Repeating Bullshit

Question: How does a dumb claim go from just a dumb claim, to accepted canon by the climate change denialati?

Answer: Repetition.

Yes, keep repeating it. If it’s contradicted by evidence, ignore that or insult that. Repeat it again. If you’re asked for evidence, ignore that or insult that, just keep repeating it. That’s how things get burned into brains.

Case in point: Bob Tisdale has joined the brigade quoting Judith Curry’s bold claim that “early 20th century global warming … is almost as large as the warming since 1950.”

So I asked him, over at the WUWT blog, how much the early warming was, and how much warming we’ve had “since 1950.” I asked politely. He replied that he was sure I could do it myself, and he had no need to waste his time with something so simple.

So I asked again. I mentioned that he had quoted Curry himself, and had thanked her for the post which it begins, suggesting he agreed with her claim. I asked him whether or not that was the case. And I asked about how his numbers might support or oppose such a claim. I mentioned that my readers might be suspicious of his avoiding answering.

He replied again, saying that he had signed his previous response “Adios” because he was saying “good-bye” and he meant it. He added some stuff about climate models, which was not the topic I was asking about. It’s an interesting topic, I might post about it soon, but it had nothing to do with the questions I had asked.

In my opinion, “Adios” is his way of avoiding the issue. Also in my opinion, he wants to avoid it because he doesn’t use “skepticism” when it comes to claims from Judith Curry, especially when he likes the implication of “almost as large.” He never even bothered to find out whether or not it’s true.

Also my opinion: Judith Curry never bothered to find out whether or not it’s true either. She certainly didn’t mention how much the early warming was, or how much “since 1950,” despite the fact that it was the entire topic of her own post (that Tisdale quotes).

If you’re going to claim that “A” is “almost as large” as “B”, shouldn’t you be able to answer the questions: “How big is A? How big is B?”

But — Judith Curry says so, others repeat it, some (like Tisdale) are inspired by it, with new fodder for other attacks on the science of climate change. Curry’s original claim, which I have yet to see her provide any evidence for, is morphing from the simple bullshit it was at the start, to the kind of “canon” among deniers that feeds their lust for denial.

As for the two warming episodes (early and late), I’ve done a lot of analysis of that, but rather than repeat the numbers, I’ll just show the graph. I’ll use annual average global temperature anomaly from NASA (Bob Tisdale seems to like that choice). I’ll plot it as a black line, from the year 1910 up to 1970 (which includes the “early 20th century warming”). Then I’ll plot it again, as a red line, but shifted back in time and down in temperature, so we can directly compare how the early warming (in black) compares to the later warming (in red):

Or, let’s try this graph:

Was the early 20th century warming “almost as large” as the warming “since 1950”? You make the call.

This blog is made possible by readers like you; join others by donating at My Wee Dragon.


25 responses to “Repeating Bullshit

  1. Reblogged this on Hypergeometric and commented:
    Yeah, how much was it?

  2. that which can be stated should be stated clearly. Almost as large is not a clear statement. It is just rhetoric. Adios, bobby.

    I don’t know what should be done, but I am inclined to respond to the description as “almost as large” as simply untrue/incorrect and provide the numbers as you know them. That way the record is quite clear even in the realms where the denialati reside and engage. I think pushing them to provide the numbers leads to the impasse you encountered. Stating the numbers clearly and describing their presentation as untrue/incorrect seems better to me.

    I figure we have to manage our time setting engaging with these folks. I think it makes sense to set the record straight, but many/most? of the denialati are not engaging in good faith, they are engaging rhetoric and pushing their ideology. We can engage and work easily in accurate scientific presentation. When things degrade to the usual give and take, the bystanders think, there is a real argument or that “both sides do it.”

    Cheers, I appreciate your work.


  3. Keith McClary

    Hey, where you labelled “Recent Warming”, isn’t that the “Hiatus”?

  4. I rarely go to WTHFIUWT, but I did for this one. Wow, what a pusillanimous response from Mr. Tisdale. On top of claiming that you are the one who “belabor[s] simple things to the point of absurdity.”
    What a jerk.

