An Investigation of Temperature Data Adjustments

The difference between the adjusted data and the measured data in the NOAA's US temperature data set.
The difference between the adjusted data and the measured data in the NOAA’s US temperature data set.

Almost a year ago, I wrote about a problem with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) temperature data. It seems that for at least some weather stations in their network, automated adjustments to the data have been inserting a warming trend where the actual data show no such trend. This, of course, is a problem, since these data are often used to analyze claims made by scientists in the global warming debate. Further investigation of this issue has led to even more concerns.

Consider, for example, the graph at the beginning of this post. It is produced from the data at the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). The graph shows what you get when you subtract the raw data (what is actually measured) from the adjusted data (what is actually displayed) for several of the temperature stations in the network. If the adjustments had no overall effect on the trends given by the raw data, the graph should show a line that wiggles above and below zero. From 1900 to about 1940, that’s roughly what you see. During that time period, then, we can be fairly confident that the adjustments aren’t affecting the overall trend given by the data.

Notice what happens after about 1940, however. The difference rises significantly as time goes on. What does that mean? It means the adjustments are increasing the temperature data more than decreasing them. In other words, the adjustments are making the more recent years hotter than the raw data indicate they were. In addition, the more recent the year, the warmer the adjustments are making it seem. This, of course, is a troubling result. The USHCN’s data are often used to show that the average temperature of the U.S. has been increasing over time. However, if the above graph is accurate, at least some of that warming trend is not the result of actual measurements. It is the result of adjustments that have been made to the data.

Now please understand that the very nature of the USHCN makes adjustments necessary. The data come from a system of weather stations, and the problem with such a system is that every once in a while, there is a glitch. Sometimes, there is a power outage at a station. Sometimes, there is a communication error. Sometimes, the station is down for maintenance. As a result, there are times when the station doesn’t report any data at all. This would be a problem, because it would skew the data. To fix this problem, there is a computer code that estimates the temperature that the station would have sent if it had been sending data at the time. This is necessary to keep missing data from causing a problem, but if the estimate is severely wrong, the “fix” might be worse than the missing data.

If the graph at the top of this post is accurate, it seems to me that might be the case.

Continue reading “An Investigation of Temperature Data Adjustments”

Intact Proteins Found in Fossils That Are Supposedly 8-18 Million Years Old

This is a picture of an Ecphora fossil.  (click for credit)
This is a picture of an Ecphora fossil. (click for credit)

Since 2005, there have been several discoveries of soft tissue in fossils that are supposedly millions of years old (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). From a young-earth perspective, this is interesting, because it is hard to understand how soft tissue could be preserved for millions and millions of years. Dr. Mary Schweitzer has attempted to provide a mechanism for such preservation, but it isn’t applicable in the real world. If nothing else, I can safely say that finding such tissue was surprising to those who believe the fossils are millions of years old, but it wasn’t surprising to those of us who think the fossils are only thousands of years old.

Recently, I ran across a very interesting study that adds to the list of surprises for those who think that some fossils are millions of years old. The authors were analyzing the fossilized shells of an extinct group of marine mollusks from the genus Ecphora. Unlike many mollusk groups, the fossilized shells of the Ecphora are colored reddish-brown. The authors decided to find out what produces this colorization, so they soaked the fossils in weak acid to remove the minerals. What remained were thin sheets of organic residue that had all the characteristics one would expect if they were made of proteins.

When the authors examined the sheets chemically, they found all the hallmarks of proteins. For example, they put the sheets through hydrolysis, a process that living organisms use to break proteins down into their component chemicals, which are amino acids. When the sheets were hydrolyzed, they broke down into amino acids, exactly as you would expect a sheet of proteins to do. They also measured the percent carbon in the sheets as well as the ratio of carbon to nitrogen. In the end, they concluded:1

…the organic matter elemental and isotopic compositions are very similar to those from modern marine invertebrates. We conclude, therefore, that essentially intact shell-binding proteins have been preserved for up to 18 Ma.

