Posted by: Barry Bickmore | January 13, 2016

Ted Cruz Pwned by Satellite Expert

Ted Cruz’s claims about satellite temperature data are dismissed by the scientist in charge of producing the data in question. I hereby make a DARING PREDICTION.  I predict that Ted Cruz will completely ignore the fact that Dr. Mears thinks he is misinterpreting his data.  Because Ted Cruz.

Pwn /pōn/ (verb, slang):  to appropriate or to conquer to gain ownership. The term implies domination or humiliation of a rival, used primarily in the Internet-based video game culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated (e.g., “You just got pwned!”).

Last month, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) held a joint hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (chaired by Smith) and the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness (run by Cruz).  During the hearing, Senator Cruz pounded on his favorite climate-related theme:  the SATELLITE data show “no significant warming” for 18 YEARS!!!!  SATELLITE data!!!!  This had previously been brought up by one of the witnesses for the Republicans, Prof. John Christy (University of Alabama, Huntsville).

This resulted in an interesting exchange between Cruz and the sole witness for the Democrats, former Navy rear Admiral David Titley.  (Titley was the chief oceanographer for the U.S. Navy, and now is Professor of Meteorology at Penn State.)  Admiral Titley first mentioned that Cruz’s interpretation of the data was dependent on statistical cherry-picking (i.e., starting the analysis that just happens to be during a massive El Niño event), and later mentioned some general problems with satellite temperature readings, in general.  (For instance, it’s hard to completely separate out microwave radiation coming to the satellite from the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere nearest the ground that has been warming, and the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere, which has been cooling.)  He went on to mention that Prof. Christy, who is head of a unit that collects one set of satellite temperature data, had botched his interpretation of the satellite data something like four times in the past, and had to revise his temperature trend estimates upward every time.  But Cruz had an answer for that!  The data he was using was not Prof. Christy’s.  In fact, it was the satellite temperature data put out by Remote Sensing Systems.  You can watch the entire exchange here.

Well, Peter Sinclair from the Yale Climate Forum, just produced a video called “How Reliable are Satellite Temperatures?”, in which a number of well known climatologists explain why satellite temperature data isn’t really the “gold standard” that everything else needs to be compared with.  One of those scientists was Carl Mears, Ph.D., who is in charge of producing the RSS data set.  Apparently, Ted Cruz never had anyone on his staff give Dr. Mears a call to see what he thought of his own data.  Check out the video here:

This is reminiscent of “L’Affaire Pinker”, in which Tim Lambert caught Lord Christopher Monckton badly misinterpreting data he got from one Dr. Rachel Pinker.  Lambert had actually bothered to ask Dr. Pinker what she thought of Monckton’s interpretations, and was able to confront Monckton with her response during a live debate.

I hereby make a DARING PREDICTION.  I predict that Ted Cruz will completely ignore the fact that Dr. Mears thinks he is misinterpreting his data.  Because Ted Cruz.


  1. One correction… Titley was not a witness for the Democrats but, rather, a witness for science and reality.

  2. Reblogged this on Climate Denial Crock of the Week and commented:
    Barry Bickmore has a take on the subject of my new video, and has included that vid, here.

  3. It seems that most people that have been Pwned have no idea that they have been Pwned so I doubt it counts for much.

    • Very true. This raises a philosophical question. If a man is pwned, but does not realize it, did it really happen?

      • “If a man is pwned, but does not realize it, did it really happen?”

        Yes. It happens in the eye of the beholder, not the beholdee.

        It still doesn’t count for much except among your sycophants; it is the summum bonum of Facebook and Twitter. Sit around and make jokes about {insert person or group} as a way to build group identity and cohesion.

        • Cruz has a megaphone, duties to his donors, and a brass neck.

          That’s a tragedy for republican sycophants. Even if they don’t know it.

        • This beholder thinks a major point was scored against Cruz’s argument, whether or not anyone else is willing to admit it.

        • No, pwnship is never in the mind of the pwnee except where the one pwned is embarrassed and recognises the failure.

