Crowd-sourcing Cherries

I recently came across a “quiz” produced by Richard Keen, which ended with this graph:


Of course it’s a textbook case of cherry-picking, easily shown by showing what Richard Keen doesn’t show:


It’s even clearer if we show, not the monthly data, but the annual averages:


Most regular readers here have seen this kind of thing many times. After all, cherry-picking is one of the favorite, and most common, deception methods of global warming deniers.

It occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to assemble a compendium of examples of climate deniers’ cherry-picking. I’d like it to show the graph(s) they show, then show what they didn’t show. Of course, there might be a lot of work involved — they’ve done so much cherry-picking!

Then it occurred to me: I’ve got a lot of readers who’ve seen a lot of cherry-picking. Why not enlist their aid? So, this is an appeal to readers (regular or otherwise) to participate in crowd-sourcing a compendium of cherry-picking by climate deniers.

The “default” would be just a pair of graphs: what the denier shows, then what the denier didn’t show. But, I don’t want to stifle your creativity. So, you should decide for yourself what the demonstration of denier cherry-picking looks like. Conceivably it could be just text — but I doubt that would have much impact, certainly not much visual impact.

The goal is to create the maximum visual impact, so that those who are new to the global-warming-denier thing will see instantly just how dishonest they are.

Post ’em here. Be advised, that by doing so you grant permission for me to display them in any way, shape, or form.


57 responses to “Crowd-sourcing Cherries

  1. One that comes to mind is from David Archibald (who got it from someone else) commenting on an alleged relationship between sunspots and Lake Victoria levels. I’m on mobile now so links are a hassle, but I recall him saying quite explicitly that a good section of the data from the middle of the twentieth century was excused specifically *because* the alleged relation fell apart then.

    • OK, couple days late but I can now include figures. Pardon if there is formatting that I need to include (I barely know how to type words—psh formatting), but this is the gist:

      All the data to 2000 (and trend lines):

      Excised data:

      • (For what it’s worth, the second graph is the previous “detrended” across those lines. Clearly the first part of the graph is not really detrended, as that line is merely the mean, and to 1962 too instead of to the excised portion!)

      • Last one for now, I swear: here seems to be satellite data for Lake Victoria for the remaining years since 2005, which is actually when the first graphs ended:

        The most recent minimum peaked in 2009 (so 3 years off, big deal) and the maximum in 2014 (a year off, closer now), but you can sort see how it matche—OK it really doesn’t seem to match the solar record very well at all.

  2. Keen is a man with a PhD in Climatology, is on the payroll of the Heartland Inst., and spews out this sort of thing. He can’t credibly claim ignorance. What he should be claiming, imho, is a jail cell.

  3. I’d propose 3 items per cherry pick: 1 is the original. 2 is the original, but in Tamino format (see above). 3 is the full chart. The utility of #2 is it provides a very direct and easy comparison between 2&3; just calling out the cherry-picked range in the full chart has less impact (Does this look the same as the original? etc.)

  4. NOAA Argo buoys agree with global cooling. What….??

    Argo data is the black and red line, showing about 13-14 * 10^22 J increase in heat content over the last 10 years. This equals more than 0.8 W per m2 of the entire globe, and the lion’s share (>90%) of global warming..

  5. Well, I gave it a shot. I looked at minimum Arctic sea ice extent (data from from 1979 — 2014 and did simple linear regression of extent vs year for all possible 10 year intervals in a attempt to find a positive slope. I did manage to find one such interval — 1989 – 1998:
    y = -1.0087 + 0.00379x; R^2 = 0.00063, P = 0.945.
    Don’t know if that is going to impress even the most ardent denialist.
    Sorry, best I could do at the moment.
    Maybe I should have looked at 5 year intervals.
    I haven’t spent much time looking at denialist sites (life is too short) so I won’t be able to help there either. Maybe Sou at HotWhopper has some good examples.

  6. Almost anything Lord Monckton does is a treasure trove of cherry picked graphs.

  7. Interesting challenge. I did something like that recently but in reverse… I rescaled the temperature reconstruction plot from MBH (1999) and superimposed it on the appropriate area of the corresponding plot from PAGES2k (2013). It fit quite well.

    Another variant would be to compare plots of the various UAH tropospheric temperature time series by version, interspersed with comments from various skeptics about how much more reliable and ‘pristine’ that data is compared to surface records.

