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a glitch of the electronics
May 10, 2005 2:14 AM   Subscribe

Junk Science. George Monbiot has a critical look at some the claims put forward by "climate change" deniers. There's lots of interesting refutation, with some amusement: "But there was still one mystery to clear up. While Bellamy’s source claimed that 55% of 625 glaciers are advancing, Bellamy claimed that 555 of them – or 89% – are advancing. This figure appears to exist nowhere else. But on the standard English keyboard, 5 and % occupy the same key. If you try to hit %, but fail to press shift, you get 555, instead of 55%. This is the only explanation I can produce for his figure. When I challenged him, he admitted that there had been “a glitch of the electronics”."
posted by gsb (35 comments total)

 
The only real reason global warming is so universally accepted to exist and have human origins is because the opposition is headed up by wackos and the oil companies.
posted by blasdelf at 3:03 AM on May 10, 2005


[detect sarcasm] blasdelf [/detect sarcasm

result: uncertain
posted by srboisvert at 3:07 AM on May 10, 2005


post hoc ergo propter hoc, blasdelf?
posted by psmealey at 3:50 AM on May 10, 2005


The current issue of Mother Jones magazine covers this subject area very well.
posted by nofundy at 4:36 AM on May 10, 2005


"Leading scientific journals 'are censoring debate on global warming'" from the Telegraph earlier this month.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 4:49 AM on May 10, 2005


i'm cold.
posted by quonsar at 5:18 AM on May 10, 2005


Hardly news quonsar.
posted by biffa at 5:40 AM on May 10, 2005


Am I the only one who remembers the not-so-long-ago stories of the impending new ice age?
posted by dg at 6:45 AM on May 10, 2005


That Telegraph article is totally bullshit. The leading scientific journals, Nature and Science (natch), "censored" by not allowing a survey conducted on message boards to be admitted. That's what peer review is supposed to do.
posted by klangklangston at 6:45 AM on May 10, 2005


Hey klangklangston, could you point us to some articles that discuss this from the other perspective. I too distrust the Telegraph.
posted by axon at 7:45 AM on May 10, 2005


Ignore my last post: Crooked Timber has an interesting article refuting some of the claims made by the Telegraph and Peiser.
posted by axon at 7:49 AM on May 10, 2005


anti-climate-change == anti-evolution.

(Note: By "anti-climate-change" I mean people who don't belive in human caused climate change. I got flamed the other day by someone who though I meant the exact opposite of what I actualy meant)
posted by delmoi at 8:44 AM on May 10, 2005


Apparently the new Michael Crichton book is anti-climate-change, and my dad is taking it as gospel. I told him that he should probably take the word of scientists over that of a fiction writer... anyone know about the book's credibility?
posted by krunk at 9:35 AM on May 10, 2005


Well, one does have to admit that "a glitch of the electronics" sounds a lot better than "I pulled the numbers out of my arse to support the conclusion I wanted".
posted by clevershark at 9:37 AM on May 10, 2005


Monkeyfilter took this one apart already.
posted by klangklangston at 9:45 AM on May 10, 2005



Apparently the new Michael Crichton book is anti-climate-change, and my dad is taking it as gospel. I told him that he should probably take the word of scientists over that of a fiction writer... anyone know about the book's credibility?


Somewhere between totaly bogus and totaly bogus. +/- 4 bogons.
posted by delmoi at 10:22 AM on May 10, 2005


The '%' == '5' thing is funny, but the chain of "citations" leading back to Lyndon Larouche made me spray coffee all over my laptop (pass the kleen-screen) - WTF??

But the point is not to prove or disprove anything, but to create enough of a smoke screen of confusion that we don't notice that our children's future is being looted be present-day bandits...
posted by dinsdale at 10:41 AM on May 10, 2005


Surprisingly good article from Monbiot, maybe because he forgot to include the call for global revolution against the United States thereby launching a new era of global socialist utopia. No doubt he's coming to that in a later article.

krunk: chricton site:www.metafilter.com (hm and this).
posted by fleacircus at 10:50 AM on May 10, 2005


So, we're denouncing critical assessments of a topic which, over the past years, has undergone an enormous change in an extremely short period (from global cooling, to global warming, to climate change) because of a typo?

delmoi, the suggestion that there is never to be anymore debate on the topic of how/if/why climate change occurrs is ludicrously similar to what most most evolution denouncers are spewing.

