Betting on Climate with Richard Lindzen

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James Annan

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May 5, 2005, 2:27:10 AM5/5/05
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Professor Richard Lindzen (http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen.htm)
is a prominent sceptic who claims that the anthropogenic influence on
our climate is close to negligible and that in fact cooling is about as
likely as warming over the next 20 years. Now, although there is
certainly some non-zero chance of cooling on this time scale (due to the
natural variability of the climate, and the possibility of large
volcanic eruptions), this opinion certainly seems to be well to one
extreme of what most climate scientists think.

Recently, my attention was drawn to some comments attributed to Lindzen
in http://www.reason.com/rb/rb111004.shtml: "Richard Lindzen says he's
willing to take bets that global average temperatures in 20 years will
in fact be lower than they are now." (thanks to William Connolley for
the tip). Given his widely-promulgated views, I took this quote at face
value and contacted him to arrange a wager. A payoff at retirement age
would be a nice top-up to my pension.

Now here's the kicker. Richard Lindzen will indeed accept a bet - but
only if offered odds of 50:1 in his favour! He actually started out
quoting 100:1 - but came down to 50:1 in what he described as a special
favour to me. If the temperatures went down, I was to hand over $10,000,
but in the event of a rise, I'd get a whopping $200. That's worth around
$8 per year on my pension. Whoop-de-doo.

That's not really quite what I had in mind. In fact, not only is it a
waste of time for me, but I think that his side of the bet is actually
substantially more attractive than mine. Note that I certainly do not
consider myself to be a sceptic, but on the contrary am just a bit-part
player in climate research who thinks that the IPCC report has (broadly
speaking) got it right. Yet here is one of the most prominent sceptics
who is apparently substantially less confident about the chances of
medium-term cooling than I am myself! As a ballpark estimate, I reckon
something in the region of 10:1 or 5:1 odds on the bet would probably be
fair on the 20 year time scale - I haven't tried to pin it down with any
great precision, as I had assumed at the outset that there was such a
gulf between my viewpoint and Richard Lindzen's that it would be easy to
find a mutually agreeable wager in the region of 2:1 or 3:1 odds. As I
explained to him, 3:1 would be a reasonable middle ground between an
honest sceptic - Mr 50-50, who believes cooling is as likely as warming
and would therefore expect to win $1 on average from a $3 v $1 bet - and
a (mythical?) "true believer" who believes that a rise in temperatures
is certain and would therefore also expect the same bet to be worth $1
to _him_. I'm not claiming here that 3:1 is the _correct_ odds to
arrange a bet - but it certainly provides a meaningful and realistic
starting point for negotiations, in contrast to Lindzen's absurd
proposition. I hadn't reckoned that the gulf in opinions was that _he_
was more insistent on warming taking place, and less confident about the
prospects of cooling, than _I_ was!

Richard Lindzen's words say that there is about a 50% chance of cooling.
His wallet thinks it is a 2% shot. Which do you believe? He says he was
misrepresented in the quote on the reason.com site - can we expect to
see a correction, and headlines in the sceptic press along the lines of
"Richard Lindzen thinks there is at least a 2% chance of global
cooling"? I'd probably take bets against that happening, too - and 50:1
against seems fair in this case :-) If any other sceptics put more faith
in Lindzen's predictions than he does himself, I'd be very interested in
hearing from you. There isn't much money in climate science, and I'm
still looking for that gold watch at retirement.

James

Roger Coppock

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May 5, 2005, 3:51:26 AM5/5/05
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As a Buddhist, i don't know much about gamboling,
so please correct me if I am wrong, but aren't there
people in Las Vegas who will set odds on anything?
So what is the line on 20 years of Global Warming?
I'm sure you could get better than Lindzen's phony
50:1, and you probably would get an honest wager
too. Maybe, the bookmakers are on the net.

Michael Tobis

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May 5, 2005, 3:57:59 PM5/5/05
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This is an important story which deserves wider notice. Maybe you can
attach it on a "consensus" thread on realclimate ?

mt

James Annan

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May 5, 2005, 6:53:09 PM5/5/05
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Michael Tobis wrote:

> This is an important story which deserves wider notice. Maybe you can
> attach it on a "consensus" thread on realclimate ?

I'm not really interested in discussing it somewhere where other people
have editorial control. If someone else wishes to write something on it,
they are welcome.

(I do test out this policy occasionally, but only end up re-learning the
same lesson again.)

James

Joshua Halpern

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May 5, 2005, 11:38:01 PM5/5/05
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Perhaps I could suggest another way of making this bet. We start with a
basic bet of $100. If the temperature in 2025 is 0.2 C higher then the
bet is a push. Otherwise we have the following schedule


Anomoly
vs DT
and so on
-1.2 Lindzen wins 6400
-1.0 Lindzen wins 3200
-0.8 Lindzen wins 1600
-0.6 Lindzen wins 800
-0.4 Lindzen wins 400
-0.2 Lindzen wins 200
0.0 Lindzen wins 100
+0.2 No one wins
+0.4 Annan wins 100
+0.6 Annan wins 200
+0.8 Annan wins 400
+1.0 Annan wins 800
+1.2 Annan wins 1600
+1.4 Annan wins 3200
+1.6 Annan wins 6400
and so on

it would be exciting.

josh halpern

Roger Coppock

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May 6, 2005, 2:08:00 AM5/6/05
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. . . and if the magnitude of change is greater than 10K,
which ever the direction, everybody loses. ;-)

charliew2

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May 9, 2005, 12:30:25 PM5/9/05
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"Joshua Halpern" <vze2...@verizon.net> wrote in message
news:tEBee.13381$%H2.4680@trnddc06...


