David R. Henderson  

More Likely Than Not? This is Scientific?

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UPDATE BELOW

2nd UPDATE BELOW

Reason science correspondent Ron Bailey, in the January 2014 issue of Reason, digs into how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with the fact that the globe has not warmed for the past 15 years despite the fact that the various models had predicted global warming. I'll leave you to read his whole piece, which is excellent.

Instead, I want to focus on one statement in the report. To do so, I need to quote Bailey extensively. Bailey writes:

The report's "Summary for Policymakers" declares it "extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century." Whether that is so can be probed by comparing observed temperature trends with the simulations of the U.N.'s computer climate models, which assume that human influences are driving climate change. According to the IPCC researchers, "There is very high confidence that models reproduce the general features of the global and annual mean surface temperature changes over the historical period, including the warming in the second half of the 20th century" (emphasis in original). So far, so good: Both the model's projections and actual temperatures rose during the latter half of the 20th century.

As evidence that the models "reproduce the general features" of actual temperature trends, the new report provides a handy graph comparing projections made in the panel's previous report with three different temperature records. The report says "the trend in globally-averaged surface temperatures falls within the range of the previous IPCC projections."

But is that so? Most temperature records show that since 1998 the models and observed average global temperatures have parted ways. The temperatures in the models continue to rise, while the real climate has refused to warm up much during the last 15 years.


Throughout the report that Bailey cites, the authors use terms like "very high confidence," "low confidence," "medium confidence," "very unlikey," "very likely," etc. I've read their reports before and they have often used these terms. One might like some confidence intervals or a statement that very likely means that the probability is greater than 0.8, etc., but I'm sympathetic to their desire to be somewhat scientific while still trying to address a lay audience.

But here's the next paragraph. A term in there blew me away. Bailey writes:

The IPCC report acknowledges that almost all of the "historical simulations do not reproduce the observed recent warming hiatus." Not to worry, it assures us; 15-year pauses just happen, and you can't really expect the models to simulate such random natural fluctuations in the climate. Once this little slow-down passes, the report maintains, "It is more likely than not that internal climate variability in the near-term will enhance and not counteract the surface warming expected to arise from the increasing anthropogenic forcing" (emphasis in original). In other words, when the warm-up resumes temperatures will soar.

For a criticism of this, I recommend that you read Bailey's article.

I want to focus on something different: the term "more likely than not." It seems at odds with the rest of the report. "More likely than not" is awfully colloquial. If we take it literally, it means that the probability is greater than 0.5. But if that's what they meant and they wanted to write terms that fit their style for the rest of the piece, they probably would have written "somewhat likely." Notice the difference? Had they used that term, the authors would have left a lot of readers putting more weight on the 15-year hiatus than the authors appear to want us to. I think the authors want us to think the probability is much higher than 0.5, but they're not willing to come out and say it, probably because they can't be that as sure as they would like. So instead they use a misleading colloquialism.

UPDATE:
In the comments below, Mark Bahner links to their use of language. It turns out that when they say "more likely than not," they really do mean a probability greater than 0.5. My bad.

2nd UPDATE:
I hereby resign as an interpreter of what the authors "appear to want us" to believe. I overstepped. But here's the interesting point: Given that "more likely than not" means, in their view, a probability greater than 0.5, that, in itself, is quite striking. They are admitting that there is a probability, potentially almost equal to 0.5, that the "internal climate variability in the near-term will counteract and not enhance the surface warming expected to arise from the increasing anthropogenic forcing."


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COMMENTS (23 to date)
Alex Godofsky writes:

I don't think this kind of narrow parsing is actually convincing.

RPLong writes:

An even more straightforward way to put it is to simply say: "Despite the recent unexpected slowdown in temperature increases, our models still predict significant warming in the longer term."

If the researchers are confident in their models, then recent temperatures aren't something to "explain away." If the theory continues to predict warming, then that's what the theory predicts.

The real issue is whether or not temperatures from the last 15 years are statistically significant-enough to arouse suspicions of the earlier models. And there are two ways of looking at that:

(1) If this kind of scientific model hasn't changed (i.e. improved) in 15 years, how good can it possibly be?

(2) Why have the earlier models become the Null Hypothesis? I thought the whole point of models was reject the Null Hypothesis and force ourselves to conclude that the model provides more reliable information than the absence of the model. The way these quotes tell the story, it almost looks as if scientists are waiting for enough of a divergence in trend to merit a rejection of 15-year-old climate models. That's not how science is supposed to work...

