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A Bet for Climate Skeptics:

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is offering a bet to those who do not believe human activity is contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere. [Hat tip: Legal Planet] Given that quite a few climate skeptics frequent this site — and tend to turn the comment thread following every climate-related policy post into a debate on the existence of global climate change — I figured at least one would take his bet.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire has interesting responses here and here.

InsertGenericID:
They have to have a blog with a high Alexa rating to take the bet, which I'm guessing will preclude many of the commenters from taking up Nate Silver
7.20.2009 6:26pm
FC:
I am a climate skeptic; I am not convinced there is a climate.
7.20.2009 6:34pm
ChrisTS (mail):
FC:

When I lived in Houston, years ago, I heard a TV forecaster say, "There isn't going to be much weather this weekend."
7.20.2009 6:40pm
Melancton Smith:
The problem might be that the warming rate is lower than the normal seasonal variation so the signal to noise ratio is too high.

That still doesn't answer the real question, missed by this bet, does man have a significant impact on the warming trend, if there is one?
7.20.2009 6:51pm
richard1 (mail):
InsertGenericID:
They have to have a blog with a high Alexa rating to take the bet, which I'm guessing will preclude many of the commenters from taking up Nate Silver

Actually, they just need to be a regular contributor to a blog with a high Alexa rating which means that any of the contributors here can try to make some money.
7.20.2009 6:51pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I also don't see the particular proposal as having much merit. What the weather is like in two localities is pretty meaningless. And anything at greater scale has been manipulated to a point of not being trustworthy. The folks at GISS may give very precise answers, but no one knows what the accuracy is.
7.20.2009 6:51pm
richard1 (mail):
That still doesn't answer the real question, missed by this bet, does man have a significant impact on the warming trend, if there is one?

The bet doesn't try to answer that (or even whether there is a warming trend). It just tries to show that the people who cite anecdoctal evidence to disprove global warming (see Drudge who has an item of this sort almost every day) know that their contention is b.s. and don't have the courage of their alleged convictions.
7.20.2009 6:53pm
Constantin:
This seems like an odd bit of burden-shifting. As many in Silver's comments have noted, it's not a bet about global warming, per se. It's an intended takedown of the "what happened to global warming?" snark you see whenever it's colder than it should be for a day or so.

But for every time I've seen the "Gore effect" or its cousins mentioned, I've read a hundred claims that the planet's getting hotter based on daily or weekly anecdotes, hurricane prevalence or severity in a single year, etc.

Might as well bet on the flip of a coin. Silver could lose every month this year and we still could be damning the planet to an impending inferno. That's the difference between climate and weather, something both the "Gore effect" and "Katrina proves global warming" crowds seem to miss. The difference is that one group is being a bunch of wise asses, and the other group is trying to strangle the American economy and dictate what kind of lightbulbs I'm allowed to use in my own house.
7.20.2009 6:54pm
rosetta's stones:
But has it been an unusually cool summer? No, not really.

I love it how the global warming shriekers manipulate data, and break it down by whatever subset is required to prove their bogus theories.

So Silver is isolating the weather this "summer", is he? All 30 or so calendar days? What a buffoon.

It's been a cold growing season, which is a bit more than 30 days, for Silver's information. The corn in places here is still just barely above knee level, and lower in some places, when in decades past it's been above shoulder level. And Traverse City has still not been able to harvest cherries, I'm told, because it's been such a cold growing season.

But then, the current growing season is, well, not confined to 30 calendar days. Which Silver would know if he was interested in anything like presenting usable data, and contributing to the topic honestly.

It's been cold. Duh.

.
.
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And technically, Silver is not proposing a bet. His average data set is inclusive of the longer term averages that his above manipulation conveniently ignores, and thus he's not making a bet, he's about to break even, statistically. It is the anomaly presented by the cold growing season we've been experiencing that is the statistical outlier, and he's now looking for a way to cover up that fact and sweep it aside, with a little blogger fun. He sucked in one blogger here, anyways. Not hard to do, in my experience.

Hey Silver, why don't you compare the entire growing season against those averages, you schmuck.
7.20.2009 6:55pm
PeteP (mail):
What a complete bunch of crap.

Are you actually silly enough to fall for that 'daily high temperature as an indicator of climate' ???

Read up on something called 'degree days'.; The peak high or low is meaningless even in the short term ( 'weather' ), as well as the long term ( 'climate' ).

One easy example - let's say you have a day ( where the average historical high is 80 ) where it is cloudy, and the average temperature is 75 degrees. In the middle of the afternoon, the cloud cover breaks and it wamrs up to 90 for an hour or two. Then a cold front moves in and it drops to 70. That night it drops down to 60, 5 degrees below normal nith temps.

By his 'concept', this would count as 'a 90 degree high day'.

Does that make ANY sense to you at all ???
7.20.2009 7:03pm
Mike& (mail):
Folks aren't so "brave" with their opinions when money is on the line. Funny how that works.
7.20.2009 7:06pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
I would suggest that part of the problem is that there are plenty of reasons why the temperature is above average, including:
- the definition of average, i.e. what years were included in the determination of average? Comparing against the last 5 years is likely to result in much different results than comparing against the last 100 years. The longer the measurement, the lower the "average" temperature, since temperatures have been rising for quite awhile now, much longer than can be attributed to human intervention.
- Measurement bias. There is some indication that a number of recording stations have become hotter through time through urbanization. And, compounding this, more people are living in those same urban areas, the urbanization of which is supposedly causing increase in temperature. (No, this isn't really circular. Rather, recorded temperatures tend to rise as man encroaches into an area as a result of that encroachment. Some of the causes are pavement, concrete, and traffic).
7.20.2009 7:07pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Folks aren't so "brave" with their opinions when money is on the line. Funny how that works.
Not when it appears to be a sucker bet, no.
7.20.2009 7:08pm
DiversityHire:

I am a climate skeptic; I am not convinced there is a climate.


