A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



The Watts Up Tour in WA

Narrogin Observer Climate Skeptics Headline (Click to read it)

UPDATE: See Quadrant for Anthony’s thoughts on this news story.

For those who are wondering, The WA leg of the Watts Up tour was thoroughly enjoyed by many. People drove up from as far as Albany to watch us in Narrogin – three hours each way on a dark foggy night.


Learn how not to reason at the University of Western Australia

Picasso-Brain-Strikes-the-Climate-Debate: Can't think. Can't reason.

Tomorrow night the University of Western Australia (UWA) is hosting “Climate change scepticism under the spotlight”, where people who ought to know better are reverting to stone age reasoning. “Hail the Gods of Science!”  The shame, the shame, it’s my old university.

Australian Professorial Fellow Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, from UWA’s School of Psychology, will discuss the perils of ignoring consensus in science…

The UWA School of Science ought to be grovelling embarrassed. Any scientific professorial fellow ought to warn about the dangers of ignoring the empirical evidence, or the perils of missing the whistleblowers who point out logical flaws.

Can we add that up?

Let’s follow the reasoning on consensus science. How do you weight the scoring system?  Is one post-doc worth 3 honors students, or 5?  Do we dilute citation-value according to the number of authors on each paper? Does a Nobel peace prize winner trump a class of undergraduates? Quick, we need a committee to figure it out. I can feel the need for a emergency formation of the Scientific-Authority-Demarkation-Institute. UN based of course.

I have written many times about how Lewandowsky uses Argument from Authority ad nauseum along [...]

How John Cook unskeptically believes in a hotspot (that thermometers can’t find)

John Cook might be skeptical about skeptics, but when it comes to government funded committee reports, not so much.

The author of “skeptical science” has finally decided to try to point out things he thinks are flaws in The Skeptics Handbook. Instead, he misquotes me, shies away from actually displaying the damning graphs I use, gets a bit confused about the difference between a law and a measurement, unwittingly disagrees with his own heroes, and misunderstands the climate models he bases his faith on. Not so “skeptical” eh John? He’s put together a page of half-truths and sloppy errors and only took 21 months to do it. Watch how I use direct quotes from him, the same references, and the same graphs, and trump each point he tries to make. His unskeptical faith in a theory means he accepts some bizarre caveats while trying to whitewash the empirical findings.

In the end, John Cook trusts the scientists who collect grants funded by the fear-of-a-crisis and who want more of his money, but he’s skeptical of unfunded scientists who ask him to look at the evidence and tell him to keep his own cash.

These two graphs are not the same [...]

PNAS: Witchdoctors of science — Anderegg’s blacklist of scientists

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science: a step back to the Stone Age

A shameful day in the history of science. The once esteemed National Academy of Science is reduced to pagan witchcraft: point the bone at the blacklist, count the tea-leaf-citations, put on your funny hat and make a prophesy about the weather.

Some critics are saying the survey is flawed because it uses artificial groupings. Artificial be damned — the survey is flawed because it’s a waste-of-time work of anti-science for even existing. Science is not a democracy. Natural laws don’t form because anyone says so, and the only way to find out the answer is to … look at the evidence. Doh.

This adulation of individuals and tests of character, “success”, or popularity is the anti-thesis of what the great brains-trust of science ought to do. In science all minds test their theories against the universe, and only the real world matters. The petty world of human reputations is steeped in bias and conflicts of interest with personality defects and political power grabs, not to mention the corrupting influence of money. Science achieved vast success for civilization by freeing us from exactly this cess-pool of [...]

Bankers spread into “science”

Our CSIRO is supposed to serve the people of Australia to impartially help advise them of the risks and benefits of different actions with the latest science but oopsie, the team who picked the new Chairman clean forgot.  Instead of someone who speaks in sage tones about uncertainties, they pick a former banking Mergers and Acquisitions Chief who’s an avowed advocate and activist, and happy to admit he’s got a predetermined agenda science-wise.

