Sir Paul Nurse on the science-society relationship

by Judith Curry

In late February, Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, gave the Dimbleby Lecture for the BBC.  There are some good statements in his address, but here I focus on his statements about the relationship between science and society.

Some excerpts:

Implicit in this approach is that scientific knowledge evolves. Early on in a scientific study knowledge is often tentative, and it is only after repeated testing that it becomes increasingly secure. It is this process that makes science reliable, but it takes time. This can lead to problems when scientists are called upon to give advice on issues when the science is not yet complete. We see this every day in the newspapers – whether breast implants are safe or what foods are good or bad. The public want clear and simple answers but sometimes that is not possible.

JC comment:  in such instances (which are almost certainly to be more likely than not for policy relevant issues), the most important thing that scientists can do is clearly explain the levels and types of uncertainty and areas of ignorance.  The answers to such questions, even if knowledge is relatively complete, are rarely black or white, good or bad.  E.g. flip flopping on which foods are good vs bad (e.g. margarine) results in people generally ignoring such ‘answers.’

It is impossible to achieve complete certainty on many complex scientific problems, yet sometimes we still need to take action. The sensible course is to turn to the expert scientists for their consensus view. When doctors found I had blockages in the arteries around my heart I asked them for their expert view as to what I should do. They recommended a bypass, I took their consensus advice, and here I am. That is how science works.

JC comment:  The heart specialist analogy seems to be a popular one lately for climate scientists in defending the consensus, which was discussed previously in the context of the dueling WSJ editorials.  Arguments against this analogy for climate science are that it is the patient’s right to seek a second opinion and to refuse the recommended treatment.  A comment from Geronimo on BishopHill is insightful:

Doctors are not expert scientists, they are practitioners and the reason they recommended a bypass was because they’d seen it succeed many times before. It wasn’t a consensus view, the doctors didn’t vote on it, it was a view taken from experience. If Sir Paul had asked the same doctors a hundred years ago they’d have suggested something completely different and he’d have probably died.

Back to Nurse’s lecture:

These are issues of crucial significance, but can only be properly addressed if we enjoy a healthy relationship between science and society. Scientists need to identify issues early, and to encourage open debate about the implications and consequences of scientific and technological advances. Such debates will sometimes be difficult, but they must take place. This is essential if we are to have a society that is comfortable with science and that can reap the benefits it can bring.

JC comment:  I certainly agree with this paragraph, but this is very difficult to reconcile this with the arguments for needing a consensus.

Today the world faces major problems. Some uppermost in my mind are food security, climate change, global health and making economies sustainable, all of which need science. It is critical for our democracy to have mature discussions about these issues. But these debates are sometimes threatened by a misinformed sense of balance and inappropriate headlines in the media, which can give credence to views not supported by the science, and by those who distort the science with ideology, politics, and religion.

JC comment:  the perceived need for a scientific consensus leads to the situation whereby any disagreement with the consensus is mistakenly viewed as arising from ideology, politics and consensus.  In reality, politics comes in when solutions are discussed, and a scientific consensus that is married to a specific policy option precludes having a mature discussion about these issues.

Another great challenge for the world is climate change. Discussions in this area impinge on politics, commercial interests and strongly held opinions, and these influences have distorted the scientific debate. Solutions needed to counter global warming are likely to require more concerted world action, regulating the activities of the individual, of industry, and of the nation state, and such restrictions are an anathema to some with particular political and economic viewpoints. Equally those of an opposite viewpoint may exaggerate the extent of future global warming because of their affinities towards greater regulation and world government.

JC comment:  relating such solutions to a scientific consensus is the source of the political dispute.

Many features important for good science are well embedded in the UK. We have a tradition of respect for empiricism, emphasising reliable observation and experiment. Most importantly, science in the UK is carried out in a culture of openness and freedom. This should never be underestimated. The scientific endeavour is at its most successful when there is freedom of thought. Scientists need to be able to freely express doubts . . .

The new enlightenment to be sceptical about established orthodoxy, and must not be too strongly directed from the top, which stifles creativity.

JC comment:  these are strong and important statements.  But again, they are difficult to reconcile with his previous statements regarding consensus when the science is not yet complete, and then his concern with a misinformed sense of balance that  distorts the science with ideology, politics, and religion.

Science will also be required to develop new ways of producing energy that are environmentally less damaging. Renewables like wind, wave, tidal and solar should be evaluated, putting vested interests aside, to determine what is effective. The same applies to nuclear power where science is needed to properly assess the risks and benefits. It is not sensible to respond in a knee-jerk way without evaluation of data concerning real environmental damage and health risks, as against perceived damage and risks.

JC comment:  a good statement, that gets neglected in the “urgency” of adressing the climate problem.

This leads some polemicists to confuse the debate by mixing up the science with politics. The answer here is to focus on transparency and good science. There is no room for preconceived ideas – first we need the science then the politics.

Nature editorial

An editorial in Nature responded to Nurse’s lecture, particularly this last point, entitled Political Science, with the subtitle The practice of science cannot be, nor should it be, apolitical.

Paul Nurse, president of Britain’s Royal Society, does not think he is sitting in an ivory tower, and he has made it clear that he considers that scientists have duties to fulfil and battles to fight beyond the strictly scientific — for example to “expose the bunkum” of politicians who abuse and distort science. This was evident again last week, when Nurse delivered the prestigious Dimbleby Lecture in London, instituted in memory of the British broadcaster Richard Dimbleby.

“The practice of science is inherently political.”

. . . although political (and religious) ideology has no place in deciding scientific questions, the practice of science is inherently political. In that sense, science can never come before politics. Scientists everywhere enter into a social contract, not least because they are not their own paymasters. Much, if not most, scientific research has social and political implications, often broadly visible from the outset. In times of crisis (like the present), scientists must respond intellectually and professionally to the challenges facing society, and not think that safeguarding their funding is enough.

But we must take care to distinguish the political immunity of scientific reasoning from the political dimensions and obligations of doing science.

JC comments: It seems that scientists, even those in the uppermost that are engaged in the policy process, can have an understanding of the relationship between science and politics and the science-policy interface that is contradictory and perhaps at odds with the expectations/needs of policy makers and the public.  Paul Nurse gets credit for grappling with this important and difficult issue, but his talk exposes many issues that have contributed to the growing dysfunction at the climate science-policy interface.

Scientists taking government funding to support their research do enter a social contract with the government, whether individual scientists are aware of this or not.  The key challenge IMO is articulated in this statement in Nature op-ed:

But we must take care to distinguish the political immunity of scientific reasoning from the political dimensions and obligations of doing science.

273 responses to “Sir Paul Nurse on the science-society relationship

  1. Judith, I think that should be “Dimbleby” Lecture?

  2. Sir Paul Nurse of the UK’s Royal Society and Dr. Ralph Cicerone of the US National Academy of Science are major players in the problems that plague the science-society relationship today.

    • Today’s flawed science-society relationship is our main concern.

      • There is no greater danger to society today than the cancerous alliance of world leaders with leaders of the UK’s RS and the US NAS that grew out of sight for decades, at least from 1956, before finally surfacing as Climategate documents and emails in 2009.

        Hopefully my abbreviated research profile on WordPress conveys the information concisely

      • Statements and actions by “leaders” of the scientific community, like Sir Paul Nurse of the UK’s Royal Society and Dr. Ralph Cicerone of the US National Academy of Science, help expose deepest historical roots of the global climate scandal.

        The actions of Dr. Peter Gleick (member of NAS and AGU) last month reminded me of actions by members of AGU and NAS fifty-six years and thirty-six years earlier at the 1956 and 1976 National Meetings of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Washington, DC.

        Henry KIssinger may be the only one still alive who can confirm/deny if the root cause is FEAR instilled by the vaporization of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945:

        With kind regards,

      • World leaders and leaders of the US NAS and UK’s RS probably had no idea of the damage inflicted on science and society while they vainly tried to “save the planet.”

        They cannot change that past. How can world leaders and leaders of the scientific community regain regain public confidence and help our society recover?

  3. Steve Milesworthy

    Judith, I think you’ve read too much into his reference to “consensus”. He argues that the consensus view should be taken in certain situations:

    It is impossible to achieve complete certainty on many complex scientific problems, yet sometimes we still need to take action. The sensible course is to turn to the expert scientists for their consensus view.

    This is different from saying for example “We need to build a consensus about something so that we can decide what to do with it”.

    Much is made of the claim that the IPCC must be like the latter sentence because it was formed with the presumption that AGW was a problem. But if the scientists had decided it wasn’t a problem then they may still have come to a consensus, but a consensus which indicated that the situation wasn’t serious or urgent.

    • There should be no consensus required of science. Have the people on the different sides present their evidence and opinions and whoever is in power to do something has to choose something which often should be nothing. Consensus should never be required. Once you have peer reviewed consensus on any science thing you lock the science down so it cannot evolve naturally. Climate science has been on the wrong path for 50 years. Dr Curry and some others are getting it turning around. Thank you Dr Curry.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        There is no consensus *required* of science. Whoever is in power does indeed choose, based on presented evidence. All that is being said is that choices based on a marginal minority viewpoint are often worse than those based on a viewpoint that, broadly, a lot of scientists do not strongly disagree with and are prepared to sign up to (for now).

