How Stupid Does David Rose Think You Are?

Earth is heating up, fast. This year we’re destined to set a new record for hottest year globally … for the third year in a row. Sea level is now high enough that coastal cities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fight flooding they get even when there’s no rain or wind or storm … just high tide. Arctic temperatures lately have been crazy hot, not just hot, but crazy hot, while sea ice in the Arctic and the Antarctic is at all-time lows for this time of year. Greenland ice is disappearing before our eyes. Heat waves are on the rise, killing thousands. Persistent drought plagues the U.S. southwest, but in other areas, when rain does fall it’s heavier than it used to be, causing once-in-a-thousand-years flooding to become a lot more common that once in a thousand years. Climate has been changing, not for the better, and it still is.

David Rose, who writes for the U.K. Daily Mail, doesn’t want you to believe it. He wants you to think that the worldwide heating we’ve seen for decades now has somehow, magically, come to an end … that it has shown some kind of “pause.” To give that impression, he had to search far and wide for one set of data from which he can cherry-pick one span of time in which he can focus on one recent event, so he can blame this year’s record-breaking heat on something other than mankind and our greenhouse-gas emissions. Thanks to the many many organizations that publish climate data, there are lots and lots and lots of data sets to choose from … so it’s no surprise he found one.

This one:


It’s global average temperature, not for Earth’s surface where we live, but for the lower layer of the atmosphere … not for the whole world, but for the land areas only … and it’s not all the data, it leaves out the part David Rose doesn’t want you to see. Here’s all the data from this source (RSS, a.k.a. Remote Sensing Systems):


David Rose only shows you the part inside the red box. How stupid does he think you are?

Data like this, in fact almost all data, are a combination of trend — the long-term pattern that actually has some persistence — and fluctuation — the short-term ups and downs that are only temporary. And there are fluctuations. Plenty. They go up and down and down and up, but never really get anywhere.

It’s abundantly obvious, resoundingly unambiguous, completely clear, and pretty simple, that when it comes to climate what matters is the trend, not the fluctuations. For climate deniers, what’s abundantly obvious, resoundingly unambiguous, and completely clear is what they want to avoid. Because it’s so simple, they have to bend over backwards to distract you from it. Like David Rose did.

Here (shown as a red line) is the estimated trend of these data:


Notice how it’s getting hotter? Sure, it still shows ups and downs, all kinds of fluctuations, but the trend, what we expect to persist, is upward. It’s plain to see. How stupid does David Rose think you are?

David Rose wants you to think that maybe, just maybe, the trend has come to a halt, that we’re in the midst of a “pause” in global warming. If we estimate the trend using just the stuff David Rose shows (leaving out what came before because it makes the trend so obvious), the trend estimate is lower, but still upward. But is it really less than before?

Trend estimates by mathematical methods are just that: estimates. That means they’re uncertain. Fortunately, statistics is a powerful enough tool that it enables us to figure out how uncertain they are. That in turn enables us to define a “confidence interval,” a range within which the real trend is most likely to be. We can do that for the overall trend, using all the data, and we can do it for the limited time span that David Rose shows. Then we can compare their confidence intervals:


It turns out, there’s really no statistically reliable evidence that the trend during David Rose’s cherry-picked interval is any different than it was during the whole time span.

David Rose doesn’t just rely on your not being able to do that kind of calculation — few people can — he also relies on your not listening to the experts who can. Because then you’d find out that David Rose’s cherry-picked time span isn’t evidence of anything, except that he can cherry-pick time spans.

How stupid does David Rose think you are?

But his main “evidence” isn’t about the trend, or even the cherry-picked time span he shows (while conveniently removing the data that would provide some context), it’s about the fluctuations. This one:


That extreme high was due, in part, to something called el Niño. It doesn’t create heat out of nothing, but it does increase heat transfer from the oceans to the atmosphere. That makes the atmosphere hotter, at the expense of the oceans, and that’s why an el Niño event raises surface temperature, especially atmospheric temperature, without adding more heat to the earth, just by moving it around. So yes, this year’s record-breaking heat is due, in part, to el Niño.

