The Dim-Post

March 31, 2014

Updated poll chart and various observations

Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 8:55 am

Bias corrected aggregated poll of polls below. Non-bias corrected graph here.

nzpolls20140330bc

Safe to say that Cunliffe isn’t working out as Labour leader. He’s losing voters to National and he’s also trending down in the preferred Prime Minister rating.

Not shown, but ACT are on 0.5%. Their new leader Jamie Whyte was on Q & A this morning debating climate change with Russel Norman. We’ve heard a lot (mostly from the New Zealand Herald) about how Whyte is an intellectual giant who will rebuild ACT and restore it to its future glory. Based on his performance during the live debate I predict that ACT under his leadership will not reach 1% and he will not be elected as an MP.

National has a tricky decision to make regarding the Conservative Party. The bias-corrected poll has them on 2.9%. That’s three or four MPs IF National throws them an electorate seat. But if they do that then they might lose some voters to the Conservatives and a whole lot of center-voters might panic and switch to Labour, New Zealand First or the Greens.

I wonder what David Shearer thinks when he looks at the gap between National and Labour since the election? At the time I thought ditching Shearer was the right thing to do, but its starting to look like it was a horrible, horrible mistake.

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94 Comments »

  1. “Based on his performance during the live debate…”

    To be fair to him he only had ACT policy on climate change (do nothing!) to work with.

    Comment by izogi — March 31, 2014 @ 9:14 am

  2. “At the time I thought ditching Shearer was the right thing to do, but its starting to look like it was a horrible, horrible mistake.”

    But ditching Cunliffe is the right thing to do, right?

    I’m sure ditching whoever replaces Cunliffe will eventually be the right thing to do, too.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — March 31, 2014 @ 9:21 am

  3. Oh, you’re not plotting the Colmar Brunton result?

    Comment by Andrew — March 31, 2014 @ 9:22 am

  4. Actually, I can’t seem to see Reid there either.

    Comment by Andrew — March 31, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  5. No – the script didn’t capture them for some reason. I’ve just rerun it. I think Wikipedia do something weird with recent updates.

    Comment by danylmc — March 31, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  6. @Andrew latest is here http://imgh.us/nzpolls_18.svg for now.

    Comment by pete — March 31, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  7. Safe to say that Cunliffe isn’t working out as Labour leader

    Rubbish. You’ve obviously forgotten that Helen Clark personal poll rating was 2% when she was Opposition leader. There’s no way she’d ever make PM!

    Comment by Ross — March 31, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  8. Thanks!

    Comment by Andrew — March 31, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  9. The right’s two big “pile on” right wing media attacks in recent weeks (character assassinations of Cunliffe and Dotcom respectively) have not boosted government support. Rather, if latest polls are to be believed, they have grown the undecided vote to almost one in five voters and amongst the decided polarised support even further (with Labour losing votes to the perceived more left Greens). The election seems to be coming down to two increasingly polarised bloc that are perhaps starting to reflect our increasingly polarised society. National is now the party of the haves and of angry whites, with everyone else being divided up on the left or undecided.

    Labour’s performance in these polls underlines (for the millionth time) how poorly it’s lazy and uninterested senior MPs are performing in opposition. No wonder National went after Cunliffe so hard. Discredit him and apart from the odd utterance from Shane Jones the rest of his senior MPs are completely invisible and don’t give enough of a shit to change that.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 31, 2014 @ 9:34 am

  10. The gap between the two blocks was 14% this time in 2011. Right now it’s less than 3%.

    The Winston Peters Party numbers are looking ugly however.

    Comment by George — March 31, 2014 @ 9:35 am

  11. but its starting to look like it was a horrible, horrible mistake.

    Jesus, talk about spooked.
    It doesn’t matter who Labour put up to steer the ship. Until they can get their own house in order – comms discipline / refreshed and united front bench / clear, well contructed and differentiated policies etc. – they’re fucked.

    Playing musical leadership chairs won’t make an ounce of difference until the structural issues are resolved. At best, Cunliffe was going to be lipstick on the pig. Hopefully another electoral defeat will give the Party machinery the mandate to make some sweeping changes.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 31, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  12. Interactive version here http://imgh.us/nzpolls_19.svg

    Please ignore the last one, a couple of polls were double counted (because Monday).

    Comment by pete — March 31, 2014 @ 9:47 am

  13. @Gregor W – i tend to agree with you. At the moment, Labour has it’s tribal voters who are gettting nothing beyond “they’re better than those Tory bastards” as a particular reason to vote for Labour. The palace coup that saw the 2011 candidate selection process hijacked to ensure incumbent protection is biting Labour hard on the arse.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 31, 2014 @ 9:50 am

  14. >At the time I thought ditching Shearer was the right thing to do, but its starting to look like it was a horrible, horrible mistake.

    Except, of course, when one remembers what Shearer was actually like as a leader. Perhaps there would have been a gradual rise in support for bumbling, halting, unsure speeches, no idea what policy is, and a total lack of any kind of vision. Or maybe it would have just ranged around mostly on how much of dick National was being at the time. And how much NZ generally likes that. Which isn’t going to win an election, but looks better on polls than a clear downturn. But still, even with those numbers, Labour+Greens is still only 3% less than National, so the whole election is going to hang on the other parties. And that’s still only a 1.5% movement away from National toward Labour/Green before they are neck and neck again. A hell of a lot can happen before now and the election. It would be lovely (for Labour) if Cunliffe could have lifted Labour by 10% so that this wouldn’t be the case, but extremely unlikely, and even more unlikely with Shearer. At least with Cunliffe, they tried.