Me too, I think its just marketing from the people who brought you "community" trying to expand into new markets.
7.20.2009 7:10pm
Kovarsky (mail):
there's a lot of people that lost a lot of money betting against nate silver . . . .

i'm just sayin'.
7.20.2009 7:12pm
Kovarsky (mail):
there's a lot of people that lost a lot of money betting against nate silver . . . .

i'm just sayin'.
7.20.2009 7:12pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

there's a lot of people that lost a lot of money betting against nate silver . . . .

i'm just sayin'.

Link me.
7.20.2009 7:15pm
rosetta's stones:
I'll bet the schmuck any amount he wants, that this entire growing season will be composed of less average "degree days" (as Pete references) than average.

Put up or shut up, schmuck.
7.20.2009 7:19pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Not when it appears to be a sucker bet, no.
The reason that I think that it likely that this is a sucker bet is that there are reasons why recorded temperatures are more likely above average than below. One of these is that long term, the temperature over much of the world (or at least Northern Hemisphere) has been slowly rising. Thus, the longer the average taken, the more that it will underestimate what is "normal" or expected.

And, also driving the recorded temperature up in some places is the urbanization of the recording sites. If there has been significant urbanization of the area around a recording station, it is likely that the temperature will be higher than if there hadn't been the urbanization. Thus, average temperatures are likely to again be too low to accurately predict what is normal or expected. In other words, a lot of unurbanized temperatures are being added into the average, and then compared with today's urbanized temperatures.
7.20.2009 7:20pm
Jeff Leyser (mail):



One of these is that long term, the temperature over much of the world (or at least Northern Hemisphere) has been slowly rising.


So only a sucker bets against Global Warming because.....the globe is warming?

You guys crack me up.
7.20.2009 7:29pm
richard1 (mail):
rosetta's stones:
I'll bet the schmuck any amount he wants, that this entire growing season will be composed of less average "degree days" (as Pete references) than average.

Put up or shut up, schmuck.

The "Schmuck" has a pretty good history of predictions. (He got the electoral vote almost precisely right). Rather than making your "challenge" from the safe confines of this blog, where Nate is unlikely to visit, why do you go on his blog (where he posted his challenge) and make your "put up or shut up" challenge there?
7.20.2009 7:33pm
rosetta's stones:
He can find me, Richard, whoever he is.

He won't be, is my guess, because he won't wanna lose, which I can tell he knows he would, from the way he manipulated the data to isolate that 30 day data set, when it suited the point he was trying to make. He knows what I know, he's just manipulating.

But hey, I'll take the bet I offered. And believe me, I'll put up certified funds and we can draw it up sweet, if the schmuck's willing.
7.20.2009 7:43pm
ChrisTS (mail):
He can find me ... whoever he is.
He won't be, is my guess, because he won't wanna lose,


He won't be finding you? How would he? He offered the bet; you go take it.
7.20.2009 7:55pm
richard1 (mail):
(link)rosetta's stones:
He can find me, Richard, whoever he is.

He won't be, is my guess, because he won't wanna lose, which I can tell he knows he would, from the way he manipulated the data to isolate that 30 day data set, when it suited the point he was trying to make. He knows what I know, he's just manipulating.

But hey, I'll take the bet I offered. And believe me, I'll put up certified funds and we can draw it up sweet, if the schmuck's willing.

I think the schmuck is you. Silver posted the bet on his blog. Somebody here posted a link to that blog. He doesn't need to find you. If you're serious, you need to go there and find him (but, of course, you're not serious, you're just blowing smoke here). Why would he possibly be trolling the comments on this site to find you? As far as not knowing who he is, you are somewhat uninformed. His blog is extremely well-known, applying statistical analysis to political questions.
7.20.2009 7:56pm
Careless:
Jeff Leyser:


So only a sucker bets against Global Warming because.....the globe is warming?

You guys crack me up.

I believe the point was that it's a sucker bet because the globe was warming. At any period of reasonable length in the last couple of decades you would have lost such a bet.

It says nothing about what the temperature trend is at this moment
7.20.2009 7:58pm
InsertGenericID:
richard1

I read the OP as suggesting that commenters here could take advantage, rather then contributors. But I might be wrong on that, it seems to depend on what is meant by "frequent." Either way, I'm right with you on the purpose of the bet, so as to put the kibosh on certain low level snark.

And let me get this straight, rosetta. He, a fairly prominent blogger using his real name, posts a challenge on his blog. You post an anonymous response on a different (albeit also prominent) blog and refuse to present the challenge to him on his, saying he can "find" you. And he won't search you out because he's afraid to lose.

Interesting logic you've got there.
7.20.2009 8:01pm
innocentbystander (mail):
As Groucho would say, "You bet your life."

I don't need to look all the freakish data from ice core drilling and spread sheets on average temperatures etc. All I have to do to be certain the climate is changing, for the worse and as a result of human activity, is to look at the big money being spent (by oil companies) to spread doubt.

Doubt is strength. Doubt is power. Doubt is certainty.

Doubt is what the American Enterprise Institute was trying to buy a couple of years ago from anyone with any credentials who might write some "scholarly" paper debunking global warming. That's the coin of the realm for doubt. Get some second-rate economist working in a walk-in closet at a federal agency who will play the role of natural scientist and say coal-fired power plants are green. Then a bunch of bozos repeat that, and it becomes fact -- at least among today's go-along-get-along journalists.

I think $10,000 was the going rate from AEI. They already knew what the targeted "scholars" were; AEI was just negotiating the price.

I've always wondered about the faux-doubt-mongers who have small children and, NO DOUBT, care about their future.

Try a sip of doubt. Instapundit had some lame offerings this past weekend that were no more than local anecdote, e.g. it's been unseasonably cool there in Tennessee for a few days, so how could there be global warming? It's cooling.

