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 nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



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 – [...]

Inflation: the creeping hand of corruption

UPDATE May 27, 2011: While the inflation information here is correct, be aware news has just come out that the NIA (who made the video) is a pump and dump group, doing potentially fraudulent work. So enjoy their videos but beware of their stock recommendations. We wondered who was behind this video — at least it finally makes sense.


Background Joanne occasionally writes about the science and corruption of monetary systems. She summed up the connection between the two dismal sciences (climate and economics). If you are new to this theme see the explanation and links at the bottom of the article.

You might think inflation and climate science are only linked metaphorically. But the corruption in science is fed by the corruption in our currencies.

The monetary system that allows a privileged few to print money from nothing is the same system that allows massively misdirected spending. When there are so few controls on the growth of money, there is less negative feedback, fewer brakes, and virtually no limits. If the system is swimming with easy money, people can “afford” to build wildly extravagant and unproductive things — like wind-farms, carpets of solar panels, or symbolic rivers [...]

Helicopter Ben at work

Not many people realize just how utterly unprecedented the Global Financial Crisis was.

To see just how singularly anomalous those months were, let’s revisit an article I wrote for 321 Gold in November 2008.

The graphs below are extraordinary, jaw-dropping plots. At the time I was watching them grow week by week, and was amazed that they were not “everywhere”. I still remember the chill I got in mid October when I first saw the ballistic spike. We’re talking about the money supply of the worlds largest economy. The rescue package blew away the scale  — the second graph below covers 90 years. It’s not often you see any graph which is a true hockey stick. This was originally published at 321Gold on Nov 25th 2008. Remember this money (your money if you hold US dollars) was “injected” as a temporary fix (in theory), the plan was to neutralize it, or sterilize it, or insert-your-favourite-euphemism-here-for-getting-it-back-to-normal.

So where does the Money Base graph stand now? It’s not back down to $900 billion (where it was in August 2008), it’s not even stable at $1500  billion, it’s $2000 billion. Our markets run on ever increasing injections of new money. The people [...]

Two dismal sciences (climate and money)

Maybe you are already au fait with the deep flaws in our financial system, or maybe you are like I was ten years ago, too bored to read “economics”–knowing it was all human vagaries and surrounded with jargon. If your eyes glaze at the thought of bonds, yields, debt and GOFO’s–bear with me, I understand. But history books will be written about this year. No one can afford to be not interested in the science of money.

Economics is known as The Dismal Science, and the reason it’s dismal is the same reason that official climate science is — too many dollars at stake. (If we can treat psychology scientifically, why not economics too?)

Those who want to falsely alarm us benefit from confounding issues, confusing statements, argument from authority and bureaucratese

But the unscientific nature of some subjects is no accident. Clear thinking, transparency, and rigorous logic benefit the majority, just as jargon, elitism, gatekeepers and censorship do not.  Those who want to falsely alarm us benefit from confounding issues, confusing statements, argument from authority and bureaucratese, and so too do the people who control our money — central bankers, the banking aristocracy, and some politicians. (Though instead of [...]