Close but no cigar

In all honesty I respect the move to shore up Roger Pielke’s first meaningful post with an independent review. I think that Silver is again trying to answer the least important question.

Roger is not a climate “skeptic” or “denier.” He has written at FiveThirtyEight — and he has testified before Congress — that he believes in the thesis of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), that he considers it a serious problem, and that he thinks society should make efforts to mitigate it.

I have committed the same sin of labeling Pielke as simply a ‘denier’, but to be honest I think that describes his niche not very well. Pielke is not a partisan grunt like Glenn Beck or Marc Thiessen. Pielke dovetails with the outright denial community only in that they serve the same purpose. People like Christopher Monckton and the Heartland Institute throw poo and make sure to take the other side of every point no matter how minor. Pielke works more like David Brooks, a guy who keeps some credibility by never quite attacking science head on. Instead he picks away at subsidiary points such as the likelihood of serious harm, which obviously has a bearing on whether we should do anything. When it comes to any possible policy initiative, well gosh darn it, Roger Pielke and friends such as the Center for Science and Policy Outcomes (look it up) always come out against. You might think people who think climate is a problem would propose an alternative. You know, Newt Gingrich had no love for the individual mandate but it muddied the water enough to keep Clintoncare at bay. Yet somehow even that never happens.

You could argue that the Pielke gambit gives up rhetorical ground in the debate that industry folks would rather not cede, but Exxon has people for that. Whether he does it for business or pleasure Roger Pielke Jr. spreads the word against climate progress in places where Christopher Monckton can’t go.






79 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    Thats the sense I got from Pielke’s work.

  2. 2
    Lolis says:

    Not that he gives a shit, but I have been unimpressed with Silver’s comments and behaviors over the past week or so. I am not the only one. He is losing a lot of fans, it seems.

  3. 3

    I am disappointed. I expected better than Slate with Statistics from Silver.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    This is why I rarely leave the boat. There ain’t nothing worthwhile out there.

  5. 5
    kindness says:

    Nate is a smart guy who is either being snookered or he’s too invested to see he’s being played. Sucks to be Nate (other than all the moola he now has).

  6. 6
    Hunter Gathers says:

    I wonder which would piss Nate Silver off more: questioning his hiring practices or saying that WAR is a complete bullshit baseball statistic?

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    Dogpile on the databros.

  8. 8
    chopper says:

    exactly. pielke is less a denier as he is a ‘what of it?’ guy. fellow travelers in the sphere of climate denial, and the same category many deniers will reach after a few more years.

  9. 9
    lol says:

    TPM had the right take on it. Silver assumed all the experts in areas outside of politics/sports were also innumerate hacks and seems caught off-guard by the realization that they’re not. They possess actual knowledge of policy and have data to back up their opinions.

  10. 10
    chopper says:

    it also makes me happy that people are not letting up on the guy. they know what his rhetoric means and they know where it leads, and they know who it is used in service of. we’ve seen this line of argument before and we’re not letting it go.

  11. 11
    Erin says:

    Did anyone actually read the article? It says that there are more droughts and changes in precipitation due to global warming, but that they aren’t primary factors in the cost of disaster relief.

    It goes on to say that the cost of disaster relief is higher in more developed countries, and it rises with GDP. Almost entirely due to increased property losses, because we have more property.

    This is, like, the least controversial shit ever and for some reason it makes the guy a part of climate change denial?

  12. 12
    lol says:

    Piekle is merely in the middle of the spectrum of climate change denialism.

    1. it’s not happening
    2. we didn’t cause it
    3. there’s nothing we can do
    4. it’s too expensive to do anything
    5. we shouldn’t bother because everyone else won’t
    6. it’s good for us
    7. it’s too late to do anything now

  13. 13
    Gex says:

    So he basically plays his role in the usual right wing tactic:

    1. There is no problem.
    2. There is a problem but it won’t have a very big affect. (Where this dude is now)
    3. There is a problem, it will have a big effect, but it is too late/too expensive to address it now.

    Wonder when he’ll move on to stage 3.

