Credit where due

I have been lax. You would not necessarily write a book about Nate Silver’s initial reaction to criticism about the Roger Pielke Jr thing, but you also have to admit that they guy learns fast. To the surprise of many he asked a real climate scientist to respond to Pielke’s inagural post. As one might expect from a cursory look at Roger Pielke Jr’s record he found Pielke’s own data undermines his claims. The short version is that Pielke characteristically picks convenient and inconsistent time scales for drawing trends and elides the more versus less useful ways of measuring risk.

This is pretty small ball as climate denial goes, but it fits well with the special niche that Pielke tries to fill. Other folks can entertain the trogs by hacking Michael Mann’s email or grunting at Al Gore. Pielke is more like a snooze bar on climate progress. When someone in the NPR demographic starts worrying about climate change you can point to a credible-sounding Pielke piece about how nothing is as bad is it sounds, really, just go back to sleep.

Does that mean I think Nate Silver should fire Pielke? Surprisingly, no. Five thirty eight would do the world a real service if he lets Pielke write whatever he wants. Just make sure to follow each with an independent evaluation as good as this one. I cannot think of a better way to convince a wide audience that even the best and most credible of the denial-and-delay crowd cannot make one good argument without stepping on a rake.






114 replies
  1. 1
    Fred Fnord says:

    I cannot think of a better way to convince a wide audience that even the best and most credible of the denial-and-delay crowd cannot make one good argument without stepping on a rake.

    Myself, I cannot think of a better way to give a climate denier more credibility (‘…published by Nate Silver, the LIBERAL who successfully predicted how every person in the entire United States would vote…’ and never mind that he isn’t actually a liberal), and giving climate deniers the world over more articles to cite and statistics to yell about, in venues where we DON’T get equal time.

    If he did as you suggest, do you want to bet which of the two articles would be covered on television?

    Bad, bad idea.

  2. 2
    Redshift says:

    Sounds like plan. Let’s hope it happens. Especially if he continues with his practice of accusing people who disagree with him off being “ungentlemanly” and worse.

  3. 3
    RSR says:

    live by the data, die by the data

  4. 4
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Fred Fnord: I’m inclined to agree. Supposedly if I tell you, “Jewish Steel does not drink the blood of kittens in his unholy rites.” The take away for most folks is “Jewish Steel drinks the blood of kittens in his unholy rites.”

  5. 5
    muricafukyea says:

    Yawn…appears 538 is the yet another thing for ball juice to masturbate endlessly on.

    Just go use Sam Wang’s site. He was always a better go to guy than Nate anyways. Without the hype. Problem solved!

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    I’m rather impressed with Mr. Silver for this move.

    However, it is a sad time when our comedians, statisticians, and talk show hosts do journalism better than, you know, journalists.

  7. 7
    gussie says:

    I’d be more impressed if I could understand the response as easily as I understood the initial article.

    In a nutshell, he addresses trend detection when what we need is event risk assessment. The two would be equivalent if the actuarial data was the only data available pertaining to event risk. But that is far from the case; we often have much more information about risk.

    I can parse that, with the help of bears shitting in the woods, but not easily. Emanuel’s tone is so fair that it’s tough for me to figure what he’s saying.

  8. 8
    Tom Levenson says:

    It’s worth noting that Kerry Emanuel is as far from a DFH as a climate scientist can be. For many years he was a (publicly declared) Republican. He is utterly scornful of hte political corruption evident in, say, coastal insurance policy, and in Massachusetts, that means being dismissive of our entirely Democratic Party dominated state government. But he’s a no-bullshit guy on his science, and he’s damn good.

    For anyone interested, my students made a short film about hurricanes, climate change, and disaster dangers with Kerry a couple of years ago (before Sandy). You can watch it here.

  9. 9
    Cacti says:

    So a CYA is a cause for kudos?

    Setting the bar pretty low for Nate these days, aren’t we?

  10. 10
    Glidwrith says:

    Check out the comments – Pielke’s buddies at the Breakthrough Institute are out in force without identifying themselves as such. Several commenters there caught them at it right away too.

  11. 11
    Roger Moore says:

    I disagree strongly. One of the things we’re constantly talking about around here is how pundits need to be held accountable when they get stuff wrong. If every Pielke column has to be followed with one from an actual climate scientist showing why he’s wrong, he doesn’t deserve to keep his column. If 538 really wants to improve its credibility, they need to make it very clear that their policy is to use numbers to illuminate, not to conceal and deceive. A very public firing of somebody who needs to have a permanent counter-point author on call would be a great place to start.

  12. 12
    Cacti says:

    Seriously though. Congrats to Nate on having an actual climate scientist do guest commentary on climate science…

    Rather than the full-time guy he hired for the position, whose master’s is in public policy, and whose PhD is in political science.