          Ken Ham was superpwned by Bill Nye when asked “What would change your mind”, but Ken, and his supporters DID NOT CARE. Even if God itself came down and told Ken it was all a hoax in the bible and the earth was 4.5 billion years old, Ken et al would insist that this was Satan, not God.

          Ted’s argument was destroyed. Anyone who is skeptical will see that. They may still not accept the entire IPCC report (because of other “non-pwned” claims against it), but *this* “argument” is destroyed so completely only the Ken Hams of denial will insist that it’s still alive and moving.

          Pwning is in the eyes of the watchers, not the one being pwned. That’s the entire point of pwning in the first place: to show how super wrong the claim made was.

      • It just means he can get superpwned later, since he’ll walk straight into the same pitfall next time.

        Pity he is willing to take the rest of humanity down with him just so he can get elected a couple more times…

  4. “Admiral Titley first mentioned that Cruz’s interpretation of the data was dependent on statistical cherry-picking (i.e., starting the analysis that just happens to be during a massive El Niño event)”

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Democrats seem to always start their analysis in 1970, a temperature minimum, rather than the last warming peak around 1930; or a more recent warming peak at 1998.

    The good news is that nobody picks intervening years. That simplifies arguments considerably.

    • Just to correct you, in that testimony, Titley used the full period of surface data. You imply that starting in the 1930s makes a difference. Nope. That just shows there is no pause, just that Cruz is trying to extract some rhetorical power from internal variability.

      The whole science community know he’s a fraud. No one said that internal variability would absent itself while the ocean / land / atmosphere system warmed. 1998 is not a ‘warming peak’ , it’s a spike in already spikey atmospheric data. Of course, you’ve heard this explained before.

      • “That just shows there is no pause”

        I’d like to see some scientific definition of a “pause”. That seems to be the main problem.

        For example, you say Titley used “the full period of surface data”. Well let’s say that for the next 50 years, the surface temperature is the same every year (for argument’s sake). Then if you take the “new” full period of surface data, there would still be no pause?

        The closest I can come to a quantification of a pause is from NOAA in 2008 where they are talking about what would be a “discrepancy” for models vs. temperature trends:

        “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”

        • Hi mpcraig,

          Great question. Given that global temperature series are wiggly, there is always going to be some uncertainty in the calculated slope. If they are more wiggly, there is more uncertainty. If you calculate the slope with uncertainty of SOME of the temperature data sets (probably only the satellite ones at this point) over the last 18 years, you might get some number like 0.1 +/- 0.2 °C/decade. This overlaps with zero, so people might say the temperature trend is “insignificant” because it can’t be statistically distinguished from a zero trend. Now suppose you calculate the trend over the last 40 years. Then you might get a trend something like 0.15 +/- 0.03 °C/decade. This is statistically distinguishable from zero, because the error bar does not overlap zero. The error bar is so much smaller because the wiggliness of the series doesn’t change much over time, and the size of the wiggles is much smaller than the overall temperature change over that time, whereas the wiggle size was about the same as the overall change for the shorter series. So, assuming the “wiggliness” stays the same, and the long-term trend stays the same, a 50-year trend would most certainly be statistically significant, unless the long-term trend really were flat. If it were flat, maybe you would get a trend like 0.01 +/- 0.02 °C/decade. Note how much smaller the error bars are.

          This is important, because with the 18-year trend, the slope of 0.1 +/- 0.2 °C/decade overlaps with zero, but it ALSO overlaps with the 40-year trend of 0.15 +/- 0.03 °C/decade. That is, we cannot statistically distinguish the 18-year trend from zero OR from the long-term trend. THIS is why it is so wrong for people like Cruz to go on about how short trends are “insignificant”. What they mean is that the slope is statistically indistinguishable from zero, but if it’s also indistinguishable from the 20-, 30-, or 40-year trends, then we really can’t say much about what the 18-year slope means in the long term.

