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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High risk for a heart attack? Might be better if your cardiologist is away at a conference

Researchers at Harvard wondered if high risk heart patients were more likely to die if they turned up at the hospital during national cardiology meetings when most of the experts are not around. Instead, it turns out that mortality rates during the conferences fell from 70% to 60%. Oops.

Who do you want to see if you’re sick? In this situation, possibly not your specialist.

High-risk patients with certain acute heart conditions are more likely to survive than other similar patients if they are admitted to the hospital during national cardiology meetings, when many cardiologists are away from their regular practices.

Sixty percent of patients with cardiac arrest who were admitted to a teaching hospital during the days when cardiologists were at scientific meetings died within 30 days, compared to 70 percent of patients who were admitted on non-meeting days.

“That’s a tremendous reduction in mortality, better than most of the medical interventions that exist to treat these conditions,” said study senior author Anupam Jena, assistant professor of health care policy at HMS, internist at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. There is substantial ambiguity in how medical care [...]

Hulme tries to throw all scientists under a bus. It’s just “the debate is over”. Cook, consensus take collateral hit.

It’s another tiny marker on the road to reality. Mike Hulme has admitted that Cooks 97% study is “infamous” and “irrelevant”. He’s trying to wash himself of both the “Consensus” argument and Cook’s work which he can see are becoming a liability. But make no mistake Hulme is more alarmist than ever. He’s just trying to rebrand the gravy train.

In Science can’t settle what should be done about climate change he’s not trying to argue from scientific authority. But–watch the pea–it is just a different form of authority — his. He’s trying to chuck both sides of the science debate under the bus-of-oblivion and pretend that science is completely irrelevant. With his mere statement that the science is settled (according to him), he’s hoping to get the policies discussed and stop people raising awkward points about the science.

What’s amazing is that anyone falls for this nonsense at all. It’s a naked attempt to divert the national conversation with statements that are self evidently inane. He wants us to discuss how much money to spend to change the weather, but not discuss how much the weather is going to change. What, no discussion of value for money–how much for [...]

Prince Charles says headless chickens should have more blind trust in science


Switch off your brain, Prince Charles has said you are a headless chicken if you do not accept what political committees tell you to think.

PRINCE Charles has called people who deny human-made climate change a “headless chicken brigade” who are ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence.

Thus Chicken Little yells “headless chickens”, and climate sensitivity must be 3.3C. Right?

The heir to the throne, a dedicated environmentalist, accused “powerful groups of deniers” of mounting “a barrage of sheer intimidation” against opponents.

So one of the richest men in the world, future ruler of nations, feels bullied by unfunded volunteers? Such bravery from our next Head of State. (I’m not Monarchist or Republican, but if Charles keeps talking, that could change.)

This is the same old argument: authorities want us to believe authority, while stupid punters ask for data instead.

Using all the inductive reasoning he could muster, Charles admits he cannot figure out why everyone does not accept the pronouncements of people who hide declines, data, emails and methods:

Charles said it was “baffling … that in our modern world we have such blind trust in science and technology that we all accept what science tells us about [...]

Cook’s fallacy “97% consensus” study is a marketing ploy some journalists will fall for

What does a study of 20 years of abstracts tell us about the global climate? Nothing. But it says quite a lot about the way government funding influences the scientific process.

John Cook, a blogger who runs the site with the ambush title “SkepticalScience” (which unskeptically defends the mainstream position), has tried to revive the put-down and smear strategy against the thousands of scientists who disagree. The new paper confounds climate research with financial forces, is based on the wrong assumptions, uses fallacious reasoning, wasn’t independent, and confuses a consensus of climate scientists for a scientific consensus, not that a consensus proves anything anyway, if it existed.

Given the monopolistic funding of climate science in the last 20 years, the results he finds are entirely predictable.

The twelve clues that good science journalists ought to notice:

1. Thousands of papers support man-made climate change, but not one found the evidence that matters

Cook may have found 3,896 papers endorsing the theory that man-made emissions control the climate, but he cannot name one paper with observations that shows that the assumptions of the IPCC climate models about water vapor and cloud feedbacks are correct. These assumptions produce half to two-thirds of [...]

John Cook of (un) SkepticalScience, admits “climate change denier” is inaccurate. Will he stop name-calling?

I don’t think John Cook realizes how his latest article affects virtually everything else he’s written.

(Repeated on the SMH too.)

How accurate is a book when even the title describes a group of people who don’t exist? Will Cook stop abusing English?

So he finally admits the banal, that there is no rational explanation for calling skeptical scientists “climate deniers” or “climate change deniers”. Bravo. (No one denies that climate changes, or thinks the Earth has no climate.). But this is terminology he uses everywhere, and it describes a group of people that don’t exist. Has he only just noticed?

We think through our language, and when we use sloppy, inaccurate words, we get sloppy inaccurate results. Abusing our language is what people do when they don’t have a rational argument.

Misleading language is de rigueur for Cook. Even the name of his “SkepticalScience” website is the anti-thesis of accurate English. He’s not skeptical of “official science” in the slightest, and with a gaping hole in his logic (see below), not too scientific either.

