Answering Michael the Realist

The summary conclusion I reach from this posting is

Cherry-picking is being selective, to confirm one’s prejudices. To use all the available data is (according to Michael) the sign of a true skeptic. So (a) Michael is right, therefore wrong (b) Michael is wrong, therefore right (c) Michael contradicts himself. I cannot think of any other logical category.

One of the issues I find with the blogs on climate, and particularly with many of the comments, is that many believe that the arguments hinge on a single piece of data, or on the weight of opinion. There is also a lot of denigration of others but no substantiation. The reason I chose “Michael the Realist” was because he was trolling Jo Nova’s blog, whingeing that nobody would answer his ridiculous points, which were totally out of context with the theme. When I do a search on “Michael the Realist”, in one posting I get 37 hits out of 297 comments. This understates the way he sought to hijack the debate. A couple of comments he made are at the foot, with comments by Joanne Nova

My subsequent postings with direct answers to his questions met with no acknowledgement that I may have anything useful. I fully realise that I could be fundamentally wrong somewhere, or rejecting good strong arguments for superficial reasons. Climate is an enormously complex issue. The study of climate is an applied science, requiring drawing upon a range of skills from a variety of areas. I have therefore listed, and explained, the fundamental issues that climate science ignores. It is from the study of the philosophy of science, economics, econometrics, accountancy, and history. I also draw analogies with principles of trial by jury in English Common Law. Over hundreds of years there has developed principles for establishing whether a claim is proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. The people that need convincing are ordinary people. It is an analogy that the PR people should draw upon.

The fundamental issues are listed below. In some cases I will refer to only the letter for brevity.

A Positive and Normative

B Boundary conditions

C Open and closed questions

D Trivial v. Non-trivial

E Quality

F False Positives and False Negatives

G Relevancy and significance

H Necessary and Sufficient

I Levels of evidence

J Values of the Legal Process in Reverse

K Underdetermination Thesis

L Vulnerability

M The Null Hypothesis

To retain the flow I will post my previous comments in orange, and Michaels in green. New comments are in black. This exchange took place here and here.

  1. Your so called “proof” of AGW is lacking something. It has data on the alleged effect (C20th warming), but no data on the alleged cause – human greenhouse gas emissions. Do you agree?

    No. It is warming, this fits the theory of AGW as greenhouse gas emissions are increasing K. Natural factors are examined and cannot be the cause. All other predictions of AGW caused warming are also occurring, including falling ph in the oceans D, melting Arctic D, falling global ice volume D, rising sea levels D, increasing extreme weather especially floods D, heat waves D and droughts D and much more. Also
    F applies to weather trends.

    There is no other plausable explanation put forward that I have seen yet.

  2. Above I show there is no apparent link between C20th CO2 emissions and the pattern of warming.

    That is incorrect. C CO2 emission have been increasing and temps have been rising, plus all the other observations. Both rose in the C20th, but I claim that “the relationship of CO2 emissions to average temperature is weak.” I look beyond the simplistic statement, and Michael does not.

  3. If I used HADCRUT4 or GISSTEMP, the fit would be closer, but still have anomalies.

    The trend with GISS, even against the satelites is the same. So unless Michael is claiming that HADCRUT4 and GISSTEMP is the same as HADCRUT3 (thus contradicting his earlier claim that HADCRUT3 was out of date), then they are only the same in an unscientific, cherry-picking sort of way. So there are three option here. First, we trust the Michael who says HADCRUT3 is out-of-date and thus inferior to HADCRUT4 and GISSTEMP. Second, we trust the Michael who says HADCRUT3 gives the same results as HADCRUT4 and GISSTEMP. Third we conclude that Michael does not know what he is talking about.

  4. Pages 2K shows considerable natural fluctuations, including two previous warm periods in the last 2000 years. Maybe not as much at in Esper et al 2012 (published in Nature), but there nonetheless. In the absence of an accurate and clear method of deciphering the human signal from the natural signal, it is easier to assert that C20th warming was predominantly due to natural factors, than >100% due to human factors. (The AR4 of 2007 had aerosols as offsetting much of the GHG effect.)