  13. 13
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    No. You give a gibbering lunatic a platform and a parade of ten sane people to rebut him every time he opens his mouth, and people will remember nothing but the gibbering lunatic.

  14. 14

    Sorry, no credit to Silver and his new Slate with Statistics for giving the pseudo scientist a popular forum.

  15. 15

    There is no need to be polite to stupid Pundits who don’t understand science.

  16. 16
    Tim F. says:

    @Tom Levenson: He was a Republican. What happened?

  17. 17
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @Fred Fnord:
    @Jewish Steel:

    This, all over. It’s like how newspapers issuing corrections, even when they don’t bury them in the back pages, are pointless because 1) first impressions tend to be nigh unshakable, and 2) the backfire effect, where, once an impression is made, the harder you try and refute it, the more dug in and convinced people are of their first impression.

    @Roger Moore:

    And that’s just the thing about this whole blow-up: part of why Nate Silver was so relied on before was he used pure stats and numbers to cut through the ‘he said, she said’ bullshit, and now he’s explicitly encouraging it

  18. 18
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    Does that mean I think Nate Silver should fire Pielke? Surprisingly, no. Five thirty eight would do the world a real service if he lets Pielke write whatever he wants. Just make sure to follow each with an independent evaluation as good as this one.

    I’m not sure what’s laudable–except maybe from a drawing-eyeballs-revenue-enhancing point of view–about Silver running yet another “on one hand…on the other hand” site.

  19. 19
    SatanicPanic says:

    I gotta hand it to Nate- good job lowering expectations for your publication

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:
    Exactly. What I was hoping for from the new 538 was a whole group of people who would write columns that were factual and went where the facts took them, so I didn’t have to be constantly worrying how the author was twisting things to get to his predetermined conclusion. Nate may have won a lot of credibility by calling the 2008 election correctly, but he cemented it with his willingness to go where the numbers told him in 2010, even though that wasn’t what he hoped for. If I can’t count on getting that from all the authors at the new 538, it loses most of its value.

  21. 21

    @Jewish Steel:
    Everything is better with kittens, even blood libel!

  22. 22
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    So, Pielke is a dishonest sack of shit.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

  23. 23
    Anoniminous says:

    One of the foundational papers of Chaos demonstrated weather is a non-linear, dynamic, system subject to sensitivity to initial conditions. ( Go here and hit the link for “Deterministic nonperiodic flow” and read the ^@#$! thing.) Analyzing weather using statistics is akin to doing brain surgery with a chainsaw: it’s possible but not the best tool for the task.

  24. 24

    @Jewish Steel: Oh noes, not the kittens!

  25. 25
    Schlemizel says:

    You, quiet naturally because you are a reasonable fellow of good intent, ignore the obvious jellyfish in this ocean. The deny and delay crowd will ignore the rebuttals and simply cite the original 538 post, The Nice Polite Republicans will note that “others disagree but as this schmuck pointed out on the reputable 538 blog, things are not as bad as some claim”.

    Not only should he be fired he should be ground into dust and fired into the atmosphere in hopes of reflecting sunlight and actually improving the situation.

  26. 26
    Trollhattan says:

    @Jewish Steel:
    Many demand to know: When will Jewish Steel stop drinking the blood of kittens in his unholy rites?

    Answers are requred.

    My concern re. limelighting Pielke Jr. is that he is taking up the spot of somebody with credentials and ethics on what could become an important stage. Why gift him with heightened credibility?

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Andrew Sullivan thinks that The Bell Curve is “science”. Tells you everything you need to know about the worthless Tory shit.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Trollhattan: Morbo wants answers!

    Kittens give Morbo gas.

  29. 29
    the Conster says:

    Has Silver actually explained why he went right out of the gate with this Pielke character? It seems to me he knew what he was going to get from him, as Pielke’s a known quantity, so I can assume he got what he wanted. What’s the game he’s playing with going with a rebuttal after the shit storm he knew he was going to get, or is he that clueless?

  30. 30
    slag says:

    Pielke is more like a snooze bar on climate progress. When someone in the NPR demographic starts worrying about climate change you can point to a credible-sounding Pielke piece about how nothing is as bad is it sounds, really, just go back to sleep.

    Brilliantly stated.

  31. 31
    Schlemizel says:

    @maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor: Better he run side-boob and nip-slip shots to draw eyeballs & stick to reality. Too much to hope for I guess.

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: @CONGRATULATIONS!: @Roger Moore: Yuppers!

  32. 32
    Anoniminous says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Andrew Sullivan thinks that The Bell Curve is “science”.

    The most damning one sentence criticism of Sillyman it is possible to write.

  33. 33
    Schlemizel says:

    Danm! I forgot the link limit. Too many dead-on correct shots on this thread already

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: @CONGRATULATIONS!: @Roger Moore: Yuppers! You all got it right.

