate …

      • I agree, dhogaza–but that’s a whole other level of complication. Not undoable (if that’s a word) but both parties have to have appropriate software to let them exchange & synch tracks.

        Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves; Horatio may or may not like what I’ve done!

      • Horatio Algeranon

        You got a horny version comin’, Kevin?

        How apt.

        It occurred to Horatio that this may be the first time (and prolly the last) that the pronunciation of “mathturbation” has been taken so seriously.

      • I find Horatios vocals also very pleasing in a haunting way. Perhaps Horatio on the vocals and Kevin on everything else? Algernon and McKinney-the next Loggins and Messina?

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Software? Syncs and tracks?

        I agree, Kevin.

        This is starting to sound complicated — and way too much like work!

        Horatio might just stick with the acrappella.


        Horatio is thinking maybe you’ve been watching too many hawks, cuz even Art Garfunkel might have a hard time making a song about mathturbation sound “soaring”. Horatio is quite happy just to get tha damned thing off the ground.

      • OK, guys–the full-on band version of “Miss America Pi”:

        Just for fun (and the advertising value–if you happen to need some music for a site or something, let me know!):

        That’ll take you to a page from which you can open up a an mp3–and view the lead sheet, FWIW.

      • Actually, it doesn’t take you to a page–it takes you directly to the mp3.

        “Sorry for the inconvenience.” (If any.)

      • Very nice Kevin!! I’m a sucker for horns, and I like the cadence evolution!

      • Thanks!

        Given that “amen” means (more or less) “may it be so,” and that the plagal cadence is associated with the traditional “amen” at the end of hymns, the final prolonged plagal cadence kind of summed up my attitude to the subject matter…

      • May it be so indeed…

    • Steven Franzen

      Fantastic effort, Horatio. Keeping up with climate science blogs is often a misanthropy-inducing experience to me, and this kind of intermezzo provides just the right comic relief.

    • Horatio Algeranon


      That’s excellent!

      Maybe you should pursue a second career in musical parody. ~@:>

  20. What’s Saturn got to do with it?

    With a mass 95.2 times Earth and and orbital radius of 9.54 times Earth’s, the tidal forces on the Sun from Saturn are only 5% greater than those of Earth. (And Saturn has an orbital period of 29.5 Earth years, not 10 or 12.)

    • Brian Brademeyer
      You’ve hit the biggest nail into the coffin that this thesis should be lying in.
      The biggest gravitational wobble the sun gets from the planets is Jupiter’s eccentric orbit. Compared with Jupiter’s eccentricity, the next biggest is Venus which is about 2/3rds the size, then Saturn & Earth at about a half. Mercury’w wobble is about a quarter to a tenth.
      In this study Scafetta ignores all but the Jupiter eccentric wobble & the Saturn ones but gives the Saturn ones more weight (becasue he’s curve-fitting). He does mention Earth/Venus & Mercury/Venus wobbles (not other ones) but only as far as when they have a conjunction, wait for it, in the same star sign (although he doesn’t say which). It all appears very la-la land.
      The Saturn wobble conjoins with Jupiter every 19+ years. This gives a 9.8(?) year wobble in gravity – that is once during the conjunction & once when they are opposite to each other (like with the moon & sun & spring tides on Earth).

    • Susan Anderson

      Tune: What’s love got to do with it
      what’s love but a second rate emotion?

      oh dear (what’s the emoticon – embarrassment for being silly?)

    • Eric Shumard

      Tidal forces are proportional to distance cubed (the gradient of the gravitational force), so the ratio of Saturn to Earth tidal force on the sun is 95.2 / 9.54^3 = about 11%. The ratio of gravitational forces is 95.2 / 9.54^2 = about 105%.

      • Many thanks for the correction Eric Shumard.
        Though guess what? It makes Scafetta’s paper look even more silly. Instead if addressing only about half the gravitational wobbles on the sun, with an inverse-cubed relationship it’s no more than something like 10% of the tidal ones.
        Perhaps this is where it would be fair on Scafetta to mention that he isn’t bothered by this sort of set back as he does discuss in his paper the idea of there being an unknown physical phenomenon underlying his findings. Or was it physiological phenomena? Or psychological? Whatever, I’m sure it explains Scafetta’s need to divide by the numbers he first thought of.

  21. caveat emptor

    Horatio – a tour de force!

  22. Horatio…Thanx, a nice way to end the week!

  23. Come on Horatio. Didn’t Tina Turner sing “What’s Saturn Got To Do With It”?

  24. Horatio – our Poet Laureate. Superb!

  25. Horatio, that one’s exceptional. Outstanding!

  26. I hate to go off-thread, but as this one is currently the only one on the recent posts lists I will post here.

    Skeptical Science was hacked today. People who post there should probably think about logging on and changing their details in case someone not-so-nice does so first and steals their SkS identity. And if they use the same info for multiple sites (fortunately I don’t), then it might be time to knuckle down and change passwords everywhere…

  27. His web site:

    There is another paper linked there, being published soon in the same journal:
    “Testing an astronomically based decadal-scale empirical harmonic climate model versus the IPCC (2007) general circulation climate models”

  28. Tamino – “…we’re playing Russian Roulette with the next generation’s supply of food and water.”

    One in six of making a serious mistake? Wouldn’t leaving one chamber out of six empty rather than five out of six be closer to the real odds?

