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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Lomborg’s Centre cancelled: UWA caves in to bullies who use anger to silence debate

There is no saving our universities. The Lomborg Consensus Centre has been axed in response to pure emotional hysteria. The Abbott government should immediately set up the Centre anyway, make it independent from the universities, which don’t deserve another cent.

Bjorn Lomborg, who believes the IPCC science but disagrees with their economics, is too “dangerous” for UWA. Poor petals! He wants to get more environmental and human benefit from government spending – which is a disaster for the Green Gravy train.  Lomborg commits the unforgivable sin of failing to feed friends of big-government. So he had to be punished, nothing is more scary that “funding a skeptic”. (See Tim Flannery’s reaction). But ponder how they have overplayed their hand: Lomborg is not a skeptic of the science, the Consensus Centre wasn’t going to write on climate change, and yet, it was unthinkable?

ABC news:

UWA cancels contract for Consensus Centre headed by controversial academic Bjorn Lomborg

The University of Western Australia has cancelled the contract for a policy centre that was to be headed up by controversial academic Bjorn Lomborg after a “passionate emotional reaction” to the plan.

There is no free speech in academia, only the illusion of it.

If UWA taught students [...]

UQ’s Denial 101x : Putting the stink in distinction

Guest Post By Tony Thomas*

A keen student, I have just completed Week One of John Cook’s MOOC at Queensland University: “Denial 101x – Making Sense of Climate Science Denial.”

A MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course, and Cook’s course has 13,000 students so far.  He is a Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University  and author of the notorious 2013 study purporting to find a 97% climate consensus in the science literature.

One normally gets a buzz from study. But my brain needs a shower and scrub to feel clean again.

I was not intending to write about my studies so early, in case that got me prematurely expelled. But one week of it is enough.

For example, in case I forget elements of Cook’s denialist ideation, he provides an acronym FLICC. This covers Fake experts, Logical fallacies, Impossible expectations, Cherry picking and Conspiracy theories.

Worse is in store. Cook says, “Next week’s interviews are equally exciting, as we speak to Phil Jones from the University of East Anglia…” Jones is the author of   “pretty awful emails” (his words) in Climategate. Other stars in the Cook course firmament will be Michael “Hockey-stick” Mann and [...]

What stage of climate grief are you locked in?

What if you lost, say, the Great Barrier Reef? No seriously, what if you woke up one morning and it was gone? Celeste Young is paid to worry about that and she’s written a whole article on climate grief. It has no data, and uses models and namecalling which makes it a perfect fit for The Conversation.

A variety of losses can be experienced. People may grieve due to the perceived future loss of something; for example, the type of grief often expressed via social media over the potential loss of the Great Barrier Reef. Individuals and communities may grieve for the loss of a loved landscape damaged by drought, fire or flood.

She adapts the famous Kubler Ross Five Stages of Grief (doesn’t everyone) to to deliver clichés in table form. But don’t rush to knock it, I think this is a new form of grieving, where people project the grief of their collapsing religion onto something else instead, like “the environment”. Let’s call it Parody-grieving. Does Young realize the parallels? The Climate-club are still stuck at stage one. They know something is wrong but the cognitive dissonance is killing them: their heroes hide declines and data, [...]

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 [...]

ANU spurns Fossil Fuel investments, why not be a Fossil Fuel Free Zone too? Demand action now!

The Australian National University (ANU) created a bit of media storm in Australia in the last week when it declared it would divest itself of “socially irresponsible investments“, with a focus on fossil fuel use.  ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young was emphatic:

“I have repeatedly said climate change is the most serious issue ever to have faced humanity.”

And later, “fossil fuel-reliant companies will not survive the next 20 to 30 years unless they diversify into new energies.”

Applause and recriminations followed.

Sinclair Davidson rather callously suggested this was just a token gesture of pointless political symbolism. (Golly. You are such a cynic Sinclair.) Obviously, if climate change is THE most serious issue, the next step for ANU is to light the way, and stop using the products of fossil fuel companies too. It is surely time for a Fossil Fuel Free Zone (FFFZ) on campus. Like a Nuclear Free Zone, all forms of  Fossil Fuels and Fossil Fuel Bombs will have to keep away.

