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


The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper




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



Australian Science Curriculum over run with green politics. Help them fix it!

The Labor Party pushed and got a National Australian Curriculum. Now instead of the states separately mucking up parts of kid’s education, we’ve achieved a monoculture — an entire generation spoon-fed the same flaws. At least with the state systems — for all their imperfections, some states would do better than others, and we’d get a generation of Australians with different strengths and weaknesses.

Members of the public are invited to make a submission to the Australian Curriculum Review. But it closes this Friday (tomorrow). on Friday March 14th (it has just been extended). (h/t Truthseeker and Paul M). One of the two experts conducting the review has spoken up about ideological slants in the curriculum — the more people who voice objections to politicized bias in our education, the better. Three sacred topics?

Get the Pillars of Political Correctness out of our curriculum

The new Australian Curriculum insists that three areas were so important they must be taught in every subject. So, if you are a maths teacher or a French teacher or any other teacher of K – 10, you’ll need to consider how to embed these “Cross Curriculum Priorities” in your subject.

You and I might, in [...]

Half a million people in the air at any one time

Marvel at the science and engineering that keeps these planes flying, and remarkably safely:

Planes in the sky with half a million people in the air at any one time | Guardian & Flightstats

How many flights are in the air at once? NOAA estimates that 5,000 planes are in the sky over the United States. On any given day, more than 87,000 flights travel through US airspace… globally estimates seem to be that there are around 8,000 – 13,000 though I didn’t happen to find an authoritative source.

This youtube shows the dots in motion:

Busted: 120 gibberish science papers withdrawn — so much for “peer review”

At least 120 computer generated nonsense papers have been reviewed and published in publications of the  Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and Springer, as well as conference proceedings. The fakes have just been discovered by a French researcher and are being withdrawn.

Cyril Labbé found a way to spot artificially-generated science papers, and published it his website and lo, the fakes turned up en masse. In the past, pretend papers have turned up in open access journals–this time the fake papers appeared in subscription based journals. But the man who caught the fakes says he cannot be sure he’s caught them all, because he couldn’t check all the papers behind paywalls.

According to Nature:

The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.

Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and [...]

Almost everything the media tells you about skeptics is wrong: they’re engineers and hard scientists. They like physics too.

In the mainstream media, skeptics are called Flat-Earthers, Deniers, and ideologues who deny basic physics. So it’s no surprise that they are exactly the opposite. A recent survey of 5,286 readers of leading skeptical blogs (eg here, WattsUp) shows that the people driving the skeptical debate are predominantly engineers and hard scientists with backgrounds like maths, physics and chemistry. Which group in the population are least likely to deny basic physics?  Skeptics.

I asked Mike Haseler for more details:

around half of respondents had worked in engineering and a quarter in science around 80% had degrees of which about 40% were “post graduate” qualified. Respondents were asked which areas they had formal “post-school qualification”. A third said “physics/chemistry. One third said maths. Just under 40% said engineering. 40% said they had post school training in computer programming.

Furthermore, the media “debate” is nothing like the real debate. Four out of five skeptics agree our emissions cause CO2 levels to rise, that Co2 causes warming, and that global temperatures have increased. In other words, the mainstream media journalists have somehow entirely missed both the nature of the skeptics and the nature of the debate.

The so called “experts” (say like Stephan [...]

Monday Unthreaded

Sorry, other engagements call, back soon.

Greenland ice cores show natural swings are large and warming means less storms

A new high resolution ice core in Greenland surprises even me with the wild swings and detail. The authors are discussing wind direction and storms that occurred in specific years 12,000 years ago, which is extraordinary information if accurate. They use elements like sodium (from sea salt) to figure out how many storms have dumped salt on the ice and take bands so thin they identify each summer so long ago*. The slices are so thin, they claim to have hundreds of samples per year.

The message here is that the cold younger dryas period ended abruptly (within one year) and so did the storms. Naturally, they warn that the abrupt changes mean the climate is unstable, “be afraid” type stuff. My take on this is that if natural factors cause abrupt climate change, we need to know what those natural factors are. The obsession with CO2 is hindering that. Also if warming brings less storms, that’s probably not such a bad thing. The caveats being that this is only one site, and less storms over the GISP site doesn’t tell us if less storms occurred elsewhere. It could be that jet streams shifted and moved the storms to another [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

For all those other topics…

The Deification of climate saints – Curtin University’s sacred Nobel wall

UPDATE: Commenters are reporting that the bio page has changed. Does anyone have a screenshot of the original? – Jo


A friend at Curtin University, Western Australia reports that a new mysterious and imposing mural appeared on the facade. It is as if passers-by can look through the bricks and see a Saint-of-Science himself working.

The words on the plaque (which must be something like 5m wide) read “Inside our walls Professor Richard Warrick is continuing the climate change research that led to a Nobel Peace Prize. “  (Sing Hallelujah and praise Al Gore).

Richard Warrick [Jo particularly likes the aura effect Curtin create around this Saint.]

From the anonymous dissident within the enclave:

“We were showered with press releases when Richard Warrick joined Curtin last year… we have our own piece of the IPCC here with us! It’s the closest most of us will ever get to touching the holy hockey stick. (I heard stories that blind students have regained their sight after touching Curtin’s sacred wall)

“Warrick’s bio pages say that he is a “co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize” and that “he shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice [...]

What’s an alarmist to do? Extreme weather images lead to denial (like everything else does)

I sense much gnashing of teeth. There seems to be nothing a reasonable social-science communicator can do. If they write like conservative scientists, the public don’t worry enough, if they load on the fear and guilt, people turn off. They can hammer the anti-science notion of consensus, which seems to work a treat in inept five minute surveys, but “the consensus” has been all over the press, in school, and in documentaries, yet (wail and weep) the polls of public alarm are still sliding! The media is even less interested. (See Figure 1 below).

There plots the rise and fall of climate in the media. (Figure 1 in this paper).

For the last few years the media have tried showing a lot more high-gloss posters of floods, cyclones and cracked earth, and that is not working either. It doesn’t seem to matter if we show disasters-away with stoic Sudanese or disasters-at-home with suffering suburban mortgagees, the public disengage.

Here Nerlich and Jaspal use “visual thematic analysis” (a technical word for looking at pictures and saying things about them) and publish a paper in a journal with the unlikely title “Science As Culture“.

It appears the social science communicators have [...]

Matt Ridley: They ridiculed skeptics. The skeptics were right.

Another excellent article by Lord Matt Ridley

UPDATE: Read it in full on Matt’s Blog. (ht Gordon/backslider/harrie/RPS/John)

Argument by ridicule is not just something that happens, it’s the main approach:

“In the old days we would have drowned a witch to stop the floods. These days the Green Party, Greenpeace and Ed Miliband demand we purge the climate sceptics. No insult is too strong for sceptics these days: they are “wilfully ignorant” (Ed Davey), “headless chickens” (the Prince of Wales) or “flat-earthers” (Lord Krebs), with “diplomas in idiocy” (one of my fellow Times columnists).

What can these sceptics have been doing that so annoys the great and the good? They sound worse than terrorists. Actually, sceptics have pretty well all been purged already: look what happened to Johnny Ball and David Bellamy at the BBC. Spot the sceptic on the Climate Change Committee. Find me a sceptic within the Department of (energy and) Climate Change. Frankly, the sceptics are a ragtag bunch of mostly self-funded guerrillas, who have made little difference to policy — let alone caused the floods.

On floods, the skeptics agree with the IPCC: