"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Journalistic malpractice on global warming

The Economist rips into the Daily Mail for reporting that Phil Jones stated there was no significant warming since 1995 and that it was acually .12 degrees per decade.
Now it seems that the nameless writer might be guilty of malpractice himself.

The relevant parts of the BBC interview:
B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.
What part of "yes "does the Economist journalist not understand?
Phil Jones has reservations about quoting statistically insignicant figures but the Economist has no such problems in publishing them to smear another paper as "liars".

4 comments:

  1. I suspect that what they don't understand is the concept of statistical significance. This isn't uncommon in journalists with no education in science.

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  2. I think they do understand it, David - it is not difficult. Phil Jones spelled it out for them but they wanted their own take on it.

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  3. It is the same as when they told us we should eat margarine instead of butter, that dairy was all bad for us. Kill us even. Dead set!!
    Now its not about olive oil it's all about 'is it hot or cold' - heat waves here and record ice over there.
    Plus give to the Australian Labor Party so we can fix the world (again). Be world leaders even - uninsulated!
    Give me a break, just where does the truth lie today?
    Everybody with their own agenda with a massive trail of $$$$$$$$$$$$$(called funding) attached!
    The dinner gong sounds like the best option!

    Tommo Central Queensland

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  4. ".12 degrees per decade'

    That's it? He is correct, it is not significant. Actually I'm not even sure that tiny amount is even measurable globally. Or attributable to human activity. Amazing.

    This of course is not what the Browns, Rudds and Al Gores of the world will have you believe. Al gore famously stated "The earth has a fever!". He lied.

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