Mark Bahner writes:
One might like some confidence intervals or a statement that very likely means that the probability is greater than 0.8, etc.,

They have such statements. See the "Confidence Terminology" and "Likelihood Terminology" tables on this webpage:

IPCC confidence terminology and likelihood terminology explained

Mark Bahner writes:
It seems at odds with the rest of the report.

No, it's actually not. It's actually completely consistent with the terminology of the rest of the report (see my previous comment).

"More likely than not" in IPCC-speak means a probability of 50-66%. "Likely" means a probability of 66 to 90%.

"More likely than not" is awfully colloquial. If we take it literally, it means that the probability is greater than 0.5. But if that's what they meant and they wanted to write terms that fit their style for the rest of the piece, they probably would have written "somewhat likely." Notice the difference?

Yes, "somewhat likely" is not IPCC-speak. They should not have used that phrase, because it's not consistent with the entire rest of the report...which is internally very consistent.

Mark Bahner writes:
(2) Why have the earlier models become the Null Hypothesis? I thought the whole point of models was reject the Null Hypothesis and force ourselves to conclude that the model provides more reliable information than the absence of the model. The way these quotes tell the story, it almost looks as if scientists are waiting for enough of a divergence in trend to merit a rejection of 15-year-old climate models. That's not how science is supposed to work...

I know of no one with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put their money behind the null hypothesis (that cooling in the 21st century is as likely as warming).

David R. Henderson writes:

@Mark Bahner,
Thanks. What do you know? I interpreted their “more likely than not” accurately. It was not colloquial after all.

MingoV writes:

The IPCC, in 2003, circulated its final draft of its 2004 report. Early in 2003, the draft was sent to climatologists. In the late summer of 2003, interested scientists could provide evidence that they had knowledge of some aspect of climate and get a copy of the report. Approximately 450 US scientists received a copy; I was one of them.

The IPCC received 25 climate models that met its submission criteria. One criteria was that CO2 had to be in the model, and that its thermal effect factor should be high (instead of in the middle range of the confidence intervals). The modeling teams were given weather data from the 1970s and 1980s (teams could use earlier data, too) to create the model. A successful model would predict within 2 degrees C the mean annual temperatures of 95% of zones (areas created by the IPCC) for the 1990s. That's a very liberal definition of success, because mean temperatures don't vary much. All 25 models FAILED despite the liberal criteria. Interestingly, not one of the models factored in clouds. Because of the failures, the IPCC created what it called a meta-model based on 24 of the submitted models. This was a lie. The IPCC model was an empirical model created with one criterion in mind: show that Antarctic zone temperatures will be high enough for icecap melting. To do this, the IPCC model barely met the 2 C limits for most zones, and was 4-6 degrees C higher than actual 1991-2000 temperatures for the Antarctic zones. I reviewed the data and created a "null" model: predict ten years of temperatures solely by using the averages of the previous twenty years. That "null" model was almost a perfect fit, meaning that the best climate model was no change.

Not surprisingly, the IPCC buried all negative comments and published its report, which was the worst piece of scientific writing I'd ever read.

Mark Bahner writes:
I reviewed the data and created a "null" model: predict ten years of temperatures solely by using the averages of the previous twenty years. That "null" model was almost a perfect fit, meaning that the best climate model was no change.

That's very surprising and hard to understand. The average global temperature in the 1990s was pretty clearly warmer than it was in the 1970s and 1980s.

NASA GISTEMP...average global temperatures

And it seems even more unlikely that such a model could be extended from the end of the 20th century to the end of the 21st. Like I wrote before, I'm not aware of anyone with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put money behind the proposition that cooling in the 21st century is as likely as warming.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Yancey Ward writes:
Like I wrote before, I'm not aware of anyone with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put money behind the proposition that cooling in the 21st century is as likely as warming.

I note the weasel phrase "anyone with substantial knowledge", a purely subjective qualification. What I think you really mean here is you don't know of anyone in the warmist camp willing to take that side of the bet.

Alex Schell writes:

Re: 2nd update, note that the negation of (enhance and not counteract) is (counteract OR not enhance), and not (counteract AND not enhance) as implied.

Infopractical writes:

"Like I wrote before, I'm not aware of anyone with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put money behind the proposition that cooling in the 21st century is as likely as warming."

