Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Superfreakonomics" Quackery

Call it hokum, drivel, tripe, balderdash, bs. Call it what you like. My biggest problem is that a lot of it is just false.

Here's a nugget from "Superfreakonomics" (no, I'm not joking about title).
"Then there's this little-discussed fact about global warming: while the drumbeat of doom has grown louder over the past several years, the average global temperature during that time has in fact decreased..."
But as economist Brad DeLong points out, this is baloney:
As best as I can see from, this year is:
  • 1/5 of a degree F warmer than last year
  • the same temperature as 2007 and 2006
  • 1/7 of a degree F cooler than 2005
  • 1/10 of a degree F warmer than 2004
  • the same temperature as 2003 and 2002
  • 1/7 of a degree F warmer than 2001
  • 2/5 of a degree warmer than 1999 and 2000
  • the same temperature as 1998
  • and warmer than every single other year since the start of the Industrial Revolution--a full degree F warmer than 1960, for example.

How do you get from that temperature record to the statement that "over the past several years... average global temperature... has in fact decreased"?
Right. And my next question is: are we going to be stuck walking by this on display tables as we enter Borders for the next 5 years? Ugh. In the long run, though, I feel like we can rest assured that ephemeral swells of the publishing industry such as this will probably just be fodder for garage sales in, say, 10 years time.

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