  8. Denier claim (Scotsman newspaper, 24/08/2015), Dougscot:

    … there have been only 20 years of global warming in the last 70 years, see

    Slioch response*:
    Here is your graph again, with another trend line added:

    As you can see, not only is it possible to identify a warming trend for the last 45 years, but that 45 year trend is warming faster than the 20 year trend that you managed to identify.
    * slightly modified from original.

    [Response: Good one.]

  9. A few years ago, I wrote a cherrypicker’s guide to global temperature trends. There is a much more usable version here. The idea was to show with a color plot of all calculable trends, where to find cherries, but also to show how they are being found.

  10. Slioch, by changing the date of the last trend in the original from 2014.9 to 2015.5 makes that a warming period too.

  11. Here’s my little takedown of Monckton’s RSS-based “No warming for 18+ years”, which you inspired with your “Global Temperature: the Post-1998 Surprise.”

    [Response: Excellent.]

  12. What comes to mind for me is the analysis McIntyre and McKittrick performed of Mann’s short-centered principal component analysis where they simulated PC1s in order to demonstrate that Mann’s approach imposes hockey sticks on data, but rather than randomly sampling the PC1s they sorted descending the PC1s according to a “Hockey Stick Index” (HSI). 10,000 PC1s were simulated and only the top 100 were selected.

    Deep Climate analyzes their code and approach here:

    Now, was a random sample of these PC1s saved? Or perhaps just the first 100 (which would also be reasonably random)? Not quite….

    [computer code]

    The first line sorts the set of PC1s by descending HSI and then copies the first 100 to another array. That array is then sorted by PC1 index so that each PC1 selected for the archive can be retrieved from the appropriate temporary file and saved in ASCII format.

    Replication and due diligence, Wegman style
    by Deep Climate, November 16, 2010

  13. This next one involves a slightly different technique than cherry-picking, refined by Professor Nils-Axel Mörner in “SEA LEVEL IS NOT RISING”, Figure 10.
    Using this sophisticated statistical method, I produced the following:

  14. what the denier shows – 2nd fig in link

    then what the denier didn’t show – 1st fig

    Was also discussed in Merchants of Doubt and IIRC (really not sure) appeared in pamphlets sent to all the US lollies by the GMC.

    The (other) furry one beat Oreskes to it though

  15. I did an article on this a few years back. It’s in need of another update, but it’s a bit of a compendium. Mostly I showed rebuttal graphs, with the denialist claim in the text, but there is a Monckton graph midway.

    My favorite in the piece is small fry–a random blog commenter with no known identity or notable reputation–but surely counts as an example of ‘extreme cherry.’ Let’s see if I can embed the image (since it’s not a video):

    If not, this link seems to work:

    “Still droping (sic).” Not so much…

  16. Oops! Did mean to link the main article, not just the ‘fave’:

  17. Monckton update. Quite breathless; should be some amusement value here, and the graph is quite up to date:

  18. skeptictmac57

    One of my favorites, and simplest examples of cherry picking is demonstrated by Skeptical Science’s excellent Escalator gif.
    Here is the punchline in jpg form:

    • Unfortunately, many deniers refuse to look at anything from SkepticalScience (or Tamino), perhaps because they recognise such sites as toxic to their delusions. So, I tend to use the WoodforTrees website, which appears to be more acceptable, with my own similar graph, showing that, because of the short-term variability in the global average temperature anomalies, it has nearly always been possible to correctly state that “the Earth is now cooling” since 1970 (as shown by a short-term trend) even though the long-term trend has been consistently and indubitably one of warming: see:
      They usually keep quiet after that, which is about as good as it gets with deniers.
      PS about the only time in that graph when it isn’t possible to find a short-term cooling trend in recent decades has been in the last few years, not, of course, that that signifies anything …

  19. g2-ae6105c3b0a24b724f973ab36810c62a

    For those wondering, the Richard Keen quiz is here:

    It’s a true wonder of misleading graphs, imagery, and rhetoric.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      And decontextualized quotes. Don’t forget the quotes. I especially liked the one from the Admiralty. What he left out was the fact that not only was the quote wrong (wishful thinking) but that it represented motivated reasoning: at the time it was believed that the Arctic Ocean was not ice covered but instead represented a warm, almost tropical sea which was completely ice free once the ring of ice surrounding it was surmounted.

  20. There was an egregious example that hopefully someone will remember more detail of that involved the same trick of truncating the data well before the present in order to hide the recent warming.

    It was a graph that purported to show a lack of warming in the Central England temperature record by taking a figure from an early to mid 20th century book and simply removed the dates on the X-axis but kept the last data labelled as “present”. The “present” in this case was some time before the Second World War from memory!