If (bet_cooling) then label(ignorant)

The prominence of such empty verbal battery has continually eroded my confidence that truth seekers are at the helm.

Merry Christmas, and God bless everyone! Live long and prosper! May your children survive the coming apocalypse!

Brian writes:

"I know of no one with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put their money behind the null hypothesis (that cooling in the 21st century is as likely as warming)."

Mark,

It's not clear why equal likelihood should be the null hypothesis any more than the past model scenarios should be. Temperatures might be expected to rise even if CO2 has no effect. Yhe climate models show that the warming in the first half of the 20th century is consistent with either purely natural causes or with CO2-driven causes, so that temperature record would serve as the most meaningful null hypothesis.

Even better, there is no debate in the scientific community that CO2 by itself causes well-defined warming. The uncertainty at this point, and the difference between warmists and skeptics, is in the effect of the water-vapor feedback, so the null hypthesis should be the zero-feedback case (~1.2 deg C per CO2 doubling). I expect that you would find that lots of scientists would be willing to bet that no statistically significant deviation from the null hypothesis will be observed in the 2ist century. Do you disagree?

Ed Darrell writes:

'No warming for past 15 years.'

That's akin to saying that, since the U.S. has been at war most of the past 15 years in Iraq, the U.S. has always been at war in Iraq.

A more careful reading of the data, and history and science, shows that warming up to 1998 was considerably greater than any model predicted; by 1999 scientists were puzzled at why the effects of warming were so far outpacing their predictions, and the "critics" (nay-sayers) complained that the use of real temperature data from 1980 to 1998 skewed models way too high for future readings.

It is not that warming stopped, nor even paused -- it is that warming retreated to the predicted levels. That's not a lack of warming. In science, it's a bad idea to function with country music logic: "Been heating up so g--d---ed much that it looks like cool to me."

After 1998, there was not the usual fluctuational cooling we had seen through most of the 20th century, nor that would would see if the natural signals weren't all overcome by human interference. Instead, temperatures remained at extremely elevated levels, making the decade 2001-2010 the hottest ever in human history. Warming appears to have slowed, in the atmosphere, to nearly what had been predicted -- but still there was no fluctuation to cooler levels, as we would expect to see in a normal system.

Oceans, it turns out, kicked up their warming in that decade, potentially hiding warming from atmospheric measures.

By 2013, the entire planet is measurably warmer than it was in 1998. Plant growth zones no longer creep towards the poles, but now gallop. Fish migration, bird migration, mammal migration patterns all change to meet what looks like global warming. Sea levels rise. Storm predictions are difficult to square, but the insurance industry -- unused to betting their investors' money unwisely -- has altered their projections to account for increased storm damage due to global warming, growing greater in the past decade. Drought as bad as anyone has seen since 1492 in the Americas wreaks damage that kills 500-year-old industries dependent on weather. Ice sheets at the polar oceans retreat; glaciers world wide melt at alarming rates.

"No warming?" A blind man may not notice whether the lights are on. But only a foot intentionally blinds himself to claim he can't tell.

If a person exhibits all the symptoms of liver disease except jaundice, a wise physician does not rule out liver disease. A wise patient won't allow it.

When did Reason stop living up to its name? Why in the world would anyone follow that folly?

magilson writes:

Ed:

That's akin to saying that, since the U.S. has been at war most of the past 15 years in Iraq, the U.S. has always been at war in Iraq.

Nope. It's just straight data. You can say that there was significant warming during the twentieth century and that there has been no warming since 1998 and both can be true. The argument is simply why one trend length is more appropriate than another. Reductio ad absurdum is not helpful in this case.

A more careful reading of the data, and history and science, shows that warming up to 1998 was considerably greater than any model predicted; by 1999 scientists were puzzled at why the effects of warming were so far outpacing their predictions, and the "critics" (nay-sayers) complained that the use of real temperature data from 1980 to 1998 skewed models way too high for future readings.

It is not that warming stopped, nor even paused -- it is that warming retreated to the predicted levels. That's not a lack of warming. In science, it's a bad idea to function with country music logic: "Been heating up so g--d---ed much that it looks like cool to me."

If it's a bad idea to operate on "country music logic" then let's not. The early models were wrong. By a lot. Then the later models that extrapolated from the new data were wrong by a lot, too. And in the other direction! This is what's known in data analysis as a "bad model". Let's relax on the sky falling and concentrate on the getting of "a" single model right ever.

