JoNova

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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Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

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



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Ivy league profs warns of the vice of conformism: “Think for yourself”

This is a good sign.  Fifteen Ivy league professors have offered advice and a warning to students everywhere –to recapture the spirit of truthseeking and free debate. The message might just catch on, because although the young strive to conform to fashionable norms, approximately none of them want to be seen doing so. Who wants to be a the weak minded conformist?

The real bigots are those who fear open-minded enquiry…

It’s sad that it needs to be said, but we don’t train children to question fashionable truths and always look at both sides.

Our advice can be distilled to three words:

Think for yourself.

Now, that might sound easy. But you will find—as you may have discovered already in high school—that thinking for yourself can be a challenge. It always demands self-discipline and these days can require courage.

In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student—or faculty member—faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink.

It is great to see them stepping into [...]

The backlash against offshore wind, and the big-money, tax dodging backers of Wind.

It’s a very well written article: Bonackers vs. Big Wind by Robert Bryce. h/t Andrew. The good news is that opponents of wind power are having a lot of success onshore. The bad news is that the renewables industry is pushing offshore instead, but fishermen don’t want them either, and families that have been fishing the same areas for 300 years are up in arms.

“The South Fork fishermen are fighting to preserve their access to some of the most productive fisheries in the world.”

Some eye-opening numbers:

Obama set a target of 10GW of offshore wind power by 2020. But right now there is only 30 MW. It’s 9,970MW short. The offshore push is on. To replace a single nuclear generator will take 45 offshore wind plants. Offshore generation costs as much as three times what gas power costs per KWh.

They face big money renewables proponents — not just rich beachfront homeowners, but large corporations who want tax credits worth millions, and groups like Norwegian oil giant Statoil ASA, plus the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Governor Andrew Cuomo has a goal of “producing 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewables by [...]

Professor Peter Ridd facing misconduct charges for not selling peer review as sacred unquestionable testimony

Professor Peter Ridd has made the mistake of putting scientific standards ahead of collegial comfort. What was he thinking? He seems to feel he should serve the people of the Queensland instead of helping the careers of co-workers and admin staff.

Ridd is being accused of “Not acting in a collegial way” (or something like that, no one is allowed to say for sure) and is now under investigation for serious misconduct.

 Jennifer Marohasy has more details. Apparently, in The Australian, he dared suggest that we need a group of scientists to check other scientists pronouncements on the Great Barrier Reef:

The federal government is set to spend more than $1 billion on the Great Barrier Reef in the next few years to mitigate the effects of climate change, based largely on research that is claimed not to have been subjected to proper scrutiny.

James Cook University physics professor Peter Ridd writes in a new book that the credibility of key research papers driving investments in the reef rest on “a total reliance on the demonstrably inadequate peer-review process’’.

Professor Ridd argues for the establishment of a properly funded group of scientists whose sole job [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Old power stations run and run and run, Regardless of an eclipse of the sun.

The warmists should be ridiculed in song, To show them up and show them that they’re wrong.

Victoria is really tempting fate, To emulate the South Australia state.

Climate records show from red to blue, China’s M.W.P. and Little Ice Age too.

— Ruairi

Who needs solar? Traders burnt during the eclipse: No sun, but lots of cheap electricity

Remember the Electrical Eclipse-Fear? For months, people were coached to use less electricity during the eclipse for fear that the grid might fall over as marvelous new-revolution-solar stopped working. The media were selling the message that we might not cope without solar. I figured this would be as big a threat as a cloudy day (but easier to prepare for.).

So after all the spin, what happened? Electricity was massively oversupplied, and spot prices went negative.

Apparently people went outside to watch the sky. (At least that’s Southwest Power’s excuse.)

Most of the groups that hyped the fear don’t seem to have mentioned the failure so much:

 Why Energy Traders Got the Eclipse So Wrong — Bloomberg

Grid operators and traders thought they were totally prepped for the historic U.S. solar eclipse. There was just this one thing they didn’t completely factor in: “irregular human-behavior patterns.”

That’s the technical definition, from the folks who manage the electricity network at the Southwest Power Pool, for the conduct of millions of Americans who were outdoors ogling the moon shadowing the sun instead of cranking up the A/C in homes and offices.

This was a bummer for traders who’d [...]

Modern Astrology in NY Times: Justin Gillis says Eclipses show all Scientists are always right about everything

Verily. Eclipses do weird things to people.

