Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It Is Worse Than Even *I* Thought

The Holland and Webster paper is now available and it is a doozy.

I've been having a discussion on another site with a true believer where the following exchange has taken place.

“While there are limitations to the data set, this is addressed in the article”

To which I responded:

No it isn’t. This is what the paper says:

We use the ‘best track’ tropical cyclone database from the National Hurricane Center (Jarvinan et al. 1984). The only changes to the dataset data have been to include the intensity corrections recommended by Landsea (1993).

Then when they get to addressing Landsea’s contention about undercounting of Mid-Atlantic storms they say the following:

Our conclusion is that the number of earlier missed storms most likely lies between 1 and 3 per year prior to 1900, less than 2 in the early nineteenth century and dropping off to essentially zero by 1960. The conclusion by Landsea (2007) of much higher numbers of missing storms is considered to be based on a false premise of an assumed constancy of landfalling storms ratio (Mann et al. submitted a,b; Holland in press).

So they “refute” the contention by referring to non-published material (some of it written BY THEMSELVES) that no one can check in any way shape or form. (Although you will notice, even though they claim they accept some problems in the data set they do not alter it an iota. The undercounting is ignored by their data set even after they acknowledge it.)

How is that acceptable? How did you find that convincing since you had no way of checking it at all?

(Although I’m intrigued at what this new and hitherto never discovered mechanism that makes current hurricanes LESS likely to strike land compared to storms in the past will prove to be. I think they might start having an Ockham’s Razor problem soon.)

I can't help but feel a sense of deja vu when I deal with this stuff. As I'm sitting here speculating about the natural mechanism that will cause more North Atlantic hurricanes to form while at the same time decreasing their landfalling incidence, I cannot help but think I've been here before.

And then it hit me. I wrote this back in September of 2005:

This brings me to the point of postulating unknown forces to back up your theory. A good rule of thumb is never subscribe to any theory that relies on such a rhetorical device.

So, in order for these folks to hold onto their pet theory of AGW fueling increasing numbers of more intense hurricanes, they have to postulate a brand new mechanism that keep present day hurricanes from hitting, let's say, Florida, where hurricanes 50 years ago would have rudely barged right into it. We will keep the sheer ridiculous nature of the claim to one side for the moment. It must be admitted that these researchers are taking an approach to science that is positively Ptolemaic in its scope. Just like the followers of Ptolemey they pile complexity upon complexity in order to keep their vision afloat. As each new inconsistency is brought forward a new previously unknown mechanism is postulated as the "answer."

The end result is a hybrid monster of a theory which lacks for nothing but coherence and persuasiveness.

No comments: