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William Briggs: Global Warming Increases Disastrous Music: A Scientific Paper

A scientific paper in a grand tradition (notice the scientific formatting and use of p-values): the custom is to read only the Abstract; only the brave and bored should venture further.


  • Global warming has reached unprecedented, dangerous levels. This is beyond question. Soaring temperatures are causing an increase in weather- and climate-related FEAM-tracked disasters (P < 0.001), thus stressing both the economies and the psyches of Western Civilization. These environmental and economic stressors are beginning to take their toll and have resulted in a rapid, unprecedented increase in musical awfulness (P < 0.001). If these trends are allowed to continue, music will soon have devolved into a debauched state so awful that hearing a pop tune will cause irreversible brain damage.


It is well established that anthropomorphized global warming is causing an increase in the number of weather- and climate-related disasters. Oxfam has discovered that by 2015 rampant global warming will harm 375 million people each year [1]. The United States’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warns against disastrous events “spawned” by global warming [2]. At a London scientific conference on climate change, scientists warned that tsunamis might soon wash across Great Britain [3]. Other reports conclude that as global warming becomes more destructive, not only will property be damaged, but jobs will be lost [4].

Galea et al. report that disasters “are traumatic events that are experienced by many people and may result in a wide range of mental and physical health consequences.” They find that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common of these afflictions [5]. Importantly, the authors point out correlates of PTSD such as increased anger, external locus of control, and weaker coping ability.

The Climate Institute has damning evidence in their report A Climate of Suffering: The Real Costs of Living with Inaction on Climate Change that “climate change is here, now” and that “extreme weather events also pose a serious risk to public health, including mental health and community wellbeing, with serious flow-on consequences for the economy and wider society.” [6]

Fedorikhin and Patrick show that intense emotions, such as those caused by climate-induced PTSD, can lead to poor choices [7]. The British Psychological Society says mental illness evinces symptoms such as “holding unusual beliefs (delusions) and experiencing strong fluctuations in mood.” [8]

Weidinger and Demi have observed that dysfunctional psychosocial behaviors [PDPB] were highly correlated to admitted patients who listened to music with negative lyrics or themes [9]. North et al., found for well over half of a large sample of British adolescents, that “listening to music was preferred to other indoor activities but not to outdoor activities.” [10]

The ties are thus clear: anthropomorphized global warming causes disasters, and these disasters bring on PTSD, which then causes abrupt and radical changes in mental health. Since music is so important to younger people, and younger people are responsible for the creation of most of the music that is heard, an important clue to climate change may be had in the changes of popular music through time.

A quantitative measure of popular musical change is developed which shows conclusively that because of the stresses of climate change, music is rapidly grower poorer.


Data on anthropomorphized climate change was quantified by the annual mean temperature anomaly from GISS [11]. Anomalies were multiplied by 100 K for emphasis. FEMA supplied the number of declared disasters for each year from 1953 until the present [12]. Data on disaster count from 1946 to 1952 was simulated by multiple imputation [13].

The poorness of popular music was quantified by Briggs [14] as the ratio of unique words per pop song, and the absolute number of words per pop song. This measure was probabilistic and computed for the top-rated pop song of every year, as rated by Billboard. A low fraction of unique words or a large number of words per pop song does not guarantee badness, but it does say that a song with a low fraction of unique words/high word count is more likely to be bad than songs of opposite content.

Further, the words used in pop music are growing increasingly vile, crude, guttural, devoid of all literary merit, and just plain ugly.

Regression models were used to quantify the relationships between these variables. Statistical significance, a concept that cannot be disputed, was taken at a test level of 0.05. The statistical methods used here match exactly those used in other papers showing links with global warming.


Figure 1 shows that our main hypothesis is likely true. As the temperature has soared (black line), the number of disasters (red, dashed line) have concomitantly increased. But then so has musical badness (green, dotted line; divided by 10 to fit on the same graph).

Global warming increase bad music

As the temperature soars to unheard of heights, the number of disasters tracked by FEMA also increased. A regression model shows that this relationship, as pictured in Figure 2, is highly, oh so highly, statistically significant, with a p-value of 5 x 10-11. For every degree centigrade increase in the global temperature, the number of disasters goes up by 52 on average, which is a lot.

Global warming increase bad music

As we have seen, disasters cause PTSD and other mental illnesses. These illness are born most heavily on the creative; namely, pop music composers. These debilitations inhibit creativity and block neural pathways with access to English vocabulary, such that composers’ only recourse are to base animal instincts. The relationship between disasters and musical badness is conclusive and statistically significant with a p-value so low (< 0.0000001) that it has to be believed. Every disaster increases musical badness by 5.6564, on average.

Global warming increase bad music

Even controlling for temperature anomaly, the number of disasters increased musical badness (P = 0.001114). Temperature remains independently predictive (P = 0.000749), which says that it’s not only disasters that are driving people crazy: temperature itself might be boiling brains.


A possible difficulty is that our temperature anomalies are exaggerated because we multiplied them by 100 K, so that the range of change is really only between roughly 0.2 and 0.8 C so that instead of showing a dramatic increase, the anomalies actually show a remarkable stability in global temperature. We dismiss this criticism out of hand because multiplying numbers by constants does not change the p-values, i.e the statistical significance.

Some have complained that the number of disasters tracked by FEMA also correlate with the increase in FEMA’s budget, and that it is now more easy for a mishap, no matter how minor, to be classed as a “disaster.” Population, too, has increased since 1953 and so has the value of property, so that any weather- or climate-related mishap is more likely to be classified a “disaster.” But these criticisms have the hidden assumption that the federal government does not know what it is doing, or that it is purposely misleading the public, when it reports its statistics. For this reason, we also dismiss this criticism.

All that is needed for a theory to be considered scientific is that it be statistically significant and for a plausible causal pathway to exist. We have scientifically demonstrated the statistical significance between increasing temperature and increasing musical badness, mediated by an increase in climate-caused disasters. We have also provided a plausible mechanism for how global warming causes the insanity that is today’s pop music by citing scientific papers in the accepted way.

Therefore, global warming will drive the population mad through an intense barrage of awful, atonal, crude, childishly limited and harmful popular music. Our cry is: Quod erat demonstrandum!

[0] This research was funded out of the author’s own pocket. Grants and other loose money may be given using the Donate button to the left. Willie Soon suggested this research.

[1] Global warming disasters will affect 375 million every year by 2015 — Oxfam.

[2] FEMA statement.

[3] Tsunamis.

[4] Jobs.

[5] Sandro Galea, Arijit Nandi, and David Vlahov, 2004. The Epidemiology of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after Disasters. Epidemiologic Reviews. Volume 27, Issue 1, Pp. 78-91.

[6] Climate Institute. See esp. this.

[7] Fedorikhin and Patrick.

[8] British Psychological Society.

[9] Weidinger, CK and AS Demi, 2007. Music Listening Preferences and Preadmission Dysfunctional Psychosocial Behaviors of Adolescents Hospitalized on an In-Patient Psychiatric Unit. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 3–8, January 1991.

[10] North, AC, DJ Hargreaves, and SA O’Neill, 2010. The importance of music to adolescents. British Journal of Educational Psychology. Volume 70, Issue 2, pages 255–272, June 2000.

[11] GISS.

[12] FEMA disasters.

[13] I.e, I made them up.

[14] Musical badness.