        The consensus rarely impacts the results of the detailed science undertaken by individual scientists.

      • A lot of scientists are on the AGW gravy trains, too big to abandon.

      • Exactly. Follow the money. It’s a no-brainer.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Is that rather shallow view more representative of your own philosophy?

        You have rather missed the point that the consensus rarely impacts the results of the detailed science undertaken by individual scientists. Furthermore, while the IPCC may make claims about the large number of people involved in the IPCC reports they are still a minority of people doing the science that inputs into “climate science”. There are many more thousands doing detailed research into ancillary aspects of the subject of AGW whose research is rather unaffected by whatever the consensus is perceived to be.

      • Really! Why we only hear the voice of the concensus and none from those you claimed. Just list a few of those not on gravy train.

      • Latimer Alder

        @steve milesworthy

        And yet, to be asked to serve on the IPCC seemingly represents one of the premier achievements of a climatologist’s life. And it is very well known that admission to the sacred circle is so much easier if one ‘can be relied upon to take the correct view’.

        The roman catholic church, for example, doesn’t appoint many convinced protestants to be cardinals nor do you find many who believe in peace at all costs at the top of the military.

        The ‘tone’ is set by those at the top of any hierarchy. And the IPCC is fervently pro-alarmist and pro-‘consensus’.

        Interestingly, reading the bios of many of the denizens here, one thing that many share is that they are not members of any such hierarchy, while the alarmists are often employed by organisations where alarmism is in the DNA.

        So we have a strange paradox. Sceptics – who are often accused of being in the pay of some mythical ;Big Oil’ – are independent entities beholden to nothing and nobody while the alarmists – who present themselves as objective and unbiased – are often employed by or strongly affiliated to entities whose existence depends on alarmism continuing as a cause celebre.

        Funny old world innit!

      • I’m sure that most climate scientist have never seen that “gravy train”, which is more in the imagination of SamNC than in the real world.

        It’s true that many climate scientists would like to be IPCC authors, but the rewards are so questionable that one may wonder why they do that. They don’t normally get any extra income from that, but they have to work hard. Their employers do in most cases allow them to use part of their working day for the IPCC work but even so it means a lot of extra work.

        Having been an IPCC author has some value in later career development, but for a typical academic scientist that’s less than the loss from having spent time in writing the IPCC report rather than doing own research and writing original publications.

        The main reason for being willing to be an IPCC author is in most cases probably the little prestige that it brings, not any more material advantages that might be linked to it.

        All the above may vary a little from country to country and also from an employer to an employer, but basically there’s nothing glamorous and no significant economic advantages linked to the work as IPCC author.

        (I’ve not been an IPCC author, but I have met many, perhaps most Finnish authors and know some of them rather well. The above is based mostly on, what I have heard from them.)

      • You were perhaps the only one riding the gravy train and did not get gravy, sour or dumb or regretting now.

        All the papers/articles I had seen so far described a phenominum and then quickly blame CO2 without any substantiation. Typical example is the North Pacific OA study. So many so called scientists in the study published a junk paper and got their salaries (supposed public fundings).

  4. I am afraid Sir Paul is talking out of both sides of his face. Until someone like him realises that CAGW is simply wrong, and says so publicly, we will continue to waste billions of dollars trying to find a solution to a problem that simply does not exist.

    • I think that your comment is off topic. You could replace “sir Paul” with any name and it would have the same (lack of) meaning.

    • Exactly! CAGW, AGW and GW have all been conflated because the average citizen has absolutely no idea about the difference and is woefully lacking in scientific knowledge. Lately, I have been conducting a test of generalized knowledge with regard to CO2 being a pollutant. My very unscientific survey has found that 100% of the people I have talked to mistake carbon dioxide with carbon monoxide. I have asked my questions randomly at supermarkets and the fitness club where I exercise every weekday, two places I mostly interact with your average Joe.

      • Your Average Joe

        @Ron Abate

        I know the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. One kills you fast by suffocating you. The other one slowly by roasting you.

        But I only just heard about the really frightening and freaky DiHydrogen Monoxide! Surely this stuff should have been banned years ago!

      • You will discover you are wrong on both if you know both gases physical properties good enough.

      • Only if you believe the hype about CAGW, and, if you do, I have a bridge I want to sell you. I cannot believe that the whole scientific community has not made a mockery of the EPA and its CO2 classification. Without a shred of real world evidence, and no historical record of a tipping point when there were periods when CO2 levels were higher than today, to claim the CAGW is a real and present danger is pure ideology posing as science. Where are the positive feedbacks that must occur to make CAGW possible? Where is the hotspot?

      • Doug Badgero

        I will be less cryptic than SAM. CO is poisonous, you do not suffocate…… are poisoned. Epic fail……

      • OK. The other missing bit of explanation is CO2. At normal temperature CO2 at unheated air will not roast you. The combustion of carbon to form CO2 heats up the air can roast you at that moment of energy release from the carbon. The CO2 content (maximum in flue gas duct is 18%) in the air is small (a few % in a roasting condition). So effectively, the hot air roasted you, not CO2.

      • Sorry press post comment too fast forgotten to mention the radiation part which is also helping to roast you.

  5. Judith,

    I agree with Steve Milesworthy on what Sir Paul Nurse is saying.

    He is not saying “We need a consensus”, he is saying “The society needs advice”. Having a good consensus makes giving advice easier, a total lack of consensus makes giving advice impossible. Under such conditions it’s right to ask: “Is there a consensus?”. If there’s at some level then it’s right to tell that, if there’s no consensus at all then there’s little more to tell.

    Having IPCC as one-time effort is fully consistent with an appropriate attempt of finding out the extent of consensus. As a one-time effort it would not have led to problems for science as it would really been limited to giving advice to decision makers.

    Having IPCC as a long lasting institution is more problematic as it starts to affect science in addition of being a tool for reporting about science. As a long lasting institutions it has also some effect of the nature of forcing a consensus. Scientists are influenced by the publicly stated consensus and that makes it more difficult to maintain objectivity.

    • PP,
      A doctor gives advice to have a heart procedure, based on his or her best take of the evidence. That person is putting their professional reputation on the line. If they are wrong in either the diagnosis or the execution of the diagnosis, they will likely face repercussions. Is that the case in modern science?

    • “Having a good consensus makes giving advice easier, a total lack of consensus makes giving advice impossible”

      History is our guide here, the best way to achieve a ‘good consensus’ is to intimidate, imprison or kill those who do not toe the line.
      Lysenko was an eminently successful driver of achieving a ‘good consensus’, starving Nikolai Vavilov to death was clearly in the interests of the ‘good consensus’.

    • Latimer Alder


      ‘Scientists are influenced by the publicly stated consensus and that makes it more difficult to maintain objectivity’

      Shouldn’t the appropriate term be ‘selected’, rather than ‘influenced’.
      When the institution itself has huge influence over who is selected to work on it (and to exclude those who do not subscribe to its views) then its views become self-perpetuating.

      Same is true of any large’permanent’ institution. The IPCC is only unique in pretending that it doesn’t suffer from this automatic bias in its deliberations.

    • Pekka, the society will get the wrong advice if a consensus is aimed at (confirmation/selection bias). Let the science do its thing transparently and without taboo/dogma and the public will get the best advice from the science.

  6. I’ve always felt that “consensus” is the last refuge of scoundrels. 500 hundred years ago, the consensus position was that the Ptolemaic system was the right way to look at the motion of the planets. One hundred years ago, eugenics was the consensus solution to improve the human race. Lysenkoism was the consensus approach to agriculture for roughly half of the world sixty years ago. The science is what counts; consensus means very little.

    We live in a world where the rate of technological change is dizzying. As scientists, we contribute to that change, but sometimes forget that for wicked problems, the scientific process cannot march at that same quick pace. The rush to judgement, and policy creation, before enough of the science is known to be able to determine what policy changes – if any – are needed, is dangerous. Even more dangerous is the mindset that the existence of any hypothetical danger justifies even the most draconian of policies. And most dangerous are those scientists who “enable” the fearmongers with their own agendas. For eventually, the falsehoods and distortions will be discovered, discrediting both scientists and politicians alike.

    • Consensus is indeed the last refuge of scoundrels.

    • It used to be the consensus that the sun was the most important climate driver. One day that consensus will return. It’s just a question of when.

      • The consensus view was once that the Earth is flat. However, that consensus was ultimately defeated by careful observation and consideration of all the evidence that suggested otherwise.

        How much longer must we wait for the all the observational evidence to overwhelm those who have been duped into inverting reality by the fossil fuel lobby?

      • Latimer Alder

        How strange. Not ten days ago you were loudly arguing that the existence of a consensus was , of itself, proof that their views were right.

        Now you argue the opposite,,,that consensus is no more than a figleaf for sloppy thinking and a failure to objectively examine the case.

        Will the real Martin Lack please stand up?

