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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The Skeptics Handbook II

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Uni NSW Journalism lecturer gives advice on how to cleanse your news sources

Christopher Kremmer, Senior Lecturer in Literary & Narrative Journalism, School of the Arts & Media, UNSW, wants to help you shield yourself from worldviews that you don’t like, so he provides a detailed “how to” list of ways to make sure you filter out, specifically, news.com.

This man lectures in journalism. Instead of teaching journalism students on how to logically outplay and counter arguments and spot the flaws, he’s teaching them to cleanse their feeds lest they be exposed to inconvenient worldviews.

The team that has no evidence and no answers has to find a way to compensate for their intellectual vacuum.

Taking control of who gets to send us news

… before I had even typed in my search terms, it was apparent that my options had been narrowed. The news list that the aggregator threw up was dominated by websites whose idea of what constitutes news is very different to my own.

It takes a lot of effort to build an information silo:

One by one, I began blocking offending mastheads, then refreshing the browser to check the progress of my censorship. It takes a while because news websites use multiple addresses to maximise reader access. [...]

Professor Peter Ridd facing misconduct charges for not selling peer review as sacred unquestionable testimony

Professor Peter Ridd has made the mistake of putting scientific standards ahead of collegial comfort. What was he thinking? He seems to feel he should serve the people of the Queensland instead of helping the careers of co-workers and admin staff.

Ridd is being accused of “Not acting in a collegial way” (or something like that, no one is allowed to say for sure) and is now under investigation for serious misconduct.

 Jennifer Marohasy has more details. Apparently, in The Australian, he dared suggest that we need a group of scientists to check other scientists pronouncements on the Great Barrier Reef:

The federal government is set to spend more than $1 billion on the Great Barrier Reef in the next few years to mitigate the effects of climate change, based largely on research that is claimed not to have been subjected to proper scrutiny.

James Cook University physics professor Peter Ridd writes in a new book that the credibility of key research papers driving investments in the reef rest on “a total reliance on the demonstrably inadequate peer-review process’’.

Professor Ridd argues for the establishment of a properly funded group of scientists whose sole job [...]

This is not a tribute

On Candlelit vigils for the people in Nice

What Tim Blair says: Ditto

After so many repetitions, these events are now actually insults. They are not about the victims. They are about the mourners. They are indulgent displays of emotion that serve only to generate soothing feelings of moral comfort and to mask what should be a united and righteous fury.

Tonight’s attendees should consider this. While you see every lit candle as a poignant reminder of life’s tragic fragility, Islamic State sees them as post-game bonus points.

I know people want to talk about the atrocity in France. I wish. But thanks to Section 18C you will have to talk in other nations where offending someone is not an offence.  Or perhaps if you are lucky you might be able to discuss this somewhere in Oz where they have paid staff to moderate and lawyerate. See also Andrew Bolt’s: We cannot keep living in this fear.

Heartfelt thoughts to the victims and their families on a dark day.

Don’t drive, you encourage terrorists

If only we had more electric cars and windmills, lives could’ve been saved.

Ponder that air conditioners can cause people to do random acts of murder.  They might keep people in the room calmer, but outside that pollution* travels, heats the world, and lo, a terrorist is made.

(Call me a skeptic, but I tend to think that if we turn off all the air-conditioners (or run them on solar power, which is almost the same thing) we might get more acts of terror rather than less, but what would I know?) Bernie Sanders says that we should stop terrorists by reducing our carbon emissions. Somehow, there were people who did not laugh at him.

Time Magazine : “Why Climate Change and Terrorism Are Connected”

Drought in Syria has contributed to instability

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders used the terrorist attacks in Paris to call for action to address climate change at a primary debate Saturday. But, while the plea attracted ridicule across the political spectrum, many academics and national security experts agree that climate change contributes to an uncertain world where terrorism can thrive.

U.S. military officials refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier” [...]

Maurice Newman triggers the rabid “Conspiracy Theorist” smoke bomb. Is he teasing the hypocrites?

UPDATE: And the namecalling goes on, days later at the ABC. Who knew the words “order”, “new” and “world” are triggers for conspiracy-theory-psychoanalysis?

Yesterday Maurice Newman dared suggest that the real climate change agenda was “concentrated political authority”.  I watched his article on The Australian get quickly repeated through the SMH and many other outlets, which wouldn’t always happen. I counted down the hours until Newman was called a “conspiracy theorist” — about 18.

I expect Maurice Newman knew exactly what game he was playing today. Like tapping a knee to trigger a reflex, the words “World Government” always provokes outraged mockery and namecalling as if it were against the laws of physics rather than being the banal, obvious desire of a certain part of the population. There’s a reason there’s no hit song called “Nobody wants to rule the world”.

Was Newman baiting the gullible fans of a man-made catastrophe in order to get his message spread far and wide? If he was, it was successful. Now it’s up to us to pick up the ball and point out that hypocrisy of the sacred taboo — only a certain class are allowed to discuss “world-government” (that’s [...]

