JoNova

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

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Australian Environment Conference Oct 20 2012


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GoldNerds

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



Michael Brown, astronomer, says science is not about debate, people are too stupid to judge

Michael Brown, recipient of taxpayer funds for astronomy, tells us that science is not about debate because people are not smart enough to judge the winner. He doesn’t list any evidence to support his faith in climate models (he’s just part of the herd following the consensus pack). Nor does he have any serious scientific criticism of the NIPCC climate report. But he uses plenty of names, baseless allusion, and innuendo. In the article ”Adversaries, zombies and NIPCC climate pseudoscience” in The Conversation he resorts to a group smear (with the help of the taxpayer funded site) in the hope that people won’t listen to those who disagree with him. Apparently he can’t win a fair and open debate, so he’s doing what he can to stop one.

If science now has “Gods” who are above question, it’s not science, it’s a religion. A scientist who says “I’m right because I’m a scientist” is neither right nor much of a scientist. Brown is acting like a self-appointed High-Priest of the Climate Doctrine.

The NIPCC report is more balanced, more comprehensive, and more accurate than the politically-guided tome from the IPCC . It contains hundreds of peer reviewed references put [...]

Coalition wants to stop wasting ARC funds on “futile research” – Here’s a few more suggestions

Cut those waste-of-time academic projects? Not a moment too soon.

If the Coalition wins the election they want to refocus the Australian Research Council (ARC). The first “wasteful” project mentioned is about adapting to climate change through public art. What a good omen…

Some ARC funds appear to be nothing more than disguised government advertising. That has to stop.

MILLIONS of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants for obscure research projects – such as the role of public art in climate change – will be scrapped or redirected to find cures for dementia and other diseases as part of a Coalition crackdown on government waste.

And a further $1.1 billion is expected to be returned to the budget bottom line from the scrapping of the carbon tax, under the Coalition election promises costings to be released today.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that as part of the Coalition’s budget savings measures, a dedicated team will be formed under its proposed Commission of Audit to re-prioritise about $900 million in annual Australian Research Council grants.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that a list of the types of grants that would no longer be funded under new and more stringent guidelines for [...]

Australia’s Big Science Vision – an eco-green form of sustainable mediocrity.

Where is the vision?

The Australian Government have reissued their research priorities for science. Sadly it’s infected with the eco-virus. There are seven “sustainables”,  and ten aspects of “change”. When it comes to maximizing our competitive advantage, the first point is the development of “reliable, low cost, low emission energy.” Say no more. After applying a wheel-clamp to the economy, we’re paying scientists to figure out how to drive cars with wheel-clamps on.

The Australian Academy of Science “welcomes the release” which tell us exactly how useful they are. They think this is a “long-term, strategic vision for Australia”. I think this is an eco-pop wish-list of bland mediocrity on a dead-end road. It’s time for real scientists to ditch the current associations, which have forgotten what science is, and start some new ones.

What should Australian public funded scientists be discovering?

I envisage priority number one as stopping the ravages of disease and misfortune, conquering cancer, and the common cold, or at the very least, reducing asthma and diabetes. As a bonus we’d sell the products for trillions to a clamouring world, to make us rich beyond our wildest dreams, the envy of the world, and a top destination for [...]

Are ARC grants for science or a form of government advertising disguised as research?

ARC Grants have just been announced for 2013

Let’s look at what won a grant in light of the fact that nearly 80% of all the applications for ARC funding fail. (Indeed Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt wonders if our best scientists are hobbled by an arduous waste-of-time process where they spend up to 30% – 50% of their working life applying for grants.)

Looking at the current round of successful grants. How do you beat four out of five candidates for funding? Here’s one successful method:

Step One: Use statistically insignificant results obtained by dubious techniques to generate a paper with conclusions that grab headlines.

Step Two: Make sure these “results” support contentious Labor Party policies, and actively promote the spurious conclusions in the media prior to publication.

Step Three (optional): Possibly go on to publish the paper, then again, maybe not.