  5. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse


    If you’re going to claim that “A” is “almost as large” as “B”, shouldn’t you be able to answer the questions: “How big is A? How big is B?”


    If what i said was utter nonsense, why is anyone here talking about it, I have 440 comments in 24 hours.

    One of the advantages of spending time in the blogosphere where you don’t just moderate comments out of existence that are inconvenient is that you understand that nobody is going to respond to a vehement accusation against somebody without some sort of an argument or evidence. i’ve put something forth to talk about that 440 people want to talk about, with almost 10,000 hits today.

    If early 20th century global warming was not “almost as large as the warming since 1950”, why are we talking about it?

    So there.

    • Timothy (likes zebras)


      If the Emperor were not wearing such fine new clothes, why would we be talking about them?

  6. Could one measure the area under the curve and have a value?

  7. Always enjoyed HotWhopper’s ridicule of the fools over at WUWT. They don’t respond well to actual science, facts, evidence or proof of their many erroneous claims. It’s just easier to avoid it, al-la “adios”. Which is exactly how most of the world treats these clowns. There isn’t a single credible post on their entire website.

  8. Curry and friends have invested too much time in fabricating this “information” to let it go now. I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts getting hyped on fox and friends.

  9. Going by your graph it appears to be about 0.73 Red (start to finish),
    0.6 Black (start to peak of warming).
    It would be easier to compare if you started both lines from the same point IMO.

    [Response: The red line rises more than 1 deg.C.]

  10. It seems that the early 20th century warming started just as fast as the late 20th century, but then for some reason stopped to warm for decades. This is a bit odd. CO2-emissions were not negative in those years (from 1945 to 1975). Somehow warming just can stop for no obvious reasons.

    • No, warming can not stop for no obvious reason, there always has to be a reason, obvious or otherwise.

      If you think about what happened to industrial production during the Second World War and the period of unprecedented and rapid economic growth and expansion of coal-powered electrification following the War, the reason becomes rather obvious. Recall that this was the era before the regulation of sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions and the requirement of pollution control equipment on power plant stacks and catalytic converters on vehicle exhaust systems. It is well known that those emissions reflect and scatter incoming sunlight, thereby *lowering* surface temperature. It wasn’t that warming caused by rising CO2 stopped, rather that the warming was counteracted by the simultaneous cooling caused by industrial scale aerosols, resulting a temporary flat trend in temperature. Once the Clean Air Act and similar legislation in the UK and Europe took effect to reduce those aerosols the underlying CO2-driven warming trend that had been there all along was unmasked and temperature quickly climbed to where it would have been without aerosol cooling, and kept on climbing since CO2 emissions were not reduced by those pollution controls.

      • “No obvious reason” means no reasons that are obvious.

        It doesn’t mean “no reason”. It means either no reason or a reason that is non-obvious.

        I didn’t interpret Raymond’s comment as literally saying that the temperature changes were magic; happening for no reason at all.

  11. “Somehow warming just can stop for no obvious reasons.” . . . BPL: The mid-20th century pause is attributed to aerosols generated by industrialization, especially as the world ramped up production for World War II and for recovery after it.

  12. Are you aware of a site that lists Climate Change economic indicators? I’ve started to see some posts regarding costal real estate and we’ve been hearing about the flood insurance market for years. Some talk about stranded assets in the FF industry.

    I came across this, if you haven’t seen it already:

    Click to access IAIS_and_SIF_Issues_Paper_on_Climate_Change_Risks_to_the_Insurance_Sector_-1.pdf

  13. Timothy (likes zebras)

    These are great graphs.

  14. At first sight, I was quite encouraged to see the graphs compiring the pre-1950 warming with recent decades. But now I’m more conscious of the grand wobblology interpretation being likely encouraged by the comparison.

