The surfacestations paper – statistics primer

The surfacestations paper – statistics primer (May 12, 2011). Was Anthony Watts hiding his light under a bushel when he announced the surfacestations paper was in press? Is this post the meaty one, and the announcement mis-fire just rope-a-dope? Heres comes co-author Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon’s science! (Apparently John, a meteorologist who is the politically-appointed “Texas State Climatologist”, came on-board after Anthony’s own statistical efforts were tossed.) [Update: apologies for following Anthony's misspelling of his co-author's name.]

First of all John admits a “subtle point”. It turns out they “didn’t assess the differences in individual station measurements”, which unfortunately was what Anthony had been shouting about for years. Oh really?

John also admits that “NCDC’s preliminary analysis of siting quality used a gridded analysis, but we checked and our numbers weren’t very different.” (emphasis mine). Oh really?

Another curious admission from John is that “you have to work with anomalies or changes over time (first differences) rather than the raw temperatures themselves.” This seems strange, because the denialist howling has always been that only the raw temperatures can be trusted.

Fourth, John tells us that “a station should matter more in the overall average if it is far from other stations, and matter less if lots of other stations are nearby.” Isn’t weighting stations how the mainstream climate scientists rigged the numbers? Oh dear, there’s a pattern emerging. Regular science.

What was the ingenious analysis that pulled all this together into the final nail in the coffin of global warming? The “Monte Carlo approach”.

In fact, it’s so simple you don’t need to know statistics to understand it.  Given two classes of stations whose trends needed comparing, I randomly assigned stations to each class, while making sure that the total number of stations in each class stayed the same and that each climate region had at least two stations of each class.  I then computed and stored the difference in trends.  I then repeated this process a total of 10,000 times.

Then of course you cherry-pick the few comparisons that randomly show the trend you want to claim is real and ignore the other 9,990. This is what denialist statistician-to-the-stars Steve McIntyre did in his attacks on Dr. Mann’s temperature reconstructions, and was so ham-handedly reproduced by Dr. Edward Wegman.

So what’s left? Weak mutterings about how “many stations underwent simultaneous instrumentation and siting changes” in the 1980’s. Apparently no-one knew this (not).

This paper is sounding more and more like an ass-covering way to justify several years of wasted and misguided effort. The demonized scientific process has pinned Anthony and his team like bugs under a magnifying glass, holding them accountable for every squeak. The result? Laryngitis.

7 thoughts on “The surfacestations paper – statistics primer

  1. It becomes clearer. When Tony gave credit to Peterson, Jones, Mennne and Hansen I wondered. Does’t Tony hate Hansen with a fury past all reason?

    But, failure to get the columns to add up (J G-N does confuse arithmatic with algebra, but so what?) Ol Tiger asked for help. J N-G then channeled a bunch of climate scientits because they know what they are doing.

    We should all have invested in Tums stock a few months ago. Watts’ acid reflux must have doubled sales.

    First Muller, now this. The truth may set you free but will it make you happy?

    My second comment on Why Underwear Will Twist has been ignored. All I said was “Mullered again”.

  2. My bet is Matthew Menne, at NOAA, will be writing the preliminary paper totally destroying this insult of mathturbations of funny numbers, as we speak.

    Interestingly, I really have some nagging at the back of my mind doubts about John’s numeric statistical analytic ability, given the large variance in height above sea level of the locations in Texas, he selected for his comparative samples. Unfortunately, since Texas is currently experiencing a severe extended dry weather spell or drought conditions with extensive water restrictions. Undoubtedly all the real climate scientists will turn this insult to their profession to carbon ashes ASAP.

    [Epic face palm]

    • Is there any reason to rebut? Watt and Pielke spin and spin but keep coming back to facts. Siting doesn’t matter. UHI doesn’t matter. Menne, peterson, Jones and Hansen were right.

  3. Ben, I think you have a typo in this line.

    “Isn’t weighting stations that how the mainstream climate scientists rigged the numbers? Oh dear, there’s a pattern emerging”

    [I guess this is a sarcasm failure... The denialist claim is that the mainstream climate scientists have maliciously re-jigged the temperature record to create the appearance of global warming. My point here is to point out that Anthony and company's paper engages in exactly the same processes but pretend that their manipulations are innocent and unbiased. - Ben]

  4. Never fear, twatt states, “Bear in mind we’ve just started drilling into the data, another paper is coming.” So no doubt surfacestations v2 will have the silver bullet.

    [Yes, the silver bullet's still coming just like the end of the world, scheduled for December 21st, 2012, will be reset on December 22nd. - Ben]

  5. This is a very good post highlighting that when they are bound to follow the rules of actual science, rather than the rules of blog science, their results are dull and their methodology is no different than the scientists they criticize day in and day out.

    It’s a very noteworthy point you raise about their use of station weightings and anomalies. This paper would never pass the WUWT smell test if it hadn’t been written by them. Or to put it another way: WUWT could easily “find” problems with their own paper if they applied their own past form fairly.

    Oh and check this out. This blog is “filed under humor”. It is about archiving the most funny and/or stupid (they are not mutually exclusive) comments in the WUWT comment sections (and other blogs): Wattbots Say The Darnedest Things

    [Thanks! Your website is a great idea! You have a high mental pain threshold, I can rarely stand the self-satisfied ignorance that is rampant in the Watts Up comments. - Ben]

  6. Nielsen-Gammon writes a good blog on global warming, and I am surprised at him getting mixed up with Watts and his motley crew.

    Why didn’t Watts ask Richard Muller to help him?

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