      • Latimer – Thanks for taking the bait: You are even more reliable than a Pavlovian dog… This takes us right back to one of my original points to Professor Lindzen – namely the nature of the consensus:

        500 years ago, the medieval consensus was ideologically driven by an obscurantist and anti-intellectual Establishment. Today, the consensus has been arrived at by genuinely sceptical scientists working independently all around the world.

        The only people left disputing the validity of this modern consensus – and the implications for humanity – are those who have a short-term vested interest in the continuance of business as usual… Oh and a few misguided people who think they are like Galileo…

      • Latimer Alder

        Somewhere the logic of your argument has passed me by.

        You make two important assertions, but, as ever provide no evidence for either

        1. That the nature of consensus has changed since the Middle Ages from a ‘bad’ one to a ‘good’ one
        2, That anyone who fails to agree with today’s climatology consensus must, of necessity, have ulterior motives rather than that they have genuinely arrived at a different view.

        Can you provide any justification for your view on these points..beyond your usual squeal of ‘because I’ve got an MA and so I’m right’?

      • I think ultra-Conservative Mormon Professor of Earth Sciences at Brigham Young University in Utah explains my argument much better than I clearly can:

      • Latimer Alder

        Well, almost anyone can express your argument better than you can, so this is hardly a recommendation! I have just had lunch with my rising 6 yo granddaughter and she’s catching you up fast. Wait until she’s 8 and you’ll be history in the ‘making a logical argument stakes’

        But before I waste 40 mins and 40 secs of my valuable time on the video you link to, please assure me that he deals directly with the two points I asked for evidence about above….and give the mm:ss references so that I can go straight to them.

        Otherwise I’ll be forced to conclude that you are indulging yourself in your self-avowed favourite pastime and aim in life of ‘derailing climate denial’.

      • I see no reason why I should waste my time with someone who resorts so easily to personal abuse. The whole 41-minutes is well-constructed, evidence-based argument. However, from 19:20 the climate change “sceptics” are like Galileo argument is tackled head-on.

      • Latimer Alder

        And since I did not ask you anything about Galileo I see no reason to waste even a minute on watching the video.

        As a reminder, I asked you about your evidence that all who disagree with the ‘consensus’ must necessarily have ulterior motives. That is nothing to do with the argument about Galileo

        As ever, you loudly trumpet assertions, but when challenged, have nothing but hot air and self-importance to back them up. You really must work on this aspect of your every time you appear outside the narrow confines of your own blog (with its blacklisting, editing and delete facilities open only to you), you get kicked all over the park.

      • Martin

        Did you read the item you linked to, whereby Chris Mooney said he hadn’t actually read Inhofes book yet? He still thinks he can pontificate on it though. So you are merely linking to a pontification which is hardly science is it?

        Why not read some Hubert Lamb and put the past climate into better context with toda’s. Storms for example were much fiercer in the past.

        You never replied to my question as to how you rationalise the one third of stations that are cooling. What is your opinion on that, as it is in direct contradiction to the assertions made by the IPCC and the Met office.

      • Martin,
        You refer to being duped by the fossil fuel lobby.
        Please tell us where the fossil fuel lobby spends most of its money?

  7. “Today the world faces major problems.” Ah, the dog-whistle shibboleth of the chattering classes. The subtext, of course is :’.. and I and people like me are needed to fix them.’

    He continues “Some uppermost in my mind are food security, climate change, global health and making economies sustainable, all of which need science.”

    and asserts “The public want clear and simple answers [presumably to these “problems”] but sometimes that is not possible.”

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. Whatever kind of answers, simple or, as JC urges, condignly complex, the public ‘wants’, it only ‘wants’ them to the degree that it has been persuaded by those it trusts that these really are “problems” at all.

    Now as we know, in the case of climate alarmism, the problem is entirely imaginary.

    Food security, it’s true, may be cause for anxiety, but it has been so throughout human history and, notwithstanding the efforts of the greenies to pervert the food market with biofuel, shows no sign of exacerbation.

    Global health, on all the indices of which I am aware, has continued to improve, and may be expected to go on on doing so if the economies of the world are allowed to grow and not hobbled by silly greenery.

    No “problems” here, just the opportunity to continue to bestow on the rest of the world the fruits of the European Enlightenment, if only the Nurses would get of the way.

    What a silly, post-Enlightenment man he is.

  8. “…although political (and religious) ideology has no place in deciding scientific questions, the practice of science is inherently political.”

    Science is (and should be) “practiced” for political reasons, but the results should not be seen as politically driven.

    Cognitive dissonance…don’t leave home without it.

  9. “Some uppermost in my mind are food security, climate change, global health and making economies sustainable, all of which need science.”

    No they don’t.
    Nurse is deliberately conflating technology, which is generally a spin-off of science, with science.
    Science comes from the Latin scire “to know,” which is a Roman pun from scindere “to cut, divide”. The Romans nicked it from the Greek skhizein which means “to split, rend, cleave,”.
    So science, classically, is about cutting things up into smaller and smaller things and examining the entrails.
    Technology come from the Greej tekhno ‘art, skill, craft, method, system’ and logia “to speak;”.

    Now it is true one cannot build a nuclear power station with understanding all manner of scientific principles, but the ability to manufacture reenforced concrete, forge a reactor containment vessel and program the computers that run the various systems is not science.

    Science is a philosophy which seeks to understand the interaction of the components of systems; nothing more and nothing less.

    • +10

    • John from CA


      “the ability to manufacture reenforced concrete…”

      mies van der rome stated it quite well (from memory), from the point at which someone inadvertently dropped a steel rod into concrete, it took the construction industry 30 years to implement reenforced concrete.

      Implementing scientific discoveries in an insightful way takes time and typically is not the purpose of scientific research unless the research is focused on design issues. Scientific research related to ergonomics would be an example focused on design issues.

      The IPCC and climate science community needs to stick to the science and get out of the solutions game. The IPCC work groups devoted to solutions like “sustainability” should be immediately disbanded in favor of a pass down of IPCC scientific discovery.

      LOL, the industrial engineering and industrial design community will demand solid science before acting on it in insightful and innovative ways. This is the elephant in the room.

      We may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks but we can pull their teeth so they aren’t a threat to the world.

    • If you build a reactor containment vessel without a BFPL curve, no regulatory agency is going to let you operate that reactor.

      Same with the required tests for re-enforced concrete.

      You need scientific data to demonstrate that those systems will perform as required.

      Therefore you need science to build a nuclear power station.

      If you dont understand the interaction of the components of a nuclear power station, then the regulators won’t let you operate.

      We ignore the science of climate change at our peril.

      • Engineering not science.

        Once Science discovered, the rest leave to engineering. If engineering meet problems that needs science, its not mature science.

      • No, it’s science, measuring the physical properties of matter.

        Finding the temperature at which steel becomes ductile, rather than brittle, is measuring a physical property of matter.

        Destructively testing concrete to determine its strength is science, not engineering.

      • Then I’m a scientist, Bob.

        Haven’t seen that much BS for a while. Doesn’t happen much where I’ve been for most of the last 6 months – but I’m back for a while so don’t expect it to go unremarked.

      • “bob droege | March 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Reply

        No, it’s science, measuring the physical properties of matter”

        and the hypothesis being tested is? Might as well have a red headed boy piss on the hot metal.

        You do know what engineers do don’t you?
        Any engineer can build a dam that will never fail or a building that can survive an aircraft impact. However, they know what an opportunity cost is and they know what the budget is and the tender spec is.

      • Bob,

        If physical properties of matter is not known required measurements to discover is science. If its well establish physical properties then to take measurements against established data, its not science its engineering.

      • Doc,

        The hypothesis being tested is “is the concrete we just poured strong enough to meet the design criteria?”


        The physical properties of each batch of concrete are “unknown” until tested, even though they are expected to be within a certain range.

        Jim Owen, do you find it insulting to be called a scientist? If so you can insult me back by calling me an engineer, because what the other guys are saying is that what I do is engineering. I am a scientist, I wear the uniform.

        Isn’t engineering applied science anyway.

      • Bob,

        I know very well about testing of concrete samples, they are non-scientific at all. They are technician jobs as part of the quality assurance work under engineering. Though not as sophisticated as building meter thick for a nuclear project, I had involved in buildings over 50-storey high. Every batch has a sample taken and then tested after full strength is gained whilst the pour is done at the same time. Your establishment may call you scientist in your quality assurance work, our establishment called them technicians wearing laboratory white gowns.

        As you said, everything within specifications of the concrete or the concrete pour will be demolished and repour with another batch if the sample failed testing outside of the minimum strength requirements.

      • Correction – I meant to say “Non-Science” not “non-scientific”.

      • Bob,

        If your job is find/invent a super concrete significantly improved strengths of concrete, then your work is science discover new properties with new materials. Application or testing of concrete within known range of strengths or properties, no science.

  10. I am inclined to agree with Pekka. If the IPCC had just issued its first report back in 1990 and then dissolved itself climate science today would be much less of a disaster area than it is. When IPCC is finally scrapped climate scientists of all persuasions can get back to doing science and forget the poisonous political campaigning.

