Tinfoil hats

The Oz has been running a string of articles accusing the Bureau of Meteorology of a conspiracy to falsify temperature data to promote the theory of global warming. The latest (no link) is by Maurice Newman, chair of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

The ultimate source of this nonsense is Jennifer Marohasy, formerly a Senior Fellow at the IPA, well known to long term readers here. She has pushed all kinds of anti-science nonsense on her blog, even running to attacks on the Big Bang theory. Her material got so crazy that even the IPA had to let her go.

Newman’s tinfoil hat antics have attracted a lot of attention and criticism, given his prominent role in advising the Abbott government. It’s obvious enough that this kind of delusional thinking can’t be confined to one topic.

The problem is that this kind of lunacy is the rule, not the exception on the political right, and particularly in the Newman demographic (conservative older males). The more “hardheaded” they imagine themselves to be, the more prone they are to idiotic self-delusion. Examples such as Nick Minchin, Alan Oxley, Don Aitkin, Peter Walsh, and Dick Warburton come to mind .

In fact, I can’t immediately think of anyone fitting this profile (60+ politically active conservative male) who isn’t a member of the tinfoil hat brigade. It’s little wonder that the Abbott government is so disconnected from economic reality, when its thinking is informed by people like this.

120 thoughts on “Tinfoil hats

  1. @ Roderick

    Quote attributed to Warren Entsch:

    “Greenland was settled by Vikings and by the 1100s there were more than 3,000 settlements. As the Little Ice Age advanced so the Greenland settlements were disbanded and the last was known to have perished about 1550AD, a century before the coldest of the Little Ice Age.

    “For 300 years Earth has been recovering from the Little Ice Age. Mountain glaciers have retreated and high mountain passes of the Alps have opened. Archaeologists have identified artefacts from various eras corresponding with warming and cooling, and retreat and advance of mountain glaciers.

    “The arguments of the IPCC rely on an unchanging temperature record prior to industrialisation (that is, no Greco Roman warm period, no cold of the Dark Ages, no Medieval Warm Period and no Little Ice Age) to support their storyline of anthropogenic global warming. They claim that the warming of the past 100 years is unprecedented and therefore must be due to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide.

    “The data from Greenland shows a different outcome.”

  2. Speaking of Queenslanders, Bob Katter and Clive Palmer are both over 60. Bob may well be hiding a tin foil hat under his cowboy hat. I think we need a different sort of hat for Clive. A warlock’s hat?
    Former Senator Robert Hill as far as I know has not put on the tin foil hat.

  3. @2 tanners

    I’m not sure whether, by ‘tinfoil hat’, PrQ meant to describe all climate science contrarians or merely those who assert one or other of the various conspiracy accounts attached to denialist accounts of the provenance of contemporary climatology or carbon abatement policy.

    Certainly, it seems Entsch is a climate science denier and implicitly someone claiming that the climate science community is in some sort of conspiracy or possessed of so e sort of borg mind. That is arguably good enough for ‘tinfoil hat’ status.

    Still, it’s not the full Monckton.

  4. @2 tanners
    Yep, that’s Tin Foil Hat country right there for Entsch. And not your cheap, thin tin foil made in the Glorious People’s Republic of Han Ethnocentrism either, but good quality stuff made by ALCOA, back in the good old days when we made stuff here in Australia, of sufficient strength and durability to really stop ALL the voices almost all of the time. Proper Team Australia foil that was hand shaped by retired RM Williams staff. This new Hanfoil is actually a plot. The foil doesn’t stop the microwaves traveling through the phlogiston, it actually acts as an aerial for Kim Chee dictates I’ll be having a look right now for where Bill Heffernan hides out on the issue. Sheeeit, I reckon he was born in a foil hat just from the shape of his head.

  5. @Fran Barlow

    I don’t think it’s possible to be a climate science denier without, at least implicitly, adopting a conspiracy theory or a megalomaniac fantasy. Either you think that all the scientists in the world are deliberately lying or you believe that your half-remembered high school science and 1950s-era knowledge of stats is sufficient to see an error that is invisible to all of them

    All “sceptics” are fools or liars (to themselves, in particular). Most are both.