    @Lolis: This. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I personally haven’t paid enough attention to his new outfit to know whether or not they have a gender problem, but his response to someone suggesting that they might have a gender problem was essentially to say, “We’re nerds, not jocks, so we can’t be sexist.” Really? Wow, count me convinced by the presented evidence, Mr. Data Driven!

  14. 14
    smintheus says:

    Interesting analysis. Don’t know the guy’s oeuvre, but it sounds as if he’s working from the older conservative playbook (i.e. of my youth), in which for any problem that became a political issue the pragmatic, sensible conservatives were in favor of doing *something*…but just not right now.

  15. 15
    smintheus says:

    @lol: There are of course plenty of political experts who possess actual and detailed knowledge. Silver isn’t one of them and neither are the fool pundits he crossed swords with. Silver’s area of expertise was in aggregating public opinion polls for elections; a different kind of sports forecasting, elections largely devoid of substance.

  16. 16
    Cacti says:

    I think Nate is turning into a shining example of the Peter Principle.

    Should have stuck with political handicapping, where he’s a true savant.

  17. 17
    NobodySpecial says:

    Analogous is the guy who admits the engine knocking is a problem, but doesn’t want to get the car fixed or change his driving habits until the engine blows. He’ll then stand on the side looking at his new piece of unmoving metal and complain that it broke.

  18. 18
    Roger Moore says:

    @lol:
    8. Yes we should do something, but not whatever you’re suggesting.

    @Erin:
    I think what you’re missing is that this is part of a broad opposition to action on global warming. Rather than engaging in outright denial, he’s arguing against action on climate change. The biggest danger of climate change is that it’s a long-term, cumulative effect. By the time we see climate disasters big enough that the cost specifically attributable to climate change rises above the noise of year to year variation, there will be a large, irreversible damage. It’s Cheney’s 1% doctrine turned on its head: even though the danger of climate change is clear and a broad consensus, we can’t do anything as long as there’s a sliver of a doubt.

  19. 19
    Erin says:

    I think the real problem is that most of you are smug assholes who seem to think you know more than actual scientists?

    Here’s a report that was referenced, saying it’s essentially too soon to tell if we’re causing an increase in the intensity and duration of tropical storms.

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748...../fulltext/

    And here’s another one from a group that publishes climate change reports for the UN that says essentially the same thing. “Yeah, we’re probably making tropical storms a bit worse but it’s too soon to say with any degree of accuracy”

    Page 8, also referenced in the article
    http://www.climatechange2013.o....._FINAL.pdf

    The article is pretty accurate, since it looks like the changes that we’re the most sure that we’re causing, droughts and heat waves, don’t increase disaster spending that much. The biggest disasters that we might be contributing to, tropical storms, are so huge and complicated that even the UN and leading journals aren’t willing to say that we’re making them worse.

    You’re just a bunch of douchebags that won’t do your homework and think you know better than the experts. I’m no climate change denier, but I’m willing to actually read the sources and the article doesn’t deserve this amount of shit.

  20. 20
    Erin says:

    @Roger Moore: It’s not Cheney’s anything, it’s statistical analysis of published data. Your butt just hurts because it doesn’t completely agree with your preconceived notions of current climate science, as published by the UN and respected journals.

    Scientists are more conservative about their predictions than a bunch of internet know-it-alls.

  21. 21
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    I wonder which would piss Nate Silver off more: questioning his hiring practices or saying that WAR is a complete bullshit baseball statistic?

    Questioning his hiring practices. WAR is based in real numbers, so no matter how you attack it he has some kind of defense. If you simply call it bullshit, he can blow you off as an innumerate crank; if you challenge it statistically, he can counter your argument statistically. His hiring practices don’t have the same kind of objective support, so he can only defend them through an imprecise argument based on his personal judgment, which will inevitably be more emotional and piss him off more.

  22. 22
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Erin: You’re just a bunch of douchebags that won’t do your homework and think you know better than the experts.

    Do you win a lot of arguments this way?

  23. 23
    Erin says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Arguments about science aren’t won or lost, they’re supported by the data or they are not.

    Douchebag.

  24. 24
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Erin: Douchebag.

    Show your data, please.

  25. 25
    MikeJ says:

    The cost of repairing damage from climate change will go down in the future, not up like you libtards say.