    • Coldish –
      If the IPCC had issued it’s 1995 report based on the science rather than on one persons personal opinion, the poisonous political campaigning might not have propagated.

  11. To be or not to be?

    One wonders where Sir Pauls concerns really lie.

    Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation
    America’s richest people meet to discuss ways of tackling a ‘disastrous’ environmental, social and industrial threat
    John Harlow, Los Angeles
    SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.
    The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.
    Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.
    These members, along with Gates, have given away more than £45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.
    Related Links

    They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5.

  12. Paul Matthews

    The argument against the doctor analogy is that it’s a completely false analogy!
    We go to doctors and trust their advice because we know they have a good track record of treating thousands of patients with largely successful results.
    No analogy with the ‘projections’ of climate scientists at all.
    It’s a clear sign of the weakness of their arguments that people like Nurse often seem to resort to such false analogies.

    • Exactly. This is a more realistic medical analogy:

      Patient: “Doctor, I’ve got a headache and I was worried about it, so I wanted to have a check up”.
      Doctor: “Well, I’ve set up this comprehensive model of the human body, and it says that having cancer may result in headaches. It also says fast treatment is essential for treating cancer. So we will put you on radiotherapy and chemotherapy, starting immediately”
      Patient: “Won’t that have horrific side effects?”
      Doctor: “Yes, but my model says cancer causes headaches. And look, it hindcasts your movements last week perfectly. It says you went to work during the day and slept at night.”
      Patient: “Actually, I wasn’t working all last week. Isn’t it the case that many people have had headaches in the past and don’t have cancer?”
      Doctor “Yes, but those had other explanations. I haven’t found any other explanations for your headache. Can you prove it isn’t cancer?”

      The patient refuses the treatment. Three days later, the headache is gone. He returns to the doctor to complain.

      Patient: “My headache is gone now. Your model was wrong”.
      Doctor: “Not at all. I continued running the model, and your headache clearing up is not inconsistent with my model output. You should go on chemotherapy and radiotherapy immediately”
      Patient: “Do you not think your model might be wrong?”
      Doctor: “My model includes equations that can be linked back to basic physics. Are you saying physics is wrong?”
      Patient: “AAAARGH! I want to change my doctor, please.”

  13. If climatologists today, like medical doctors a century ago, don’t practice on and kill a few million climates, how will they learn what actually works?

    • Willis Eschenbach


    • OK – We’ve discovered well over 1000 new planets – let’s send the climatologists to practice on the climates of those planets.

      Gotta wonder how many of them will survive the trip? And how many would survive their own experiments? No matter – they wouldn’t be experimenting on my grandchildren’s climate.

  14. Who will be held accountable?

    For example, you can add ocean fears of ‘increased ocean acidification’ to the never ending list of erroneous AGW model-based predictions that have been falsified by empirical records. The list includes epidemics of insect-borne disease, extensive extinction of species (e.g., the polar bear), coastal flooding with catastrophic effects on Pacific islanders, an ever greater severity of increased numbers of hurricanes and tornados and increased severities.

    Not even the elevated temperatures that have been predicted by the AGW models are detectible. Global warming is a hoax and a scare tactic that has become a farcical tragedy.

    • Latimer Alder

      Did you forget the 500,000,000 ‘climate refugees’ by last year? The complete disappearance of the Himalayas by 2035? The extinction of all known species of plankton by Michaelmas and Wee Jim Hansen having to put his wellies and water wings on to get into his inundated office?

  15. It looks like more of the middling conversational tactics in the face of rejection of the consensus. Lots of seemingly harmless moderate statements and platitudes are included. Walking back and whitewashing what has actually happened on the climate front. Anyside could read into the text if they wish.

    “Equally those of an opposite viewpoint may exaggerate the extent of future global warming because of their affinities towards greater regulation and world government.”

    In REALITY, there has been nothing “EQUALLY” about the 20 year effort to ram AGW down the publics throat in the name of science. If Nurse had his way the objective observer would just forget what a thug and bully, politically correct culture the Royal Academy has become regarding AGW settled science pimps.

  16. More of the Nurse double talk in action, mouthing the “anti-science” label on those who oppose his agenda;

    And of course, the Royal Society’s current president Sir Paul Nurse has been quite explicit about his desire to pursue this activist role.

    In September 2011, Nurse gave an interview to Nature magazine in which he appeared to formalise the Royal Society’s transformation into a political body.

    Nurse wants the Society to have a stronger voice on the big policy questions of the day. ‘The Royal Society has a responsibility to provide advice on difficult issues, even if they are contentious,’ he says.

    He hopes to boost the Society’s role in government decision-making by fostering greater involvement of its roughly 1,500 fellows and foreign members in preparing reports, potentially with the help of more policy staff. Nurse also wants to expand the number of authoritative and influential reports on key issues, such as nuclear power, climate change and the definition of life.

    One former Royal Society Research Fellow who commented on Nurse’s article pleaded for the Society to remain above the political fray:

    Great science will truly inform government policy while informed opinions on science can only fuel debate. Personally I enjoy both of these aspects of being a scientist though I know which one of these actually counts. Please do not turn The Royal Society into another policy-driven quango…

    However, the following day Nurse reentered the political fray, launching an attack on what he saw as ‘anti-science’ attitudes in the US Republican party. It appears, then, that a policy-driven quango is exactly what Nurse intends the Society to become.

  17. A better analogy is that Nurse is like a modern day Faust.

  18. Patients are free to seek and ignore whatever opinions and advice they choose. Sir Paul Nurse isn’t saying otherwise.
    He himself could have shopped around for the sort of advice he may well have preferred to hear. The Lindzens or the Judith Currys of the heart specialist world would have advised either that there was no problem, or it was all just too hard to decide in a situation of deep uncertainty.
    Instead he chose to act. Of course,if he’d sucessfully chosen to take a big risk, either he or the UK’s NHS would have now been financially better off!
    There’s not much wrong with this analogy.

  19. I suggest we perform a simple experiment to test Prof Nurse’s postulate that those with Scientific Knowledge should drive political opinion.
    On this board we have a wide range of scientifically literate and intelligent readers and responders.
    In humans, gastrulation (nuclear DNA maturation) occurs around 16 days after fertilization and birth at about 40 weeks.
    So, can we have a ‘Scientific’ consensus as to when human life begins or are there some questions that can have no truthful ‘Scientific’ answer?

    • Steve Milesworthy

      Define “human life”.

    • Yeah, human life began tens of thousands of years ago and is ongoing.

      Both sperm and eggs are alive, don’t you think?

      And what does gastrulation have to do with DNA maturation?

  20. This appears to be a re-visiting of the arguments Nurse used to such great effect to humiliate James Delingpole just over a year ago. For example, Delingpole admitted that:
    – he believes concern about climate change is being driven by a “political agenda” seeking “control” over people;
    “the peer review process has been perhaps irretrievably corrupted” (presumably he meant ‘discredited’?) by Climategate;
    – Science should now be assessed by “peer-to-peer review” over the Internet by thousands and thousands of people including “people like me [i.e. him!] that haven’t got a scientific background”.

    When Nurse queried the legitimacy of this [non-peer review] process, by asking if he would or could read peer-reviewed scientific literature, Delingpole’s response was stupendously illogical: “It is not my job to sit down and read peer-reviewed science papers because… I haven’t got the scientific expertise… I am an interpreter of interpretations…”

    This tells you all you need to know about the fallacy of the marketplace of ideas

    • “Delingpole’s response was stupendously illogical: “It is not my job to sit down and read peer-reviewed science papers because… I haven’t got the scientific expertise… I am an interpreter of interpretations…””

      It seems very rational to me, are we just to take our roles as we must compete as “experts” in science? I realize in some circles, especially those with little science training at all, the appeal of expert authority has worked to great effect in promoting AGW. There certainly is a place for the science wonks in the debate but it isn’t exclusive or conclusive.

      Delingpole has it mostly right, sometimes profoundly so.

      • Delingpole admits he is no scientist and yet he is demanding the right to second-guess scientists!

        Why? Because he has made an a priori decision that the scientists in question cannot be trusted.

        Delingpole is a profound idiot. End of story.

      • “End of story” sounds alot like settled science. Your argument that the science agendas can only be debated on technical terms is inane and undemocratic which now that I think of it is an excellent description of the past 20 years of AGW advocacy.

        You go to the trouble of having a blog, include a photo of a pile of S$it under the caption “Delingpile” and expect to gain respect? Upset it was taken off the Telegraph blog?

        Go back (run) for the medication.

        By this ancient “we are science” standards what right would you have to comment on Dr. Lindzen’s conclusions? Are you remotely as qualified? (no you’re not if you didn’t notice). This is a profoundly stupid argument found mostly in the warming community and shouted the loudest by those with the least technical backgrounds like Al Gore or yourself in this case. You do see the contradiction in this don’t you??

        The public has every right to question the political affiliations of the science community in question. Delingpole is 100% correct on this theme. Your blog is angry, childlike and filled with straw such as “I’m a conservative”. That’s the real end of the story.

