Opinions on the New Zealand AGW Judgement

Apropos the New Zealand AGW case, comments below by Goon and Ross:

# Goon (8) Says:
September 8th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Justifying the unjustifiable. Don’t believe me…. then here is where the raw data lives.


Register and have a look for yourself. Nothing even remotely approaching a 1 degree/century trend in the raw data from longer term climate sites. The only way NIWA can come up with this is by applying an extremely dodgy ‘adjustment’ to make all pre-1950′s temperatures colder and everything after warmer and hey presto, woe is me, there’s a trend. The arguement being tested in the court wasn’t anything to do with AGW, rather it was just that the methodology applied by NIWA to calculate the ‘sky is falling faster than the rest of the world’ trend is a complete crock. A trend which is then used by the same scientists to justify ever more research and lapped up by politicians keen to get their hands into your wallet.

In terms of climate change, I’m agnostic about the whole thing…..climate changes naturallly all the time and human activities no doubt contribute as well but what pisses me off is the dodgyness put up by NIWA as science. It wouldn’t stand up in any other discipline but spin disguised as science seems to be de riguer for climate science.

# Ross12 (186) Says:
September 8th, 2012 at 4:16 pm

You are correct in my view. This case was nothing to with AGW as such. It was to do with how the temperature data was collected and how it was analysed. The judge was very wrong not to allow Bob Dedekind’s evidence ( because he was supposed not an expert) — the statistical analysis for the data would be using methods similar to a number of different fields. So Dedekinds stats expertise should have been allowed.

Here is a summary of his position :

“… In fact, NIWA had to do some pretty nifty footwork to avoid some difficult questions.

For instance, where was the evidence that RS93 had ever been used on the 7SS from 1853-2009? Absent. We were asked to believe Dr Wratt’s assertion that it had (in 1992), but ALL evidence had apparently disappeared. Not only that, but the adjustments coincidentally all matched the thesis adjustments, which all ended in 1975. And no new adjustments were made between 1975 and 1992. Hmm.

Another question: Why, when NIWA performed their Review at taxpayers’ expense in 2010, did they NOT use RS93? They kept referring to it whenever the 7SS adjustment method was discussed, and it was a prime opportunity to re-do their missing work, yet instead they used an unpublished, untested method from a student’s thesis written in 1981.

Please understand this: the method used in the NIWA Review in 2010 has no international peer-reviewed scientific standing. None. It is mentioned nowhere, outside of Salinger’s thesis. NIWA have never yet provided a journal or text-book reference to their technique.

Yet a few people were able to do (at zero cost to the taxpayer) what NIWA should have done in the first place – produce a sensible 7SS using the same peer-reviewed technique NIWA kept referencing repeatedly, viz: RS93. In fact, one of NIWA’s complaints during the court case was that we applied the RS93 method “too rigorously”! In other words, when we did the job properly using an internationally-accepted method, we got a different result to NIWA’s, and they didn’t like it. In fact, the actual trend over the last 100 years is only a third of NIWA’s trend.

Their only response to date has been a desperate effort to try to show that the RS93 method as published is “unstable”. Why then did they trumpet it all this time? And why did they never challenge it in the literature between 1993 and 2010?

NIWA got away with it in the end, but only because the judge decided that he shouldn’t intervene in a scientific dispute, and our credentials (not the work we did) were not impressive enough. ”

For the AGW supporters to suggest ( as Prof Renwick from Victoria said) this a vindication of the science is utter nonsense. The judge says he is not going to make decisions about the science.
Some how I don’t think we have heard the end of this.

Lewandowsky article is a truly appalling piece of social science – Aitkin

Don Aitkin just weighted in on the Lewandowsky affair as Queensland University’s John Cook doubles down at the Conversation.

about 1 hour ago
Don Aitkin writer, speaker and teacher (logged in via email @grapevine.com.au)

Oh dear. The Lewandowsky article is a truly appalling piece of social science. How did it ever get past ordinary peer review? It, and the one above, demonstrate the kind of problems that Jim Woodgett in Nature two days ago and John Ioannidis a few years ago have pointed out: the failure of researchers to get their own house in order, and the poor quality of much published research. I have posted on that subject today on my website: www.donaitkin.com. That was before I came to all this! Perhaps someone a little better than Lewandowsky could do some research on why people believe in’ climate change’, and what their characteristics are…

Thank God there are true scholars in Australia. Unfortunately they are retired.

Peer review doesn’t stop 172 fake papers

Its reported that a new record has been set by a Japanese anesthesiologist for most retractions by a single author.

An investigation of 212 of Yoshitaka Fujii’s 249 published papers found that he had invented patients, forged evidence that medication was administered, and signed on as co-authors other scientists who had no idea they were affiliated with his research.

