Humour Sceptics

Another hockey stick fabrication!

All is not as it seems with the world’s most famous hockey stick graph, a new study, to be published in the journal Power and Milieu, has revealed.

For decades, school students and the general public have been taught that world human population size has exploded into exponential growth over the last few centuries (see left), with ‘demographic models’ being used to predict that this trend will be ongoing for at least the next 50 years.

Yet many unrecognised academics and independent intellectuals have quietly harboured a suspicion that this reconstruction — based on dubious data at best — was nothing more than a front for socialists and deep greens, who wished to foist on society the increasingly discredited hypothesis that human population size somehow cannot continue to grow indefinitely. Yet to date they have remained largely hidden from public view, fearful that by ‘coming out’ they risk ridicule and loss of lucrative grants.

That is all about to change, according to the new study’s authors, Prof Sherman Quackentire and Dr Rolf McDipstick, of the University of Pangaea. “It’s just this graph, you know…” say Prof Quackentire. Dr McDipstick elaborates: “Xerxes managed to muster an army of a million men at Plataea — on one tiny field of battle! Now I ask you, how is that possible if world population size at the time was mere 50 million? It just didn’t make any sense to us.”

The paper, entitled “World population size revisited: a fluctuating doodle“, is rich with such historical counter-evidence, which builds a powerful scientific and historical case to refute the population hockey stick. Other examples include pictorial evidence from scenes of naked Egyptian dancing girls on ancient tomb walls,  counts of barley and malt husks from a cracked Mesopotamian grindstone, and an isotopic analysis on a small pile of coprolites thought to be derived from a Roman canine which lived along Hadrian’s Wall. After painstakingly piecing together these and many other indirect population proxies, Quackentire and McDipstick came up with the figure illustrated below.


In their controversial reconstruction, the 20th century upswing in human population density (circled in red) is revealed to be nothing more than a random blip in a noisy time series. It looks even less impressive when plotted on a logarithmic scale (right panel).

The senior author explains: “Human population size changes all the time. I mean, it’s just arrogant of us to imagine that we have anything to do with this. Natural events like wars, famine, volcanic eruptions, alien invasions — they’ve all played their part in influencing population size in the past, and they’ll continue to do so long after we’re all gone. The ‘growthists’ who now run our political agenda just refuse to acknowledge this, yet every historian I’ve ever talked to realises this simple fact. Do they imagine we are stupid or something?“.

The new analysis reveals that human population size was similar in the year 1 AD to today. “We devised a new statistical method called ‘cranial regression’ to draw together the different strands of evidence. This method was able to smooth out obvious anomalies and arrive at just the shape we desired. The bottom line is clear and indisputable: human population size has never risen above about 150 million people“, says Quackentire.

Other population growth sceptics, such as Mr Vague Idnot of the Center for the Study of Demographic Variability and Family Expansion, backs the findings of Quackentire and McDipstick, but add a caveat.

The new reconstruction is a spectacular effort and should be applauded. Indeed our own private research has always come to exactly the same conclusion about lack of growth. Where we differ slightly from the Q&M work is in the calibration of total density. Our figures suggest that although there has been no net change in world population size over at least the last 2000 years, the population in Roman times was at least 7 billion people and a peak of 8.23 billion was reached during the Medieval Spawn Period. But such disagreement is just minor mathematical detail“.

In their conclusion, Quackentire and McDipstick spend considerable verbiage on justifying their calibration point, but concede that the debate remains polarised. To cite:  “Worldwide, about half of the growth sceptics consider the explanation to be that the world population was 6.5 billion at the time of Christ, and the other half, including us, believe there is an entrenched conspiracy within corrupt agencies such as the United Nations Population Bureau, who systematically doctor photographs, manipulate computer census records, and quintuble-count birth records.” Idnot agrees: “It’s a shameful exercise in anti-demographics and anti-history.

Supporters of the mainstream population consensus have dismissed the new study. Prof Spike Dashley of the University of Old North Scotland put it succinctly: “We’ve got to keep our minds open on controversial matters, but not so open that our brains fall out“. Growth sceptics hit back that such ad homenims only serve to reinforce the insecurity of the vast majority of the academics, who are now blindly following the discredited religion of Malthusyism.

Whatever the truth, the real debate is likely to continue in earnest for many years to come. But until we have absolute proof of a growing world population, by (for instance) counting each individual on Earth every day, any talk of expensive and unproven population control measures like ‘family planning’ and ‘improved education’ for women of the developing world, must be rejected as unwarranted, draconian and morally bankrupt.

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

46 replies on “Another hockey stick fabrication!”

This is quite fascinating, and although I occasionally review the usual journal, I am distraught to say I did not find this specific article in either the forthcoming July issue or previous issue, although certainly from the abstracts, some may well be similar.

I am slightly curious about the link (TheOilDrum) attached to the first diagram. I took a quick look, but the connection wasn’t obvious.