All petrol and diesel powered machines would be barred at the gates. Truck deliveries will have to be by electric and solar powered trucks. Hey, other trucks can drop [...]

The Deification of climate saints – Curtin University’s sacred Nobel wall

UPDATE: Commenters are reporting that the bio page has changed. Does anyone have a screenshot of the original? – Jo

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A friend at Curtin University, Western Australia reports that a new mysterious and imposing mural appeared on the facade. It is as if passers-by can look through the bricks and see a Saint-of-Science himself working.

The words on the plaque (which must be something like 5m wide) read “Inside our walls Professor Richard Warrick is continuing the climate change research that led to a Nobel Peace Prize. “  (Sing Hallelujah and praise Al Gore).

Richard Warrick [Jo particularly likes the aura effect Curtin create around this Saint.]

From the anonymous dissident within the enclave:

“We were showered with press releases when Richard Warrick joined Curtin last year… we have our own piece of the IPCC here with us! It’s the closest most of us will ever get to touching the holy hockey stick. (I heard stories that blind students have regained their sight after touching Curtin’s sacred wall)

“Warrick’s bio pages say that he is a “co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize” and that “he shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice [...]

Monckton accuses Tony Press (Uni Tasmania) of fraud and deception

UPDATE: University VC Rathjen reponds. Press will be investigated.

University Climate Researcher to be investigated for unprofessional conduct.

Professor Peter Rathjen, Vice Chancellor of the University of Tasmania (UTAS) has ordered an investigation into professional and academic misconduct by Dr Tony Press, the CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre based at the University of Tasmania.

Lord Monckton, who spoke to 150 scientists and members of the public at the UTAS last week, has complained, in an interview with the Sunday Tasmanian last week, Press had misrepresented both Climate Science and what Lord Monckton said in his talk.

The investigation comes under the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Professor Rathjen’s letter to Lord Monckton says, “…the processes will be followed rigorously!”

The Vice Chancellor added that the University strongly supported a culture of courteous, critical dialog on all matters of academic and public interest.

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Christopher Monckton has written to Professor Peter Rathjen, Vice-Chancellor, University of Tasmania to point out that one Tony Press has committed “serious professional and academic misconduct and scientific fraud, contrary to Australian Standard AS 8001 [...]

Are ARC grants for science or a form of government advertising disguised as research?

ARC Grants have just been announced for 2013

Let’s look at what won a grant in light of the fact that nearly 80% of all the applications for ARC funding fail. (Indeed Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt wonders if our best scientists are hobbled by an arduous waste-of-time process where they spend up to 30% – 50% of their working life applying for grants.)

Looking at the current round of successful grants. How do you beat four out of five candidates for funding? Here’s one successful method:

Step One: Use statistically insignificant results obtained by dubious techniques to generate a paper with conclusions that grab headlines.

Step Two: Make sure these “results” support contentious Labor Party policies, and actively promote the spurious conclusions in the media prior to publication.

Step Three (optional): Possibly go on to publish the paper, then again, maybe not.

Step Four: Apply for more money.

Apparently the ALP need to find budget savings from the science program to deliver their promised “surplus”. They are thinking of a grants freeze — which is a good way to create uncertainty and encourage the best researchers to leave the country. Here’s [...]

UWA sponsors world wide junkets for poor research, inept smears: Oreskes

I wondered who was funding Oreskes to fly all the way around the world to deliver two seminars in Perth to audiences of mostly evangelical believers. Michael Kile (Quadrant magazine) reveals more of the details. Presumably she is funded by the Professors-at-large program at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia (UWA). We still have no details on the amounts.

UWA think achieving “international excellence” is so important they’ve put it in their logo.

We see below how many of the UWA hosts benefit from climate change grants, and thus would potentially gain from promoting a baseless smear against critics who threaten their funding or status. These hypocrites are happy to promote the untruth that skeptics are funded to speak, when the they themselves are the ones who benefit financially from a dubious scare campaign. The professors-at-large program is supposed to foster public debate, but four of the ten Oreskes hosts signed a letter seeking to silence a skeptic from speaking at another university.

