Science, “liberal” and conservative media, and global warming

While I was reading my Twitter feed, I can across this tweet:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.04.25 PM

I was curious, because why would anyone ever have a statistician on a radio show (trying to put the general public to sleep?)?  So I clicked.  Beitbart radio was interviewing William Briggs because of the paper he wrote called “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model”.  As far as I can tell, the basic argument of this paper is that projections of the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are too high.  In the conclusion, the authors state (emphasis added):

Resolving the discrepancies between the methodology adopted by IPCC in AR4 and AR5 is vital. Once those discrepancies are corrected for, it appears that the impact of anthropogenic global warming over the next century, and even as far as equilibrium many millennia hence, may be no more than one-third to one-half of IPCC’s current projections.

Ok.  So the authors are refuting one climate model’s projections.  That seems reasonable.  As far as I can tell, Briggs is a very good statistician (PhD in mathematical statistics from Cornell #impressive) and has a background in atmospheric science and meteorology.  I’m not making any comments on the scientific merits of their paper, but let’s see what happens if we assume that their conclusions are reasonable.  If that is the case, then climate change isn’t as bad as projected, but it’s still a problem that needs to be dealt with.  Basically, let’s still try to to prevent climate change, but we don’t need to be as alarmed as we currently are.  But even if that is the case, the authors still acknowledge that climate change is man made.  They say:

Finally, suppose that remaining affordably recoverable reserves of fossil fuels are as much as thrice those that have been recovered and consumed so far. Then, the total warming we shall cause by consuming all remaining recoverable reserves will be little more than 2.2 K, and not the 12 K imagined by IPCC on the RCP 8.5 scenario.

“We shall cause”.  They are acknowledging that climate change is driven by humans burning fossil fuels, they are merely critiquing the magnitude of the change predicted by other projections.  They are NOT saying global warming is not occurring.  I know this because I asked one of the authors:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.22.44 PM

Let me repeat that: An author of the paper is acknowledging that global warming exists and that that they are simply arguing that the projection models are not correct.  That is a reasonable argument.  For the authors views on global warming see here.

So how did Breitbart cover this story?  Their headline was “Experts smeared by media and Greenpeace for debunking global warming”.  By the authors own admission, this is not what they did.  They didn’t “debunk global warming”.  Not even close.  Not even in the ballpark. This is so wrong.  By the authors own admission.  See the screen shot below from the Breitbart article:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 5.31.59 PM

So here is where I lose it a little bit.  Breitbart is overtly a conservative media organization and one of their favorite past times is yelling about the liberal main stream media.  It seems like they found a paper that sort of fit’s their conservative narrative and then took the conclusions a step further (i.e. global warming was debunked).

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.35.55 PM

Briggs seems to agree with the part about yelling about how terrible the liberal media is (even if he disagrees with the headline that Breitbart wrote).  A recent post from February 22, 2015 is all about how stupid mainstream reporters are.  That post was called “Goon Squad Fails To Distract Public From Fact That Climate Models Stink: Update 3“.  Here is a fun excerpt:

It turns out they’d [reporters] rather remain wallowing in their muck than learn about the subjects on which they write.

And one more for fun:

So I failed. I was a fool to try. I let myself forget that I was dealing with a class of people where the gap between actual and perceived ability is not only wide, but is a gaping chasm. To expect mainstream science reporters to understand science is like asking an environmentalist to be reasonable. I should have remembered most journalists suffer from reporteritis, the degrading ailment whereby because reporters cover important people and events they come believe they are important, too. Sadly, there is no known cure.

Ok.  Maybe he’s right (I don’t think he is).  Maybe science reporters in the media are idiots (I don’t think that) and we should be outraged that they don’t know what they are doing and are spreading false information to the masses.  If that’s the case then he must also be outraged that Breitbart misrepresented his findings so badly.  Below is his response to the headline when I told him what the headline said:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 5.33.16 PM

It seems like Brigg’s words (“It turns out they’d [reporters] rather remain wallowing in their muck than learn about the subjects on which they write”) could equally be applied to Breitbart.  So here is my challenge to Briggs: If you are going to criticize the “liberal” media with such passion when they get it wrong, you should also criticize the conservative media with that same passion.  I look forward to your post of how much of an idiot the writers at Breitbart are.


Super Bowl Squares


From a few years ago.

Originally posted on Stats in the Wild:

Last year I wrote a post about super bowl squares:

I received an email this morning from a friend: “Is there any sort of a statistical breakdown for which are the best numbers to have in a Super Bowl squares pool (for entertainment purposes only)?”

Now, if my friend were going to use this information to gamble, it would be highly unethical.  However, since he clearly stated that it was for “entertainment purposes only,” I feel that I can conduct a study with a clear conscience.

If he had wanted to gamble on it, here is a quick explanation of how that usually takes place.  (According to that website: “Basically, if you are at a party where you don’t have betting squares you are a Communist.”)