Doubt that.
7.20.2009 8:14pm
ChrisTS (mail):
I've always wondered about the faux-doubt-mongers who have small children and, NO DOUBT, care about their future.

Have you ever seen the film "Thank You for Smoking"?

I'm not even a Marxist, much less a Leninist, but that line about "will sell you the rope with which you intend to hang him" resonates.

And, of course, we have to acknowledge the extent of 'natural' illogicality in the human mind.

So, combine short term self-interest with a tendency to be illogical and you get ... climate change denial.
7.20.2009 8:26pm
rosetta's stones:
Hey, the schmuck make a nothing "bet", which is mental masturbation, because he's comparing performance against the historical mean, and thus statistically no money is going to be changing hands. It's just mental masturbation, designed to suck in the dolts.

This after he manipulated temperature data and selected a frickin 30 day subset to make some type of "point", which of course he knows is manipulative, and thus no chance he'll take my bet, which is inclusive of the data that he's ignoring. He'll know this of course, even if you don't.

Maybe this schmuck is famous to you, but to me, he's clearly just another manipulative internet schmuck. But if he wants to take my bet, come and get some, schmuck.

If it's important enough to you, and apparently it is, perhaps you should scuttle over and tell your boy the schmuck there's some easy pickings over here.
7.20.2009 8:26pm
Ken Arromdee:
I don't need to look all the freakish data from ice core drilling and spread sheets on average temperatures etc. All I have to do to be certain the climate is changing, for the worse and as a result of human activity, is to look at the big money being spent (by oil companies) to spread doubt.

If there's money being spent by Jewish groups to spread doubt that Jews are baby-eating monsters, would you then be certain that Jews are baby-eating monsters?
7.20.2009 8:26pm
RPT (mail):
RS:

"Hey Silver, why don't you compare the entire growing season against those averages, you schmuck."

Answers.com:

"also n. Slang.

A clumsy or stupid person; an oaf.

[Yiddish shmok, penis, fool, probably from Polish smok, serpent, tail.]"

Keeping the level of the dialogue suitably mature. Perhaps you're hoping he meets his Waterloo?
7.20.2009 8:28pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
So only a sucker bets against Global Warming because.....the globe is warming?
Yes, it has been for quite some time now, starting long before man caused CO2 emissions could be implicated.

Let us take a hypothetical. Let us assume that the daily temperature has been increasing .1 degrees a year for the last one hundred years. Let us further assume that it was 90 degrees one hundred years ago. That would mean that the projected temperature would be approximately 100 degrees, but the AVERAGE temperature would be approximately 95 degrees. Notice that the temperature for the last half century is above the average of 95 degrees, while the temperature for the first half century is below that average. Now, if we were to extend this trend backwards in time another 100 years, we would have an average temperature of 90 degrees, with the first century below average, and the second century above. With this linear hypothetical, the average will go through the mid-point, regardless of the slope.

Keep in mind that the alleged problem is man caused global warming. Trying to counteract non-man caused global warming is screwing with Mother Nature, and there is no real desire to do that. But, here, we are looking, at least to some extent, to long run trends, where the temperature rise is at least partially due to that long term trend.
7.20.2009 8:30pm
rosetta's stones:
Don't know if I have any hopes for that schmuck, other than I hope he takes my bet.
7.20.2009 8:30pm
hawkins:

The difference is that one group is being a bunch of wise asses, and the other group is trying to strangle the American economy and dictate what kind of lightbulbs I'm allowed to use in my own house.


I understand and somewhat agree with your sentiment, but that's not a very charitable characterization. Couldnt it just as easily be, "one group is trying to avoid potential catastrophe, while the other group is selfishly trying to avoid any inconvenience"?
7.20.2009 8:32pm
Monty:
As as been somewhat mentioned, there are 3 distinct types of Climate Change Skeptics.

1. Those who deny that the planet is warming

2. Those who deny that any planet warming that is occuring do to anthropogenic causes.

3. Those who concede that there is likely some anthropogenic warming occuring, but who are skeptical about the size of human contribution.

If someone took his challange long enough they would get bit, but to have his challange apply to you, you would need to be in category 1. Personally I'd put myself in category 3, the evidence is very strong that warming is occurining, and I'm pretty sure we haven't helped things, but I don't think science has a strong enough understanding of our planetary mechanics to accuratly determine our contribution. (and any attempt to predict what global warming will mean beyond change is even further beyond our ability.
7.20.2009 8:41pm
dr:

Don't know if I have any hopes for that schmuck, other than I hope he takes my bet.



So Rosetta, I assume you've sent him a note or posted a comment on his site offering your wager?
7.20.2009 8:43pm
hawkins:
rosetta's stones: Are you drunk or are you 14 yrs old? Based on your love of using the word schmuck, it must be one or the other.
7.20.2009 8:44pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Monty,

You forget the very important category #4: Don't care.

Why would someone not care? Because, as of yet, I have seen little to convince me that the Earth, and, in particular, humans on the Earth, would be worse off if the Earth were, indeed, warming. And, there is some evidence that we would be better off. Oh, and did I mention that even if we would be better off if we could head off man caused global warming, there is no evidence that we can get the biggest projected culprits (China and India) on board in the foreseeable future, and without them, there is not much that we can accomplish, except spend huge amounts of money doing almost nothing to solve the problem (if there is one in the first place).
7.20.2009 8:49pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
If you like playing Three-Card Monte with ghetto street hustlers, then you should love Silver's bet, which has nothing to do with global warming or cooling. In North America, we have had periods of warming and cooling. A lot factors affect temperature such as the solar constant, El Nino, volcanic eruptions, sulfate production. As a result you get runs of warming and cooling apart from any greenhouse gas effect. I'll bet Silver won't take the bet I craft.

For those with the interest and ability, I highly recommend the classic paper Breaking Records and Breaking Boards, which you can download here. The author has examples of temperature records.

Enjoy!
7.20.2009 8:55pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
In short, so far Adler's prediction (which may or may not have been a serious one) that somebody would take this bet has been proven wrong.

Rosetta's: Silver's site, www.fivethirtyeight.com got a lot of press and became quite well-known on the internet political sites during the 2008 election. VC posts and comments linked it. Silver was doing the most serious number-crunching of polls and related data, and it paid off. He was almost exactly right on all the election numbers -- it was an amazing performance.

Of course Richard1 got the point of the bet early on in the thread -- to debunk the "gee, it's cold today, Al Gore must therefore be full of it." That's hardly the be-all and end-all of the global warming debate, but the reactions of some on this thread are revealing.
7.20.2009 9:06pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Of course Richard1 got the point of the bet early on in the thread -- to debunk the "gee, it's cold today, Al Gore must therefore be full of it." That's hardly the be-all and end-all of the global warming debate, but the reactions of some on this thread are revealing.
It really did no such thing. Rather, I would suggest that those here, and over at the original blog, detected early on that this was closer to 3 card Monte than an honest bet.
7.20.2009 9:18pm
rosetta's stones:
Slater, don't matter what else the schmuck's typed, he's here manipulated data to make some kinda "point", and followed it up with some bogus "bet"... of the mental masturbation variety.

So, I got a nice "bet" goin', too. Come and get some, schmuck.
7.20.2009 9:28pm
loki13 (mail):
Rosie has claimed that Silver has manipulated data.

This is what Silver did:

He heard the following claim from Powerline:


I don't think things are quite so bad this year, but if something doesn't change pretty soon 2009 may go down in history, in some parts of the U.S. at least, as another year with barely any summer. Here in Minnesota and across the Midwest, temperatures are abnormally cold.


Silver then took a dataset for Minnesota starting on June 21st. Why? Because he was trying to cook the data?

Because the claim was *the summer*, and June 21st is the beginning of *the summer*. That's what someone does with statistics- they match the dataset to the claim.

Rosie says it will be different if you use the "growing season." Um, okay. Run the data.

Anyway, there are only two points to be made here:

1. The leading cause of global warming might be the hot air generated by people who use the word schmuck.

2. This is a great use of statistics to show the type of cognitive bias that we all have- we remember the recent and the noteworthy, and, moreover, tend to overvalue information that confirms our bias and discount information that refutes our bias.
7.20.2009 9:49pm
ll (mail):
So this Global Warming guy expects to be taken seriously when he proposes a bet on weather?
7.20.2009 9:58pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
The argicultural summer does not align with the astronomical seasons. I recall seeing descriptions of climatological fall that also don't align perfectly with astronomical fall.

I would call that a manipulation since the discussion is about weather. It would be interesting to see his numbers re-run accounting for an agreed upon definition of climatological summer. Probably harder to distinguish summer from spring than it is to distinguish fall from summer though.
7.20.2009 10:16pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
loki13,

I would tend to think people's conception of summer aligns much more with climatological summer than astronomical. Astrnomical seasons are much more artificial. As climatological seasons change the times people are active change, the sorts of clothes they can expect to wear changes etc.
7.20.2009 10:23pm
loki13 (mail):
Soronel,

That's all fine, and stuff. Except you need a starting date. If you look at the data set provided, the reason there was the perception that it was so cold was the recent very cold weather, which cause people to forget that it was unseasonably warm at the end of June. This is more about the issue of cognitive bias- someone will notice the recent weather, and discount past weather.

Links to data sets provided at 538. I looked them over (weather underground, weather channel), and didn't put them into a spreadsheet, but it looked like fair pool to me. If you extend it back farther (into, say, early June or May) you get the same results.

What's fascinating to me is that a fairly straight-forward statistical proposition is being met by such, um, skepticism.
7.20.2009 10:36pm
loki13 (mail):
IOW, Silver used the commonly used definition of summer. People don't like the results, so they're attacking him for "manipulating" the start day of summer? If the person had claimed "It has been really cold since Christmas" and Silver had the same results (which, I guarantee you, he would have given the sample time) using Dec. 25th, I am sure y'all would be popping up complaining he didn't use the Eastern Orthodox Christmas.
7.20.2009 10:38pm
NickM (mail) (www):
loki - people on his thread are pointing out that by Silver's own definition (which I agree was proper to use), once you compare historical to current data using the SAME weather station, the numbers look bad for him.

Nick
7.20.2009 11:21pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Interesting time for someone to propose a bet it will warm up. El NiƱo conditions have now officially formed. That's a leading indicator for warm temperatures. Who wouldn't take the warm side of that bet?

If anyone who contributes to a blog with an Alexa less than 50,000 wants to take the bet, ask Nate Silver if he's willing to start the bet a year from now when neither he nor you can guess the likely status of El Nino. Also, before entering any bets, check the choice of baseline for the weather agency. WeatherUnderground seems to list cooler temperatures average highs than weather.com for my zip code. (The difference is about 10F!)
7.20.2009 11:28pm
DCP:

I love the requirement that the bettor be a poster at a visited blog so he can go there and "humiliate" them.

What an assclown.
7.20.2009 11:33pm
Tritium (mail):
I stumbled upon some documents from meetings with the EPA UNCP, and such, regarding the collection of samples of CO2, and the point was stressed that the data should be collected supports the conclusion.

Most scientists prefer to collect data to draw a conclusion.

Reducing pollution is definitely something I support. I just don't like being lied to, which they are very well aware. CO2 isn't causing global warming, the Global Warming is causing the increased amount of CO2, as the oceans hold less of it, and there is a great deal of CO2 ice in the Glaciers. Unfortunately, most people support the idea of going green because it really is a good idea. But there's definitely something wrong with Congress doing what's right. They blame the oil companies for supporting the skeptics, but they fail to mention that oil and power are heavily invested in green energy startups, and before the Alarmism began, climatology was an underfunded field. Now they receive a great deal of funding if they support the global warming theory. If you speak against it, your grants and funding will likely be pulled.
7.20.2009 11:35pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
It is a good thing to challenge anecdotal evidence as being meaningful in either direction concerning global warming. For years the AGW believers did it, now it's much more likely to be the skeptics. It's foolish (and irritating) either way.

