15 Jul 2008, 6:57pm
Climate and Weather
by admin

What’s Wrong with NASA?

In a recent news post at W.I.S.E. Forest, Fire, and Wildlife News entitled “What’s Wrong with the Sun? (Nothing According to NASA)” NASA scientist David Hathaway is quoted as claiming that the extended and continuing lull in sunspots is “normal” [here]. The fact that Solar Cycle 24 is one to two years late is nothing to worry about, says Hathaway at NASA.

It’s not the same as when your girlfriend is “late.” Now that’s something to worry about!

We did point out editorially that:

The stat babble in this article is misleading. The article states “the ongoing lull in sunspot number is well within historic norms for the solar cycle” but historic norms include long lulls such as the Maunder Minimum. The article states the 142 month decaying Solar Cycle 23 is “within a standard deviation.” That is a meaningless statistic since non-linear cycle lengths are not normally distributed.

The word “normal” is used in this article with two different meanings. Statistical normal is not the same as common usage normal. The article confuses the two.

Facts: Solar Cycle 24 still overdue by more than a year and solar magnetic activity is low, indicating that Solar Cycle 24, when it does show up, will be very weak.

The use of “standard deviations” by NASA in this case is a misuse of statistics. It implies a level of confidence that is entirely too much, inappropriate, and statistically invalid. Wm. “Matt” Briggs expands and expounds on this and other issues of uncertainty in his fine blog, William M. Briggs, Statistician [here].

False certainty (baseless overconfidence) is a rosy path to ruin, or as the Bible states, “Pride goeth before a fall.” A prime example: in 2006 NASA’s David Hathaway predicted that Solar Cycle 24 was just around the corner. Here is his 2006 prediction (on top) compared to his most recent prediction (on the bottom):

Yellow line indicates today’s date. Graphs courtesy ICECAP [here].

Whoops! NASA was wrong-ola in 2006. That’s a bad sign, and one loses confidence in NASA’a current prediction considering how FAR OFF they were two years ago.

In statistical parlance we pro statisticians call that kind of analysis, “spitting into the wind.”

Cycle 24 hasn’t arrived yet. We’re still in the lull. Comparing this lull to any past lull is like comparing a ballgame in the fifth inning to previous complete 9-inning games. However, it interesting to note that the Sun is pitching a no-spotter, and concurrently we have just experienced the coldest winter in 20 years. Co-inky-dink? Maybe.

Some fairly bright people hypothesize that there is a strong correlation between solar cycle length and global temperatures [here, here, here, here, here, here, and here]. These science-type dudes present compelling EVIDENCE. I’m just saying.

Speaking of coincidences, here’s a great pick-up line.

Him: “Do you believe in coincidences?”

Her: “Yeah, I guess so.”

Him: “That’s amazing, ’cause so do I !!!”

15 Jul 2008, 10:26pm
by Mike

Let’s take the analysis a step further. The key question is: how long until we get a full solar maximum again? The answer is not to be found looking at the average, but in looking at the tail of the distribution.

Similar questions might be, what will be the extreme value of say, the 100-year flood, or the 50-year snowfall? What happens in the extreme case and how frequently does the extreme case arise? Extreme value questions probe the tail of the distribution, not the middle. We wish to map the skewed part, not the hump.

The average never happens. The average is just the average of all those happenings to the right and left of it, or this case to the far right, out in the tail.

Moreover, the phenomenon of solar sunspot activity is not a roll of the dice. There are factors involved, like solar magnetic strength, solar pole reversal, the solar conveyor belt, gravitational pulls, etc. that influence, or at least correlate temporally, with sunspot activity. So we might possibly get some insight from a model of some kind, like a generalized extreme value regression with weighted measured explanatory factors.

Bumbling along with the bell-shaped Gaussian curve is so Jr. High. NASA can do better than that.

16 Jul 2008, 6:53am
by backcut

Maybe someday, we’ll be getting solar weather forecasts. I suspect that their reliability will be on par with terrestrial meteorologists, as well, eh?

