Greg Laden: How do you know what to “believe”?

Apropos my recent obsession with science vs. its opposite on the Internet, I really liked this item from Greg Laden: Skeptics: How do you know what to “believe”?

“My car is not running right. I think the elves that make it run have tummy aches.”

And then the mechanic tries to explain that there are no elves in the car, but the person insists.

“You have not seen that there are no elves in the car. And besides when you open the hood the elves become invisible. Anyway, the elves have tummy aches. Fix the tummy aches.” And so on.

That is what many people who are not scientists sound like when they are talking about science.

38 Responses to “Greg Laden: How do you know what to “believe”?”

  1. shcb Says:

    I find it comical to be lectured by presumptuous individuals on the integrity of the scientific process of global warming. When I read an article like this I find myself agreeing, but from the standpoint of the AGW true believers being the fools that don’t understand science, or at lease are willing to ignore it in this case.

  2. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, I see why you would think that, but you just have to understand, Mother Earth has too much gas and if we don’t do something her fever will be fatal.

  3. shcb Says:

    She may or may not still have a fever, and it may or may not be caused by humans, the question now is how do we find the answer to those questions now that we know the data and experiments were tainted? When the author says “The second approach relies on the first, and that is to learn who to trust, and trust carefully.” I say we certainly know who not to trust, now we have to decide who to trust, and what data to trust. And when he says “You need to keep track of the difference between knowledge you’ve reconstructed from mostly original sources…” I ask myself but what do you do when the original sources are lost or destroyed? Do you put blind trust in those that destroyed that data? I think not.

  4. jbc Says:

    Heh. “See? A particular mechanic wrote an email seven years ago in which he questioned the existence of elves, and mocked those pushing the Elf Hypothesis! How blind can you be, people? Why do you persist in taking your cars to mechanics to be fixed? They simply cannot be trusted.”

    It all makes sense, more or less… as long as you begin from the premise that there really are elves under the hood, and scrupulously avoid subjecting that belief to independent scrutiny.

    That’s not how science works. Even flawed, human-driven science of the sort that leads to the East Anglia emails is capable of weeding out the elf hypothesis. And it has.

    You can persist in peddling elf scenarios in the comments of random blogs, and you’re welcome to do so here. But that stuff is rightly excluded from peer-reviewed science journals, and doesn’t help much as we try to come up with rational responses to the impending disaster.

  5. shcb Says:

    Unless that peer reviewed journal’s integrity has been compromised, then it’s just another highly censored blog.

    That elf scenario may work with people who have a religious attachment to a theory, but it really doesn’t apply here. Those emails, notes, and code are real, no one is disputing that, the earth has leveled off in temperature rise or is cooling, no one is disputing that, carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, no one is disputing that. There are no elves here.

  6. jbc Says:

    Plenty of people are disputing that “the earth has leveled off in temperature rise or is cooling.” The technical term for such people is “climate scientists.”

  7. shcb Says:

    Well, most of the scientists I have heard that are AGW proponents are saying it is leveled off but will start to rise again soon, the scientists that are not AGW proponents say it is leveled off and will start to cool or has already started to cool. Only the corrupt models show it still rising.

  8. jbc Says:

    Sigh. I realize this is probably wasted effort, but I’ll go through the motions.

    What recent peer-reviewed journal article or articles written by actual climate scientists states that global temperatures are starting to cool? Note that if you are unable to supply such citations, or if such citations, having been supplied, turn out to be the product of fringe denialist former TV weathermen or fossil-fuel-industry- financed pseudoscience, it basically makes my case that we’re in elf-country here.

    We could also approach it from the other direction, in which I supply citations for mainstream, peer-reviewed, recent research not based on a model that you can authoritatively demonstrate to be “corrupt”, that does, in fact, project continued rising temperatures.

    I believe it is very unlikely that you can do the first, and very likely that I can do the second. At the same time, I also believe it’s likely that you will easily satisfy yourself that you’re correct, and that I’m wrong. But I think that has more to do with your information sources and standards of evidence, and your willingness to warp reality to fit your emotional needs (because liberal kids picked on you in grade school, or something? I don’t actually know where that comes from) than it does with either your rightness or my wrongness.