  6. Quiggin said in #5 ‘I don’t think it’s possible to be a climate science denier without, at least implicitly, adopting a conspiracy theory or a megalomaniac fantasy. ‘
    I can’t agree with this sentence John, because climate science denial has become mainstream among the right, and not all of them are conspiracy theorists or megalomaniacs. They are in the right wing echo chamber, and the erroneous beliefs are reinforced at every turn. For most of them its not because they have a tendency to conspiracy. They’re sheep following the rest of the flock (and also often marching in the direction of their self-interest).
    If you’re talking about the leaders of the flock, then maybe there is more validity to your point, but you have not fully explained in your second sentence why some competent scientists like Ian Pilmer are full scale deniers and Matt Ridley is a semi-denier.

  7. @John Goss In my opinion no explanation is required, Ian Plimers competence does not include climate science.

    Put simply -you go to a butcher for your meat, a baker for bread, a mechanic to fix your car. If you are happy having the local hairdresser fix your plumbing problems then go for it.

  8. @John Quiggin

    Oh I agree. You do need to part company with observable and measurable reality, at least in your public claims, whatever you really think privately. In a place like this, those who make arguments in bad faith are called trolls, and I accept that some of the tinfoil hat brigade may simply be putting on a show. I suspect it’s a little like excessive resort to taking mood-altering drugs Sooner or later it will destroy most people. Compartmentalisation is cognitively demanding.

    I would note though that when I first heard the term ‘tinfoil hat’ — about 1977, when I was doing one of my first jobs (as a trainee nurse at Rydalmere Psychiatric and Retardation Hospital) — the term described people who believed that external agencies were capable of monitoring their thoughts and manipulating their behaviour, typically with evil intent. The term quickly morphed into a more general term describing those who were pre-possessed by the notion that powerful forces were in a constant self-serving conspiracy to manipulate the perceptions of reality of the broader public in order to protect some overarching and often nebulous interest of the conspirators. With this in mind, I was defining tinfoil hattery as just these kinds of folk, rather than those merely asserting palpable nonsense to serve their own perceived interests. There is, after all, a dichotomy to be drawn between the purveyors of self-interested tosh who know that it is tosh and carefully avoid questions of provenance, or who are simply uttering thoughts that could not withstand more than superficial inspection before collapsing, and those who have really collapsed into a new delusional universe that few others can share.

    I suspect that’s where folk like Monckton are. Since we can’t really interrogate the minds of people like Bolt and Mahorasy or Jo Nova and that crowd we have to assume that that’s where they are. Certainly, in Bolt’s case, he gives insistent evidence of suffering from high level megalomaniacal narcissism, which makes it easier to believe that he’s no longer, if he ever was, simply rendering service to Murdoch.

  9. Isn’t the most significant thing here the complete absence of disapproval for Mr Newman’s slandering of the Bureau of Meteorology and climate science from the Prime Minister? Is Mr Newman in truth expressing a variation of the opinions that Mr Abbott holds in private? Are those opinions, that Mr Abbott refuses to confirm publicly but routinely hints at, underpinning Australia’s climate/emissions/energy policy? And is Mr Newman – along with others – acting with Mr Abbott’s prior knowledge and approval as an indirect and deniable means of making his views known and strengthen public support for them?

    Elsewhere Ikonoclast said it’s better to lose with the truth than win with lies. And I said I absolutely agreed. On reflection I need to retract the absolutely part – or at least add some caveats; the existence of an existential threat where the seriousness of the consequences of losing are too great, with unanimity within essential organs and expert advisers of government (Security and Intelligence, Judiciary, Military, relevant Scientific experts)and an inability to unite and mobilise the nation by other means and most of all absolute requirement for sound judgment – to be right – would seem to be prerequisites to such a drastic course.

    Yet I think we are seeing such an approach being played out by Abbott and team with respect to climate/emissions/energy, underpinned by a depth of conviction, certainty and fervor of ideologues who are so sure they are right they can dismiss all contrary views, including considered expert opinions coming out of our society’s essential institutions. Even if they are acting out of conviction it is not, in truth, a reluctant last resort in the face of desperate need, in the face of a grave existential threat, it’s by choice, because it’s the easiest, most expedient political course to impose their convictions on the nation.

    There is an element of quasi-religious conviction within climate politics but it’s most fervent practitioners are seen in the mirrors of Abbott’s network of climate science deniers and climate action obstructionists.

