Find the Bug

Normally, when a habitual denier/conspiracy-theorist site says something ridiculous, I give it a pass. But sometimes even shooting a fish in a barrel is good sport.

Basically, when somebody posts an article claiming that someone else is incompetent, they really ought to mind their P’s and Q’s.

So here’s an article where Steven Goddard accuses Jeff Masters of incompetence, and to prove it, provides an analysis which I find interesting.

I would like to offer this up as an exercise for the reader. Whether anomalously warm days are increasing in DC is not at issue here. I think the points do call that into question, though it would help if he, you know, showed us the data and the code.

Never mind that. What I’d like to call your attention to is the red line.

Three (3) Planet Points will be awarded to the best description of what the line means. Published scientists are not eligible.

So. Look carefully. What is the red line actually saying? Goddard asserts that ” it is quite clear that the number of warm March days has decreased as atmospheric CO2 has increased”. But is that what the red line tells us?

By the way, you may be interested to know that there are two 81s and an 82 already registered in March of this year and an 83 predicted for Thursday. How would those four points affect the red line had Goddard had the kindness to include them?

Also, this red line technique seems to be common practice at Goddard’s. I wonder if anyone has ever, um, considered whether it made any sense?

Call for Dr. Dunning or Dr. Kruger… Incoming call for Dunning and Kruger!



  1. The most obvious fallacy here is that Mr. Cherry Pick has started the plot in what appears to be right around 1907, which by a strange coincidence happens to be the year in which the all-time highest March temperature was observed (93 on the 23rd). That was part of a 3-day stretch in which daily records were set which are still standing. That year also holds the record for the second-highest March temperature (92 on the 29th). (Note that the climate history of DC actually began in 1870. Given Mr. Cherry Pick's involvement with various witch-hunts related to station location, it's remarkable that he would not have considered the effect of moving observations around 1930 from a solar-radiation-influenced urban rooftop to an airport location adjacent to a river whose waters are MUCH colder than 80 degrees in the month in question.)

    The second is that if one were actually serious about plotting the NUMBER of extreme temperatures, one would plot, well, the actual COUNT, not the temperature itself.

  2. As Coby says the trend line is for the temperture of days over 80 degrees and doesn't account for the density of occurence of those days.

    To take an extreme example if there was just one day at 85 degrees in 1905 and then 30 days at 82 degrees in 2005, without any other days above 80 in between, then you would get the same trend line.

  3. To answer the question, the red line shows the trend in temperatures only of days that exceed 80 degrees. So days that exceed 80 degrees are doing so by less than they used to, but being over 80 is now less freaky than it was, perhaps. The new norms of 81 and 82 fit the trend line.

  4. It's meant to be a plot of the average IQ of people who doubt basic science as it relates to CO2, heat and climate, but hopelessly flawed since it uses only those with an IQ over 80; ie not even wrong

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