    Natural factors do indeed exist, but just because we have less information about past natural factors than present ones does not nullify how much we know about present ones. G, I, L, M Most significant natural factors that we can measure and are currently aware of since the 50′s have been cooling. (Unsubstantiated claim) . Also the 2001 to 2010 decade, the hottest on the instrumental record, has been significantle in the grip of cooling la ninas and falling solar. (Unsubstantiated claim) Despite that it is still hotter than the previous decade with predominantly warming el ninos. (Answered here, which Michael has not contradicted) This is the proof that you are wrong, I even skeptic scientists expected it to cool by now. It is not cooling because it is being overwhelmed by greenhouse gas warming.

  5. Given that the GISSTEMP shows much a greater warming spurt in the late C20th than the second half, and that most the extreme rise is in the Northern Hemisphere (especially the Arctic), is it not surprising that the Pages 2K proxies have most of the Arctic and European warming in the early C20th, with little warming thereafter?

    The fastest warming is in the second half, with .5 degree rise snce the 50′s. Repeats what I said about GISSTEMP, but does not engage with the significant bit – that the Pages2K temperature reconstruction contradicts the GISSTEMP temperature record. Pages2K (Michael promotes) appears more in line with HADCRUT3 (Michael rejects as being out-of-date) than GISSTEMP (Michael promotes).

  6. Given a lack of comment to the contrary, you accept that your claims about hottest decades is not evidence against warming having stopped. Rather it is what Stephen Lewandowsky terms “misinformation”.

    No, as I have pointed out, when you take all the science, information and data into account, it is clearly still warming. That statement only works if all your (lack of) science comes from an eyeball look at a cherry picked portion of a graph out of context and ignoring all other data. People, like David Whitehouse of the GWPF, have looked at the surface temperature over the last 15 years or so and found there is no statistically significant warming. Even Nature Climate Change has a peer-reviewed paper showing that the recent warming over the last 20 years is a lot less than the climate models predicted, and agrees that no significant warming in the last 15 years. (see quote in Appendix 2) Note the difference in the periods of the last two sentences. It is a matter of degree. So Michael falls foul of H and I, as established in the peer-reviewed science. Will Lewandowsky and Cook (a) now acknowledge that one of their own spreads “misinformation” (b) declare “Michael the Realist” an outsider (c) duck the issue and implicitly deny that somebody who agrees with the “science” could be more of an “eccentric” than some of the skeptic scientists.

  7. That your definition of “Skeptic” is completely at odds with the premier dictionary of the English Language.

    I use skeptic to be kind and because if I use the term that more accurately describes your behavour I get fake indignation. I actually believe myself to be the skeptic as I look at all the data and information with an open mind. This referred to Michael’s definition of “skeptic” here and my follow-up here. The definition he used was

    A true skeptic is somebody who looks at all the data, science and observations and makes rational and logical determinations on that…

    So Michael does use the term skeptic to refer not to me, but himself. Despite being pointed to the definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary, he still persists in promoting a falsity.

Also from the same comment.

On Correlations

This pearl of wisdom from Michael.

Even your graph above shows fairly good correlation with CO2 and temperature.

Correlations are obtained from running statistical tests against the numbers. It is purely obtained from eyeballing the data – which anybody who understood data would not do. If Michael, the self-proclaimed expert on climate science, wants to run the appropriate correlations, and report on whether they are “good” or not by the appropriate statistical tests, then I will provide them with the data. I will also provide the Excel spreadsheets (raw data and adjusted data) to anybody else who requests it. They can then run this data for CO2 emissions against any temperature set they see fit. It will not be easy, as the test is for a non-linear, time-series correlation. As such a battery of tests are required.

Michael’s opener on my blog is

Your cherry picking again. Your use of hadcrut 3, a superseded non global data set is a dead giveaway and then choosing specific proxies that match your confirmation bias.

I went to CO2, where they summarize all the available proxies. From those that show estimates of average temperatures estimates since the medieval warm period, they produced this graph.

Cherry-picking is being selective, to confirm one’s prejudices. To use all the available data is (according to Michael) the sign of a true skeptic. So (a) Michael is right, therefore wrong (b) Michael is wrong, therefore right (c) Michael contradicts himself. I cannot think of any other logical category.

A couple of comments by “Michael the Realist”, with bold-type comments by Joanne Nova.

