What does it take to be a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science? Apparently, making wildly exaggerated predictions that are already known to be wrong, calling people names, and having a thin grip on the scientific method is just the stuff the Academy is looking for. Who knew? Science used to be about seeking the truth.
The Australian Academy of Science thinks that it can give the besieged Tim Flannery more credibility. Instead, they pour their own credibility down the sink. If making predictions that are wrong and exaggerated, and following fashions of scientific groupthink is “good science”, who next will make the hallowed list of “Fellows” – Cate Blanchett? Clive Hamilton? Charles Manson?
Hailing people who achieve in Science Communication might be fine, but it is not communicating science when their predictions don’t fit the real world and they won’t change the theory. The prophesies of Tim are a religion. (See “Help! How you can tell a scientist from a non-scientist”.)
Now every time Flannery makes a statement like these below, it can carry the AAS logo:
For the first time, this global super-organism, this global intelligence will be able to send a signal, a strong and clear signal to the earth. And what that means in a sense is that we can, we will be a regulating intelligence for the planet, I’m sure, in the future … And lead to a stronger Gaia, if you will, a stronger earth system”. ABC The Drum (No record available?)
Source: IPA Tim Flannery the prophet
‘This planet, this Gaia, will have acquired a brain and a nervous system. That will make it act as a living animal, as a living organism, at some sort of level.’
‘Picture an eight-storey building by a beach, then imagine waves lapping its roof,‘ The Age, 2006
‘It’s hardly surprising that beaches are going to disappear with climate change, National Climate Change Forum, (see here)
‘Perth will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis.‘ 2004
“The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.” March 2008
Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane would ‘need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.’ June 2007
His grasp of the scientific method is tenuous:
In science, ”a theory is only valid for as long as it has not been disproved“… (The Weather Makers, 2005, p2)
Vincent Gray dryly replied: If I state that Flannery will go to a special monkey heaven when he dies, who could ever disprove that?
How many favors has Flannery done science communication? The reputation of science?
Flannery says we need “a clear and level-headed discussion“, but he calls those who disagree with him “deniers“, and likens Nobel Physics Prize winners to “flat earthers“ who say “the climate isn’t changing“, even though no serious skeptical scientist has ever said such a thing. It’s sloppy thinking based on sloppy research and wrapped in hypocrisy and ideology. Flannery is not a man who is even trying to have a scientific conversation. Is this the AAS “spokesman” for science?
How did it come to this? The downfall of another once-great institution
The Academy needs to move with the times. It’s been caught here, another unwitting victim of the government monopsony that distorts the scientific market free of ideas. While our government (and many others) have poured billions into research to find a crisis due to CO2, none of them have paid anything to find the opposite. The scientists of the Academy have been caught napping. There are around 450 Fellows, and 20 of the 21 new appointments are rigorously done, but it only took 6 in the Special Election Committee to recommend “Tim-Flannery”. The only vote is an email one, and there is no proviso for discussion or dissent before the vote. (There used to be when votes were taken at the AGM.)
There would have been some scientists who were outraged by the suggestion that their prestigious fellowship should be shared and diluted with activists who sound careless hyperbolic alarms, but they had no chance to warn the other fellows. Instead, unless a fellow had the time or interest to seek out information from independent scientists on the internet, they would presumably have relied on 1/the multitude of government scientists who have never tried to disprove the theory that CO2 delivers catastrophes, or 2/ the ABC, who admit they simply repeat what the multitude say.
The Academy needs to have open debates in order to advance science. Credibility needs to be earned, rather than surreptitiously awarded via special committees. Anything less and the AAS becomes just another inadvertent tool of one-sided government funding.
The press release:
Science Academy elects distinguished new Fellows March 26th 2012
An international nanophotonics leader and experts in cancer, plant biology, polymers, sensory ecology, mathematics, space science and science communication are among 21 new Fellows to be admitted to the Australian Academy of Science.
Representing Australia’s leading research scientists, the Australian Academy of Science annually honours a small number of Australian scientists for their outstanding contributions to science, by election to the Academy.
The new Fellows hail from institutions around Australia and have made internationally significant achievements in a broad range of scientific disciplines. The youngest is only 39 years of age.
“I warmly congratulate all of our new Fellows for their outstanding contributions to Australia and the world,” said Academy President, Professor Suzanne Cory.
The new Fellows will be admitted to the Australian Academy of Science and present summaries of the work for which they have been honoured at the Academy’s annual three-day celebration, Science at the Shine Dome, on 2 May in Canberra.
Professor Timothy Fridtjof Flannery FAA
Environmental sustainability, Macquarie University
Advancing public awareness and understanding of science.
More information: A whole book of Flannery errors, contradictions and failed predictions
No one has done more to systematically analyze Tim Flannery’s science than Wes Allen.
The Weather Makers Re-examined is the first comprehensive review and critique of Tim Flannery’s
The Weather Makers – the 2005 best seller that propelled him to become the Australian of the Year (2007) and now the Climate Change Commissioner for the Gillard Government.
- 23 misinterpretations,
- 28 contradictory statements,
- 31 untraceable or suspect sources,
- 45 failures to reflect uncertainty,
- 66 over-simplications or factual errors,
- 78 exaggerations and over a hundred unsupported dogmatic statements, many of them quite outlandish.
“After diagnosing Gaia with a raging life-threatening fever, The Weather Makers prescribes the equivalent of a homeopathic remedy.”
“Flying over Eurasia, Tim Flannery [says he] looked down on the large network of city lights burning “so bright – with so much energy – as to alarm me.” Would he find the darkness over densely populated North Korea more comforting?”
Thanks to Wes Allen for help and research in preparing this post. Thanks to Wes for publishing an excellent resource book. Every school and library in Australia ought to have a copy of it. Why not request it?
UPDATE: Rafe Campion at Catallaxy finds an excellent quote regarding our not so honorable Academy and what happened the day the committee went to tell him that the long range forecasts were 50:50 likely to be junk…