It is a sucker's bet for a completely different reason, however. The floor for cold is much farther below mean temperature than the ceiling is above it. Thus, even if the mean temperature is identical year over year, there are likely more days above the mean by at least a degree than below the mean. Put another way, two days that are 15 degrees below the mean will average out three days of 10 degrees above; and that is what usually happens with the temperature. The cold will be concentrated in relatively few days.
7.20.2009 11:52pm
AndyFromIllinois (mail):
Tom McGuire at the Just One Minute blog took Nate Silver up on the bet with two changes. The city will be Minneapolis and the average temprature will be from the National weather service. This is so the same temprature station will be used for the readings. So far Nate has not accepted. Based on the National Weather Service forcasts August thru October will be below normal for Minneapolis.
7.21.2009 12:49am
James Gibson (mail):
The schmucks have been really having a time with this thread. Being reasonable close to various casinos and Lost Wages (AKA Las Vegas) I remind the wordl of the premise of the house rates the game. In this case Silver not only limits the person to being a regular Blogger, but requires that the temperature data come from a specific website. You can't use the NOAA weather site, you must use the weather underground.

Why, is it because he decided its more accurate then NOAA, or even your local weather channel?

Is it because it lists average temps for that day?

I'll be rude, is it because the averages listed on the Weather Underground are low compared to those listed say by NOAA.
7.21.2009 12:56am
David Schwartz (mail):
This bet has nothing to do with whether human activity is affecting climate change or not. Many people who are skeptical that humans are having any significant affect on the climate still believe the climate is getting progressively warmer. This seems to be yet another attempt to confuse AGW with GW.
7.21.2009 12:57am
dr:

So, I got a nice "bet" goin', too. Come and get some, schmuck.


I love the spunk Rosetta shows, ignoring Nate Silver's proposal in favor of a counterproposal, only not making any effort to communicate his counterproposal to Nate Silver. And then mocking Nate Silver for not taking him up on it. Awesome!

So Rosetta, I notice you haven't yet taken ME up on MY bet -- the one I wrote on a napkin and stuffed under the passenger seat of my Trans Am. You wuss!
7.21.2009 2:56am
Anatid:
It was kinda disappointing to see that the phrase "global climate change" didn't show up once in this thread after the original post. Especially after Silver's asinine comment about how much he hates people who don't understand statistics. A little earth science, anyone?

Global climate patterns ... due to a HUGE number of factors and interplaying conditions such as albedo, seafloor carbon deposition, oceanic plate subduction, rainfall, Coriolis effects on wind and currents, insect and algae populations, precession and irregularity of planetary orbit, sun flares, temperate vs tropical forests, continent shape and distribution, magnetic field protection against solar radiation, seafloor methane and ice cap carbon dioxide ... are complicated.

Yes, the Saharan desert is expanding and African farmland is being lost, but rainfall patterns are projected by EarthSim to increase in the American southwest desert, enabling much of that land to become temperate forest, which actually contributes to heat because the dark forest has a different albdeo. Which in turn enables pine bark beetles to spread since they're not being killed in winter cold snaps, so they kill all the trees. And it goes on.

In some areas, it will be hotter. In others, colder. In some, dryer. In others, wetter. The entire planet doesn't have the same weather, and expecting to see changes uniformly across the globe is naive. This isn't a difficult concept, and the folks trying to reduce mankind's contribution to global climate change and the mass extinction we're triggering would have a much easier battle if they bothered to represent this slightly more complicated and much truer version.

But it's kinda like saving the rainforest. Remember when it was cool to save the rainforest? It's not any less in need of saving, and ecology scientists are working just as hard as in the 1990's, but the media sensation has moved on.
7.21.2009 7:26am
Shane:
So I'm reminded of a bet I made last week.

A coworker of mine was repeating some claim he had heard about the weighting of a U.S. quarter made the odds of flipping heads 55%, and tails 45%. I immediately proposed an even-money bet where the over/under on tails was 47.5 for 100 flips (halfway in between his expected 45 and my expected 50).

I lost the bet and paid out, and my other coworkers made fun of me for making a bet on what was essentially sampling noise. Sure, I understand that my chances of losing were almost identical to my chances of winning, but my reason for making the bet was countering what I considered to be a ridiculous claim.

And like some of my coworkers, several commenters on this thread are responding to Nate Silver's response as if he just came up with it on his own - instead of addressing the dubious practice of using anecdotes as data.
7.21.2009 8:20am
David Schwartz (mail):
Bruce Hayden: Rest assured, humans will be worse off (definitely in the short term, almost certainly in the medium term) if the Earth warms. We'll be worse off if the Earth cools. We'll even be worse off if some places get warmer and some get cooler.

We build things where they work best, and it's not easy for us to move all of the stuff we've built. Climate change will mean that everything from dams to ski resorts and from air conditioners to insulation will be in the wrong places.

Changes in, for example, rainfall distribution will lead to political tensions. Perhaps even wars. Changes in what land is most arable will cause similar problems.
7.21.2009 8:25am
lucklucky (mail):
No one knows what is happening with weather. There isn't even enough weather stations. And obviously even less 100 years ago.


In 10 years or even less we will see the USA reputation in tatters. It is already starting with Eastern Europe open letter to Obama.
7.21.2009 8:27am
rosetta's stones:
This is more about the issue of cognitive bias- someone will notice the recent weather, and discount past weather.

Which is what the schmuck did, in looking at only a recent 30-day subset, of course. He's hoping you're as cognitively biased as he is... and apparently you are, although I'm fairly certain the shmuck is not quite as unaware as you, and thus he'll never take my bet, which expands the dataset and removes the bias you seem to be decrying.