Step Four: Apply for more money.

Apparently the ALP need to find budget savings from the science program to deliver their promised “surplus”. They are thinking of a grants freeze — which is a good way to create uncertainty and encourage the best researchers to leave the country. Here’s [...]

Gergis hockey stick withdrawn. This is what 95% certainty looks like in climate science.

In May it was all over the newspapers, in June it was shown to be badly flawed. By October, it quietly gets withdrawn.  The apology and press release are coming soon…right?

Thanks to help from the Australian Research Council it only took 300,000 dollars and three years to produce a paper that lasted all of three weeks. But it scored the scary headlines! It was “confirmation”, it was “unprecedented warming”, and it was a scientific certainty that was based on “27 natural climate records” and  “over the last 1000 years”. What could possibly go wrong? They had 2 whole proxies that went right back a thousand years, and they’d used computers (!) to rehash the data 3000 ways!  Frankly, I’m surprised it lasted three weeks. Let’s remember that if one single journalist had simply asked “how much colder was it in 1200AD?” Gergis, Karoly and the rest would have had to say “0.09 of a degree”. No one asked. But Gergis et al, had a proxy in Tasmania, and another in New Zealand, and they were “confident” they could calculate the whole grand continental collective temperature to nine one hundredths of a degree? Seriously.

As Mike E then pointed out [...]

Lewandowsky hopes we meant “Conspiracy” but we mean “Incompetence”

What can I say? Prof Lewandowsky, expert in conspiracies, thinks we are postulating a conspiracy — but the bad news for him is that we are postulating straight out incompetence, no conspiracy required.

How does Lewandowsky define “conspiracy”? However he wants.

I hate to say I told you so, but I did. Back in May 2010, before Lewandowsky posted his survey, he foresaw the results:

“This attribute of conspiracy theorising applies in full force to the actions of climate “sceptics” who operate outside the peer reviewed literature” [ABC Drum]“

and I foresaw what he would do with them:

“Lewandowsky uses  the name-calling to “poison the well” against people who don’t even believe in a conspiracy [about man-made global warming], but happen to also be skeptical…Jo Nova May 2010“

Graham at OnLine Opinion (OLO) has posted Part II of a Fish rots from the Head and it’s quite something to see.

This post will look at the question of what is a conspiracy, and also what constitutes “conspiracist ideation”. The conclusion, just to save you reading to the bottom, is that Lewandowsky has no clear idea so adapts it to what fits his thesis. This is [...]

Lewandowsky – Shows “skeptics” are nutters by asking alarmists to fill out survey

I‘m putting on a conservative, understated hat. This could be the worst paper  I have seen — an ad hom argument taken to its absurd extreme, rebadged as “science”.

Professorial fellow Stephan Lewandowsky thinks that skeptics who are “greatly involved” in the climate debate believe any kind of conspiracy theory, including that the moon landings never happened, that AIDS is not due to HIV, and that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. But he didn’t find this out by asking skeptics who are “greatly involved” in the climate debate or by reading their popular sites.  He “discovered” this by asking 1,000 visitors to climate blogs. Which blogs? He expertly hunted down skeptics, wait for it…  here:

Deltoid, Tamino Scot Mandia, Bickmore, A Few Things Ill Considered, Hot-Topic (NZ) Trunity (unconfirmed?) John Cook (through twitter, h/t Barry Woods at Climate Audit)

This is the point where the question has to be asked: Did Lewandowsky, Oberauer,  and  Gignac really think they would get away with it? Did none of the reviewers at “Psychological Science“ think to ask if the “sampling” of alarmist blogs would affect the results?

The paper is titled:

“NASA faked the moon landing  — Therefore (Climate) Science is a [...]

300,000 dollars and three years to produce a paper that lasted three weeks: Gergis

The paper might have been scientifically invalid, but it was a box-office success.