    If another superstorm Sandy hit tomorrow,the repair costs would be half of what they were last time since so many things still haven’t been fixed. If another storm hit a week later it would cause even less damage. And so on.

    Once everything near a coast has been destroyed, the price of tropical storm damage goes to zero.

    I’m expecting an offer from Slate very soon.

  26. 26
    Erin says:

    @Erin: I already did, read the above links and re-read the article.

  27. 27
    Chyron HR says:

    @Erin:

    “Buh-buh-but we have a petition signed by 5,000 MDs saying they think anthopomorphic climate change is a hoax! WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE DOCTORS? YOU ARE THE REAL DENIALISTS!”

  28. 28
    Trollhattan says:

    @Erin:

    Did somebody say “costs”? Per Pielke’s calculus, what is the cost of one life? The next force 4 or 5 typhoon that hits Bangladesh, India, Indonesia or China head on, let’s gather and consider the value to be placed on each life lost then decide whether it behooves us to spend hard-earned Dollars, Euros, Yen and Yuan today, to lower carbon emissions and lessen the odds, tomorrow.

    Sheesh, it’s always freaknomics with These People.

  29. 29
    gwangung says:

    @Erin: yeah, but you’re awfully close to using the innate conservative cast of research articles against what the data says.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @Erin:

    The article is pretty accurate, since it looks like the changes that we’re the most sure that we’re causing, droughts and heat waves, don’t increase disaster spending that much.

    IOW, looking at the economic costs of climate disasters is a bad way of looking for concrete effects of climate change, because the effects we’re pretty sure are real are swamped by noise from events that we know damn well aren’t caused by climate change, like the earthquakes Pielke included in his statistics. It’s a nonsensical way of looking at the effects of climate change.

  31. 31
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Erin: If you’re going to call me a douchebag, then, by your rules, you have to prove I am.

  32. 32
    Trollhattan says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Erin go, “baaah”?

  33. 33
    raven says:

    Great March Madness lineup tonight!

  34. 34
    Erin says:

    @Trollhattan: In the links I provided, and the same ones that the article referenced, it clearly states that there’s no basis to assume that people are contributing to the intensity and duration of hurricanes or cyclones.

    It even says that the predictive models are incapable of showing any human influence for the next 100+ years.

    You know what? We’re probably contributing to the intensity and duration of tropical storms. But to say, right now, that you’re ABSOLUTELY SURE we are is ignoring the scientific evidence that we currently have available.

    The article makes no assumptions that can’t be supported by evidence, which is the appropriate way to analyze data.

  35. 35
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: Good point.

  36. 36
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Roger Moore:

    WAR is based in real numbers

    It proceeds from a false assumption – that there is such a thing as a ‘replacement level player’. A player who can be replaced by someone in AAA and provide the same ‘value’. There’s a huge difference between The Show and AAA. Watch a AAA game sometime and you’d know the difference. WAR is just a way to boil down a players’s performance to a single number. Reducing anything to a single number is a shitty way to evaluate anything.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Trollhattan: This is because they make the classic mistake of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:

    FWIW, I think the Pielke article is attracting a lot of negative attention while some of the other science articles on 538 are actually pretty good. Emily Oster has a couple of quite good articles, one about the recently published report that childhood obesity is dropping and one about a couple of studies on acetaminophen use by pregnant women. She makes good arguments about why you should or shouldn’t take the articles seriously and what kinds of followup might clarify the results further. It’s the kind of “don’t go crazy based on one study” science writing that we need more of.

  39. 39
    srv says:

    Is there a good baseball metaphor for Nate’s opener?

  40. 40
    Cervantes says:

    I have committed the same sin of labeling Pielke as simply a ‘denier’, but to be honest I think that describes his niche not very well.

    Statements are often taken out of context. Maybe it’s useful to be clear about which Roger Pielke, father or son, is being discussed.

  41. 41
    raven says:

    @srv: Delayed on account of inclement weather?

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Erin:

    We’re probably contributing to the intensity and duration of tropical storms. But to say, right now, that you’re ABSOLUTELY SURE we are is ignoring the scientific evidence that we currently have available.

    So we should wait until we’re ABSOLUTELY SURE that humans are contributing to the intensity and duration of tropical storms before we do anything to try and reduce carbon emissions?

