The Ludic Fallacy in Modern American Climate Science

It's Not Reality That Is Wrong.
It’s Not Reality That Is Wrong.

The Ludic Fallacy* has overtaken many fields of advanced intellectual endeavor in Post-modern America. Bo Bennett of Logically describes this philosophical error as follows:


Assuming flawless statistical models apply to situations where they actually don’t. This can result in the over-confidence in probability theory or simply not knowing exactly where it applies as opposed to chaotic situations or situations with external influences too subtle or numerous to predict.

We see this most commonly in the American Climate Science community. In the current state of the science modelling has become so completely dissociated from actual reality that the USG agencies dependent upon the models to make policy can no longer evaluate the extent to which these models even reflect conditions on Earth. We saw a recent example of this when [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001141′ ] asked EPA Chief Gina McCarthy whether or not the current models used to predict future temperatures were effective.

“Would you acknowledge that over the last 18 years,” Sessions asked, “that the increase in temperature has been very little, and that it is well below, matter of fact 90 percent below most of the environmental models that showed how fast temperature would increase?” “I do not know what the models actually are predicting that you are referring to,” McCarthy responded. “This is a stunning development,” Sessions shot back, “that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency—who should know more than anybody else in the world, who is imposing hundreds of billions of dollars in cost to prevent this climate temperature increase—doesn’t know whether their projections have been right or wrong.”


Yet these very same models have been the centerpiece of the entire argument that our planet was threatened with Anthropogenic Global Warming that would lead to catastrophic consequences to life on Earth. The UN IPCC stated the following 2007.

‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.’

The scientists were so certain that AGW was “settled science,” that Philip Kokic, Steven Crimp, Mark Howden they unleashed the following claim:

When the effect of GHGs is removed, bootstrap simulation of the model reveals that there is less than a one in one hundred thousand chance of observing an unbroken sequence of 304 months (our analysis extends to June 2010) with mean surface temperature exceeding the 20th century average. – “ A probabilistic analysis of human influence on recent record global mean temperature changes

This, of course, fundamentally disagrees with the current data from hadcrut4 and the RSS satellite dataset. These two sources a pause that varies in length from 17 years and 19 years depending upon whether the start of the current flat surface temperature readings was in 1995 or 1997. So just where is this 304 month string of consecutive temperatures above the 20th century average? In the models which tie CO2 levels to temperature in a functional relation. Anthony Watts describes the disconnect below.


The IPCC does not estimate the duration of the hiatus, but it is typically regarded as having extended for 15 to 20 years. While the HadCRUT4 record clearly shows numerous pauses and dips amid the overall upward trend, the ending hiatus is of particular note because climate models project continuing warming over the period. Since 1990, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose from 354 ppm to just under 400 ppm, a 13% increase. [1] reported that of the 114 model simulations over the 15-year interval 1998 to 2012, 111 predicted warming. [5] showed a similar mismatch in comparisons over a twenty year time scale, with most models predicting 0.2˚C – 0.4˚C/decade warming.

The 99.9% certainty of !DOOM! and the increased demands for EPA regulation of Carbon are all based on the assumption that CO2 is driving all recent increases in global temperature. The models used by most well-funded and published climate scientists will make that mathematical claim to some degree when they code up their models to predict future temperature trends. Thus a 13% increase in CO2 leads to a monotonic non-decreasing temperature trend in virtually any deterministic model that doesn’t include stochastic noise to introduce random variability.

When reality disagrees, the scientists rerun their models. The models faithfully re-predict what they are mathematically ordered to. What are you going to believe, your lying eyes or the computers you are paid to program? If the model is your meal ticket, that really isn’t a tricky question.


The scientists tell Gina McCarthy that the current temperature pause is some freak anomaly that will go away. She is powerless to intelligently address Senator Sessions’ admittedly pointed and heated questioning in the Senate Hearing Room. She is powerless to respond in a capable fashion because her expert advisers are caught in their own Ludic Fallacy. If they can’t advise Sec. McCarthy on the facts discussed in a hearing, it is probably also fallacious to assume that they intelligently advise the poor lady on governmental policy either. At some point we have to stop and wonder whether the scientists are helping the taxpayer or just helping themselves.

Images from Anthony Watts
*-HT: Henry Dampier for reading Talib and extracting the Ludic Fallacy concept.


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