Justin Gillis, writer for The New York Times used the recent eclipse to sell something I’d call Sciencemagic. Essentially, if some Scientists™ can calculate orbital mechanics to a fine art, it follows, ipso nonfacto, that all people who use the same job title are also always right.

“Should You Trust Climate Science? Maybe the Eclipse Is a Clue”

Thanks to the work of scientists, people will know exactly what time to expect the eclipse. In less entertaining but more important ways, we respond to scientific predictions all the time, even though we have no independent capacity to verify the calculations. We tend to trust scientists.

If Scientists™ say that solar panels will stop malaria, then buy some! Save lives in Ghana. (What are you waiting for?)

The implications stretch far. Clearly, we can chuck out the whole research thing (labs, who needs em?) Why test predictions, if Scientists™ are 100% accurate? We’ve been wasting money. We don’t need more large hadron colliders, we just need to survey more particle physicists.

This idea that job titles have a kind of truth-telling power is not much different to astrology where truth [...]

Victoria plans to reduce electricity prices by copying state with most expensive supply in the world

In a genius move, Victoria, which has “soaring” electricity prices, now announces plan to copy South Australia where people pay more for electricity than anywhere:

The Andrews government this morning unveiled a new renewable energy target with a commitment to power up to 25 per cent of the state from renewables by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.

The government has backed the construction of two large scale solar farms in regional Victoria which will provide another 140MW to the state’s supply, and has set up a reverse energy auction system to bring forward an additional 650MW to the state’s supply.

Meanwhile the trams will run on sunshine.

Legislation creates savings, how?

Victorian households will allegedly each save around $30 annually on power bills under the new plan, while medium sized businesses have been projected to save up to $2400 a year under the legislation which will be introduced to parliament today.

It’s almost like Victoria plans to make electricity from legislation (hey, it’s renewable, and will never run out). By making electricity shockingly expensive, Government ministers can talk of “savings”, even though prices will be far higher than the average price [...]

Chinese scientists find 2,000 years of not-hockey stick

There was no Medieval Warm Period in China. No little ice age either. Not warm in Roman times either.

Obviously CO2 controls this climate.

(Click to enlarge)

Quansheng et al show that weather is lumpy, that modern warming is a lot like past warming. They go so far as to say that there are regular cycles and hint that sun might have something to do with it, and volcanoes.

“…centenial variation is significantly correlated with long-term changes in solar radiation—especially cold periods, which correspond approximately to sunspot minima, as well as the frequency of large volcanic eruptions.”

They go on to say that rate of warming was about half a degree per century lately. It may have been  the fastest rate, but then again, it may not. It was hard to tell with the error bars being so wide. It was all done with proxies and has a ten year resolution. Obviously it is in need of having homogenadjustoided thermometer data added after 1960 as is the custom in climate science.

The Medieval Warm Period was global Medieval Warm Period found in 120 proxies. Plus Roman era was similar to early 20th Century. Sun controls half of the groundwater recharge [...]

Global Warming (Hallelujah) An Inconvenient Music Video

Elmer and the Bureaucrats. (M4GW)

I love these guys! h/t Lance

Historic Eclipse will test US solar-power grid like … clouds do

Eclipse Map: NASA

Feel the panic. Or not.

Historic Eclipse Will Test America’s Grid as Solar Waxes, Wanes

Grid operators, utilities and electricity generators are bracing for more than 12,000 megawatts of solar power to start falling offline as the moon blocks out the sun across a 70-mile-wide (113-kilometer) corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.

This is the first major test of the power grid since America started bringing large amounts of intermittent solar and wind resources onto the system. It comes just as the grid is undergoing an unprecedented transformation whereby flexible resources such as battery storage will complement growing supplies of solar and wind.

Reader Andrew writes: “The path of totality is trivially narrow although the partial eclipse is quite wide. But they mustn’t have clouds in the US.”

Indeed.

Looks like it is being marketed as some kind of dummy run to “prove” intermittent energy will not hurt the grid when it “takes over”?

The celestial event provides an opportunity to test plants, software and markets refined in recent years in anticipation of the day when renewable energy becomes the dominant source of power.

Or perhaps it’s [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

We have our own unthreaded poem!

Wind-farms and solar thermal plants will prey, On birds of every size who fly their way.

The public, to pay less per kilowatt hour, Must vote to drive the zealot Greens from power.