    Of course, given the conservative ability to deny established science (evolution never happened! the universe was created 6,000 years ago!), we’re never going to be ABSOLUTELY SURE that anthropogenic climate change is happening. We could be scraping algae off the beaches to try and get sustenance and you’ll still have conservatives arguing that there’s no proof that the fact that New York state is a desert was caused by humans because shut up, that’s why.

  43. 43
    chopper says:

    shut up! pielke’s a scientist! a political scientist, which isn’t an actual scientist, but still! shut up!

  44. 44
    nalbar says:

    @srv:

    Foul tip into the catchers glove.

  45. 45
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    It proceeds from a false assumption – that there is such a thing as a ‘replacement level player’.

    Whether that’s true or not, it’s unlikely to affect the way Nate Silver thinks about WAR. He is clearly in the camp that believes that replacement level is a useful concept, so he will see the argument as basically factual rather than emotional. That was my point beyond any detailed argument about the validity of WAR.

    FWIW, I think you’re somewhat misunderstanding the concept of replacement level. Replacement level isn’t about AAA players specifically; it’s about the level of talent that’s available essentially for nothing beyond paying the major league minimum salary. That could be a AAA veteran, an aging major leaguer who you can easily sign to a minor league contract, or a waiver-wire pickup. And it doesn’t really matter whether there’s a qualitative difference between AAA and the majors; the question is how much a player adds beyond the guy you can pick up for nothing.

    As far as trying to narrow things down to a single number, we do that officially already. The only number that matters is the number in the W column at the end of the season. It certainly seems reasonable to try to figure out how much a given player affects that one crucial number, even if you can and should criticize the accuracy and precision with which we can make that measurement.

  46. 46
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    So we should wait until we’re ABSOLUTELY SURE that humans are contributing to the intensity and duration of tropical storms before we do anything to try and reduce carbon emissions?

    Did you notice that Erin said nothing about waiting?

  47. 47
    chopper says:

    @Erin:

    There’s no such thing as ‘absolute certainty’ in science, especially when it comes to predicting future phenomena. come on, you should know this.

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    @nalbar:

    Foul tip into the catchers glove.

    The second part goes without saying. It’s only a foul tip if it goes directly from the bat to the catcher’s hand and is caught; since all catchers these days keep their bare hand protected while catching, that can only mean into the catcher’s mitt. If it’s fouled so that it touches anything else first or isn’t caught, it’s a foul ball, not a foul tip. See Rule 2.00, FOUL TIP./baseball pedant

  49. 49
    chopper says:

    @Erin:

    Shut up, douchebag! Why are you all such douchebags?

  50. 50
    cyntax says:

    @Erin:

    There actually is a broad consensus within the scientific community that that we are warming the globe with CO2 emissions.

    Here’s a report from 2001 to that effect.

    The conclusions reached in this document have been explicitly endorsed by …

    Academia Brasiliera de Ciências (Bazil)
    Royal Society of Canada
    Chinese Academy of Sciences
    Academié des Sciences (France)
    Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany)
    Indian National Science Academy
    Accademia dei Lincei (Italy)
    Science Council of Japan
    Russian Academy of Sciences
    Royal Society (United Kingdom)
    National Academy of Sciences (United States of America)
    Australian Academy of Sciences
    Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts
    Caribbean Academy of Sciences
    Indonesian Academy of Sciences
    Royal Irish Academy
    Academy of Sciences Malaysia
    Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cervantes:

    What do you think the argument that global warming isn’t really causing damage is meant to do? Is it a purely philosophical argument that’s not meant to influence the public debate over global warming, or is it an argument to a purpose?

  52. 52
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Erin: You might want to review some of the history of Pielke Jr.’s “analysis” of climate issues. For example, this piece at Real Climate:

    Does global warming make extreme weather events worse? Here is the #1 flawed reasoning you will have seen about this question: it is the classic confusion between absence of evidence and evidence for absence of an effect of global warming on extreme weather events. Sounds complicated? It isn’t. I’ll first explain it in simple terms and then give some real-life examples.

