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The Sceptics' Thread

(80 Posts)
bagitha Thu 08-Dec-11 17:43:57

If anyone wants to read this thread, it's here. If no-one wants to read it, that's fine.

Yet another physicist is speaking out against what he calls pathological science. This one's a lecturer at Oxford. I used to work in the Earth Sciences building almost next door to the Clarendon Lab. These guys are not fools with 'agendas' of their own. They are very bright sparks and they are scientists of the old school: check everything, check again, free up your data and your methods so others can check. Be open to questioning. Keep asking questions yourself. Science is never settled.

Here's his cv info:

And here's his letter to a climate alarmist:
"Richard, I can't answer for our host, but you have to remember why some of us got involved in the climate wars in the first place.

For me this has never really been about climate itself. I don't find climate partcularly interesting; it's one of those worthy but tedious branches of science which under normal circumstances I would happily leave to other people who like that sort of thing. My whole involvement has always been driven by concerns about the corruption of science.

Like many people I was dragged into this by the Hockey Stick. I was looking up some minor detail about the Medieval Warm Period and discovered this weird parallel universe of people who apparently didn't believe it had happened, and even more bizarrely appeared to believe that essentially nothing had happened in the world before the twentieth century. The Hockey Stick is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence, so I started reading round the subject. And it soon became clear that the first extraordinary thing about the evidence for the Hockey Stick was how extraordinarily weak it was, and the second extraordinary thing was how desperate its defenders were to hide this fact. I'd always had an interest in pathological science, and it looked like I might have stumbled across a really good modern example.

You can't spend long digging around the Hockey Stick without stumbling across other areas of climate science pathology. The next one that really struck me was the famous Phil Jones quote: "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it". To any practising scientist that's a huge red flag. Sure we all feel a bit like that on occasion, but to actually say something like that in an email is practically equivalent to getting up on a public platform and saying "I'm a pathological scientist, and I'm proud."

Rather naively I initially believed that Phil Jones was just having a bad day and had said something really stupid. Surely he couldn't really think that was acceptable? And surely his colleagues would deal with him? But no, it turned out that this apalling quote was only the most quotable of several other remarks, and he really was trying to hide his data from people who might (horror of horrors) want to check his conclusions.

That's when I got involved in my FOI request. And consequently got exposed to the full horror of "big climate", as clear an example of politicised and pathological science as I have ever seen. And then came Climategate 2009, and "hide the decline". All downhill from there.

When will I be done with climate? Quite simply when it stops being a pathological science and starts acting according to the normal rules and conventions of scientific discourse. At that point I will, I'm afraid, simply lose interest in the whole business, and leave it to the experts to get on with their stuff, just as I leave most of the rest of science to the appropriate experts.

To put it another way, I will be done with climate once I can trust that Richard Betts can be left to do good work on his own. I absolutely trust you to get on with doing good stuff under normal circumstances. But I'm afraid I don't trust you to do good work under current pathological conditions, because you don't stand up against the all too obvious stench emanating from some of your colleagues.

For me the Hockey Stick was where it began, and probably where it will end (and I will daringly suggest that the same thing might be true for our host). The Hockey Stick is obviously wrong. Everybody knows it is obviously wrong. Climategate 2011 shows that even many of its most outspoken public defenders know it is obviously wrong. And yet it goes on being published and defended year after year.

Do I expect you to publicly denounce the Hockey Stick as obvious drivel? Well yes, that's what you should do. It is the job of scientists of integrity to expose pathological science, and it is especially the job of scientists in closely related fields. You should not be leaving this to random passing NMR spectroscopists who have better things to do. But I'm afraid I no longer expect you to do so. The opportune moment has, I think, passed. And that is why, even though we are all delighted to have you here, and all enjoy what you have to say, some of us get a trifle tetchy from time to time.

You ask us to judge you by AR5, and in many ways that is a reasonable request. Many of us will judge it by the handling of paleoclimate, not because this is all that important an aspect of the science, but rather because it is a litmus test of whether climate scientists are prepared to stand up against the bullying defenders of pathology in their midst. So, Richard, can I look forward to returning back to my proper work on the application of composite rotations to the performance of error-tolerant unitary transformations? Or will we all be let down again?

Dec 3, 2011. Jonathan Jones

It appears on the BishopHill science blog about three-quarters of the way down the comments:

Carol Mon 30-Jan-12 23:06:27

I was listening to that dreadful Palin woman on Radio 4 this afternoon - she was supporting the 'Newt' and exhorting the state of Florida to get behind him. What a strange mix these people are - they are convinced that the whole of America shares their good ol' boy politics. There were a few members of the public giving comments, mainly trashing Obama and saying they need a Ronald Reagan figure to inspire them again! They reckoned that Obama has gone too far in spreading negative news about the USA, and apologising for their previous foreign policies. They wanted a figurehead who can make the world believe that the USA is still the world power it once was. Now I've heard everything!

carboncareful Tue 31-Jan-12 11:44:15

I don't know whether many people realise that the Tea Party have connections over here!! In the US they have connections to both the far right and the far left. And also to the anachists, the Libertarians and the fundamentalist Christians. All in one basket so to speak. I think Tea Party is such a brilliant name - they don't just move round the table they change the Mad Hatter when it suits them.

gotta go, visiters arrived...

bagitha Tue 31-Jan-12 11:47:21

Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of Germany's environmental movement, no longer trusts the forecasts of the IPCC. Doubt came two years ago when he was an expert reviewer of an IPCC report on renewable energy. "I discovered numerous errors and asked myself if the other IPCC reports on climate change were similarly sloppy. 

He has written a book:

You can also find the story here:

carboncareful Tue 31-Jan-12 18:07:47

Further to discussion on Republicans
Just read article about Mitt Romney that mentioned Mormon underpants. Felt I should know what is meant by this reference - is it a joke or what?

So I googled "Mormon underpants Romney"

It you want to understand this phenomena do have a look. You may think it funny to begin with and then it gets sad and the depressing and then downright SCARY.

There is lots of choice but I clicked on’s-magic-underwear/10/10/2011/

and half way down I clicked on the video, then I clicked on the picture (top left) of man and woman in Mormon underwear. Then I felt sick......

This man wants to be president of the USA Help I want to get off this planet.