Will Iain Dale acknowledge his climate error?

An Iain Dale post seeks to show "no evidence of any warming trend" using data from the Met office. The problem is that the methodology has no statistical basis.

With the failure of global leaders to get a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen, you would think that all those engaged in the debate would place a premium on good evidence. Not so Iain Dale.

The prominent Tory blogger posted last night a message from one of his readers,  who sought to show “no evidence of any warming trend” using data from the Met office. The only problem is that the methodology has absolutely no statistical basis whatsoever although that didn’t stop Iain Dale in the comments saying:

“As far as I can see Victor has calculated the figures very well. I have now been on the site to check myself. Not sure how a “professional” coudl do it differently to him. But feel free to try!”

Giles Wilkes, a trained economist, has done exactly that on Freethinking Economist. He also puts Dale’s folly in context:

“I haven’t checked out Iain Dale’s CV, but I suspect it does not include a period studying statistics.  Because he seems to believe in a recent post that taking one month every ten years from one location in the UK is a sufficient reason to justify statements about the effect of carbon dioxide throughout the entire globe over a 150 year period”

Meanwhile, in a detailed post, Unity on Liberal Conspiracy shows what the real trend in Oxford looks like using the data more accurately:

When Left Foot Forward has got things wrong in the past, we’ve been grown up enough to admit it. But will Iain Dale do the same?

And while pseudo statistics continue to be used to argue against the scientific consensus on climate change, a far better use of all our time would be spent taking action to abate our global emissions – for example, heeding Claire Spencer’s advice and signing a petition to reduce food waste and therefore 10 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions

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17 Responses to “Will Iain Dale acknowledge his climate error?”

  1. Leon Green

    RT @leftfootfwd Will @IainDale acknowledge his climate error? http://bit.ly/5NVgCA

  2. Claire Spencer

    Read 'Will Iain Dale acknowledge his climate error?' on @leftfootfwd: http://bit.ly/5NVgCA – great post, with link to food waste campaign!

  3. Political Scrapbook

    RT @leftfootfwd: Will @IainDale acknowledge his climate error? http://bit.ly/5NVgCA <– LFF did when they got it wrong http://bit.ly/4QzLne

  4. Chris Paul

    RT @psbook: RT @leftfootfwd: Will @IainDale acknowledge his climate error? http://bit.ly/5NVgCA <– LFF did when they got it wrong ht …

  5. Frank

    How many times have those data been homogenized, value added and otherwise fiddled; sorry used more accurately?

  6. Claire Spencer

    …and a bit of context from @leftfootfd: http://bit.ly/5NVgCA!

  7. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leftfootfwd: Will @IainDale acknowledge his climate error? http://bit.ly/5NVgCA

  8. Victor Southern

    A trained economist? How did Glen Wilkes miss out on the crunch of the world economy? After all that is his field of training. Put 2 economists in a room and they will have 3 different opinions.

    And trained statisticians – are those the same who produced stats for Labour to show a 22% decrease in crime whilst it was actually an 8% increase? The same who variously prove that child poverty is down and also up?

    I made no claims at all. On the Dale site I simply reported some facts. At least I assumed they were facts since the Met Office had released them as such.

    In closing I must inform you that I have seen 5 graphs today purporting to show that my idea was nonsense. Odd that the graphs have no coincidence in pattern whatsoever – the one above being the most extreme expression of subjective manipulation. It resembles a hockey stick.

  9. paulstpancras

    Will Iain Dale acknowledge his climate error? | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/6c4h9l (via @twttimes)

  10. Henry

    Gosh, Victor, perhaps we should just give up trying to find out the objective truth about anything.

  11. willstraw

    Frank – I don’t think there is any suggestions that the Met have manipulated the raw data. Indeed, it is the same data set that Victor used to produce his phoney results.

    Victor – I understand that this debate elicits strong emotions but this is anti-intellectual claptrap. Being a trained statistician or economist means you have been taught that it is not statistically robust to cherry pick points in time ten years apart to draw any conclusions. The whole point about temperature increases is that there is variation. The general trend of global temperatures is upwards (by 0.74C over the last century) but there is huge variation year-by-year, country-by-country, and town-by-town.

    Your methodology is no better than determining who the best football team in England is by seeing who won the league every 10 years. Going back to the 1950s, you would have Chelsea (1955), Man Utd (1965), Derby (1975), Everton (1985), Blackburn (1995), Chelsea (2005). Extrapolating as you have done I would conclude that Chelsea were the most successful post-war team and wouldn’t have a clue about Liverpool’s 1970s and 1980s domination or Man Utd’s since then.

    Henry – well said.