It should be clear to anyone with even half a head on their shoulders there is plenty of room for debate in the topic. It is FAR from concrete. Any dissent from that notion will be met by my providing you with proof of past articles seriously contracting each other over the past 30 years.

If it has concreted into "climate change", that concrete must have been super quick set, because I'm betting I can find contradicting articles that were seriously considered by multiple people in the environmental field that are less than 10 years old.

Note: I'm not debating whether or not human caused climate change is occurring -- I'm saying that it's very foolish to suggest debate is done and over.
posted by shepd at 11:04 AM on May 10, 2005


So, we're denouncing critical assessments of a topic which, over the past years, has undergone an enormous change in an extremely short period (from global cooling, to global warming, to climate change) because of a typo?
posted by shepd

Yep. Just a typo.
Oh, and:
"He had cited data which was simply false, failed to provide references, completely misunderstood the scientific context and neglected current scientific literature."
But mostly the typo.
posted by Floydd at 11:17 AM on May 10, 2005


shepd: The "flip-flopping" doesn't come from the science, but from the sensationalistic and ignorant coverage of it in the mainstream press. Scientific literature has been rather more consistent:
A) There's a greenhouse effect (see Venus), and CO2 is the main contributor, having always tracked global temperatures closely (see ice cores).
B) CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has increased steeply in the last decades due to human burning of fossil fuels. Global temperatures have followed, which can be appreciated in melting glaciers and ice caps.
C) Global warming may lead to local cooling: if, for instance, the Gulfstream was affected, Western Europe would get a climate like Canada's.
D) Global warming also can have other, very serious consequences in terms of climate change: if, for instance, the monsoon patterns were affected, hundreds of millions could starve in tropical regions.

Climate scientists have been consistently warning about all of this for years. It is not their fault if the media, with their mayfly attention span, keep moving from one aspect to the other without respite.
posted by Skeptic at 11:19 AM on May 10, 2005


anti-climate-change == anti-evolution
Not exactly. With evolution, we can do experiments with proper controls to simulate evolution (think penicillin resistance) along with data from thousands of millions of history. Climate control and global warming? Not so much as it's a tad bit harder for self-contained experiments concerning the climate on a global scale while all of our data about global warming is pretty much correlative. I'm not trying to discount global warming (I don't really have much of an opinion about the matter), but the scientific backing of evolution and global warming is not even close to being in the same boat.
posted by jmd82 at 11:51 AM on May 10, 2005


(I don't really have much of an opinion about the matter)

Have you read about the matter, then? Or where do you get the ideas that "all of our data about global warming is pretty much correlative" or that "the scientific backing of evolution and global warming is not even close to being in the same boat"
(that pretty much sounds like an opinion, BTW).
posted by Skeptic at 11:59 AM on May 10, 2005


Am I the only one who remembers the not-so-long-ago stories of the impending new ice age?
posted by dg at 6:45 AM PST on May 10 [!]

An ice age type event is entirely consistent with a global warming.

The "flip-flopping" doesn't come from the science, but from the sensationalistic and ignorant coverage of it in the mainstream press. Scientific literature has been rather more consistent:
A) There's a greenhouse effect (see Venus), and CO2 is the main contributor, having always tracked global temperatures closely (see ice cores).
B) CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has increased steeply in the last decades due to human burning of fossil fuels. Global temperatures have followed, which can be appreciated in melting glaciers and ice caps.
C) Global warming may lead to local cooling: if, for instance, the Gulfstream was affected, Western Europe would get a climate like Canada's.
D) Global warming also can have other, very serious consequences in terms of climate change: if, for instance, the monsoon patterns were affected, hundreds of millions could starve in tropical regions.

Climate scientists have been consistently warning about all of this for years. It is not their fault if the media, with their mayfly attention span, keep moving from one aspect to the other without respite.
posted by Skeptic at 11:19 AM PST on May 10 [!]


Yep.. Exactly.