  10. Ken Fabian :
    Isn’t the most significant thing here the complete absence of disapproval for Mr Newman’s slandering of the Bureau of Meteorology and climate science from the Prime Minister? Is Mr Newman in truth expressing a variation of the opinions that Mr Abbott holds in private?

    Not sure what you mean by “the most significant thing”? It’s about as far removed from a revelation as you can get.
    My uninformed hunch is: with the mining boom on the downward slope and manufacturing decimated by decades of trade policy and education looking less likely to take up some of the slack, the gov is going to lengths to protect the petrochem income and of course vested interest energy sectors.

  11. @John Quiggin

    Quote: “… or you believe that your half-remembered high school science and 1950s-era knowledge of stats is sufficient to see an error that is invisible to all of them.”

    That too is strange. My half-remembered high school science (and a couple of semester units of 1st year Uni science) all done 40 years ago or more are sufficient to see the climate scientists are correct. At least, this level of science knowledge is sufficient for me to conclude they are correct in broad brush terms. Then the clear empirical record clinches it, especially the rise in ocean temperatures and retreat of sea ice.

    Denialists show a strange split into scepticism and credulity. On the one hand, they are sceptical of the peer reviewed science of 1,000s of the world’s top Ph.D. climate scientists. On the other hand, they believe every word coming from Andrew Bolt, a journalist chap who didn’t finish first year university in science or anything else. So far as I can see, Bolt and his ilk appeal to pre-existing prejudice, wishful thinking and general credulity. I know that’s vague.

    It seems to be easy for people to believe something that is (a) simple and (b) matches what they want to believe anyway. Climate science is complex and it is giving us uncomfortable answers about our entire economic-industrial system and its likely future if it continues on its present path (mostly fossil fuels and a few token renewables).

    At the individual level, the sceptic takes too small a slice of individual “anecdote” data. He will stand outside in the eastern states of the US or eastern provinces of Canada in Jan/Feb of 2014 and note the frigid and blizzard conditions of a very cold winter. “Look it’s nearly a record cold winter. Global warming is not happening.” I was there (Quebec and Ontario) in that winter. But I also travelled west and north to the Yukon at that time where the wave of the polar vortex bent back the other way. I experienced a day of +6 C max in Whitehorse in the middle of winter.

    It is easy for demagogues to appeal to limited anecdotal data and simplistic commonsense. As in, “north-east America experienced its coldest winter in years therefore global warming is not happening”. What gets lost is all the other from other areas and more importantly the higher level picture which in this case shows a strenghening polar vortex which will push cold fronts further down one half of the North American continent and send warm fronts up to the Arctic in the other half of the continent. This polar vortex is strengthening (greater wave amplitude) and slowing in its eastward rotation. Higher amplitude waves travel slower. Thus with global warming, weather patterns governed by the polar vortex are showing a tendency to get stuck in one place for longer periods. Blizzards stay longer in one state. Droughts stay longer. Flooding rains stay longer. Damaging extremes linger.

  12. I am interested in how and why it is that people move to tinfoil hat positions.
    I met Jo Nova when she lived in Canberra 20 years and read her blog which at the time was focussed on things like Kurzweil life extension stuff. Her work was as a science communicator. There was no sign of her current conspiracy theory approach where every fact is twisted to suit her climate change denial position. But she is scientifically literate, as is her husband David Evans who has a PhD and did do modelling on carbon inventories for the Greenhouse Office. He may not be a climate scientist but he does have (or at least did have) a scientific approach to the world, and the ability to assess scientific evidence in a rational way. So why have they turned to what is essentially a post-modern, ideological, irrational view of the world. They have views that are now immune to reason like the Ted Trainers of this world, and like the creationists who Ian Pilmer still presumably opposes. Its all very well to say that Pilmer is not a climate scientist so therefore his views on climate science don’t carry much weight. But that misses the point. I am trying to understand why scientists like Pilmer, Nova and Evans now adopt an unscientific approach to assessing evidence. Their current positions are a betrayal of the scientific faith from which they came. Why?

