BPSDB Not even wrong … refers to any statement, argument or explanation that is so at odds with reality that it is considered uncorrectable.
2 + 2 = 4 … is correct
2 + 2 = 5 … is wrong
2 + 2 = ‘§’ … did not understand the question
(2 + 2)/ zebra * Fugue = “global cooling” … is not even wrong
Climate change Deniers are often (usually?) “not even wrong”
I want to use one of the perennial Denier fables to illustrate not merely that the Deniers are wrong &/or willfully lying, but that they are not even wrong, ie so totally clueless that it’s a wonder anyone trusts them for the time of day, much less for science.
For this little demonstration I’d like to use that standard “It was cold today/this week/this month/this year in my region/town/yard/basement therefore global warming theory is wrong.”
The Poptart is Cold
For a specific “typical” example I will use PopTech’s (aka PopTart) 1,000 References of Global Cooling. This is a collection of 1000 media stories from the past decade about everything from cold snaps to people dying from cold.
Naturally this Denier fable has been debunked over and over (see at bottom), but rather than jump to what is the right answer let’s take a tour of just how absurdly “not even wrong” the fable is.
“not even wrong” about … what?
These stories are offered as some sort refutation of the scientific fact of anthropogenic climate change, which could be expressed as “humans are causing the current long term progressive rise in the average global temperature by releasing C02 into the atmosphere.”
Is the idea that in a warming world there is supposed to be no cold at all? or no new record cold? or that there are more cold records than before? or what? Just what is the point of the whole exercise? They don’t seem to know.
Of course I refer to the typical gullible Denier consumer of these memes. The professional Deniers know perfectly well that it means absolutely nothing, but they also know that all they need to do is post some “it was cold today” story and their confused, gullible congregation will believe that something meaningful has been demonstrated.
PopTech seems to have largely sidestepped the issue by simply posting his list without comment. As such it is not even clear is whether he thinks it is cooling, and/or was cooling, and/or will be cooling, or what? or maybe he posts the list to show how shockingly silly Deniers are?
I would venture that he has no idea what this list is really supposed to show, but that he is absolutely certain that it proves global cooling somehow.
“not even wrong” hypothesis
With climate change it is not only is it possible to have record cold in some places at times, it is explicitly predicted by climate science as a consequence of the disruption of weather systems. As the IPCC report clearly stated the prediction was that frequency of cold spells and record cold would decline over time, but would not mystically cease immediately. Further, an increase in “extreme weather” includes extreme cold at times.
Anyone with even a minimal knowledge of the basic science is aware of this. By suggesting otherwise all the Deniers are doing is parading how little they understand the science they pretend to refute.
“not even wrong” comparison
Comparison to what? So is PopTech’s premise that lots of cold records proves “global cooling”? what do lots of heat records prove then? Well I can use a search engine too … here, click on this. When I limited the search to “heat wave” OR “record heat” for this decade I got “About 2,390,000 results.”
This is no surprise since with climate change we have seen that “Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across US.” In fact any time you see one of those Denier “record cold” stories, just do an internet search for “record heat” for the same period & almost every time you will get a lot more examples of record heat than of cold.
It is only “almost every time” because these stories appear most often when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere. There is a lot more land mass and populated areas in the Northern Hemisphere, so a cold snap covering a 1000 sq km of the NE US will almost certainly get reported over and over. By contrast, record heat covering 10,000,000 sq km of the Indian Ocean, the South Atlantic or Antarctica will go unmentioned in the English language popular press.
“not even wrong” source
As with the 1970s Ice Age 9 Myth, the Deniers mistake popular media stories as being credible sources for scientific information. Presumably they also believe in the Goat Woman, that Elvis is alive, and that aliens regularly abduct people. Actually they consider the media reliable only when the media confirm the Denier myths. When they don’t, the media is dismissed as being a liberal pawn.
The numerous problems with the popular media as a source might be summed up as “inconsistency”(ie uneven coverage, not representative) across many dimensions. Some examples:
As noted above, media coverage is related to geography. The media will report one traffic death in their own town, but it takes 3 or 4 dead to get coverage 100 km away, and at least a bus load of dead if it is 1o00 km away or more.
The popular media do not cover the Earth evenly. Again as per above, there are a lot of media in North America and Europe, not so many in Africa, none in Antarctica.