But not entirely. We’ve had el Niño events before, many times — they’re regular occurences — and they cause a peak in global surface temperature (especially in the atmosphere). But during this particular el Niño, temperature reached a higher peak than any other el Niño. David Rose wants you to think that it’s because this el Niño was stronger than the others, but that’s simply not true. It’s because this el Niño-induced peak was added on top of a hotter starting point, a hotter baseline than the others. That hotter baseline came about because of the warming trend — the one that’s due to global warming.

El Niño is one of the things causing those ever-present fluctuations. But in a changing climate, fluctuation alone doesn’t break records, they’re smashed when fluctuation combines with trend. That’s what has happened this year: the fluctuation of an el Niño was added to the trend of global warming, and that’s why the 2016 record is so extreme. That’s pretty simple, really.

How stupid does David Rose think you are?

Fluctuations go up, fluctuations go down, and every el Niño is followed by a decline. This year is no different. David rose looked around until he found a data set with the biggest post-el Niño decline, then shouted from the mountain-top (from the U.K. Daily Mail, actually) that it just might mean the record heat was only because of el Niño.

How stupid does David Rose think you are?

David Rose cherry-picked the one data set (out of dozens of global temperature data sets) with the biggest post-el Niño decline. He didn’t even show you all of that data set, just cherry-picked the part that didn’t make the warming trend obvious. He turned his focus, not on the trend even for that limited data, but on a pair of recent fluctuations. He suggested that an extreme up being followed by an extreme down was somehow evidence that the recent peak is only due to el Niño, that mankind’s emissions aren’t involved.

Seriously — how stupid does he think you are?

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64 responses to “How Stupid Does David Rose Think You Are?

  1. There is absolutely no commonly visible evidence of any significant rise in sea level in the coast around Cape Town.

    [Response: Bullshit. The satellite data show sea level near Cape Town rising at about 3 mm/yr, close to the global average.]

    Along the Fish Hoek beach are several brass plaques indicating high water levels. I don’t know when they were placed but judging by the amount of verdigris, they are certainly not recent – yet they are about one metre above the highest levels reached during a proxigean spring tide (which coincided with an eclipse) in 2015.

    [Response: As for Fish Hoek, the nearby tide gauge at Simon’s Bay shows even faster rising levels. Take your bullshit somewhere else.]

    • “I don’t know when they were placed…”

      Then presumably you also have no idea whether they were influenced by other factors, such as storm surges, imprecise measurement, or land level changes?

    • Vuurklip, you are making a very fundamental and extremely egregious error of sampling.

      You are making limited, non-standardised observations of a multi-factored, high-amplitude, cyclical phenomenon that superimposes as noise over the underlying signal that is sea level rise, the trend in which is lower in magnitude over short scales of time than is the variability in the aforementioned noise.

      Do you understand how stupid that makes you appear from an objective statistical-sampling perspective?

      • Tamino said: “Sea level is now high enough that coastal cities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fight flooding they get even when there’s no rain or wind or storm … just high tide.”

        I simply pointed out that this does not seem to apply to this coastal city. Your comment about sampling is therefore not relevant. High tides and even the recent proxigean spring tide are not causing flooding here. It may well be happening elsewhere – this is not disputed.

        I did not dispute warming or sea level rise here or elsewhere.

        One dare not question anything that said here without becoming the subject of abusive language.

      • One dare not question anything that said here…

        Except that you didn’t “question”, you made a categorically-explicit statement that was not based in any sound understanding of signals and superimposed variabilities in data sets.

        I like to reassure my students that there are no stupid questions… but there certainly are stupid ignorants afflicted by the Dunning-Kruger effect.

      • …Sea-level data is inherently variable and the RSLR for the study period (2009–2014) indicate a rate of 7.48 mm·year −1, while for the preceding three decades the rate was 2.22 mm·year−1…

        I doubt that anybody can actually “see” it. Even in cities where nuisance flooding is becoming common, a large number of people will claim they cannot see it, or that it is a cycle which will soon reverse.

  2. “Seriously — how stupid does he think you are?”
    As stupid as Donald Trump?