Continue reading “Intact Proteins Found in Fossils That Are Supposedly 8-18 Million Years Old”

The 2015 Midwest Homeschool Convention

An overhead view of half the vendor hall at the 2015 Midwest Homeschool Convention
An overhead view of half the vendor hall at the 2015 Midwest Homeschool Convention

This past weekend, I spoke at the 2015 Midwest Homeschool Convention. I gave a total of six talks. Four of them were solo talks: Creation versus Evolution: Religion versus Science or Religion versus Religion?, What I Learned by Homechooling, Reasonable Faith: The Scientific Case for Christianity, and College and Faith: What’s The Real Story? I also gave two talks with Diana Waring: Homeschooling: Things We Wish We Had Known and Dealing with Pressure: The Benefits of Slowing Down. The conference was very well attended and ran quite smoothly.

I did learn one sad thing, however. Diana Waring announced that she is retiring from the homeschooling conference circuit. She will still be writing, but she will not be speaking at homeschool conventions on a regular basis anymore. The homeschooling community will be missing out on some real blessings as a result. If homeschoolers want to continue to benefit from her wisdom, they should follow her blog.

I didn’t have the chance to speak to as many people as I usually do at such conventions, because I am currently performing in a musical called The Fantasticks. As a result, I had to drive a bit more than two hours from Anderson, Indiana to Cincinnati, Ohio every morning to speak at the convention, and then I had to leave the convention early so I could drive back to Anderson, Indiana to perform in the play. Normally, I wouldn’t consider doing such a crazy thing, but this is my all-time favorite play. I have performed the roles of El Gallo (my all-time favorite role) and Henry (a washed-up actor), and in this version of the play, I got a chance to perform a different role, Amos Babcock Bellomy (a nerdy father). The role was played by Joel Grey in the movie, and I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Here is a picture of me during one of the performances (I am the one in the bow tie):


Continue reading “The 2015 Midwest Homeschool Convention”

An Interesting Article From a Formerly Anti-Vaccine Mother

Tara Hills (the mother in this picture) explains why she is no longer anti-vaccine.  (click for credit)
Tara Hills (the mother in this picture) explains why she is no longer anti-vaccine. (click for credit)
I ran across an interesting article on my Facebook news feed yesterday. The author (a mother of seven) wrote it from hospital* quarantine, because all seven of her children have pertussis, which is better known as “whooping cough.” While her older ones are getting better, her younger ones are still struggling. What is so important that she thought she should write the article now? Because she wants people to know that had she vaccinated her children, she most likely wouldn’t be where she is right now. She had been convinced that vaccines pose too much risk and too little benefit, but now she understands how wrong such a notion is. She hopes to help others learn from her mistake.

Ironically, she had already been convinced that the anti-vaccine movement was wrong before her kids ended up in the hospital. In fact, she and her family doctor had worked out a catch-up vaccination schedule for all her kids, but before they could start it, pertussis raged through her household. Here’s how she expresses it:

…the irony isn’t lost on me that I’m writing this from quarantine. For six years we were frozen in fear from vaccines, and now we are frozen because of the disease.

She expects some backlash from the anti-vaccine community, and some gloating from the pro-vaccine community. However, I applaud her for making her story known. I hope others will read it and benefit from it. As she says:

Right now my family is living the consequences of misinformation and fear. I understand that families in our community may be mad at us for putting their kids at risk. I want them to know that we tried our best to protect our kids when we were afraid of vaccination and we are doing our best now, for everyone’s sake, by getting them up to date. We can’t take it back…but we can learn from this and help others the same way we have been helped.

This mother isn’t the first to experience tragedy because of misinformation about vaccines. A mother named Tammy contacted me several years ago and said:

Thank you for your vaccine stance and research! I am a mother who had heard some “horror stories” and was wary of vaccines. As a result, my 3 year-old daughter (now 7) went deaf in one ear due to complications of chickenpox. I have since immunized my younger son (& dear daughter has been immunized against all other known diseases for which vaccines were appropriate).

