A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper




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

Weekend (sort of) unthreaded

Another spot to tell odd news …

Weekend Unthreaded

I think it’s my Chinese Year of the Gremlin. Yesterday some node belonging to our giant service provider broke near us. We have had no net access for two days. My new big beautiful monster sits mute. After another hour on the help line, they said the phrase no one in the modern era likes to hear (especially on a Friday): that’s ”four working days”. But with some creativity and determination I now have that tiny mouseless lap-top working in an odd corner with a wireless-thingy-modem balanced on a tissue box on a windowsill. Still, it’s better than the dumbphone.

Hope your techno stars are lining up and the electrons are behaving in your house.

The Monster has arrived. Thanks to friends… : – )

The Monster is in the house. I haven’t actually laid a finger on it, but I’ve been introduced.

It is currently being fed with special monster baby food — heavy windows, slow drivers, stuff like that — it is pacified with shiny plastic discs and drip-fed digits from far-distant lands.

At a hundred-billion-tera-flops a gargle-second, it’s learning fast. A lot seems to be going on.

In the meantime, sorry for the silence. I’ve been working as fast as I could on a tiny coaster-sized array of pixels with unfamiliar software, no mouse, and no ability to load up pictures to my usual storage site, or read my usual emails (except one at a time with 14 keystrokes of complexity and a 20 second wait for the next – I gave up). I dream of graphs I can’t make. I reboot the old machine, and sometimes feel normal for a half hour. Then it goes.

Space-time is being warped in my head. Things I used to do in five minutes take me all day.

Some futurists have waffled on prophesizing about the coming integration of hominid brains and silicon chips, blah-de-blah. I always thought they were bonkers. But I was wrong. [...]

Easter Monday – Unthreaded

Assuming the site survived the maintenance and switch you’ll be able to see this post.


Happy Easter Unthreaded

Yes, incredibly, I am on a real holiday. Happy Easter to you all. I am at the beach again.

The site will be going on a holiday too. So sometime this break unfortunately we’ll be offline.  Sorry about that.

Do book those Delingpole tickets.

Unthreaded Weekend

Plenty to discuss…


Let those comments flow.



Anyone driving up from Albany to Perth this week, WA?

If anyone is coming up from Albany before Christmas and could bring a parcel to Perth, I’d most appreciate it.

Please email: joanne AT


Unthreaded Oct 22, 2011


I need to do some testing, so odd things may come or go… but hopefully it will all be working properly soon.

Thanks for your patience, but do keep commenting!



PS: New star ratings added for blog articles. Thanks for your enthusiastic clicking, but seriously, surely I need to do more than write two lines to earn eight stars!

Site upgraded :-)

We now have inline comments and a not-very well sorted out Menu system.

Thoughts welcome.

Please report problems and experiment on this thread.

Cheers, Jo

PS: As new etiquette for the nested comments, please resist the temptation to queue-jump threads by just replying to the first comment (except for this thread).

 PPS: Some entertaining comment-gremlins turned up (instead of trolls).

Well, we had nested comments on this site for a few hours

Unthreaded — and the site will undergo maintenance soon…

Just so you know, at some point soon we will get the first site upgrade in three years, and … (drum roll)… nested comments!  There will be a few other improvements too, but largely things will look similar. It has been a couple of months of work, behind the scenes, to upgrade my sometimes quixotic CSS code.

But if the site goes down, or you are not able to add comments for a while in the next few days, it is probably maintenance.

Apologies for the inconvenience.


On blogging

With Jeff ID sadly shutting down the Air Vent, it’s worth a comment on comments, on blogging, and on the strange lifestyle that this is. But given that it’s 11:22pm 12:35pm here, and my office is still full of packed boxes (thanks to the marvellous newly laid wooden floor) tonight is not the time to try to eruditely capture the conditio sine qua non of blogging.

Instead I’ll say I completely understand why Jeff wants some time out (indefinitely). There must be a way to maintain a blog without it taking over all the spare moments in a day, and I’m going to find it, though the compass on my desk is just pointing at the magnet in my hard drive, and there is no GPS in the house.

Thanks for the patience of all the regulars out there who are turning up this month to find an erratic rhythm.

It’s a case of positive feedback

Due to the immediate feedback nature of comments and emails, once a post goes up, it’s easy to… keep posting, in the sense that ideas flow, questions that desperately need answering turn up, things that need debunking arise, and people send in good ideas [...]

While the Cat is away……

Of course it is really great that Jo has some leisure time! Jo has mentioned us “unsung moderators” before but she also left us with keys to the shop. So maybe we can have some fun while she is away. Pick your topic. Post anything you want (within reason*) and see what happens!

When Jo gets back she can decide if this stays or is erased forever.

From all of us moderators, have a HAPPY NEW YEAR !

Many thanks FROM the unsung moderators TO all of you for the comments and great thinking that makes this possible.

P.S. It might be time to upsize your chocolate commitment


An insight into Hacker-land

UPDATED: Posted the full Pointman article instead of the much abbreviated edit version. Thanks to Pointman.

Hacked or leaked?

Pointman argues the case for the emails being leaked from inside. Part I of his thesis is that an expert hack takes a lot of money, patience and a rare personality. (And after reading his article I believe him.) In Part II Pointman suggests that there is not a lot of money or inclination to pay such an expert. Call me  unconvinced on this second clause. Even though I’ve seen no evidence of big dollars at work in the skeptic case* I can imagine in any market worth 130 odd billion per annum that there would be players with handy shorts-ready-to-place who might like to pull some strings.

That said, the fact that the police investigation into the leak or hack has failed to find any answers combined with the obvious motivation for any half honest civil servant with a modicum of altruistic honor to act as a whistle-blower, means I find the whistle-blowing theory much more believable.

The ilk of the money-driven  sociopathic derivative trader who makes money from shorting markets, [...]

Unthreaded #1: evangelical flavour

There’s obviously a desire to debate and discuss religious leanings. It’s not science. But if it helps some people grow their climatic world view or it reaches a new audience it has a use — perhaps just as a form of mental-tennis. Though even the most illogical recalcitrant commentors sometimes bring out brilliant replies (and there are a few, especially far down). Like minded comments from other threads will be moved here as it is off-topic on every other post on this site. This whole topic breaks basic rules of logic and reason. But in the interests of free speech and to declutter other important threads, this is home to those comments that do not belong elsewhere.