A Willful Misleader Leading Those Who Wish to Be Misled

I rarely if ever paid attention to Sou’s (Miriam O’Brien’s) comments when she regularly disrupted threads at WattsUpWithThat…prior to her being permanently banned there.  And I try not to pay attention to her senseless rants at her blog HotWhopper, responding to them is a waste of time, but her recent blog post is so obviously flawed I couldn’t resist.  As you may recall, Anthony Watts noted in his post My Blog Spawn:

Proprietor:Sou from Bundangawoolarangeera” aka Miriam O’Brien of Mt. Beauty, VC, Australia

Some of Miriam’s skills: being a “a sixties-something woman with an interest in climate science“, sniping at WUWT, snark, Twitter snark, photography, business consulting, being on a board of directors.

In this post, I’ll present another example of why it’s understandable that Anthony banned her from WattsUpWithThat.  She will willfully misinterpret, misascribe, mislead, misconstrue, misderive, misdescribe, misdirect…I’m sure you can think of additional words that fit her debate tactics.  Many times I’m sure she simply misunderstands the topic of discussion.  Fortunately the flaws in her arguments are so many and so obvious, they can be very entertaining.

My post Why Aren’t Global Surface Temperature Data Produced in Absolute Form? was a basic presentation that answered a question that’s asked regularly.  Much of the post was a cut-and-paste exercise, so I was surprised that Miriam chose to complain about it.

The thread of the WattsUpWithThat cross post contained typical exchanges and comments.  I responded to some of them.  Here’s the one that Sou took exception to:

Bob Tisdale says:

markstoval says: “One question. Why is there not some agreed upon method or rule for choosing the base period? I always get the feeling that there is bias in the choice of the baseline period no matter who picks it.”

You’d have ask the three suppliers.

But the other question is, why aren’t they using 1981 to 2010 for base years as requested by the WMO? The answer to that is obvious: the anomalies wouldn’t look so high using the most recent 30-year window (ending on a multiple of 10). It’s all a matter of perspective.

It’s hard to imagine why she prepared the blog post Bob Tisdale’s perspective on baselines solely about that comment. (I’ve used an Internet Archive link, as Miriam does. Only she knows why she doesn’t link directly to the post.)

First off, Miriam must not have a lot to do.  She occupies her time lurking around posts and comments at WattsUpWithThat and other skeptic blogs, looking for something, anything to whine about…and in doing so, she displays her total lack of understanding of what she’s complaining about.  She, like many other global warming enthusiasts, has no idea that she’s doing more harm than good to the movement she’s trying to defend—but that’s her choice.

Miriam linked one of her earlier blog posts in which she shifts base years for anomalies and concludes that in each case that the 2012 anomaly was about “0.8 degrees higher than 1880”.  For some reason, she spent a lot of time and effort to illustrate the obvious.

But Miriam doesn’t seem to understand that her series of graphs illustrated my point for me. Unfortunately, she muddied the waters for her readers by shifting the units of the y-axis in those graphs.

She even went to the extra effort to prepare an animation of her graphs in which the y-axis changes so that the curve remains about the same place on the graph while the base years change. That, of course, obscures the point of my comment unless the viewers are focused on the y-axis.  Had she left the scaling of the y-axis constant, the data in the graph would shift up and down, depending on the base years selected.  She has to have understood that that was my point—then again, maybe not, because she went off on a tangent…again.

Miriam then presented a graph WITH TRENDS in an addendum to her complaint that compares GISS and HADCRUT4 global land+ocean surface temperature anomalies with UAH and RSS lower troposphere temperature anomalies.  To further her point, Miriam focused on the trends.  She states:

The differences are minute.  You can see the trend lines are almost identical.  Over a longer period differences would most likely disappear altogether. The smallest slope is 1.39 0.139 degrees a decade (UAH) and the steepest is 1.73 0.173 degrees a decade (RSS).  That’s because UAH starts off higher than all the others, while RSS has a couple of very low anomalies early on.