Two other mothers have written me with similar stories (here and here).

Now please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying that children should be vaccinated because of the experiences of these four mothers. I am saying that children should be vaccinated because the science is very clear: vaccines are both safe and effective for the vast majority of people. Anecdotes like these simply illustrate the importance of making the correct decision.

Please see Jo’s comment below. They may not be in hospital quarantine, even though the article makes it sound that way.
Return to Text

Another Easter Drama

One artist's conception of Mary Magdalen seeing the risen Christ.  (click for credit)
One artist’s conception of Mary Magdalen seeing the risen Christ. (click for credit)
Easter has always been my favorite holiday. In my view, it is the most important event in history, and as the Scriptures tell us, “…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) Not surprisingly, the church I attend tries to make the Easter service as special as possible, so once again, I was asked to write a short drama that blended the Easter message with the sermon. This year was a challenge, because the sermon was about dealing with disappointment. At first, I wasn’t sure how to blend disappointment with the Easter message. Nevertheless, after a lot of prayer, I came up with something that many in the congregation thought was powerful. I hope you find it meaningful.

I think this drama needs to have some strong performances. The first merchant needs to be able to realistically portray someone who is very skeptical of the idea that Christ rose from the dead but at the same time appreciates the joy in the boy who brings the news of the resurrection. The second merchant needs to go from depressed to angry, in a slow fashion that builds to a crescendo when he says, “Jesus might be risen from the dead, but he hasn’t done anything for us!” While it is natural for the boy to get angry at the two merchants, he cannot. He must be filled with joy the entire time. The song must be there at the end, to bring home the point of the drama, and because of the nature of the song, you need a powerful soprano.

As is the case with all my dramas, feel free to use this in any way you think will edify the Body of Christ. If possible, I would like a credit, but that’s not nearly as important as using it to build up the church!

Continue reading “Another Easter Drama”

A Few Questions and Answers


About two weeks ago, I spoke at the Greater St.Louis Area Home Educators Expo. It was an excellent convention. One of the sessions I did was entitled “Q & A With Dr. Wile.” It was a forum where students and parents could ask me questions about pretty much anything. Well, the convention wanted to make sure they had plenty of questions in case there weren’t many from the audience, so they solicited questions on their Facebook page and in one of their popular homeschool co-ops. Since there were plenty of questions from the audience, I didn’t get a chance to answer many of the ones that came in before the convention, so I wanted to answer a few of them now. Here they are, in no particular order:

What is your favorite play or part you have done?

My favorite play is The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. It’s a wonderful “boy meets girl” story with a couple of really good twists. It is the world’s longest-running musical, with the original production running off-Broadway for a total of 42 years. I have had the honor of playing two parts in the show: El Gallo (the narrator) and Henry (an old actor). El Gallo is also my favorite part.

I am actually currently in rehearsals for another production of The Fantasticks! This time, I play one of the nerdy fathers, which is a perfect fit for me. Here is a picture of me, my (fictional) daughter, the other father, and his (fictional) son at one of the rehearsals. We aren’t in costume, but I am wearing the hat I will wear in performances:


Do you perform Drama in a ministry setting, or just community theater?

I do both. In fact, I have a section here on my blog that contains original scripts I have written for my church’s drama ministry.

What is your favorite song to play on piano?

Back when I had time to really play the piano, it was the first movement of Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathétique.” However, that’s beyond my ability at this point in my life. My favorite piece now is an arrangement of “Amazing Grace” by Cindy Berry. It starts off as Edvard Grieg’s “Morning Mood,” moves into “Amazing Grace,” and then moves back into “Morning Mood.” It is stunningly beautiful, and I love it because “Amazing Grace” is my favorite hymn. I actually wrote a play about it a few years ago.

Continue reading “A Few Questions and Answers”