Links to data sets provided at 538. I looked them over (weather underground, weather channel), and didn't put them into a spreadsheet, but it looked like fair pool to me. If you extend it back farther (into, say, early June or May) you get the same results.

No, you don't. And further, a comprehensive analysis inclusive of degree days, as Pete mentions above, exposes even more significantly that the schmuck is engaging in precisely what you mention above... engaging in cognitive bias... and discounting the fuller dataset of recent past weather.



What's fascinating to me is that a fairly straight-forward statistical proposition is being met by such, um, skepticism.

What's fascinatingly curious to me is the level of technical illiteracy displayed by those making statements such as yours.

This is pretty simple stuff, folks. Really, nothing higher order here. The schmuck selected a sample group to make his arbitrary point, a point which flies in the face of what we have all experienced this year: It's been cold. Duh.

Oh, and James Gibson above seems to have hit upon evidence of further schmuck manipulation... that of using a preferred source for temperature data. That blogger might be a schmuck, but he appears to have hit upon a way to work statistical mean to his advantage. Well done!

Unfortunately for the schmuck, it don't matter that he's got the tenderfoots convinced, as I'm sure he knows, as he appears to be an electioneering blogger per Slater. So it's likely he knows that between 2-10 congresscritters are about to be tenderly yanked by their shirt collars and dragged home permanently... by those not quite so tenderfooted... who oppose their vote on the recent global warming congressional kookiness.

Now come and get some, schmuck.
7.21.2009 8:57am
rosetta's stones:
Changes in, for example, rainfall distribution will lead to political tensions. Perhaps even wars. Changes in what land is most arable will cause similar problems.

Yes. Always have, always will.

I've heard it said that one of the CIA's most critical functions is to organize data sets to permit analysis of potable and irrigation water availability around the world... as it it this that will largely impact issues which you mention.
7.21.2009 9:03am
zuch (mail) (www):
Bruce Hayden:
The reason that I think that it likely that this is a sucker bet is that there are reasons why recorded temperatures are more likely above average than below. One of these is that long term, the temperature over much of the world (or at least Northern Hemisphere) has been slowly rising.
Ummmm ... Psssssst <*sotto voce*> ... that's the whole point Silver's trying to make. Just FYI. But keep it under your hat.

Cheers,
7.21.2009 12:54pm
ChrisTS (mail):
loki: The leading cause of global warming might be the hot air generated by people who use the word schmuck.

Yes. One is tempted to respond, 'Oh, schmuck off.'
7.21.2009 1:05pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Shane:
So I'm reminded of a bet I made last week.

A coworker of mine was repeating some claim he had heard about the weighting of a U.S. quarter made the odds of flipping heads 55%, and tails 45%. I immediately proposed an even-money bet where the over/under on tails was 47.5 for 100 flips (halfway in between his expected 45 and my expected 50).

I lost the bet and paid out, and my other coworkers made fun of me for making a bet on what was essentially sampling noise. Sure, I understand that my chances of losing were almost identical to my chances of winning, ...

You understand wrong. The expected value is not the mean (or median) of the two arbitrary values each of you think correct. It is in fact the actual value. Your chances of winning depend on what that actual value is (which, AFAIK, is much closer to 50% than 45%). Assuming an actual 'fair coin' [50%], there is a probability that sample "noise" for 100 tosses will produce a deviation of 47 or less some 30.8% of the time. Your odds of winning were better than 2 to 1. But this time you lost; still possible even with 2 to 1 odds of winning.

Cheers,
7.21.2009 1:24pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Bruce Hayden: Rest assured, humans will be worse off (definitely in the short term, almost certainly in the medium term) if the Earth warms. We'll be worse off if the Earth cools. We'll even be worse off if some places get warmer and some get cooler.

We build things where they work best, and it's not easy for us to move all of the stuff we've built. Climate change will mean that everything from dams to ski resorts and from air conditioners to insulation will be in the wrong places.

Changes in, for example, rainfall distribution will lead to political tensions. Perhaps even wars. Changes in what land is most arable will cause similar problems.
The problem there is that you presuppose a much shorter time frame that we are likely to be facing. It is one thing if we can expect Al Gore level sea level increases in the next 20 years, and another if the historical trends continue, and we have a century to address the issue. Yes, ski areas, cities, etc. may need to move, but over a century, that would happen anyway, with essentially no disruption to our economy. It is pretty simple really - if you are building something new, you don't build it where it will be underwater in a couple years. That sort of thing. And within a couple decades or so, much of what is threatened, at least in the first world countries, will be safely on high enough ground (and I have no sympathy for anyone building on the water line right now - it is called coming to the nuisance).
7.21.2009 1:32pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
<blockquote><blockquote>The reason that I think that it likely that this is a sucker bet is that there are reasons why recorded temperatures are more likely above average than below. One of these is that long term, the temperature over much of the world (or at least Northern Hemisphere) has been slowly rising.</blockquote>Ummmm ... Psssssst *sotto voce* ... that's the whole point Silver's trying to make. Just FYI. But keep it under your hat. </blockquote>But I as pointed out to the last poster making your point, the long term warming trend predates any real chance at man causing it.

And even then, the fact that the climate has been slowly warming for quite awhile now says little about whether it will continue to do so. Yet, that is the argument in favor of man caused global warming, that we are driving the economy warmer. His sucker bet works whether the long term trend from now into the future is for the climate to heat up OR cool down, as there is some indication that it is doing right now. His bet is backward looking (through the use of historical averages), and that says nothing about future trends, which is what is really what is at issue here.
7.21.2009 1:39pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Let's see if the previous poster's "sotto voce" was what caused my problems last time around:
The reason that I think that it likely that this is a sucker bet is that there are reasons why recorded temperatures are more likely above average than below. One of these is that long term, the temperature over much of the world (or at least Northern Hemisphere) has been slowly rising.
Ummmm ... Psssssst *sotto voce* ... that's the whole point Silver's trying to make. Just FYI. But keep it under your hat.
But I as pointed out to the last poster making your point, the long term warming trend predates any real chance at man causing it.