    So we could actually just skip the whole thing, and call it a day, and we’d probably both be better off (or at least would have more time to do other things more likely to be rewarding).

  9. jbc Says:

    As a side issue, because of the noise in year-to-year temperature data, yes, it clearly is the case that with a narrow enough window of time, temperatures can be shown to be going up or down. I’m talking about overall, decades-long and centuries-long trends here.

  10. enkidu Says:

    We’ve been over this before (several times?) The deniers want to cherry pick a couple of data points (ignoring the rest) and claim the earth is cooling.

    And a half dozen emails that might be taken entirely out of context and twisted to imply a vast left wing eco-nazi conspiracy to destroy western civilization!

    The fact remains that if we just do nothing (pretty much the R rallying cry of late) we will all choke to death on the emissions of the rest of the world as they catch up to the first world 20th C standard of living. We either innovate our collective way out of this mess (we’ve done it before with CFCs, SO2 and, say, WWII) or we’ll poison our mother earth in the process of uplifting “the mud hut countries” (such a piquant turn of a phrase wwnj! ;)

  11. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, the mother earth has gas comment was sarcasm.

    Yes, it’s always seemed more sensible to talk about climate change in terms of decade to decade changes over hundreds of years. In the 1990’s, while temperatures were rising year over year alarmingly, the media created the impression that was a characteristic sign of AGW. And the climate scientists were not able to correct that perception, it just wasn’t as exciting news as heat waves, wildfires and hurricanes. So that’s been drilled into the public consciousness so deep that now that we’re back to the longer term upward trend lines people think it’s cooling – or the elves have turned on the airconditioning.

    And Enkidu, the world needs mud hut countries – without the comparison the rest of us can’t be told how well off we all are and will start to complain that we all don’t live like the rich and famous.

  12. knarlyknight Says:

    Me to Avatar at 1 pm. Expectations high, despite the bland review.

  13. shcb Says:

    There was a graph you posted a while back that showed the temps leveling off, as I recall there were 4 lines and three of the four leveled off and one continued to rise, the NASA line, when I went to the source of that graph it stated that the NASA line was only to 2000 and then it was modeled after that, since the warming stopped in 1998 that was a little odd, if you looked at the NASA line very close even it took a small dip before it became straight as an arrow.

  14. knarlyknight Says:

    Surely we have data up to 2009 now?

  15. shcb Says:

    Well of course there is current data, when that chart was posted a year or two ago I went out and found the source of it, the data continued on to 2005 or 2007 and showed a leveling off, all except for the NASA data, it diverted from the other three, but you had to look close. The other three had dips and rises but the NASA line was straight. Quite odd. I was looking at the NASA site yesterday and they have data posted until last month, one would assume in 2007 they had data to 2007, so why stop at 2000?

    There has been warming over the last ten years, or at least 8 of the 10 but it has been very slight. If you want to read peer reviewed journals that shed some light on this read

    Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union

    in other papers and postings he gets into how his calculations of ocean temperature rise were about 55% less than those reported by the EPA, it seems they cherry picked reporting sites, something that seems to happen a lot. He and his son are both professors at CU and CSU,

    There is a Russian astronomer, Khabibullo Abdusamatov who feels we are at the end of sunspot activity, and will start cooling soon, the information is out there, there are peer reviewed articles, not many, and now we know why, but there are a few. None of this is new, these emails just gave us their own words to prove it.

    Not that any of this matters, Pielke JR. and Sr. are now radical right wingers, Abdusamatov will somehow be discredited, not because of what he said, but because of who he is. Did you notice that JBC already has his list of who you can’t trust, I suspect the main criteria is they differ from his religious beliefs.

  16. jbc Says:

    Abdusamatov, as you say, is an astronomer, not a climate researcher. Pielke Jr. has a doctorate in political science, not climate studies. Neither of those citations is especially helpful in getting you out of elf country.

