Monday, October 15, 2018

The bet - final outcome

You may be wondering what had happened with this. As you will recall, some time ago I arranged a bet with two Russian solar scientists who had predicted that the world was going to cool down. The terms of the bet were very simple, we would compare the global mean average surface temperature between 1998-2003 and 2012-17 (according to NCDC), and if the latter period was warmer, I would win $10,000 from them, and if it was cooler, they would win the same amount. See here and here for some of the news coverage at the time.

The results were in a while ago, and of course I won easily, as the blue lines in the graph below show. It was never in much doubt, even though their choice of starting period included what was then the extraordinarily hot El Nino year of 1998. In fact the temperature in that year just barely exceeded 2012 (by less than 0.01C) and all subsequent years have been warmer as you can see from the black dashed line before. It seems unlikely any of us alive today (or indeed over the next few centuries at least) will ever see such a low temperature again.



So this should be the point at which I ask my blog readers for ideas as to what to spend the $10,000 on. I was hoping to do something that would be climatically and environmentally beneficial, perhaps something that might garner a bit of publicity and make a larger contribution. But they are refusing to pay. More precisely, Bashkirtsev is refusing to pay, and Mashnich is refusing to even reply to email. With impressive chutzpah, Bashkirtsev proposed we should arrange a follow-up bet which he would promise to honour. Of course I'd be happy to consider such a thing, once the first bet is settled. But it looks unlikely that this is going to happen.

It was obvious of course that this settlement risk was the biggest uncertainty right from the start. I had hoped they would value their professional reputations as worth rather more to themselves than the sums of money involved. On the other hand a certain amount of intellectual dishonesty seems necessary in order to maintain the denialist mindset. Of course it could be argued that it's unfair to tar all denialists with the same brush, maybe I was just unlucky to come across the only two charlatans and the rest of the bunch are fine upstanding citizens who just happen to suffer from genuine misunderstandings. Who wants to bet on that?

12 comments:

Windchasers said...

If you don't mind me asking, what's Bashkirtsev's justification for not paying? Has he given one?

Bud Vieira said...

Apparently the gulf between intellectual and contractual dishonesty is neither deep nor wide.

Hautbois said...

In case anyone's interested I've gathered together a scoreboard of agreed & published climate change bets.

http://ohbwaa.blogspot.com/

I'm going to do a post on each one in chronological order of when the bet was made, and have started with this one.

James Annan said...

Windchasers, no, there's just hot air. He lost but he won on the science because the bet was too short and it will be cooling by 2026. Or something like that. Oh, and he wants to bet $100,000 next time!

Kostya said...

There is a Russian-language article here: https://www.chel.kp.ru/daily/26806.4/3841519/ which quotes Bashkirtsev as saying that he originally wanted to hold till 2025, but then scaled it back to 2018 out of concern he might not live long enough (he is 76 now); now, he goes on, while he lost the actual bet, warming shows all signs of slowing down and it therefore would make more sense to wait till 2025 to settle, by which time he would have "no moral ground not to honor the bet".

Yes, this is literally what he says, assuming the journalist didn't make it all up (never a safe assumption with the Russian media). You've got to see it to believe it.

In the meantime, no single word from Mashnich.

PhilScadden said...

The obvious condition would be to use a third-party (eg a science academy). You both pay the agreed sum in advance to the agreed escrow who will invest it in government bonds. They pay the winner (or their estate) with the combined prize money with the interest at end of period of the bet.

jules said...

What's his is mine, and all that...

I thought there was a slim chance of them paying up, but I also have no desire to deprive someone of such a large sum if they can't afford it, so I don't think much of the escrow options. Gentleperson's agreement or nothing.

I also thought a likely outcome would be non-payment as a result of bickering over the result. That the result is actually so clear is quite compelling.

crandles said...

I am amazed you have been so patient before publishing this given that Russian article is dated 15 Mar.

Snow Hope apparently hasn't logged in to UKWeatherWorld since Dec 8 2017. Ho hum. (This part of comment relates to http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2005/08/bet-number-2.html )

James Annan said...

Had a few other things to distract myself with, and have been taking a bit of a blog hiatus recently. But anyway, it's not like the result was going to go away.

Pseudonymous netizens are probably an even worse bet than Russian scientists as far as honesty goes...good luck!

crandles said...

Well I do have a real name and location which lead to a company email address, but no response from there either.

Windchasers said...

Not that you have any intention of repeating this experiment, but I wonder how likeliness-to-pay correlates with country of origin and age. (I'd hypothesize that younger scientists might have more professional reputation on the line?)

None said...

I guess everybody now knows what kind of people Mashnich and Bashkirtsev really are. Scientists, may be. Crooks, for sure.