There are a couple of simple solutions to this. First, archive all the data and code and expect reviewers to go through it. This almost never happens at present. Second, archive without peer review, using sites such as viXra. Without peer review there would be no fraud. The merit of papers would be determined in the literature and other outlets such as blogs. Here, like most scientific papers, they simply would have languished in obscurity.

Fortunately, nothing he published was regarded as very important, which is how his vault of fabricated material went undetected for decades. Popular Science offers some of his compelling titles, including “Antiemetic efficacy of low-dose midazolam in patients undergoing thyroidectomy,” and “Low-dose propofol to prevent nausea and vomiting after laparoscopic surgery.”

How many readers is 40 hits a day?

To follow up on my previous post (“Is Finkelstein totally clueless about the Internet”) with real data, I examine the stats of the log files on my server.

Below is a table generated by the log file analyzer Awstats for the first 2 months of my server http://landshape.org.

Month Unique visitors Number of visits Pages Hits Bandwidth
Jan 2012 7,361 18,526 71,689 204,718 3.02 GB
Feb 2012 7,081 16,422 113,111 233,158 7.67 GB

You can see the number of hits for January and February is 205K and 233K respectively, and the number of visits is 19K and 16K, about 10% of the number of hits.

The number of unique visitors in each month, that is the number of unique IP addresses that views of the blog originate from is 7K, or about 40% of the number of visits. This would be the best indication of the number of possible readers of the blog.

But this still exaggerates the number of readers, as many people land on the pages from search engines, recognise its not what they were looking for, and click away almost instantly – the ‘blink’ effect.

Below is a table of duration of visits, where it can be seen that 79% of visits last for less than 30 seconds.

Duration of Visit Number of visits Percent
0s-30s 1,322 79.4 %
30s-2mn 48 2.8 %
2mn-5mn 21 1.2 %
5mn-15mn 31 1.8 %
15mn-30mn 36 2.1 %
30mn-1h 46 2.7 %
1h+ 121 7.2 %
Unknown 39 2.3 %

Therefore the total number of effective readers per month on http://landshape.org is approximately 0.1*0.4*0.2 = 0.008 or close to 1%. So my guesstimate from yesterday was pretty damn close. The ratios on other blogs may be a little different, but not so different as to matter.

Case closed your honor. Your proposal to regulate blogs with more than 15,000 hits per annum or 1250 hits per month would impact all blogs with more than 12.5 readers a month, or less than one per day.

Is Finkelstein Totally Clueless About the Internet?

The Media Inquiry by Finkelstein Q.C. proposed on page 301 the regulation of blogs with more than a specific number of hits per annum, suggesting an equivalency with print media:

If a publisher distributes more than 3000 copies of print per issue or a news internet site has a minimum of 15 000 hits per annum it should be subject to the jurisdiction of the News Media Council, but not otherwise. These numbers are arbitrary, but a line must be drawn somewhere.

Does he know how many actual readers that 15,000 hits a year represents?

Of the total number of hits a small blog receives, at least 90% are due to search bots (like Google and Bing), spiders, spammers, rss readers and sundry malicious automata. As hits are usually identified with client requests, each image on a page, logo, thumbnail etc. is technically recovered with a single hit.

Lets be generous and say that 10% of hits could be identified with real people, around 75% of these are bounces, people who click away within a few seconds.

Of the real readers, they might browse a few pages, contributing 3 or 4 hits.

Therefore, the ratio of hits to readers is around 0.1*0.25*0.25 or less than 1%.

Conservatively, 15000 hits per annum translates into 150 readers once a year, or less than one reader per day. Many of these will be returning, reducing the unique number further.

Yet Finkelstein seems to suggest that 15000 hits per annum is equivalent to a publication with a print run of 3000 copies.

Given losses and returns, a small regional paper might reach 1500 people twice a week with that kind of print run, or perhaps 15000 unique people per year.

One can explain the derivation of Finkelstein’s figures of 3000 paper copies and 15,000 hits per annum by assuming that one blog hit is equivalent to a single paper reader.

So one must then ask, is Finkelstein totally clueless about the Internet? One would think that before proposing to regulate blogs they would have done their homework.

Newt Kills South Carolina Primary

Newt Gingrich recovered strongly to pip Romney at the post for the South Carolina Primary in a race with a number of reversals, shown clearly in the Gallup Daily Poll above. In the end it wasn’t close with Newt 40 to Mitt 28%, as shown on this cool Google App.

So the race of 2012 is turning out to be far more exciting than predicted, and with Mittens fading in the polls, the big-heads who named Mitt Romney a shoe-in for the nomination must be feeling the heat.

