Nate Silver’s Challenge to Climate Denialists: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Nate Silver: The Guy Who Knows the Adds
Nate Silver: The Guy Who Knows the Odds

Nate Silver, the well-known statistical and polling guru, has issued this challenge to climate change denialists on his website:

The rules of his challenge are as follows:

1. For each day that the high temperature in your hometown is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit above average, as listed by Weather Underground, you owe him $25. For each day that it is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit below average, he owes you $25.

2. The challenge proceeds in monthly intervals, with the first month being August. At the end of each month,  tally up the winning and losing days and the winner writes the loser a check for the balance.

3. The challenge automatically rolls over to the next month until/unless: (i) one party informs the other by the 20th of the previous month that he would like to discontinue the challenge (that is, if you want to discontinue the challenge for September, you’d have to tell him this by August 20th), or (ii) the losing party has failed to pay the winning party in a timely fashion, in which case the challenge may be canceled at the sole discretion of the winning party.

My theory?  Never bet against a guy named Nate, especially if  he’s Nate Silver or Nathan Detroit. (Also, never draw to an inside straight.)  My grandfather was a professional probability analyst — or in simpler terms, a Chicago bookie —  so I know about these things.  Not to mention the fact that climate change is very real.

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Reader Comments

2 Replies to “Nate Silver’s Challenge to Climate Denialists: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”

  1. Is this some sort of joke? What is the time period from which we are to identify the “average”. Sophists (for that is what I can only assume him to be) like Silver will probably consider “average” to be the ground-based measurement stations that went online around (don’t have exact date), 1885. We know it’s generally warmer today than it was then, near the nadir of the Little Ice Age. We’ve been recovering from it ever since, although there have been some up and down swings during that recovery. So if that’s your “average” (a data set that begins in the depths of a little ice age) obviously the chances are that current temperatures will be higher than that average. Want to really cook the books? How ’bout making the average from 100,000 years ago, when we were in the depths of the last real Ice Age. Yep, we’re a bit hotter than that now on average as well, given that ice sheets miles thick aren’t covering North America. On the other hand scientists are largely in agreement that Anthro CO2 could not have had even a theoretical effect until about 1940. From approximatey ’40 to ’75 temperatures went down, just as we started seriously pumping CO2 into the climate. Then from ’75 to ’98 they went up. From ’98 until the present the trendline has been down. I don’t have a crystal ball that will tell me whether temperatures will head up tomorrow, or will continue their 10+ year decline, hence I’m not interested in the bet. But I do know that there is not, nor has there ever been, any causative correlation between CO2 and Earth’s temperatures. And that’s the only statistic that matters.

    What’s more interesting here is to find the way the global alarmists are having to contort themselves via absurd, ridiculous arguments, trying desperately to cling to their now-disproven link between CO2 and temperatures. Nathan here proposes a “bet” with rigged rules based on including data from the last Little Ice Age. (Sorry I didn’t fall for that, Nathan.) Michael Mann (who never saw a dataset he couldn’t manipulate sufficiently to make it look like temperatures were going up) now says Antarctica is also warming and ice is being lost. That was disproven within about a month of when his “study” came out. But rarely are we treated to any acknowledgment of the facts. Most of what comes out of this camp–up to their necks in cognitive dissonance as they are–is ad hominen attacks about who’s in the pay of which oil company or whose degree is in Physics vs. Climate Science per se, or who’s “retired”, or….you now, shoot the messenger stuff.

    Allow me to quote Joseph Aleo: “The alarmists are becoming increasingly frantic as the world cools and as the public and politicians willingness to accept economic pain when the alarmists forecasts are failing collapses. In a clear example of cognitive dissonance these alarmists are behaving like the cult whose spaceship did not arrive as originally forecast but who reassure their followers it is just delayed and will be even bigger and more glorious than originally thought when it arrives.

    (Couldn’t have said it better myself.)

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Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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