    @maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor: Better he run side-boob and nip-slip shots to draw eyeballs & stick to reality. Too much to hope for I guess.

  34. 34

    @Villago Delenda Est: I think Sully’s fee-fees were hurt because his beloved Catholic Church was criticized.

    @Anoniminous: Chaotic does not mean indeterminate, we can find and predict a lot about chaotic systems

  35. 35
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: Precisely.

    Silver’s earned his listing on the manifest.

  36. 36
    piratedan says:

    aren’t there enough wingnut gravy train sources out there without giving this snake oil salesman a forum for a site that is supposedly tied to in depth analysis of data for realistic discussion?

    kind of defeats the whole purpose of the concept unless this is simply a mechanism for click bait and if that’s the case, weren’t these guys supposed to be above that “kind of journalism”?

    the old saw is that you only get one chance to make a first impression and thus far, I see little here to make me applaud the effort, see enough obfuscation of the issues elsewhere to be dubious as hell about backing a duplicitous dipshit like Peilke

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @the Conster: It’s all about the clicks. Always.

  38. 38
    Belafon says:

    @Anoniminous: Don’t confuse weather with climate.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: As the great Terry Pratchett has observed, Chaos defeats Order because Chaos is better organized.

  40. 40
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Fred Fnord: It’s not going to matter. The right will straight up lie about it if need be, so don’t worry about that part. Worry more about the people that are inclined to read 538. I think Nate did the right thing by having the rebuttal right there. He can at any point stop inviting Pielke to contribute. In the meantime, he’s attracted a climate scientist to ESPN that almost certainly never would have written there before. Maybe he can keep him instead.

  41. 41

    You can’t win if you fight with one hand behind your back. Its time to stop being nice to disingenuous liars just because they sound reasonable. Also, Nate Silver should not get a pass for hiring the David Brooks of Climate Change denialists.

  42. 42
    japa21 says:

    Would it also be all right for Silver to have a Creationist write major posts as long as a real expert in the field came along later and wrote a contradicting post?

    Simply by posting both views there is a projection of equal merit, whether it exists or not.

    You are counting on people being discerning enough to understand the idiocy of the one and applaud the accuracy of the other. The problem is, it is easy to explain either the Creationist or climate change denial arguments in simplistic ways.
    To explain the arguments for evolution or climate change is more complex. In general people will always gravitate to the simpler explanation, even though it is demonstrably wrong.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tim F.: Republicans once counted amongst their numbers honest men and women who were concerned about the direction of society and wanted to shape that direction in ways that reflected their philosophical outlook.

    Now it’s dominated by selfish assholes who can think of nothing but short term gain.

  44. 44
    Roger Moore says:

    @Anoniminous:
    I’m not sure I buy your conclusion. Weather is sensitive to initial conditions, but climate is much less so; it’s more of a long-term average of weather that eliminates a lot of the sensitivity to initial conditions. One of the things to look for in climate change is an increase in extreme weather, since the extra energy from rising temperatures should drive an increase in big storms. As far as I could see, there were two really huge problems with Pielke’s approach:
    1) Looking at economic damage increases the randomness because it makes the whole thing much more sensitive to questions of exactly where and when storms hit. A medium sized storm that scores a direct hit on a major city at the peak of spring tide will do a lot more damage than a huge storm that hits a relatively uninhabited stretch of coast at neap tide or a record-sized storm that stays out at sea.
    2) He included non-weather natural disasters including earthquakes. Yes, rising sea level can have some impact on the damage done by a tsunami, but including it at all just muddies the waters.

  45. 45
    🍀 Martin says:

    You guys are aware that the right doesn’t need and had never needed evidence. They’ll straight up lie if need be. Pielke won’t have any impact one way or another on climate denialists or the people that watch Fox News. Stop worrying that the priest said something that might cause the Muslims in the next mosque over to reject Catholicism – they’ve already rejected it, and if they were open to it, they’d be in the church rather than the mosque.

    The appeal of 538 is that it goes after a group of people (sports fans, it’s ESPN for fucks sake) that are largely either agnostic about or hostile to politics. They’re also a group of people that are accustomed to differing points of view on, well, everything. Pielke may have reinforced some of the denialist curious’ views, but the rebuttal will do the reverse. In the meantime, Nate now has a choice he probably didn’t have before. I doubt he could have gotten someone like Emanuel to write for him before launch, but he’s writing for him now. If Nate can convince him to continue writing, he can dump Pielke. I doubt he would have had that decision to make a month ago.

    Huh, that first comment was eated for a while. FYWP.

  46. 46
    Schlemizel says:

    Discussing the concept of drawing eyeballs to web pages with a co-worker reminded me of two stories from recent history that relate to the ‘side-boob/nip-slip’ comment. First is the WhorfingtonPost, an excellent example of the style, thought I bet they would never admit it.

