What do you mean, no takers?



I like the idea in principle, but the 50- or 100-year historical average temperature will be much lower than the 5- or 10-year historical average.

Since the present trajectory of temperatures is more important (and more unknown) than the past trajectory, the reference "historical average" should be computed over a recent time span.


Environmentalism is one of those movements that nearly everyone supports and dominates our culture, yet every day the people advocating it act like lonely individuals tenaciously fighting the establishment with their independent-mindedness like they're Howard Roark or something. Talk about the best of both worlds.


Of course no one took him up on this. Anyone who has a serious opinion about climate change (and there are those on both sides of the issue with serious opinions) would not slander their side by taking a risk on the publicity of such a ridiculous bet which has little or nothing to do with the fundamental questions at hand.


Not quite right. Tom Maguire of the blog Just One Minute accepted tried to accept the bet with modifications, but Silver would not let him:



Tom Maguire tried to accept by not following the rules of the bet. There was a reason for him trying to enter in Minnesota, and for why Nate Silver did not accept.


Betting against a sabermetrician - rarely a good idea!


Proof God has a sense of humor: Record cold temps in Al Gore's home town.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Cool weather has broken a previous low temperature for July 21 in Nashville that was set when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.

When the temperature at the National Weather Service station dipped to 58 degrees at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, it wiped out the previous record low for the date of 60 degrees, which was set in 1877.

NWS forecaster Bobby Boyd noted it was the third consecutive morning when Nashville either tied or broke a daily low temperature record.

Temperatures were cool, but did not break records at several Tennessee cities.

Knoxville dropped to 59 degrees Tuesday morning, Chattanooga had 60 degrees, Tri-Cities recorded 58 degrees and Memphis was 69 degrees.

Phil Birnbaum

I argue that it's a sucker bet -- even if you are a complete global warming skeptic, there's nothing in it for you: you're expecting an equal number of warm and hot days, and you're getting even odds. It's a coin flip. What's the point?

If Nate wants someone to accept the bet, he's gotta give them better than even odds. Nate thinks the chance of warm days is over 50%. The people he's challenging think the chance is exactly 50%. If Nate agrees give odds somewhere in between his guess and 50%, he might have some takers.

Same argument in more words here:



What about non-bloggers?

What about degree? Are high high's simply more common than high lows. LIA and the cooling PDO phase before bias means low. And, average mean temp and average lows are far more relevant to global warming than highs. According to greenhouse theory, highs should be fairly stable.

It's lows that should increase.

If a good definition of "average" could be found, I'd be very interested in taking this bet. Especially as a hedge against a bad winter. Here in Michigan, we're supposed to have a mild winter because of the Nino, but it'd be good to have some income to offset the misery of another horrible winter if the professional guessers are wrong.


There's also the problem that unless the is absolutely no AGW, Nate's counterpartys will lose on average.

Tom Maguire

Yes there was - the National Weather Service is predicting below-average temps in Minneapolis (the original topic of the Silver post) for the next three months.

As to the wisdom of betting against a sabremetrician, well, it woul dhave been a good bet this time, which is why Nate Silver closed the window. His email to me included this:

But can you use somewhere other than your hometown? No, that would be a problem. I'm fully aware that this is a somewhat "bad" bet for me for the next 30-60 days in about 10% of the country - an area which happens to include Minneapolis. After that, basically the whole
country is expected to have average-to-above-average temperatures through the middle of 2011.

If someone from MSP or Chicago or Milwaukee happened to want to take the bet -- that's fine, I'm a man of my word (although I'd hope that person would not be a total weenie and would continue the bet for longer than 30 days). But if I allow people to cherry-pick their location, I'm just printing money for them, and it sort of defeats the purpose, which is to illustrate that *on average* the country is getting (slightly) warmer.

Hmm - letting people cherry-pick would not have defeated *my* purpose, which was to point out that this is not such a great bet for Silver against all comers, as he had proposed. Except for an accident of birth I might have made some quick money and picked up some recognition from the august NY Times. Or at least the July Freakonmics blog.

As to what the Minneapolis bloggers were thinking, or why bloggers got shy in Chi-town, I have no idea. Snooze, lose.


John A

It's not a climate change challenge, its a weather challenge where you get to play higher/lower with someone determined to make money from gullible people.

The real climate change skeptics are people like Nate who claim that past climate change was negligible and quote busted statistical frauds like the Mann Hockey Stick in evidence.

Why would any rational person want to bet on the weather? Or even long term averages from the US surface temperature record 90% of which does not conform to basic NOAA siting standards and are rife with warming biases because of poor site location?

Nate's not getting any takers because his opponents are not as gullible or as clueless about basic statistics as he is.


When UK Met Office 'prdicted' 4 degree C rise in temperature over next 40 years I attempted to get High St. bookmaker William Hill to give me odds against the global warming 'dead cert'. They refused. Ever known a bookmaker to lose money?


The people who say Silver's bet wasn't really about climate change are making his point for him- which is: global warming naysavers can't simply say "Gosh, it was actually really cold this week or this month in this particular town" in order to score points against the global warming theory. Short-term, localized weather is not climate.

Nate also said he could easily lose money on this, but figured his odds were good over sufficiently long period of time. and yes, there were no takers. The blogger who wanted to change the rules (to cherrypick a city) doesn't count- he didn't accept Nate's bet but merely proposed a different one. With better odds- also making Nate's point.


People aren't wiling to be their own money on global warming/climate change, but they have no problem trying to get allocations of billions/trillions of dollars to address the problem.

So...what's wrong with this picture?

Eric M. Jones

Nate Silver does not propose a good basis for the bet nor the collecting of funds.

1) The bet payoff has to be decided by--and held in eskrow by a neutral third party. I'm frequently amazed what weenies losers are, and how slow they are to pay up.

2) A much better proxy for the global climate is the amount of sea ice....which has been getting thicker for the last few years. Remember that talk about arctic warming--all those poor polar bears and sailing across the pole? Well you can forget it. Polar ice has increased by 50% since 2005.

3) Hey! the Sun has cooled off. Global warming worriers are praying for Solar Cycle 24 to start. It is already 10 months late. Oops! In October 2005 solar scientists say that it looked like someone just threw a switch.

I'd bet money that human-caused global warming is just a fad, but how this is to be determined is tricky. I can feel the churnings of environmentalists planning to take credit for the cool-down now.


John A

No Pete, the "global warming naysavers [sic]" know the difference between weather and climate, and also know the severe limitations of the US surface record.

They also know from past experience that alarmists like Nate have posted personal information about their opponents in a not-too-subtle attempt to intimidate and harass them. One of the favorites has been to call their employers in an attempt to get them fired.

If I was to make a bet on a US surface station record, I would choose one of the very few long term rural stations which are correctly sited and have proper site records. But you can bet that Nate wouldn't be betting on anything which doesn't have a strong UHI influence or are surrounded by concrete, brickwalls or disturbingly often, air conditioning exhausts.

Eric M. Jones

#19 --John A

There are no more "correctly sited" weather stations at all.

They used to paint the weather stations in white lead-based paint, which is uniquely reflective in the IR. Now they use white latex paint that does not reflect well in the IR. Net result-- as the weather stations were repainted one by one, first in lead-based paint, then in non-lead oil paint, then in latex-based paints, the measured temperatures increased.

In the design of experiments, measuring temperatures is the trickiest of skills.

Here's the latest SOHO image of the Sun. Still no sun spots? ...Oh my! http://tinyurl.com/3t4o4