Anyway, using data from I created a ten by ten frequency table (using R, of course) of exactly how many times each…

View original 228 more words

Cher and Trademarks: Part 2

Another post that has nothing to do with statistics.  (If you want to read about statistics though, maybe you’ll enjoy this piece that @statsbylopez and I wrote for Deadspin.)
Yesterday, I posted about my friend getting her picture she was trying to sell on Society6 pulled based on their concern over trademark issues with Cher.  Here is part 2:
Hi ***********,
We had about a foot and a half of snow fall since my last correspondence, and all of this precipitation has me thinking about intellectual property law. The company’s position, as I understand it, is that my use of the word “Belchertown” in the caption of a photograph that I took in that town is prohibited because contained in “Belchertown” is the word “Cher.” Cher, as we previously discussed, is an internationally popular recording artist who has presumably trademarked her name in the context of the goods and services she provides. (You might assume those goods and services consist primarily of auto-tuned dance hits, but I would urge you not to forget her theatrical work. The Witches of Eastwick was particularly memorable.)
While I admit that I am unable to conceive of precisely how my reference to Belchertown, Massachusetts infringes on Cher’s trademark, or how my photograph of Quabbin Reservoir, which, remarkably, has supplied the city of Boston with water for some 75 years, is in any way similar to Cher’s artistic works such that Cher might have a valid copyright infringement claim against either me or Society6(TM), I will happily take your word for it.
That said, I am curious as to whether you feel any of the following submissions present intellectual property concerns:
You have to admit, ******** — this one’s a doozy:
Please advise.

Cher and copyrights

This has nothing to do with statistics, but it’s too good to not post.
My friend posted a bunch of prints on, and attempted to caption one of them “Quabbin Reservoir, Belchertown, Massachusetts”, but it was red flagged for copyright infringement. So they wrote them to see what the claimed copyright was, and this was the response:
Hi *****,
We truly do appreciate your comments and questions.
Unfortunately, in an effort to respect the rights of intellectual property owners, we are not able to support the inclusion of certain words, names, phrases, or combination thereof in artist submissions. In this particular case the term “Cher” was used in “BelCHERtown” and we are not able to support the inclusion. Please replace this word to your description accordingly. All words in your listing must be accurate and refer only to the item for sale.
We understand that this particular exclusion may be overbroad as applied to your submission, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to improve our policy and process for the benefit of the overall marketplace.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
So obviously she couldn’t just let that go, because it’s too ridiculous. So she replied:
Hi *********,
Thank you for your reply. This is, of course, not a huge inconvenience, and I understand and empathize with the company’s preference for avoiding the creation of liabilities. I also acknowledge that there is a slippery slope argument to be made here — if you allow BelCHERtown, what’s to stop the next interloper from using words like “teaCHER,” “CHERry,” “bleaCHERs,” or worse, “debauCHERy”?
However, I would point out that the names of municipalities are generally not subject to claims for copyright infringement, and certainly not in the present context. Interestingly, Belchertown was named for former governor Jonathan Belcher, who was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1680s. While it is true that the town was called Cold Spring in the earliest years of its existence, the name “Belchertown” was well-established by 1946 when the former Cheryl Sarkisian was born. Even assuming that the blessed event put the world on notice that the moniker “Cher” was forever protected from infringement, these protections would have no application to Governor Belcher’s namesake town. (Home of the Orioles!)
In fact, as a direct descendant of his excellency, the admittedly unfortunately named Governor Belcher, I am keenly interested in protecting his memory and estate from those who would appropriate his good name to their own use, particularly when that use involves ass-less leather chaps. Unfortunately, the relevant statute of limitations has no doubt run, and I am left without recourse in my attempts to halt Cher’s wrongful and tasteless assumption of the name. Indeed, there is truth to the artist’s assertion that one cannot turn back time.
Again, thank you for your reply.


NFL Predictions – Superbowl XLIX

Total (weeks 1-17) – SU: 170-85-1 ATS: 126-124-6 O/U: 135-118-3 

Playoffs – SU: 8-2, ATS: 6-4, O/U: 8-2

Week 1 – SU: 9-7-0 ATS: 8-8-0 O/U: 13-3-0

Week 2 – SU: 10-6-0 ATS: 10-6-0 O/U: 10-6-0

Week 3 – SU: 12-4-0 ATS: 9-6-1  O/U: 8-8-0

Week 4 – SU: 7-6-0 ATS: 5-7-1  O/U: 5-8-0

Week 5 – SU: 14-2-0 ATS: 6-9-0  O/U: 9-6-0

Week 6 – SU: 11-3-1 ATS: 8-7-0  O/U: 6-9-1

Week 7 – SU: 11-4-0 ATS: 7-8-0  O/U: 8-7-0

Week 8 – SU: 11-3-0 ATS: 8-7-0 O/U: 8-7-0

Week 9 – SU: 9-4-0 ATS: 8-5-0 O/U: 4-8-1

Week 10 – SU: 9-4-0 ATS: 4-9-0 O/U: 6-7-0

Week 11 – SU: 9-5-0 ATS: 8-6-0 O/U: 7-7-0

Week 12 – SU: 10-5-0 ATS: 7-8-0 O/U: 8-7-0

Week 13 – SU: 11-5-0 ATS: 8-8-0 O/U: 7-9-0

Week 14 – SU: 7-9-0 ATS: 9-6-1 O/U: 11-5-0

Week 15 – SU: 11-5-0 ATS: 6-8-2 O/U: 10-6-0

Week 16 – SU: 8-8-0 ATS: 10-6-0 O/U: 9-7-0

Week 17 – SU: 12-4-0 ATS: 5-10-1 O/U: 6-9-1

Week 18 – SU: 3-1-0 ATS: 2-2-0 O/U: 3-1-0

Week 19 – SU: 3-1-0 ATS: 3-1-0 O/U: 4-0-0

Week 20 – SU: 2-0-0 ATS: 1-1-0 O/U: 1-1-0

New England vs Seattle

Prediction: Seahawks 25-24

Pick: Seahawks +1.5

Total: Over 47.5