What a nice example of lying with graphs

There is a grossly dishonest graph of climate change effects going around — it attempts to minimize temperature changes and uncouple CO2 from the effects. Fortunately, RealClimate does a good job of tearing it apart, all neatly summarized here:


Even more impressive, they follow through on their suggestions, using surface temperatures, scaling CO2 to fit the relationship of concentration to temperature, etc., and produce an honest graph with the same data (but less colorful glitz) that shows the strong relationships.


The top graph in all of its flashy bogosity was produced by Anthony Watt, of course, the ex-weatherman who has made a career of lying about climate.


  1. brett says

    What’s the mindset of someone who makes deeply dishonest graphs like this? Is it an “all is fair in war” type of thing, where lying and dishonesty is “acceptable” in the name of the cause? Or just con-man cynicism, knowing that there’s an audience for this stuff and you can win fame and money for selling it to them?

  2. scienceavenger says

    Where oh where would the climate deniers be without 1998? It’s at the core of many of their arguments, like the no-warming-for-17 years claim, and ironically, because it was a phenominally warm year. Just watch the deer in the headlights look when you say “Redo your analysis, but use 1997 or 1999”.

  3. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Actually, the bottom widget really is not intended as evidence of correlation between temperature and CO2 concentration–it is merely intended to show that if you manipulate the vertical scales, you can get any two series trending in the same direction to appear correlated. In reality, one should be correlating temperature with ln[CO2].

    I am never quite sure whether Tony “Micro”Watts is first and foremost deceiving himself or whether he at least gets the joke. Aunt Judy Curry is a shill laughing all the way to the bank. Roy Spencer may be deluded by his fundie religious beliefs. Dick Lindzen used to be deluded, but now he’s firmly on the denialist gravy train. Tony, though is different. I really don’t think he’s smart enough to see that he’s being dishonest. He is his own victim.

  4. says

    I really like the flashy bogosity. :-)

    Lindzen’s case has always troubled me. Partly it’s because he taught an awesome first semester applied math course back when I was a first year graduate student. Partly it’s because we have some mutual friends. The explanation he offered a few years back was that it was important that someone take the unpopular side in the AGW discussion in order to prevent a rush to judgment. I never think much of this argument in other contexts, but it’s hard to believe that it’s meant sincerely here.

  5. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I think that a lot of it comes down to personality. Lindzen has always struck me as a contrarian. He has quite an ego, and feels that you can’t be a “great” man unless you oppose the majority. I think he also fell in love with his Iris theory and has never been able to let go of it or to forgive the community for rejecting it. A lot of his publications in recent years have harkened back to the Iris.

    I gave up on Lindzen as a scientist when he started making arguments to laymen that he knew were bogus. There was the I^2 debate and there were several Wall Street Urinal editorials where he makes arguments he can’t possibly believe (e.g. “It’s warming on Mars, too.). He stopped being a scientist then.

  6. numerobis says

    Dr Inferno got out at the right time — satire only works if there’s room to be slightly more insane than what people are actually saying.

  7. militantagnostic says


    In reality, one should be correlating temperature with ln[CO2]

    That would be comforting if CO2 was increasing linearly. However, it the rate of increase appears to be increasing and there is also the issue of positive feedbacks (changes in albedo due to melting ice caps and methane released from melting permafrost etc.).

    Lindzen has always struck me as a contrarian. He has quite an ego, and feels that you can’t be a “great” man unless you oppose the majority.

    Sounds like he was always one slipped cog away from being a crank although you are arguing he is now a liar for hire.

    Area Man,
    That is some weapons grade poe. I wonder if any denialists or politicians have ever cited Dr Inferno.

  8. mildlymagnificent says

    area man. If you cite Dr Inferno when topic is graphs, you have to cite the legendary posts on that topic.

    About Y axis
    About presentation
    About date order

    My favourite, Y axis again

    Of course, a lot of people really don’t get the concept of Poe. The “discussions” among regulars who go along with The Great Dr Inferno and the bemused visitors who think we’re all quite mad were funny at the time.

  9. leftwingfox says


    I wonder if Andrew Watt is an example of nominative determinism.

    Considering what a dim bulb he is, I’d say it’s more nominative irony.

  10. pharyngsd says

    If you cite Dr Inferno when topic is graphs, you have to cite the legendary posts on that topic.

    Holy Frijoles!!!! Those are friggin’ hi-LAR-ious! Thanks for making my day.