    Pielke Sr. is the closest you’ve come to finding a skeptic who is actually trained as a climate scientist, though his background appears to be more in meteorology than climate change per se. He has indeed published at least one peer-reviewed article dealing with climate change, though it appears that the article you cite is merely making the point that some relevant meteorological data are being ignored, leading to a charge by him that the IPCC is “cherrypicking” data. I can’t find any peer-reviewed articles by him asserting that global temperatures, on a long-term scale, are actually cooling. Also, Pielke Sr. himself disputes that he is a “skeptic”. He wrote as follows:

    Humans are significantly altering the global climate, but in a variety of diverse ways beyond the radiative effect of carbon dioxide. The IPCC assessments have been too conservative in recognizing the importance of these human climate forcings as they alter regional and global climate. These assessments have also not communicated the inability of the models to accurately forecast the spread of possibilities of future climate. The forecasts, therefore, do not provide any skill in quantifying the impact of different mitigation strategies on the actual climate response that would occur.

    Please note that what he is arguing there is not that the earth is actually cooling. It’s that the specific forecasts he’s talking about do not, in his opinion, sufficiently take into account these particular “human forcings” issues that he believes would have a big effect on the usefulness of various mitigation strategies.

    A reminder: What you wrote, and what I asked you to justify with citations from peer-reviewed climate scientists’ writings, was:

    …the scientists that are not AGW proponents say it is leveled off and will start to cool or has already started to cool

    So far you haven’t produced any peer-reviewed literature that supports that. You’ve produced one guy, who I will accept is indeed a climate scientist, though he seems to be pretty much on the fringes of climate science in terms of his training and the work he’s done, making one specific complaint that he believes the scientific consensus on global warming is failing to consider a factor he’s familiar with from his work, leading him to believe that the predictions being offered should not be given as much confidence as some scientists are giving them.

    That such a viewpoint is being expressed is not the deathblow to AGW that you seem to think it is. It’s a normal part of how science gets done: People publish, other people pick holes in their work, other people pick holes in the hole-pickers, and the whole messy process moves gradually toward a consensus in one area, while the speculation and disagreement moves out to a different area.

    What has happened with the science of global warming in recent years is that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (including the climate scientist you produced in support of your position) acknowledge that anthropogenic climate change is real, is happening, and poses a grave risk. To argue, as you appear to be, that no, it’s really an area in which there is an ongoing dispute, one side says A, the other side says B, is exactly what Laden was talking about in the original linked-to item: elves.

  17. shcb Says:

    You snuck two over statements in there, “I can’t find any peer-reviewed articles by him asserting that global temperatures, on a long-term scale, are actually cooling.” Of course no, because no one is saying that. We are coming out of the little Ice Age, we are going to warm. This is the same little ice age the AWG guys filtered out of their hockey stick, along with the Medieval Warming Period. We are saying it looks like we are at the top of one of those little bumps. We are at the top of a bump like we were at the bottom of a bump when we were being scared into thinking we were going into a new ice age in the ‘70s. Will we head back up a little in 30 or 40 years, probably. Abdusamatov is saying we should be cooling in earnest in a couple hundred years from what I’ve read.

    The second overstatement “…acknowledge that anthropogenic climate change is real, is happening, and poses a grave risk.” No they don’t, I’ve many of them speak, they all say we have an effect, but it isn’t enough of an effect to justify turning our economic systems upside down, and we probably wouldn’t make much difference if we did. There is a good chance we would make things worse.

    I will say though, you didn’t disappoint, you found some way to discredit each and every one of them.

  18. enkidu Says:

    wwnj – the elves you cite as experts don’t seem particularly credible.

    It is funny to read your posts castigating us dumb libs for observational bias (etc etc etc) when I think it is pretty obvious you have a particularly strong bias that you use to filter information that only supports your wwnj bs.

    I’ll ask Santa and see what he says: he is at least as credible as your CC denier elves. Besides, he lives up at the north pole and should be concerned about the pack ice melting.

  19. jbc Says:

    Well, it took about 15 seconds, total, to look up their entries on Wikipedia and see what their degrees were in, so I’m not sure that qualifies as some kind of noteworthy accomplishment on my part.

    So, just to sum up: You have no examples to offer of climate scientists making the case in peer-reviewed literature that the globe is actually cooling (which is the specific thing you said you had seen, and that I asked you to provide). You did find one person with actual credentials who is critical of some aspects of the consensus position, though he disputes that he could be described as a “skeptic” of global warming. And then you revert to “because I say so”/”I’ve heard lots of (mumble mumble) scientists speak, and they support what I believe about how it would be a grave mistake to spend lots of money trying to avert this,” etc., without citing any specific literature. In short, elves.