    At this point the election really hangs on whether the Greens can work with NZF, and how much Key is willing to sell out to Winston Peters.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 31, 2014 @ 9:51 am

  15. At this point I’m more interested in what Cunliffe is doing quietly behind the scenes, preparing for the campaign and GOTV etc. It’s basically tied, and I’d expect National to lose support once people start paying attention.

    Comment by pete — March 31, 2014 @ 9:54 am

  16. Hopefully another electoral defeat will give the Party machinery the mandate to make some sweeping changes.

    The Labour Party did make sweeping changes. As Pete says, it’s their ability to campaign and mobilise which is the more interesting question.

    Comment by George — March 31, 2014 @ 9:58 am

  17. Not to mention of course the relentless media commentary undermining Cunliffe at every possible turn.

    Comment by RedLogix — March 31, 2014 @ 10:01 am

  18. @Ben Wilson – Completely agree. Does anyone else remember when Kiwiblog used to publish transcripts of Shearer’s media performances, complete with ums and ahhhs? Or how about the nickname that got thrown around a lot about Shearer, ‘Captain Mumblefuck’.

    Shearer was a truly dreadful leader, and has been a moderately successful MP since he was deposed. Cunliffe was a dreadful MP to have in the caucus, but (polls aside) has done a reasonable, if not great, job as leader. And somehow swapping the two was a bad idea?

    Comment by Alex Braae — March 31, 2014 @ 10:10 am

  19. Because of course Cunliffe has been impressively sure footed this year, must be the Media’s fault

    Comment by rayinnz — March 31, 2014 @ 10:12 am

  20. @rayinnz

    I think Cunliffe has been doing a reasonable job. What you are doing is repeating the line you have been told to believe by? Oh the media of course.

    Comment by RedLogix — March 31, 2014 @ 10:30 am

  21. Cunliffe’s job is to get people to vote for his party.

    Comment by danylmc — March 31, 2014 @ 10:55 am

  22. @danylmc. That’s one of his jobs, but not the only one. Key is incredibly good at getting people to vote National, but he’s shit at running the country. Also note that it’s not necessarily a party leader’s job to convince voters to tell pollsters that they’re voting for their party.

    Comment by pete — March 31, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  23. But ditching Cunliffe is the right thing to do, right?

    No. The last thing Labour needs is a new leader coming in and sacking all the senior staffers.

    I think Labour’s problems are less about ‘what they need to say’ and more about not-doing-dumb-stuff, like Cunliffe’s trust and Shane Jones attacking their largest potential coalition partner. It’s not as prosaic as Chris Trotters call for a new revolution, but I think a party that doesn’t do dumb things is a lot more attractive to voters.

    Comment by danylmc — March 31, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  24. The Labour Party did make sweeping changes.

    @George – I course, you are correct.

    I should have been more specific; sweeping changes with respect to purging dead wood / internal terrorists in order to rejuvinate the benches, and the impose the discipline needed to convince the voting public that Labour can form a stable, viable and competent government.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 31, 2014 @ 11:03 am

  25. *of course

    Comment by Gregor W — March 31, 2014 @ 11:03 am

  26. The Anyone But Key vote is definitely out there. The problem is that it’s disunited.

    Another thing to consider is that the non-vote in 2011 was anywhere from 25-30% – the lowest turnout in years – and non-voters are a much bigger issue for the Left than the Right.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — March 31, 2014 @ 11:38 am

  27. The enemy of Labour is not National, it is “meh”.

    (Indifference, disempowerment, and complacency, in less colloquial language.)

    Comment by George — March 31, 2014 @ 11:58 am

  28. >Cunliffe’s job is to get people to vote for his party.

    What pete said. No, that’s not his only job, and it’s certainly not only his job.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 31, 2014 @ 12:04 pm

  29. @Danyl: I think it’s reaching to put Shane Jones’ attacks on the Greens at the heart of Labour’s poor poll numbers.

    I know it makes you think less of Labour, but I think that’s more of a product of your support for the Greens than it being objectively bad. DPF thinks Labour’s attacks on National are bad for the party, too.

    As for “don’t do dumb stuff”, this is like yelling at somebody caught in a rip tide to “stop drowning!”.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — March 31, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

  30. So, in summary, the Labour supporters/semi supporters/ex supporters/wish they could be supporters comment that “pull up pull pull up, oh fuck it’s too late”

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 31, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

  31. Key is incredibly good at getting people to vote National, but he’s shit at running the country.

    I think the primary reason Key and Natuonal are doing so well is that a large number of voters think they are managing the country – especially the economy – well.

    So maybe that’s because people are stupid and the media are down on Cunliffe.

    Or perhaps that’s what many people experience in their day to day lives.

    Comment by NeilM — March 31, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

  32. “…I think the primary reason Key and Natuonal are doing so well…”

    Almost two in five voters are undecided or non-voters. National has the support of about 25% of decided voters who vote, which actually quite nicely equals the percentage of voters in our country which benefits most from their policies.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 31, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

  33. It’s clear that National is managing to maintain their level of support while Labour isn’t making any inroads. Labour clearly has to do better. But if percentage of undecided voters is really 18%, the scope for a change of ~3% is huge, so the election is still very much in the balance. Still, you wouldn’t know it from the media and blog entries such as this – they seem intent on drawing hard and fast conclusions from data which is (1) subject to change in the months up to the election and (2) at best an approximate indication of voters intentions.

