# Economic models fail. What of climate?

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I made the comment earlier that I could make predictions using a graph and a ruler. The examples of prediction from climate models that iNow and insane alien are also examples that can be predicted the same way. Temperature increase over the last 30 years averages at 0.08 C per decade, excluding short term fluctuations. I predict, with my ruler, that the world will warm, on average, by about 0.08 C over the next decade (with an error factor of plus or minus 0.03 C). Does this make me a computer model?

Predictions that are just plain bloody obvious have no scientific value. For a global climate model to 'prove' itself, it needs to make an unexpected prediction and be shown to be correct.

What would your prediction have been in 1988, when you didn't have a three decade baseline to use? What would happen if you retrodict with your "model"?

Why must models make unexpected predictions to be scientific? And what was "expected" about the results of climate models from a few decades back, when almost nobody had heard of global warming?

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In pharmaceutical testing they minimize, eliminate or ignore the variables they don't have any control over, such as, oh I don't know, how about whether or not the patient actually swallows the pills you give them, or whether they were honest about their medical backgrounds or other drugs they're taking. Not to mention stuff they may not even be aware of (environmental factors, dietary considerations, accidental overdose, etc etc etc).

I used to work in pharmaceutical testing (no, I do not mean recreationally in college, haha), and you appear mistaken in your representation. It's not like people are being handed a bottle full of pills after filling out a questionnaire and going home to take them as they see fit.

There is extensive prescreening, and only after prescreening do they arrive for a physical screeing. At physical screening, blood tests, urine tests, cardiac tests, and other "physical" tests are conducted extensively. Only once they pass them and pass all study guidelines outlined in the testing protocol are they allowed into the study, and then they are sequestered in the local facility and montored for multiple days at a time, eating only what you feed them, taking pills at specific scheduled times under the observation of nurses and study aids, and more tests and repeated blood draws are conducted while they are there.

With all that said, while economics CAN follow scientific principles, it's more art than science, and the subject of this thread is the models themselves. The OP of the thread rested on a fallacy, and the issue has already been settled. The fact that Lance can't accept that and move on really matters not. Perhaps we wouldn't be inclined toward meanness if the OP were a lttle more aware of the reality around him.

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Obviously those rigorous conditions don't apply to all pharmaceutical testing. But even when it does it just proves my point -- you've severely restricted the variables in a way that by definition differs the testing environment from reality.

On the subject of meanness, I don't care what you're inclined toward. Appeal to ridicule is not a scientific approach either. And there's not a single member here who doesn't comprehend the fact that these arguments are as much about what you're willing to accept as they are about what Lance is willing to accept.

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I'm not sure how my post warranted that response, but sure... whatever.

Obviously those rigorous conditions don't apply to all pharmaceutical testing.

What do you mean by "obviously those rigorous conditions don't apply to all pharmaceutical testing?" Can you please name ONE example where they don't? I can't think of anything obvious about such a comment, but recognize that I don't know a lot of things.

But even when it does it just proves my point -- you've severely restricted the variables in a way that by definition differs the testing environment from reality.

Irrelevant. These tests are designed to study method of action and physiology. If they allowed a "reality" based testing environment, then they would never be able to separate the effects of the drug from all of the other countless confounding variables. They minimize the confounds precisely to isolate the causative agents of reaction, much as swansont was describing above.

Economic models can't really isolate causes, so I'm not sure why we keep going even further down this dead ended path together.

On the subject of meanness, I don't care what you're inclined toward.

You sound a bit hypocritical there, and you're definitely not leading by example.

Appeal to ridicule is not a scientific approach either.

I really wish you'd learn the difference between ridicule and appeal to ridicule. Nobody is ridiculing Lance as a method of proving their arguments correct or his wrong, we're (at least I am) just ridiculing him for being so continually obstinate and arguing from false premises. Either way, ridicule by itself does not dictate via modus ponens an appeal to ridicule.

Edited by iNow
multiple post merged
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iNow obviously drug companies don't keep people in seclusion for long-term testing. You said they keep them for days at a time, fine, then they're out the door doing their own thing, unobserved. Don't put forth like they have complete control when even you are *STATING* that they do not.

As for the ridicule, I don't care why you're doing it, just stop doing it.

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do you realise the idiocy of what you have just said?

thats like saying any theory of gravity has to predict an object spontaneously falling upwards at several thousand g for it to be proven.

just because the model says nothing spectacular is going to happen doesn't mean it is wrong especially if nothing spectacular happens when it says nothing spectacular will happen.

IA

The idiocy came from those who implied that the fact that models predicted warming means they are right. I am poking fun at those statements by saying that my ruler is just as potent as their models. I trust that you are astute enough to see that is irony.

Swansont said :

"What would your prediction have been in 1988, when you didn't have a three decade baseline to use? What would happen if you retrodict with your "model"?"

I would have been wrong. And so would any model set up at the time.