    I think the underlying problem here (and again, this gets back to the original Laden item) is that laypeople, even otherwise intelligent, technically proficient laypeople, often have very little idea of how science actually works. I think it’s ironic that the main criticism being offered by Pielke Sr. (that the IPCC is cherrypicking data to support an a priori conclusion) is exactly what you appear to be guilty of here (though in your case it’s much more blatant).

    Sure, the Internet makes it trivial to find people who agree with your pre-existing views. With a little extra effort you can even find the outlying data points represented by people with actual credentials who have critical things to say about the position you disagree with (even if the critical things they are saying, upon closer inspection, differ significantly from your position).

    But that’s not science. It’s not even close.

  20. enkidu Says:

    I don’t get it: here we have a genuine threat (as opposed to all them Eye-raqi WMDz) to not just the good ol USofA, but to the human race – as a species – and yet a significant number of people just want to talk to the elves (or voices in their head).

    We defeated similar threats from CFCs and SO2 (ok mb not as dire) and the costs did not bankrupt the country or the planet. We collectively acted in a responsible manner to avoid an impending man-made disaster of monumental proportions.

    So let us say that CC is not caused by man. The wwnj answer is still do nothing. That just doesn’t seem to be a prudent answer. More study (shame that Carbon Observer satellite didn’t make orbit… be a smart idea to hurry up w the backup sat) more debate, but we need to use science and reason rather than elves and bullshit. It’d be smart to get going on the fixes before it is too late.

    O wait, I forgot, I am a “cheerleader”

    gimme a “S”
    gimme a “O”
    gimme a “C”
    gimme a “I”
    gimme a “A”
    gimme a “L”
    gimme a “I”
    gimme a “S”
    gimme a “M”

    what does it spell? Whatever wwnj wants it to.

  21. knarlyknight Says:

    JBC, thanks for adding a level of clarity that would be absent had you contributed your comments.

    Your Russian astronomer is out to lunch. You say he predicts sunspot activity but it is well known that no-one can predict this beyond one solar phase, and in general the predictions for the next phase are not that good. If what you say is true, that he really does say that earth is heading into a period of low sunspot activity then he doesn’t sound very credible.

    2008 was a near record low in sunspot activity and 2009 has recorded a suirprisingly high 260 days of spotless suns, bringing the current 5 year solar minimum stretch to 771 days of spotlessness, compared to the average solar cycle minimums of 485 spotless days. Before making ill-informed statements about Russian astronomer’s opinions of how stars affect earth weather, you might want to glance at

  22. knarlyknight Says:

    had you *not* contributed your comments. sorry man.

  23. Smith Says:

    Remember, there are no deniers published in any peer reviewed journal because of the vast world-wide conspiracy being perpetrated by developing mud countries in order to steal all our money. Obviously, this conspiracy is the reason shcb has not provided any sources (that or his earlier admission that he can’t be bothered to actually offer any proof of his claims). ;)

  24. knarlyknight Says:

    Thanks Smith (how quickly we forget.)

    In contrast, a 911 physics paper has been published in a peer reviewed journal so there is at least one difference between AGW deniers and 911 “truthers”.

    Of course, shcb has pointed out that the journal fell into disrepute and should not be taken seriously after publishing the findings, so here is another world wide catch 22 conspiracy to keep in mind: if a paper takes a stand that you disagree with and it is published in a peer reviewed science journal, then the peer reviewed science journal is crap and does not count.

  25. enkidu Says:

    please Mr Smith
    wwnj’s phrase is
    “mud hut countries”

    (which of course is in no way racist because good ol boy wwnj done said so)

  26. Smith Says:

    What journal was the 9/11 paper published in?

  27. knarlyknight Says:

    The journal I was thinking of was Bentham, but apparently there are four other journals:

    Refereed papers have already been published in mainstream peer-reviewed journals: Fourteen Points…[Bentham] and Environmental Anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for energetic materials [SpringerLink], and Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe [The Open Chemical Physics Journal] .

    For a brief description of these works and for links to these journals & papers so you can see for yourself, read the first paragraph here:

    And here is some of the fall out which partly motivated my snarky post that the journal is crap if it publishes a paper questioning this taboo subject; please note that the fall out has nothing to do with the facts or science within the paper but appears to be entirely political:

  28. knarlyknight Says:

    sorry, I can’t count. Should be two others not four.

