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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The Skeptics Handbook II

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



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It’s a parody of science: The Conversation thinks creativity in science is about dance choreography

Exhibit One: Government funded “art”. *

Creative genius in science is about the people who break the rules and see a pattern that the consensus thinks is wrong or refuses to discuss.  But capture creative genius in a bureaucratic clamp, smother it with political correctness, and watch the flower die. That’s what The Conversation is for.

Say Hello to a parody of “creative science” in “Living data: how art helps us all understand climate change”. It’s not about scientists who challenge a paradigm, creative science is about cartoons and dances. It’s about glowing plastic sculptures.

A methodology that uses drawing and dance as tools of enquiry is a radical idea for those accustomed to the conventions of the scientific method. But when choreographic analysis is embedded within scientific research, pattern recognition can contribute to some startling discoveries.

Big-government bought science with monopolistic funding over the last 70 years, and it’s bought science-commentary too (e.g. academia, CSIRO, the ABC, The Conversation). We can’t have people highlighting the suffocating effect of bureaucracy, of grant applications, and deadlines!  Nor would Big-Government-Science ever seek out, support, and laud scientific work that showed that big-government science (which favours Big-Government policies) is wrong. Where’s the [...]

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 joannenova.com.au (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 [...]

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 – [...]

Are dead fish worth more than live person? Could be… Let’s ban fishing too.

Did you know you can change the weather by not eating deep sea fish? Me neither. But apparently fish and other marine life in the high seas contain $148 billion dollars worth of carbon dioxide. (The carbon price used, which includes mitigation costs, is apparently almost $100/tonne — a tad higher than the current EU carbon price of 5 Euro. The “price” was derived from a US govt agency, wouldn’t you know, not the free market.)

The high seas catch is worth a mere $16 billion and is only 1% of all fish caught. But it follows that either hungry people will have to pay a bit more for their fish, or fishermen will switch to take more fish from the low seas. Either that, or hungry people can just eat more rice, right? And it’s not like anyone cares about the protein content of poor people’s diets is it? (Look who made a hyperbolic fuss about a potential 5% reduction in the mineral content of rice by 2050.)

Lets think for a minute about how anyone would make a global oceanic ban work?  Since people only catch deep sea fish for fun, I suppose we  just ask them to [...]

The University of Queensland’s diabolical dilemma

Rud Istvan has taken it upon himself to point out the diabolical dilemma the University of Queensland is facing. They have now claimed ownership of the work for the 97% Consensus paper (Cook et al 2013). In which case, UQ may have published a paper which breaches its own ethical principles (and is now threatening Brandon Shollenberger with legal action if he does what they themselves have already done). Alternately, if there was no ethical approval they are misrepresenting the situation with “grossly invalid grounds” and there is no reason to withhold data and threaten Shollenberger and the said data ought be released immediately.

The paper should be retracted or the data should be released to Richard Tol and Brandon Shollenberger. I would think an apology to Brandon, or to those named in the paper would also be a bare minimum requirement.

Jo

PS: As I said, the question of the participants names is a strawman. The real issue is the other data — like timestamps. Why are UQ risking their reputation to hide the other data (or lack thereof?)

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. Prof. Alistair McEwan Acting-Pro-Vice Chancellor University of QueenslandMr. Graham Lloyd Environmental Editor www.theaustralian.com.au ……………………………………….. Ms. Jane Malloch, Esq. Head [...]