    Not many people would pull the trigger with those much ‘better’ odds yet when it comes to the gun held to our future food and water security even the other way around doesn’t seem to be enough to stop us pulling the trigger. Still, if we are consistently told the gun doesn’t work, the rounds are fake, pull the trigger and all your illusions about endless prosperity and growth without limits will be made true….

    • A good many folks are mysteriously unable to see the gun at all… don’t know what’s wrong with them, really, but it’s more than a little disheartening.

  29. gallopingcamel

    Way more entertaining than the serious discourse on WUWT. Solar physicicts, climate astrologers, pholosophy of science experts can be a touch boring after two or three hundred comments.

    Give me a bus load of statisticians and your resident versifier every time!

    • “serious discourse”? Well, many of the WUWT denizens do appear to be very serious indeed, but I honestly don’t know if the irony is intentional or not, especially as we also have “pholosophy of science experts”.

  30. Philippe Chantreau

    Yeah camel, you got that right, climate astrologers are all over the place are WUWT, and they do take themselves very seriously. If this was an attempt at some sort of irony, you should have been more careful selecting your words. Funny indeed…

  31. WTFUWT? Harmonious discord or cognitive dissonance. You decide.

    The only person missing from that discussion is one Paul L. Vaughan, M.Sc.

    The rest of Tony’s done-gra-G-waited-6th-grade Kewl Krew of Klimate Kastaways are all there in full force though.

    But they all do agree on one thing though. It’s a cons-piracy I tell you a con-spiracy!

    That the IPCC is not science, at all.

    That scientific journals are not to be trusted, at all, unless they conform to their own connfirmation biases, of course. That one, the irony, just kills me.

    That Idiocrates was not an idiot.

    That the philosophy of science from long ago Dead People is still the most relevant to this very day, or not. You decide.

    Words have meaning, or not. You decide.

    Watching people mathturbate is fun, or not. You decide.

    Only two words can describe that thread, in no particular order. Cycle. Jerk.

  32. Waitaminnit.

    Scafetta’s blog at Duke points to “”
    That appears to be a website for ACRIM I satellite data,
    along with climate skeptic/fat Gore links.

    But when I search for ACRIM material, I find
    That one doesn’t mention Scaffetta (or Al Gore)
    and has data for three satellites, ACRIM I, II, and III

    Which one is the real science link?
    I’m so confused.

  33. does offer an interesting chore awaiting someone’s attention:
    “Notwithstanding all of the short comings and controversy inherent in the data, this program is the longest and most carefully conducted solar radiation program made in the 20th century.
    Dr. Vernon Derr estimated a research effort of two qualified scientists studying the data for about two years would be needed to fully understand and correct the database. The 47 data files are available via the ftp site.

  34. Hank,

    The new phrase in our lexicom will now be;

    Pulling a Scafetta

    As to the ACRIM data, its there, but not convieniently decimated as consecutive daily values (meaning including dates with no data for easy spreadsheet use).

    I’m currently using the PMOD dataset as it is decimated in consecutive daily values (meaning missing data dates are included).

    The SIDC Wolf sunspot number dataset is located here.

    I’m using daily, monthly and annual datasets in comparing PMOD to SIDC.

    There are a number of issues with this dataset howerer (as Leif Svalgaard (the only relatively sane individual in the current discussion thread) over at WTFUWT? has pointed out in a previous thread), but basically the consistancy of the SSN calculation over time (remember the time series predates photographic methods of data recording, and the keepers of the dataset appear to have fudged the dataset itself over time). There are clearly other general issues with the Wolf SSN, those being the subjectivity of the SSN itself and demarcation of successive minima (what does one do with a bunch of 0’s for SSN, that would appear to be ill defined).

    There is also a rather interesting paper showing the correlation between daily SSN and ACRIM data published in 2011.

    Paper available here (sun.pdf).

    So far I’ve done quite a bit with these various datasets, and the writing is on the wall, so to speak, and it does not look good at all for Scafetta.

    It would now appear that the journal that this was publishd in may have to retract this paper at some later date. Or, at the very least, a formal rebuttal to this paper, is, for all intents and purposes, a slam dunk.

    More to follow from a technical standpoint.

  35. Hank,

    Also note that the NOAA datasets (link you pointed to above) are only circa 2003.

  36. Seems the pointer didn’t point quite where I thought; my ‘tinyurl’ doesn’t go to the page I thought, but to the mp3 itself. It’s probably, as the kids say, “all good.”

  37. Outstanding!
    Reading along to Horatio’s lyrics brought out their quality (of course they could never match the nuance and wit of a Josh cartoon ;) ). All that’s needed now is form someone of comparable talent to set this to a video – I see scrolling sine graphs and up-the-down-escalators in the background.

  38. Most skeptics can’t even understand a simple mass balance, like the one where adding a tiny bit of fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere every year will turn into a large amount after 160 years.

  39. Michael Brown

    Another recent example of this type of “science”, and its acceptance by fake skeptics can be found online at…

    One of the odd conclusions to this paper is….

    This paper supports the conclusion that long-term changes in the lunar tides, in combination with the more dominant solar-driven seasonal cycles, play an important role in determining the observed inter-annual to decadal variations of Peak Latitude Anomaly for the Summer Sub-Tropical High Pressure Ridge over Eastern Australia