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


Australian Environment Conference Oct 20 2012



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

Is science a rigorous skill or just rote specialties?

Prof Garth Paltridge released Climate Caper a year ago. As a working atmospheric physicist, his description of the fall of modern science is as insightful as his descriptions of the physics of the climate.

One of the messages  that struck me was his point that it used to be seen as  imperative for scientists to not be too specialized; to work in different specialties.

He points out that the mandate to publish or perish has far reaching consequences. To sum up his argument: the survival of a research scientist now depends on their ability to produce multiple papers; this rewards people who dilute their work, focus on trivial non-problems, and in short–tackle anything but difficult issues and deep revolutions.

Because of the need for multiple publications, no institution today would employ a scientist who was trained in another area–the new researcher would require too much uptime before their publications began to roll.  So universities aim to find PhD grads who are an exact fit for the program.

(…aiming to find an exact fit, ensures) narrow-mindedness of scientific outlook, mediocrity  in research, and a scientific literature that is so vast and overladen with minute  of the unimportant, that [...]

Despite propaganda, 30% of Australians aren’t fooled

The Question: Do increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere pose an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic change in earth’s temperature in the future?

Of 1022 people polled, 55% agreed and 31% opposed (including the 19% who strongly opposed). Nearly half, or 45% are not convinced a catastrophe is on the way due to carbon dioxide. Source: OnlineOpinion

My sense is that the curve of opinion on this complex science is the inverse of what you would expect. Normally on a complex scientific topic,  the most common answer would be neither agree nor disagree (or don’t know), and the strong opinions would taper off like a bell curve with few people being sure either way. Instead opinions are polarized. “Catastrophic” is strong language. One side here is passionately wrong.

46 % of Australians surveyed believe the Emissions Trading Scheme should be delayed.

With 3000 times as much funding supporting the side with professional PR teams, the endless repetition of the assumption that man-made carbon dioxide causes warming is becoming a liability in itself. The more the advocates for action whitewash, the more people grow suspicious. They more they bully, the more people get a gut feeling that [...]

Scientists call for Royal Commission* into climate change science

Released today. Four independent scientists respond in detail to the evidence that government scientists claim shows that carbon dioxide causes significant global warming. The real debate continues. After the return fire from the skeptical experts, there was not a single point left standing.


Global politics is being influenced by the climate fawners

More muddy thinking. Once again, a politico-journalist writes about science and misses the point. Science is not like law, politics or sport: there is no umpire, no judge, no boss who sets the rules (at least not one you can interview). Opinions don’t control the climate, yet Mike Steketee makes the basic error of elevating opinions above The Real World. Steketee is The Australian newspaper’s National Affairs Editor. He’s even won a Walkley award for journalism, yet somehow, the rules of engagement for science writing are so lax he can get away with a commentary which fails the basic test of logic. He pays lip service to the benefits of scepticism in journalism, while he simply repeats official PR from international committees. This is not investigative journalism, or even informed commentary.

“We have the illusion of ‘free press’, but when the press is untrained in logic and reason, free press is just free propaganda.”

What’s so comi-tragic about Steketee is that he’s so sure he ‘understands’ science that he can patronisingly imply that Fielding-the-engineer, might be ‘influenced’ by a contrarian (god forbid, a person who thinks)—all while Steketee is clearly not just influenced, but beholden to group-think.  Yawn. There goes [...]

The Wong-Fielding meeting on global warming

Finally, the question we’ve all wanted to ask of the people in power: Where’s the evidence?

Senator Fielding holds a crucial vote on the proposed Emissions Trading Legislation.  Fielding and four independent scientists faced the Minister for the Climate Change and Water, Penny Wong, The Chief Scientist, Penny Sackett, and Professor Will Steffen, director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University. Read what happened from someone who was there.  Joanne Nova

Guest Post by Dr David Evans


Missing Climate Headlines from May 2009

Undoubtedly the best summary of the current state of affairs is the SPPI monthly CO2 report. The April report contains news that—if there was a free and high quality media—would have generated headlines like these (well, sort of—you get the idea).