    The two most fundamental properties of extreme events are that they are rare (by definition) and highly random. These two aspects (together with limitations in the data we have) make it very hard to demonstrate any significant changes. And they make it very easy to find all sorts of statistics that do not show an effect of global warming – even if it exists and is quite large.

    […]

    The cost of extreme weather events

    If an increase in extreme weather events due to global warming is hard to prove by statistics amongst all the noise, how much harder is it to demonstrate an increase in damage cost due to global warming? Very much harder! A number of confounding socio-economic factors clouds this issue which are very hard to quantify and disentangle. Some factors act to increase the damage, like larger property values in harm’s way. Some act to decrease it, like more solid buildings (whether from better building codes or simply as a result of increased wealth) and better early warnings. Thus it is not surprising that the literature on this subject overall gives inconclusive results. Some studies find significant damage trends after adjusting for GDP, some don’t, tempting some pundits to play cite-what-I-like. The fact that the increase in damage cost is about as large as the increase in GDP (as recently argued at FiveThirtyEight) is certainly no strong evidence against an effect of global warming on damage cost. Like the stranger’s dozen rolls of dice in the pub, one simply cannot tell from these data.

    The emphasis on questionable dollar-cost estimates distracts from the real issue of global warming’s impact on us. The European heat wave of 2003 may not have destroyed any buildings – but it is well documented that it caused about 70,000 fatalities. This is the type of event for which the probability has increased by a factor of five due to global warming – and is likely to rise to a factor twelve over the next thirty years. Poor countries, whose inhabitants hardly contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions, are struggling to recover from “natural” disasters, like Pakistan from the 2010 floods or the Philippines and Vietnam from tropical storm Haiyan last year. The families who lost their belongings and loved ones in such events hardly register in the global dollar-cost tally.

    […]

    One needs to consider where the author is coming from – not just what they present, but what they leave out – when deciding whether they’re giving an accurate picture of an issue.

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  53. 53
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    What do you think the argument that global warming isn’t really causing damage is meant to do? Is it a purely philosophical argument that’s not meant to influence the public debate over global warming, or is it an argument to a purpose?

    “Global warming isn’t really causing damage”?

    Is someone actually making that argument here? Unbelievable!

  54. 54
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    This; I tried to say the same thing, but you said it better. With something as important as global warming, there’s no such thing as an abstract argument. Every argument about the size of effects of global warming is also an argument about what kinds of actions we should take. Saying “of course we should do something about global warming, but there’s no real effect on disasters” is bullshit; the part about “of course we should do something” is nothing but a cover to prevent people from dismissing you outright as a denialist.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cervantes:

    Hey, if you want to argue on the side of global warming denialists who say that, sure, there’s some effect, but not anything worth worrying about, then be my guest. Just don’t fool yourself about which side you’re taking.

  56. 56
    Cervantes says:

    In all honesty I respect the move to shore up Roger Pielke’s first meaningful post with an independent review.

    I’ll wait until I see the independent but I agree: at least he is not ignoring the criticism.

    But there’s also this:

    There are two types of criticism that we’re most concerned with. First is criticism of our execution: How well are we living up to the standards that we’ve set for ourselves? Second is criticism that comes from our broader community of readers, such as on Twitter, by email or in the comments section of our website (as opposed to criticism from other people in the news media).

    Is he really saying what I think he’s saying? That criticism from “the broader community of readers” can’t touch the question of how well he is “living up to [his] standards”? And that the latter question must be left to “people in the news media”? Am I just being too literal? Surely I must be missing something. Tell me I’m missing something!

  57. 57
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Hey, if you want to argue on the side of global warming denialists who say that, sure, there’s some effect, but not anything worth worrying about, then be my guest. Just don’t fool yourself about which side you’re taking.

    Some day, I am certain, you will respond to an argument someone is actually making.

    At the rate you’re going, though, I won’t live to see it — and I just don’t think that’s fair. Do you?

  58. 58
    NobodySpecial says:

    /counts Erin’s posts

    /multiplies by .05

    Hey, Erin made a quarter today!

  59. 59
    mclaren says:

    You have to wonder if this is the price Silver had to pay to get the funding for his “data-driven journalism” project.