  13. I’ve previously referenced a great essay by Alex Carey from 1976 “Pragmatism and Propaganda”, and this extract bears repeating as perhaps an explanation for the “Why?”:

    “Dewey similarly holds that beliefs should be distinguished as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, not as `true’ and ‘false’. Beliefs are good if believing them has beneficial consequences.[5] ‘Facts’ do not exist for Dewey, Bertrand Russell observes, ‘in the sense that “facts” are stubborn and cannot be manipulated’.[6] For Dewey proposed to replace the notion of truth with the notion of ‘warranted assertibility’.[7] Any belief which can be claimed to bring useful consequences may acquire ‘warranted assertibility’ on that ground alone.”

    “There is a remarkable correspondence in attitude to truth between pragmatists and propagandists. Both justify the promotion of false beliefs wherever it is supposed that false beliefs have socially useful consequences. Indeed the principal difference between them consists perhaps in this: the ordinary propagandist may know that he is telling lies, but the pragmatist-propagandist, having redefined truth to make it indistinguishable from propaganda, is likely to become inescapably trapped in the supposedly ‘useful’ deceptions and illusions he approves as ‘warranted assertibilities’.”

    Apart from the outright liars, most of them seem to fit the ‘pragmatist-propagandist’ description.

  14. @rog
    It’s a bit of an aside but I heard the governments armchair warmonger Maj. Gen. Moyland characterise the last two wars as ‘assisting’ the Iraqis. In fact the only reason, according to Jim, that we are going back in to violently assist them again is because the Iraqis vandalised the Eden like state that our assistance delivered to them. Something definitely happens when a certain type of man reaches a certain age. I’m turning 50 soon so I’ll have to keep an eye out for warning signs …

  15. @John Goss

    “Their current positions are a betrayal of the scientific faith from which they came. Why?”

    Well, properly speaking science isn’t a faith. (I know you were writing quickly.) Science is not a faith but a process and method for seeking an objective reality. Instead of science being a belief system it is a confidence system. A belief system holds things to be true or not true based on assertions, dogma and received word. On the other hand “science is over time self-policing; competing scientists have a strong incentive to corroborate and build on the findings of others; but equally, they have a strong incentive to prove other scientists wrong by means that can be duplicated by others.”

    Saying science is a confidence system means that we can develop a high degree of confidence in certain explanations and predictions because of repeated corroborating evidence and repeated successful predictions. Popper called it the progressive movement towards truths by the continuous elimination of errors IIRC.

    Those people, who like Pilmer, Nova and Evans who have forsaken science and scientific explanations (in some or all fields) must fit one or more of the categories below.

    (1) They sold out. They are prepared to knowingly tell lies for money.
    (2) They are speaking out of their area of expetise (with a bit of 3 and 4 added in).
    (3) They have emeritus disease.
    (4) They never properly understood science in the first place at the levels of formal scientific method and the reasons for it including the philosophy of science and epistemology.

    A fundamental gap in the modern scientific and humanist education is the distinct lack of philosophy and logic subjects in many cases. To my mind, a scientist is not a scientist if he or she does not have included in his or her education the history and philosophy of science; the latter from at least Bacon and Hume to Kuhn and Popper.

    With people like Nova and Evans, their scientific education was clearly a thin varnish with no substantial binding substrate to it. One bump against the real world with its complexities, temptations and ambiguties and their scientific education flaked off. Either their education was insubstantial or they themselves are insubstantial. I think it is probably both.

  16. @patrickb
    Don’t worry too much – I’m 63 and I like to think I still have the mental flexibility to respond to evidence that contradicts a long-held conviction. (Unless I’ve ossified and I’m deluding myself.)

  17. Of course, another aspect to this is in having someone linked to the government criticise the BOM it continues the ongoing campaign of devaluing and downplaying government-run agencies prior to privatising them.

  18. Megan, I like your quote from Carey, but I’m not sure it explains why people change their beliefs to beliefs which obviously do not fit the evidence.
    And Ikonoclast, I quite deliberately used the words ‘betrayal of the scientific faith’.
    The scientific world view is a belief system. It is a belief system of great functionality, but it is still a belief system. And you reveal one of the beliefs of the scientific world view in your sentence.
    ‘Science is not a faith but a process and method for seeking an objective reality’.
    You and I (and science) have the belief that there is an objective reality to be sought. Many others do not hold that belief.
    So I still do not fully understand why Pilmer, Evans and Nova changed their scientific belief system to a post-modern, irrational, non-evidence based view of the world.
    The 4 points you make Ikonoclast explain a bit, but I suspect not very much.
    I’m sure David Evans and Jo Nova see themselves as crusaders for truth. I can’t imagine that they are in it for the money. But they have somehow moved to what I consider to be an irrational position. One must be wary of course of arguing from particular cases. Someone like Bolt is pretty easy to explain. We come across that sort of personality disorder all the time in public life. But others, like the ones we are discussing, are not so clear.
    Presumably there is some sort of psychological/sociological study that has been done that explains the why of belief changes to tin foil hat views on climate change in a more scientific fashion than what we are doing here.