    • Look, stop shouting that everything is Trump! This stops you thinking about how Trump emerged and from where, and why. So it is making yourself dumb, on a kinda Daily Mirror level. (Was it Trump that voted 95-0 in 1998 US Senate to reject Kyoto? Did Trump open up the Arctic for oil exploration? and so on.) Virtue signalling at the expense of serious political and economic historical analysis is for the Twitterverse.

  3. David Rose isn’t writing for us. He’s out to deliberately misinform the many Daily Mail readers that scan that rag primarily for the football, tits, bums and celebrity gossip that litter its vile columns.

    Most ‘readers’ will have scanned only his headline and will have left with the vague impression that there’s still sorme sort of scientific debate about the root cause of global climate change….job done; on behalf of whoever funds the GWPF.

    That these snake oil salesmen and assorted charlatans are currently in the ascendancy, having been key drivers of the post-truth political triumphs either side of the Atlantic in the past few months, should be a source of great concern for all.

  4. And, of course, TLT 3.3 still suffers from the diurnal drift issue now corrected in the TMT product, and its consequent cool bias. That’s yet another cherry-pick, whether arising out of malice or ineptitude.

    • Cherry pick (RSS), followed by cherry pick (TLT 3.3), followed by a cherry pick (land only). How likely do you think this was “ineptitude”?

      (rhetorical question)

      • “How likely do you think this was “ineptitude”?”

        Your question begs a clarification on my part. I think it’s virtually certain that finding the lowest value is, to use my term, ‘malicious.’ Using a data set that’s already deprecated does seem a bit inept, though, even if most of his audience won’t care.

      • I guess what I’m really saying is “How stupid do you think David Rose is?”

    • Exactly. To copy a comment by KarSteN at ATTP

      Quote: “The lower tropospheric (TLT) temperatures have not yet been updated at this time and remain V3.3. The V3.3 TLT data suffer from the same problems with the adjustment for drifting measurement times that led us to update the TMT dataset. V3.3 TLT data should be used with caution.

      That should do. Also, in the video linked to by Tamino (Satellite or Surface Temps) he recommends to use real surface station data rather than satellite data. Chances are that TLT will be phased out altogether (as some have been speculating in the blogosphere). Either way, it is clear from those statements that no one should use the RSS TLT data in its current form.

    • Doc Snow,

      For this, its mainly because TLT cut out antarctica and antarctica was warm in October, that why RSS has fallen much stronger as UAH in TLT has.

  5. Your plot showing the uncertainties of the warming rates over the full period and over Rose’s period is too generous.

    I presume that the uncertainty is for the trend of a random series of this length. When cherry picking the period, as David Rose clearly did, the distribution will be broader and have a bias to too small trends.

  6. As you point out, Tamino, the graph Rose has cherry-picked is of satellite-derived global land temperature. Of course, as land on Earth is predominantly in the Northern Hemisphere, one of the biggest fluctuations is due to it currently being winter in the NH. Take seasonal variations out and Rose’s massive drop in temperature just disappears—for as the graph shows, the ‘huge drop’ is way higher than the winter drop in many previous years.

    [Response: These are anomalies, so the annual cycle has already been removed.]

  7. This is so laughable. If the horizontal line on his graph shows long term average, as written, how come that almost entire graph is above the average. Even from his graph own it is evident, that the world has warmed substantially.

  8. I didn’t have to go to graduate school to learn that ‘dishonest’ and ‘stupid’ were traits that could occur in the same individual. I’m pretty sure I’d learned that by the third grade (but that was a long time ago now).

    For a more challenging question: David Rose vs. James Delingpole… who rates lower?

    • I’m embarrassed to admit that I know Mr Rose (rather indirectly) as he is a UK caver of some note (for world-class deep caving in the 1980s, an excellent book about those exploits ‘Beneath the Mountains’, some very good journalism about caving, and most recently a return to those Spanish caves as co-leader of the Ario Caves Project).