Josh,

you do indeed have an interesting suggestion. This is not only a bet, it is
a schedule that penalizes the loser based on how wrong he is. Very clever!


James Annan

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May 9, 2005, 6:32:44 PM5/9/05
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charliew2 wrote:

> "Joshua Halpern" <vze2...@verizon.net> wrote in message
> news:tEBee.13381$%H2.4680@trnddc06...

>>Perhaps I could suggest another way of making this bet. We start with a

I already suggested a scaled claim somewhat similar to the above (a
"spread bet" but with no bookie, the spread can be 0), but Lindzen would
not begin to discuss a suitable threshold number.

Rather than doubling the stake per 0.1C, I would rather have a linear
scale (say $100 per 0.01C) which could of course be capped at some
maximum if desired. If anyone has any interest in such a bet, I'm all
ears. Probably something like 0.2C warmer after 20 years is a fair
middle ground.

Does anyone have any credible, polite reasons why no sceptic seems to be
prepared to take me up on this?

James

charliew2

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May 10, 2005, 2:06:11 PM5/10/05
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"James Annan" <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:d5oo9o$hen$1...@inews.gazeta.pl...

Who is the referee regarding the mean global temperature?
How can you assure that this referee is actually unbiased?
Is there independent data to verify non-bias?

What with the struggle that has been waged to properly define the global
mean temperature, you are going to have difficulty agreeing on a number 20
years from now.


Coby Beck

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May 10, 2005, 2:41:44 PM5/10/05
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"charliew2" <char...@ev1.net> wrote in message
news:1181u19...@corp.supernews.com...

Independant of what??? Just use direct measurements of temperature taken at
the surface of the earth.

> What with the struggle that has been waged to properly define the global
> mean temperature, you are going to have difficulty agreeing on a number 20
> years from now.

Well, obviously you can't make this bet with someone so ignorant or
dishonest as to deny that "global mean temperature" has any meaning (like
McKitrick) but there are plenty of vocal sceptics who do not deny the data
produced say, by GISS. The arguments are about what the data means. But
there surely are details that would need to be ironed out *after* it is
accepted on principal. The fact that none of them seem to want to even
accept it on principal is rather revealing.

"But GISS fudges the data" is not the typical "scientific sceptic" argument.

--
Coby Beck
(remove #\Space "coby 101 @ bigpond . com")


James Annan

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May 10, 2005, 6:01:46 PM5/10/05
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charliew2 wrote:


> Who is the referee regarding the mean global temperature?
> How can you assure that this referee is actually unbiased?
> Is there independent data to verify non-bias?
>
> What with the struggle that has been waged to properly define the global
> mean temperature, you are going to have difficulty agreeing on a number 20
> years from now.

That is exactly the sort of ducking and weaving that I have come to
expect from the septics. No-one seriously disputes the NASA GISS figures
(and note that their data originates from all over the world - it would
take a widespread long-term international conspiracy to falsify it).
Trying to use this excuse as a reason for ducking the bet is pretty
desperate.

It might also be worth pointing out that the weather futures maket seems
to work fine, with all the same "problems" about the validity of the data.

James

Roger Coppock

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May 10, 2005, 6:35:26 PM5/10/05
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Have you listened to the fossil fools?
Have you read their posts on this NG?
Have you visited their web sites?
Have you read "State of Fear?"
They actually claim that there is a
"widespread long-term international
conspiracy."

James Annan

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May 10, 2005, 9:36:13 PM5/10/05
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Sure, I'm not expecting any of the lunatic fringe to ever come out with
anything meaningful. But I did start out with the premise that there
actually were some honest sceptics who really did have a genuine,
scientifically-based difference of opinion from the mainstream views.

I'll let you all know if I find one.

James

charliew2

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May 11, 2005, 11:59:35 AM5/11/05
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"James Annan" <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:d5rark$h4t$1...@inews.gazeta.pl...


I've dealt with otherwise intelligent people before, who were shown beyond
the very slightest shadow of a doubt that their preconceptions were just
flat WRONG. Some of these otherwise intelligent people just COULD NOT admit
that they were wrong. If any of the global warming skeptics who happen to
accept your bet are in this category, no amount of data will convince them.

Conclusion - it's far better to be ignorant than to be convinced of
something that is incorrect. At least the ignorant person, in principle,
can be educated.


charliew2

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May 11, 2005, 12:00:54 PM5/11/05
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"Roger Coppock" <rcop...@adnc.com> wrote in message
news:1115764525.9...@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...


Oooooo! A conspiracy theory. Well, Roger, even paranoids have real
enemies! ;-)

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