Whether a “weather” story gets covered or not depends on the news cycle. If it is a slow day they will report an unusual frost in someone’s backyard. If something significant has happened in the world of politics or entertainment, then the weather may not get mentioned at all.
There is also the political bias of media outlets. Some media chains have a deliberate policy of distorting facts and lying to the public as part of their anti-science agenda. Fox News would be one glaring example, but others would include the Telegraph, the National Post, The Australian, The Washington Post, etc.
Nor is the popular media very reliable with respect to accuracy. As per the 1970s Ice Age Myth and “Imminent Ice Age” myth, the media themselves inflate or even create a story because it is more sensational.
While the media can be accurate and factual, it is not necessarily so. Many of the stories about climate that appear in the biased media are exaggerations, or even complete fabrications.
Which is not to say that the media is not a reliable source some of the time. Just that when what the media claims contradict the scientific realities, then it is reality that is correct, not the media fiction (another concept that seems to baffle Deniers like PopTech and Omnilogos).
“not even wrong” data
As discussed above the media stories are not global, they aren’t about average temperature, they aren’t reliable, and they aren’t comparable either to one another or to reports of heat waves and record heat.
By counting media stories all you are doing is counting media stories. The whole approach might make a tiny bit of sense (not much, but a little at least) if the Deniers used the freely available temperature records to count how many cold records there actually were rather than simply those that got some media coverage. Then at least they could claim consistent, global coverage that was meaningful.
Naturally it would still demonstrate nothing, but it might give the appearance that the Deniers in question have some grasp of the concept of “science. ”
“not even wrong” concept
As noted above, climate change is about change over time. Simply reporting about one day/month/decade tells us nothing about whether things are changing, and if so, how. Is 1000 stories about cold in this decade significant? How many were there in the decade before? 10? or 10,000? How many examples of record heat this decade? last?
Here again, the Deniers do not seem to have grasped that reporting the temperature today does not tell you anything about whether it is changing. Do they understand that reporting where you are does not tell you whether you are moving or stationary? going north or south?
“not even wrong” geography
“Global” means “global”; can’t put it much more simply than that. I realize that it is a shock to some people that the planet is larger than what they can see from their window, but there it is.
Even considering the entire planet over a decade we can see there are a few places that were, on avg, colder than normal (blue). Notice how these tiny smudges of blue have not made all of the hotter than normal (red) disappear? Deniers can’t seem to grasp that. They seem to think that if it is cold in one place for one day, it is cold everywhere all of the time.
“not even wrong” time frame
Another piece of the basic science is that it takes a minimum 30 year data sequence to determine what is a climate trend vs what is merely weather.
“Not even wrong” assertion
Since a one time snapshot tells you nothing about the past or future it seems the Deniers don’t even know if they are trying to say that the Earth has not been warming, or that it will not be warming in the future, or that it’s warm now compared to both the past and future, or that it’s stable. or what?
As with the rest, they seem to have no idea what they are trying to suggest, but they seem damn sure it disproves whatever the science says … now if they only knew what that was.
The criminally bewildered
The only thing a Denier proves when they use this meme is that they have no idea what they are talking about, have never looked at the science, and certainly do not understand the science at even a grade school level. It is an embarrassing display of ignorance.
Nor is this level of “not even wrong” utter cluelessness restricted to the “it’s cold” meme. We have seen in the past how PopTech has no idea what refutes science and what doesn’t, or indeed what is and isn’t science. Tamino recently posted an example of Anthony Watts having no clue at all (and here), and on and on it goes.
Indeed, being “not even wrong” is such a hallmark of the Deniers that it should probably be included as yet another of the things that distinguishes them from skeptics.
Cool springs on warm days
References that explain how it is we can have cold, even record cold, and more snow even though we are actually warming:
- Global Warming? why is it so freaking cold? (see many links there), and:
- Once Again, Cold Weather Doesn’t Disprove Global Warming
- Cold snaps plus global warming do add up
- NASA explains how Europe can be so cold amidst the hottest November and hottest year on record
- An amazing, though clearly little-known, scientific fact: We get more snow storms in warm years!
UPDATE: See comment here for how PopTart has cherry picked his graph.
NB the expression “not even wrong” is rather more storied and nuanced than I suggest at top. Please see “Not even wrong” for the full story.
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