    • “Paging John Mashey”!

      I think you are referring to the infamous sketch of Lamb. I don’t think that could really be called “cherry picking”. Wrong, yes.

      • Kevin O'Neill

        Definitely referring to IPCC 1990 Fig. 7.1.c – and just as assuredly the way it is used by deniers constitutes a ‘cherry pick.’ And yes, John Mashey probably knows more about this graph and the many versions of it floating around the intertubes than anyone alive :)

        In fact, Sen. Imhofe used a version of it *this year* to mislead and it was chronicled by J.M.

        Note that the text says “exactly as shown in the 1990 report” ….. and that “dotted line represents mean” …. ummmm, no. Wrong on both counts. This is not a copy of the original. And the dotted line does not represent the mean – it represents the temperature ca 1900.

        I believe this to be the most abused graph in climate science. It is the deniers’ chief ‘evidence’ that scientists conspired to disappear the MWP. Of course most of them have never read the text that accompanied it, looked into it’s history, or understand what data it was based on.

        Jones et al (2009) covered all of this and even updated the graph through 2007:

        I think this should be an ongoing project to constantly update this schematic so that we always have the latest global temps included. Because even taking the schematic at face value, and not explaining that the recent centuries are based on the Central England Temperature record and that before 1650 the schematic solely represents Lamb’s judgement on the ‘evidence,’ appending the most recent temperatures shoots their whole argument down.

      • Reply to KO (anyone else not see a “reply” button on KO comment? mac/safari),

        > “In fact, Sen. Imhofe used a version of it *this year* to mislead and it was chronicled by J.M.”

        Wow. This zombie won’t die.

      • Re: reply button’s absence–I think it’s just that replies only go two ‘layers’ deep. Kevin O’Neill’s is already a reply to a reply, which be three layers deep.

        Sad in a way, but threading already gets a bit confusing sometimes, so maybe for the best.

      • Haha. Thanks DS. Can’t believe after all these years I missed that.

  21. GISP2:

    • You should attribute this one properly. The annotations on the top fig are due to Easterbrook, I think, not Cuffy and Clow. In fact, BP means before 1950, so the data ends in 1855, not 1905. It’s true Easterbrook’s dishonest presentation is still in circulation. But it isn’t really cherry-picking – there is no cherry there.

  22. Sorry I should have done this all as one comment but I kept finding more….

  23. The first graph does not even begin in 1998. It picks one cherry but delivers only half… it starts in 2002.

  24. Lindzen & Choi 2009?
    “In TFOW we show that the apparent relationship is reduced to zero if one chooses to displace the endpoints selected in LC09 by a month or less. So with this method the perceived feedback can be whatever one wishes it to be, and the result obtained by LC09 is actually very unlikely.”

  25. Horatio Algeranon

    Perhaps it’s time to again drag out “Ain’t no Warming when it’s gone”

    • My 2 cents..

      In the document linked here the author criticized Skeptical Science escalator graph on cherry picking for using a short increasing segment in otherwise long cyclically varying temperature series.

      As proof he puts a long cyclical temperature series side by side with the escalator as evidence.

      Funny that it is not easy to see the labels or titles etc in the escalator graph. So one might think that he is comparing apples with apples…

      The message: SkS does not even have the basics in place..


      The longer series shown as “reality” is from a Scafetta paper. But to highlight his cherished cycles Scafetta has removed the warming signal. This is shown clearly in the graph (and in the paper).

      It is an interesting proposition by the author of “stepfake.pdf” then to compare Scafetta’s graph with the SkS escalator diagram, which certainly has not detrended its central point of warming.

      Click to access stepfake.pdf

      (unfortunately the text is mostly in a language 99% of readers do not understand)

      One wonders if this was intentional – or mistake..

  26. I wrote an article last May debunking Monckton.

    In brief, nearly every time he presents his faux pause, he changes the starting month. If the “pause” was a real thing, it would have started at a real time. That he keeps changing the start date is a blatant admission of cherry-picking.

    He underlines his fraud in most articles, when he says that el Ninos tend to “shorten” the faux pause, whereas la Ninas tend to “lengthen” it. In the Real World(tm), actual events are not rubber bands that keep changing their start dates. Only cherry-picked statistical oddities do that.

    It amazes me that so-called “skeptics” are so gullible as to ignore Monckton’s outright admission of cherry-picking fraud.

  27. A P.S. on my above comment — just a couple of days ago, Monckton changed the start date for the “pause” yet again. He can’t help himself.