    From the ’50’s through the ’70’s at least, some of the finest short form writing in America appeared sandwiched between naked ladies inside of Playboy magazine. Hefner was very upfront that it was the naked ladies that allowed him to distribute some fabulous writing; I don’t think he regretted the magazine’s format.

    There used to be an excellent news store in downtown Minneapolis. You could find copies of any periodical in the US and many from different places around the world at Shinders. That included a lot of adult material. The blue-nose community decided that the adult section was intolerable & started a decades long battle to drive the guy out of business. He was very up front in saying he could not remain open without porn as there was not enough money in the other stuff. Several people tried opening stores against him without porn & each went bust. He did eventually give up (may have gone to jail, I forget the details now) and at a time before the Internet a great source of hard to get stuff disappeared along with some amount of porn.

    Its a shame that great work can’t stand on its own but we prove it just about every chance we get. Cable TV didn’t change that though it was suggested it would. The Internet didn’t change that though it was suggested it would.

  47. 47
    Jason says:

    It’s not so much that Pielke is a climate denier (he’s not really even a denier — I think the climate snooze button analogy is excellent), it’s that he fudged up the data analysis so bad. If I want to yell at my screen because of shotty analysis, I can go to freakonomics (I was going to link to the worst data analysis ever done: “When losing leads to winning”, but decided they shouldn’t get the traffic).

    I mean it’s really bad. It would have been a great addition to my old blog (SpittleFleckedIre — it was going to be all about bad data analysis on the internet, but then I thought I should strive for something more positive). I was inspired by the original 538 to start that blog! I never expected something under 538’s banner would make me yell at my screen. That’s what’s so disappointing.

  48. 48

    There is nothing to be gained by debating creationists or climate change deniers. It only gives them credibility.
    In science there is no he said, she said. It is put up or shut up. It did not matter one whit, that Einstein did not like Quantum Mechanics. Its conclusions were valid experiment after experiment and that’s what gave it validity. Einstein was wrong, God does indeed play dice.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT, but Charles Koch’s fee fees are hurt.

    These Noblesse types who forget about the oblige part shouldn’t be terribly surprised when a tumbrel shows up at their doorstep to whisk them away to a knitting party.

  50. 50
    El Cid says:

    In my exciting new media venture my thrilling crop of writers will all be wrong & lying on everything they write about but I dedicate myself to frequently balancing out their bullshit & lies with detailed follow-ups to expose when they make errors.

    That way I can feel better about not hiring and not paying and not making more widely known good researchers & writers whose work is valuable and not bullshit and fraudulent propaganda.

    I like to think of it as win-win.

  51. 51
    ruemara says:

    @El Cid: Nate, it’s good to see you, but we have to talk about your business model.

  52. 52
    Waspuppet says:

    @Fred Fnord: I have to agree. In theory it would be great, but so would the Supreme Court’s prevailing notion that anyone should be able to give any amount of money to any political entity and its all OK as long as you have to disclose and everyone knows about it. The reality would be very different.

  53. 53
    WereBear says:

    @🍀 Martin: I doubt he could have gotten someone like Emanuel to write for him before launch, but he’s writing for him now. If Nate can convince him to continue writing, he can dump Pielke. I doubt he would have had that decision to make a month ago.

    It’s genius, I tells ya!

  54. 54
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    You also didn’t have an entire political party and a moneyed apparatus to deny and obfuscate the results and reality of Quantum Mechanic data and observations.

    My problem isn’t with debating these asshats because, lets face it, they’re entrenched. They represent a sad majority of the functional political will in this country. We’re going to HAVE to debate, rebut, and eventually marginalize these assholes because if not we’ll continue to fiddle while the planet burns.

    I just have problems with distilling it all into ‘he said she said’ shit because it, like on so many issues, presumes both sides are equally valid, when the reality rests far on one side of the so-called ‘debate’. That’s what we’re up against. And the sad fact is that scientists are great minds, but horrible advocates. We need more folks like Bill Nye on the forefront to act as advocates to fight against the assholes muddying the waters on this entire thing.

    My fear is that it may be too late and too many of our leaders in Washington have a vested interest in stonewalling and denying all attempts to address this shit to where we will never get anything done and instead will regress and regress hard.

  55. 55
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Waspuppet: What I love about the decision is the notion that infuses it, the notion that money does not corrupt.

    Roberts should hang for this stupidity alone.

  56. 56
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Anoniminous: “Andrew Sullivan, pimper of ‘The Bell Curve'” should be how he is named in anything in print from now until he 1) repudiates his position or 2) shuffles off this mortal coil, at which point he should never be mentioned again except perhaps as a cautionary tale.

