Tuesday, February 01, 2011


It snowed in the Southeast a few weeks ago. Since Atlanta has no appreciable snow response plan other than to just wait for it to melt, most of Atlanta was stuck at home burning vacation days as fast as they were their Kroger bought firewood. Nothing pulls out the deniers of Global Warming more than a colder than average day. Never mind the fact that most of them were conveniently silent during the records highs of only a few months ago, 87 degrees on October 11th and I didn’t hear a peep out of any of them Saturday and Sunday when it was in the 70s. I could do a whole post on confirmation bias here. If you only look at the data that supports your conclusion and ignore the rest the world looks just like you imagine it would. But I’ve done that before.
Of course a few hot days in October or a few days in the 70s in January don’t prove it is happening any more than a few cold days in January proves it isn’t. If you are talking about a global issue increasing over the long term you have to average all of the data for the long term.
My post today is to issue a challenge to those who honestly believe that a few cold days mean that the general trend is not increasing. Let’s put your money where your mouth is. Do you believe the same thing about your stock portfolio? I propose that we take all the stocks in your portfolio and every time one hits a localized low you sell it to me at that low price. If we apply the same logic to your portfolio that you apply to the weather then a localized low must mean that the general trend is not increasing. So why would you want to hang on to it anyway?
Any takers? No I didn’t think so. Because most people are smart enough to realize that when it comes to their stock portfolio it’s the long term trends that are important not the localized highs and lows. Sure there are bad stocks out there that are not performing well. But if you look at all of them all and average them out, it’s still a pretty good place to invest. Why, because in spite of localized events the trend is generally increasing.
I think that most people who deny the evidence of global climate change are smart enough to realize this point. They obviously accept the same logic when applied to their portfolio. They just choose to deny it because they don’t like the political implications that accepting the evidence would have. And they know that a cold day in January doesn’t prove anything except that it’s a cold day in January, yet they deliberately play on the emotions of those that follow them to lead you to a fallacious conclusion. They think their listeners are that easily manipulated. Unfortunately, many of them are.


  1. You've got to catch your global climate change denialists at the right point in the cycle. It goes, IIRC:

    1) The world isn't really getting warmer.
    2) Ok, it is, but no one knows why.
    3) Ok, it looks like CO2, but you can't trust models.
    4) Ok, the CO2 model is good, but it can't be anthropogenic.
    5) Ok, it's anthropogenic, but there's nothing we can do about it.
    6) Ok, but the things we can do cost too much.

    It's not really correct to call this a "cycle", as most deniers will bounce around between them almost at random, with endless variations on the themes. But eventually they get back to wherever they started.

  2. I spent a whole lunch hour a few months ago trying to get a coworker to commit to option 1 or option 2. I seriously just wanted to understand his positon and he never even realized that his postion was self-contradictory. First he'd say it wasn't happening. Then he'd say it was becuase of the solar cycles.
    He seriously believed that anything that seemed to go against my position automatically supported his.