One of the best examples of knowledge drift centres around the current climate debate. The reports and visual representations are powerful and persuasive. The warmists got out in front with the famous “hockey stick” graph showing the world’s temperature shooting up. The average person in the street couldn’t even see the data let alone analyze it, so global warming became part of human “knowledge”.
A complete explanation of why this graph is (unintentionaly) wrong can be found here: Kyoto Cherry Blossom Re-Analysis IX
Now the skeptics are fighting back, demanding the data so they can build their own representations, and questioning both the computer models and the data behind them. The debate currently rages around tree rings which the warmists claim show that the earth was no warmer than it is now in the middle ages (800 AD to 1300 AD) with the skeptics insisting that data was hand picked from trees that fit the warmists theory. There are too many layers between the data and the knowledge.
But before the tree ring climate reconstruction, there was a cherry blossom reconstruction. Japanese researchers Aono and Amoto realized that they could correlate the dates of cherry blossom festivals in Kyoto with average temperatures in March. They published a paper which the warmists would like. Climate in Kyoto was variable, but averaged about the same for hundreds of years, but then began curving upward sharply. Their paper in part led to the Kyoto climate conference in 1997, and global warming has been part of human “knowledge” ever since.
The problem is that Aono and Amoto were victims of knowledge drift. They built their database by converting historical cherry blossom festival dates to the Gregorian calendar which they knew corresponded almost exactly to the solar year. They could then build mathematical formulas based on the date and convert that to temperature. Their report can be seen at http://www.envi.osakafu-u.ac.j.....to1994.pdf . The problem is that they “knew” that the Gregorian calendar tracked the solar year, and they were right. What they probably didn’t know was that half of their data came from a time before the Gregorian calendar existed. They were researching Japanese history and climate, not European history.
So lets follow the knowledge drift. Various ancient societies came up with calendars that matched the solar year. By the time Julius Caesar came to power, the reasons for all the adjustments had been forgotten. Caesar ”knew” that all you had to do was put in a leap year every four years to adjust to the solar year. He was wrong. By the 1500’s the solar year was ahead of the calendar by 10 days. Pope Gregory XIII fixed it by putting in a new leap year system and cancelling 10 days in 1582 to catch up. Yes, 1582 was only 355 days long, not 365. Did anyone tell Aono and Amoto that Caesar and Gregory were messing with their data? Probably not.
To cap it off, Aono and Amoto were well aware that urbanization was causing local temperature readings to climb faster than actual climate readings. Aono even studied the issue and produced a report in 1998 showing that Kyoto’s industrialization and population growth was adding 1.4 degrees C to local temperature readings he even published them http://www.envi.osakafu-u.ac.j.....no1998.pdf But by then the whole world already “knew” that global warming was a problem, and no one was listening. More knowledge drift. The result was that Aono and Amoto produced a climate graph like this:
So the culmination of human knowledge drift resulted in “knowledge” that set the stage for Kyoto and Copenhagen. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened. By correcting the chain of errors that extends back to Julius Caesar, we arrive at different knowledge. The warmists will not be pleased to know that the Kyoto cherry trees have branded their Siberian larches liars. The skeptics will rejoice that they need not discredit the tree ring data to show that the Medieval Warming Period existed…at least in Kyoto.
A complete breakdown of how the second graph was arrived at and how it compares to other climate models can be found here:
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Re-Analysis IX
For the extra links, please visit the web link provided.
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