Friday, January 13, 2012

James Annan lost his bet against a skeptic

Reason Magazine, Benny Peiser, James Delingpole, and WUWT mention an amusing story.

In April 2008, climate skeptic and astrophysicist David Whitehouse – who is currently an adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation – stated that the 1998 record warm year according to HadCRUT3 wouldn't be surpassed in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. He was willing to bet £100. It's not much money but it's still fun.

A somewhat moderate alarmist who was very close to Wikipedia's A.G.W. Goebbels, The U.K. Green Party's William Connolley, whom many of you know, James Annan (now in Japan), thought that it was a great deal. See his April 2008 blog:
More on the 4-year bet
As you might have predicted, the alarmist was going to lose the bet while the skeptic would be going to win; the year 2011 is over and we are very sure that David Whitehouse was right and there would be no warm record set between 2008 and 2011. But it's fun to look at some of the detailed reasoning by James Annan in 2008.

James Annan estimated the probability 30% or 40% that a given year in this era would end up warmer than 1998. With some additional hindsight of 3.5 years, you may see how incredibly unrealistic this alarmist reasoning has been. If it were right, the probability that there would be no record set in these 4 years would indeed be between
\[ 0.6^4 \quad {\rm to} \quad 0.7^4 = 13\% \quad {\rm to} \quad 24\%. \] That would be the probability that Whitehouse wins, according to Annan. Annan had to be unlucky! ;-) Well, I am ready to bet that 1998 won't be surpassed by 2012, either: those who realize that a La Niña is underway and it has a cooling effect after a delay know where I am coming from. If you replace the exponents 4 by 5, you get the interval between 8 and 17 percent.

Of course, Annan's optimism that he would win boiled down to some remarkably reliable positive temperature trend he apparently believes to exist. However, he used a value of the trend that was the maximum one that could be extracted from the historical data, namely the trend from the late 1970s or so. That's not a wise method to get the actual mean value of the trend that is appropriate for a sensible calculation of odds. With a more balanced calculation of odds, one would almost certainly conclude that Whitehouse was more likely than not to win.

In a program of the BBC which "sponsored" the bet, James Annan already said that he was just extremely unlucky. ;-)

It may be appropriate to mention that various politicians and others have bet a few trillions of taxpayers' dollars for speculations that are qualitatively similar – but much less likely – than James Annan's 2008 expectation. What do you think, will the taxpayers see any of these dollars again? I am sure that the taxpayers will be just "unlucky" because they won't. ;-)

Just like a communist is a person who is ready to sacrifice your life for his ideals, a global warming alarmist is a person who is ready to sacrifice your wealth for his delusions.

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