  57. 57
    Anoniminous says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Yes in that, e.g., an equation of the Group:

    z(n+1) z(n)^2 + c

    says it is a Mandelbrot Set but have to run the computation to find if any point on the complex plane is a member of the Set.

    Similarly, Chaos allows us to predict the flap of a butterfly’s wings in India may cause or prevent a hurricane from hitting Texas depending on whether the system dynamics of the flap are dissipative or summative but we cannot say which or predict without “running the system.” That’s what “aperiodic” means. Plus bifurcation tells us a discrepancy in the one millionth mantissa position will iterate to different answers; this is why we cannot predict the position of Jupiter ten million years from now, a one micron error accumulates. Assuming the numerical iteration avoids mantissa rounding error tending to zero (and good luck with that! See: “Chaos and Fractals” by Peitgen, et. al.) otherwise the computation blows-up.

    Thus, Chaos (and it’s allies of Complexity and Catastrophe Theories) allows a general forecast of the properties and states of a system but not the kind of specifics granted under Reductionism.

  58. 58

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: We have to convince the people on the sidelines, you are never going to convert true believers.

  59. 59
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Roberts should hang for this stupidity alone.

    He’s more on the evil side of the evil/stupid axis. The crap he spouts is just an excuse to get to his chosen destination, not the actual reason.

  60. 60
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    But of COURSE Money doesn’t corrupt, it exalts! That’s why the rich are so much superior to all of us!

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    And you can’t do that by preaching to the choir, not when these assholes inundate the airwaves and the media with “SUPER MASSIVE GREEN FASCIST HOAX!” bullshit over and over again. We have to engage them, it just can’t be done on the ‘he said she said’ playing field, because, just like with ‘both sides same thing’ the moment it reaches that we’ve already lost. And last polling I’ve seen on this has shown that the agnostic on this issue are getting more and more pulled toward the denialist side.

  61. 61
    chopper says:

    @Cacti:

    Congrats to Nate on having an actual climate scientist do guest commentary on climate science…

    i know, right? whoda thunk it.

  62. 62

    You also didn’t have an entire political party and a moneyed apparatus to deny and obfuscate the results and reality of Quantum Mechanic data and observations.

    Well, you know who, was against Jewish Science (Modern Physics, i.e, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.)
    ETA: Guess who was able to create the first atom bomb because of that?

  63. 63
    🍀 Martin says:

    @WereBear: Well, I think he totally failed into the outcome, but now he’s got a new set of decisions. Let’s see what he does with it. That will tell us something.

    And this is a seriously cool story. Wingsuit skydiver nearly gets hit by a meteorite.

  64. 64
    Anoniminous says:

    @Belafon:

    I’m not. Climate is the forcing bounded infinity* establishing the states and conditions (Fitness Landscape) in which weather happens. And just to make things even more FUN! there’s semi-persistent meso-climate factors such as the extent of the Arctic icecap having a no-to-profound affect. Depending.

    * It’s also dynamic but one has to increase the time step to a million years to Model it.

  65. 65
    Kylroy says:

    @Tom Levenson: So hire him instead of the glib climate denier. Get the truth from a guy disinclined to believe it rather than cooked stats from a contrarian.

  66. 66
  67. 67
    dmsilev says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Never mind going back to the Nazis and their hatred of “Jewish science”, there’s a segment of modern American fundamentalism that rejects things like relativity (though it’s because it somehow violates something about their view of God). Don’t believe me? I give you Conservapedia’s article on relativity. It starts with “The theory of relativity has been repeatedly contradicted by experiments, such as precise measurements of the advance of the perihelion of Mercury that show a shift greater than predicted by Relativity, well beyond the margin of error. It is unlikely tenure or a Ph.D would be awarded to any critic of the theory.” and gets weirder from there on.

  68. 68
    Trollhattan says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    Whoa, buddy. And to think, the most dangerous thing most Norwegians face is lutefisk.

  69. 69

    @dmsilev: That is too ridiculous for words. I was countering Kryptik’s point that Quantum Mechanics and Relativity did not face organized opposition like Climate Change does.

  70. 70
    Barry says:

    @Anoniminous: “One of the foundational papers of Chaos demonstrated weather is a non-linear, dynamic, system subject to sensitivity to initial conditions. ( Go here and hit the link for “Deterministic nonperiodic flow” and read the ^@#$! thing.) Analyzing weather using statistics is akin to doing brain surgery with a chainsaw: it’s possible but not the best tool for the task. ”

    Wrong, but thanks for playing.

  71. 71

    @Trollhattan: Lutefisk is almost edible while drinking copious quantities of aqua-vit (sp?)

  72. 72
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    Hey T[i]m, [Sorry!]

    Gotta disagree. Life is too short these days and there’s too much that needs to be read to be informed on what’s going on. I suspect sensible people aren’t going to read Pielke Jr’s pieces and wait for a rebuttal – they’ll read something else.