    Was Nate Silver ushered into a room with blackout curtains on the windows? Was he shown film of his parents and friends with sniper crosshairs superimposed on their heads? Was Silver then presented with a choice of giving Pielke a prominent soapbox in Silver’s new venture, or the much harsher alternative of “investigative journalism found mutilated in ditch in mysterious accident”?

    Did the billionaires sitting across the table from Silver push a lead bullet and a gold bullion bar across the table and tell him, “Choose”?

    You have to wonder…

  60. 60
    geg6 says:

    @Lolis:

    I wish we had a like button here, because I like your comment.

  61. 61
    geg6 says:

    @Erin:

    Despite the fact that the people who actually work in this field and are actual scientists (not a political scientist, like this guy. And before you start, I have a degree in political science) who have spent their lives studying this stuff say that he’s not taking into account multiple factors, only one of which is that more affluent and highly developed areas also have stricter building codes and better technology to mitigate damage? It may seem obviously right to you, but have you studied this yourself? You know more about this than Michael Mann?

  62. 62
    trollhattan says:

    @Erin:

    My Woody Allen moment: I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here.

    They keep meteorologists, hydrologists and climatologists around the office where I work. To a one they’ll tell you anybody who wants to wait until everybody is ABSOLUTELY SURE has signed a suicide pact.

    Suspect we’re dealing with the same person who on LGM the other day argued that since we can’t know what the temperature is in every last deep hole in the ocean we don’t really know that the oceans are warming. Wikd smaht.

    Has anybody yet argued that acidic oceans will be great for the pickling industry?

  63. 63
    chopper says:

    @Roger Moore:

    How dare you smug assholes not listen to a political scientist.

  64. 64
    RandomMonster says:

    The fact that Silver has to “promise” a rebuttal in the near future — you know, rather than just making one immediately — shows the extent of his fuckup as an editor. Maybe he should’ve tried to get an actual bona fide climate scientist to make interesting data-driven observations about, um, climate.

  65. 65
    Steeplejack says:

    Good critique of FiveThirtyEight by Noah Smith here: “‘Data’ the Buzzword vs. Data the Actual
    Thing.”

  66. 66
    Steeplejack says:

    @Cervantes:

    Silver is saying that there is (1) criticism of his site’s execution (“How well are we living up to the standards that we’ve set for ourselves?”) and (2) criticism of the site’s content, and that in the case of (2) the criticism from “our broader community of readers” matters more than that from “other people in the news media.”

    He touched on this point in his interview with Jon Stewart a night or two ago.

  67. 67
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    DeLong has a good smackdown of Pielke, jr. here (which cites a 2010 ThinkProgress piece).

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  68. 68
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Er, the DeLong link is here.

    Sorry about that.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  69. 69
    gian says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    ask Brandon Wood about the difference between AAA and the bigs. He was the next great prospect at third base for the Angles until he ran out of options, and then washed out of the Pirates, Rockies, Royals and Padres.

    http://www.baseball-reference......br01.shtml

  70. 70
    gian says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    you’re assuming a fact clearly not in evidence. Erin has no intent of making a good faith argument.
    whether paid shill or useful idiot, or Doug trolling…

  71. 71
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @gian: Sometimes people just need a little encouragement to look at things from a different perspective. Other times, they’re dogmatic, or worse. It doesn’t hurt to give a person the benefit of the doubt, even if they do come to the discussion with both barrels blazing…

    FWIW.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  72. 72
    Cervantes says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Silver is saying that there is (1) criticism of his site’s execution (“How well are we living up to the standards that we’ve set for ourselves?”) and (2) criticism of the site’s content, and that in the case of (2) the criticism from “our broader community of readers” matters more than that from “other people in the news media.”

    Thanks. If that’s what he means, then do the standards they’ve set for themselves have nothing to do with content?

    He touched on this point in his interview with Jon Stewart a night or two ago.

    I missed that interview, obviously! Maybe I’ll find some time to take a look in the morning.

    Thanks again.

  73. 73
    Petorado says:

    The thing about Nate Silver hiring Pielke Jr. is that Pielke Jr. is the kind of guy who feeds off the statistical noise that Silver supposedly ignores with his numerate take on reality. If Pielke Jr. were to take his schtick to forecasting politics rather than forecasting his take on climate, Silver would dismiss him as a quack.