Australia’s constitution has a flaw, When politicians wish to change the law, By referendum, have the flaw corrected, That very flaw will rule their wish rejected.

Bad-tempered glass can have a snap eruption, Like children’s tantrums cause a quick disruption.

– Ruairi

The odd case of spontaneously shattering bathroom glass

This used to be black glass, now it’s a sinkless, shattered crazed basin and bench.

Who knew tempered glass could suddenly fracture and in some cases explosively?

We have a bathroom basin and countertop of moulded thick black glass. For about five years it was happy, then late one night this week, for no reason, it shattered — the sink fractured into 100 pieces and fell into the towels below. The countertop crazed from end to end even tossing a few cubes of cracked glass up to two meters away. Luckily no one was in the room. The new white dusty look was created by the crazing pattern, which slowly continued for the next few hours.  We could hear the odd crackling noise every now and again as the last of the tempered tension in the glass ebbed away.  Even far corners — away from the sink — broke off. It turns out this is a natural, rare phenomenon.

Exploding shower-screens, shelves, sinks, car windows, and patio tables?

Apparently this is probably due to a manufacturing fault that may lie unseen for up to thirty years before triggering. (More below). On one old discontinued site there are some [...]

One day when Al Gore gets some evidence he won’t need to call everyone names

Al Gore creates more skeptics everyday

Ross Clark, journalist, met Al Gore to interview him about his favourite topic. But Ross broke the rules; he did some research. Clark even talked to a professor about the scenes of Florida being flooded. The prof explained that it’s not so much that the seas were rising fast, but that the land under Miami is sinking — and by an amazing 16-24cm in the last 80 years. (No wonder some residents are seeing water inundate new areas.)

When I put all this to Al Gore and ask him whether his film would be stronger if it acknowledged the complexities of sea level rise — why it is rising in some places and not in others — I am expecting him to bat it away, saying that it doesn’t counter his central point and that there is a limit to what you can put into a film pitched at a mass audience, but his reaction surprises me. As soon as I mention Professor Wdowinski’s name, he counters: ‘Never heard of him — is he a denier?’ Then, as I continue to make the point, he starts to answer before directing it at [...]

Handy guide for foreign nation to remove any Australian politican. Give them “entitlements” of dual Citizenship.

For foreign readers, the Australian Parliament is undergoing the most extraordinary spectacle at the moment. Politicians have resigned after discovering that they were dual citizens of Australia and some other country — such as Britain, Canada, or New Zealand — which is a clear breach of the constitution. But this is going far beyond people who held two passports. The constitutional affliction is spreading, as more and more politicians get caught up in what will now become High Court cases. Some renounced citizenship in writing before the election but their unwanted sovereign-alternate nation didn’t necessarily acknowledge that for months (that was Malcolm Roberts case). Others never knew their mother applied for them to become a dual citizen. Some claim ignorance or inheritance may be no excuse.

Bizarrely, this could theoretically escalate to involve pretty much the entire parliamentary body.

The stakes are pretty high, given that our current government holds power by just one seat. Already the endangered list includes some ministers. People are resigning from the Senate and being replaced. In the House, no one has left yet but their continued stay will depend on the High Court. By-elections may have to be called, and government may change hands [...]

Australia, Denmark, Germany vie to win Highest Global Electricity Cost! (It’s the Nobel Price Prize?)

It’s not even close: If South Australia seceded it would have the highest electricity price of any nation on Earth.

 Australian Households pay highest power prices in the World, AFR.

South Australian households are paying the highest prices in the world at 47.13¢ per kilowatt hour, more than Germany, Denmark and Italy which heavily tax energy, after the huge increases on July 1, Carbon + Energy Markets’ MarkIntell data service says.

When the eastern states’ National Electricity Market was formed in the late 1990s, Australia had the lowest retail prices in the world along with the United States and Canada, CME director Bruce Mountain said.

 The Markintell report graph:

Hmm — odd coincidence of Price with Wind Energy Penetration:

Wind energy is “free” but countries with the most wind power are also the most likely to get to the top of the Prize Pool for exorbitant electricity. Wind energy penetration is highest in  Denmark (1st), Portugul (8th), Ireland (6th), Spain (11th), Germany (3rd). Conversely, renewable energy penetration is low in places at the tail end of the price curve like Luxemburg 6%, Estonia 15%, Hungary 7%, Lithuania 15.5%. In the low mid price range [...]