    Giving a platform to someone who has demonstrated they can’t be trusted is counter-productive if one wants to be viewed as a trustworthy site. The right-wing has enough sites of their own for pushing their denialism. Silver’s hurting his credibility by keeping Pielke Jr around, if he continues to do so. Maybe it makes sense from a business-model point of view, and if he does keep him, I assume that’s the motivation (chasing the almighty click).

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  73. 73
    Comrade Jake says:

    Meanwhile, today we have Clive Crook blaming climate scientists using “scare tactics” for the lack of action. What a fucking jackass that guy is.

  74. 74
    🍀 Martin says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I think the solution here is obvious. The climate deniers will shut up instantly as soon as we demonstrate how to weaponize climate change. That would also apply to health insurance, mexicans, and the estate tax.

  75. 75
  76. 76
    Barry says:

    @the Conster: Silver also botched climate science in his book ‘The Signal and the Noise’.

  77. 77
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Comrade Jake: Clive is concern trolling as usual.

  78. 78
    Trollhattan says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Your cautious use of “almost” here is to be applauded. (I tend to prefer the “akavavit” spelling, but there’s no shortage of alternatives. I suspect it’s been around longer than the alphabet in those parts.)

  79. 79
    chopper says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    Wingsuit skydiver nearly gets hit by a meteorite.

    when i first read that i thought it said ‘wingnut skydiver’. i was all nearly? damn.

  80. 80
    Roger Moore says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Lutefisk is almost edible while drinking copious quantities of aqua-vit (sp?)

    Akvavit or akevitt, depending on whose spelling you use. That stuff is nasty, though not quite as nasty as absinthe.

  81. 81

    @Roger Moore: It may be nasty but it is strong, when I was drunk on Akavit I did not care what I was eating, even Lutefisk.

  82. 82
    Anoniminous says:

    @Roger Moore:

    To be superficial, but rather accurate :-) Climate is what is expected. Weather is what is experienced. Climate tells us, in the Northern hemisphere, temperatures measured in July are highly likely to be warmer than January but that doesn’t determine every single temperature taken in July at a specific location is going to be warmer than every single temperature measured at that location in January.

    Average. h’mmm. Let me put it this way: the Gaussian average of the population of a town in the US is 8,229 (last I looked.) Basing Public Policy for LA, NYC, or Boston on this accurately calculated average would be idiotic. And disastrous. In order to avoid those the mathematics have to be “glossed” with Facts on the Ground.

    I am not saying Statistics and Probability are worthless. I am saying the choice of intellectual tools and analytical methodologies have to be in accordance with the Phenomena being investigated.

  83. 83
    Anoniminous says:

    @Barry:

    Prove it in a paper. Send it to Nature. And plan your trip to Stockholm.

  84. 84
    the Conster says:

    @Barry:

    Does HE know he botched it? Silver seems to not be able to discern valid criticism – probably because he’s been so lauded until this.

  85. 85
    Barry says:

    @Jason:

    “It’s not so much that Pielke is a climate denier (he’s not really even a denier — I think the climate snooze button analogy is excellent), it’s that he fudged up the data analysis so bad. ”

    That’s his denier niche – that something isn’t worth worrying about. As for f-ing up the data analysis, he does that again and again and again, and it’s *always* in the same direction. That’s not an accident.

  86. 86

    just speculating here, but Nate took a lot of (unfair) criticism after 2012 election from the right that presumed he was “in the tank”. he may be trying to worm his way back into the empty spot where a heart should go with those same people who criticized him. *shrug*

  87. 87
    Barry says:

    @Anoniminous: “Thus, Chaos (and it’s allies of Complexity and Catastrophe Theories) allows a general forecast of the properties and states of a system but not the kind of specifics granted under Reductionism. ”

    In other words, climate but not weather?

  88. 88
    Barry says:

    @Anoniminous: “Average. h’mmm. Let me put it this way: the Gaussian average of the population of a town in the US is 8,229 (last I looked.) Basing Public Policy for LA, NYC, or Boston on this accurately calculated average would be idiotic. And disastrous. In order to avoid those the mathematics have to be “glossed” with Facts on the Ground. ”

    You’re just stringing together words at this point.

  89. 89
    KG says:

    If every column the guy writes has a counter point, showing faulty methodology or errors in reasoning, he will be shown to be a fool. Or, maybe, he’ll change his opinion. But shutting him down doesn’t accomplish anything. To borrow a line from everyone’s favorite halfman: When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.

    More importantly, 538 is Silver’s endeavor and he should be able to hire whomever he wishes to hire. If, in turn, it proves to discredit not only this climate change denier but also Silver, well, so be it. It will not be the end of the world.

