It started with David Rose in the U.K. Daily Mail, was followed by a variant from Ross Clark in the U.K. Spectator, and now another version has appeared by James Delingpole in Breitbart News. They’re textbook examples of how fact is twisted to mislead, then travels around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.
A great deal of discussion lately has centered around the idea of a recent “slowdown” in global temperature. With 2016 destined to break the hottest-year-ever record for the third time in a row, it would seem to be over now, even if it was real. I say “if” because scientists disagree about whether or not it ever was even a real thing — and I’m one of those who thinks it was not.
A new paper in Nature Communications investigates the likelihood of a “prolonged slowdown in global warming in the early 21st century.” But like most (if not all) papers that discuss the so-called “slowdown” it does nothing to establish that such a slowdown is real, that it was anything but random fluctuation that looks like a slowdown. Those who do statistics, and do it right, learned one of its most important lessons a long, long time ago: that “looks like” is a very bad way to draw conclusions.