16 Jul 2008, 8:55am
by Mike

NASA is deeply invested in the Global Warming Hoax. They have abandoned good science in favor of politically-driven pseudo science.

They need to be cut off from the public trough. We should fire every last NASA employee with cause and jerk their pensions. That ought to send a wake-up call. The public does not need to pay for hurtful scams emanating from govt. agencies. If NASA has nothing better to do than perpetuate a fraud, then they can all go home and never come back to work.

17 Jul 2008, 6:37am
by bear bait

The old saw about the Emperor with no clothes just keeps coming around and coming around.

My take on global warming is the same as the one I took years and years ago when it became urgent policy to clean creeks. The best science said that wood in creeks, especially green logging debris, would produce biological oxygen demand, which in turn would suffocate all the fish and other critters that lived in the creeks. Of course, that was to be enforced by forest practice rules, contract clauses, and the expenditure of energy and time with huge equipment that produces no income while being used to clean woody debris from streams.

So then you got zealots with contract administration power, and you found yourself re-rigging cable logging systems to return to an area to further remove woody debris from the stream because the person with the contract in hand said you must, it was a judgement call, and the rat bastards would put you in suspension if you did not obey. That would mean the bonding company would get a letter, and you would be technically in default on the contract, and a liability to the bonding company, which could seriously limit your ability to buy timber as performance bonds were part of the contracting process. Result: logging crews removed every last piece of wood in the creek while their lines were over it. Got it all, no matter how long it had been in there. And then the hand crew was sent in after logging to remove all the fine material to above the high water line. The little streams and watercourses became clean, straight water chutes, by edict, and had no value for fisheries, no pool and riffle structure. But that is what a zealot with authority can do with a contract and some bad science, incomplete science. The loggers did what they had to do to be profitable, to keep working, to do their job as the regulators saw fit.

For the last 20 years, most of what has happened on vast areas of public and private lands is the use of “salmon restoration” money to place coarse woody debris in streams, a whole lot of which has migrated to the ocean in storm events. Millions and millions of dollars spent to take perfectly good logs and ram them into creek banks. As the person with the contract in hand had done for so many years, now a new set of rules is being applied like paint to a wall. Can we cover it with one coat? We need helicopters to place this stream structure THAT LOGGING REMOVED!!! Yep. Removed because it was required in the contract, because the very same busy bodies of academic science said so. So the same people, from the same universities have driven the coarse woody debris planting. All to please the Emperor, and his environmental wardrobe.

NASA is involved in the very same process, because that is how government bureaucracies work. The global warming paint bucket is full, and there is a concerted effort to paint all with one coat. To do that, common sense, scientific inquiry, method, has to be manipulated because the issue is to get that coat of paint on. No paint, no reward, and without reward, there is no money in the budget from Congress. That is how it works. Diversity training, conflict free workplace planning, a new accounting system, new computers and new software before anyone is competent on the old system, and an administrative change coming once again, as a new President and a new administration take over in less than a year. It will be time for the bureaucrats to retrench, to retreat to their safe zones, to wait out what is sure to come. Nobody is going to be doing anything other than caretakers issues until some comfort with the new leadership is established, and by the time all cylinders start firing, we will be in an election run-up to the next cycle and the retreats and defenses will begin anew. NASA is not the only dysfunctional agency trying to maintain in a world that really has become ambiguous about space and space travel. Hard to think about space stations when the government can’t get forestry right, can’t get the fuels reduced, can’t keep fire out of your backyard for a couple of years. So divert the conversation to global warming, mankind’s terrible record in the environment, and all the self flagellation people with too much money and too much time, and too little common sense might practice to give meaning to their otherwise meaningless lives. That is what NASA has devolved to doing. Got on the bandwagon. LIned up for the dole. The need for new toys and new adventure can be accomplished by being a team player. Go, Global Warming. Rah rah rah…..go team, go……send money. Sounds like a letter from college. Time to tell the kid to go get a real job.



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