Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pre hoc, ergo propter hoc

One of the known logical fallacies - ways of thinking known to be simply wrong - is post hoc, ergo propter hoc: after it, therefore caused by it.  It describes a wrong-headed assignment of causality.  I set up FOB Borepatch in Austin, and Austin has the worst drought in memory.  Under this way of thinking, I caused the drought.

Well, Climate "Scientists" have an innovative new approach to this: before it, therefore caused by it.
MINNEAPOLIS — By sailing to the New World, Christopher Columbus and the other explorers who followed may have set off a chain of events that cooled Europe’s climate for centuries.

The European conquest of the Americas decimated the people living there, leaving large areas of cleared land untended. Trees that filled in this territory pulled billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, diminishing the heat-trapping capacity of the atmosphere and cooling climate, says Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford University.
You, there in the back - stop giggling.  It's terribly disrespectful to Very Smart Scientists™

The problem with this sciency hypothesis is that the Little Ice Age is generally held to have begun in the second decade of the 14th Century, especially with the Great Famine of 1315-1317.  Where the summers had been predictably mild and harvests reliable, cold rain throughout the spring and summer caused crops to rot int he field.  Millions died.

The population expansion that had led to clearing of much of the European wilderness reversed, and in Europe of this day many places that had been occupied in the Thirteenth Century have reverted back to wilderness.  You see, the weather stayed cold, and harvests unreliable for centuries.

Columbus caused this?  Nothing could so illustrate the emptiness of Climate "Science" than the fact that not only did nobody seem to say "Dude, WTF?", not only did the study even got funded, it passed peer-review

I guess it's possible that I somehow missed the tie-in to faster-than-light neutrinos*.

But remember, you're an idiot if you don't think that we're all going to burn for eternity in CO2 fire.  Because the Scienciness is Settled™

Via Slashdot where as always, the comments deliver:

Let me see if I understand the logic:

Indians deforested continent.

Columbus comes.

Indians die.

Forests grow back.

Temperature plummets.

Little Ice Age appears.

The only logical conclusion is that we're supposed to start slaughtering indigenous peoples again?

I mean, sure, if science says we have to.

* ObJoke: The bartender says "We don't serve neutrinos".  A neutrino walks into a bar.


Anonymous said...

Yours is not the conventionally held definition of the "Little Ice Age."
Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

OK, I see your point. If we presume the medieval climate optimum to have ended before 1250-1300, then clearly cooling has begun before 1492.

wolfwalker said...

Borepatch, you know I share your general disdain for climate 'scientists' ... but in this particular case, your criticism misfires.

The problem with this sciency hypothesis is that the Little Ice Age is generally held to have begun in the second decade of the 14th Century, especially with the Great Famine of 1315-1317.

No, it's not. There have been several periods of climatic cooling in the last thousand years. While some sources refer to the entire post-Medieval-Warm period as the "Little Ice Age," it seems that climatologists restrict it to the period of intense cooling between about 1600 and 1820 -- the time when the Thames River commonly froze in winter, growing seasons were substantially reduced, et cetera.

Also the idea that one can correlate atmospheric CO2 levels with reforestation after major die-offs in the human population isn't as wacky as you might think.

Borepatch said...

Anon, it certainly was the conventional view by historians, back when I studied Medieval history. If you read the texts, you will find that the beginning of the fourteenth century is a big dividing line between the generally good harvests and expanding population and the demographic horrors that followed.

The usual rule about taking Wikipedia with a grain of salt applies forcefully here. Once of the Wikipedia editors got banned after rewriting thousands of their climate pages over the course of a couple years.

I recommend Brian Fagan's book "The Long Summer".

Borepatch said...

Wolfwalker, it's fine to say that the Little Ice Age bottomed out between 1600 and 1820. No argument there.

It's an entirely different thing to say it started then, which is simply put falsified by the documents we have from the time.

Net/net, there's a (vanishingly small) chance that New World forest growth had an impact, but something was clearly happening well before then.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

So... then... The Little Ice Age caused Columbus? I think I got the hang of this now. And a guy named Ergo that works delivering mail to Pawn Shops proves it.

This SCIENCE! stuff is easy!

wolfwalker said...

"Anon, it certainly was the conventional view by historians, back when I studied Medieval history."

Yes, but how many years ago was that? Say what you will about AGW theory (and I can say plenty, most of it unflattering), the tools available for analysis today really are much more precise than those of twenty or thirty years ago.

it's fine to say that the Little Ice Age bottomed out between 1600 and 1820. ... It's an entirely different thing to say it started then,

In which case, you and they simply differ on interpretation, and neither can firmly say the other is flat-out wrong.

For my own part, I think that restricting the term Little Ice Age to the period 1600-1820 (more or less) makes far more sense than applying it to the 1300-1820 period as you do. The original term "Ice Age" has a very specific meaning: cold, snow, ice, increased snow cover, all leading to glaciation on a planetary scale. It bothers my sense of semantics to apply "Little Ice Age" to mere bad weather and crop failures, such as caused the famines of the 1300s. Restricting it to the period of intense cold and very severe winters -- when the Thames River froze hard enough to allow "Frost Faires" on the ice, when seawater froze around the coasts of Britain and New England, when Long Island Sound froze so hard you could drive two-horse wagons from Long Island direct to Connecticut ... that makes rather more sense to me.

Brandoch Daha said...

For a few years there, the climate folks claimed the little ice age had gone away -- retconned out of prior existence, I mean. English doesn't have enough tenses to describe past events which unbecome and rebecome many centuries after taking place. Climate science is very difficult, nuanced stuff!

Old NFO said...

Um... er... WTFO??? Now blaming Chris Columbus? Isn't that reaching just a 'tad'???

kx59 said...

Very impressive debate going on here. And I'm not saying that in a snarky way, you guys are quite well schooled. But the fact of the matter is that the climate sciencytists cooked their data to make it fit a predetermined narrative. They are now grasping at every straw that passes by as they swirl down the drain to protect the federal funding for their "research".
The really unfortunate thing is that none of them will go to prison for this magnificent hoax.
If you were to tally the money spent on this bullshit, it would make Berny Madoff look like an amateur.

libertyman said...

I think I get the neutrino joke.

Anonymous said...

Interesting bibliography on extreme weather events:

First entry for 1315:

1315 A.D. Europe hit by incessant rains. These were followed by a famine so severe that Polish poor ate
hanged bodies.

Anonymous said...

This is why the "global warming"/"climate change"/whatever they are calling it this week is religion, not science. It's a matter of FAITH--faith that evil old Whitey, by refusing to live in mud huts and creating civilization, has SINNED against G... oops, Nature (can't have too many references to Whitey's evil patriarchal God-concept) and has DOOMED US ALL.

And because it's a matter of faith,

1) All information that can be interpreted, reinterpreted, stretched, fudged, "renormalized," or outright faked ("I found this neat trick to hide the decline...") to support the "global warming" idea is to be broadcast to the world as "incontrovertible proof."
2) All other non-contradictory data likewise supports the theory.
3) All contradictory information is from Sata... I mean, Big Oil, and is a test of faith. Even when it's the religious ideologues--I do not use the word "science" to describe anything they have done--who created the "global warming" meme in the first place have gotten caught and exposed using "neat tricks" to "hide the decline." TEST OF FAITH. And if anyone objects, BURN THE WITCH.
4) When in doubt, re-read rules 1) through 3).