The Sciences

An Exquisite Debunking of Global Cooling Claims

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyOct 27, 2009 1:00 PM

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...has just arrived from Seth Borenstein of the AP. To wit:

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

"If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect," said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.

Yet the idea that things are cooling has been repeated in opinion columns, a BBC news story posted on the Drudge Report and in a new book by the authors of the best-seller "Freakonomics." Last week, a poll by the Pew Research Center found that only 57 percent of Americans now believe there is strong scientific evidence for global warming, down from 77 percent in 2006.

I fear that the new spate of global cooling claims are having a serious impact, perhaps even an impact detectable in the numbers above--so Borenstein's is a much needed debunking. It deserves as wide a circulation as possible.

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