Skeptics are not statisticians: 1% of a data set does not disprove the whole data set.

A friend of mine likes to provoke me by sending links to posts and articles that contradict the established science on climate change. Recently he pointed me to this post that appeared in Watt's Up With That: NCDC data shows that the contiguous USA has not warmed in the past decade, summers are cooler, winters are getting colder.  My friend accompanied this link with this comment:
Well, the figures are in from the NOAA National Climate Data Center and the rest is just high school math. While US CO2 emission has gone up precipitously in the last 100 years the average temperature in the US has gone down. Of course you could look at just the last 15 years and ignore the rest. In this case CO2 has still gone up a lot and temperature was flat. Does this fit with saying the controversy is over and global warming is an established fact.

I countered with some points, but only later realized the biggest flaw with this reasoning, which I'll get to shortly.

Note to Carol Browner: Even if the idea is right, you gotta make sure it's backed by the truth

Carol Browner was quoted in the Washington Post on Sunday.  The quote was from an energy conference held in Washington a week earlier.  Here's the quote in its entirety:
People like to pooh-pooh regulations and suggest that, somehow or another, regulations are not good for business. But, in fact, regulations can create business certainty and business opportunity. When the government puts in place a requirement and standard, that means there’s the certainty of a return on capital investments.
And we have a long history in this country of doing just that. If you go back to 1990 when the Congress decided to ban chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, a market opportunity was created. And we found a solution or a replacement for CFCs, which were dangerous to the upper ozone, and we did it more cheaply and more quickly than anyone anticipated.
Some in this industry and the natural gas exploration extraction industry have not been as forthcoming as others. . . . I would just encourage the industry to be as transparent as possible in an effort to ensure that this is a thoughtful discussion about how we move forward.

"Natural" equals Magic

photo from Purple Phoenix on flickr
Follow the comment thread after virtually any on-line article on climate change, and you will find deniers/skeptics who will claim that the warming we are experiencing is just "natural forces," not caused by humans.  They will often make a statement like, "since it is UNPROVEN that CO2 is a contributor to climate change." or " I believed global warming was occurring not because of mankind's actions but because of the natural rhythms of the planet and our sun."

A friend of mine, in fact, has invoked this same idea to me: that climate change is some sort of natural artifact.  This is the equivalent of saying that what is happening is caused by magic.