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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Maurice Newman triggers the rabid “Conspiracy Theorist” smoke bomb. Is he teasing the hypocrites?

UPDATE: And the namecalling goes on, days later at the ABC. Who knew the words “order”, “new” and “world” are triggers for conspiracy-theory-psychoanalysis?

Yesterday Maurice Newman dared suggest that the real climate change agenda was “concentrated political authority”.  I watched his article on The Australian get quickly repeated through the SMH and many other outlets, which wouldn’t always happen. I counted down the hours until Newman was called a “conspiracy theorist” — about 18.

I expect Maurice Newman knew exactly what game he was playing today. Like tapping a knee to trigger a reflex, the words “World Government” always provokes outraged mockery and namecalling as if it were against the laws of physics rather than being the banal, obvious desire of a certain part of the population. There’s a reason there’s no hit song called “Nobody wants to rule the world”.

Was Newman baiting the gullible fans of a man-made catastrophe in order to get his message spread far and wide? If he was, it was successful. Now it’s up to us to pick up the ball and point out that hypocrisy of the sacred taboo — only a certain class are allowed to discuss “world-government” (that’s [...]

The UK Election

UPDATE: So far it’s being called a “shock victory” for conservatives, and a humiliation for Labor. See also ABC UK Election results. Farage not looking likely to win his seat.

An election to watch for those concerned that bigger bureaucracy suffocates science. Will the creeping rise of big-government  in the West stall?

The old party-landscape is quaking in a land where last year 45% of the Scottish voted for permanently not-voting at any more UK Elections. Nearly half the Scots wanted out of the Union — that’s flat out remarkable. Meanwhile,  UKIP, which got 3% of the vote in 2010, are now polling at 12%. As with most western nations the main parties have been mirror images of “left” or “more left” and voters get the choice of big or bigger government. Nigel Farage, heading UKIP,  is posing such a threat to that system, that in his own seat Labor voters are said to be thinking of voting conservative, just to keep him out. (More evidence that modern conservative parties are often just Labor-lite). Conservatives are thinking of voting against conservatives (see Delingpole below), and Labor are thinking of voting for them. What a difference a UKIP has [...]

Australian government finally gets slightly serious with CSIRO board

The Abbott government has at least grown enough backbone to not renew the Labor appointees Chairman to the CSIRO board, who have allowed scientific standards to decay so badly. It’s about time. As long as any director of CSIRO claims that “consensus” has any meaning in science, then the board is an unscientific failure.

UPDATE To clarify: There is no official policy to not reinstate people because they were appointed by Labor. But three directors/panelists say they have heard unofficially there is.  I think board members should be sacked if they don’t serve the public, not because of who appointed them. It would be a silly thing for a Minister to say. But in the case of the CSIRO, the Labor appointee appears to be a political assignment rather than a scientific one, and should have been replaced long ago. See my comment #1.1.1 for names and more details.

UPDATE #2: Bolt calls it an anti-Abbott rumour. “And a spokesman for Tony ­Abbott told The Weekend Australian there were more than 50 government agencies with boards where a person was appointed by Labor and reappointed by the current government… “

Not surprisingly, this has [...]

Study shows skeptics know more about climate science than believers

UPDATE Dan Kahan has replied in Comment #54.

So much for the theory that skeptics are dumb or uninformed.  Fox News reports that a new study shows that when people are quizzed about climate science, the skeptics outscored the believers.

Dan Kahan at Yale did the study on 2,000 people, but with only nine questions, so there is limited insight here, but it fits with his previous study which found people who knew more about maths and science were more likely to be skeptical.  Readers of skeptical blogs (who chose to respond to surveys and list their qualifications in comments) are likely to have hard science degrees. The world is slowly waking up to the fact that the skeptics are more knowledgeable about science.

In a proper science quiz, the gap would probably be even larger. On two of the nine questions, skeptics got the science right.  But believers “outscored” skeptics at repeating the propaganda (which shouldn’t be a question in a survey about scientific knowledge). I’d like to see all nine questions (can anyone find a preprint or the paper?)

Skeptics get science right:

One question, for instance, asked if scientists believe that warming would [...]

Leadership debacle in Australia — Tell the politicans what you think

UPDATE: Spill vote is now Monday, not Tuesday. Turnbull has not resigned, but announced he will challenge if the spill vote passes, and is mocking Abbott. — Bolt  Polls show Turnbull would deliver only a 6% bounce in the honeymoon. Not even enough to win a snap election.

UPDATE#2: The spill vote defeated 61:39. Abbott stays on as PM, but will have to do something differently, or he has only bought time until the next one.

Firey emails are crossing my desk today of people vowing to quit the Liberal party.

