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



BOM admits they got it wrong on “worst Queensland drought”

How much does the BOM care about misleading Australians? Not much apparently, unless they are caught doing it. Everyone makes mistakes, but what matters is what they do to correct it.

The BOM claimed (and the ABC broadcast) that this Queensland drought is the worst in 80 years, but Ken Stewart showed with their own graphs that it was only the worst for 9 years.  Stewart politely informed both groups  two weeks ago. The ABC excused themselves immediately because they always believe the BOM no matter what it says and never ask any hard questions (it’s not like they are paid to make sure Australians get the right information is it? what do you expect for $1bn?). The BOM took five days to fob the error off even though the “mistake” was obvious against the BOM’s own graphs.

But yesterday Maurice Newman mentioned the mythical 80 year drought in The Australian, lo, suddenly the BOM feel the urge to send another email to Ken and the ABC.

Dear Ken, Further to our correspondence we can confirm that media statements made to the ABC by a Bureau employee on 6 January 2014 did not accurately reflect the relative severity [...]

New small study: Wind farms show health effects – why wasn’t this done before?

This is the tiniest of most preliminary studies on the health effects of wind turbines, but it made it to the front page of a major newspaper.  It is really just laying the groundwork for setting up a proper study.  But at the end of 2012, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, there were 225,000 wind turbines operating around the world. So the real question is why has it taken so long to do an eight week study on six people in three houses looking at the effects of very low frequency ultrasound?

The Greens and Labor Party are supposed to be concerned about the effect of industry on people and cuddly animals, so where was their angst? If wind turbines ran on uranium, or the turbines were erected in inner-city areas, would the Greens have been so quiet?

Pacific Hydro deserves credit for funding and cooperating with the study which took place at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria.

Turbines may well blow ill wind

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

PEOPLE living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines, a groundbreaking study has found.

Maurice Newman: conservatives outsmarted — they apologise where they should demand apologies

A wake up call from Maurice Newman. The gravy train of bigger and bigger government is grinding to its inevitable halt, and Greece is the destination the Western Express is headed for. Those who promised that big-government could solve everything have bought votes, while using schools and universities to train a generation to hate free market competition. Young people were raised to blame the system and demand the handout, rather than take responsibility. The soft-west has gone too far left. The weak right has rolled over and tries to be a mini-left, settling for being the team B of “progressivism”. Newman’s best line is that the conservatives apologize where they should demand apologies. So true.

To illustrate dismal standards in science and the media, Newman cites (thanks Maurice), and thousands more Australians find out a small part of the scandalous failure of academia (specifically, Lewandowsky at UWA) and the ABC. The stories he refers too are: “Lewandowsky peer reviewed study includes someone 32,757 years old” and the “ABC got it wrong, BOM not concerned with Australian public being misinformed“. Ken Stewart at Kenskingdom deserves credit for catching out the ABC and BOM. Readers, when you want to throw your shoe [...]

Will Steffen in denial of entire Holocene?

Either Will Steffen thinks humans didn’t exist five thousand years ago, or he hasn’t heard of the Holocene. The Herald Sun tells us  the extraordinary news that:

“Humans are living in the hottest temperatures they have ever lived and I can guarantee this will only get worse.”

Will Steffen also says the climate is “complex”, and “impossible to entirely predict”. I guess that means his guarantee that it will get worse comes direct from God, since it’s not possible through science. I don’t know why Matthew Dunn, technology editor of the Herald Sun, didn’t ask more about that — obviously that would be big news.

Otherwise, nearly every proxy that’s ever been proxied suggests there were a lot of warmer times in the period 5,000 – 8,000 years ago. Ice cores say it was hotter in Greenland, barnacles, corals, sea worms, and “swash” tell us sea levels were something like 2 meters higher in stable West Australia* and nearly 1m higher in Hawaii and Polynesia, oceans were 2 degrees warmer around in Indonesia, and 6,000 boreholes sunk in the oceans all over the world show it was a global deal. Australian Aboriginals apparently struggled through a 1,500 year [...]

Gavin Schmidt now admits NASA are only 38% sure 2014 was the hottest year

I said the vaguest scientists in the world lie by omission, and it’s what they don’t say that gives them away. The “hottest ever” press release didn’t tell us how much hotter the hottest year supposedly was, nor how big the error bars were. David Rose of the Daily Mail pinned down Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS to ask a few questions that bloggers and voters want answered but almost no other journalist seems to want to ask.


Nasa climate scientists: We said 2014 was the warmest year on record… but we’re only 38% sure we were right

Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all 

Does that mean 97% of climate experts are 62% sure they are wrong?*

The thing with half-truths is that they generate a glorious fog, but it has no substance. Ask the spin-cloud of a couple of sensible questions and the narrative collapses. This is the kind of analysis that would have stopped the rot 25 years ago if most news outlets had investigative reporters instead of science communicators trained to “raise awareness”. (The media IS the problem). If there was a [...]