Unfortunately for Miriam, my comment was not about the difference between the 1880 value and the 2012 value—a point Miriam belabored in the post she linked.  My comment was also not about trends—a point she focused on in her addendum.  I did not discuss either in my comment, yet she wasted her time preparing a blog post about it.  When I discuss temperature differences, I use the word “difference”.  When I discuss temperature trends, I use the word “trend” or the phrase “warming rate”.

Let’s take a look at the annual NCDC Global land+ocean surface temperature anomalies for the period of 1979 to 2013, for example, to clarify the comment that everyone who visited that WUWT thread appears to have grasped.  In the following graph, the anomalies are presented using the standard base years of 1901-2000 used by NCDC and using the WMO-preferred base years of 1981-2010. I’ve also presented the linear trends (the warming rates) to show that they remained the same with the shift in base years, to hopefully keep Miriam from going off on that tangent yet again.

Figure 1

As shown, when the data are presented using the standard NCDC base years instead of the WMO-preferred base years, the anomalies (the data) are about 0.4 deg higher (warmer).  Thus my comment:

But the other question is, why aren’t they using 1981 to 2010 for base years as requested by the WMO? The answer to that is obvious: the anomalies wouldn’t look so high using the most recent 30-year window (ending on a multiple of 10). It’s all a matter of perspective.

If you were the NOAA/NCDC and you were trying to assure that you continued to receive your share of tax dollars for global warming and climate change research, which statement would you want to present to the public and those who distribute the funds?

The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average…


The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.2°C (0.36°F) above the 1981-2010 average…

The answer should be obvious…but apparently not to Miriam.

Just as amazing, no one there, none of her regular denizens, noticed that I was not discussing temperature differences or trends.

Typical, the fundamental flaws in Miriam’s arguments are so blatantly obvious they’re laughable…which is why I find her and her blog so entertaining.

Thanks, Miriam.  I needed a break from writing my next book on global warming and climate change.


About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
This entry was posted in CAGW Proponent Arguments, HotWhopper. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Willful Misleader Leading Those Who Wish to Be Misled

  1. Espen says:

    One of the things that makes it slightly entertaining to follow Mann on twitter, is to see how uncritically he retweets all the drivel from “Sou”.

    About your figure: I’m a bit puzzled that you get (apparently) exactly the same shape and trend of the curves when you use the different baselines. I thought anomalies were computed per grid cell and then averaged over the whole world (or other area)? This should give slightly different shapes of the curves. Am I wrong?

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    Espen, you can see slight changes in trends with monthly global data when you shift base years, though the likelihood of this decreases with larger and larger timespans.

    I don’t recall ever seeing it with annual data. When you shift based years, the climatologies change over the course of a 12-month period, but annually, the changes in the climatologies average out.

  3. Bob Tisdale says:

    Espen says: “One of the things that makes it slightly entertaining to follow Mann on twitter, is to see how uncritically he retweets all the drivel from “Sou”.”

    Mann retweets HotWhopper? Oy vey. That would make a great blog post for you to write for WUWT, Espen. A great one. You could have lots of fun with it (but make sure you don’t give him any reason to sue you.) You’d get a gazillion comments.

  4. anthonyvioli says:

    How hilarious is that blog? Never before will you see such garbage on the web.

    Anyone who cites GISS and Hadcrut as evidence, prepared by SkS, cannot be taken seriously.

    Not only is she on the take, but I think all her posters that support her are as well. I have seen people show no warming for 17 years, her comeback is the 2000s were the warmest decade on record, yada yada yada.

    Then mumbles something about 4 hiroshimas, only to be told the sun blast earth with 100s and 1000s of times more there is crickets.

    You seriously have to be a special type of nutcase to believe anything on that blog.

  5. Espen says:

    Bob, he retweets her several times a week. It’s a bit painful but also interesting to follow Mann on twitter, his feed is mainly self-advertising and retweets of anything that supports “the cause”.

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