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Math Geek Humor

In his analysis of his hockey stick temperature reconstruction, Michel Mann claimed that his results were robust to changes in certain weighting factors.  Humorously, Steven McIntyre demonstrates that it is robust because when you do the math, the weighting factors actually cancel out of  all the equations.  In effect, Mann was saying that y =3x/x  gives the answer "3" robustly for all values of x (well, except zero).  True, but scientifically meaningless.  But worrisome when a scientist has to run numerous simulations to discover the fact.  I presume he thought his weighting factors were actually doing something in his model.

Reason #4163 to be really, really confident in those climate models these guys are building.

Posted on April 6, 2008 at 04:52 PM | Permalink


I wonder if Mann is a closet Objectevist. A = A

Posted by: Larry Sheldon | Apr 6, 2008 6:23:15 PM

I've known people to get papers rejected because of stuff like this. You might not even be able to publish a solid state paper like this. I always thought that solid state had the lowest standards. It's disturbing to think there could be a worse field.

Could climate science have the lowest standards in science? Does anyone know anything about, say, pig digestion studies?

Posted by: Bob Hawkins | Apr 6, 2008 7:55:05 PM

Yes to pig digestion. I read that pigs gain weight most when fed unlimited meals. But for a farmer, to balance the cost of food with optimum weight gain, the best feed rate was max possible to the power 0.8. Take that to your next trivia night.

Posted by: Geoff Sherrington | Apr 7, 2008 5:07:20 AM

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