    One interpretation of Blog Mom Judy’s comment that “a careful look at the early 20th century global warming, which is almost as large as the warming since 1950” is that by “almost” she means “of the same order of magnitude.
    Now add to this her following statement “Until we can explain the early 20th century warming, I have little confidence IPCC and NCA4 attribution statements regarding the cause of the recent warming.” I read this as saying that the pre-1950 warmng will be then considered as wholly an internal variation wobble. And so it surely must be again acting warming the world (a bit of a giant leap for denialist-kind) so we can subtract it from today’s warming to reveal the AGW. If such a natural wobble were again in action today, it would massively reduce the attributable impact of AGW’s contribution, perhaps halving it.
    Thus, if both wobbles were of identical rate and if the earlier warming were 25 years-long and the recent warming 50 years-long, then half of the recent warming can be attributed to internal variation.
    So says the wise old unicorn farmer.

    What is lost with this denialist argument is that there was significant AGW pre-1950. Back then, anthropogenic forcing is estimated (IPCC A5 AII table AII.1.2) as increasing at one-quarter the rate of today, and had been since the latter half of the 1800s. So, as a back-of-fag-packet estimate, we should expect a warming due to AGW 1910-50 to be one-quarter the rate of today.
    Of course, in Blog-Mom-speak, it is all about CO2 and the increase 1910-45 was “almost an order of magnitude greater CO2 increase” so such a consideration can be entirely dismissed out-of-hand. In denialist-speak, 25%=zero.

    And importantly, the rate pre-1950 warming was signifiantly less than the recent warming. It was about two-thirds the rate. So back-of-fag-packet, perhaps 40% of that two-thirds-of-the-modern-rate would be AGW 1910-45. Add on the forcing resulting from the aftermath of the volcanism at the turn of the century plus the AGW it masked for some decades and Judy’s big natural wobble pretty-much disappears. Indeed, go back before the volcanism, say 1880. The early wobble is now smaller in magnitude, generously +0.35ºC, with a lower rate of increase to 1945 +0.05ºC/decade. That is just a quarter the rate of recent decades which, golly, is the same as the net anthropogenic forcing ratio.

    Of course, to do it properly, a GCM should be employed (which is what grown-ups do – see for instance the IPCC) and with GCMs the result does reduce the natural variation to insignificance. But Judy doesn’t want to know. She is a Blog Mom. She doen’t do proper science.

    So concluding, I really would prefer to see the smoothed lines in the lower of the graphs in the OP compared. The difference in rate of warming is an important factor in demonstrating the nonsense repeatedly spouted by dear Judy.

  15. I think this is a very old meme (Lindzen?) that made some sense a few decades ago, but just keep being repeated by people who never check the data. A more recent example is the “pause” where people are still convinced the warming has stopped.

  16. In the conversation swirling around this, there is a blithe shift of tack among the usual suspects from overall warming to rate of warming. You only have to look here at recent threads on this very item to see it.

  17. This is a pretty deceptive blog post,
    Look at his colour scale. shades of red for hot and shades of blue, then green for cold. Why not just shades of blue? because then the cold wouldn’t look very cold…

  18. Just looking at your second graph here, if you take the temp increase from about 1905 to about 1945, would it not be similar to the temp increase from 1945 to 2018? The later warming period appears to be more, based on your graph, but by a fairly small margin.

    [Response: For some people, 2 is larger than 1, but by “a fairly small margin.”]

    • I feel this is a disingenuous response. Tell me then, what is the difference in temp increase during these two periods? Eye balling your graph, it looks like the period from 1905 to 1945 would be an increase of about .6 degrees and the period from 1945 to 2018 would be about .75 degrees. Am I wrong?

      [Response: To stretch the early period to cover 0.6 deg.C, you have to include the noise, not just the signal. That’s cheating. Isn’t it odd that you cheated that way in favor of the early change being large, but you didn’t extend that courtesy to the later change? Does that meet your criteria for “disingenuous”?

      Then there’s your choice to short-change the later period by starting it in 1945. Judith Curry didn’t say “since 1945,” she said “since 1950.”

      Allowing yourself to cheat, so the early warming gets bigger and the later warming gets smaller, puts you in contention for “King of disingenuous.” Am I wrong?]