After 1998, there was not the usual fluctuational cooling we had seen through most of the 20th century, nor that would would see if the natural signals weren't all overcome by human interference. Instead, temperatures remained at extremely elevated levels, making the decade 2001-2010 the hottest ever in human history. Warming appears to have slowed, in the atmosphere, to nearly what had been predicted -- but still there was no fluctuation to cooler levels, as we would expect to see in a normal system.

Blaming human action as a reason for a lack of scientific explanation for an outcome is not actually scientific. The models created to encapsulate this actuality of the twentieth century have not been useful at all at future predictions. Again, this is indicative of a lack of understanding.

Oceans, it turns out, kicked up their warming in that decade, potentially hiding warming from atmospheric measures.

The warming as indicated by regressive models; not recorded data. Old temperatures and salinity data slapped into a model of a couple of years data from current "better" methods of measurement is not, in fact, actual measurement. And interestingly the output of these ocean models haven't been able to explain heat movement within the ocean that was observed by slightly better understood weather patterns. Again, we have some understanding. But just barely.

By 2013, the entire planet is measurably warmer than it was in 1998.

Nope.

Plant growth zones no longer creep towards the poles, but now gallop. Fish migration, bird migration, mammal migration patterns all change to meet what looks like global warming. Sea levels rise. Storm predictions are difficult to square, but the insurance industry -- unused to betting their investors' money unwisely -- has altered their projections to account for increased storm damage due to global warming, growing greater in the past decade. Drought as bad as anyone has seen since 1492 in the Americas wreaks damage that kills 500-year-old industries dependent on weather. Ice sheets at the polar oceans retreat; glaciers world wide melt at alarming rates.

Again, a lack of understanding of these events does not warrant a "global whatever it's called now" explanation. In keeping with bad analogies; your explaining the missing ship by saying it fell off of the edge of the earth.

Humanity moved past that lack of understanding just as it will the poor explanations of the new-hotness field of "Climate Science".

MingoV writes:

@Mark Bahner: "That's very surprising and hard to understand. The average global temperature in the 1990s was pretty clearly warmer than it was in the 1970s and 1980s."

No, they weren't. Data used for climate modeling was deliberately biased high. For example, numerous temperature monitoring stations in the USA were rural decades ago but became urban. Urban areas are hotter due to blacktop and buildings absorbing heat. The correct method for climatologists is to ignore temperature data from urban monitoring stations. Instead, these areas were included.

Ocean temperatures are monitored by dunking devices to a certain depth, capturing some water, and measuring the temp. Merchant ship owners are paid to do this. However, the devices have no method for ensuring proper depth. Some of the captured water was too close to the surface. More ships were added to obtain more temperature readings, but crewmen weren't diligent. Dipping too shallowly results in higher temperatures. The program had expanded so much that adequate inspections could not be done. The increased ocean temperatures are more likely due to measurement errors than global warming.

In the great lakes, temperatures (supposedly) rose significantly. The buoys used to measure temperature were not maintained. Many had water in their floats and were tipped to a high angle. They were measuring temperatures too close to the surface. In strong winds, they were measuring air temperature. (I have full records from one float. On a 17 below zero centrigrade day, the "water" temperature was 16 below in a non-frozen lake.) This problem occurred year round, but the only outliers removed were those below zero.

I could go on for pages. The bottom line is that anthropogenic global warming is the biggest scientific fraud in history, and it involved hundreds of people.

Mark Bahner writes:

I wrote: "The average global temperature in the 1990s was pretty clearly warmer than it was in the 1970s and 1980s."

MingoV responds: "No, they weren't"

Yes, they were. My comment of December 25th at 9:13 AM links to the global temperature anomalies as reported on the NASA GISTEMP website. The temperatures are clearly higher in the 1990s than in the 1970s and 1980s.

You won't find any authoritative global surface temperature measurements that are different enough from NASA GISTEMP that they contradict the basic conclusion that the average global temperature was significantly warmer in the 1990s than in the 1970s and 1980s.

Even satellite measurements (which started in 1979) show that the lower troposphere was warmer in the 1990s than in the 1970s and 1980s.

He lists many ways he thinks the global temperature measurements are biased, and concludes, "I could go on for pages."