  19. @John Goss

    David Evans gave a talk at UWA last year, where he pulled apart the predictions of climate models. Showing that there were inconsistencies with reality here and there. The professor who invited him said in response, “We all know that these models don’t work all that well, but just because a model is not perfect doesn’t mean that CO2 is not causing problems”.

    Of course the one thing about the models, from the very simplest to the most sophisticated, is that they all predict warming as CO2 levels increase. Adding in more and more components to the models doesn’t tend to change this basic prediction very much. Which is lucky, because if it did, then you would have to doubt if any model was right.

  20. @Fran Barlow
    The tin foil hats are as you describe it Fran, they are hooked into a delusional world in which they are under surveillance, even having their thoughts read via any nearby antennae or radio receivers–hence the tin foil hat to block the emanations…in essence, the provenance of tin foil hat is from the reaction of schizophrenics who have paranoid delusions. I have met a couple of people in my life who have had the full blown paranoia and man, is it depressing to see someone struggling to deal with that state.

    Those who speak as if there is a conspiracy but know that there isn’t, well they are bullshitters in the classic philosophy sense of the word. They speak bull and simply don’t care whether it is true or not, so long as it gets the result they want. Monckton gives a damn good impression of being in the first category, although I think he is actually just a BS merchant for hire. Everyone needs a vocation…

  21. Thanks John for reminding us of your taxonomy. Now we just have to work out why people end up in each of these categories.

  22. Jungney, your comment on Entsch’s tinfoil hat propensities the funniest thing I’ve read in ages. This fellow, as Henry 8th said of Thomas Cromwell, hath the right sow by the ear…….

  23. @John Goss

    Unless I can change your mind, we will have to agree to disagree. Science (applied and pure) and especially the scientific method itself is not a belief system. An overall scientific world view on the other hand might well entail some aspects of a belief system. The two things are rather different.

    Let me approach it this way. Is house painting a craft or a belief system? It would sound distinctly odd to call house painting a belief system. This is because one would be making a category mistake. “A category mistake, or category error, is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category.” House painting belongs to the category of crafts not to the category of belief systems.

    In like manner, the scientific method is a craft not a belief system. It employs materials, implements and techniques (in the hands of trained pactitioners) in pursuit of a goal. The goal in the case of house painting involves both technical requirements (protection, durability) and aesthetic requirements (colour, coordination of elements, neatness and evenness.). The ultimate goal in the case of the scientific method is to find dependable laws of nature (running from physics to chemistry to biology and so on).

    The issue of “objective reality” is not really an issue of objective material reality. The idea of simple or classical objective material reality received a heavy knock from quantum theory. But simple materialism has been attacked for a long time, for example in Berkeley’s idealist philosophy. The issue of “objective reality” is really the issue of observable and dependable laws which link perceived and measured phenomena.

    It is these observable and dependable laws which science seeks to elucidate, for which it has a method of enquiry (the scientific method) and about which it has success in terms of consistent explanatory power, predictive power and practical application.

    Berkeley’s ingenious idealist philosophy yielded many spin-off results. He deduced from first principles the necessity of all motion being relative motion and did this 150 years before Einstein. However, his core thesis is redundant. The core thesis was that material did not exist only spirit. God’s spirit acts on human spirits to give our spirits impressions which we percieve as (material) sensations.

    I hold that whether or not this is true is irrelevant. (Whilst also holding that I doubt it is true.) We have no way of determining whether it is true or not. Thus our sensations may be materially or immaterially mediated, we cannot know. What we do know are the regularities of these impressions and our demonstrated capability to discover dependable laws relating various phenomena (be these phenomena of material origin or not).

    It is the order, dependability and operation of discovered laws (and probabilities) which we perceive, in both the everyday sense and in the scientific sense, as dependable objective reality.

    Accepting the specious argument that “science is just another belief system” is to kick an own goal for the superstitious and sophistical opposition. Science is a not a belief system. Properly exercised as scientific method it starts out without specific assumptions and beliefs about an unexplained phenomenon (that this or that is true about it) but with hypotheses (this or that might be true about it) and tests them against discovered and discoverable objective reality (as an ordered set of dependable laws).

    I cannot think of what group(s) you reference when you refer to those who do not believe that there is an objective reality to be sought. You cannot be referring to scientific humanists or monotheists. You might be referring to a few obscure philosophers, pyrrhonists and the like, some minority mystics in various religions and cults and possibly to a portion of adherents to Buddhism.

    Certainly, I hold that objective reality exists and that everything also is illusion and absurdity for humans at a more existential level. It is possible to hold both those pictures. But to hold that objective reality cannot exist as sets of ordered relations independent of humans* is to be profoundly solipsistic and goes against all the extant evidence.

    * Note: What is a human? The body or the bundle of perceptions or the bundle of cogitations about the perceptions?

  24. On the subject of why? – in France laws on banning smoking in the workplace has resulted in an increase, not decrease in tobacco use. One theory is that it is a good excuse to go outside and gossip and non smokers are missing out on the social action. Data indicate the the increase has been significant among women and you now see young(ish) girls puffing away on e-fags, which are supposed to help those that want to give up the nicotine but are unable. It would appear awareness is not an issue, smokers appear to be willing to chance morbidity and/or mortality in later life in exchange for immediate pleasure. Certainly it would seem that despite the obvious facts many people have social requirements that overwhelm any concern for their personal health and safety.

  25. @rog

    Smoking is a great way to goof off. People love to goof off. As a non-smoking coffee drinker I cannot be too judgemental. Coffee drinking is also a way to goof off.

    However, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Are the two linked or are there other factors? One issue is definitional also. Is using e-cigs smoking? It is nicotine use but I would argue it is not smoking. There is no combustion apparently, only vaporization. This is a significant point as there are no combustion products (including tar) in the inhaled vapour. This is not the same as saying there are no health risks to “vaping”.

    “While propylene glycol and other chemicals commonly used as solvents or carrier compounds in e-cigarettes liquids are generally recognized as safe, they have not been used before in vaporized form over long periods of time. The risks, especially to the lungs, are not fully understood…” – Wikipedia.

  26. @Ikonoclast I think that e-gaspers are for those who want to give up but can’t shake it. I was surprised to see girls using e-fags, perhaps it is a new fashion statement? I know the medicos are keen to break the trend and are willing to support any viable alternative, e-tabac show are springing up in Paris. But for the moment tobacco is seen as a legitimate social tool.

  27. @Ikonoclast

    “Smoking is a great way to goof off”.

    Not that long ago, chain-smoking at your desk was a signal of how incredibly hard-working you were.

  28. @Paul Norton

    Can’t see the “Zionist” angle in that story.

    I’m critical of, for example, Israel’s ongoing treatment of Palestinians under the illegal occupation – but that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with research on the reef.

    If the angle is BDS, I’d say ‘it would be a shame if the actions causing the BDS meant that such research was hampered, but that may be the price to pay’. Once South Africa halted apartheid the BDS stopped and everyone got back to playing sport etc…

  29. @John Quiggin

    I am old enough to remember those days. I was never convinced that chain smokers were hard workers. They spent a lot of dragging, looking up at the ceiling and blowing smoke.

  30. I like to start with the belief that there may be a world (objective reality) independent of our minds and whatever they think of it ,but, that as all such statements must be in one language or another ,and all languages (including science) are belief systems, we cant say anything truly objective about it. All languages have histories and generate meaning only within their own terms ,I think there is nothing thinkable that is independent of belief systems. The term ‘objective reality ‘ suggests there are things that are so no matter who ,or what language, describes them . Making statements that have no particular viewpoint but encompass all viewpoints is difficult .

    In every day life I normally act as if none of the above is true. None of the above prevents belief or action on climate issues. The language of science strives to minimise subjectivity and thats OK.

  31. Honestly I would have thought it was simple. crazy old white guys that have nothing better to do than to listen to other old conservative old white guys about how the world should work. Thats not to say that one should not replace tinfoil coggers with the Illuminati.