    Comment by wtl — March 31, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

  34. Sorry, National has the support of about 25% of all voters.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 31, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

  35. Cunliffe’s job is to get people to vote for his party.

    And the job of other Labour MPs is?

    That’s like saying Richie McCaw’s job is to win test matches…that’s rather difficult if his team mates are standing on the sideline.

    Comment by Ross — March 31, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

  36. I guess Shearer has a giggle and then gets back on his surf board and thinks thank god I no longer have the most thankless and depressing job on earth.
    It’s hard to argue with Jamie Whytes logic, why hamstring our country with an ETS system when the rest of the world isn’t, better to adapt to what MAY happen over the next 100years. It’s not as if any of the IPCC predictions have ever happened anyway, I know 97% of scientists believe in climate change and that man has an impact!!!! It’s not exactly a high hurdle but how about a scientist actually quantifies the man made bit and the natural bit.

    Comment by David — March 31, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

  37. “At the time I thought ditching Shearer was the right thing to do, but its starting to look like it was a horrible, horrible mistake.”

    The problem is with presidential thinking. Labour needed to get rid of more than Shearer – there’s all the other old fogies that still support the neo-liberal paradigm that has seen NZ becoming worse off. After that, they needed to propose a vision with the polices to back it up to make NZ a fairer society where everyone would actually have the opportunity to better themselves.

    Comment by Draco T Bastard — March 31, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

  38. I think a party that doesn’t do dumb things is a lot more attractive to voters.

    True but then National has done its share of dumb things too.

    Comment by Ross — March 31, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

  39. @NeilM “Or perhaps that’s what many people experience in their day to day lives.” I’d considered that as a possibility, but if that were true I’d expect fewer lies from Key and English about their economic performance.

    Comment by pete — March 31, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

  40. “It’s hard to argue with Jamie Whytes logic, why hamstring our country with an ETS system when the rest of the world isn’t”

    I was surprised that Russel Norman didn’t get into arguments about NZ being cut off from the rest of the world’s economy, down the track, if it doesn’t actually put any effort in itself. But Jamie Whyte was also trying to say that the private sector would naturally sort out its own adaptation to climate change, and therefore the government should do absolutely nothing. He didn’t make a very convincing case for it as far as I could tell.

    Comment by izogi — March 31, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

  41. The undecided on the Reid poll was about 18%. I’d expect that a lot of those people wouldn’t vote and that a lot of those who do will vote National (because so much of the rest of the country does) so I can’t see them swinging the election.

    Comment by danylmc — March 31, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

  42. “I was surprised that Russel Norman didn’t get into arguments about NZ being cut off from the rest of the world’s economy”

    A fair segment of Norman’s supporters are probably pretty chuffed about the idea of being isolated from the global economy.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — March 31, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

  43. >The undecided on the Reid poll was about 18%. I’d expect that a lot of those people wouldn’t vote and that a lot of those who do will vote National (because so much of the rest of the country does) so I can’t see them swinging the election.

    That’s a big number to be simply speculating about. I can see them swinging the election. There might be substantially different party preference proportional breakdown amongst the undecided to how it is amongst the decided. How would we even know? I guess your systematic bias adjustment is already factoring this in, as you see it?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 31, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

  44. According to the NZES a plurality of 2011 non-voters preferred National. That might be a post-facto identification with the victor but it sure doesn’t incline me to think that undecideds are all left-wing voters.

    Comment by danylmc — March 31, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

  45. “…but it sure doesn’t incline me to think that undecideds are all left-wing voters…”

    Moe to the point, it inflates the perception of support for all the parties in the poll. If you took out 20% as undecided, then amongst all voters National only has the support of 36% of all voters. Take out another 20% for the non-voters, and only one in four of potential voters might vote for National. That kinda changes your view of how popular Key actually is, and hints at where his popularity might lie.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 31, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

  46. “Based on his performance during the live debate I predict that ACT under his leadership will not reach 1% and he will not be elected as an MP.”
    Wow, confirmation bias alert. In fact, most non-greens I know, even those who “believe” (in their own words) in AGW, can see the illogic (idiocy in fact) of strangling our economy when it will do the world no good.
    Whyte could have done better, more strategic interjections, but he’ll get better at that. Instead of frowning at the desk when Norman spoke of “carbon constraint” and “stranded assets”, he could have pointed out our important energy sources such as hydro and that cow farts are a non-carbon chunk of our emissions. If he gets a bit of coaching and spends a bit more time in these confrontational lions dens, he’ll (in theory) get better.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 31, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

  47. >it sure doesn’t incline me to think that undecideds are all left-wing voters.

    Sure, and no one is claiming that, are they? But a small skew translates into a lot of votes when we’re talking about 18% of all voters. And what do we know about the skewness?

    >According to the NZES a plurality of 2011 non-voters preferred National.

    What does that actually mean? Two or more? And by non-voters are we talking about undecideds at all?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 31, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

  48. I still have no idea what Labour stands for these days. It’s had ages to explain post Helen Clark and give us clear policies. All I see is Labour MPs being lazy and invisible or as shown by Jones bagging each other instead of looking like a united government in waiting. They don’t deserve my vote. For the first time I may not vote. Very sad.