Michael the Realist August 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm · Reply

I also do not ignore responses. I hope you can appreciate that I work for a living and so by the time I get back on it is hard to work out whom has replied to whom and when. So keeping up is a huge issue. THere is one of me and I get attacked by 10+ of you guys. If someone would pay me then I could devote full time to this but I doubt that will happen. I reply to as many as possible.
I’m unpaid too. Do your research before you comment. – Jo

As to repetition, the main arguments from skeptics revolve around 3 areas.
1. There is no consensus, or there is a global conspriracy

[Dishonest or ignorant. This is not remotely a “main” argument. On this site almost everyone agree there is a consensus among climate scientists — the issue is that it’s meaningless. You pretend I talk about a conspiracy. Our main point is the empirical evidence. – jo

The post above with the list of scientific organisations puts those claims to bed. It is not feasable to maintain those views when organisations as far apart as China, US, Russia, Mexico, Peru, France, Canada, India, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Japan, Turkey etc, just to name a few all agree in the science of AGW.

[Consensus proves nothing about the atmosphere. It can be bought (with say $100 bn in science grants) or bullied or a genuine mistake from groupthink. Scientific consensus has been wrong many times before. Name which of these agencies actually surveyed it’s members? Ans None, apart from 2 or 3 surveys on tightly defined and annointed “climate scientists”. The other statements come from 6 – 8 activists in a committee in each group, are meaningless and have been protested by thousands of members of the major groups. I have covered all this over and over, you don’t respect us enough to read my site before arriving here to lecture us repeatedly on a topic we know better than you. – Jo]

2.The models are wrong
I avoid the models completely in discussions as I want to stick to the actual data and observations. The models are useful, and have been really accurate in many areas, because you cannot put the planet in a test tube, isolate variables and see what happens. But as I have pointed out many times, they are still just projections based on ceratin scenarios and reality is always going to be slightly different due to natural variations that are not completely predictable (like ENSO), lack of computing power and accuracy due to grid sizes, and the parameters like how much CO2 or aerosols emitted being different to that entered. The science is not based on the models, it is based on the physics, data and observations, and I make my points on those basis.

[The models are broken and even alarmists admit that now. They have not been accurate about anything that matters. This is blather you can’t back up. Read my “new Here” post. We agree with alarmists on physics, but not on feedbacks, you’ve been misled and are waging the wrong war. – Jo]

3. Warming stopped 16 years ago, or there is a pause etc.
This is answered by the fact that it is a dynamic system with natural and anthropogenic forcings and that even though there are many dips and pauses in the long term record the trend is up. I prove that the 2001 to 2010 decade was the hottest on record globally, over ocean, land and both hemispheres, and that every decade bar 1 in a hundred years has been hotter than the previous one. Using years in such a complicated system is deception becasue it has to many natural cycles to make judgements that way. I show the ENSO charts to prove that the current 13 years have been mainly la nina, but temperatures have not fallen and the period is still hotter than the decade with predominantly el ninos. I show skeptic scientists who have predicted cooling due to natural factors, but this has not occurred. This proves warming is occurring as it has overpowered natural factors. This has not been able to be explained away by your readers using any properly scientifically accepted theories and data. Is this why you are blocking me.

[Since I’ve published over 700 of your comments, will you apologize for dishonestly suggesting I am blocking you? _Jo]
[As as for the “pause” read my last comment again. Even if is still warming in the long term trend, the models are broken and the 300 years of warming does not correlate to CO2.- Jo]

As to the repetition, I would say that 90% of your posters postings are based around those 3 themes so the repetition is all here.

[You start and amplify these themes by posting 700 comments on exactly these points. That’s why commenters get so angry. You drive threads off topic and into these inane repetitious channels. Jo]

Obviously since I am using accepted sceince…

[You don’t know what science is. Logical fallacies are not “Science”. – Jo]

…and data my answers are not going to change. The posters will repeatedly not accept my answers and keep posting the same questions over and over and over again (Heywood especially but many others) Why are they not being moderated? If I have answered a question but asked it again how should I respond?

[Stop taking the threads off topic and repeating errors and you won’t get caught in the same loops. – Jo]

So I have valid answers to all queries that clearly point to a consensus

[Which means nothing in science… -Jo]

and clearly answers why there is a pause,

[Trenberth, Jones and Mann don’t know why there is a pause, if you do, you should write to them, quick, they need you! -Jo]

using previous periods is not proof of anything unless you can put forward measurements to show that natural factors were not the cause. Currently natural factors are not the cause, they can be measured and determined. That being the case, to promote delay and to not accept the science, for what I can presume are only ideological reasons, is not the right thing to do. There is more than enough evidence for concern and to justify action, until the science and the data start pointing the other way. The consequences are to severe.