Weekend Unthreaded


More beach holidays. Apologies to Northern Hemisphere readers. We’ve had three beach holidays in two weeks with various friends and relatives. January in Australia is tough.

I love the colors of the Western Australian coast. The sky really is that intense blue, and the water is that clear. We fed stingrays at Hamelin Bay at sunset too. This is a seven year old boy hand-feeding a tame eagle ray which must have weighed twice as much as him. That one had no tail, but others did. Remarkable. Click to enlarge shots.

Volatility from Vega – Why math models can’t predict the future

Guest post by Eric Worrall

How can we predict the climate, when we can’t even predict financial markets?

US Subprime House Price Crash

Financial markets are a high stakes battle between teams of skilled traders, armed with powerful computers. [In a perfect market] The factors that affect market prices are well known, and for mathematicians, surprisingly simple to describe. Yet with all this underlying simplicity, traders don’t attempt to predict the future, because they know from bitter experience that predicting the future is futile. Instead, they use their models to gain a deeper understanding of the present.

Say you are trading financial options. Options are a right to buy or sell an underlying commodity (gold, shares in a company, tons of beef, whatever) at a future point in time, for an agreed price. The exact rules vary in different places, but essentially – your option gives you the right to buy an ounce of gold in one month, say,  for $1000.

If so, and the price of gold is $1,200 per ounce, then your option is worth $200, right?

Wrong. In one month, the price of gold might be $800, in which case your option is worthless – [...]

2014, NOAA NASA produce weakest science on hottest fantasy in modern record

The Art of Lying by Omission

Back in the old days, when scientists had standards, they would never get excited over one hot year and certainly not over one meaningless hundredth of a degree.

The NOAA and NASA spinmeisters are parsing their press releases carefully, using vagueness to speak in half-truth-tongues. They utter no outright lie, yet misinform the crowd with lies by omission.

NOAA and NASA don’t say their models still don’t work, that the world was supposed to be a lot warmer and the “pause” continues. Nor do they admit that it has been warmer before many times in history. They don’t say the warming trend started long before we pumped out CO2. They don’t mention how tiny the “record” is, so tiny it could, and probably will, disappear with the next man-made adjustment. They don’t mention that the record depends entirely on which dataset you pick, and better instruments, satellites, show it wasn’t a record. NASA may launch satellites, but they prefer a thermometer in a carpark or beside a runway for measuring temperatures.

All major global datasets, up to date. The pause is clear enough. The lower two lines are from satellites. Jan 2015 | [...]

Forgotten extreme heat, El Nino of 1878 — when miners would “knock off” at 44.4C!

What really happened in 1878?

The raw data at Nobby’s near Newcastle (graphed below) shows monster heat in 1878, 1879, and 1883 — far hotter than modern times. Its unlikely that it was recorded with modern equipment, so it’s hard to compare. Was it really hotter? We don’t know when the Stevenson screen was installed. I went hunting through our wonderful historic Trove archive of old newspaper records. It doesn’t help us make any accurate comparisons, or even tell us about annual averages, but there is a remarkable story of exceptional heat and dryness in January 1877 that few Australians know. Let’s revisit the times of forgotten people who lived when CO2 was perfect and the climate was ideal.

How hot were the 1800s in Australia? My favorite quote is about the miners near Braidwood (in the mountains between Canberra and the coast). It reached 108F but look at the cultural norms:

“Years ago in the valley the miners always ‘knocked off’ if the thermometer registered 112 degrees (44.4C) in the shade, but times and wages are changed now, and the poor men are willing, to work on days like last Friday 18.1.78″ (see the Freeman’s Journal link [...]

Sea level rise was less than thought (skeptics were right)

Skeptics, and particularly Nils-Axel Mörner have been saying that sea level rise, as recorded by tide gauges has been much slower than widely advertised. They’ve also pointed out how the rates of sea-level rise have either stayed the same or slowed down. There’s been no sign of the acceleration needed for the wildly speculative  hypothesis that your SUV, and China’s coal plants are warming the ocean.

This week a new Nature paper (Hay et al) shows the skeptics were right  — but did that view make it to any news broadcast?

Watch the sea-level scare mutate

Even in The Australian the spin from the propaganda machine gets a running, and the previous slow rise is used to pump the scare that the modern “acceleration” is even scarier. What the Australian (and selected sea level “experts”) don’t mention is that the tide-gauges don’t show any acceleration, and nor did the raw recordings from satellites. The 3mm rising sea claims apparently come from satellites that were calibrated to one subsiding tide gauge in Hong Kong.

It’s cherry picking par excellence. We might finally accept tide gauges up to 1990, but after that the tide gauges don’t count — bring in the “adjusted” [...]