    Comment by Miles — March 31, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

  49. David posted”

    ” know 97% of scientists believe in climate change and that man has an impact!!!! It’s not exactly a high hurdle but how about a scientist actually quantifies the man made bit and the natural bit.”

    Interesting comment. In the years have been following this debate I have never seen it quantified.

    Unless there is a gaping hole in my logic, which is quite possible, you can work it out for yourself. The general consensus among scientists is that the total greenhouse effect, ie the amount the earth surface is warmed by greenhouse gases, is about 34 degrees. 90-95% of that is caused by water vapour (figures vary according to the stance of the scientist supplying them). Of the remainder 50% is caused by CO2. Of the total CO2, 5% is anthropomorphic.You do the maths.

    Is there a logic hole?

    BOF

    Comment by Graham McLauchlan — March 31, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

  50. If he gets a bit of coaching and spends a bit more time in these confrontational lions dens, he’ll (in theory) get better.

    Wow, confirmation bias alert … .

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 31, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

  51. Wicked, thanks. Although I was asking about undecideds, not non-voters. Do undecideds have a preference? Hard to know, since they don’t express it. I think you’d need to do a before and after kind of study.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 31, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

  52. Ah – you were too. I’m a muppet. Sorry.

    Comment by Andrew — March 31, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

  53. Most of the polls probe initially undecided voters (ie, ‘even though you’re don’t know, who would you be most likely to vote for?’). From the data I’ve seen, about 50% still say ‘don’t know’, the rest tend to be split along the same lines as those who have an initial preference. Even when you factor in likelihood to vote, that doesn’t really change.

    Comment by Andrew — March 31, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

  54. Pressuring an undecided on the phone to immediately tell you who they would vote for is not the same as letting the voter properly consider all the options and tick a box come election day.

    Comment by wtl — March 31, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

  55. Okay wtl – sorry for typing.

    Comment by Andrew — March 31, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

  56. The thing with Conservatives is: they’ve been stable on 2-2.5% over many polls now, and hold the position since 2011, of consistently being the 5th most popular party. They also have runs on the board in the local body elections, unlike UF or ACT. They have the best chance, indeed only chance other than NZF, of adding Mps on the party vote. I’m sure John key can see that.

    Comment by coNZervative — March 31, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

  57. @Graham McLauchlan: “Is there a logic hole?”

    Yes there is, but this isn’t the place to discuss it. You can search for “water vapour feedback”.

    Comment by pete — March 31, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  58. 51. Flashing Light, yes well spotted. We all suffer from it. That’s why leftie anti-capitalists tend to find it easy to believe in CAGW.

    pete @ 58 are you SURE that a positive vapour feedback mechanism is still part of the CAGW theory? We’re now told that anything over 2 degrees is enough to cause us all the damage of wild weather (or “global weirding” as some of the believers are now trying to call it) no tipping points required.
    It’s enough to see supposed climate scientists, asked by the media for comment, get their theory wrong to see how much nonsense there is about. Some believers still refuse to accept that there’s been no statistically detectable warming for 17ish years, even though the UK Met Office, IPCC and a handful of pal-I-mean-peer-reviewed papers have attempted to explain the “hiatus” (as they call it). But they can’t decide on deep ocean hiding, or the albedo effect of volcano dust.
    It’s amazing how powerful man’s effect on global temperature is, compared to natural variability, say the scientists, but then these scientists point to natural variability masking man’s evil doing over the last 17 years…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 31, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

  59. @David

    Consensus comes from this paper: Cook et al. (2013)

    Comment by Naturesong — March 31, 2014 @ 6:58 pm

  60. Opps, above should be a response to @Graham McLauchlan

    Comment by Naturesong — March 31, 2014 @ 7:01 pm

  61. @ClunkingFist, except that the IPCC don’t really say that there has been no warming over the last 17 years – it’s just that some climate chnage deniers like to pretend that the IPCC said that. Actually the IPCC report that every one of the 10 warmest years on record have been in the last 17 years.

    Comment by kahikatea — March 31, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

  62. David at 36. (and a few others):
    Scientists don’t “believe”. That is faith based. We look at the evidence, and reach conclusions. Surveys cited in EOS (the weekly publication of the American Geophysical Union) indicated that scientists directly involved in climate and climate change research were the most likely (98 % of respondents) to conclude that the change was largely anthropogenic.

    I don’t know where you get your percentages from, but the CO2 levels are WAY higher than they were in the early 20th century, and based on ice core evidence, much much higher than in the earlier centuries. So where do you get 95 %? Nope.

    And even if that were true, remember that we are dealing with a non-linear system here. With such systems, you can push and push and then suddenly – response occurs, often quite dramatically. I told my students 20 years ago that the results would be greater climatic variability – higher highs and lower lows, greater storms, more frequent storms, and more years with many fewer storms. Bigger floods, more frequent floods, bigger droughts, more frequent droughts. Ultimately, the climate and the weather will be less predictable, less like it was.

    Comment by David in Chch — March 31, 2014 @ 9:16 pm

  63. Ultimately, the climate and the weather will be less predictable, less like it was.

    Things that make me go hmmmm…

    Shouldn’t that have a time frame qualifier on that such as “since records began”?

    I do accept that the release of carbon is leading to warming – or perhaps the argument is convincing at least – but a non-linear system becoming less predictable?

    Zooming out from the since record began time line suggests cycles within cycles.