  32. !@#$%^&*() Jennifer Marohasy !@#$%^&*()

    Wow John. I thought Plimer was a bit out there in his self serving mangling of climate science to fit his viewpoints. But to his credit he largely works within the standard methods and knowledge – but this person!! Ad hoc reinventing of physics/science or giving credit to that approach!!

    Tks for the link – an excellent addition to my file of crapola.

    This weirdo who she is referencing and assigning credibility reminded me of a 3rd form friend in high school who used a similar approach to ‘refuting Einstein’.

    Basically he was outraged that he couldnt go faster than the speed of light. At the time (age 14) I couldnt fault him. Such is the great power ignorance can confer on a person. His interest and inquiry was laudable but unfortunately his conceptualizing framework was flawed like your beloved Jennifer aka – if a theory is hard to graps or doesnt concur with a bunch of childhood prejudices, assumptions etc. the idea must be wrong, not one’s narcissistic view of the universe.

    [For those who arent scientists the flaw was this – He like Jenny didnt understand that all Einstein Newton et al. did was make a bunch of observations (Apples falling) and develop really elegant models (inverse square law) that captured the essence of what was happening ideally in a mathematical form from which useful predictions could be made (earth and celestial mechanics predicting the tides providing the basis for British empire and here we are). These and experiments provides the tests/reality checks.

    i.e. They did not operate in the manner of Luther the Pope and innumerable theologians.

    Unfortunately science is still usually sold (i.e. people are educated) especially to the young as though it was another religion of givens – because its difficult to talk about its concepts and insights without having a basic vocabulary in the first instance. If you do a research science degree you need to unlearn this approach. Unfortunately a lot of ‘scientists’ never move beyond ‘faith based’ wrote/scientism and Jenny looks like one of the more unfortunate exemplars.

    Put another way you do science by a combination of Kuhnian paradigm development reduced to its basics using parsimony and cast if possible in a mathematical (algorithmic and probablistic) format (empirical curve fitting or elegant mechanistic) which is then tested via falsification directly or by events perhaps in completely different fields – unless of course you are an neoclassical economic cheerperson – in which case you use something akin to Jenny’s method and dress the empirical result up as though it was based on insight into mechanisms on par with Newton/Einstein and confirm this by conferring Ersatz Nobels on neoliberal theologians.

    Another indicator of how pathetic she is, is her reproduction of such an article with all its misspellings intact – (Hubbell ?!) – reflecting lousy editting]

  33. @Ikonoclast

    Apologies – I didnt see your efforts to explain science and why it is different to other forms of knowledge before I stuck up my post.

  34. Using the term”Tinfoil Hats” is resorting to the losing debating tactic of attacking the messenger because the message cannot be attacked; this is a clear demonstration that AGW and its CONsensus is pure pseudo-science.

    The message is loud and clear:

    The raw historical temperature records published by the BOM speaks for itself. It unequivocally shows cooling since the late 1800s.

    Only after the BOM alter their raw historical temperature records by homogenising the data, that an artificial warming trend is created in the official temperature records for Australia.

    If the data showed warming they would not need to alter it.

  35. @phoenix

    The raw historical temperature records published by the BOM speaks for itself. It unequivocally shows cooling since the late 1800s.

    Citation required.

  36. Second lame debating tactic changing the subject.

    Not that it is relevant to this debate, but do you have ESP and ‘know’ my views on relativity and evolution?

    Well one fact remains and you do not have a retort for it; BOM doctored the temperature records to suit the pseudo-science of climate change.

  37. @zoot
    Trewin, B. 2013, A daily homogenized temperature data set for Australia, International Journal of Climatology, Volume 33, see especially page 1524)

  38. All other things being equal, scientists prefer the mathematically simpler theory because it is more beautiful that way. I think that is a good example of faith in the scientific method. Also our Western Christian culture with its strong notion of guilt and original sin has given us Darwins cutthroat evolution ,Dawkins selfish gene, Freuds nasty Id, and Adam Smith etc.

  39. John Goss, I’ve told this story here before, but I think it is highly relevant to your question, so I hope our host will indulge.

    18 years ago a fellow student in the science communication course I was doing complained that, in order to get to a performance she was giving she was stuck for several hours in a car with Joanne Codling. Codling spent the whole time talking about “exciting new research” which “proved” that Black Americans’ lower performance on IQ tests etc were the result of genetic inferiority rather than social factors. This wasn’t racist apparently because she acknowledged that some black Americans could be highly intelligent, but claimed they were on average substantially less intelligent, and therefore all efforts to boost their position in society through Headstart, affirmative action etc were at best wasted, at worst counter productive.