    Pileke Jr. has been a boon to the climate denial crowd because his presence proves that there is dispute among the science-oriented about AGW, when in reality Pielke Jr. is among a small subset nibbling around the edges of denialism without coming out in full throat. Pielke Jr. is the useful idiot. Pielke’s first article may have accurate numbers behind it, but its purpose is to defuse the growing threat of climate change as simply a matter of weather-related disasters hitting areas of increasing wealth and its correspondingly costly infrastructure. Nothing to see here.

    Nate Silver may understand the numbers behind things, but his hiring of Pielke Jr. shows he doesn’t necessarily understand the reality of things as clearly. A guy who tenaciously defends the position of a very small minority of the knowledgable shouldn’t be brought in as the expert by a guy who says he’s the numeracy savant.

  74. 74
    Steeplejack says:

    @Cervantes:

    I think it’s more “How well constructed is the process we are using?” (standards) and then “How good are the results?” (content). Related but can be examined separately.

  75. 75
    vigouge says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    Don’t get hung up on the R. Replacement level is nothing more than a consistent baseline to measure from. It’s essentially ‘0’ in terms of metrics. It could just as easily be replaced with average and still measure the same thing but on a different scale because the scale doesn’t matter for anything but contextualizing the data. The more important thing is that it’s sub components are more accurate in measuring run production and allows for comparing vastly different actions taken on a baseball diamond to be compared to each other.

  76. 76
    gian says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    I used to be optimistic, and I’ll freely admit that sometimes I’ll argue to extremes, but I don’t usually open up with calling people d-bags. the flaws are usually sleep deprivation, and misfocused anger on my part. I’ve a kid who swears he wants all kinds of activities and then bitches when we make him go. (look kid, you don’t get to have dad eat peanut butter for lunch and dinner for a month and then bitch about going to the games it made budget available)
    that said, I try to be reality based when I get pissed.

    the now vanished troll? not so much. to play Doug, I’d call you Joey ’cause I’m not angry anymore.
    well that and I’d have to link to this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lin-a2lTelg

  77. 77
    Joel says:

    I remember Bill Simmons starting Grantland. I thought it would be an abject failure. After all, he had lost his fastball as a writer and he didn’t seem like he was going to be able to adapt to editorial duties. I was totally wrong. Simmons did a great job collecting interesting writers and cultural critics, including Charlie Pierce (both worked for the Boston Herald at some point, I recall). Grantland is one of the better sports and entertainment sites out there.

    Once again, I don’t know if Silver will succeed. I presume fivethirtyeight will stay solvent by virtue of its work in sports analysis and presidential year political forecasting. In other words, the (relatively) easy stuff. At the other end, I think Silver’s foxy ambition will fade. Ultimately, when you stretch yourself too thin, all you produce is crap. After all, how many Freakonomics knockoffs does the world need?

  78. 78
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @gian: Nice tune.

    Erin doesn’t strike me as a troll or a shill. Perhaps she was just in a crabby mood and didn’t know Jr’s history. Her history here seems innocuous enough.

    I thought her initial point of looking at the article and its cites was (in general) a good one. It’s easy to fall into a group-think kind of attitude, especially on a blog like this. People and arguments in the news are usually more nuanced than the reports. The trouble is: 1) jumping in and calling people names isn’t a good way to make a point; and 2) she apparently didn’t realize his history and MO in presenting contrarian (or seemingly reasonable but outside the mainstream) views.

    Leaders in an area have generally learned how to be persuasive. It’s important to look beyond the persuasive words and the cites and to ask – what is missing? Is it really likely that J. Random PhD has seen something that dozens or hundreds of people who have dedicated their lives to studying haven’t? Sometimes, yes. Usually, no.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  79. 79
    J R in WV says:

    @Erin:

    Droughts and heat waves won’t cause an increase in disaster spending UNTIL we can’t grow enough food and people start STARVING to death. This is happening all around the world in Third World countries, but since it isn’t on the Channel 4 news every night no pays any attention to it.

    Will anyone pay attention when it starts happening here?

    No one knows for sure, but I doubt it. People who starve do so because they didn’t get a career right out of Stanford!

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