    Comment by NeiiM — March 31, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

  64. A note about the “non-bias corrected” graph: the lines should still pass through the election-day results. They’ve just got to have a bigger swing to get there. It’s the case where you’re assuming the voters changed their mind approaching the day (in much the same way they always do) instead of the polls being systematically biased.

    The drop for National should look quite interesting if you could get it back through earlier elections.

    Comment by tussock — March 31, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

  65. I bet David Shearer thinks “thank fuck it’s not my problem any more”.

    Labour is too weak kneed. It needs to be stronger at everything. It’s not a case of being too negative. They need to be both more negative (better at calling out the government’s many stupidities, and especially they need to be better at empty chairing ministers who refuse to show to inconvenient questions – how many times have I heard Morning Report say they have invited a minister to appear but they weren’t able to make it?), and more positive: being able to articulate a credible reason why they would do government better. Both of these things are necessary, and currently lacking.

    Comment by Dr Foster — April 1, 2014 @ 12:39 am

  66. Yes, NeiiM, there are cycles within cycles when we analyse the paleoclimate as recorded in the ice cores, sediments, maars in the Auckland volcanic lakes, etc. BUT the cycles cannot be used to predict what will happen, because we have altered the system, and the system behaviour is non-linear. In an exaggerated description of the process, it is sometimes called the “butterfly effect”. A small change at a certain point in time and space can lead to big changes at a later time and another place
    .

    Comment by David in Chch — April 1, 2014 @ 7:46 am

  67. >but a non-linear system becoming less predictable?

    That’s completely possible. Many non linear systems have highly stable values across a long range of the change of some variable, and then suddenly that goes out the window. It’s called a phase change. As an example, population growth. If you alter the fecundity (average number of offspring) whilst keeping resources stable then the population reaches a stable point accordingly. Keep turning this fecundity up, and you get a higher stable population. But beyond a certain point, the stable solution bifurcates, alternating between two stable values. Keep going and it will bifurcate again, cycling between 4 values. Keep going, and eventually you can have it cycling between nearly any values in the range of what is possible based on the food available, at which point you’d say the population is totally chaotic. Interestingly, if you keep going from there, it can come back to a stable single solution again. And this is with an extremely simple population model. More complex ones, more like what reality is like, have even more possible phase changes.

    Put simply, yes, there is such a thing as periods of high volatility and low volatility, for the same non-linear system.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 1, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  68. #66: “(better at calling out the government’s many stupidities, and especially they need to be better at empty chairing ministers who refuse to show to inconvenient questions – how many times have I heard Morning Report say they have invited a minister to appear but they weren’t able to make it?)”

    Yep, Cunliffe & Norman need to spin such ‘move along, nothing to see here’ no-shows as ‘fiddling while Rome burns’. The policy mix is about right, and a number of wedge issues like electricity and house prices have already been identified. The problem is in marketing and delivery, and above all, unity. Step up the attack campaigns by all means, but to avoid coming across as never-happy whingers, they should match it in equal measure with a positive spin on what they’d do instead. And give it a slogan like, “There is a better way for NZ’.

    It’s said that oppositions don’t win elections but governments lose them. The whole point of being a good Oppostion, however, is to make unwary and arrogant governments fall into traps.

    Comment by deepred — April 2, 2014 @ 3:13 am

  69. How come we can model the climate, but not poll results or the sharemarket…?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 2, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

  70. That’s a trolling question, right? Why is human activity more unpredictable than something with known physics? Because “they’re altogether different things”.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 2, 2014 @ 1:20 pm

  71. I don’t know about Cunliffe, but I feel that Labour’ “seniors” have turned into the Bourbons, having “forgotten nothing and learned nothing”, convinced almost metaphysically that the power they deserve will be delivered to them when their loyal subjects wake up. Key will make a deal with anyone, sell any principle for power while the senior Labour caucus has no principles to sell at all, so we have the sad antics of the ABC club, Shane Jones waving his dick around and short chubby Grant Robertson trying to be Michael Corleone. The public aren’t “sleepy hobbits” as Bradbury so condescendingly puts it, they can see that Labour hasn’t been a government in waiting for years now. Personally I hate the current administration, but I won’t be voting Labour. It doesn’t come down to the leader – the whole damn party is a slow-motion train wreck (the wreck driven by egos, the slow-motion being due to laziness).

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 2, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

  72. the whole damn party is a slow-motion train wreck (the wreck driven by egos, the slow-motion being due to laziness).

    The zombie party; the brain is dead and the carcass is putrid, but some mindless animation borne of habit sees it lurching blindly from crisis to crisis all the time groaning “Wake up, New Zealand”.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 2, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

  73. @70 “or the share market…?”

    Probably for the same reason that astrology isn’t very useful either. “Economics” is definitely still pseudoscience. I’d love to see real scientists get involved instead of alchemists.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 2, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

  74. “Economics” is definitely still pseudoscience.
    Economists use models to test theory.
    Climate Scientists use models to test theory.
    “Climate Science” (or at least the bit that claims to predict the future using non-verified models) is definitely still pseudoscience.

