The key moment making headlines from the Q&A “Science Weak” episode — Brian Cox shows a temperature graph. Malcolm Roberts said the GISS temperature data has been “manipulated”. The Particle Physics Genius’ reply was argument from incredulity: gushing, gratuitous astonishment spread over six attempts to form a complete sentence:
By who? NASA? The people the… Hang on a minute. No, no, see this is quite serious. But can I just – just one thing. NASA, NASA… The people that landed men on the moon?
In a blink of reductio ad absurbum, Cox sweeps aside a potentially useful discussion about thermometers near car-parks, airports, skyscrapers, and mysterious 1,200 km homogenized smoothing. In its place he gives cheap theatrical tricks. Follow his thought to its logical conclusion — everything that NASA does (or presumably will ever do) must be 100% correct. NASA becomes an apostle of the holy order. He treats the brand name as untouchable, but NASA is not just Neil Armstrong and a Big Step, it’s an agency with 17,000 employees. But hey, none of them have ever produced a manipulated graph.
Since experts matter (so Cox tells us) let’s ask the experts — like say, Buzz Aldrin, Charles Duke and Harrison Schmitt — three guys who actually walked on the moon, or another 47 scientists and astronauts that helped them get there. They’re all skeptical. They wrote to NASA to protest at the lax standards of GISS:
“We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.”
Then there are a guys like Roy Spencer and John Christie who didn’t just work at NASA, they won prizes there — and in climate research. To this day, in an enduring mystery GISS (the Goddard Institute of Space Studies) doesn’t use satellites to measure temperatures, but Spencer and Christie do. Using Cox logic, these guys outrank him, he ought be rushing to copy their views… but they are skeptics. In the last 20 years the UAH graph looks quite different to the GISS graph — though it’s more true to say that even the GISS graphs look different to the GISS graphs, as they transform year after year. Amazing how the thermometer readings are still changing 30 years later. (BTW, even the pause is there in the UAH graph. Thanks Ken. Not that it matters whether it still is — the models were already proven wrong).
Things got so far from a science discussion Cox even asked Malcolm Roberts if he believed that “men landed on the moon”. Cox was either fishing for irrelevant ad hominem attack points or it suggests that Cox has read more on climate psychology than on the climate. Being a particle physics guy perhaps he was fooled by studies with only ten anonymous internet responses. Psychology is a bit outside his expertise.
See him flash The Graph at 4:30 on this video.
Cox takes on the role of conversation vandal (with Lily-the-future-PhD-in-eco-something as the backup “the debate is over”). He dumps logical fallacies in, trades on his own media gloss and does his best to stop an open-minded, rational discussion. The ABC fosters this sort of interaction, like a twitter conversation with cameras. Linda Burnley’s “proof” was that people shouldn’t go swimming at Maroubra in August. Like that’s meaningful. (Poms have been coming to Perth and swimming here in July since forever…) Neither Cox, Jones, Hunt or Lily scoff or laugh at that comment. They could’ve done the full Scoff-Scorn and Riotous-Laughs, but …meh… wrong target.
One day Cox will understand cause and effect:
Here’s the most important point in the whole last twenty years of debate — credit to Malcolm Roberts for hammering it home. We need empirical evidence, and we need “cause and effect” links. So here is Cox finally pressed to give his Big Empirical Evidence declaring that climate models are useful:
“Let me just – all right, I’ll just give you one snapshot. So, I took a snapshot of the different bits of evidence for 2015. So global ocean heat content highest on record in 2015; global sea level highest on record in 2015, 70 millimetres higher than that observed in 1993; global surface temperature highest on record, El Nino something like 10 to 40% contribution to that; tropical cyclones well above average overall, as you said and even the anecdotal data. …
…. So the point is you go evidence, evidence, evidence, arctic continue warm, sea ice extent low, artic land surface temperature in 2015, 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above 1981’s 210 average.
All of that would happen no matter what caused the warming. Cox hasn’t even thought this one through at a baby basic level. If the solar wind changed clouds and warmed the world, the seas also rise, the ice also melts, blah blah blah. Same for magnetic fields changing cloud nucleation. Same for UV solar cycle changes shifting jet streams and altering cloud formation.
O’but it’s hot says Cox. It’s hot! Yet correlation is not causation. It’s fallacy after fallacy.
And some people call this man a “renown” scientist. Embarrassing.
See Eric Worrall at Watts up too: .Climate Clash: Aussie Senator Malcolm Roberts Owns TV Physicist Brian Cox
Anthony Cox at the ClimateSceptics: Malcolm Roberts and the ABC
H/t to Helen D for the transcript and the “Science Weak” line.