Look out for the “fake” tag, too. Since when did a representative of a university call another university academic a fake? Since Cook did. He [...]

Peter Doherty responds in The Australian but science is not done by committee

There’s a letter in the paper today in response to my article:

Climate scientists are not failing to convince others

From: The Australian August 27, 2012 12:00AM

Every significant science academy supports the case made by the climate science community. These academies encompass the full spectrum of science and members are elected by merit.

As a researcher in immunobiology, I watch the climate field from the sideline, go to some seminars, talk to scientists, monitor key websites and read leading journals such as Science and Nature.

Climate researchers are rigorous and conservative, and I don’t see anything that gives me unease. The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO, for example, input 50,000 pieces of new data every day. These are the people who dedicate their lives to grappling with the massive experiment we’re doing with our atmosphere. Unlike my field, this is an experiment that can never be repeated.

Peter C. Doherty, Medical School, University of Melbourne, Vic

My point was that argument from authority is not science, and Doherty’s response is to argue from authority.

One of the reasons “Argument from Authority” is a fallacy is because people are human, and associations of humans don’t always neutralize our failings, [...]

Victory of the Denialists! says Robert Manne in The Monthly as his Gods of Science fail

Firstly — No one wins anything while the people who slag off at scientists get their denigrating name-calling on the front cover of magazines. That said, I’m smiling. Beaming. The man who doesn’t know what science is, admits his team is failing. That has to be good. Real scientists everywhere, smile!

Manne’s argument appears to rest entirely on his mistaken belief that “science” is What The Gods Declare it To Be. For Manne, the Gods are “official climate scientists”. Apparently, only those who are anointed by Government funding have access to The Truth — and their declarations must be obeyed. Manne is so completely under their spell,  he is incapable of figuring out how anyone could think anything else.

“For reasonable citizens there ought to be no question easier to answer than whether or not human-caused global warming is real and is threatening the future of the Earth.”

For Manne, planetary atmospheric dynamics are so blindingly clear that only unreasonable citizens could question it. And if there is “no easier question”, then it follows that those who get this question wrong are not just unreasonable but quite possibly, brain dead. Manne’s writing is thick with insults, but [...]

The Highest Authority in Science is the Data

Joint Post David Evans and Jo Nova

“97 percent of climate experts say man-made global warming is a major threat”

The correct response: “So? The satellites, ocean buoys, and weather balloons disagree.”

The alarmists may have “experts”, but the skeptics have the data.

How do you find the truth about some disputed point in science? You find the most authoritative source of information.  The vital thing that makes science different to a religion is that there are no “Gods” of science. There is no expert who is infallible. The highest authority in science is the measurements and observations. Here is the hierarchy of authority in climate science:

Data (empirical evidence) Climate scientists Other scientists Lay people.

For most of the last few centuries, science has been supreme over politics for settling the truth in matters pertaining to the physical world—empirical evidence beats anyone’s say-so.

But the modern political approach is to ignore that top level. To most warmists and the public who “believe in climate change” (as they so misleading say), the hierarchy is:

Climate scientists Other scientists Lay people.

The  way the climate scam works is for the like-minded western bureaucracies to [...]

What does it take for a worldwide consensus? Just 75 opinions.

It’s true, 97%-of-experts agree the world is going to hell in a handcart. It’s part of the frontline toolkit used by the Big Scare Campaign.

Do a google search on “97% of climate scientists agree” and 3,920,000 links turn up.

Like everything in the Big Scare Campaign, a tiny semi-dried kernel of truth becomes inflated, distorted and repeated into a  planetary group chant. Here’s how one small online survey was distilled to the point where the opinions of 75 climate scientists doing a 2 minute online survey could be headlined up as: “97 percent of scientists say man-made climate change is real”. (Worse — for those of us with a scientific bent — this mantra to the imaginary Gods of Science is even referred to as “Scientific” evidence.)

In August 2010, the HockeySchtick site pointed out the 97% figure was just 75 self selected scientists.  As as example of the way the chant is spun, the author, “MS” linked to the unSkepticalScience site and the screen image that John Cook posted in an article titled: “Visually depicting the disconnect between climate scientists, media and the public”.

Don’t miss the fact that the graphic is subtitled “SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE”. [...]

PNAS: Witchdoctors of science — Anderegg’s blacklist of scientists

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science: a step back to the Stone Age

A shameful day in the history of science. The once esteemed National Academy of Science is reduced to pagan witchcraft: point the bone at the blacklist, count the tea-leaf-citations, put on your funny hat and make a prophesy about the weather.

Some critics are saying the survey is flawed because it uses artificial groupings. Artificial be damned — the survey is flawed because it’s a waste-of-time work of anti-science for even existing. Science is not a democracy. Natural laws don’t form because anyone says so, and the only way to find out the answer is to … look at the evidence. Doh.

This adulation of individuals and tests of character, “success”, or popularity is the anti-thesis of what the great brains-trust of science ought to do. In science all minds test their theories against the universe, and only the real world matters. The petty world of human reputations is steeped in bias and conflicts of interest with personality defects and political power grabs, not to mention the corrupting influence of money. Science achieved vast success for civilization by freeing us from exactly this cess-pool of [...]