    71.”That’s a trolling question, right? Why is human activity more unpredictable than something with known physics?”
    The physics of greenhouse gases may well be “known” in the sense of (as an economist might say) “all other things being equal”. But we all know that the real world is far more complex and that those “all other things” never remain equal. In fact, climate scientists don’t even know how many of the “all the other things” actually interrelate to affect the climate in the real world. Scientists are still arguing over whether water vapour poses a threat as a positive feedback mechanism or a dampener as a negative feedback. Climate scientists are still undecided whether the hiatus is caused by volcano dust or heat sea absorption.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 3, 2014 @ 1:53 pm

  75. I’m not quite sure what you’re on about, CF. You’re talking about 2 completely different phenomena, and then equating a failure in one to the likely failure in the other. They’re on different timescales, by several orders of magnitude. Furthermore, one of the main causes of the unpredictability of markets is because the human industry on which they are based is in a state of constant evolution at a very rapid rate. Of course we can’t predict what inventions will be made, what developments people are secretly planning, what movements competing actors will make, what human desires will come and go as fashions change and ideas about things evolve. This is nothing like the climate at all, which is a result of a massive number of dumb molecules doing what dumb molecules do. For the most part, it’s nature is pretty much the same across epochs. We don’t have nature making some discovery that instantly makes hurricanes redundant. It just does the same thing forever, albeit with highly complex interaction. But amidst that complexity is enormous regularity. Gases may behave randomly at the individual molecule level, but their aggregate behaviour is highly predictable. A drop of rain falls, and gravity doesn’t stop working one day and make it go up. There is weather much like Earth’s on other planets to study. So far, no other stockmarkets have yet been found beyond narrow band around which Earth orbits the sun. We’ve got precisely one human economy to study, and the time series goes back bugger all, compared to the hundreds of millions of years worth that we have for climate.

    So essentially, this equivocation proves nothing. It’s not even indicative or thought provoking. It’s trying to tar an actual science with the brush of economics.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 3, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

  76. Thanks, Ben, for sounding so confident that we know all about how the climate works. Real climate scientists and meteorologists will be cringing at what you’ve written. So great that you are “on message”, but really don’t have a clue about the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns.
    The opposite of a rain drop falling is evaporation. There’s also a phenomenon known as convection, with air currents moving up and down, and carrying evaporated water with it.

    “It [the climate] just does the same thing forever, albeit with highly complex interaction.”
    Indeed, we should expect another ice age then, in spite of all our co2…

    “Gases may behave randomly at the individual molecule level, but their aggregate behaviour is highly predictable. ”
    So tell me then: is water vapour a positive, neutral or negative feedback in the climate system? Which GCMs have been verified?

    “science with the brush of economics.”
    That was a tongue in cheek response to another’s comment. CAGW in climate science is a bit like the theory of evolution: makes a lot of sense, but difficult to actually verify. (I believe, with a low level of certainty, that evolution is likely correct explanation of how we are as we are. I believe with a high degree of certainty that if evolution is not correct, that god and virgin births, nor turtles all the way down, explain us. I suspect that we have some work to do to come up with an good alternative theory to evolution. Or is evolution broadly correct, but that the reason why we are so different from other apes may be explained by the pig hybrid and or alien bacteria idea? Who knows? When I eat pork now, it reminds me to give thanks that human females have such great racks and pert, curvaceous bums, maybe to a porcine ancestor. I wonder if Eugene McCarthy has had much hate mail!)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 5, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  77. >So tell me then: is water vapour a positive, neutral or negative feedback in the climate system?

    I’m not sure what you’re asking or why.

    >CAGW in climate science is a bit like the theory of evolution: makes a lot of sense, but difficult to actually verify.

    It’s not much like that. CAGW could, in theory, be refuted. But I don’t think evolution could be. It’s more like a meta theory. It gives scientists an idea about where to look to explain why organisms are the way they are, without wasting time on pig hybrids and alien bacteria. As a concept, it has been shown to work in so many ways, that it’s always the obvious first place to look to explain some difference. Saying evolution is wrong is a bit like saying “when looking for your keys, think of where you last put them” is wrong. It’s not infallible, but it works often enough that it’s worth a try. Systematically searching is probably the next best. Randomly running around searching might be another idea. Praying to God about it is a last resort, just before giving up altogether, although it’s not really much different from that.

    >I believe with a high degree of certainty that if evolution is not correct, that god and virgin births, nor turtles all the way down, explain us.

    Well, that does explain a lot. I believe, with a high degree of certainty, that if evolution is not correct, then we know pretty much nothing about how it all came to be.

    >“It [the climate] just does the same thing forever, albeit with highly complex interaction.”
    >Indeed, we should expect another ice age then, in spite of all our co2…

    No, you’re taking that entirely out of context. I’m not saying that it follows predictable cycles. I’m saying it follows the laws of physics. Which can give highly unpredictable outcomes in complex enough systems. Obviously, you could say all of human activity also follows the laws of physics. And I wouldn’t dispute that, but the way in which that activity is unpredictable doesn’t bear much resemblance to the way it is for weather. Our ability to model either one is not dependent on ability to model the other at all. Except in so far as the weather does exert a fair bit of influence on human behaviour on a day to day basis, whereas human influence on the weather is the cumulative result of decades, if not centuries, of sustained effort. We can change the weather slowly, but it can change us fast. So human behaviour is going to be at least as hard as the weather to model, but most likely considerably harder.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 7, 2014 @ 1:17 am

  78. It’s not much like that. CAGW could, in theory, be refuted. But I don’t think evolution could be.

    Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 7, 2014 @ 7:02 am

  79. “I’m not sure what you’re asking or why.” So you’re not really all over the topic then.