Obviously being moderated this might not (likely) be posted, but I hope you actually read it and think about it. My only motivation is my kids and they do not deserve the short shrift they are getting in regards to the future planet we are leaving them.

[Your kids deserve better science – we’re happy to help them have a future with less corruption, better reasoning, and based on evidence – Jo]

Michael the Realist August 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm · Reply

Michael, I don’t want to moderate you or block you. I want you to learn what our basic position is so you can argue at a level commenters will enjoy. I want debate, and I want people to point out where we might be wrong, but repeating logical fallacies is too basic a level. Perhaps I should write an FAQ? _Jo

You still haven’t provided a working email address. You are now on the moderated list until you do

I have not been dishonest about questioning my blocking.

You’ve posted 700 comments repeating the same points many times. You have not been blocked. It’s dishonest to say you have.

I have been told that my address is false as I have not responded but I have responded many times, and you have replied. I work, check when I can, the replies come into the hundreds, I will scroll through trying to pick up which ones applied to me. It is easy to miss individual ones, your email does not come in special, it just looks like it is from the list.

Yes you work to but most of your posters do your work for you, I have many more responses to answer personally than you do.
Wow. That is some delusional framework you are creating there. Or perhaps you don’t read my posts? -Jo

My query above has been unable to be successfully answered with any firm science.

What query? I suspect there is no answer anyone could give you… – Jo

That is why they get angry, they cannot answer it. It is based on actual data and observations, not models. I attempt to be as polite as possible and I try to answer as much as possible, repetition comes from them asking me the same questions over and over and making the same complaints. Do you find Heywoods million questions on how much in deg c Australias emissions reductions will reduce temps? I don’t, it is not about one country or minute temps it is about global responsibility and consequences, thats what everybody is resonding to. Do you find blackadder throwing in vikings, without any references as an argument that disproves AGW? What about all the personal questions about why I have kids and drive a car? You say my questions are irrelevent to the science, do you ever question supporters?

[Yes I do. I send emails to commenters privately. Theirs works. They respond before they write another 14 comments. – Jo]

I am not sure what you are after now. Do you want me to go through point by point on your evidence list? Do you want it done on this thread or that one? Can you answer clearly where my logic above is wrong and prove it so that I can be secure in my childrens future?

Read your emails before you write comments asking for answers I have sent you.
PS No I don’t want to tutor you on any thread. 
Argument from authority is a logical fallacy known for 2300 years. It isn’t evidence about the climate.


Appendix 2 – The Nature Climate Change paper.

The inconsistency between observed and simulated global warming is even more striking for temperature trends computed over the past fifteen years (1998–2012).

For this period, the observed trend of 0.05 ± 0.08 °C per decade is more than four times smaller than the average simulated trend of 0.21 ± 0.03 °C per decade… It is worth noting that the observed trend over this period — not significantly different from zero — suggests a temporary ‘hiatus’ in global warming. 

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  1. Yes I am familiar with Michael.
    I suspect Michael is in his early twenties, fresh out of teachers’ college, and professing to have a degree in science. It seems to me that Michael has not learned the science discipline in the classical vain, as was taught to such people as Richard Feynman and Robert Oppenheimer. Rather, he has a somewhat unclear understanding of concept of being a “seeker of truth”.
    It appears to me that Michael has been brainwashed by the establishment and grasped any bit of information that seems to reinforce the orthodox, unsavoury view of Earth’s beautiful automatic climate control system.
    Jamie Whyte provides a fascinating, erudite description of the “science” Michael cherishes in his new paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs – Quack Policy.
    Whyte tackles ‘climate scientists’ for being grandiose narcissist who seem to believe that there is simply nothing they do not know. In so doing, the make proclamations in fields in which they do not have a clue. For example:
    “They are partial in their accounting for costs and benefits; they ignore substitution effects; they pretend that mathematical precision is evidence; they confound risk and uncertainty; and they exaggerate the certainty warranted by the available evidence. Having committed such errors, they obscure them with grandiose irrelevancies about peer-reviewed publication, consensus among scientists and the proclamations of official scientific committees.”
    Our Michael frequently boasts of his ‘knowledge’ of physics, in a way that suggests that none understand physics quite as well as he does. Here is some more of Jamie Whyte:
    “We do not have confidence in the predictions of physics because physicists say we should. Rather, our confidence is founded on the extraordinary success of physics. Physical theory does not merely allow us to anticipate the existence and location of previously unobserved planets or the speed at which little trolleys will travel across school science laboratories; it allows us to build televisions, space ships, microwave ovens and so on. Physicists inherit their credibility from physics, not vice versa. That is why their special credibility is restricted to physicists.
    Those who build climate models are scientists. But their branch of science has no success with which to impress us, neither in its predictions nor in its applications. In the absence of such success, their assertions of confidence should carry little weight. Especially when such assertions are predictable even in the absence of proper grounds for confidence.”
    The pity is that Michael, absorbed in this climatology fantasy, endeavours to educate children to believe in the climate cult as well.
    Michael is likely a good chap. It would be really swell if he could somehow allow himself to see the global warming scam for the disaster to humankind that it actually is.