I am not suggesting I am better than climate models, or that I know more on the subject than climate scientists. In fact, if climate scientists were all in total accord, I would slink into my corner and not debate this at all. A big factor in my thinking is based on the fact that climate scientists are not all in accord. This shows that the science is uncertain, which is what I have been saying.

Edited by SkepticLance
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In fact, if climate scientists were all in total accord, I would slink into my corner and not debate this at all. A big factor in my thinking is based on the fact that climate scientists are not all in accord.

You made the assertion, now back it up. Which ones specifically?

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iNow

We have been down this road before and you already know the names. People like Dr. Patrick Michaels, Dr. Robert Balling, Dr. Augie Auer, and many others.

And to any person reading this, please do not take this as an invitation to attack those scientists and accuse them of corruption, as I have seen various people do in the past. Attacking and insulting people who hold contrary opinions to yourself is not a sign that you are a reasonable person or a good scientific thinker. Quite the contrary. Debaters who descend to those tactics reveal their true nature, and it is not pretty.

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IA

The idiocy came from those who implied that the fact that models predicted warming means they are right. I am poking fun at those statements by saying that my ruler is just as potent as their models. I trust that you are astute enough to see that is irony.

Swansont said :

"What would your prediction have been in 1988, when you didn't have a three decade baseline to use? What would happen if you retrodict with your "model"?"

I would have been wrong. And so would any model set up at the time.

I am not suggesting I am better than climate models, or that I know more on the subject than climate scientists. In fact, if climate scientists were all in total accord, I would slink into my corner and not debate this at all. A big factor in my thinking is based on the fact that climate scientists are not all in accord. This shows that the science is uncertain, which is what I have been saying.

I disagree that no models would have been correct. Read Barry Commoner's books "The Closing Circle" circa 1971, "The Poverty of Power" circa 1976, and "The Politics of Power" circa 1979. From what I have read about climate change since then I would say he was right on. BTW this was before there even was such a thing as a computer climate model.

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okay, lets go back to this ruler vs, model that accounts for as many variables as we can feed it.

using your ruler, within a few millenia the world will be too hot to have oceans.

using the computer models, even the most pessimistic assumptions never see the earth get that warm.

so, you see the flaw with your 'its a straight' line model.

and for the record, the computers don't predict a straight line and the temperature is following the computer models line more closely than a straight line.

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I think the work of Dr. Edward Lorenz may shed some light on why these the models fail, theres a good long bibliography at the end of this link: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1223682.1223767 that may assist in further research into this question.

a brief overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

and a bifurcation theory subset: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catastrophe_theory

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Insane alien

Let me repeat myself.

The analogy of ruler and graph versus model was an exercise in irony, in order to illustrate the silliness of certain posts suggesting that predicting warming proves a model is true. Do you need me to provide a definition of irony?

I am still waiting for any convincing evidence that climate models are somehow immune to the errors that creep into over-complex models that do not take into account all variables. That is : models that seek to simulate that which is not fully understood.

YT has suggested that economic models fail because they cannot take into account the phenomenon of chaotic behaviour. We all know that weather is another phenomenon in which chaos plays a very big part. Is it not possible that chaos is part of climate also? If so, does not this also indicate that modelling climate is likely to be highly unreliable?

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SkepticLance, your ruler model fails in every way possible. It does not predict the future, and it does not predict the past. Any decent model will at least predict the cyclical rising and falling of temperatures as the seasons change. Your ruler model requires that the temperature forever keep rising, forever keep dropping, or forever be the same. Your model fails both theoretically and in practice. So why do you keep insisting that a model that can't possibly be true is better than the best scientists can come up with?

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He isn't insisting that a ruler would be any sort of model.

SL, the entire point of a model is that it doesn't take all variables into account. The idea is that we use the best data we have, fill in the blanks with the best assumptions we can make, and then use that to make the best predictions we can. Of course errors will creep in over time (hence not being able to predict the weather a week from now), but that does not mean that the fundamental basis of the model is incorrect. It just means that those unaccounted for variables are starting to have a larger effect.

The best data (and the best models) show that global warming is happening, and that it is anthropogenic.

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This is going to be another one of those threads that goes on and on and on despite the premise being pointed out as a fallacy by everyone replying, isn't it?

Ah, the handgun thread was brilliant. Extra credit for Hitler being mentioned as early as the 23rd post.

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I have always expressed scepticism at the reliability, accuracy/precision of global computer models of climate. After the example of the failure of global economic models, how can anyone have confidence in global climate models?

We should be skeptical, which is why scientists are always testing their models. It all depends on how precise one is trying to be. If someone says they know the Dow will hit 12000 in three months, I am very skeptical. If someone says a cat 5 hurricane will hit New Orleans next year, I am very skeptical.