    “Well, that does explain a lot. I believe, with a high degree of certainty, that if evolution is not correct, then we know pretty much nothing about how it all came to be.”
    So you don’t think that creationism has been falsified by the fossil record and carbon dating?

    ” I’m saying it follows the laws of physics. Which can give highly unpredictable outcomes in complex enough systems. ”
    So you’re saying that the climate isn’t complex enough to render it unpredictable to our current models?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 7, 2014 @ 7:49 am

  80. >So you’re not really all over the topic then.

    No, I’m certainly not a climate scientist, and nor are you. But my reason for not answering is more to do with the ambiguity of the question and the basic relevance of it.

    >So you don’t think that creationism has been falsified by the fossil record and carbon dating?

    I have no idea why you’d think that from what I said. Of course I think creationism has been falsified. But if evolution is falsified then we’ve pretty much got nothing. At the moment.

    >So you’re saying that the climate isn’t complex enough to render it unpredictable to our current models?

    No. It’s unpredictable, definitely. It’s just not unpredictable in the same way economics is, or for the same reasons.

    >Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.

    That wouldn’t falsify evolution. It would just transfer it to a different point. Probably evidence of alien life, which would probably have evolved in turn. In isolation it would probably have very, very little impact on the question of the evolution of Terran life, unless there were vast quantities of these fossils showing that an actual ecosystem had been in place, rather than just a rabbit astronaut having come here and then died in a spot lucky enough to preserve it’s fossil for between 500 and 4000 million years. You’d need to amass evidence of that it had any impact on the way things have turned out. And even if you did do that, you’d just have a mass of evidence of a different kind of evolution.

    I don’t think evolution is falsifiable. Which makes it unscientific in a Popperian sense, but that’s not the only theory of the epistemology of science. Popper’s pupil, Lakatos, would probably have called evolution a negative heuristic, a core belief for biological science to progress with. A belief like that can’t be outright falsified, it just fades away if something better comes along. Which there are NO signs of happening.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 7, 2014 @ 9:39 am

  81. I should clarify what I mean when I say creationism has been falsified. I don’t think that falsification is in the logical sense, that there is absolute certainty that it’s false. Creationism has a similar epistemic quality to evolution in being unfalsifiable. But it’s faded to basically being totally fringe science, so much so that the word “science” can’t really be applied to it. It’s a negative heuristic that has produced no useful predictions, no novel research, can’t explain vast quantities of the evidence we do have, and is thus effectively completely useless as a paradigm. It could still be true. You could still pray to God and find your keys immediately. It’s just a stupid strategy, so useless that you’d struggle to even call it a strategy. It’s been shown countless times to just not work. But it could be true. It’s just almost certain not to be.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 7, 2014 @ 9:49 am

  82. a rabbit astronaut having come here and then died in a spot lucky enough to preserve it’s fossil

    Especially the feet.

    Comment by Joe W — April 7, 2014 @ 10:27 am

  83. Clunking Fist asked: “So tell me then: is water vapour a positive, neutral or negative feedback in the climate system?”

    Water vapour is a major positive feedback mechanism. a large part of global warming is due to the positive feedback mechansim of water vapour magnifying the effect of carbon dioxide emissions.

    Comment by kahikatea — April 7, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  84. I said “fossil rabbits”, not a fossil rabbit!

    The point, of course, is that this was Haldane’s answer to what would shake his belief in evolution … precisely the sort of event that might cause a search for “something better” than that theory. So even if it doesn’t falsify evolution as a theory, good luck trying to teach 16-year-olds that “alien rabbits must have come here 500 million years ago”!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 7, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

  85. good luck trying to teach 16-year-olds that “alien rabbits must have come here 500 million years ago”!

    Given that a lot of 16-year-olds around the world will quite willingly fight and/or die for a deity they believe in, I imagine it would be quite easy to teach some of them to believe in alien rabbits.

    You forget that the minds of children are pliable and malleable. Like silly-putty mixed with strawberry jam.

    Comment by Phil — April 7, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

  86. kahikatea you say “Water vapour is a major positive feedback mechanism. a large part of global warming is due to the positive feedback mechanism of water vapour magnifying the effect of carbon dioxide emissions.”
    You sound very confident about that, K. I wonder why Ben Wilson struggled to understand why I asked the question?

    PS Here’s the UK’s Met Office on the pause:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/q/0/Paper2_recent_pause_in_global_warming.PDF

    It’s amazing how they can conclude that they don’t really know what’s caused it, and that more research and data is required, but still everyone shouts “the science is settled!”

    From the concluding remarks:
    The scientific questions posed by the current pause in global surface warming require us to understand in much greater detail the flows of energy into, out of, and around the Earth system. Current observations are not detailed enough or of long enough duration to provide definitive answers on the causes of the recent pause, and therefore do not enable us to close the Earth’s energy budget. These are major scientific challenges that the research community is actively pursuing, drawing on exploration and experimentation using a combination of theory, models and observations.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 7, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  87. >The point, of course, is that this was Haldane’s answer to what would shake his belief in evolution … precisely the sort of event that might cause a search for “something better” than that theory.