Any investigative journalist who was doing their job only had to Google for the other side of the story. I’m not saying those journalists have to agree with us, just that, at the moment most environmental writers think ‘balanced’ means saying, “The world will cook: the question is, lightly toasted OR totally pan-fried’.

Here’s the counter summary of the headlines we didn’t see, accompanied by an analysis you probably won’t see anywhere else.

Planet Unmoved by IPCC Forecast

Despite the power of the authority vested in the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), The Planet appears to be unswayed by the large well funded international bureaucracy, and is similarly immune to following the collected wisdom of the software engineers who compress it’s 1100 billion cubic kilometers of complexity into a PC.


Climate: bull or bear?

Just as the great bull run that could have no end, ended, another unthinkably big bubble quivers. Technical indicators are quietly being tripped that suggest the bull run in global temperatures may be toying with a reversal. Could another large human institution dependent on complex models be headed for it’s ‘Lehman Bros’ moment? [...]

The turning point: It’s becoming chic to be a skeptic

This must be it, surely, the point where being a skeptic has more scientific cachet than being a believer. The trickle is becoming a flood. We are reaching the stage where independent scientists will want to make sure they are known to be on the skeptical side of the fence. [...]

Reply to Deltoid

This is vintage spinmeister-Tim. Overall he claims I’m deluded, confused, constantly repeating discredited arguments, “doesn’t even know what the hot-spot is”, and “doesn’t understand how the greenhouses gases warm the planet”. But when it comes to backing up the giant patronizing put-downs, it amounts to nit-picking phraseology; irrelevant points; straw men; his own false understanding of what a fingerprint is; and then an own goal when he drops in a graph that shows that the hot-spot is indeed missing. [...]

Attempting to Intimidate a Skeptic?

Leo Elshof from Arcadia University in Nova Scotia* has written to me asking that I put a comedy disclaimer on the Skeptics Handbook, and otherwise threatens to ridicule me at international conferences and set the media onto me. The email is here and my reply is below. What have our universities sunk too? See Leo’s scorecard on logic and reasoning. [...]

AGW is a religion

Science based ideas are falsifiable, whereas religious ones are not (thanks Karl Popper). The acid test for climate scientists: “What evidence would convince you that carbon was not significant?” [...]

What is evidence?

Evidence means observations, made by people at some time and place. Things you can see, hold, hear and record. Computer models are not, and can never be evidence. [...]

Found: the hot spot? Not

The gap between real world data and thermometers is a make-or-break issue for the AGW theory. The models predict a hot-spot in the atmosphere above the tropics, but the weather balloons (called radiosondes) can’t find any sign of it. Most claims that the hot-spot has been found are not providing any new data, they are just massaging the same old numbers with a different statistical tool. Here are three variations (though the third is not a statistical-spin, it’s just nonsense).

1-Some AGW supporters claim that Santer et al has found the hot-spot. But his paper boils downs to a statistical reanalysis that suggests that due to noise and error, the hot-spot might be there. Santer hasn’t actually found the missing hot spot. He has a case, but it’s not a strong one. The statistical counterargument is at Climate Audit.


The missing hotspot

The ‘Hotspot’ is crucial to the climate debate.

If greenhouses gases are warming the planet that warming will happen first in the cold blob of air 8-12 km above the tropics. It’s freezing cold up there, but it ought to be slightly less freezing cold thanks to greenhouse gases. All 20-odd climate models predict warming there first—it’s the fingerprint of greenhouse gas warming, as opposed to warming by some other cause, like solar magnetic effects, volcanic eruptions, solar irradiance, or ozone depletion etc etc.

Look at A above, the greenhouse gas fingerprint is markedly different from the rest and dominates the overall predicted pattern in graph F. The big problem for the believers of AGW is that years of radiosonde measurements can’t find any warming, as shown in part E of Figure 5.7 in section 5.5 on page 116 of the US CCSP 2006 report


About the Skeptics Handbook

I want to lift the debate above the mud-slinging, pathetic ad hominem attacks, and specious argument by authority. The basic rules of logic and reasoning have been known since the Greeks. Educated adults ought to do better. Maybe one day, national curriculums will too. [...]