And even then, the fact that the climate has been slowly warming for quite awhile now says little about whether it will continue to do so. Yet, that is the argument in favor of man caused global warming, that we are driving the economy warmer. His sucker bet works whether the long term trend from now into the future is for the climate to heat up OR cool down, as there is some indication that it is doing right now. His bet is backward looking (through the use of historical averages), and that says nothing about future trends, which is what is really what is at issue here.
7.21.2009 1:40pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
It is a sucker's bet for a completely different reason, however. The floor for cold is much farther below mean temperature than the ceiling is above it. Thus, even if the mean temperature is identical year over year, there are likely more days above the mean by at least a degree than below the mean. Put another way, two days that are 15 degrees below the mean will average out three days of 10 degrees above; and that is what usually happens with the temperature. The cold will be concentrated in relatively few days.
I had missed this, but try this experiment. Let us assume that the median temperature is 95 degrees. But you have rain all day one day, and the temperature that day was 70 degrees. So, a five day arithmetic mean would be 90 degrees (4*95+70=450, 450/5=90). That means that four out of five days were above average. But at least in the summer, this doesn't work the other way. You are just not going to see 4 days of 85 and one of 110 averaging out to 90, with four out of five days below average, esp. when we are talking averages of 100 days (across a century), etc. My guess is that in the summer, the steady state tends to be on the high end, and cooler days are the exception, such as my example of it raining that one day.
7.21.2009 1:52pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Bruce Hayden:
But I as pointed out to the last poster making your point, the long term warming trend predates any real chance at man causing it.
Even if we assume this true arguendo, that hardly defeats Silver's point. The question then becomes what part of this is anthropogenic, and even if not anthropogenic, what can we do to anthropogenically reverse it if that seems desirable. But the consensus is that the recent increase in the rate of global warming is partly anthropogenic. And this is not just due to correlational studies; the physics involved is fairly well known. The models aren't just "fit to the data"; they are based on physical phenomena.
And even then, the fact that the climate has been slowly warming for quite awhile now says little about whether it will continue to do so.
False. It says a lot about that, and unless you can come up with a reason for why it would change, the default assumption would be that the trend would continue.
Yet, that is the argument in favor of man caused global warming, that we are driving the economy warmer.
It's based on more than just the trend. See above.
His sucker bet works whether the long term trend from now into the future is for the climate to heat up OR cool down, as there is some indication that it is doing right now.
How's that?!?!?
His bet is backward looking (through the use of historical averages), and that says nothing about future trends, which is what is really what is at issue here.
No. See above.

A "sucker bet" would be to bet on what had already happened, knowing the outcome [or data] a priori. He's making a prediction, though (albeit based on past data). If Hindrocket is right, Hindrocket can show Silver up. If he's wrong....

Cheers,
7.21.2009 2:53pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Even if we assume this true arguendo, that hardly defeats Silver's point. The question then becomes what part of this is anthropogenic, and even if not anthropogenic, what can we do to anthropogenically reverse it if that seems desirable. But the consensus is that the recent increase in the rate of global warming is partly anthropogenic. And this is not just due to correlational studies; the physics involved is fairly well known. The models aren't just "fit to the data"; they are based on physical phenomena.
First, the more that you push the "consensus", the more it is, in fact, breaking down.

As to the physics, yes, some of it is well known. But what is not well know, even now, are the interactions among all the constituent parts. You seem to be trying to assume them away. The problem, that you seem to be refusing to acknowledge, is that the world wide climate is an extremely complex system, and we just don't know enough yet or have powerful enough models or computers to competently model
And even then, the fact that the climate has been slowly warming for quite awhile now says little about whether it will continue to do so.

False. It says a lot about that, and unless you can come up with a reason for why it would change, the default assumption would be that the trend would continue.
Sun spots anyone? Solar cycles? Feedback?
Yet, that is the argument in favor of man caused global warming, that we are driving the economy warmer.

It's based on more than just the trend. See above.
Not sure what I was supposed to be looking at, except your unsupported arguments that the debate was essentially closed.

His sucker bet works whether the long term trend from now into the future is for the climate to heat up OR cool down, as there is some indication that it is doing right now.
How's that?!?!
His bet is backward looking (through the use of historical averages), and that says nothing about future trends, which is what is really what is at issue here.
No. See above.
Your argument against my point that it really is irrelevant to the bet whether global temperatures are going up or down at this point (since they had gone up for much of the time used for the average), is that we have global warming because we all know that that is the consensus opinion. Or something like that.

But that still fails to address my point, that it doesn't matter what the trend is for the future, since the deck is stacked in his favor due to the past.
A "sucker bet" would be to bet on what had already happened, knowing the outcome [or data] a priori. He's making a prediction, though (albeit based on past data).
He goes well beyond maying a prediction based on past data. He is betting that the future will be warmer than the average of the past data - knowing that we have had a long warming trend.

Let us take a hypothetical. Let us assume that the average runs for 100 years, and that it has trended up approximately .1 degrees over that time. So, if the temperature started at 80 degrees a hundred years ago, then the expected temperature today would be approximately 90 degrees. The average temperature over that period would be 85 degrees, with the first fifty years below the mean, and the second 50 above the mean.

So, let us now assume that the trend started back down at the same rate, maybe 5 years ago. So, the expected temperature this year is 89 degrees (based on the aforementioned trends), instead of 90 degrees, and the mean is somewhere around 84.5 or so (without going through all the work of computing it). And, so, the expected temperature is still well above (4.5 degrees) the mean, despite the downward sloping trend.