      • Re the pile of sh1t, Is it really my problem that you don’t have a sense of humour? Can someone be libelled by a photograph? Can an image be defamatory?… My critique of Delingpole is much more light-hearted than that of Mark Lynas It is you that is clutching at straws here, not me. In general, my blog is not angry or childish but, I do make an effort to make a complex and difficult subject informative, entertaining, and engaging. If you find yourself being talked-down to – or angered – by it, the problem is your end; not mine. Sorry.

      • M Lack,

        To keep it simple, by your own rules of science qualification who are you to be writing open letters to Dr. Lindzen?

      • Martin

        What would be your opinion of any of us if we had purported to write about scientific matters with authority and included that manure banner over a critique of Hansen?

        Hansen is a scientist you would retort, but Delinpole has not done anythng as profoundly stupid or as dishonest as deliberately rigging that congessional hearing in 1988, or claimed that sea levels would rise by 5metres by the end of the century.

        By that criteria Delinpgole is the genius and Hansen the profound idiot, so who warrants that banner the most?

        Admit it was a mistake and move on


      • Martin, You are no scientists, yet you pick and choose which scientists you want to listen to.Just as does Delingpole.

      • Previously de-bunked fallacious argument alert:

        I know it is yet another inconvenient truth but, I am scientifically-trained and I understand the science.

        Delingpole is neither. he is a graduate in English Literature.

      • Latimer Alder

        @martin lack

        Do you have any substantive points even tenuously linked to the topic of this thread?

        Or have you indeed come here just to vent your deep dislike of James Delingpole, to bleat about your qualifications, and to demonstrate your approval of the Great Guru Hansen? And by so doing attempt to ‘derail climate denial’?

        If the former, please make them and we can discuss them. If your purpose is just the latter, I fear you will get short shrift.

      • Martin,
        While you do claim to have education in science, you are clearly focused on the politics of science. Reading more of your personal blog, it would appear you are just as you appear: an obsessive troll unable to deal with skeptics honestly, focused on Dellingpole because he is annoyingly effective.

    • Latimer Alder

      @martin lack

      So how do you rationalise your dislike of the marketplace of ideas with your presence within it? By posting at this blog for example

      And given that your avowed career aim is to ‘derail climate change denial’ (whatever that may mean), I wonder why you feel we should pay any attention to your views at all? It is clear that your purpose here is just to ‘derail’, no to debate or discuss.

      • Latimer, it’s a bit like Tony Blair once said:

        “Education, education, education…”

        Take it or leave it; but don’t ever say I did not warn you.

      • Latimer Alder

        If that reply had any meaning whatsoever, it has passed me by.

      • Latimer Alder

        @peter davies

        As others will no doubt point out, how are we to be sure that ‘Peter Davies’ is not a pseudonym, for David Peters, or Joe Bloggs or Al Gore or Chris Monckton?

        For good or ill, pseudonyms on blogs are here to stay,

      • Peter Davies

        I expect that people will need to at least put their facebook page at least, to show who they really are.

        Accordingly, I have put my facebook page on my identity.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Peter Davies

        Yep. That’ll convince them.

        Facebook…the proof of identity accepted by millions of gullible fools worldwide.

        Can I interest you in a business proposition regarding a nice bridge that has become surplus to requirements? Or a complex set of circumstances in Nigeria where all you need to do is to send all your bank account details and passwords/PINs to an obscure e-mail address in Kazakhstan, and you are guaranteed to become as rich as Croesus.

        Peter… I think you just have to accept that people post here for all sorts of reasons (good, bad and indifferent) and under all sorts of identities (real or imaginary and all points inbetween). And their contributions are judged by their content, not upon the reputation of the supposed author.

        There is no practical way to guarantee that any poster is in fact who they say they are. If that offends you, so be it. But you’ll miss out on a lot of good stuff

        PS: I didn’t see a link to your FB page. Did I miss it?

      • In a blog reputations are based on good content. FB is OK for keeping in contact with and exchanging photographs with family members across the globe. I control who accesses what information about me that I’m willing to share. You will have noticed that I have now linked my name to my FB page.

      • Martin,
        Derailing a conversation is now education, and you are warning us about just what?

      • Troll exercise complete, done with M.Lack from my side.

        I’ll give a sniffle in memory of Joshua and move on.

      • cwon14

        Did anyone ever find out what happened to Joshua?


      • tonyb, no idea about Joshua but our troll quality isn’t getting any better if Martin Lack is an indicator.

        As for Joshua I’m sure he is doing harm somewhere;

        Yes, I’m sure it’s linked to both fanatic donations and government matching along the way.

      • cwon14

        Even if that Josh is our Josh I see no reason why he should withdraw from the fray just becaiuse he was outed. I found him passionate, often wrog but without malice, although he was a notrorious article derailer.

      • tony et al –
        Re Joshua – did anyone notice that Robert disappeared at the same time? There is a conclusion to be jumped at there.

      • Latimer Alder

        @jim owen

        I remember asking a few months back whether anybody had ever seen Robert and Joshua in the same room…. :-)

      • Latimer –
        Could we perhaps be talking multiple personalities? Or maybe just roomates? Or…….??

      • “Latimer –
        Could we perhaps be talking multiple personalities? Or maybe just roomates? Or…….??”

        Jim Owen, I don’t think that Latimer Alder is the person that will want to answer that question. That would be a case of massive projection on his part.

        You see, Latimer Alder is the guy running loose on the Climate Etc comments section with last count at least 3 sockpuppet identities. He has used Latimer, Sterling English,and Your Average Joe at various times.

        Nothing wrong with a single pseudonym but having multiple sockpuppet handles means that the person has an agenda well beyond discussing science, which is what I always thought this blog was primarily about.

        On most blogs or newsgroups, traditionally a person like Latimer would be scorned according to rules of netiquette. Sockpuppetry is considered much worse than your average trollery. What I don’t understand is why this behavior is condoned in skeptic circles, but then again you have all these clowns parading about talking nonsense and no one seems to care anyways.

      • Latimer Alder


        You missed out on some others

        ‘Phil Jones’s Dad’

        ‘The General Secretary of the Central Committee on Climate Change, subgroup 16’

        ‘The Man on The Clapham Omnibus’

        ‘Joe Sixpack’

        plus a few that I may have forgotten.

        And I don’t think that I need to take many lessons from somebody who appears under the title ‘Web Hub Telescope’.

      • So you don’t deny your sockpuppetry. Fake skeptics use that technique to build fake concensus.

      • Latimer Alder


        But neither I, nor any of my close associates, have much time for consensus. Your point is meaningless.

      • Fake science like those AGWers using of those techniques/evil tricks whatever they can use to build fake concensus, evil concensus, demon concensus…

      • Peter Davies

        Please stop using pseudonyms everybody. I will not read comments anymore from anyone that will not put their name behind what they say!
        PS I will accept pseudonyms only if their name is at the foot of all their posts.

      • “@webbie

        But neither I, nor any of my close associates, have much time for consensus. Your point is meaningless.”

        You don’t get it, do you? The typical thinking behind creating a sockpuppet is to create an artificial level of support for an idea, or in the case of skepticism, to create a higher level of FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The consensus I am referring to is in pushing universal FUD by deceptive astroturfing.

        What I am beginning to realize more and more is that the science being studied here at Climate Etc is equal parts scientific uncertainty, both aleatory and epistemic, and also the uncertainty that has to do with propagating FUD. The uncertainty of FUD cuts both ways — skeptics claim that the greens and leftists practice FUD by CAGW scare tactics, but here with the situation of Latimer Alder we have an example of serious FUD from the skeptical side. This has nothing to do with hard science but is part and parcel of sociological models of swaying opinion, such as creating strawmen, ballot stuffing/astroturfing, and other fallacious arguments and framing techniques.

        Perhaps Latimer is just ignorant of what’s happening, and is creating all these sockpuppet identities because he thinks it is humorous. But many experienced internet users treat astroturfing sockpuppetry seriously, and at the very least do something about the offender. The usual remedy is to make other commenters aware of his activities, and let everyone decide to shun or mock them according to their own ethical principles.

        I originally pointed this out because of the hypocrisy of Latimer Alder. Here is what Latimer said of Robert:and Joshua:

        “Latimer Alder | March 15, 2012 at 2:53 am |

        @jim owen

        I remember asking a few months back whether anybody had ever seen Robert and Joshua in the same room…. :-)

        And as it turns out it is Latimer Alder that is taking on multiple personalities through the form of sockpuppets, essentially treating all his fellow commenters like gullible fools. This is projection and framing amateur-hour-style. It’s all quite sociopathetic.

      • The General Secretary of the Intnl. Society of Toad Researchers

        @web hub telescope

        ‘The typical thinking behind creating a sockpuppet is to create an artificial level of support for an idea, or in the case of skepticism, to create a higher level of FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.’

        Well, I don’t know what the ‘typical thinking’ is, and I don’t believe that you do either. But before you start to take yourself too seriously (if that hasn’t already happened around puberty) and claim a telepathic understanding of my mind, please examine the list of names that I have used a little more closely.