Don't bother...it's not worth wasting anyone's time. If you have a paper that says, "This is what global temperatures should have looked like in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s if they were measured correctly," then by all means share it. *That* would be something worth discussing.

But you would also need to explain why the satellite measurements (and balloon) measurements for the lower troposphere are *also* wrong, because they also clearly show global average (lower tropospheric) temperatures in the 1990s to be warmer than in the 1970s and 1980s.

Satellite temperature measurements

Radiosonde (balloon) and surface temperature measurements

magilson writes:

Mark,

Please clearly define "authoritative". Until then it's all too clear the ease with which you ignore the arguments that destroy your claims.

The adjustments to satellite data, etc. have been covered extensively. A Google search will help to clarify MingoV's claim. I'm sure you're seething with reasons why a simpleton well versed in math couldn't possibly understand all the information a well-trained climate diviner has mastered.

But you could start by posting the explanation for each of the adjustments made to the data you've offered. Adjustments are relevant. But some adjustments are less relevant than others.

Mark Bahner writes:

I wrote: "The average global temperature in the 1990s was pretty clearly warmer than it was in the 1970s and 1980s."

MingoV responds: "No, they weren't"

Yes, they were. My comment of December 25th at 9:13 AM links to the global temperature anomalies as reported on the NASA GISTEMP website. The temperatures are clearly higher in the 1990s than in the 1970s and 1980s.

You won't find any authoritative global surface temperature measurements that are different enough from NASA GISTEMP that they contradict the basic conclusion that the average global temperature was significantly warmer in the 1990s than in the 1970s and 1980s.

Even satellite measurements (which started in 1979) show that the lower troposphere was warmer in the 1990s than in the 1970s and 1980s.

He lists problems with the surface temperature measurements and concludes, "I could go on for pages."

I don't think it's worth the trouble. If you have a paper that says, "This is what global temperatures should have looked like in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s if they were measured correctly," then by all means share it. *That* would be something worth discussing.

But you would also need to explain why the satellite measurements (and balloon) measurements for the lower troposphere are *also* wrong, because they also clearly show global average (lower tropospheric) temperatures in the 1990s to be warmer than in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mark Bahner writes:

I wrote:

You won't find any authoritative global surface temperature measurements that are different enough from NASA GISTEMP that they contradict the basic conclusion that the average global temperature was significantly warmer in the 1990s than in the 1970s and 1980s.

magilson responds, "Please clearly define 'authoritative'."

Published in a peer-reviewed journal. Published by a person who has worked on surface temperature measurements for many years and is acknowledged to be an expert in the field. You provide global surface temperature measurements that are substantially different from NASA GISTEMP in that they do *not* show warming from the 1970s to the 1990s, and we can discuss whether they are authoritative.

But you could start by posting the explanation for each of the adjustments made to the data you've offered. Adjustments are relevant. But some adjustments are less relevant than others.

No, that's not how science works. Science works by: Person A says X. Person B, who publishes later than Person A, says Y, and explains why he thinks person A is wrong.

In this case, the NASA GISTEMP data have been around for many years. If you or MingoV think the NASA GISTEMP values are wrong, y'all should refer to published values that *you* think are right.

But before you even bother with that, you should also explain why the satellite measurements that show clear warming from the 1979 to the year 2000 are wrong, and you should also explain why the radiosonde (balloon) measurements made during the 1970s to the year 2000 are also wrong, because they also clearly show warming.

Mark Bahner writes:

I wrote: "I'm not aware of anyone with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put money behind the proposition that cooling in the 21st century is as likely as warming."

Infopractical: "If (bet_cooling) then label(ignorant)"

That a complete misresentation of what I wrote. I only wrote that I was not aware of anyone with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put money behind the proposition that cooling is as likely in the 21st century as warming. I absolutely did not say that such people do not exist. You could easily counter my statement by providing the name of some person who is willing to put money behind the proposition that cooling is as likely in the 21st century as warming. Then we can debate whether that person has "substantial knowledge of the subject."

magilson writes:

I'm not interested in the way the satellite and balloon raw data were put through a model to provide the temperature data sets now used. Anyone who cares to look into it has plenty of information out there to examine.

What I am interested in is this "rolling average" nonsense. The biggest problem I have with it is that given a time base chosen with enough cunning one can simply mask anything. For example, the methodology you espouse would be sufficient, if used by economists, to make the boldest of claims that the US economy had only experienced two real depressions. Since this is nonsense I hope readers of this blog would easily understand why it's also a very dishonest way of going about the process of explaining climate.