          Now let’s talk about discrepancies with models. Of course there are discrepancies, because models are very simplified compared to the real systems. So NOAA says that if we get an insignificant temperature slope for more than 15 years, then that is clearly a discrepancy with the models they are comparing. What does this discrepancy mean? Could the temperature trend REALLY be flat in the long term? Sure, but we can’t prove that’s what is wrong. Could it be that the the models aren’t making the temperature trends “wiggly” enough? Absolutely. In fact, it’s well known that the models don’t do that well with short-term processes like the El Niño cycle, which is one of the main things making the temperature series “wiggly”.

          So the models are “wrong”, and the sky is blue. So what? We have other (experimental) methods for estimating things like the equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s mean temperature to added CO2, and the models come in at about the same range. So, it looks like they do an ok job with the long-term stuff, which after all is what we actually care about.

          • “So, it looks like they do an ok job with the long-term stuff, which after all is what we actually care about.”

            I think you are talking about hindcasting here. But that’s not really impressive. That can be done with parameter tweaking. The real pudding is future prediction. We’ll need more time but they are diverging from observations so I have no confidence yet.

            I hope we are all on common ground in that we are pulling for a leveling off of temperatures so we can breath a little easier knowing the models have overestimated warming and climate sensitivity is less than we thought. To me, that’s the best outcome.

            • The models are pretty damn close to reality so far. Heck, even back in 88, Hansen’s model would have been right on the money (3.4C per doubling from Hansen, cf 3.2C per doubling giving an exact match).

              “I’d like to see some scientific definition of a “pause”. ”

              There was no pause. At no time of the *claim* of a pause was the trend closer to zero than the IPCC prediction.

              Before claiming there IS a pause, you need to define one. When claiming there isn’t a pause, you don’t need to define it, since if it isn’t defined, by definition it doesn’t exist.

            • Hi mpcraig,

              You can choose to be as impressed or unimpressed as you like. Models always diverge somewhat from reality, so you can always choose to dismiss them based on that. Personally, I choose to be impressed. Hindcasting certainly isn’t as impressive as prediction, but if you can “parameter tweak” a GCM into closely replicating 1000 years of global temperature evolution from paleoclimate data (yes, this has been done), then I would be absolutely astonished.

              It is also important to note that GCMs don’t “predict” anything. They “project” based on some assumed scenario. We can’t know in advance how various countries will change their energy production, so some differences between model forecasts and reality often just boil down to differences between the assumed scenarios driving the models and what really happened. (In other words, you can have a “perfect model”, but still make imperfect projections due to not being able to perfectly predict future inputs to the model. So really, the only way to test the viability of a model is to keep doing hindcasts with it as you update the inputs.

            • BTW, I would be ecstatic if the models were wrong, but the paleoclimate data seems to indicate that the models are in the ballpark in terms of long-term behavior, so short-term deviations don’t give me much comfort. And really, the atmosphere doesn’t care what I’m “pulling for”.

            • It’s been known for quite a while that the warming “pause” or “speed bump” or whatever you want to call it is simply a function of a shift toward more La Niña years, lately. If you separate all the El Niño, La Niña, and ENSO neutral years, you get almost the same trend for all three sets.


            • Would it make sense to say that we are not warming year to year because this Winter is colder than last Summer? In other words, could we conclude it is getting colder year to year as suggested by the 6 month comparison? Of course not. We have to wait out at least a full cycle (a year). Similarly, it seems the planet has cycles that go beyond 18 years. We should not compare the high 18 years ago any more than we compare Summer to Winter. We have to let internal variability run its course.

        • It may be relevant to point out that this “15 yr or more” refers to ENSO-adjusted trends.

          It is perhaps also relevant to point out that the models are, by necessity, reliant on different potential scenarios when looking into the future. If we were to compare the evolution over the 21st century using the RCP8.5 emission pathway, but have a situation where the world decides to follow the RCP2.5 pathway, the models would be ‘falsified’ – and yet not really. Similarly, a major change in the distribution of industrial activity that was not included in any scenario, possibly leading to an accumulation of particulate emissions in the Southern Hemisphere rather than presently in the Northern Hemisphere (and also there with major spatial variability), may also lead to quite different outcomes.