Also, you may want to check your computer, as I conjecture that it’s almost two months’ off.


The reporter apparently couldn’t extract the precise page numbers of the article out of the authors. Strange, I know.

Re: Oil Drum — it was where I originally found the image (in the comments). I’ve added a more appropriate link to…


Professor Brook, I salute you.

(Having shown this to a friend, he delivered the delightful portmanteau “Poewned” after he took a while to ‘get it’.)

That said, I concur with John Mashey: the Oil Drum link’s relevance is unclear. Why that particular DrumBeat?


I think we will end up ‘editing’ national population data for middle class carrying capacity ie how many people can eat steak and drive a car. That will be a fraction of the current populations. Pachauri the head of IPCC has said that India should get the same per capita emissions allowance as the US. But 800m people in India don’t yet have electricity. Thus it would be easier to assign the global industrial CO2 budget on ‘edited’ populations. If Australia had 10m middle class carrying capacity each entitled to 10 tonnes of CO2 the national allowance would be 100 Mt. That would have to be shared across the actual population even if it was 30m. China and India might get middle class carrying capacities of say 300m each which I believe is around their current middle class numbers.


Phew – you had me going there for a while! I was just about to send the “men in white coats”(no not the lab scientists) over to get you, thinking you had finally flipped.
Thanks for the belly laugh – a much needed antidote to the “when are they going to get real on CC” blues.


You need to be careful Barry, you’re skirting awfully close to Poe’s Law:

“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.”

While Poe’s Law is explicitly formulated around religious fundamentalism, I think denialism is just the same disease in a different population. How long till we see this picked up by Bolt etc.?


Bonza Brooksie, laughing at the pro-polluter propagandists is the least we can do for them. With Poe’s Law and a following breeze (say insert some adoration of free markets) i foresee this being republished on NewsMax or FauxNews and in the Herald Sun by Monday!


Prof Sherman Quackentire and Dr Rolf McDipstick, of the University of Pangaea….

Scoff you might, but since the globalisation of Pangea, more and more human-population bombenists are seeing the wheels fall off their faith-drawn bandwagon. So they might, with the laterist myth-busting, opinion-pages-published research from Prof Lemme Pissner and Professor Gob Farter showing that it’s the moon, stupid…

Any suggestion that Gob Farter is a mouthpiece for stink-tanks secretly funded by Big Wank is typical of the argumentum subtract hominid style of peer-refused, condom-wearing consensus-comrades.


And here’s a helping of stupidity from up here in the northern hemisphere. Definitely a Poe’s Law candidate. If I didn’t see this directly on I would have dismissed it as a parody.


They just throw these statistics out. If we paint every roof in America white — well, yeah, every flat roof — and that’s another thing. Why does the roof have to be flat? White is white, the sun’s up there, the sun shines down on a flat roof or an angled roof, what the hell difference does it make?
Here’s the real question about this. I need a scientist to answer this for me. I understand how clouds at altitude can help reflect the heat. But I want to know how something white on the surface of the planet, where does that reflected heat go? If the road is white, and the heat reflects, aren’t you going to boil if you happen to be walking on it in the summertime? Where does this reflected heat go? Are we being told here that reflected heat is not damaging at all but direct heat is? It seems to me if we had global warming wouldn’t we want dark roofs to absorb the heat? Yeah, it may be cooling your house a little bit, but… This is all such gobbledygook.


Hi Caerbannog, I could spend the time explaining the basic physics, but it is much, much more fun leaving you to marinate in your own ignorance. And given that you have worked so, so hard to reach this heady state of discombobulation, it would be churlish of me to disabuse you of such gems as ‘the dark roof that cools your house…’


Caerbannog’s post didn’t make it clear which bit was his
and which bit was a quote from the Rush Limbaugh site. Only the
first 2 lines are Caerbannog’s.

It seems Chu really has suggested painting the world’s
rooves white:

I’m guessing he’s done some calculations, but in Australia we only
live on 2 million of the countries 770 million hectares and the
roof space is only a fraction of that. Hence I’m a little
skeptical of this as a suggestion without seeing some numbers.


Yeah, I should have italicized or block-quoted Rush’s bilge, but I was too lazy…


In more heavily urbanized parts of the world (California, eastern USA, Europe, urban coverage is much more extensive.

In addition to the albedo effect (which itself probably constitutes a small percentage of the benefits of light surfaces), light surfaces can significantly reduce air-conditioning requirements (and hence CO2 emissions).

Chu has acknowledged that light roofs/urban-surfaces are only a tiny part of the solution. But his position here is that we should not overlook the “low-hanging fruit”. It’s a cheap way to knock off a small piece of the problem.

More details here:


I should correct myself here — according to the report that I linked to above, the albedo effect is actually quite significant.


I have just found out that this paper was extensively reviewed by Professor Milo Minderbinder. As you may recall, Professor Minderbinder has caught many apparently insoluable problems over the years. I believe his catch is up to 22. Even though he is now long retired and some say his best years were 1943 to 1945 particulary the time he saw in Italy at the behest of the US military I believe he still has much to teach us.


