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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US Presidential candidates ranked for independent thinking and gullibility on climate science

How many Presidential candidates are susceptible to groupthink, scare campaigns and low-base science agitprop? Thanks to Seth Borenstein, Michael Mann & Andrew Dessler we can rank them according to their ability to resist profoundly unscientific propaganda like “there is a consensus”.

Ted Cruz is clearly the best at holding his own in the independent thinker stakes.  Ben Carson and Donald Trump do well. But poor Hillary Clinton doesn’t stand a chance against the onslaught of junk graphs, hyperbolic claims, and inane bumper-sticker cliches.

Those who fall for the consensus argument are in no position to run a nation.  Firstly it’s profoundly unscientific — we don’t vote for the laws of science; scientific theories are either true or not true regardless of opinions. Secondly, it only takes ten minutes of independent searching to find that there is no consensus among scientists as a broad group, anyway. There is a consensus among various definitions of certified climate scientists, but not among meteorologists , geoscientists and engineers or other hard science areas.

As I’ve said before, skeptics outrank and outnumber believers, they make planes fly, find mineral deposits, and walked on the moon. Believers produce climate models that don’t work. If [...]

What consensus? Less than half of climate scientists agree with the IPCC “95%” certainty

I used to think there was a consensus among government-funded certified climate scientists, but a better study by Verheggen Strengers, Verheegen, and Vringer shows even that is not true.[1] The “97% consensus” is now 43%.

Finally there is a decent survey on the topic, and it shows that less than half of what we would call “climate scientists” who research the topic and for the most part, publish in the peer reviewed literature, would agree with the IPCC’s main conclusions. Only 43% of climate scientists agree with the IPCC “95%” certainty.

More than 1800 international scientists studying various aspects of climate change (including climate physics, climate impacts, and mitigation) responded to the questionnaire. Some 6550 people were invited to participate in this survey, which took place in March and April 2012. Respondents were picked because they had authored articles with the key words ‘global warming’ and/or ‘global climate change’, covering the 1991–2011 period, via the Web of Science, or were included the climate scientist database assembled by Jim Prall, or just by a survey of peer reviewed climate science articles. Prall’s database includes some 200 names that have criticized mainstream science and about half had only published in [...]

The 99.99% pure climate consensus – how to ignore thousands of skeptical scientists

Joy. It’s another profoundly unscientific “consensus” study. At least one person thought that the  97% PR figure was not enough, and that magic 99.9% would sway the crowds. As if there was even one fence-sitter sitting, waiting, saying, “97% was too low…”

For the herding type of human, “consensus” is magnetically convincing. Not so for the independent minds who have seen prediction after prediction fail. If a 97% consensus on a highly complex, immature science is difficult to believe, a 99.99% one is comic. More of the same unconvincing stuff will do nothing except set off the BS meter.  This new study will sway no one. The supernatural purity of it will work against “The Cause”.

A consensus is the one and only argument of the unskeptical, and they are doing it to death.

One fan, James Powell, was so enthused he spent nine months reading titles and abstracts of 24,000 papers, and found only four scientists (4!) who didn’t agree with the consensus. Some 69,402 other scientists apparently endorse “the consensus” (whatever it is) because they used the terms “climate change”, or “global warming” and they didn’t also make a clear statement that it was false, or [...]

Climate scientists: More scared of an inquiry into the science than they are of climate change

What’s more terrifying to a climate scientist than “2 degrees” of warming? Answer: Half a degree of hard questions.

Australian climate scientists don’t complain at all when the UN says it wants to redirect $89 Trillion in a quest to change the climate. But they are suddenly all concerned that the Australian Government might waste 0.0001% investigating the science. A disaster!  Since when were climate scientists concerned about wasting public money? Since never.

A group of thirteen scientists, who’ve personally achieved little in the way of scientific advances, have written to Dennis Jensen and Chris Back offering to brief them on the “latest science”, afraid the skeptics might launch an inquiry into the science.  The ABC calls them “prominent”: Climate change: Scientists warn sceptic MPs Dennis Jensen, Chris Back against inquiry into evidence of human influence.

Isn’t the scientific evidence the most important thing?

Surveys show half of the Australian public are skeptical — unconvinced by their claims that coal will cause a climate crisis or that solar panels can stop the storms. Right now, if the climate is headed for a disaster, nothing is more important than convincing the public. Instead, the climate scientists keep repeating that the debate [...]

Cholesterol — how the web and books are years ahead of “Consensus”

Consensus — slowing real science for decades

There is a surprising amount of interest in the cholesterol story of Matt Ridley’s in The Times and The Australian last week. Surprising to me anyway, because 15 years ago the other benevolent side of cholesterol was pretty clear online.  Fifteen years is not a long time in human civilization, but it’s a long time in a human life. And in the case of the war on cholesterol, it’s been running for 40 years. How many people died sooner than they would have, because they followed expert advice?

Finally the official consensus on cholesterol is admitting defeat:

“Any day now, the US government will officially accept the advice to drop cholesterol from its list of “nutrients of concern” altogether. It wants also to “de-emphasise” saturated fat, given “the lack of evidence connecting it with cardiovascular disease”. “

In the late 1990′s it was widely known online (among health zealots) that our livers are mostly in charge of our cholesterol levels, not what’s on our dinner plates. Something like 80% of the cholesterol in our blood came from our own livers, not the food we eat.  Way back then, it was also known [...]