  29. shcb Says:

    Well, the liberal from San Francisco and his sidekick Earl have spoken, there is nothing else to say, everyone just go on home now.

    It wouldn’t matter who I put out there or where I found the information, the sources would be attacked unless they agreed with JBC. The Russian is an astronomer, he doesn’t count, he isn’t a climatologist. The sun really doesn’t have in pact on earth’s temperature does it? JBC is probably right, his opinion shouldn’t count. Professor Pielke was just the climatologist for CSU for seven years, he’s been a fellow of the American Meteorological Society for a quarter of a century but he doesn’t count either. Next JBC will go after his school, CSU is just a little agricultural school, they don’t count, yeah, there is no use for climatology in the study of agriculture. You all better tread softly there, my money and daughter go to CSU.

    And finally this, JBC makes the statement “…is that laypeople, even otherwise intelligent, technically proficient laypeople, often have very little idea of how science actually works.” What an arrogant ass! I’m a friggin senior engineer, he has the audacity to say I don’t understand how science works! What is JBC, a web designer with some connections in the music business. Yup that qualifies. He mistakenly thinks he gave me an assignment, what he’s my mentor now, my boss, let me reiterate, I’m a 53 year old senior engineer, I take very few orders, I mostly give them. My answer to his question was go look at the stupid graph he posed a year or two ago, it shows a down turn, I don’t need a peer reviewed article to tell me that.

  30. Smith Says:

    Do you want a pat on the back or something? I guarantee that your seniority that seem so proud of doesn’t really matter to anyone here. You might be the decider at your job, but I really fail to see how that translates here.

  31. enkidu Says:

    A senior engineer with a sub-high school edumacashun and a head full of extremist right wing bullshit. whtvr

    Why anyone takes you even slightly seriously is beyond me.
    But then I am a ‘bigot’ or some such nonsense.

    jbc question:
    “What recent peer-reviewed journal article or articles written by actual climate scientists states that global temperatures are starting to cool?”

    wwnj answer:
    jimber jawed flopper rejuicenick! arrogant socialist asshole!

  32. shcb Says:

    That is a fair enough question. The reason it is important is that as part of my job I analyze data, design experiments, oversee the collection of data and decide how that data should be acted on. I took a few minutes and downloaded the UAH satellite temperature readings for the last three decades, now granted this is just the temperature of the air, but since the subject is Co2 and that is in the air it seems like a good place to start. This isn’t peer reviewed yet, I have sent a copy to my neighbor, he is a retired truck driver, I’ll let you know what he thinks later, he’s probably taking a nap.

  33. enkidu Says:

    It is a fair question, but one you have yet to answer coherently.
    Maybe you are just having a senior moment?

  34. jbc Says:

    Yes, you do all that as part of your job. What you appear to be overlooking is that the fact that you have technical expertise in one field does not necessarily confer any special power on you to make authoritative judgments in another field in which you have no equivalent technical expertise.

    When I said that laypeople, even technically proficient, otherwise intelligent laypeople, often have no idea of how science actually works, that’s exactly what I was talking about. You have a title of “senior engineer”. That’s great, and you’re justifiably proud of that. That title presumably means that, at least in comparison with a junior engineer in your particular field of engineering (manufacturing widgets, say), you have a relatively high degree of experience and proficiency. It doesn’t make you infallible, of course; I’m sure you are familiar with people with a similar degree of experience and proficiency in your own field who nevertheless manage to reach erroneous conclusions from time to time. If you were to go to a convention of senior engineers in the widget manufacturing field, there might well be at least one or two presentations with which you would find fault, and might be inclined to engage in a spirited discussion with the presenter after the talk in which you point out that he or she had overlooked the significance of the tensile strength of substance Q when subjected to temperature X, or whatever. And that’s fine. That’s how that process works.

