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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Laptop beats Met Supercomputer: SOI index (at record high) scores a win.

Back on August 6, 2010, when the UK BOM was predicting a warm winter, and every Met Agency in the West was already declaring that 2010 would be the hottest year ever, Bryan Leyland predicted (on a global scale) that before the end of the year, there would be significant cooling. As you can see from the chart, this is exactly what happened.

The UK Met Office has a gigantic supercomputer, 1,500 staff and a £170m-a-year budget, but a retired engineer in New Zealand armed only with Excel and access to the internet and with the McLean is et al 2009 paper, was able to get it right.

Parking the SOI index (the blue line) 7 months into the future suggests things may get cooler still as the temperature (red line) often follows the trend. (Click for a larger image.) Note, the SOI is shifted 7 months forwards in time, and the scale is inverted.

Before anyone scoffs that the El Nino’s are usually followed by cooling, and the SOI indicator is well known, ponder that the well fed agencies of man-made-climate-fame weren’t telling the public that a big-chill was on the way and they ought to stock up [...]

Cold times means more death, war, rebellion, drought and flood in China

Tomb of Hong Quan Fu. Photo Iflwlou拍攝

It seems a warmer climate might be bad, but a colder one is deadly.

Once upon a time, people thought that overpopulation triggered crashes, but in this study by Lee and Zhang the hard numbers suggest instead that it was climate, and of course, it’s not the warmer kind of climate that causes the problems but the colder kind.

Malthusian cycles of population boom and bust aren’t the drivers here (though presumably having a large population means there is little buffer when the deadly cold spells hit).

From NIPCC:  Cold Periods caused population crashes in China over the last millenium

…there were 5 major population contractions in China between 1000 CE and 1911, and all of them occurred in periods with a cold climate, when mortality crises triggered population collapses. [Abstract]

How much fun can you have in a long frost? Almost every kind of uprising, pain or plague.

In one population crash, the losses were as high as 49% of the peak. In the face of a 50:50 death rate, “perspective” doesn’t seem like quite the right word.


A willing victim of a false faith… Craven’s solution as it crashes: scream louder

You have to feel sorry for him. He’s genuine. He’s stressed to the point of mania. And it’s all for nothing.

But as Brice Bosnich says, Hilarious;  bring the back to front canvas jacket, rubber spoon…

Greg Craven posted his infamous AGU speech and asked us to share it. Craven is absolutely right in a chain of logic except for one ever so small point, in the first link. His chain is anchored to his Gods of Science. He doesn’t question authority. Everything else is an error cascade, and he’s over the waterfall. He’s just done Niagara in a tin-can.

I hope he makes it.

The irony is he’ll devote hours to “understanding” the official establishment version of events, and three years working non-stop to promote that, but nothing to understanding why people are unconvinced. He’s living in the matrix — he thinks the punters are dumber than him, and they’re being exploited by a “ruthless denial machine” — meanwhile his religious zeal, and blind faith in authority is passively exploited by a ruthless power-seeking money-hungry machine.

Shame, if only someone had taught him the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam. All those good intentions could be used to help [...]

Eleven Principles to advance us to a Third World Nation

Here in Australia we’re copying techniques from tin-pot tyrannies. When the government wants a “consensus” that they know they have no way of achieving, they fake it. People in suits declare (with no hint of irony) that Business Needs Certainty (which means: certain-taxes, guaranteed imposts, global handicaps, Mmmm. Yes. Please).

The Ultimate State of Business Certainty will be found when the idea of costing carbon is dumped for good, laughed into history, and is mocked on whatever version of Saturday Night Live is running at the time.

Frankly the case cooked up as “Business Needs Certainty (so tax us)” is an inanity-cake with cherries on top. Can we bake it in public, chop and serve it with a smile, and all enjoy the joke together?

Is anyone kidding that there is any better kind of “business certainty” than when companies know for sure they won’t be hit with unnecessary taxes based on corrupt science? How about a future where a Government guarantees to get out of the way and stay out?

Gilllard has painted herself into a corner where the only escape hatch is “a consensus” (well not just any old consensus, but a fully predetermined one — hers).


The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?

The New Yorker has such an interesting article it’s already generating discussion here, so it deserves a thread of it’s own. It describes a true modern paradox, namely that so many good studies can show interesting “significant” results, yet very few of these turn out to be genuine repeatable findings, and frustrated researchers struggle to get similar results, and it’s almost as if, the harder they try, the worse it gets. Many researchers across disparate fields are noticing an odd trend that the effect they thought was so solid, appears to mysteriously “wear off” as the years and the repeat trials go on.

It’s a sober warning to all of us to search hard for the truth hidden behind variables we are not even able to name yet, let alone measure, and to be ever vigilant about variables we can name, like “publishing bias” and “selective reporting”.

Annals of Science The Truth Wears Off Is there something wrong with the scientific method? by Jonah Lehrer December 13, 2010

These are quick quotes from a 5 page article. It’s well written, and worth reading in full.

But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look [...]

Busted predictions from brazen prophets

What is most astounding about the human race is that people like Erhlich, who predicted vast coastlines would be evacuated due to rotting fish by 1980, or Oppenheimer with a black blizzard of sand covering a continent (by 1995), people who have long proven to be arrant failures at making predictions are still invited to speak or write.  Some commentators still mention their name or quote them with a straight face.

Surely it takes a special kind of braggadocio and a certain delusion- of-grand-proportions for these would-be leaders to appear in public after predictions like these?

And yet they do.

Adapted and rearranged from Fox News

1 “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971

2 “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.”

Ehrlich, speech during Earth [...]

What does it take for a worldwide consensus? Just 75 opinions.

It’s true, 97%-of-experts agree the world is going to hell in a handcart. It’s part of the frontline toolkit used by the Big Scare Campaign.

Do a google search on “97% of climate scientists agree” and 3,920,000 links turn up.

Like everything in the Big Scare Campaign, a tiny semi-dried kernel of truth becomes inflated, distorted and repeated into a  planetary group chant. Here’s how one small online survey was distilled to the point where the opinions of 75 climate scientists doing a 2 minute online survey could be headlined up as: “97 percent of scientists say man-made climate change is real”. (Worse — for those of us with a scientific bent — this mantra to the imaginary Gods of Science is even referred to as “Scientific” evidence.)

In August 2010, the HockeySchtick site pointed out the 97% figure was just 75 self selected scientists.  As as example of the way the chant is spun, the author, “MS” linked to the unSkepticalScience site and the screen image that John Cook posted in an article titled: “Visually depicting the disconnect between climate scientists, media and the public”.

Don’t miss the fact that the graphic is subtitled “SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE”. [...]

While the Cat is away……

Of course it is really great that Jo has some leisure time! Jo has mentioned us “unsung moderators” before but she also left us with keys to the shop. So maybe we can have some fun while she is away. Pick your topic. Post anything you want (within reason*) and see what happens!

When Jo gets back she can decide if this stays or is erased forever.

From all of us moderators, have a HAPPY NEW YEAR !

Many thanks FROM the unsung moderators TO all of you for the comments and great thinking that makes this possible.

P.S. It might be time to upsize your chocolate commitment