      He is not stupid – he’s got a degree from Oxford, and appears to be a genuine ‘believer’ that this whole global warming thing is over-hyped. He’ll argue the same thing in private, not just via the megaphone of the Daily Mail, so he appears to believe what he is saying. What I can’t get my head around is quite how he manages this – it’s so obviously bollocks now that it takes real mental gymnastics to keep your head in that space. But he’s not the only one that manages this, right? I can’t tell to what degree he just looks at writing this stuff as ‘a job’ (he is very good at it – just read the way it is persuasive of a completely fallacious viewpoint whilst never actually outright-lying). You have to have a pretty shaky moral compass to be a journalist for the Daily Mail for 20 years in the first place.

      I know a lot of people that know him better than I do are very angry about this continued denial, given his ability to amplify it by working for the largest-circulation paper in the country. And he’s lost some friends over it. I tried to get him to engage on the UK caving forum about how he could justify writing such things, but sadly the moderators decided to delete the ‘off-topic’ thread – which is very disappointing. IMHO you can’t do stuff like this and expect not to be called out on it by your social circle, and indeed be protected from the perfectly reasonable opprobrium. Maybe I’ll try again now as he’s done it again.

      I must admit that I thought he had stopped as it’s been quite a few years since his last outing that I am aware of (March 2013) (along very similar lines). I collected links for all his articles for the skepticalscience ‘misinformers’ section a few years ago, which I guess needs updating now:
      (Hmm, looks like those dates have gone wrong – they should range from 2010-2013)

      • One of the things about relatively intelligent ideologues is that they are able to bend their ‘intelligence’ to reprocessing what they ‘know’ in order to have it mesh with their ideologies. It seems to be a particular feature of conservatives ideologues as opposed to progressive ones. This is probably because conservatives start from the premise that their world views must be upheld irrespective of bothersome truths, where progressives tend to use empiricism in order to establish the actual facts that best describe an issue.

        For whatever reason, David Rose doesn’t want the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming to be true. So he’ll do whatever it takes to make it so, even if it’s just in the public mind rather than in the objective milieu of space-time. The trouble is, the laws of nature have the final say.

  9. Rose doesn’t care how stupid his audience is. He cares how ill-educated they are, and how influenced by the right-wing media to only listen to the right-wing media.

  10. Stupid enough to vote for Don the con.
    The most efficient answer to this pap is el nino is nothing new, so why the record heat?

  11. David Rose is stupid:

    From KarSteN at ATTP’s blog:

    “The lower tropospheric (TLT) temperatures have not yet been updated at this time and remain V3.3. The V3.3 TLT data suffer from the same problems with the adjustment for drifting measurement times that led us to update the TMT dataset. V3.3 TLT data should be used with caution.”

    So not only did he have to cherry pick, he had to turn a blind eye to the fact that RSS caution against using the very data Rose cherry picked. I would not be surprised if Curry thinks Rose is a genius.

    Speaking of Curry, this is hard core denial for you, she believes the following:

    “The slowdown in warming was, she added, real, and all the evidence suggested that since 1998, the rate of global warming has been much slower than predicted by computer models – about 1C per century.”

    Who in their right mind would listen to anything Curry has to say anymore…?

  12. Dibble said: “Most ‘readers’ will have scanned only his headline” — referring to the David Rose story. Probably correct — just today on a forum, one interlocutor posted nothing but a link to the story.

    Here’s what my issue is with the story: nowhere, nowhere is there a proper reference to the ‘Stunning Data’ source. Rose mentions only this: “on its website home page yesterday, Nasa featured a new study”

    Well, that’s nice and all, but an editor should have insisted that the glancing reference be added value for the reader: like being able to compare what Rose wrote about the ‘new study,’ and the actual freaking study.

    I posted a query to Rose on Twitter, just politely asking for information lacking in the article.

    On that note — has anyone figured out which actual NASA article Rose is referring to? I am stumped so far …

  13. I don’t think you should give David Rose so much credit.

    RSS land data was already cherry-picked by David Whitehouse and Kenneth Richard. Marc Morano has been promoting this meme for a couple weeks now.

    [Response: I like your website.]

  14. Thanks for putting me right, Tamino. I had thought, wrongly, that the anomaly was calculated as an annual mean rather than a monthly mean.

  15. I’ve seen trend graphs in the past that separate El Nino years from La Nina years from neutral years. Does anyone have a handy link to those?