    So, let’s talk about how science works. To gain the status of what I’m calling “an actual scientist” in some field, one must earn a doctorate from a recognized university. To earn that doctorate, one must have successfully completed an undergraduate degree, followed by several years of graduate work in that particular field, and including the completion of a thesis recognized by others in that field as representing original research that makes a valid contribution to the state of scientific knowledge. In short, to even gain entry into the club of “actual scientists” working in a particular field, one must acquire a degree of training and experience that probably is at least equivalent to, and possibly greater than, the training and experience you had to acquire in order to be called a senior widget manufacturing engineer.

    When I pointed out that Abdusamatov’s degree was in astronomy, or that Pielke Jr.’s degree was in political science, I was not denigrating their accomplishments, or casting aspersions on astronomy or political science. I was just saying that they don’t meet the standard I set when I asked you to support your assertion that there was a significant body of climate scientists who supported your views about global warming.

    Pielke Sr. is a different matter, and you’ll note that I accepted him as an actual scientist working in the field. But as with the hypothetical senior widget engineer you argued with at my imaginary conference, just because he is, in fact, a climate scientist does not automatically mean he is right. Yes, he appears to have published a paper in a peer-reviewed journal in the field, and that paper does make some critical statements about the consensus view. That data point should be taken into account when a layperson is trying to evaluate what climate scientists, collectively, think is happening to the climate.

    What you appear to want to do, though, is to minimize the views of the large body of climate scientists who disagree with Pielke, and just cherrypick his viewpoint (and actually, from what I can see, misrepresent it), in order to argue that there is some kind of equivalence between climate scientists who view global warming as an urgent, human-caused crisis that requires dramatic action, and those who don’t.

    Whether you’re a senior engineer in the field of widget manufacturing, or I’m a web designer with connections in the music business (which, for the record, I’m actually not, on either count), really has nothing to do with the question of what the consensus position of climate scientists is on AGW. You (or I) could choose to educate ourselves about climate science, and should we choose to do so, at some point well down the road we would have reached a point where we could make valid personal judgments about the strength or weakness of the arguments being made by different climate scientists. Until that happens, though, the best we can do is to look at what climate scientists themselves are saying on that subject.

    To go cherrypicking through the statements of climate scientists (or, worse, of political scientists and astronomers) looking for things that sound like they support our a priori opinions may be emotionally satisfying, but it’s not an especially good way to figure out how the world actually works. You’d scoff at a non-senior widget manufacturing engineer who took that approach to supporting some fringe theory he had about how to manufacture widgets, and you’d be right to do so.

    Climate science works the same way. Global warming denialists are pushing “the elves under my hood have tummyaches” theories, and it’s not liberal arrogance to mock them. It’s just reality.

    As I said, though, you’re welcome to keep sharing your views here, just as others are welcome to keep sharing their views about how 9/11 was an inside job, or measles vaccinations cause autism, or whatever. Chances are pretty good that I’ll peddle my own conspiracy theory that flies in the face of the scientific consensus here at some point.

    Except that in my case, of course, I’ll be right. :-)

  35. shcb Says:

    And you’ll stay up late at night telling me about it :-)

  36. shcb Says:

    One last thing, I would be happy with your explanation if I didn’t feel the peer review process had been so compromised in this case. I know that is the way it is supposed to work, but I don’t think it did here. And no I don’t think it was huge conspiracy, just someone massaging a few numbers here and there, others using that same data and still others changing their methodology until they came up with something close to what everyone else was getting… If the peer review process had remained pure more people would have been raising concerns earlier and it wouldn’t have gotten out of hand.

    After all this global warming hype has cooled off it will be interesting to see if more people don’t come out with revamped theories.

  37. enkidu Says:

    jbc question:
    “What recent peer-reviewed journal article or articles written by actual climate scientists states that global temperatures are starting to cool?”

    wwnj answer:

  38. Smith Says:

    I see the graph you posted took out the temperature spike around 1998 due to an oceanic event. If you are going to do that, you really should remove the valley in the early to mid nineties, too.

    Of course, just eliminating time frames is not the best approach to this analysis, as it is possible that there was a moderate upswing in temps in 1998 even without the oceanic event. You would fair better if you determined the extent of change caused by the event and then calculated adjusted numbers for that period that compensate for variations caused by the event, as opposed to eliminating the period outright. It is quite possible that you could find aberrant geological events that correspond to every period on that graph. If elimination is the primary way to deal with these occurrences, you will be left with a sparse series of points.

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