Climate change believers are using ‘medieval’ tactics to silence debate says George Brandis

How loaded and vitriolic the conversation is about the weather. Too loaded.

George Brandis describes how the left have stopped arguing for free speech and instead do everything to silence different views. He was shocked, he said, at the deplorable attitudes in two particularly white-hot topics: climate change and racial discrimination. Australian Senator Brandis is the Attorney General of Australia, and at the center of the debate about the noxious 18C legislation on hate-speech and whether we Australians have to make sure we don’t say anything to offend anyone. Curiously, this interview has got The Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald talking. Commenters at The Guardian are doing their best to say why Brandis is wrong (“he is a lunatic”), while at the same time proving nearly everything he says about their tactics is true. Brandis, after all, explains that he agrees with the climate consensus, but doesn’t see why asking questions about the science should evoke a shocking form of authoritarianism and anti-intellectualism. He speaks of the emergence of a habit of denying the legitimacy of any other point of view.

Commenter “scuzzlebutt” says: “I’m starting to believe that Brandis may just be one of the most dangerous people in [...]

Ficklestein strikes again — Here’s a prime example of why regulating free speech is a hypocritical bad joke.

Let me see if I’ve got this straight — the Australian Press Council manages media standards in Australia, but isn’t doing it well enough according to Mr Finklestein (and fellow regulators), who want it overhauled. They want newspapers to be regulated so they can be as trusted as the ABC “is”.*  So Finklestein thinks the ABC complaints process works well, and the APC one is too weak.

This week the ABC announced it was fine to equate skeptics to pedophiles as a researched comment by a host on a “science” show, while at the same time, the APC ruled that it was not fine for a skeptic who used loose satirical colourful language in a newspaper column to repeat a quote from an angry farmer who used the word pedophile to describe wind-farm operators.

 ABC sets lower standards bar Nick Leys From: The Australian

DRAWING comparisons to pedophiles to attack your opponents is acceptable under the ABC complaints process – held up as the ideal model by media inquiry head Ray Finkelstein – but has been ruled out of order by the newspapers’ existing regulatory body.

But two decisions this week reveal the APC is tougher on commentators [...]

The UN threat to internet freedom

Oh Joy and Goody. Imagine if decisions about the global internet were made by the same institution that thought the rights of the downtrodden would be best protected by Col. Muammar Gaddafi? Hands up who wants another group of people you have no control over, making decisions for you and behind closed doors?

Of course, they will tell us the new regulations are there to help us, to stop spam, keep the internet fair and open. Then sooner or later, as with all human institutions, politics and ambition will mean the power is misused.

The people who will suffer the most are those in third world dictatorships. But free speech is the thing that stops the first world from turning into the third world. It’s hard to see how we get more than one shot at this. Once the net stops being open, imagine the fun trying to get that freedom back. Think of how fast protest groups can be arranged online through Facebook and email. Then think about how hard that gets if you have no e-help? The protests favored by the establishment get the free pass. What does everyone else do? Make thousands of cold phone calls? Use [...]

Tyrants always want to silence the critics

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Two hundred and fifty years ago the pamphleteers were the bloggers of the day. The Finkelstein plan in Australia is a modern version of the License of the Press under George III. Another excuse to tell people what they are allowed to read.

One John Wilkes was elected MP for Aylesbury in 1757.  George III soon-to-be-crowned King, arranged for his friend the Earl of Bute to get the job of PM. Wilkes wasn’t too happy with that. He thought Bute was incompetent, and so when one supporter of Bute started a newsletter called The Briton, it was only eight days later that Wilkes started his own newsletter, called the North Briton in response. Wilkes wrote anonymously each week, but his 45th edition was too much for George III and Wilkes was charged with Libel for accusing the George of lying, and he was tossed in the Tower. He challenged the arrest and won (eventually). His speeches during the trial became famous and had people chanting “liberty and Wilkes” in the streets. Sadly troops fired on the protesters, killing seven, in the Massacre of St George’s Field. The cry of “45″ (from the [...]

The forbidden history of unpopular people

Excellent video. This man is good. The message is spot on.

This is an edgy fast paced narrative about why we owe the most to some of the most unpopular people in history. It’s about free speech: why it matters, why we may lose it. About the threat that Finkelstein poses.

“It’s about arrogance, it’s about powerful people here in Australia who believe that they are smarter than you, that their opinion is worth more than your opinion, and that their thinking is better than your thinking, and if you think they’re wrong, you should just shut up.”

There have been nutters in history who were reviled, derided, hated, and spat on. A few of these held the answers that saved countless lives — including quite possibly, yours and mine.

The home site is The Forbidden History -  it has a high resolution, larger screen display.  This was a crowd sourced project costing $27k. Money well spent. He is raising money for part II and III. Topher has his own site and other video’s here.

Share it with your friends.

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