The headlines were everywhere

“1000 years of climate data confirms Australia’s warming” said the press release from University of Melbourne. It  was picked up by  The Guardian: “Australasia has hottest 60 years in a millennium, scientists find”; The Age and  The Australian led with “Warming since 1950 ‘unprecedented’. The story was on ABC 24  and ABC news where Gergis proclaimed:” there are no other warm periods in the last 1000 years that match the warming experienced in Australasia since 1950.” It was all over the ABC including ABC Radio National, and they were “95% certain“!  On ABC AM, “the last five decades years in Australia have been the warmest. ” Plus there were pages in Science Alert,  Campus Daily  Eco news,  The Conversation, Real Climate* and Think Progress.

Blog review is where the real science gets tested

Skeptics have been looking through the paper, and three weeks after it was published a team at Climate Audit (kudos to Jean S and Nick Stokes) uncovered a problem so significant that the authors announced that this paper is “on hold”. It has been withdrawn from the American Meteorological [...]

$700,000 for believers to convert skeptics – but nothing for skeptical science

From the 2011 Australian Research Council report: as much as $45,700,000 was spent on An Environmentally Sustainable Australia in 2011.

The cash cow that is “Climate Change” is so loaded that over a six year period, $718,000 dollars of ARC funds has flowed to “believers” (their terminology) to study and convert dissenters.

The death threat that wasn’t (by the kangaroo culler — John Coochey) was made at an event that deserves more attention.  The “Deliberative Democracy” turns out to be part of a project funded by the Australian Research Council to the tune of $378,500. It’s title: Social Adaptation to Climate Change in the Australian Public Sphere: A comparison of individual and group deliberative responses to scenarios of future climate change. This year, a new version of the same project has been awarded another $340,000.

Quite properly, the deliberative forum claims it was not going to take sides:

“The project sought to engage with the full range of positions from people who are sceptical about climate change through to those who are very concerned. We do not endorse any particular point of view – it is the aim of the project to find out what these views [...]

Want climate resistant oysters, or climate “Justice”? The ARC has millions to help. But no money for skeptics.

File this under “Monopolistic Science”

Australian Taxpayer funds in 2012 are supporting around 50 projects about “climate change” or “greenhouse gases”.

One David McKnight has got $95k to study how Australian governments “spin” the news. So which cancer research project was knocked back so he could study a “hyper-adversarial” news system? And what is so bad about a competitive news system in any case? What are we aiming for — real news or better propaganda? (See my response to David McKnight in The Australian to see how confused this journalism lecturer is.)

The dollar values here are usually for three year projects. Some of these projects potentially produce press releases which are nothing more than disguised forms of government advertising for big-spending climate policies.

Jo

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Guest Post: Dr Roberto Soria, Perth

The ARC Major Grant results for 2012 were announced in Nov 2011.  Here is what Australian scientists are up to this year.

The ARC (Australian Research Council) is the main source of funding for all researchers in all fields of natural, political and social sciences. Getting a grant will make a difference between carrying on doing research and finding another job, for many researchers. Take a [...]

Science associations give science a bad name

In this story from The Australian, we have the ludicrous double-irony of subscribers paying to read a story that disguises how their own taxpayer dollars are used against them to fund the  propaganda that’s used to justify milking them for more taxpayer dollars….

Sometimes, you’d think media releases from science associations and universities were Commandments from God.

If football associations put out media releases that tried to whitewash the news of clubs rampantly breaking rules, or of officials letting them get away with it, or of umpires placing bets on the outcome of games they rule over, the sports journos would bake the officials, grill the umpires, and lampoon the clubs. But, when the topic is “science”, and the spokespeople have polysyllabic titles, they are untouchable.

Admittedly, there is that other effect: advertising. The Higher Education Supplement is designed to sell advertising space to universities, and asking the top dogs biting-hard questions is probably not the way to win big contracts (the journalists might be cynical, but Australian universities are a $12 billion dollar industry). And look in the last budget: There’s a neat pink icing on the cake in the graph below, thanks to the man-made theory of global warming. That [...]