Some Guardian myths about climate change

Ooh. Here’s a bit of a backdown. Skeptics must be getting to The Guardian. Smile.

Mocking skeptics and calling them deniers has somehow failed to win them over, so the Guardian is trying a slightly new tack. This time they pretend to be balanced, and post up a list of “Myths to explode” from both sides of the debate. But don’t bring the ear-muffs, or the ambulances — these bombs are pussy-foot puff balls. The air-drops on alarmist camps are so convoluted they manage to support The Big Fear Campaign even as they try (gently-bentley!) to reign in a few excesses of the believers — don’t mention human extinction, and do remember the world has been hotter before, right? On skeptical “myths”, nothing has changed but at least they’ve stopped the namecalling (Bravo!). But it’s hard for author  Hannah Devlin — she even serves up a new myth to try to squash an old one. The rate of global warming is apparently “unprecedented”, as in one-degree-in-a-century has never ever happened before, not once. How likely is that we could know the rate of global temperature swings to a tenth of a degree back in the days of dinosaurs and at continuous [...]

The 97% Cook Consensus – when will Environ Res Letters retract it?

Richard Tol has an excellent summary of the state of the 97% claim by John Cook et al, published in The Australian today.

It becomes exhausting to just list the errors.

Don’t ask how bad a paper has to be to get retracted. Ask how bad it has to be to get published.

As Tol explains, the Cook et al paper used an unrepresentative sample, can’t be replicated, and leaves out many useful papers. The study was done by biased observers who disagreed with each other a third of the time, and disagree with the authors of those papers nearly two-thirds of the time. About 75% of the papers in the study were irrelevant in the first place, with nothing to say about the subject matter. Technically, we could call them  “padding”. Cook himself has admitted data quality is low. He refused to release all his data, and even threatened legal action to hide it. (The university claimed it would breach a confidentiality agreement. But in reality, there was no agreement to breach.) As it happens, the data ended up being public anyhow. Tol refers to an “alleged hacker” but, my understanding is that no hack took place, and the [...]

Study namecalling at Queensland University

UPDATE: See Tony Thomas’s views on the course as it runs: UQ’s Denial 101x : Putting the stink in distinction. The course is living up to all expectations!

Would you too like to learn how to misinform people, mangle English, and toss cherry-picked factoids that avoid the real point? How about studying to be an apologist for scientists who take your taxes, but hide their data? Or perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being an obedient useful fool for the State, to help promote propaganda that governments can change the weather if the people just pay enough money?

Are you looking for a cause to pick up that you can brag about at parties to prove your social superiority, impress teenage girls, or hide your low self-esteem? Do you crave an outlet where you get the thrill of being a namecalling bully, but with the excuse that you are “saving the planet” and “being scientific”?

Good news, Queensland University is dumping any pretense that its science faculty uses logic or reason or has an interest in observable evidence. The university is advertising that abusing English definitions and words meets its standards of higher education. After all, no one [...]

Farmers and Ag advisors not convinced by climatologists

Just another survey that takes useful results, interprets with false assumptions, and produces mostly meaningless conclusions. Vale academia.

Farmers are a skeptical bunch, who watch the weather very closely– only 8% buy the whole article-of-faith that man-made climate is the dominant factor, compared to 50 – 66% of climate scientists.

Prokopy et al start from the unspoken assumption that climate scientists know what they are talking about (even though their models are abjectly failing) and try to figure out why farmers aren’t worried about climate change. At no point do they question that inbuilt paradigm and ask the opposite question — are climate scientists failing to convince farmers because the climate scientists are doing bad work? So they miss the obvious recommendation that climate scientists need to figure out the climate before they start the communications cycle. It’s a lesson in how important it is for all scientists to define their terms and state all their assumptions.

When Prokopyu et al manage to come up with a useful suggestion it’s largely by accident. They recommend two-way dialogues between stakeholders and climate scientists (what a wild idea). Can I suggest that climate scientists start by using English, instead of namecalling [...]

Fact Checking the ABC — the Big-Myth about the “World’s Scientists”

The ABC bias is now so obvious, everyone with an open mind and an Internet connection knows that the ABC report the parts that suit, and hide the rest. They even edit the words of skeptics to produce sentences that were never actually spoken. But what I saw last night was a flagrantly wrong statement, counter to the truth, reported as if it were so above question it did not even need explanation, qualification or substantiation. It’s time to squeeze the ABC for accuracy.

One of the Big-Myths in this debate is that the opinions of “climate scientists” equals the opinion of “scientists in general”. All over Australia last night hundreds of thousands of Australians heard this statement as narration in the main news bulletin:

“World’s scientists reckon the climates never felt anything like them in close to a million years…”  – 4:40mins ABC News report Nov 3, 2014

Ignoring the point that the sentence is grammatically incoherent, it is misleading and demonstrably false. The “World’s Scientists” don’t reckon anything, they have never been surveyed, have not voted for a spokesperson, and inasmuch as anyone could estimate the “world’s scientists” opinions,  actual surveys show that skeptics would outnumber and outrank [...]