Beware the Superlative

WtD is on a rant that Hurricane Hayian is “proof” of climate change.  It’s the storm of the century, complete and utter devastation and irrefutably caused by climate change.  First, let’s note that NBC World News has reported a death toll closer to 2000 or 2500, not 10,000 as was the original report.   Yes, any loss of life is sad and we feel for those who lose their homes and loved ones.  The scientist responds with new ways to build homes that are more resistant to hurricane damage.  The compassionate send relief supplies.  The politically motivated, use anyone and anything to promote our cause persons hold up the dead as proof of their beliefs.  Using the dead to push and agenda.  WtD seems to see nothing wrong with this.   Using people is nothing new to the climate change agenda–I’m sure we’ll see using and abusing of victims of any natural event far into the future in an attempt to gather more believers.

The title “beware the superlative” refers to the media and climate change people saying “super storm”, strongest winds, worst ever devastation.   Somewhere along the line, they are hoping your are not bright enough to realize that the previous record holder for winds was “the worst, the strongest”.  From stormfacts.net:

Hurricane Allen (July/August of 1980) was one of the strongest hurricanes to ever form in the Atlantic Basin. Allen reached Category 5 status three different times and is one of only two hurricanes to ever have winds reach in excess of 190 mph (the other being Hurricane Camille of 1969). Allen was the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record (reached Category 5 status on August 5th) until 2005’s Hurricane Emily (reached Category 5 status on July 16th). Allen made landfall north of Brownsville, Texas on August 9th as a Category 3 storm…  (my emphasis)

Every single record broken after the original record was set is “the worst, the strongest, the baddest”.  Superlatives do not indicate causality, and record-breaking does not prove anything.  Records are set every day and broken the following one.  Superlatives fool people into believing things are getting worse or better when in reality, it may be the exact opposite.

Beware the Superlative–it’s there to fool you into not thinking.  Think.

Scientific badger

Scientific badger

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2 comments on “Beware the Superlative

  1. Of course one says it’s not the worst. It’s the same way psychics hedge their bets–go with the most likely answer. Records are broken and broken and broken, in both directions. So the safe bet to look psychic is to go with a record being broken.
    In addition, most people remember the bad events and forget the good. People remember hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts, not sunny summer days and mild winters. Predicting things will get worse makes it probable that people will think you were accurate, when in fact, you just played the odds.
    Again, beware the superlative and the hedged bets. These are not science.

  2. john byatt says:

    Of course it was not the worst, that is still to come

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/07/05/1301293110.abstract

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