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 BBC has killed comedy says Monty Python’s John Cleese and Eric Idle

If you throw enough of other-peoples-money at something you too can neutralize top talent and produce mediocrity.

Where are the young Cleese’s and Idle’s now?

They  [John Cleese and Eric Idle] say the British broadcaster would not be brave enough to take a risk on them these days.

Cleese says the BBC has completely “screwed up comedy” because it has become a bureaucracy and “bureaucrats shouldn’t be in charge of comedy”.

IDLE: “Executives do not on the whole do well with comedy. They can’t understand it, they can’t read it, they can’t spot it.”

CLEESE: “But they think they can because they spend their whole time talking to other executives about what’s working. It’s like a martian trying to understand sex.”

Cleese on political correctness:

“Political correctness is a bit like granny or your maiden aunt arriving at a party when you’re all having a good time,” John Cleese said.

“She comes in and they all start buttoning up and becoming self conscious and behaving properly and then when she leaves you can have fun again.

“Well a lot of humour is just about enjoying life, [...]

NIWA’s psychic ability to predict something they say is statistically impossible

Welcome to another episode of “What was that climate guru thinking?”.

Accoding to NIWA (New Zealand’s Weather Alchemists), they have the most impossibly difficult job on the planet. (No! In the Galaxy.)

Watch the maths and communications whizzes whip up excuses for the failure of NIWA’s seasonal “forecasting”:

“Trying to communicate how hard it is to predict the weather a few months into the future, Niwa has turned to a mind blowing analogy to provide some idea of the complexity involved.

‘If you could imagine correctly predicting the outcome of every person on Earth tossing a coin 1000 times, you’d still be nowhere near the degree of complexity required to forecast seasons,’ the crown research institute says in a recent article.

Mind blowing indeed. Predicting seasons used to be a case of “Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring.”

But seriously… on the one hand predicting the outcome of seven trillion coin tosses is a snap — at least to the first 7 or 8 significant figures. It’s much easier than predicting one toss.  On the other, if we assume they are talking about trying to predict the exact outcome of every single toss the odds are more like [...]

Innovative work: Predicting rainfall with neural nets – Jennifer Marohasy

Predicting seasonal rainfall months ahead has surely got to be the Holy Grail of weather forecasting. Imagine the billions of dollars, the man-hours, and the anguish-prevented if we can do it. What if neural nets can be trained, validated, and used to help farmers, investors, and “Oi” — even Dam Managers?

Jennifer Marohasy and John Abbott were inspired to try a whole new approach to rainfall predictions after John’s car met a sad end in the infamous Brisbane flood. After five years work they’re keen to share the results, and their predictions. Check out those graphs below. The last one has a 3000 year range.

Read about how difficult it was for them to get useful data from the BOM, and how the BOM does not do proper benchmarking of their success rates. How serious are they? As usual, it’s those outside the stagnant pond of government approved science that are testing new ground. The government talks about innovation. Independent researchers do it.

***Jennifer Marohasy is speaking in Deniliquin NSW on Friday (tomorrow 6pm — details at the bottom)***.


She will be sharing the results of their research on using neural nets. How about this graph? That [...]

Most Canadians are skeptics, and CBC accidentally says so, then “edits” story

Oops! CBC (the Canadian version of the BBC and ABC) have been caught out editing a story to make it more politically correct.  CBC’s political bias is accidentally on display. The original message revealed a sacred truth that must not be spoken. How would most Canadians feel about being forced to pay money to change the weather if they knew most other Canadians also thought it was a waste of billions? As far as I can tell, the updated version was a complete rewrite of the first half of the article. There appear to be a lot of changes.

The unsurprising news is that 56% of Canadians are skeptics –  which is very similar to all other surveys which show that 62% of Brits are 62% skeptical. As are 54% of Australians. Fully third of the US are so skeptical they think it’s a total hoax.

The survey:

Is Earth getting warmer mostly because of human activities? 56% say NO.

Amazingly 39% of Canadians said the next question that they don’t think humans are even partially responsible.

Earth is getting warmer partly or mostly because of human activities.  39% say NO.

So CBC initially wrote a [...]

UK politics shows signs of life? Maybe big win for small gov coming…

News today: Nice.  Boris Johnson decided to back BREXIT – the campaign to get the UK out of the EU. A bit of a bombshell apparently after weeks of speculation, and a very nice win for UKIP, Farage and silly people who think that in a democracy you are supposed to be able to vote for those who make the decisions.

It will make all the difference says Delingpole:

Last week, when lots of other armchair experts didn’t, I correctly predicted that both men [Michael Gove and Boris Johnson] would inevitably vote out.

I’m very glad they did since I think it will make all the difference to the #Brexit campaign. Put it this way, had Gove and Johnson not come out for Brexit, the “Leave” camp would never have stood a chance of persuading wavering middle-ground voters to take the plunge. With Boris’s charisma and popularity and Gove’s intellectual heft to back it Brexit now stands a serious chance of becoming reality.

