Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Misleading Graphs?

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on September 1, 2009

As anyone with a blog knows, WordPress (and I’m sure the other blog sites) do a nice job of showing you how people got to your site. Under the “blog stats” area, if activity is generated from a link to your page, it gives you a trackback to the link. This allows the interested blogger to check back and see who posted the link, and in what context.

I’m sure a guy like Anthony Watts has enough of these links pointing to his site that he doesn’t have time to check them out. But since my traffic is a small fraction of his, I often take a few minutes to check out and see what someone found interesting enough to provide a link for. It’s always kind of fun when I see it’s to something like “www.theenvironmentsite.com”.

Occasionally, there will be comments that I’d kind of like to respond to, but not enough that I want to sign up for the site or anything, so I just let it flow out into the ether.

Well, yesterday there was, in fact, a link to an environmental discussion forum. Predictably, some guy was spouting off about “deniers” and how they are being dishonest because it’s now proven beyond any reasonable doubt that there is anthroprogenic global warming.

In response to his rant, someone posted a link to two of my charts, which were simply the raw data charts that show the linear trend as flat since 1997 for both the UAH and RSS data. Hey, I admit that I am not a climatologist, and have always been careful to say as much. I present charts and data in any way I can dream up, and any surveyor of my blog knows that I provide the charts that show positive slopes on 15, 20, 25, and 30 years of data. But because I dare to present these charts of flat lines, the person who linked to me was met with this ridicule:

I agree entirely that it is very tiresome to have the same argument every day. The issue is, however, that certain people are easily duped by bogus information being put about on the internet, such as ‘Joe’s digital diatribe’ and so on often quoted by the likes of Paradox. If a ‘newbie’ should stumble in and see nothing but a bunch of bogus graphs promoted by fossil fuel PR and nobody to challenge it, they might easily be misled into believing it.”

This is, apparently, the best they can do in response to a chart that shows data they don’t appreciate being shown. And it’s really not worth the argument, I suppose, but I feel compelled to respond with the following points:

1) First of all, grow up and go to debate school.
2) Please provide your reasoning in calling the information “bogus.” The chart is not rocket science, and is not manipulated. The source is always cited, and if I don’t provide a link in the text it is always available on the right side of the page under “resources.” It is one thing to debate the conclusions that can be drawn from the charts. It is another thing altogether to call the data bogus.
3) I am in no way associated with, compensated by, or have any other particular business intrerests in the Fossil Fuel industry. And even if I did, it doesn’t automatically discredit the data or the analysis. But if this is the standard you hold up as legitimate science, then you will need to apply it equally to both sides and eliminate the opinions of anyone paid for by a government with a social interest in promoting policy that can be more easily done if you can convince people of the harm in global warming.

It never ceases to amaze me how unwilling people are to simply address the data.

Here, let me actually help you out. Suppose I am a reasonable and logical AGW believer. (I know, I know… this is difficult to imagine, but I have actually met a few). Rather than make idiotic statements about bogus data (especially when it is not) or toss out fossil fuel references, or discredit qualifications, actually address the chart.

For example, from a statistical analysis, one can rightly say that the best-fit is still a very low r-squared, so the chart in no way proves that warming isn’t continuing. An intelligent person may also point out that there can be lulls in the warming within a longer-term trend. And, historically, a person can look through the GISS and HadCrut data and find specific examples of such periods. A person who wants to score points and be seen as reasonable can even acknowledge that there is a current lull and the future will be interesting, but based on other evidence (presented accordingly) you still believe in AGW.

I may not be convinced, but at least I’ll be left with the idea that you’re not just some mind-numbed idiot who can’t handle a chart of data that doesn’t tell the story you’re telling, so you just start hurling stupidity at light speed to distract everyone’s attention from the actual data.

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2 Responses to “Misleading Graphs?”

  1. Bob H. said

    Good Morning Joe,
    It seems the only thing the “idiot” commenter missed was calling you a climate change denier. It’s dissapointing when the best arguement such people can come up with is some random attack not related to the actual data or analysis. On the other hand, they get their marching orders from the likes of James Hansen who has made some rather Over-the-Top statements such as his infamous “death trains” statement on Feb 15, 2009 and others calling for Nuremburg-style trials for global warming skeptics (or more accurately, man-caused global warming skeptics).

    Curiously, it’s the working scientist who have a financial interest in promoting man-caused global warming since they get big research money to show how man is warming the planet. It seems to be the retired scientists, engineers, statisticians, actuaries, and people in other technical disciplines are the ones pushing back against the mind-numbed mantra.

  2. Mike said

    It was an eye opener to me when I googled “global warming EVIDENCE” at a time when I still believed there was evidence backing up the manmade global warming myth. I think the ratio was about 95% of sceptics to 5% “sitting on the fence”.

    The conclusion I drew from that was that far from the manmade global warming arguement being based on the “evidence”, in fact, the warmers simply don’t mention evidence because evidence isn’t part of their argument.

    In a similar vein, if you google “global warming” news, you’ll find that about 80% of “pro” warming articles are in the form: “experts say that global warming could … ” after which comes some research like frogs are declining, or that malaria is more prevalent in hotter countries which is given some media interest by linking it to global warming.

    On the other side, the “ranters” usually are right wing, gas-snuzzling fox-news bloggers, that have read up on a little of the science and then use the “evidence” to slag off any left leaning liberal who wants to reform the US health care system.

    And then … about 2% of all global warming news comes from the “digital diatribe” type guys. People who have looked at the evidence, who have worked out it doesn’t support the hysteria about warming, but who have the integrity not to say: “it’s proven to be rubbish”.

    The real truth, is that most people have made up their minds depending on what they want to believe and not on the evidence, and sadly that includes a lot of scientists who “go along” with the “consensus” because they don’t want to criticise their “scientific” colleagues who seem to be bringing in all the money right now. (Any echos of the financial collapse and colleagues who didn’t want to question all these complex schemes?)

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