The results in SC reflect the performance in the national polls for the remaining 4 contenders, with Mitt and Newt in an upper tier, and Ron Paul and Santorum in a lower tier, at least for the moment.

Menzies House posts a good poll-based commentary on the race by Amir Iljazi, who has a Master’s Degree in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Tampa, Florida.

Ron Paul’s Australian Support

Support for Ron Paul’s ideas is growing in Australia as shown by some recent pro-Paul posts at prominent blog sites:

Further support can be seen on Facebook, with of the Australian Ron Paul pages are merging into a single page Australians for Ron Paul 2012.

I try to reserve my judgement on winners, and study the trends of the polls and the shifts in the race fairly objectively, where the odds of him winning the nomination are slim. However, the following article on the tipping point dynamics of elections is interesting:

Ron Paul Can Win.

The following assessment from a social media analysis firm suggests the social influence, via social media, of Ron Paul is far greater than his current poll performance would suggest.

GOP Candidate Social Rank

As social media is not limited to geography, it explains the reach of his candidacy beyond the US to Australia. One can soon expect to see some his themes explored by the conservatives of other countries, such as 0 tax, limited government, sound defense and sound money.

After all, what is the alternative being offered? Continually intrusive and expanding government, growing debt and deficits, and a weakening, vulnerable nation-state.

Now its Romney vs Paul

What an exciting days racing in New Hampshire in the Tour de President! As expected, Mitt Romney in the yellow jersey after his (disputed) win in Iowa, with his lycra and billion-dollar techno-bike, opened up a commanding gap from the peloton, but Ron Paul riding his $10 Malvern star and air force scrubs stayed with him and was actually gaining a couple of points a day (RPs speech here).

Ron Paul and Rand Paul “I Went” photo goes viral.

The press dishonored themselves again with some of the most blatant displays of bias since Climategate. Here is a screen capture of CBS reporting on polling of the candidates. Numerate readers will immediately smell a rat as the numbers do not add up to 100. CBS has completely left out candidate Ron Paul who was polling in second place with 20% at that stage.

Screen capture from CBS news report of the Suffolk University Poll.

These fraudulent crooks need to be targeted under the infinite detention provisions of the Obama National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 to celebrate the Guantanamo Bay 10th Anniversary.

The online polls on Matt Drudge’s site tracked the outcome fairly closely, with a small Paul bias. The problem with online polls is the sample can be very biased towards readers of that web site, so I have filed away for further reference that Drudge may capture a fairly representative sample.

On we go to South Carolina. According to Drudge’s poll (now taken down) Paul is polling better in SC than in NH. So don’t believe a thing the media tell you. Romney might run out of puff.

Best Business Presentation Ever

You have probably heard about Steve Jobs retirement from CEO at Apple. If like me, you find him an inspiration, you might enjoy this video from the Apple Music Event in 2001, “The First Ever iPod Introduction”.

What I like is the steel-trap logic, the “quantum leap” vision, the love of speed, the sparse visuals, and the impeccable timing of the delivery.

Emerald Floods 2010

Right now I am in Emerald, Qld., Australia with choppers droning constantly overhead in the middle of a flood event, having spent the last few days bagging sand for friends’ houses. I have been through this a few times now, having grown up in country areas.

I want to document how poorly BoM modeling has served the community during this event. No flood risk was projected initially.

Dec 25th: The main rain fell on Christmas day in the catchment, a widespread 4-6 inches.

Dec 27th: The Bureau of Meteorology advised that Emerald was facing a minor flood level of just under 3.5 metres over the spillway at the Fairbairn Dam within the next 72 hours.

Then a minor flood was predicted.

Dec 29th:Water should peak at the Nogoa River approximately midday Friday 31st December 300mm (12 inches/1 foot) above the 2008 level. This may close rail access.

Suddenly they panicked. Projections jumped 0.5 meters. On the basis of advice the Mayor ordered evacuation of 80% of the town.

Dec 30th: The flood height is estimated to get to 800mm or 0.8 metres above the 2008 flood levels to a peak of 16.2 metres . Residents in the red shaded area from yesterdays map 1 need to evacuate now to the Town Hall.

This was followed by a map covering 95% of the town. Evacuate a town of 10,000 people to a tiny town hall in 24 hours — yeah right.

Right now, 5:30pm on the 30th the flood gauge at the Nogoa River bridge has stabilized. I think this will be the peak at 15.85 meters. Fairbairn Dam will probably peak at 4.5 meters in the next few hours.

The BoM predictions started at 3.5m at the spillway on the 27th, kept rising daily as the water rose, then paniced and overshot by 0.5m on the final day.

A known amount of rain fell on a known terrain. It can’t be that hard.

All advisories here.