But the point is not to prove or disprove anything, but to create enough of a smoke screen of confusion that we don't notice that our children's future is being looted be present-day bandits...
posted by dinsdale at 10:41 AM PST on May 10 [!]


And Dinsdale WINS!!
posted by Balisong at 3:58 PM on May 10, 2005


Does human activity affect the environment and alter climate? Probably.
Is the world going to end because of this? I could use a whole lot more convincing, and a whole lot less fearmongering.
posted by nightchrome at 6:11 PM on May 10, 2005


nightchrome: Perhaps you should learn to swim.
You know, just in case.
posted by Freen at 7:17 PM on May 10, 2005


Apparently the new Michael Crichton book is anti-climate-change, and my dad is taking it as gospel. I told him that he should probably take the word of scientists over that of a fiction writer... anyone know about the book's credibility?

there was a great article debunking pretty much everything about the book in last month's issue of Discover. but, here are some articles on the web:

Michael Crichton’s State of Confusion

A review of the distorted plot and politics in Michael Crichton's State of Fear

and a nice overview of the whole issue: They Don't Call It Science Fiction for Nothing
posted by mcsweetie at 10:50 PM on May 10, 2005


Is the world going to end because of this?

I think/hope we're all agreed that the world is not going to end. We as a species might, but I doubt that the universe will care.

I find the rapidly diminishing viable sperm counts in humans quite interesting. And the effects of slight temperature change on krill. Nothing like knocking the food chain out at its base.
posted by dreamsign at 10:54 PM on May 10, 2005


Bellamy and Monbiot in debate on last night's Channel 4 news.
posted by ninebelow at 3:02 AM on May 11, 2005


ninebelow - I saw that too. Fantastic stuff; George managed to keep the rhetoric down and knocked Bellamy for six. I believe lesser fora than this would describe it as "p0wned". You can actually see his face drop when he realises he's been caught.

I almost feel sorry for the old chap - after all, he's done a lot of good in his lifetime. I just happen to think he's totally wrong on this issue.
posted by blag at 4:18 AM on May 11, 2005


That's a shame, the Channel 4 video is blocked for users outside the UK.

shepd said something earlier:

>So, we're denouncing critical assessments of a topic which, over the past years, has undergone an enormous change in an extremely short period (from global cooling, to global warming, to climate change) because of a typo?

I read a few responses and I just wanted to add something.

I picked this example, over the many other facts, because the whole situation is ludicrous. I wanted to err on the side of brevity and not swamp the Front Page. To complete the story I would quoted the next paragraph, I think this is really important:

So, in Bellamy’s poor typing, we have the basis for a whole new front in the war against climate science. The 555 figure is now being cited as definitive evidence that global warming is a “fraud”, a “scam”, a “lie”. I phoned New Scientist to ask if he had requested a correction. He had not been in touch.

The point being; if somebody says something loud enough, with enough controversy, it can sometimes frame a debate with useless stupid errors. How much time has been wasted on this? And how many people will still believe it's 555 and not 55%, even though the 55% figure is debatable.
posted by gsb at 4:32 AM on May 11, 2005


yukk, that should read "I should have quoted next paragraph,"
posted by gsb at 5:17 AM on May 11, 2005


The New Yorker just finished a three part series on global warming that seriously caused me to lose sleep last night. Recommended. (And I'm not linking to the NY site because it's pretty much useless, imo.)
posted by jokeefe at 12:41 PM on May 11, 2005


And how many people will still believe it's 555 and not 55%, even though the 55% figure is debatable.

Debatable? Monbiot clearly shows that even that figure is bullshit. Which shows another old-fashioned propaganda tactic at work:

"You are an idiot and space aliens play football on your front lawn."
"What space aliens? I don't even have a front lawn!"
"Yes, you do"
"No, I don't"
"Yes, you do"
"No, I DO NOT!"
"OK, you do not, and I may have been wrong about the space aliens. But you haven't denied that you are an idiot!"

(Hide a big lie behind an even bigger lie, and it may be overlooked)
posted by Skeptic at 1:10 PM on May 11, 2005


Here are Part I and Part II of the New Yorker series, and an interview with the author (I don't mind being useless.)
posted by homunculus at 2:13 PM on May 11, 2005


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