Archive for October 26th, 2009

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Blind Numbers

October 26, 2009

I found this approach to extracting climate politics out of the data relatively interesting:

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

“If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect,” said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.

Yet the idea that things are cooling has been repeated in opinion columns, a BBC news story posted on the Drudge Report and in a new book by the authors of the best-seller “Freakonomics.” Last week, a poll by the Pew Research Center found that only 57 percent of Americans now believe there is strong scientific evidence for global warming, down from 77 percent in 2006.

I’d be curious to hear more about the methodology. Joe Romm and DeSmogBlog have more to say.

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Peer Review. Game On.

October 26, 2009

In recent weeks, some commenters on this and other blogs have tried to argue that the peer review system in climate science is broken; that under normal circumstances, they might trust peer review, but for some reason (given the technical narrowness of peer review in dendrochronology, for instance) peer review couldn’t be trusted.

Today, we have news through Roger’s blog that at least some critical responses have been attended to through the proper peer review channels.

Among other things that this points to is the non-brokenness of peer review. So, I reiterate: if the failings of a given study are so grave as to undermine the study, then those failings should, and apparently can feasibly, travel through the appropriate channels of peer review.

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Supermajority

October 26, 2009

One question that has been bothering me of late is the insistence by Senate majority leaders that they achieve the magical 60 votes to secure cloture and avoid a filibuster on legislation containing any variant of the public option. I had occasion at a friend’s housewarming party this weekend to run this past several colleagues of mine.  (Out of respect for them, they shall remain nameless. Much of the beer-and-pretzels discussion revolved around adult diapers, sweat lodges, Strom Thurmond, and the New York Yankees, so I’d hate to sully anyone’s good name. Suffice it to say, all of those I spoke with are reasonably familiar with the policy process.)

Word on the blogostreet is that the Obama Admin is pushing back on Harry Reid to accept a less robust public option because they think he doesn’t have enough votes for the more robust plan. Inside the Senate itself, it appears that folks like Russ Feingold are encouraging Reid to ignore the supermajority altogether. Some democrats are even threatening to filibuster any bill that does not have a public option. Nate Silver takes up a related issue, and Jane Hamsher points the finger at Harry Reid to ask what he’s hiding. The theme is also picked up herehere, and probably elsewhere.

“Why do folks care so much about the supermajority?” I asked, popping candy corns in my mouth.

I hate candy corns. But I continued…

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