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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Climate Money Paper




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



Central banks drive booms and busts, and force everyone to be a high risk speculator

It doesn’t have to be this way. The most important price in our economy is set by a bunch of bureaucrats. They are unelected and unaccountable. But your day to day life is affected by their decisions, as well as your ability to buy a house or for your retirement savings to maintain their value. Some people are wiped out by a mere phrase in a memo. There is a deep Soviet style management program at the centre of all Western economies. It’s time we talked about that ogre.

Maurice Newman, former chair of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), writes in The Australian about the defining invisible issue which is rarely discussed — our currencies, our central banks:

Vladimir Lenin advocated: “The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency.” True or not, we seem hellbent on finding out.

Dark times are coming:

The BIS has rung the alarms. We are warned that the world’s most reckless monetary experiment, which has taken interest rates to the lowest in recorded history, is failing. Central bankers remain silent, not knowing how or when to end what they began, while the political class simply looks [...]

The Ben Factor. One man drives a market. The world pretends it is “free”.

How much is that company worth? You can look at its PE, debt, market spread, sovereign risk, and discounted cash flow, but in the end, it’s the Ben Factor (BF) which dominates all companies, metal prices, and sovereign currencies in the West.

The Ben hath spoken, and said that in future, if the economy is looking better, he might slow the printing of $85 billion US dollars a month, some indefinite non-specified day. All that was … obvious. But, world-wide investors and traders hang off the words, trying to second-guess what the BF banality implies. No one will say it, but everyone knows that it the rate of the flow of easy cash so much as slows, all hell will break loose. Balanced on this thin veneer of pretense, stocks, metals and whole national currencies change direction within minutes.

The Ben has spoken.

What hath changed since yesterday? Not much. But global paroxysm ensues.

Bernanke taper talk sends markets into a tailspin

Closing Bell: S&P 500 posts biggest fall since November 2011 on Fed’s stimulus plan

EMERGING MARKETS-Latin American stocks tumble to four-year low

China, Fed frenzy send Aust stocks tumbling [...]

Buy gold while it’s in the ground (Plus David and Jo will be in Sydney at the Gold Symposium – Monday)

UPDATED (Already)  Money is grubby thing, but financial independence means freedom. Freedom to spend time writing what a heart believes instead of what an employer demands. (Freedom to follow the most inexplicable whim — like tossing the 9-5 day to debate details of dendroclimatology with people who detest you). I wouldn’t be able to indulge in the luxury of writing this blog if it weren’t for the gold shares that keep food on the table. Next Monday David is speaking at The Gold Symposium in Sydney. (I’ll be in the audience.) Who should go? — only people who don’t want to be poor. I want to see both these independent conferences succeed (The AEF too), I want to share the word about both money and science, and I want to help independent spirits meet up. That’s why I’m giving them both a shameless plug before the article. There is a big overlap between gold and skepticism: skeptical of government science often means skeptical of government money too (see We are all Austrians now). For the pure-science readers here, it may all seem thoroughly odd, but while some will paint gold as a fatuous symbol of pointless wealth – and sometimes [...]

This gold bar is worth its weight in … tungsten — corruption knocks on every door

A gold bar that should have weighed 1,000 grams, weighed 2 grams too little. The owner had it cut in half to reveal that the certified, stamped bar with serial numbers had tungsten rods inserted all the way through it. Tungsten, has a density of 19.35 g/cm3, so is a near-perfect match for gold (19.32 g/cm3) and it sells for just one ten thousandth of the price.

The gold bar was cut in half to reveal the tungsten rods.

The problem of fake gold bars By Felix Salmon March 25, 2012

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to find this worrying: a 1kg gold bar, certified as 99.98% pure by XRF (X-ray fluorescence) tests, turns out to have been drilled out and largely replaced with tungsten. This bar was discovered only because it was 2 grams lighter than it ought to have been: the forgers failed to add quite enough gold to the outside of the bar to make up for the weight lost when they replaced gold with tungsten. But if they’d gotten the weight right, it would probably still be circulating today.


Is this a big issue? Who knows? Gold bars are rarely audited.  [...]