        If you really believe that it is possible to spread FUD under the guise of

        ‘The General Secretary of the International Society of Toad Researchers’

        or that a reply to ‘Kent Clark’ coming from ‘Lane Lois’ is sufficient to overturn forty years of warmist propaganda, then I think you need to get out a lot more! All computers and no play make Webbie a very dull dog indeed

        And, if you do, I am delighted that my attempts to provide a little much-needed humour on this occasionally too-serous blog have got you all worried and flustered.

        Maybe satire and ridicule a la Delingpole are indeed our secret weapon.

        Toodle pip

      • “If you really believe that it is possible to spread FUD under the guise of … “

        Latimer, Nice to see how you can treat this place as your own private little playground. It’s kind of like the elders allowing an infant to wander around the house without any diapers on. It may be funny for awhile, but then someone has to clean up the mess after the guests have left in disgust.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Web hub telescope

        I wrote earlier

        ‘I am delighted that my attempts to provide a little much-needed humour on this occasionally too-serous blog have got you all worried and flustered’

        and your vapid comments about diapers seem to show that my delight was well-founded.

        Lighten up, man. Peak Oil hasn’t destroyed the world this week. Its Friday …go and chug a beer with your homies or watch a good comedy show.

        Here’s a good one for all those who believe in false prophets and doomsday and consensus and all that stuff. We Brits call it satire, though it may be too deep for you.

      • Perhaps you should check your post for a thesis before you reply.

        Allowing Hunter to post something that is actually correct surely sets your life goals back a bit.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Web Hub Telescope

        Just to complete your set:

        ‘Latimer Alder’s Twin Brother Cranmer ‘ (especially for Tudor historians and anybody who knows the Martyrs Memorial in Oxford)

        Inspector Blakey (On the Buses – UK TV show of the 1970s)

        Sergei the IT guy (a popular UK TV ad)

        Well Funded Big Oil Denier Machine Central – Commissar #7 (self explanatory)

        The General Secretary of the Intnl. Society of Toad Researchers (seemed appropriate at the time)

        A Climatologist (in reply to ‘A Physicist’)

        Lane Lois
        Butch Cassidy

      • Latimer

        Delingpole is a literary agent provocateur but not a scientist. What category should we put Hansen into with his scare storioes of 5 metre rises in sea levels and his manipulation of the congressional hearing in 1988 in which he presented his warming hypothesis?

      • I gather the ‘Pole’s novels are rather good, and I’m looking forward to reading him. I doubt if he’ll ever hold a candle to Hansen as a writer of fantasy fiction, though…

      • Latimer Alder

        I think the reason why Delingpole is the target of so much vitriol is that his satire is very very close to the truth at the heart of alarmism. Very much in the English tradition of Hogarth and Swift, Dickens and Cobbett, he writes amusingly and well and is always up for a scrap. But I somehow doubt if he takes himself quite so seriously when ‘off duty’

        To contrast however, Hansen just has a Messiah complex and a Venusian sized ego. I doubt he does ‘off duty’ at all.

        In his mind the world needs saving from its own folly and He is the One to do so. History is full of those with such high regard for their own predictive and salvative powers. Few succeeded. The World remains resolutely unsaved.

        But for Jim, there is no fake scare worth unstarting , no truth unworthy of being economical with and no alarmist idea too bonkers for him to promote.

        I have a rather vague theory that some middle-aged men (Hansen was 47 when he famously spoke to the Congressional sub committee in 1988) find that their mid-life crisis leads them to devote the rest of their lives to One Great Cause. And Hansen has found his. Publicity, notoriety, world travel, excitement, cash…what more could a guy want to keep him between say 50 and 85?

        Anybody got any other examples? Lack is obviously one, but strictly gokarts compared with Formula 1 Hansen.

      • So let me see if I follow this argument..

        Delingpole is to be commended as he’s so epitomizes the great fiction writers of the English language, while Hansen is to be villified because at one point he was middle-aged?

      • Latimer Alder

        @Bart R

        Do you follow the argument?


      • Latimer

        I also don’t follow the elephants in parades, and for the same reason.


        This is your gloryhounding jetsetting adventerous opportunist?

        They guy who dresses and talks like an Amish farmer?

        He’s your most extreme Formula 1 example?


      • Latimer Alder

        @bart r

        I don’t recall making any remarks about Hansen’s dress sense. I’m happy to dress just like I want to and I’m very happy that he does too. But I must have missed the notice that says Climate Etc has become ‘Fashion Today’.

        So, returning to the topic under discussion –

        Here are just some of the prizes and freebies that Hansen has acquired, but may have neglected to account for fully to the taxman:

        Blue Planet Prize ($500,000), travel for Hansen and his wife to Tokyo, Japan, 2010
        Dan David Prize ($500,000), travel to Paris, 2007
        Sophie Prize ($100,000), Oslo Norway, travel for Hansen and his wife, 2010
        WWF Duke of Edinburgh Award, Travel for Hansen and his wife, London, 2006
        Alpbach, Austria (alpine resort)(“business class”, with wife), 2007
        Shell Oil UK ($10,000), London, 2009
        FORO Cluster de Energia, travel for Hansen and wife (“business class”), Bilbao, Spain, 2008
        ACT Coalition, travel for Hansen and wife to London, 2007
        Progressive Forum ($10,000)(“first class”), to Houston, 2006
        Progressive Forum ($10,000), to Houston, 2009
        UCSB ($10,000), to Santa Barbara, CA
        Nierenberg Prize ($25,000), to San Diego, 2008
        Nevada Medal ($20,000), to Las Vegas, Reno, 2008
        EarthWorks Expos, to Denver, 2006
        California Academy of Science ($1,500), to San Francisco, 2009
        CalTech ($2,000), travel to Pasadena, CA for Hansen and his wife, 2007

        Like Formula 1 he jets around the world a lot (think of that huge carbon footprint if you worry about such things!!) is very expensive to run and very very noisy.

        And like F1, he too is completely pointless.

      • Oh Latimer

        How thoroughly webstalkingly creepy. Did Watts also go through Hansen’s rubbish bins and scanties drawer? Hack his voicemails? Or is simply counting the man’s money enough cheap thrill?

        I’ll never understand you fetishists.

        And this dragging his family into the attacks on him, for the ideas he holds, is this F1 climatology, or that much-vaunted chemistry of yours?

        Oh. I get it, it’s Delingpolish Dickensianism. The best of times. The worst of times. Tiny Timmy is stuck in the well.

      • Bart R,
        Nice try. But still a fail. Skeptics are attacked for speaking at conferences that are trivially sponsored by ‘big oil’, even if they only get their expenses reimbursed. Skeptics are attacked as ‘religionists’ if they happen to go to church. Hansen’s getting rich promoting AGW and writing about the fantasies he has for his grandchildren are appropriate issues to explore.

      • Latimer Alder

        @bart r

        Read the article and you will see how they were obtained. Hansen is a public employee at NASA. He is subject to FoI. So somebody asked NASA

        Here’s the dewcription of their provenance direct from WUWT

        ‘records produced by the Department of Justice to resolve litigation against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for refusing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the required financial disclosures Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

        No need to do anything remotely underhand. Just to get Hansen and his employers to comply with the Law of the Land. Simples!

      • Latimer Alder | March 16, 2012 at 11:55 am |

        Your contention is now that because the US government does it, it must be right?

        An odd patriotic zeal, for a Welshman.

        Creepy is no less creepy because some politician thinks it’s ok.

        Further, it’s pointless. It doesn’t discuss ideas, it doesn’t invalidate ideas. It doesn’t apply analysis to its content in any meaningful way.

        Are Dr. Hansen’s expenditures for travel out of line for a director of NASA?

        Not by a longshot.

        Is anything illegitimate suggested about them? No.

        Could he have somehow had the superhuman foresight in the 1970’s to know the would be in his current job, that climatology would become such a controversial topic of such broad interest? The only way your argument makes sense is if you concede this point.

        And if you concede to Hansen’s superhuman genius at predicting such unpredictables, then you defeat yourself on your own thesis.

        You’re making no sense on the level of logic or reason, and covering yourself in muck to do so.

        How sad.

  21. There are many phenomena in nature that, for one reason or another, are not susceptible to verification by independent testing. These typically include events that either occurred a long time ago or that occurred at distant sites not accessible to us, or both. Examples include the expansion of the Universe after the Big Bang, the variations in climate of the Earth in the past or in the future, the origin of life on Earth, putative existence of life elsewhere in the Universe, the evolution of species on Earth, and other such topics. There is no way to go back into the past or travel great distances to directly verify hypotheses. Although the remnants of the past may be discernible to some extent in proxies that exist in the present, these tend to have significant limitations. For such phenomena that occurred long ago and/or in distant locations, scientists create hypotheses that would “explain” how these processes might have occurred in conformity with the known laws of science. If these hypotheses provide a reasonable explanation of phenomena and are in conformity with scientific laws, they acquire the elevated status of a theory. Such a theory is typically not unique and represents one viewpoint—often a preconceived viewpoint. It provides one possible explanation for events that cannot be verified by any known means. Conjecture for things improvable is a safe venture—no one can ever prove you wrong. It is far more dangerous to predict tomorrow’s weather than it is to predict the climate 100 years from now—tomorrow’s weather is subject to practical test. I call this kind of science “subjective science”. It is not amenable to detailed verification such as the laws of motion. While some subjective science has strong foundations (e.g. evolution, continental drift) the foundation of almost every subjective aspect of climate change are weak.
    Scientists do not seem to be able to shrug their shoulders and admit that we just don’t know the answers to some questions. What happens is that one of the unprovable hypotheses in a subjective science gains popularity amongst scientists and is regarded by the majority as the most credible. When a significant number agree, a consensus evolves. The consensus acts like a gigantic gravitational field, drawing in more and more scientists. Eventually, the consensus gels, and ultimately hardens into a belief system — an orthodoxy. The foundations are often weak, and not understood by the public. The emergence of the consensus as the essence of reality in science has replaced scientific skepticism. For further elaboration, go to:

    • Very well put.