  90. 90
    Cacti says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    These Noblesse types who forget about the oblige part shouldn’t be terribly surprised when a tumbrel shows up at their doorstep to whisk them away to a knitting party.

    I personally lurve his galtian sneers at “collectivists”.

    It takes a true superman of individualism to throw around money he inherited from his father.

  91. 91
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Barry:

    What you’re saying is nonsense.

    This is kind of what I figured Based On The Odd Punctuation, but science isn’t my field.

  92. 92
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jewish Steel: When really all that means is that Jewish Steel has unholy rites of some kind.

  93. 93
    Roger Moore says:

    @Barry:

    In other words, climate but not weather?

    Not exactly. In the short term and in broad strokes- where exactly what those mean is still a moving target- you can predict the weather with pretty good accuracy. Forecasters have gotten much better at predicting regional weather several days out, but they can’t do much beyond about 10 days, and they can’t predict fine details, like exactly where the worst extreme weather will strike.

  94. 94
    jl says:

    This is good news. But I reserve judgment. Pielke is typical of a lot of self-proclaimed ‘junk science police’ whose analysis is based on dubious assumptions. Emanuel provides a good catalog of the problems of Pielke’s analysis, and does a good job of covering everything from the misuse of basic statistical principles to citations of recent climate science research.

    If Pielke cannot do better in the future, he needs to go if the new 538 is to be a useful site that competently reports good statistical analysis of public policy and political issues ,and someone like Emanuel needs to replace him on the 538 climate science beat.

  95. 95
    Trollhattan says:

    O/T TBogg and the (always nice) Gun People.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201.....ir-mouths/

  96. 96
    Comrade Jake says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    No. As I have pointed out many times here, Silver had a chapter of his book that got a bunch of important climate science wrong. Mann called him out for it in HuffPo.

  97. 97

    @Comrade Jake: cool, thx for info. I must have missed it before.

  98. 98
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Tim F.: The modern Republican party. (SATSQ)

  99. 99
    Roger Moore says:

    @KG:

    If every column the guy writes has a counter point, showing faulty methodology or errors in reasoning, he will be shown to be a fool. Or, maybe, he’ll change his opinion. But shutting him down doesn’t accomplish anything.

    No. If every column the guy writes is shown to have faulty methodology or errors in reasoning, it’s proof that he doesn’t belong on a site that’s supposed to be about doing a better job of understanding the numbers. Keeping a writer who has been shown to be a fool only makes his editor and publisher look bad. Getting rid of him will show that 538 is committed to good facts and analysis rather than clickbait superficial contrarianism.

  100. 100
    John B. says:

    @Anoniminous: I have a box in my office filled with molecules of various gases. At any given moment, the distribution of those molecules within that box is chaotic and highly dependent upon initial conditions.

    Therefore, any discussion of the so-called “temperature” of the gases within that box is ridiculous, as statistical measures of complex chaotic systems are like chainsaws being used for brain surgery.

  101. 101
    J R in WV says:

    I just can’t wait until the fabled super storm makes dead aim on New York City (or Singapore, or Hong Kong, or Washington DC, for examples) and someone decides it can be easily dealt with by using hydrogen energy sources to cause it to spin harmlessly towards the empty north Atlantic.

    Hoping sat coverage will be real-time enabled on the innertubes!

  102. 102
    Another Holocene Human says:

    OT: PhoenixRising and anyone else who has to travel through MS but wants to boycott the joint–take Amtrak. The crews are NOT based in Mississippi. So no money goes back there. There are two trains through MS that terminate in NOLA.

    The Crescent originates in NYC, goes to Atlanta, then, if they’re not doing trackwork, proceeds to Birmingham and through MS to LA.

    The City of New Orleans (CONO) is a fast overnight train up the Miss. River from NOLA to Chicago on the old IC line.

    Then rent a car in New Orleans for the Louisiana portion of the trip. The train is very comfortable and since it’s Amtrak you are kind of insulated from the suck outside. Somehow the first time I rode I thought the train itself would seem segregated, but it’s not, very everyone mixed, looks like America in the train whether in 1st or 2nd class.

    Food on train is OK but unless train is late most prefer to wait to eat in New Orleans. Since Crescent only loads food in NYC there is no doubt you’re going to eat better in NOLA. Seafood. :)

  103. 103
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Can he hang for being so smug too?

  104. 104
    hoodie says:

    Does that mean I think Nate Silver should fire Pielke? Surprisingly, no. Five thirty eight would do the world a real service if he lets Pielke write whatever he wants. Just make sure to follow each with an independent evaluation as good as this one. I cannot think of a better way to convince a wide audience that even the best and most credible of the denial-and-delay crowd cannot make one good argument without stepping on a rake.