Should the CSIRO ever (accidentally) discover that the climate models were all based on an error cascade and a guess that went wrong, Mr McKeon will jump up and down to see that those results are pursued, funded, promoted issued in press releases and put into education campaigns for kids and journalists, err… right? I mean, he’s our man isn’t he — making sure the Australian citizens he serves are not ripped off by trickster scientists who “can’t account for the lack of warming” and who “hide declines”.

What were they thinking?


Meet the believers… smile

Sometimes there’s just no point. Do they think ad hominem is a spice in an Arabic dip? What can you say? Just smile and go back to doing your damnedest to work for free so that they and their children might have a bit more freedom from tyranny and a bit more of their hard earned cash in their wallet. If you succeed, they’ll probably never thank you, but it’s still a job worth doing. Cheers!

Anthony Watts, and David Archibald will be speaking in Melbourne Tuesday night. Don’t miss your last chance to see the heroes of the grassroots independent scientists. Read my thoughts on Anthony and David. Get more info from the Climate Sceptics.


Save the world — whitewash the Andes

Painting rocks on Chalon Sombrero (Image: BBC)

File this in unrealized parody. The BBC beats the Onion.

The World Bank has awarded a Peruvian inventor $200,000 to paint rocks white. They hope if they make them the right colour the glacier will come back…

Can painting a mountain restore a glacier?

It is the first experimental step in an innovative plan to recuperate Peru’s disappearing Andean glaciers. The World Bank clearly believes the idea – the brainchild of 55-year-old Peruvian inventor, Eduardo Gold – has merit as it was one of the 26 winners from around 1,700 submissions in the “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” competition at the end of 2009.

Although he is yet to receive the $200,000 (£135,000) awarded by the World Bank, his pilot project is already underway on the Chalon Sombrero peak, 4,756 metres above sea level, in an area some 100km west of the regional capital of Ayacucho.

There are no paint brushes, the workers use jugs to splash the whitewash onto the loose rocks around the summit.

It is a laborious process but they have whitewashed two hectares in two weeks.

“Cold generates more cold, just as heat generates more heat,” says [...]

The fickle nature of a fake free market

Carbon prices have plummeted in the US.

(So they are that much closer to their true value…)

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative sold 40.7 million permits for $1.88 each, 19 cents lower than the last auction held in March and 2 cents above the minimum allowable bid, the cap-and-trade program said on its website today. Each permit in the carbon trading program for power plants from Maryland to Maine represents one ton of carbon dioxide.

Why are prices so low? On the one hand, people have doubts about Congress creating a national market for them. Fair enough. But on the other hand, “Tim Cheung, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance said: “Demand for power hasn’t increased with the economic recovery…”

Since people aren’t buying as much electricity there are spare “permits to pollute” all over the place. But it begs the question of what kind of economic recovery it is, if it doesn’t need … power?

Can I sell you some air over China?

Meanwhile some NGOs are waking up to the scammability of permits for invisible unverifiable goods. CDMWatch was set up by a group of NGO’s and has found the firms that sell the [...]

Pachauri: we need deniers

Rajendra Pachauri and that Bible-thingy

How do you deal with ignominious defeat on a global scale?

If I were a sit-com writer, I’d scoff at the idea of a fictional character as preposterous as Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC. This is the man who refers to skeptics as “flat-earth-deniers who use voo-doo science“. He graciously hopes we skeptics will rub asbestos on our faces (and daily), and in his spare time he writes soft-porn novels.

Six months after the credibility of his favorite lauded scientists was shredded with climategate, and after his own agency was slogged with more scandals than anyone can number (we’ve run out of -gate prefixes), he’s finally realized the pain won’t go away.

Feb 3 this year, he said: Skeptics “are people who deny the link between smoking and cancer; they are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder – I hope that they apply it to their faces every day…I’m totally in the clear. I have absolutely nothing but indifference to what these people are doing.”

So this was it, a few days ago, the big BBC moment when he does some damage control, but as far as big [...]

A thought for the day from 94 years ago

I stumbled across this the other day. Striking how appropriate it is in today’s political cycle. It’s known as the “Ten Cannots”.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

–William J.H. Boetcker, 1916 Noticed on the CCM site. (Thanks Andres).