      Scientists in general, probably as a result of having to do this kind of work for a living, tends to maintain a systematic blindness to its own past failings – which are almost total [almost] – and a exaggerated sense of the correctness and completeness of the current state of the Knowledge. It takes great faith in the scientific method, and the fragility of our state of the scientific knowledge to really hold the reality that virtually everything that science has produced over its history has later been shown to be incorrect or incomplete in whole or in part, and thus that any given piece of scientific knowledge that we hold to be true is itself subject to being proven wrong or incomplete in whole or in part at any time.

      Fortunately, as I was forced to observe to a friend recently, astrophysicists and scientists like them only hit us up for the odd billions of dollars for some huge new machine to further their studies every few years, they don’t demand to reorganize human society along the lines of their latest theory. The costs of their being WRONG is bearable, and a gigantic subterranean colliders do have some scrap value as well.

  22. The most important characteristic of any scientist is the humility to admit when they are wrong.

    The best poison for that well is politics.

  23. From what Paul Nurse said:

    …The public want clear and simple answers but sometimes that is not possible.

    It is impossible to achieve complete certainty on many complex scientific problems, yet sometimes we still need to take action. The sensible course is to turn to the expert scientists for their consensus view.

    I’ve said it before elsewhere, but at risk of being found jejune [or simply boring], I will repeat myself.

    When uncertainty is large, when the problem is ‘messy’, ‘wicked’, or ‘monstrous,’ scientific ‘consensus’ CANNOT be based upon reason or good understanding of the problem, but instead forms itself around some kind of a mathematical average of [particular] scientists’ biases and presuppositions about which variables are the correct ones to ignore.

    This may be some sort of “collective wisdom,” but how wise can it possibly be? This isn’t about guessing how many beans are in a jar, there is no definite ‘answer’ to be found.

    The question that people like me, non-experts but earnestly trying to figure out what is really going on are starting to ask is, “how intelligent is this crowd?” [in the Surowieckiesque sense] My sense is that the “consensus” view of climate issue we are faced with resembles a “rational bubble” as much as a trend in the climate system.

    The only real way out of the political gridlock we are faced with, that I can see, is to use DIFFERENT CRITERIA at lower scales of complexity and work up from there. It is my contention that that is where the most “no regrets” solutions will be found rather than solutions we are starting to see being proposed that are sliding towards some kind of a scientific ultimate revolution of Huxwellian brave new world order because that’s what the monster we fear seems to require – seems mad to me.


  24. Don’t be so tough on Royal Society. They’re not just another box of hot air…

    “…Worryingly for the IPCC’s ‘consensus,’ there is a counterparadigm, relating to the serious uncertainties of water vapor and clouds, now waiting in the wings. In the words of Dr. Henrik Svensmark, director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center: ‘The greenhouse effect must play some role. But those who are absolutely certain that the rise in temperatures is due solely to carbon dioxide have no scientific justification. It’s pure guesswork.’ A key piece of research in this emerging new paradigm was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A (October 2006): ‘Do electrons help to make the clouds?’

    “Using a box of air in a Copenhagen lab, physicists managed to trace the growth of clusters of molecules of the kind that build cloud condensation nuclei. These are specks of sulfuric acid on which cloud droplets form. High-energy particles driven through the laboratory ceiling by exploded stars far away in the galaxy — cosmic rays — liberated electrons in the air, which helped the molecular clusters to form much faster than atmospheric scientists have predicted. This process could well explain a long-touted link between cosmic rays, cloudiness and climate change.”

    ~Philip Stott

  25. Sir Paul as an excellent and world top scientist in his own field. It would be best for the rest of humanity if he concentrated his great talents and work in his own special field of science.

  26. What I like most about the “Royal Society” is their members understand better than most the meaning of oxymoronic:

    “The inconvenient truth remains that climate is the most complex, coupled, nonlinear, chaotic system known. In such a system, both ‘doing something’ (emitting human-induced gases) and ‘not doing something'” (not emitting) at the margins are equally unpredictable. What climate will we produce? Will it be better? And, if we get there, won’t it, too, change?

    “This is the fatal flaw at the heart of the whole global-warming debacle. Climate change must be accepted as the norm, not as an exception, and it must be seen primarily as a political and economic issue, focusing on how best humanity can continue to adapt to constant change, hot, wet, cold or dry. The concept of achieving a ‘stable climate’ is a dangerous oxymoron.”


  27. Judith,

    What’s the alternative to accepting that some science does have political implications? Are you suggesting scientists should keep quiet on any aspect of science which could have contentious political connotations?

    If scientists did keep quiet about the CO2 emissions problem, are you sure that you and others wouldn’t argue that silence showed there was just no problem anyway?

    • I don’t know about Judith, but I think if they feel that strongly about the politics then they should run for office.

      • If this scientist, were to win the election would he represent the majority of his constituents in his district and vote their will? Do you think this scientist would understand & obey the oath he took when swearing into his position, to defend the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution. Or would this scientist ‘just know better’? Hard to know.

    • No person can without raising problems act both as an impartial messenger of science and an active promoter of policy conclusions if the field is subject to any controversy. The question is not whether it’s forbidden but whether it’s possible. It’s not so much of what’s acceptable for the person, but of how (s)he is perceived by others.

      It’s still possible to be both a scientist and an activist, but then the activist cannot use the authority of a scientist and the work as scientist must be kept within scientific circles. The conflict is mostly avoided when the activist does not emphasize that (s)he is a scientist and when the scientist publishes only in scientific media and avoids all passages that may be interpreted as work of the activist.

    • @Pekka,

      Are you saying Judith should climb back into her ivory tower?

      • Emphasizing uncertainty is less problematic than advocating solutions based on some level of certainty, but even that does create similar problems as can easily be observed reading writings of those who don’t like her approach.

        Judith is also following in part my second alternative, i.e. keeping her present work as scientist pretty separated from her activities in more policy related areas.

        She has made her compromises suffering in some ways and gaining in others. Bringing the issues of uncertainty to open discussion has been needed. In that Judith has done an important opening. There are some areas in her argumentation that I don’t particularly like and I try to comment on those when they come up. What else could one expect to result from bringing this kind of issues to open discussion.

        Overemphasizing uncertainty is also an error as is claiming more certainty than there is or trying to keep quiet about the uncertainties. When activism and being scientist mix too much the result is increasing mistrust in all science at least in that particular field and possibly more widely. Overemphasizing uncertainty may add to that in short term but in longer term that’s that effect is likely to disappear, while the more general mistrust may persist longer.

      • Pekka,
        I usually agree with your reasoning but this point is a stretch. This sounds like a man justifying a lie when the the wife only expects him to admit “he took a wrong turn”.

        “Overemphasizing uncertainty is also an error as is claiming more certainty than there is or trying to keep quiet about the uncertainties. When activism and being scientist mix too much the result is increasing mistrust in all science at least in that particular field and possibly more widely. Overemphasizing uncertainty may add to that in short term but in longer term that’s that effect is likely to disappear, while the more general mistrust may persist longer”.

        If the the climate dynamics are not understood and the models do not match the observable “then these facts are the reality”.

      • GarryD,

        If the the climate dynamics are not understood and the models do not match the observable “then these facts are the reality”.

        As repeated by many “no model is correct, but some are useful”. Similarly the dynamics of a complex system like climate is never fully understood. Thus your last formulation “then these facts are the reality” is in a formal sense true even for the best imaginable state of knowledge. Statement that’s formally true so generally is not useful as an absolute statement but only as a relative statement.

        Discussing uncertainties is important, but overdoing that is presenting something that is more false than right. To me it’s clear that discussing uncertainties in a field like climate science is essential, but there’s a risk of overdoing that. I see that finding the right balance in the level of emphasis as the central difficulty for Judith in her recent activities. We have seen that some other climate scientists see her overemphasizing the uncertainties. I don’t claim that she does, but I think that she should be careful on that if she wants to be influential in the long term. Overdoing a little is not a problem and may be unavoidable when the focus is on uncertainties, but overdoing too much will gradually lessen the influence.

        Some fighting with those who don’t like the emphasis on uncertainties is sure to continue, but in the best world the uncertainties are ultimately as open for discussion as any other aspect of science.

      • So a person should calibrate the knowledge they reveal to maximize influence long term? It is much simpler to just state your findings to the best of your abilities, and trust that people will recognize your integrity.

