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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Climate change is real because we are snowflake couch potatoes, addicted to netflix and airconditioners

Welcome to the DroneAge, where people act like robots and share dumb ideas at light speed! Episode #601: Climate change makes you lonely and fat.

Feeling friendless, floppy and like a loser? It’s not your fault. Blame a coal plant. Blame Exxon. Blame anyone but yourself. It’s your bad luck to be born into the most bountiful, benevolent era in human history. Damn!

Lonely, unfit and hooked on air-conditioning – is this the summer of the future?

Nicole Hasham, Sydney Morning Herald, uses new unorthodox indicators of “climate change”. Wait for it… test cricket attendance? It’s a smorgasbord of nonsense:

In Perth, cricket fans avoided an historic Test fixture amid predictions of 38-degree days. Sun melted a coastal highway filled with holidaymakers in northern NSW. Victoria’s coal generators shut down. Tasmania burned. And rotting fish corpses lining the Darling River at Menindee forced anglers to seriously rethink their plans.

Are we kidding? Thirty-eight degrees is just a summer’s day in Perth. It’s something that happens 19 years out of 20. As for coal generators shutting down: we’ve spent 20 years trying to drive them out of business to stop climate change, and now, if they don’t work, that [...]

John Cook, we’ll believe you when you stop doing what you complain we’re doing

John Cook tries to attack skeptics for their savage jokes about cold spells. Go for it John, we’ll believe you when you when you stop publishing stories about single hot days and tell PhD’s they shouldn’t harp on about random noise like heat waves:

Forecast: flurries of shivering climate-change deniers

When a cold spell struck the east coast recently, US President Donald Trump tweeted “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”

The argument he is sarcastically implying and often makes—that global warming isn’t happening because it’s cold outside—possesses an obvious logical flaw. [No kidding]. It’s like arguing that the sun no longer exists when it gets dark at night. Of course, Trump didn’t invent this argument—it’s commonly brought up on denier blogs and social media threads whenever the weather turns cold.

This type of fallacious reasoning is not just common on believer blogs, it’s their bread and butter.

Trump was being sarcastic. Skeptics are making jokes — but what excuse can anyone make for paid PhD’s who are serious?

Let’s swap the hot’s and cold’s of Cooks own words (mine bolded):

The argument PhD’s seriously [...]

Modern Astrology in NY Times: Justin Gillis says Eclipses show all Scientists are always right about everything

Verily. Eclipses do weird things to people.

Justin Gillis, writer for The New York Times used the recent eclipse to sell something I’d call Sciencemagic. Essentially, if some Scientists™ can calculate orbital mechanics to a fine art, it follows, ipso nonfacto, that all people who use the same job title are also always right.

“Should You Trust Climate Science? Maybe the Eclipse Is a Clue”

Thanks to the work of scientists, people will know exactly what time to expect the eclipse. In less entertaining but more important ways, we respond to scientific predictions all the time, even though we have no independent capacity to verify the calculations. We tend to trust scientists.

If Scientists™ say that solar panels will stop malaria, then buy some! Save lives in Ghana. (What are you waiting for?)

The implications stretch far. Clearly, we can chuck out the whole research thing (labs, who needs em?) Why test predictions, if Scientists™ are 100% accurate? We’ve been wasting money. We don’t need more large hadron colliders, we just need to survey more particle physicists.

This idea that job titles have a kind of truth-telling power is not much different to astrology where truth [...]

A Socratic approach on climate change

(Click for the full advert)

The Climate Study Group is trying a new approach with an Advert in The Australian on page 7 today. Or rather, you might say this is a very old approach…:

Socrates Nice to meet you Mr Smith. I hear you are very concerned about dangerous global warming.

Mr Smith Yes, we are facing an alarming prospect of a global warming catastrophe.

Socrates What gives you such concern?

Mr Smith Emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

Socrates How were these fossil fuels formed?

Mr Smith Various plant forms grew, died and formed fossil fuels before and during the Carboniferous Period.

Socrates Was there dangerous global warming prior to the Carboniferous Period?

Mr Smith No. There’s no evidence of dangerous global warming prior to the Carboniferous period.

Socrates So where did the carbon in fossil fuels originate?

Mr Smith Plants absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere prior to the formation of fossil fuels.

Socrates So the CO2 absorbed by plants is now being released from burning fossil fuels.

Mr Smith It must [...]

The Climate Wars are Damaging Science

Matt Ridley has produced the shortest whole, killer summary of the sordid state of climate science, science journalism, and science associations for Quadrant magazine. This is the ideal single-chapter-length-work to bring in anyone who missed the last twenty years of clima-farce, scandal, hubris and hypocrisy.

Matt is not just summing up the way his career as a science writer has transformed, but also writing the best review of the IPA book “Climate Change: The Facts” that I have yet seen. He talks about the way science writers used to ignore the papers that didn’t impress them, and leave it up to the scientists to take them apart, but now the supposedly most esteemed scientists stay silent while abject failures not only get published in the scientific world, but get absurdly lauded in the media, and tweeted by “the President”. Formerly great scientific institutions have turned themselves inside out:

“The Royal Society once used to promise “never to give their opinion, as a body, upon any subject”. Its very motto is “nullius in verba”: take nobody’s word for it. Now it puts out catechisms of what you must believe in. “

Matt’s career, like mine, started with faith that [...]

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 [...]