On the other hand, if someone say printing shit loads of money will increase inflation, makes sense to me. If someone says pumping shit loads of C02 into the atmosphere will increase the greenhouse effect, well that makes sense as well. Correlation does not equal causation, but if we have a reasonable explanation that makes predictions, then its a pretty good bet. Not a 100% bet, we still are skeptical, but if we have nothing better should we ignore it?

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the problem with these models that deal with statistical relationships are that they work great in a linear fashion, and when they work they work really well, theres no denying that.

However, there Are "Tipping points" whereby the system suddenly becomes chaotic and these models are utterly unable to cope and predictions that are made by it may as well be numbers drawn from a hat.

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Did you watch 'High Anxieties' as well YT ?

EDIT: for those that havn't (though I think you have to be from the UK to watch BBC iplayer) you can watch it here...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00dzypr/High_Anxieties_The_Mathematics_of_Chaos/

Edited by Snail
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the entire point of a model is that it doesn't take all variables into account. The idea is that we use the best data we have, fill in the blanks with the best assumptions we can make, and then use that to make the best predictions we can. Of course errors will creep in over time (hence not being able to predict the weather a week from now), but that does not mean that the fundamental basis of the model is incorrect. It just means that those unaccounted for variables are starting to have a larger effect.

The best data (and the best models) show that global warming is happening, and that it is anthropogenic.

big

I agree with you. The whole point of my argument is that models are not particularly reliable. I have not claimed that the fundamental basis of models is wrong, and I have not claimed that anthropogenic global warming is not happening. All I have claimed is that we have no good evidence to suggest that global climate models are reliable, accurate or precise.

Mr. Skeptic.

Re your comments on post 38. Please re-read my earlier statements. You are so off the mark that you are firing at the wrong target.

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Swansont said :

"What would your prediction have been in 1988, when you didn't have a three decade baseline to use? What would happen if you retrodict with your "model"?"

I would have been wrong. And so would any model set up at the time.

I am not suggesting I am better than climate models, or that I know more on the subject than climate scientists. In fact, if climate scientists were all in total accord, I would slink into my corner and not debate this at all. A big factor in my thinking is based on the fact that climate scientists are not all in accord. This shows that the science is uncertain, which is what I have been saying.

I chose 1988 for a reason, of course. That's when Hansen's paper came out, and when you use the conditions that most closely match what actually happened to the forcings, the temperature prediction is pretty good.

And once again I must object and point out that claiming uncertainty as a fault, without quantifying it, is an empty, useless objection. All science is uncertain. No measurement or model is perfect. Without addressing what the required level of uncertainty is, and whether or not the models can achieve that, the objection is pointless and represents only so much blather.

If you'll forgive the indulgence, I'll quote myself. "One of the functions of science is to limit the scope of uncertainty contained in "for all we know," and its utility includes neither argument from incredulity nor argument from ignorance." If you're going to object to science, the objections themselves need to be scientific.

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That's when Hansen's paper came out, and when you use the conditions that most closely match what actually happened to the forcings, the temperature prediction is pretty good.

But when compared to the emissions it was pretty lousy. He got the Forcings> Temp change pretty well, but his Emmissions> Forcings was way off. (I believe I've demonstrated this fact before.)

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When you say "WAY off," what precisely was the margin of error to which you're referring?

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Swansont

I get misquoted so often by those who do like like my arguments. You are no exception. Please do not suggest that I am in any way objecting to science. Instead, I am merely pointing out flaws in a certain set of computer models. If you want to oppose my arguments, that is fine. But please do not ascribe to me opinions I do not hold and have not expressed.

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The point that I (and it seems swansont also) was trying to make, was that saying that a model has inaccuracies is stating the obvious. There are certain assumptions that need to be made, in order to make a workable model. These assumptions introduce error. As swansont was arguing, those errors should be minimized to the greatest extent possible.

Climate prediction models have done that. Very smart people have taken as many things as they could into account, and have come to a conclusion based on the evidence and the models. What more are you asking for?

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Swansont

I get misquoted so often by those who do like like my arguments. You are no exception. Please do not suggest that I am in any way objecting to science. Instead, I am merely pointing out flaws in a certain set of computer models. If you want to oppose my arguments, that is fine. But please do not ascribe to me opinions I do not hold and have not expressed.

Where have I misquoted you? I generally use the "quote" function to avoid such issues.

You have been asked a number of times for the specific models to which you object, and I cannot recall you responding. So this "certain set" would seem to be all climate models. So unless you can establish that climate science is not science, you are, indeed objecting to science. At which point I refer you to my previous post — make your objections to the climate models scientific instead of based on logical fallacies.

But when compared to the emissions it was pretty lousy. He got the Forcings> Temp change pretty well, but his Emmissions> Forcings was way off. (I believe I've demonstrated this fact before.)

In rereading that thread, I thought the conclusion was they used poor terminology, because they used "emission rates" when they appeared to mean atmospheric concentrations

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