          It is at present also not possible to predict the solar output on a decadal or century time-scale, and even less the volcanic activity. In other words, a proper evaluation of the climate models can only be done retrospectively.

    • I thought the big complaint was that Democrats like Al Gore have temperature graphs that go back too far.

    • “Democrats seem to always start their analysis in 1970”

      No they don’t.

      “rather than the last warming peak around 1930; or a more recent warming peak at 1998. ”

      Well, if you’re picking a place where there’s a local peak, you’re cherry picking to produce a lower trend. So why should those be picked?

      “The good news is that nobody picks intervening years. ”

      Intervening years of what???

      How to tell if you’re cherry picking: pick a start and end slightly different and if the result is markedly different, enough to affect your conclusions from it (e.g. “the pause!”), then you picked a cherry.

  5. ” the SATELLITE data show ”

    HAH! I want to see the RAW satellite data! Not this fudged and packed farce of a graph, the RAW DATA!!!!

    So that I can see Ted’s head assplode as he tries to work out what the heck the temperature measurement is he loves so much (but only one of them: the other can go hang itself, because it doesn’t “show flat” [as long as you don’t know or care what flat is]).

    Titley deserves an ovation for his work though. Putting up with such morons is hard work.

  6. Since Pwning is in the eye of the beholder, I declare Ted’s opponent Pwned. Your mileage probably varies😉

    • And you’d be wrong, mickey.

      Your mileage has varied. And into the territory of feet.

      Where you shot them off because you just proclaimed a thing without evidence. And that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    • Who is ted’s opponent, by the way? Reality? The facts?

      Because ted’s claims were contrary to all the facts, and the reality is that he’s utterly wrong and his claims were DESTROYED, which is why the claim he’s been pwned is verified and supported.

      Where’s ted’s pwning evidence??? And to whom or what?

  7. […] Monckton.  This time, the unlucky recipient is Peter Sinclair, creator of the video I publicized in my last post about how the scientist responsible for producing the RSS satellite temperature data, upon which […]

  8. By: Barry Bickmore on January 14, 2016 at 5:13 pm:

    “It’s been known for quite a while that the warming “pause” or “speed bump” or whatever you want to call it is simply a function of a shift toward more La Niña years, lately. If you separate all the El Niño, La Niña, and ENSO neutral years, you get almost the same trend for all three sets.”

    Can anyone say “tautology”? If that’s the case, what’s changing Niño/Niña frequency? Here’s a list of 52 excuses for the (disappearing) “pause”:

    But BB knows better than all those scientists –even though they’re always right (and the skeptics are always wrong) and the science is always settled. And nowhere in this thread do we find the word ‘radiosonde’ as BB zooms in on his lordship, and we plummet headlong into the Dark Ages. –AGF

    • All what scientists?

      Tony Watts doesn’t have ANY post-school education. He’s a presenter on TV, and that decades ago.

      • Word Of Wisdom says: “Tony Watts doesn’t have ANY post-school education”

        No one has it, or everyone has it. If “education” is gotten only at school, then post-school education cannot exist. If “education” is simply learning, then most of it is after school, as it has been with me. I learn things pretty much every day and I consider it education. Formal education, also known as indoctrination, takes place generally at a school.

  9. Could it possibly get any dumber than Wow and Michael 2, who can’t distinguish between the credentials of the compiler of the list and the credentials of those linked by the list? But Watts has his Phd., while the anonymous Wow and M 2 appear to have flunked out of grade school. Of such intellect are the believers.

    • Are you talking about Anthony Watts? He didn’t even graduate from college.

    • agfosterjr wrote “the anonymous Wow and M 2 appear to have flunked out of grade school. Of such intellect are the believers.”

      Well there you go. We’ve been outed! Now all we need is a demonstration of your intellect.

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