  16. David Rose is off reporting on another fake “emergency meeting of the IPCC”.

  17. Thanks for the responses to my “What Study, David Rose, Please’ notes above.

    This is the study referenced within the NASA article linked to by JCH:

    Xiao-Hai Yan, Tim Boyer, Kevin Trenberth, Thomas R. Karl, Shang-Ping Xie, Veronica Nieves, Ka-Kit Tung, Dean Roemmich. The global warming hiatus: Slowdown or redistribution? Earth’s Future, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000417

    The Mail article has been reposted verbatim to WUWT, of course — but in this case the obvious errors and misinterpretations have been flagged by some hard-working people, notably Nick Stokes. Opinion is actually running against the article, excepting the Cranky Insult Dog antics of some nutters.

  18. In addition to moving the goal posts, Rose has shifted the stadium-

    He’d be laughed out of town if he ran this rot in his usual Canadian venue , as northern Post readers accustomed to being frozen solid this time of year are experiencing unprecededentally high temperatures instead.

    • Just because it’s 11.3 degrees at 12:37 when the mean for today is 3.8? Yep, we would definitely laugh at him.

      Pity he didn’t publish in the National Post. It might help.

  19. I can emphatically tell you that EVERY climatology story has also cherry picked their data points. Why do you think they use 197u as their start date? 1977 was the coldest year postwar. Get you head out of the sand and let the math speak for itself.

    • Exactly, I concur at the risk of being villified again. If we were to pick our starting date at the fiery start of our globe and the ending point of today, there would be a very significant cooling trend – extend this to the globe being engulfed by the dying sun, there would be no trend at all.

      [Response: If you don’t want to be villified, stop posting bullshit. Trends are not necessarily linear, and extending from the birth of the earth to its death won’t change the fact that the trend is upward now.

      As for Roy Case’s bullshit, 1977 was not the coldest year post-WW2, that was 1956 (according to NASA and NOAA and HadCRU) or 1964 (according to Cowtan & Way and Berkeley Earth), and I didn’t choose 1977 as a cherry-pick, I selected it because Ross Clark specifically referred to the “last 40 years.” It’s also near a time when there is a demonstrable change in the trend rate, which is far more than one can honestly say about the 1997/1998 bullshit we see and hear from deniers all the time.

      There are good reasons to begin graphs in the 1970s, and selecting a starting point for good reason isn’t cherry picking. Most deniers accuse honest analysts both to discredit them, and to draw attention away from their own ceaseless cherry-picking.]

      • [Response: If you don’t want to be villified, stop posting bullshit. Trends are not necessarily linear, and extending from the birth of the earth to its death won’t change the fact that the trend is upward now.

        Oh! Dear. Here we go again. The point is that, by picking some starting and ending points, ANY trend can be demonstrated. You pick your preferred dates, your opponents pick theirs. I did not dispute the current warming trend.

        [Response: Oh dear! Here we go again. NO, you can NOT demonstrate any trend by picking some starting and ending points. You might think you can — and deniers make such claims relentlessly, but if you do the analysis right, it can’t be done. Bullshit claims that it can be, are part and parcel of the denial process.]


    • RoyC: “1977 was the coldest year postwar.” HUH??? Are you confusing 1977 (GISS anomaly +.18) with the colder, but not that cold 1976 (GISS anomaly -.12)???

      That said, over longer time periods Starting at a local min or local max matters less and less. In the present example, tarting in 1976 and running to 2015 you get a trend estimate of 0.017410/yr +/-.001. Starting in 1977 and a full .30C higher we get a trend estimate of 0.016575/yr +/-.001. Looks pretty much like the same trend estimate to me.

      Not sure how to embed an image here but a graph of the trends and 95% CIs is available here: .

      If you can point out how starting at a local min or max 40 years back changes things outside of normal error, I’d be interested to see your analysis.Barring that, your simple statement seems dead wrong.

  20. Case, the satellites only went up in December 1978.

  21. Cherries indeed. Another aspect of this cherry is the discrepancy between RSS3.3 TMT/TTT land and RSS3.3TLT land. TLT land drops more than 0.615 deg from September to October. TMT land drop is 0.24. The two UAH TLT land versions drop 0.22/0.23

    This looks like a very strange cherry.