Apparently Johnson wants the top job (Camerons) and he may have noticed how well the Republican candidates are doing in the US by not “aiming for the centre”. The likely successor for Cameron is [...]

unWeekend Unshreaded

Anything left to shread…?

(Sorry, the weekend unthreaded went AWOL).


If C.S.I.R.O. employed now twice their quota, It wouldn’t change the climate one iota.

Mark Steyn on tour must have a lot to say, Deserving of support in every way.

Now global warmists want us to believe, That warming caused by man makes cats conceive.

It seems that phytoplankton in the sea, Can regulate Earth’s temperature for free.

Those schoolteachers who dare break climate ranks, Know more than warmists and deserve our thanks.

A Minister at home may face disgrace, Then claim to save the planet,to save face.

With warmist short-term forecasts all askew, They run for cover with the long-term view.

The plant food CO2 is brought to book, As warmists let real toxins off the hook.

That heatwaves long ago were much the same, Must mean that man today is not to blame.

An independent climate-change review, Is good for science and long overdue.

– Ruairi

No Benny! Science is in a crisis, we need a review. If Greens cared about the planet, they’d demand one.

Benny Peiser lays out the situation in the UK and Europe in a long interview on GWPF. It’s interesting, and I agree (more on that below), except for the point when he says it’s too soon to do a review of the science. Dear Benny, in the politest possible way — that’s barking. The review of the science is not too soon, it’s too late  — it should have been done 10 years ago, before we spent billions, and the Greens ought to be calling for one right now.

…[sceptics are treated like] a neo-Nazi or a racist, it’s as bad as that in certain circles.

Think about it:  the future of the planet (galaxy etc.) depends on convincing people to cut carbon emissions, and skeptics are everywhere and growing in number. Is there any better way to quell the dissent? The end-of-the-world memes are failing and the only way to clear the decks is the old fashioned way — air it, have it out, do the battle, and may the best team win. Obviously, since climate scientists are the experts and 97% of them agree, it will be a lay down misère — all the misguided nuclear physicists, surgeons, [...]

Let’s play BOM Bingo, and turn every heatwave into a media scare-fest

Despite the headlines, there was no paranormal extreme in Perth last week — just a game called heatwave bingo

Perth set a sort of record last week for four days in February above 40C. The BOM and media paraparazzi glorified the latest heatwave, chasing it like it was a celebrity Kendall-Jenner-type-event when it was not that different to the heatwaves we’ve had before. Before it came, there were headlines about how it was coming, there were minute-by-minute graphs of degrees C, stories of people cooking cupcakes in hot cars, and there were projections  about hypothetical bigger, longer heatwaves that might come, maybe one day, someday: look out for “Temperatures into the fifties”!

Chris Gillham points out that this record was made at the Perth Metro station. Few seemed to mention that 9km away, at Perth Airport similar kinds of heatwaves were pretty common and things had been hotter and lasted longer in years gone by. This year the four day average at the airport was 42C but in 1956 there were 5 days at an average scorching 43.7. In 1933 there was a six day heatwave of 42C average in Perth city. And there were other heatwaves a lot like this a couple of weeks earlier, [...]

5.5 million dying from air pollution, shame no one cares

A bike used to transport coal for domestic use in China.

The death tally: Real pollution kills 5 million people annually,  CO2 saves 500 million with extra crops.

The problem: The poor lack cheap clean electricity.

The groupthink solution: Restrict coal consumption, reduce “emissions” (and make electricity more more expensive).

What do countries with low air pollution do? They burn coal. (75% of Australian electricity comes from coal.)

What do people who care about the poor do: A)  Copy success, or B) Start a carbon market?

Some people are conflating issues here.

New research shows that more than 5.5 million people die prematurely every year due to household and outdoor air pollution. More than half of deaths occur in two of the world’s fastest growing economies, China and India.

Power plants, industrial manufacturing, vehicle exhaust and burning coal and wood all release small particles into the air that are dangerous to a person’s health. New research, presented today at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), found that despite efforts to limit future emissions, the number of premature deaths linked to air pollution will climb over the [...]

Peak Exaggeration? Solar, wind may save life in the Universe for 4 billion years: “top” climate scientist

This is the moment of Peak Exaggeration

Raymond Pierrehumbert, the man himself and author of the “gold standard” textbook in climate science, thinks so big he’s run out of universe. It’s not just the black tailed antechinus we are threatening with our climate meddling –  it’s all Sentient life in the Galaxy. Perhaps we’ll become extinct, because we didn’t build enough industrial wind towers or coat the Earth in the blessed Arc of solar panels.

Thanks to Andy Revkin for publishing The Climate Challenge and Human Destiny with a straight face.


…There’s no limit to what we can accomplish as a species.

But we have to make it through the next two hundred years first, and this will be a crucial time for humanity. This is where Destiny Studies and our paper on the Anthropocene come together. The question of why we should care about the way we set the climate of the Anthropocene is far better answered in terms of our vision for the destiny of our species than it is in terms of the broken calculus of economics and discounting.

For all we know, we may be the only sentience in [...]