    Unfortunately for Codling, my friend had done her Honours thesis on IQ testing, but Codling was utterly uninterested in listening to someone who might know what she was talking about. She knew, just knew, that the stuff she had read was right.

    This was not an isolated incident. The following year Codling changed her name to Nova.

    A few years after that she got heavily into promoting theories that any expansion of the monetary base would automatically turn a country into the Weimar Republic, or maybe Zimbabwe.

    My point? This is not a case of someone committed to science and evidence turning against, it is someone who has always been willing to believe and promote whatever crackpot theory could be used to justify low taxes, kicking the poor in the guts etc.

  40. sunshine :
    All other things being equal, scientists prefer the mathematically simpler theory because it is more beautiful that way. I think that is a good example of faith in the scientific method. Also our Western Christian culture with its strong notion of guilt and original sin has given us Darwins cutthroat evolution ,Dawkins selfish gene, Freuds nasty Id, and Adam Smith etc.

    You raise some interesting points Sunshine here and above – a pity though there is also a lot of confusion in your understanding which indicates you still need to learn much about science as a whole.

    I note above your reference to Scientific faith and belief above. It is an important issue. But it does not mean that ‘all things are equal’. You seem to be saying in a selectively post modern way that hard science is just another relative set of beliefs or faith if you like. So but its not. One aspect is as follows.

    In recent years the ‘Belief’ aspect of science through has been highlighted by the wider introduction and application of Bayes Theorem and application in the form of Bayesian Belief Nets. In exploring this for work which provides serious hard tests of what Bayes implies one nice thing that has emerged for me is better understanding of how science differs from monotheistic religion (e.g. catholicism, Islam) and ideology/social science (e.g. Marxism, neoliberalism, Deep Ecology).

    The exploration and development of religion and ideology have not been useless. Far from it. They are in effect interesting postulates arising during humanities quest for knowledge from need or musings or whatever. If you like they are hypotheses.

    Where they fail though is in not being tested – or where they are tested by experiment or collection of further relevant observations their supporters deny the result.This is in contrast to modern science.

    So you seldom hear the devoutly religious admit – yeah well we were wrong all that stuff about flat earths, Lepers and devils really was just Bronze Age superstition. They cant because it raises the question of how much else in their basic texts is dodgy. Similarly today you see the neo-liberal growth economy ad infinitum ideology which flies in the face of a finite planet.

    Meanwhile science adapts and changes via a combination of paradigm development and shifts, hypothesis development and testing.

    I think difference this is critical and this is why I am currently having a love affair with Bayesian Belief Nets. The latter formalize how you can take prior knowledge and then work to improve insight, probabilities etc. by linking this prior information to posterior information – if you like the new emerging data. Hard science does this routinely and understands everything is linked in a network of cause and effect. Sadly social sciences, ideology and religion seem so much in love with their narratives that they can break free – at least that is the pattern of application.

    As a result religion and ideology start with ideas fixe and rationalize their positions through such tools rhetoric and shooting the messenger figuratively or literally as sadly you seem to be trying to do. A good illustration of this is your focus not on the ordinary thousands of routine science examples where the method works like a dream but on a few emotionally confronting issues that are clearly challenging your (Christian) worldview. But at least you are trying to understand the issues so as John Lennon said …”I hope some day you will join us”.

  41. Having looked at the reference you provide Phoenix, I cannot see anything to support your case. Quite the opposite.

    I’m looking online so I can’t see which bit is the page you mention, but looking at figure 9 it looks as though the number of adjustments up and down are almost identical, while the systematic factors make only a small difference. Consequently, I can’t see how the raw data could show a falling trend when the adjusted data the BOM releases shows a substantial rise.

    Moreover, according to this piece http://theconversation.com/no-the-bureau-of-meteorology-is-not-fiddling-its-weather-data-31009, “Our data on extreme temperature trends show that the warming trend across the whole of Australia looks bigger when you don’t homogenise the data than when you do. For example, the adjusted data set (the lower image below) shows a cooling trend over parts of northwest Australia, which isn’t seen in the raw data.”

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