And what about the urban population island effect?

Most demographers are known to live in and measure population from the middle of large cities. Surely this must bias their population estimates upwards?


Quite right! I’m sure Prof Queckentire factored this important point into his new analysis (I’m still waiting with baited breath to see the final printed paper).

Also, prior to the 20th century, the nobles only counted their serfs by the dozen, hence leading to an underestimation of the rural populations by a factor of 12.


All very entertaining Barry, but you would have a lot more credibility if you could actually show how McIntyre’s analysis of the hockeystick studies fails.


Yes, Barry, why are we still talking about hockey sticks? :-)

June 27, 2006, Wegman’s bottom line was:

“‘As we said in our report, “In a real sense the paleoclimate results of MBH98/99 are essentially irrelevant to the consensus on climate change. The instrumented temperature record clearly indicates an increase in temperature.” We certainly agree that modern global warming is real. We have never disputed this point. We think it is time to put the “hockey stick” controversy behind us and move on.’”

That was almost 3 years ago.

I.e., he said it in the report, then had to say it again in the hearing. For some reason, that is rarely quoted.

We had it again in an earlier thread here.

Admittedly, a few people want to talk about this *forever*, because after all, minor physics ideas like Conservation of Energy and Greenhouse Gas absorption/emission behavior, and things like OHC rise will then disappear.

This seems like endlessly attacking a dead tree with an axe so that one can distract attention from the surrounding forest fire.


John Mashey #18:

Admittedly, a few people want to talk about this *forever*, because after all, minor physics ideas like Conservation of Energy and Greenhouse Gas absorption/emission behavior, and things like OHC rise will then disappear.

That’s a strawman. The reason the hockeystick is still relevant is because the same kinds of mistakes are still being made, specifically non-robust temperature reconstructions. Steig et al’s recent Antarctic reconstruction is a case in point. See eg here.


I couldn’t make sense of Steig’s reply at realclimate. He was claiming no justification for more that 3 PCs regardless of the validation tests? That makes no sense.


BTW did anyone see “Spooks”(British spy drama) on ABC last night. You had to watch to the end to pick up the mention of IFR. It was suggested as a means of delivering nuclear power to Iran, and similar states, without the potential for weapon proliferation, and avoiding the nuclear waste problem. They even showed a diagram!. Either the writers know Tom Blees (or read this blog), or the technology is getting serious consideration in the UK. It was a great advert for IFR and may stir up some interest.


re: #19
You and I both know this is going on at tAV, CA, WUWT and RC, including discussion at RC.

Do we have to do it here also?

If you actually care about science, go help Jeff Id or Ryan O, or find some real climate scientists, and coauthor a paper that contributes something useful, and publish it in Nature or Science or some other credible journal.


If you actually care about science, go help Jeff Id or Ryan O, or find some real climate scientists, and coauthor a paper that contributes something useful, and publish it in Nature or Science or some other credible journal.

I have contributed to that particular debate at a scientific level, although only anonymously.

And what about you John Mashey? How are you helping science? As far as I can tell all you do is denigrate and question the motives of those who do not slavishly follow the so-called “consensus”.


You claim John Mashey, who has made a range of incredibly helpful contributions in this blog’s comments and elsewhere, is ‘denigrating’, and yet in the same sentence you cast aspersions on the vast majority of people here by calling them ‘slavish’. Typical hypocrisy.

Well, fortunately, this is my blog and I get to decide whether I think people are adding something useful here. Most do, whether I agree with them or not. However, there are limits.

Given the conga line of inane comments made by you, H, and Pete Ridley over the last few days — the three most recent fly-in trolls who will never listen to any rational argument and are totally disinterested in evidence and the scientific method — I’ll take up some recent suggestions and undertake some long-overdue moderation. Denialist ranting gets old real quick.

So you’re all formally disemvowelled. If you decide you’ve got something useful to say, I’m happy to leave more than the consonants in.


Nicely done, Barry.

And if you like this thread, have a look over at Denial Depot, at the very vanguard of BS (Blog Science)…


Not only has human population been falling since 1998, but it has wiped out 90% of the last century’s growth.

And while I’m on the subject of the population falling the fact that it has been going up will turn out to be a damn good thing. Only caffe-latte-sipping urban elites deny this, along with computer modellers, grant applicants. people who want to see the end of western civilisation, people who want more taxes. less guns, to help the corporations, enrich the first world and impoverish the first worlds so as to transfer money to the third world because they are guilty self-hating liberals who live in ivory towers with their jet-setting buddies.

Most of them deny Obama was born in Kenya too … treacherous lefties!



Wtf is this!

“…human population size has never risen above about 150 million people”, says Quackentire

Wow. Credibility much.

You people that are obsessed with with conspiracies are really quite sad. You make up bs so you can tell the world this secret you have ‘discovered’.


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