Climate communication graphics
Skeptical “cherry picking” — brilliantly exposed!

This stunning expose of “cherry-picking”—the “skeptic’s” favorite logical fallacy—takes climate charts to a new level.   The red trend line shows the temperature trend since 1973.    The short blue lines show how some skeptics pick only certain data points that, viewed in isolation, appear to support their position.    See Dana’s original post, “Going Down the Up Escalator:  Part 1” at Skeptical Science for more details and discussion.*

Of course, realists trying to discern the truth will always demand to see all the evidence plus the mathematical trend.   In contrast, PR types just trying to score points, will “cherry-pick” certain favorable  data points.

The data comes from the recent BEST study of land surface temperatures.    This animation works so well because a) movement is always eye-catching, b) it enables back-and-forth comparison of two graphs at once, and c) it introduces a bit of suspense, a key ingredient in “sticky” messaging and spellbinding storytelling.

To compare a static vs. animated graph, contrast this with the “Best climate chart ever” highlighted here last week.    Which works best?    It’s a matter of taste, and the situation.

I hope we see more “experiments in graphing” like this, to help presenters breath life into data and highlight key “take-away” points.

* Here’s the caption and full citation for the graph:    Figure 1: BEST land-only surface temperature data (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes 1973 to 1980, 1980 to 1988, 1988 to 1995, 1995 to 2001, 1998 to 2005, 2002 to 2010 (blue), and 1973 to 2010 (red).  Created by Dana Nuccitelli.  Hat-tip to Skeptical Science contributor Sphaerica for identifying all of these “cooling trends.” (Figure 1 has been added to the SkS Climate Graphics Page).

Update:   For those actively engaged in debunking the skeptics , Dana at Skeptical Science has posted “Up the Down Escalator:  Part 2.”   Here’s the intro:

As we discussed in Going Down the Up Escalator, Part 1, it’s a very common mistake – even amongst some climate scientists – to confuse short-term climate noise with long-term global warming signal.  Our very popular Figure 1 below illustrates this confusion very nicely:

Some climate “skeptics” have suggested explanations as to why their interpretation of global warming shown in Figure 1 is actually the correct one.  We will examine those explanations in this post.

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Skeptical “cherry picking” — brilliantly exposed!

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