Thursday, December 3, 2020
Home Middle Column Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.: Revisiting the 'Consistent With' Canard -- 'Just don't...

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.: Revisiting the ‘Consistent With’ Canard — ‘Just don’t use ‘consistent with’ in stretching to link particular extremes with human-caused climate change. It is pure spin’

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Excerpt: “…it is meaningful to proclaim that the extreme rainfall observed in Colorado several weeks ago are “consistent with” predictions of more intense rainfall associated with human-caused climate change.

Long-time readers will know that I believe the use of the phrase “consistent with” in this context is a canard and devoid of substance. Here is an example using exactly such a construction related to the Colorado floods.

The analogy I’d suggest is a 52-card deck stacked with an extra ace. After being dealt a blackjack (i.e., an ace and a face card) it would indeed be appropriate to proclaim that “such a hand is consistent with expectations for hands dealt from this stacked deck.”  Of course, being deal a 5 and a 2 would also be “consistent with” the stacked deck. For that matter, being dealt a blackjack would also be “consistent with” hands coming from an unstacked deck.
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