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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Learn how not to reason at the University of Western Australia

Picasso-Brain-Strikes-the-Climate-Debate: Can't think. Can't reason.

Tomorrow night the University of Western Australia (UWA) is hosting “Climate change scepticism under the spotlight”, where people who ought to know better are reverting to stone age reasoning. “Hail the Gods of Science!” The shame, the shame, it’s my old university.

Australian Professorial Fellow Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, from UWA’s School of Psychology, will discuss the perils of ignoring consensus in science…

The UWA School of Science ought to be grovelling embarrassed. Any scientific professorial fellow ought to warn about the dangers of ignoring the empirical evidence, or the perils of missing the whistleblowers who point out logical flaws.

Can we add that up?

Let’s follow the reasoning on consensus science. How do you weight the scoring system? Is one post-doc worth 3 honors students, or 5? Do we dilute citation-value according to the number of authors on each paper? Does a Nobel peace prize winner trump a class of undergraduates? Quick, we need a committee to figure it out. I can feel the need for a emergency formation of the Scientific-Authority-Demarkation-Institute. UN based of course.

I have written many times about how Lewandowsky uses Argument from Authority ad nauseum along […]

PNAS: Witchdoctors of science — Anderegg’s blacklist of scientists

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science: a step back to the Stone Age

A shameful day in the history of science. The once esteemed National Academy of Science is reduced to pagan witchcraft: point the bone at the blacklist, count the tea-leaf-citations, put on your funny hat and make a prophesy about the weather.

Some critics are saying the survey is flawed because it uses artificial groupings. Artificial be damned — the survey is flawed because it’s a waste-of-time work of anti-science for even existing. Science is not a democracy. Natural laws don’t form because anyone says so, and the only way to find out the answer is to … look at the evidence. Doh.

This adulation of individuals and tests of character, “success”, or popularity is the anti-thesis of what the great brains-trust of science ought to do. In science all minds test their theories against the universe, and only the real world matters. The petty world of human reputations is steeped in bias and conflicts of interest with personality defects and political power grabs, not to mention the corrupting influence of money. Science achieved vast success for civilization by freeing us from exactly this cess-pool of […]

Tyranny Australis

It’s either a seismic shift in power here, or a farce of Grand Proportions. Either way, if you haven’t heard about the Australian Super-Tax, it’s one of those full-moon-moments in Western Democracy when “one plus one equals minus thirteen”, and the guy earnestly telling you this is also running the country. The sheer Spectacle of Stupid is something to behold.

Guess what the rules will be next year?

For the first time, our government has announced a war against a whole Australian industry: mining (the same sector that rescued us from the global financial crisis and produced 37% of our total exports in 2009).

Australian Prime Minister Rudd desperately needs a big win to go to the next election with, and desperate men are dangerous. He was taken in hook, line and stinker by the Big Carbon Scare — bet his reputation on the big bluff, and crashed and burned. He doesn’t want to look like a complete loser (and who does) so he grabbed the easy wedge; attack the rich foreigners, grab the fast cash, pretend to be Robin Hood. Et Voila! The Resource Super Profits Tax*.

This is not so much about climate (sorry) but it is […]

Name-calling fairy dust: “Conspiracy Theorist”

Ad hominem Unleashed on the ABC

On our ABC there’s lots of talk “about evidence” but next to nothing of actual evidence. (The empty homage to “evidence” is handy though, it keeps the pretense alive that it’s a scientific conversation). Stephan Lewandowsky is still doing his Picasso-brain-best to search in all the wrong places for enlightenment.

Is the planet warming from man-made CO2? Lewandowsky “knows” it is. Why? Because the 9/11 truthers are conspiracy theorists (and conspiracies are always wrong). O’ look, a few people ask odd questions about an accident in a building years ago, and sometimes those people are also the species Homo Sapiens Climata Scepticus (!). So it follows (if you are insane) that because some people still doubt the official story of an unrelated past event, man-made global warming will contribute 3.7W/m2 in the year 2079, and we’ll all become souffles in the global Sahara.

I’m not making this stuff up. I’ve tallied up the obvious errors from both articles. His power to confuse himself with red herrings is … “impressive”.

Lewandowsky scorecard for logic and reason

Argument from authority 4


The debate continues: Dr Glikson v Joanne Nova

Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleoclimate scientist, at the Australian National University) contacted Quadrant offering to write about the evidence for man-made global warming. Quadrant approached me asking for my response. Dr Glikson replied to my reply, and I replied again to him (copied below). No money exchanged hands, but Dr Glikson is, I presume, writing in an employed capacity, while I write pro bono. Why is it that the unpaid self taught commentator needs to point out the evidence he doesn’t seem to be aware of? Why does a PhD need to be reminded of basic scientific principles (like, don’t argue from authority). Such is the vacuum of funding for other theories that a debate that ought to happen inside the university obviously hasn’t occurred. Such is the decrepit, anaemic state of university science that even a doctorate doesn’t guarantee a scientist can reason. Where is the rigor in the training, and the discipline in the analysis?