Green-socialist-autocrats generate bluster, media copies it

I realize non-Australian readers are only so interested in the mining tax debate down-under, but the techniques for an unfair fight are the same everywhere. Instead of answering green-socialist-autocrats on their own ground, we need to raise the debate and expose the way they add confounding fog.

There are rhetorical tricks that friends-of-Big-Government use to promote their own political aims. They reframe debates entirely, and are expert at pouring confusion. Watch how these coalition of Green-Unionified groups appoint themselves as speakers for the people, then ignore the people, they create a false conflict, and turn groups of productive entrepreneurs and hard working employees  into an inanimate entity (the enemy). Read between the lines, the voters are turning away from the option these advocates prefer, therefore the public are easily misled (code for not-too-bright, you know, easily fooled by adverts from billionaires).

“Fairness” is apparently what the anointed decide it is, not what voters actually vote for. These groups believe in a fake democracy. The will of the people only counts if it’s also the will of the anointed.

SMH: Tax debate must return to average Aussie.

Which comes from AAP, which took most of it and rephrased bits [...]

Noticeboard: EPA law suit interview today, Watts Up Tour starts tomorrow!

The Case Against the EPA, 10am CDST USA [...]

The deep oceans drive the atmosphere

Ever wondered how the whole planet could suddenly “get warmer” during an El Nino, and then suddenly cool again? William Kininmonth has the answer. As I read his words I’m picturing a major pool of stored “coldness” (bear with me, I know cold is just a lack of heat) which is periodically unleashed on the surface temperatures. The vast deep ocean abyss is filled with salty and near freezing water.  In years where this colder pool is kept in place we have El Ninos, and on years when the colder water rises and mixes up near the surface we have La Ninas. The satellites recording temperatures at the surface of the ocean are picking up the warmth (or lack of) on this top-most layer. That’s why it can be bitterly cold for land thermometers but at the same time the satellites are recording a higher world average temperature, due to the massive area of the Pacific.

In other words, just as you’d expect, the actual temperature of the whole planetary mass is not rising and falling within months, instead, at times the oceans swallow the heat on the surface and give up some “coldness”. At other times, the cold [...]

Tradecraft of Propaganda

Image thanks to Andri Krychok

Who knew Nigel Calder’s father was a skeptical reporter who was drawn into writing war time propaganda to help the Brits in World War II? Nigel Calder, a former editor of New Scientist (back before it became Non Scientist), and author of The Chilling Stars, is one of the few science journalists I really admire. So I was delighted when readers here told me Calder had started his own blog, and very interested to read a recent piece by him describing the parallels between World War II propaganda and official Climate Science gloss productions.

My story was about a discovery in the physics of the weather. To find anything comparable you have to go back to the 18th Century. That was when the postmaster of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin by name, flew a kite in a thunderstorm. He proved that lightning is just a big electric spark. To be precise, he described how to do the experiment, and let the French try it first. They lived to tell the tale, so Franklin repeated it for himself. A very prudent postmaster.

In 1996, in Copenhagen, the climate physicist Henrik Svensmark made another discovery just as amazing. [...]

Lawyer busts climate science

This paper has become the zeitgeist. I’ve had countless emails, and I know it’s been mentioned on Pielke, then  by Solomon then Watts Up. Every self respecting skeptic will have looked at by this weekend, if not already. (Thanks to all the people who’ve emailed in the last three days).

My thoughts? For a long scientific review, it’s surprisingly well written, cuts to the core, and it’s a very unusual style of writing: No one is pushing anything, it’s not polarized or written to entertain, yet at the same time, it has compelling clarity. Johnston also exposes the rhetorical flaws in the reasoning and argument styles, which gives it a comprehensive punch.

I’m not used to reading official documents about the climate that are written to actually explain something. It’s 79 pages long, and distinctly lacks any cartoons, or even graphs, but surprisingly, astonishingly, it has sentences that are readable. There are no double barreled vagarisms designed to obscure the meaning while they recite a litany of key phrases, as if the answer is really hidden in there somewhere.  This document doesn’t finish off every other point with speculation that it might be worse than we thought. Even though, actually, [...]