Malcolm Turnbull lost his leadership in 2009 because he wanted an emissions trading scheme. But that extraordinary wave may get reversed. Australia may still end up with an emissions trading scheme which will send billions in brokers fees to bankers, won’t change the climate, and will be almost impossible to unwind. It’s not about free markets, it’s about fake ones. What’s worse than a carbon tax? A carbon market.

In 2009, a week after ClimateGate, and two weeks before Copenhagen, the furious outcry from Coalition party supporters and skeptics turned the Liberal party upside down. The skeptic message has spread since then. In 2014, even [...]

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 [...]

UK voters tired of “big” or “bigger” government. UKIP wins again!

Government, Opposition, what’s the difference? It’s all become shades of “bigness”.  With the UK Big-Government orbiting in the  shadow of the Mega-Government in the EU, is it any wonder an alternative had to spring forth? And Lo…

In case you haven’t heard, Mr Reckless left the UK Tories, joined UKIP (the UK Independence Party) and just won the byelection becoming UKIP’s second member of Parliament. It surprised quite a lot of people.  Analysts are abuzz: the electorate was not as old or white as the first seat UKIP won, and it was ranked 271st on the list of seats UKIP “might win”. Labor won just 16% of the vote.

People seem to like the idea of small government, lower taxes, and politicians who don’t promise to change the weather. Who would have thought?

Perhaps the mighty English will one day even win the right to buy powerful hairdryers, and serious vacuums? We dare hope!

BBC News

UKIP’s victory was in many ways even more impressive than their triumph in Clacton. The ease with which they demolished a 9,000 Tory majority was striking and this after the Conservatives had strained every sinew to halt the UKIP bandwagon.

[...]

Election over, so US, China agree to make unenforceable long term commitment with no consequences

Now that the mid-term elections are over in the US,  Obama is free to announce the climate commitments that voters didn’t need to hear. (I did say this would happen.) It’s a “landmark” agreement and a “gamechanger”, but no one can point out what  happens if either country doesn’t stick to its agreement.

The end-point of this grand theater of intent and glorious promises is Paris 2015.

What matters is the appearance of “momentum” — and this show ticks all the boxes. The two global superpowers make a sudden, unexpected agreement to reduce emissions and the press can call it “remarkable”, as if it has substance.  Obama –  the President without a majority in either house of Congress –  has announced a big new target of 26% reduction by 2025.  What can a lame-duck President achieve? Fluff and PR. As it happens, US emissions have been falling for years because of the miracle of shale gas and oil. This announcement supposedly doubles the pace of that reduction which was occurring anyhow, and which had nothing to do with any green policies aimed at reducing emissions. Furthermore, Obama, magically, will do it without  imposing new restrictions on [...]

Big lesson for Australia from US voters. Climate change is over as an election issue.

Remember how we were told people everywhere are “waking up to the threat of climate change”? Welcome to 2014. In Charles Krauthammers words “The National Weather Service has upgraded the election from tropical storm to tsunami, especially the results of the governorships. If you look at the bluest states in the country, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, all gone Republican.”

Australians may have missed what happened this week in the US (especially if they only watch the ABC). Climate Change is over as a voting issue.  Will Australian Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, get the message? Just last month he pledged to put carbon trading on the next election agenda (again). The conservatives across the nation must be cheering.

In the US, Tom Steyer threw $74 million into a campaign to convince voters to be very afraid and vote out the Republicans. Nearly all of Steyers favourite candidates failed. It was no accidental issue. The NextGen Climate Action Super Pac took Steyers money, and spent it all (and more) to push President Obama’s green agenda, specifically targeting coal “for extinction”. The Republicans supported energy of all kinds from coal to oil, fracked gas, and more pipelines.

This was the “biggest investment the environmental [...]

Coal Miner Clive Palmer to host a climate conference for global leaders

Australian politics is pure side-show cabaret.

For Clive Palmer, it’s a smashing winner all the way ’round.  It’s more photo opportunities,  more Palmer-Party headlines, and a chance for him to hobnob with any international names who feel like turning up for a few days of taxpayer funded R&R to his Coolum Resort.

Thus Clive disarms his opponents, networks with the odd VIP, and unnerves the government all at the same time. He can wave the Green flag in future negotiations with Abbott and co, to try to haggle extra bits and pieces in his favour. Plus he distracts people from a messy legal matter with a Chinese firm, and he could certainly use some guests at his 95% empty resort. Which, by the way, is also a legal headache and in the news for all the wrong reasons.

It is a bet that a few politicians wouldn’t mind a Sunshine Coast junket after the G20 on November 17. They get to relax for a few tax-deductible or tax-funded days while they pretend to talk about the insolvable climate problem. Plus it’s a fun way to look compassionate and caring for the third rock from the sun. Everyone earns greenie points, [...]