Credibility lies on evidence

by Joanne Nova

April 29, 2010

Reply to Andrew Glikson

Dr Andrew Glikson still misses the point, and backs his arguments with weak evidence and logical errors. Instead of empirical evidence, often […]

Picasso Brain Syndrome

Picasso-Brain-Strikes-the-Climate-Debate: Can’t think. Can’t reason.

Stephan Lewandowsky’s ABC article on climate change was headlined “Opinion Versus Evidence“. Then with dead-pan delivery, he lists the “evidence” but it’s all … opinions.

The question of “delusion” is looming. I mean really, is this a cry for help? There are not many laws of reason that Stephan leaves unbroken. He appeals to authority, attacks the “man”, and talks about everything bar the evidence on climate change. Is he serious? “Trust me” he says, the world is warming because AIDS is real, mass-murderer Ivan Milat was guilty, Lord Monckton is only a non-voting member of the House of Lords, a few skeptics are burko, 97% of paid climate scientists agree that we ought to be worried and keep paying them, and someone has discussed the actual money that climate scientists earn (how could they) and to top it off, the IPCC report is 3000 pages long (!).

Not to mention that Google Scholar (“I’m so technical”) finds lots of hits (thanks to Vice President Al Gore who arranged for the US Government to pay billions of dollars to his favorite researchers, and who also is on the Google advisory team), plus the world […]

Help! How do I know?

How do you tell a scientist from a non-scientist? Where does science end, and propaganda, politics, and opinion begin? You only need to know one thing:

Straight away, this sorts the wheat from the weeds. We don’t learn about the natural world by calling people names or hiding data. We don’t learn by chucking out measurements in favor of opinions. We don’t learn by suppressing discussions, or setting up fake rules about which bits of paper count or which people have a licence to speak.

A transparent, competitive system where all views are welcome is the fastest way to advance humanity. The Royal Society is the oldest scientific association in the world. Its motto is essentially, Take No One’s Word For It. In other words, assume nothing; look at the data. When results come in that don’t fit the theory, a scientist chucks out his theory. A non-scientist has “faith”, he “believes” or assumes his theory is right, and tries to make the measurements fit. When measurements disagree, he ignores the awkward news, and “corrects”, or statistically alters, the data–always in the direction that keeps his theory alive.

March 9th, 2010 | Tags: , , | Category: AGW socio-political, Global Warming, Logic & Reason, The Skeptics Handbook | Print This Post Print This Post | |

Lambert, victim of his own spin?

Lambert has replied to the post I did that pointed out that his use of the fake “Pinker Tape” in the debate with Monckton was a cheap-shot ambush with no real significance.

As usual, his reply includes major claims like “a dishonest post” and “there’s no wiggle room here”, and, as usual, he can’t back them up.

Dishonest? I quote Pinker as saying:

[I]f we give Christopher Monckton the benefit of doubt and assume that he meant “the impact of clouds on the surface shortwave radiation” than it can pass.”

And Lambert thinks that somehow this really means that Pinker said Monckton’s terminology can pass, but his analysis is wrong? This exactly-backward interpretation is delusional (or dishonest, eh?). To read it from Pinker’s statement, you need to throw out the English grammar rulebook, and read from right to left. So now, it’s dishonest to quote someone directly? This is another example of the convoluted way faithful AGW people have to think in order to dig themselves out of the hole they find themselves in.

Let’s recall after all the too-ing and fro-ing, that even if Pinker thinks Monckton is wrong, even if Lambert gets a quote from Pinker saying […]

Is there any evidence?

UPDATE, Feb 2011. This post, this question has been out for over two years, and yet still remains as valid as ever. Most of the evidence still cited is irrelevant. — Jo

The all important question that rises above and before ALL other questions is the one of evidence.

Is there any evidence that carbon dioxide causes major warming?

In science, “evidence” has a very specific meaning and for a very good reason. In a court of law or a game of football, the label “evidence” can be plastered all over the place. If 500 footballers signed a petition to change a rule, that would be “evidence” the rule needed changing. But if 5 billion people signed a petition to make it rain in Mumbai on Thursday, that’s a waste of paper.

9.3 out of 10 based on 50 ratings […]

Global bully Rudd fights for foreign committee, against citizens

The world is considering a new financial market larger than any commodity, it’s “based on science”, but if you ask for evidence, you’re called names—“Denier”, and by our Prime Minister, no less. This is supposed to pass for reasoned debate? […]