So, back to my point. For his bet to win, it doesn't matter whether the trend is up or down right now, but rather, just what it was for the term of the average being used.
7.21.2009 4:07pm
nicehonesty:
Looks like Silver's reneging because he realized the Powerline guys were right -- that it is colder than normal in Minneapolis, and the National Weather Service is predicting it'll remain cooler for at least the next few months.

Maguire called Silver out (the discussion was about temperatures in Minneapolis, after all) on his chicanery with a willingness to put up his own cash, and Silver backed down.
7.21.2009 4:10pm
mariner:
loki13:
IOW, Silver used the commonly used definition of summer.

Really? I'll bet most people don't even know that definition of summer.

I'd posit that the most commonly used definition of the beginning of summer [in the United States] is either the Memorial Day weekend or the last day of school.
7.21.2009 4:29pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Bruce Hayden:
[Bruce]: And even then, the fact that the climate has been slowly warming for quite awhile now says little about whether it will continue to do so.
[zuch]: False. It says a lot about that, and unless you can come up with a reason for why it would change, the default assumption would be that the trend would continue.
[Bruce]: Sun spots anyone? Solar cycles? Feedback?
Fine. Fit the data to the insolation. Parse out the solar contribution (and the remainder). Show [and explain] the resonance(s). The alternative to a theory is not no theory, but rather an alternative theory that explains the data better. Have at it.
[Bruce]: But what is not well know, even now, are the interactions among all the constituent parts. You seem to be trying to assume them away.
Nope. I never said any such thing. Most of the (better) models include interactions. And I'd point out that interactions don't necessarily have a dampening effect (see, e.g., decreased albedo at high latitudes with higher temperatures and shrinking ice cover).

Cheers,
7.21.2009 4:35pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Bruce Hayden:
For his bet to win, it doesn't matter whether the trend is up or down right now, but rather, just what it was for the term of the average being used.
What he needs to win is for the new temperatures to be higher than they were (as a mean). If there's no trend, and the past "mean" temperatures were that (and the best estimate of the mean includes the largest sample [and the most time]), then future temperatures ought to be evenly clustered around this historical mean. If they're not, then it's hotter nowadays. Q.E.D.

Cheers,
7.21.2009 4:41pm
zuch (mail) (www):
nicehonesty:
Looks like Silver's reneging because he realized the Powerline guys were right -- that it is colder than normal in Minneapolis, and the National Weather Service is predicting it'll remain cooler for at least the next few months.
You can't renege on an offer you never made. Nor do you need to. It's simple. Maguire can accept Silver's offer ... or he can run his own challenge on his own terms (but Silver is under no obligation to accept ... or even acknowledge ... that counter-offer).

Cheers,
7.21.2009 4:46pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
Man, I wish I could've bet him on his baseball predictions. You could make a killing betting that his Matt Weiters, Chris Young, et all projections were way too rosy.

Its not a climate bet, anyway, its a weather bet.
7.21.2009 4:59pm
rosetta's stones:
If there's no trend, and the past "mean" temperatures were that (and the best estimate of the mean includes the largest sample [and the most time]), then future temperatures ought to be evenly clustered around this historical mean.

And stastically they will be, over the short term, so no money will be changing hands, meaning the "bet" is nothing but mental masturbation. Fortunately, the schmuck's found some fellow travelers to join him in the circlejerk.
7.21.2009 5:05pm
dr:
So Rosetta, what did Silver say when you agreed to take him up on his offer?
7.21.2009 5:08pm
rosetta's stones:
When did I do that?

Maybe you can ask him at the circlejerk.
7.21.2009 5:15pm
dr:
Charming as always.

And you're right -- my apologies. You didn't take his bet, I forgot. You offered a bet, and have mocked him for not taking it, though you apparently haven't communicated your offer to him.
7.21.2009 5:23pm
rosetta's stones:
Maybe you can communicate it to him at the circlejerk.

.
.
.
So the schmuck's a baseball numbers guy, too, eh?

I always get a kick out of those sabermatricians. Bill James always used to come up with nonsense he was inventing out of the numbers.

I remember back when the Tigers had a .500 record or so with Lance Parrish behind the plate, but a big winning record with John Wockenfuss. So James says Parrish is a problem and gotta go.

Problem for Mr. James was, he was looking at numbers, and not understanding what he was looking at, a common affliction, as seems to have happened with the global warming schmuck here.

The Tigers lineup then was loaded with lefthanded hitters, and opponents were even calling up lefthanders from the minors to pitch against them in series. So Parrish HAD to be in the lineup to face the lefties that were so hard on their lefthanded lineup, and the record showed it.

Then, when they (rarely) faced a righthander, the Tigers played Wockenfuss, who went to right well and could handle the offspeed stuff, and gave Parrish a (rare) rest, as the bulk of the Tigers lineup feasted on that righthander... giving them a big winning record with Wockenfuss.

Data is great, but it's how the data is presented and used that's important. Mental masturbation don't quite get it, generally.
7.21.2009 5:26pm
Desiderius (mail):
Rosey,

James could run circles around you.

Bark up enough trees and you're bound to hit some wrong ones, or, in your case, several. Notice also the forest.
7.21.2009 8:17pm
rosetta's stones:
And mentally masturbate often enough, and you'll find yourself arrested for innertube indecent exposure, as here with these sabermetricians.
7.22.2009 9:58am
Eugene Volokh (www):
I've banned Rosetta's Stones, for repeated and substance-free insults and vulgarities. Folks, argument by insult adds nothing to the debate, and subtracts a great deal from the enjoyment of other readers (and of us bloggers). Anything substantive that you want to say can be said in a civil way, and more effectively at that.
7.22.2009 10:04am
Careless:
Days late, but Evanston has beaten its average temperature maybe once in July, is predicted to do so 0 times in the 10 day forecast, and is predicted to be below average in temperature over the next few months.

This bet was easily won if you happened to live in the right place with a big enough blog.
7.25.2009 12:08am

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