    It might prompt a search, but I doubt it would be considered an outright falsification. Evolution is such a massive theory, with so much evidence weighing in, that it would take a very large find indeed to substantially alter the basic picture. Indeed I think it’s so strong that the rabbits having an extraterrestrial origin would be considered at least as likely as evolution being wrong. Essentially we’re talking about rabbits that would have to be able to survive without food or oxygen. They’d pretty much have to be put there, if they were actual rabbits just like what rabbits are like now, and they’d die within minutes. The evidence about what the pre-Cambrian period was like isn’t just biological and based on evolution theory. It’s also geological.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 7, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

  88. > I wonder why Ben Wilson struggled to understand why I asked the question?

    I already said why. It was because it was ambiguous what you were asking, and the purpose was not clear. You were fishing for me to try to explain all of climate science, so you could pick a tiny hole somewhere. I wouldn’t play that mugs game. I don’t know exactly how water vapour’s feedback mechanism with climate works, but so what? I don’t claim to be a climate scientist. What I do claim is that there are climate scientists, and that they do know, or at the very least, they know one hell of a lot better than you do.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 7, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

  89. It’s amazing how they can conclude that they don’t really know what’s caused it, and that more research and data is required, but still everyone shouts “the science is settled!”.

    Is it? Here’s how the Met Office begins its conclusions:

    First, periods of slowing down and pauses in surface warming are not unusual in the instrumental temperature record. Second, climate model simulations suggest that we can expect such a period of a decade or more to occur at least twice per century, due to internal variability alone. Third, recent research suggests that ocean heat re-arrangements, with a contribution from changes in top of the atmosphere radiation, could be important for explaining the recent pause in global surface warming.

    So it’s not as if they are saying “OMG! The fact temperatures haven’t gone up as fast as we thought they would means we now should question the entire basis for our enterprise!” And then, others have gone out and sought to answer the Met Office’s challenge: see here, for instance: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/march/long-term-warming-likely-to-be-significant-despite-recent-slowdown/#.U0IU81xqtFw

    So, you know … that’s scientists doing their science stuff like they should. Turning that into “See! The whole AGW myth has no foundation!!” is just … wrong. Deeply, deeply wrong in both an epistomological and a moral sense.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 7, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

  90. They’d pretty much have to be put there, if they were actual rabbits just like what rabbits are like now, and they’d die within minutes.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 7, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

  91. Gah!

    As I was going to say … exactly. So their presence would be so deeply inconsistent with what we “know” of evolution and how it works, that we’d have to do a wholesale refit of the theory into “natural selection plus at least one large scale intervention by external agents which we’re going to assume are biological aliens that evolved under the same general evolutionary laws as we’ll continue to believe operate here on earth, although we can’t really know if they’ve been interfering all the way down the line (i.e. maybe peacocks got those tails because Zorg the Magnificent thought they looked really, really cool?) which would throw a bit of a spanner in the works of everything.”

    Alls I’m saying is, turn up rabbits in the Precambrian and you’ve got a pretty major storytelling challenge on your hands. And that really is all.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 7, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

  92. >Alls I’m saying is, turn up rabbits in the Precambrian and you’ve got a pretty major storytelling challenge on your hands. And that really is all.

    Yeah, I guess. I’d expect evolution to survive it. It only wouldn’t survive if something better came along. Fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian is only unexplained. It’s not in itself a competing theory. And a competing theory would need to amass one hell of a lot of evidence before a majority of scientists would start switching to it. Even then, it wouldn’t be disproved, it would just be superceded. Rather like what has happened to Creationism.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 7, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

  93. “First, periods of slowing down and pauses in surface warming are not unusual in the instrumental temperature record.”
    Indeed, in fact, sometimes the temperatures went BACKWARDS and we had cool periods, and folk fretted about global cooling caused by CO2, or we had little ice ages.

    “Second, climate model simulations suggest that we can expect such a period of a decade or more to occur at least twice per century, due to internal variability alone.”
    So natural cooling that almost completely offsets man-made warming… but no natural warming which amplifies man-made warming, making it seem worse than it is. And when exactly did they verify those models…? I like the asymmetrical nature of nature: natural cooling, but no admitted natural warming…
    DM could probably tell us: at what point does a scientist toss a model aside because it just bears no semblance to the real world?

    “Third, recent research suggests that ocean heat re-arrangements, with a contribution from changes in top of the atmosphere radiation, could be important for explaining the recent pause in global surface warming.”
    Ocean heat rearrangement, eh? So how much ocean heat data is there? How complete is it? Argo only kicked off in 2000, and was in response to the paucity of ocean data. “Suggests” still some indication there that climate science has a lot of uncertainties knocking about.

    You link to a good article from NASA, it has an update on transient climate response: somewhere between 1°C and 1.7°C for a doubling of CO2. OMG, that’s like almost (but not) the temperature differential between Wellington and Waikanae!

    “See! The whole AGW myth has no foundation!!” Nice straw man. AGW may well have a good scientific foundation; it’s just the “C” in CAGW that may be a bit overblown. And it’s good to see that the IPCC are starting to change their tune, a slow retreat from the demands for mitigation, to the need for adaptation. It was always abundantly clear that unilateral mitigation measures by western countries would fail, succeeding only to increase hardship for the poor.

    “So, you know … that’s scientists doing their science stuff like they should.” Indeed! So why are a small handful shouting “the science is settled” when calmer and less shrill folk admit that it is NOT settled and that there are a number of uncertainties.

    “Deeply, deeply wrong in both an epistomological and a moral sense.”
    Is it moral, on pretty weak data, to decide that the world (i.e. the masses, mostly poor) consume too much and should have their consumption regulated?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 8, 2014 @ 7:28 pm


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