Who would sponsor an expert that is ignorant of 99.99% of their topic?

Oreskes claims skeptics are funded by big-oil, but misses that most oil companies [...]

The moment to test what we-are-made-of, is here

UPDATE: Art Robinson says: “It worked,”…’ The university “made some re-arrangements with the campus and replaced a couple of deans and did some special things to help my students.” Joshua received his doctorate and Matthew is on track to getting his, according to Robinson, but Bethany “couldn’t take the heat” and left after receiving her master’s degree.’  OSU claims they didn’t respond to his complaints. It must be a coincidence that all three were targeted, then all three were allowed to continue. Sure.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, as the power of big-government comes under threat the attacks on skeptics and free citizens grow worse than ever. We are all busy, but we cannot let this one get past. Art Robinson is one of us, one of the original skeptics, back when hardly anyone else was. He’s been a key player, dismayed, like the rest of us at the way science was being used for political purposes. Indeed, he was so dismayed, he ran for congress as a Republican last year.  Against an allegedly full-on smear campaign from the incumbent Congressman Pete DeFazio, Art managed to get 44% of the votes in a long-held Democrat seat.

Oregon State [...]

A journalist who confuses journalism with propaganda

Great news: This commentary appears in The Weekend Australian today (in a slightly different edited version). Below was what I submitted, before the edits, with the links intact. Comments are open at The Australian. I’ll be posting less often over the Southern Summer, possibly quite irregularly, so if you want to get an email from me and find out when the more important posts go up, please add your email to my list (top right, see “register”).

In the print edition the headline is “Journalists who think Newspapers should lead the country”*

David McKnight’s criticism of The Australian (Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths) makes a good case study of the intellectual collapse of Australian universities.

Here’s a UNSW “Senior Research Fellow” in journalism who contradicts himself, fails by his own reasoning, does little research, breaks at least three laws of logic, and rests his entire argument on an assumption that he provides no evidence for. Most disturbingly — like a crack through the façade of Western intellectual vigour — he actually asserts that the role of a national newspaper is to “give leadership”. Bask for a moment in the inanity of this declaration that newspapers “are our leaders”. Last [...]

Who are the deniers now?

The people are rising up in protest. Today my inbox theme is of people emailing me with responses of the questions they are putting to the Establishment — at universities, institutes, and political parties – to the ABC, UWA and The Greens in particular. In all the cases they received answers that deny there is a problem, but between the lines you can tell that those forced to write the replies are feeling the heat.

And may the heat escalate.

I’ll be publishing as many as I can.

This story below came in this morning about Roger Helmer MEP (UK), who was invited to speak to the VC of East Anglia (ie. Climategate central). He asked if he could bring “two friends”, which was fine until they turned out to be Monckton and Delingpole, at which point the UEA’s staff were suddenly forced into a demeaning dance, doing all they could to limit the damage by artificially splitting up the group into separate appointments.

Squirm squirm squirm. There is fear in their eyes… why go to so much trouble to prevent a few skeptics being in the same room at the same time?

[...]

Science associations give science a bad name

In this story from The Australian, we have the ludicrous double-irony of subscribers paying to read a story that disguises how their own taxpayer dollars are used against them to fund the  propaganda that’s used to justify milking them for more taxpayer dollars….

Sometimes, you’d think media releases from science associations and universities were Commandments from God.

If football associations put out media releases that tried to whitewash the news of clubs rampantly breaking rules, or of officials letting them get away with it, or of umpires placing bets on the outcome of games they rule over, the sports journos would bake the officials, grill the umpires, and lampoon the clubs. But, when the topic is “science”, and the spokespeople have polysyllabic titles, they are untouchable.

Admittedly, there is that other effect: advertising. The Higher Education Supplement is designed to sell advertising space to universities, and asking the top dogs biting-hard questions is probably not the way to win big contracts (the journalists might be cynical, but Australian universities are a $12 billion dollar industry). And look in the last budget: There’s a neat pink icing on the cake in the graph below, thanks to the man-made theory of global warming. That [...]