    • manicbeancounter

       /  10/09/2013

      Many thanks for this long and thoughtful reply. I will read Jamie Whyte’s monograph, as he appears to be thinking along similar lines to myself – though probably in a more coherent way.
      As well as global warming, the summary mentions the minimum price for alcohol as having similar policy issues. This I have also covered over the years.
      The problem with those who most dogmatically support global warming (and Michael is an example) is partly due to not understanding classical science. It is also partly due to not understanding the nature of the discipline, which Whyte seems to allude to. That is why I spent time showing the fundamentals required to understand climate as a science.

      We are fortunate that there is unlikely to be a future climate catastrophe. There are two reasons.
      First the signal in the data would be very weak within all the natural variations. The science and data collection is biased towards confirming what the climate science community see as their version of the truth. It is unlikely that the signals would be in the form that we think. Critically analyzing the data forces one to consider alternative hypotheses.
      Second, if we were heading for a more extreme climate we would need a plan B to mitigating CO2. That would mean accurately predicting where, when, to what extent, and the form of the extreme weather. Instead we have every attempt to exaggerate and generalize.
      In others words, if there is a problem, the last thing you want is a bunch of activist scientists getting all hot under the collar.

  2. Brenton G. Jefferson

     /  17/09/2013

    Today’s study should help debunk the common climate change denial argument that recent warming is simply part of a long-term natural trend. Indeed, Marcott says, the earth should be nearing the bottom of a several-thousand year cool-off (the end-point of the rainbow arc in (B) above), if natural factors like solar variability were the sole driving factors. Instead, temperatures are rising rapidly.

    • manicbeancounter

       /  19/09/2013

      I think you should read the posting before posting spam.
      For issues with the Marcott Study see
      Simply put, the recent uptick has no scientific foundation. But the cooling trend up from 3000 to 200 years ago has some credibility.

      Website deleted from the link.

  3. “the last thing you want is a bunch of activist scientists getting all hot under the collar” 🙂 I concur, but am unlikely to arouse much sympathy from you. I first landed in the ‘climate debate’ while exploring political memes of the energy wars, specifically the NPT TRAP as used to demonize nuclear weapons disarmament proponents as ‘the real danger’. While surfing that I happened upon ‘the global warming hoax.’ It’s the better part of 4 years now – and I must say that the characterization has held up well.
    The driving reasons are many – but a tax which affects international trade as a self imposed handicap paid to the UN is a lovely dodge promoted by nations which wish to use ‘carbon credits’ to evade modernization and drive trade in their direction by avoiding this trap. The unfairness of UN proposals was what really caused the collapse of negotiations at Copenhagen, augmented by the revelation that the UN ‘position papers’ had been switched to effect such a result. The Danes blew the whistle on this, however.
    My main blog has been closed due to DMCA allegations – so I have just ignored that and continued at where lots of familiar ‘denier’ ( a lie : the denying is done by those who will not allow the operation of scientific method ) links are available. My first post on the topic was actually done at another locale.

  4. Brian H

     /  23/09/2013

    Hah. I’m saner than all of you. After reading the first few posts by Michael tR I decided to scroll by the rest, though I occasionally scan rebuttals for references etc. I haven’t seen before. One of the purest examples of troll-OP I’ve encountered.


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