  22. wasn’t the relative cooling of the 50’s 60’s and 70’s to do with aerosol/industrial pollution, and to some extent masked the ongoing C02 warming

    so all perfectly consistent with AGW theory

  23. “How stupid does David Rose think you are?”

    He knows how stupid you are if you’re reading a Daily Mail article.

  24. Henry Fountain has cited you in the New York Times:

    The House committee’s Twitter post drew sharp rebukes from scientists and others, including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who wrote on Twitter referring to an academic expert cited in the article.

    Bernie Sanders @SenSanders

    “Where’d you get your PhD? Trump University?

    The Daily Mail report, which was written by David Rose, was also strongly disputed online. One blogger headlined a post on the subject: “How Stupid Does David Rose Think You Are?”

    Unfortunately, as clear as the article is to the literate and science-literate, it still presents the material 60:40ish, imnsho.

  25. Excellent post. I read about this nonsense first on Breitbart, and I was so incensed by the false conclusions that I created a disqus account there so I could (in a civil manner) refute some of these points. To my surprise (perhaps I shouldn’t have been) these comments got me literally BLACKLISTED from Breitbart by the moderator. All my carefully constructed rebuttals went down the memory hole.

    So no, it’s not about getting the science right. It’s about making the data fit (in an awkward and ridiculous manner, as you’ve beautifully demonstrated) what they WANT to be true. And no discussion to the contrary is permissible. So much for freedom of speech…

    Heads in the sand, all.

  26. It might be and idea to leave the word “believe” out of the conversation referring to climate change. It is a word suited to religion. Maybe better to use the term accept climate change evidence or reject the presented climate change figures etc. That word “believe” is redundant in this context but offers some kind of partial cover to deniers.

  27. Have you read the comments on the David Rose article? The overwhelming majority seem to agree with Rose that climate change is a hoax. I wonder if people really are that stupid/misled or there is major astroturfing happening in these public online forums. (I strongly suggest the latter.)

  28. IMO, David Rose is not stupid, he’s malicious. He, like Trump, knows that AGW is real and manmade. That’s no big assumption/ inference on my part and no big deal.

    Just as Trump never believed in the birther argument. His purpose was to humiliate his own leader while joining others in the Republican Party and the right worldwide in praising Russia’s Putin, an oil klepto. Arguments by climate scientists about man made climate change should be made but do not expect them to make ANY difference. Why? The oil economies of Russia, Kansas (of Gov. Brownback and Koch), Alaska, Oklahoma and many others say those arguments make not the slightest bit of difference. They look to ppl like Ray Kurtzweil of Google who pushing five year dates as to when AGW will start to be pushed back with space and (nano) atmospheric technology.

  29. Important point by Sunrise250. My old copy of the “shorter” Oxford English Distionary (only two very thick books) list two meanings for “belief” and they could not be more different. On one hand, it may be used as a synonym for “faith,” which of course requires no evidence. On the other hand, “belief” can mean acceptance of a fact or concept based upon solid evidence. This ambiguity in the meaning of “belief” is often consciously or unconsciously used by creationists, climate denialists, etc. in the rhetorical games they play to mask the absence of evidence for their nonsense. For many years I have been badgering friends about what I call “The Dishonest of Belief.”

  30. Wait a minute. I thought that the Daily Mail was like The Onion. Are you telling me that they print real news?

  31. Agree every bit of it!
    I have lived in Mumbai, India for past 29 years and have observed the weather there. The raindrops are much heavier than they used to be. Rain falls in much more intense spells than they did before. In July, we see about 27 days of rain but now it has gone down to about 20 and still the average is reached. The monsoon’s withdrawal also seems to have extended from the long term average of 29 Sept to around the 10th Oct. Post-monsoon there is a transition month that lasted whole of October with hot weather known locally as October Heat. Now, that has moved to the month of November. The city has to wait till mid-December for the winter feel which usually set it by the start of the month. I may not have the data to conclusively prove these points but its just raw observation since childhood that tell me that something is not right up there. No David Rose or any other climate change denier can change that!

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