  12. Pickled Politics » Hysterical Iain Dale runs away when confronted with ‘facts’

    […] Straw posted on Left Foot Forward, asking: Will Iain Dale acknowledge his climate error? – the answer should be obvious: of course not. Dale wouldn’t do […]

  13. harry

    here’s the data for oxford. mean annual data 1900-1980 from the met dataset released a couple of weeks ago. pity it doesn’t go past 1980 but there is no increase in temperature over that time and no correlation with CO2 (although this is not global mean temperature and I don’t have any point to make)

    1900 10.11666667
    1901 9.483333333
    1902 9.375
    1903 9.825
    1904 9.483333333
    1905 9.633333333
    1906 10.13333333
    1907 9.533333333
    1908 9.783333333
    1909 9.125
    1910 9.725
    1911 10.76666667
    1912 9.966666667
    1913 10.4
    1914 10.43333333
    1915 9.55
    1916 9.591666667
    1917 8.975
    1918 9.9
    1919 8.9
    1920 9.975
    1921 11.1
    1922 9.2
    1923 9.633333333
    1924 9.808333333
    1925 9.708333333
    1926 10.18333333
    1927 9.666666667
    1928 10.2
    1929 9.541666667
    1930 9.958333333
    1931 9.466666667
    1932 9.808333333
    1933 10.325
    1934 10.50833333
    1935 10.275
    1936 9.766666667
    1937 10.175
    1938 10.74166667
    1939 10.19166667
    1940 9.591666667
    1941 9.558333333
    1942 9.533333333
    1943 10.64166667
    1944 10.14166667
    1945 10.81666667
    1946 10.01666667
    1947 10.13333333
    1948 10.59166667
    1949 11.20833333
    1950 9.933333333
    1951 9.841666667
    1952 9.7
    1953 10.15833333
    1954 9.733333333
    1955 9.775
    1956 9.25
    1957 10.59166667
    1958 10.01666667
    1959 10.94166667
    1960 10.28333333
    1961 10.6
    1962 9.058333333
    1963 8.833333333
    1964 10.04166667
    1965 9.516666667
    1966 10.06666667
    1967 10.30833333
    1968 9.825
    1969 9.991666667
    1970 10.18333333
    1971 10.19166667
    1972 9.825
    1973 10.19166667
    1974 10.1
    1975 10.46666667
    1976 10.63333333
    1977 9.925
    1978 9.575
    1979 9.225
    1980 9.508333333

  14. harry

    just have to add that liberal conspiracy have munged it aswell by assuming the mean temp over a time period is an average of the mean_max and the mean_min. which it isn’t unless you make some heroic assumptions.

    however if you plot the mean annual temperatures (listed above) then it looks almost exactly the same as the graph constructed by liberal conspiracy between 1900 and 1980. ie no correlation with CO2.

    however, all this talk is crap because a single station is a meaningless proxy for global temperatures

  15. Richard Blogger


    Years ago when I was a research scientist (an experimentalist) I remember once when talking to a theoretician pointing out how complicated the theory was at the intermediate part of the work she was doing. I pointed to one term saying “but we all know that that part is zero, can’t you just remove it?”. She got quite animated at this point and told me straight that however complicated the theory got she had to consider everything that could affect the experiment. The terms that I thought were zero could have been affected further on in the calculation by another factor and so could have provided some contribution to the final result.

    It was only after the theory was complete that she would start to look through for parts that had no contribution and remove them, but she would still mention why they had been removed in the final paper. Assumptions can only be made at the end.

    This is how science works: you put together your theory and only at the end do you actually see what the theory says. Too many non-scientists seem to think that theory is made to fit the facts. That is not the way it is. If the theory does not fit the facts then it is wrong, simple as that.

  16. John77

    Been grown up enough to admit it? Not that I have noticed.
    Iain Dale refers today on his blog to a post by Graeme Archer who has a PhD in statistics; you are presumably referring to a different post
    “the methodology has absolutely no statistical basis whatsoever” You are talking complete bullshit: the sample was taken every tenth year of maximum and minimum temperatures in June and December. In my view that is a sound statistical basis – what are your statistical qualifications?
    It is possible to select a subset of data that may appear to be randomly selected but will be misleading: however there is neither evidence nor suggestion that this set has been selected for this purpose
    What we have here is a dataset that appears to contradict the global warming theory: instead of finding some evidence to support the theory [at this point I should add that I want us to cut down on activities that will add to global warming] you simply slag him off without any data or logic. Mr Wilkes attacks Ian Dale for something neither he nor his correspondent has said. Victor actually says in the post: “Of course, I am perfectly prepared to concede that Oxford is not necessarily typical of all world spots. Neither is any other place.”
    If you really care about “climate change” aka the damage that humanity does to the future environment by heating up the planet, please can you do this honestly. It should be obvious that burning vast amounts of fossil fuel will increase the temperature and it should be equally obvious to any decent statistician that variations in solar radiation are more significant than variations in human consumption of fossil fuels: I should hope that you recognise that we can only influence one of these two so, even if it is much smaller than the other, it is the one that we should tackle
    Malicious lies do not help, they merely reinforce prejudices on both sides and delay persuading the ignorant that we need to take action. Do you care or do you merely want to score party political points (invalid ones in this example)?

  17. A reply to Iain Dale | Left Foot Forward

    […] much for “Game, set, match”, I wonder if Iain Dale will even acknowledge his error. Share | Permalink | Leave a comment Click here to cancel […]

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