You can call referencing 1998 cherry-picking all you want. Interestingly enough you can NOT choose 1998 and see the stagnation of global temperatures as well.

You can say that global temperatures grew faster than expected in the 20th century. This is completely and utterly true. But it also means nothing in the context of this still immature understanding of climate. This is therefore clearly a rhetorical tactic.

You can also say that the decade of the 2000's was the hottest decade in the history of modern civilization. Any high school level understanding of the way averaging works will reveal why this, too, is a clever rhetorical trick. Given that a lot of this is explained by the rise of the 80's through the 90's, it's possible for a tall sloped line to average lower than a flat line that begins where the prior stopped. Meaning it is both true that heating has since paused post-90's and yet the 2000's, with no statistically significant warming can still result in a warmer average. As I said, clever rhetoric. But easily understood to be just that with seconds of independent thought.

Simply, my point is this. Pointing out the pause in the 2000s (and the 40's to the 70's) should be met with explanations; not rhetoric and chest-puffing. Over a sufficiently long time horizon, you can both truthfully state there has been warming and also completely ignore the subtleties that to this date have not been explained by climate science. Period. If this same affinity for long-term horizons were adopted by economics (the point of discussion, in general, of this blog) it couldn't explain all the *real* stagnations and depressions experienced. And no honest person would accept that as a useful, scientific way to conduct research.

You can stick to your talking points all you want. I, personally, would feel very uncomfortable oversimplifying such a thing. It would be unprofessional of me to use this same methodology modeling manufacturing process in such a way in my own work. And just the same I have not seen a sufficient explanation for ignoring statistically significant changes in your profession.

Especially when tossing around numbers that in the real world represent other people's money. As a side note, coming from manufacturing, your estimate of $1000 per ton of CO2 is incredibly short of reality. And that's even with the "low hanging fruit" of early projects.

Mark Bahner writes:

Brian (12/26, ~9AM) writes:

Even better, there is no debate in the scientific community that CO2 by itself causes well-defined warming.

That's right. That's a very significant reason for why "I am not aware of anyone with substantial knowledge of the subject who is willing to put money behind the proposition that cooling is as likely in the 21st century as warming."

The uncertainty at this point, and the difference between warmists and skeptics, is in the effect of the water-vapor feedback, so the null hypthesis should be the zero-feedback case (~1.2 deg C per CO2 doubling). I expect that you would find that lots of scientists would be willing to bet that no statistically significant deviation from the null hypothesis will be observed in the 2ist century. Do you disagree?

No, I agree completely. In fact, I have not one, but two open bets on "Long Bets" that warming without substantial positive feedbacks will come much closer to predicting the warming of the 21st century than the 2001 paper by Thomas Wigley and Sarah Raper based on the IPCC's Third Assessment Report (which assumed substantial positive feedback).

In the first bet, I predicted that Michael Chricton's prediction (made circa 2004) that the world would warm by 0.81 degrees Celsius by 2100 was more accurate than the Wigley and Raper prediction in Science magazine in 2001 that the warming between 1990 and 2100 would be 3.06 degrees Celsius.

Long Bets Prediction #180...Michael Crichton knows more about global warming in the 21st century than the IPCC

In the second bet, I prdicted that my own prediction of 1.2 degrees Celsius warming from 1990 to 2100 would be better than the Thomas Wigley and Sarah Raper prediction in Science in 2001 (based on assuming all the scenarios in the IPCC Third Assessment Report had equal probability of occurrence).

Long Bet #181

MingoV writes:
... I attended a bunch of foreign policy panels. It was interesting to see what these are like, although I can't really process foreign policy discussion very well. It seems like lots of words, without clear meaning.
I was a political science grad student at the U. of Michigan in 1980. My pol sci courses assigned lots of reading from domestic and foreign policy journals. I could not understand them. I knew the definitions of all the words in all the sentences, but I could find no meaning. I brought some examples to one of my professors and asked for interpretations. He told me it was all gibberish. He said that most articles in most of the journals were written by academics who had nothing to say and did so by tossing lots of big words into each paragraph. I asked why such bad articles were assigned. He said that TAs did quick lit searches for each topic and put the top hits on our reading lists. Neither the professors nor the TAs read the assigned articles. That's when I quit.
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