    Gimme a break. You’re forgetting “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” The refutation is always more complicated and more difficult to understand. Putting Pielke on 538 is like putting David Brooks on the NYT editorial page. Sure, Krugman debunks his lies, but Brooks still has a job. The only way what you’re proposing might work is if the refutation is published concurrently with the original article. You could even have inserted annotations in the original showing where the sleight of hand occurs, and even give a back and forth. But, if you did that, Pielke might end up unemployed, so I doubt he would agree to do it, so the whole idea is pointless. As someone already noted, you don’t put hacks on a site supposedly dedicated to serious statistical analysis.

  105. 105
    jl says:

    Also, one of the most irritating things about a lot of the work of the junk science police is the misleading use of statistical hypothesis testing framework, and I think Emanuel does a great job of stepping the reader through the common sense logic of why using the framework properly matters for practical policy decisions.

    I think the standard frequentist hypothesis testing framework is attractive to use for professional debunkers because of two things. First, a lot of important assumptions are needed to use the process, but the conclusion can be reported in a very simple yes-no way that hides all those assumptions. Second, it provides some alluring magic numbers that provide a misleadingly objective sheen to the analysis; a prime example is the famous 5 percent significance level for rejecting the null hypothesis. Actually, this magic number means nothing in the frequentist hypothesis testing framework. It is a social convention adopted in some disciplines as a criterion for publishing research. It is most appropriate where all criteria for choosing the null versus the alternative hypotheses agree on what the null should be, and is also most appropriate in reporting the results of designed experiments where the study design can be used to ensure that all of the assumptions used to formulate and test the hypothesis are met. The 5 percent significance level itself was thought up by a famous statistician named Ronald Fisher, who in fact disagreed with the frequentist hypothesis testing framework, and advocated different magic number significance levels ( 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, 0.001) depending on the field and various circumstances.

    Actually, in the pure form of the hypothesis testing framework, the relative costs of making different types of mistakes should play a role in the choice of what the null, and relevant alternative hypothesis should be, and what the level of significance should be for the decision to reject the null.

    So, everyone should be very wary of anyone who tries to jam research from fields where research cannot be based on designed experiments into the standard statistical hypothesis testing framework without explaining all the decisions they made to formulate and test the hypothesis. It is also suspect where the costs and benefits of making different types of mistakes can vary greatly from one research question to another, especially where choice of the null hypothesis plays a crucial role in the analysis, and the relative costs of making an mistake may by inconsistent with the 5 percent significance level rule for rejecting the null.

    Even in biomedical research, where the hypothesis testing framework is more approrpiate, it’s misuse has resulted in changes in requirements for reporting research. The British Medical Journal has been a leader in this area.

    Wikipeida has a good article explaining all this stuff:
    Statistical hypothesis testing
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....is_testing

    And, here is a good book with elementary explanations of how the standard hypothesis testing framework can be modified and supplemented to avoid misleading conclusions.

    Statistics with Confidence
    Douglas Altman, David Machin, Trevor Bryant, Stephen Gardner, eds
    BMJ Books; 2nd ed, 2000

  106. 106
    JPL says:

    @Trollhattan: Thanks.. Maybe Loesh should write an oped piece to the WSJ mentioning that she’s the real victim.

  107. 107
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jl: The greatest of the “junk science police” is the disingenuous twit called John Stossel, who should be boiled in the blood of Jewish Steel’s kittens for his string of lies based on the teachings of the vile Rand harpy.

  108. 108
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Paul in KY: The charge sheet is still open. Knock yourself out!

  109. 109
    elspi says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:

    “You also didn’t have an entire political party and a moneyed apparatus to deny and obfuscate the results and reality of Quantum Mechanic data and observations.”

    Actually you did. It was the Nazis. No really!!!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Physik

    And with that I have just Godwined the whole fucking thread.

    Shit too late :(

  110. 110

    @Villago Delenda Est: What I would like to know is how many of these junk science police even have an undergraduate degree in one of the hard sciences.

  111. 111
    jl says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I think a degree in the ‘softer’ sciences would provide an adequate education in the different approaches to statistical analysis and reporting. In many ‘harder’ sciences, a cookie-cutter approach to hypothesis testing is more appropriate, and education is focused on that approach. That is true in biomedical and health professions, even though leading journals and professional associations in that area have raised a fuss about how hypothesis testing is misused even there. So, hard versus soft shouldn’t make much difference in terms of how to do statistics.

    But, it is important to know the basic theories of a discipline to understand how to do applied statistics, so there is that.

  112. 112

    @jl: By hard sciences, I meant to leave out PolSci and such, not biology and medicine necessarily

  113. 113
    Jamey says:

    @Cacti: “Batman is a scientist.”

  114. 114
    cokane says:

    pielke’s still a troll and it’s disappointing that a more qualified expert or journalist was not given this beat by Silver, imo.

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