      • Robin,

        Some people are much more influential than others, and that’s not only because they are fundamentally more right.

        Most very alarmist climate scientists are certainly sincere in their attempt to promote what they feel to be right and necessary, but may well have caused damage for their issue.

        I’m not proposing to the least that people should not be fully honest and sincere, I’m only saying that it’s necessary to avoid erring in overconfidence – and one can be also overconfident in an exaggerating estimate of uncertainty.

      • Pekka,

        “…one can be also overconfident in an exaggerating estimate of uncertainty”

        That’s just passive doublespeak. Come on, how stupid do you think we are?

      • Pekka,

        I understand and agree some people are more influential than other, and it isn’t always based on merit unfortunately (hello hollywood). My point though is that influence should be a goal of an advocate, not a scientist. A scientist should hope their work (discoveries and non discoveries) are influential, but live on their own merits.

        I have no doubt that ‘alarmist’ climate scientists are sincere in their attempt to promote what they feel to be right and necessary (which may not even be CO2 – more likely they take issue with pollution and industry in general). I suspect they are frustrated that they can’t ‘prove’ their beliefs with just science, and thus resort to framing (or otherwise manipulate) data to show more than it does. Even as a total outsider you can see this in, for example, the IPCC stuff.

        I’m sure it cuts both ways too – more than zero people here are ‘sure’ there is some left wing conspiracy to chain them to a fence and force feed them tofu all day. I don’t doubt they are sincere either, but they too have to resort to framing things rather than presenting data. Just count the adjectives : ).

        In science though, you really shouldn’t passionately care about the outcome of your experiments, or want to frame results in a way that weights them beyond their merits. Same with one’s influence as a scientist I think – it’s too easy for humans with expertise in one area to feel they are experts in unrelated areas.

        I assume you don’t really disagree with any of this, just they way you wrote it before seemed to blur the line between advocacy and science a bit – sorry, I probably just read that wrong.

      • Garry,

        I answered to a comment of Tempterrain and my further comments should be taken as continuation to the discussion on those issues.

        It’s clear that Judith is no more only a scientist than Gavin is only a scientist. This blog is not only on science

        My view is that combining science with other interests leads always to some problems. Such problems are more severe when advocacy leads to overstating the certainty of the scientific results than when it leads to overstating the uncertainties as the former leads to mistrust of science and scientists more generally while the latter leads only to some additional mistrust of the particular field of study that’s discussed.

        For near term conclusions both can be equally bad but in the longer term it’s more essential that the general trust in science and scientists is not damaged. it’s also very important that the inherent uncertainty of all new scientific results is understood as emphasized by Sir Paul Nurse in the excerpts of the opening posting.

    • Latimer Alder

      My reading is that they should stay schtumm on the politics part of the science, but not the science itself.

      For example it might be correct to say ‘my understanding is that doubling CO2 will lead to a rise of x degrees C in global temperature’. But it would not be right to say ‘and therefore we must campaign for an extension of Kyoto’ or ‘and therefore we must close down all coal fired power stations’ or whatever the policy prescription du jour happens to be.

      Once you get beyond the science into ‘and therefore…..’ you have gone too far. You are not being a scientist, you are being an activist.

  28. Doctors are not expert scientists, they are practitioners and the reason they recommended a bypass was because they’d seen it succeed many times before. It wasn’t a consensus view, the doctors didn’t vote on it, it was a view taken from experience. If Sir Paul had asked the same doctors a hundred years ago they’d have suggested something completely different and he’d have probably died. …

    I think people are very unaware of how sophisticated medicine was 100 years ago, so without even looking, my bet is 100 years ago there was already a pretty good understanding of heart disease.

  29. If scientists wish to also be activists, which is a freedom you can not deny them, then there needs to be ‘conflict of interest’ guidelines and ‘full disclosure’ rules – like everywhere else. Journalists, politicians, and business people deal with this all the time, often poorly, but there are rules and even laws. With science it’s the wild west.

    At very least papers should be required to indicate any relevant advocacy/policy interests of theirs related to the science. Also the source of funding and any interests they may have in the outcomes one way or another. There should be some teeth too – for example you shouldn’t be allowed to referee a paper related to policies you advocate for or against.

    If it is going to happen, and it does, then there should be guidelines that minimize the impact of the inevitable biases it brings with it.

    • Latimer Alder

      Would those be the sort of Conflict of Interest rules that the IPCC were strongly recommended to adopt by the IAC review?

      The ones that they decided would be ‘unfair’ on the AR5 authors? And so brazenly side-stepped the recommendation?

      Such a little grubby episode only serves to illustrate just how much housecleaning in the ethics and integrity department is needed in climatology.

  30. Pielke Jr ( also discussed the Dimbleby lecture and I wanted to pull out his analysis of the whole heart doctor extended metaphor:

    “As the doctor metaphor is a common one in this context, I have written about it on numerous occasions to illustrate that consulting a medical expert is not as simple as the patient doing whatever the doctor says. For instance, here is what I wrote in The Climate Fix (p. 215):

    So your child is sick and you take him to the doctor. How might the doctor best serve the parent’s decisions about the child? The answer depends on the context.

    * If you feel that you can gain the necessary expertise to make an informed decision, you might consult peer-reviewed medical journals (or a medical Web site) to understand treatment options for your child instead of directly interacting with a doctor.
    * If you are well informed about your child’s condition and there is time to act, you might engage in a back-and-forth exchange with the doctor, asking her questions about the condition and the effects of different treatments.
    * If your child is deathly ill and action is needed immediately, you might ask the doctor to make whatever decisions are deemed necessary to save your child’s life, without including you in the decision-making process.
    * If there is a range of treatments available with different possible outcomes, you might ask the doctor to spell out the entire range of treatment options and their likely consequences to inform your decision.

    Even in the superficially simple scenario of a doctor, a parent and child, it’s clear that the issues are complicated. Understanding the different forms of this relationship is the first step toward the effective governance of expertise.”

    • Ever see the list of warnings you get when you fill a simple prescription from a doctor? Or hear the long list of potential complications when a doctor proposes surgery?

      It’s called informed consent.

      The CAGW “scientists” don’t give a list of such potential risks (ie. a genuine cost benefit analysis). First, because they don’t want informed consent, they want obeisant obedience. Second, because they just don’t know. As little as they understand the complex chaotic climate, they understand the economy they want control of even less.

      The comparison of climate science to medicine is not a good one for the CAGW movement.

      • That depends upon the context. Medical science has on many occasions thought they figured out the causes of some malady only to find the causes are far more complex or completely wrong. Medical science research is influenced by money. Medical science is influence by reputation and face saving when reputations have been made on statements that later prove to be either wrong or simplistic.

  31. I’m relatively uncertain about this ;
    ” … which are almost certainly to be more likely than not… ”
    Oh, the ironing…

  32. Dr Curry: At this point in time regarding the status of the evolution of climate science is not the questions: How much certainty is required before a few trillion dollars is spent on what will be a failed attempt to geo-engineer the Earth’s climate system? And, how much certainty required before spending hundreds of billions on experimental and/or demonstrably inefficient and economically infeasible energy sources and fuels?

  33. The “green religion” states that anyone who does not follow their tenants is unscientific and is dooming the planet to a dire future and should be condemned.

    There is no “scientific consensus” on what the rate of warming will be as a function of a rise in CO2 levels unless you include an enormous margin of error (which makes the predicted rate of rise meaningless)

    There is NO worldwide means even reasonably possible by which CO2 levels will not continue to rise for decades.

    There is ZERO reliable data to demonstrate that the United States will suffer any “net harm” as a result of the world gradually becoming somewhat warmer.

    There is reliable evidence that the world has benefitted from the use of fossil fuels

    There IS considerable reliable evidence available to show that the US will suffer net harm if domestic fossil fuel resources are not utilized to a greater degree as soon as possible.

  34. Here is one of Richard Feynman’s many common-sense observations:

    Each generation that discovers something from that experience must pass that on, but it must pass that on with a delicate balance of respect and disrespect, so that the race (not that it is aware of the disease to which it is liable) does not inflict its errors too rigidly on its youth, but it does pass on the accumulated wisdom, including the wisdom that it may not be wisdom.

    It is necessary to teach both to accept and reject the past with a kind of balance that takes considerable skill.

    Applied to the present challenge, of estimating the probability P_{\text{CAGW}} that the chain of climatological physics


    extends all to way to catastrophic completion, Feynman’s requirement that we “accept and reject with a kind of balance” suggests that we plan for the future as though we knew

        20\% \lesssim P_{\text{CAGW}} \lesssim 80\%

    Here the point is that no one, on either side of the skeptic-nonskeptic debate, knows enough physics to confidently bound P_{\text{CAGW}} outside this range.

    And that is why assertions to the effect that P_{\text{CAGW}} is outside this range — that is, declarations of certainty at either end of the belief spectrum — are invariably in the abusive language of demagoguery, not in the language of science.

    • Oh that \text{\LaTeX} parser … the common-sense realm of Feynman’s “accept and reject with a kind of balance” the probability $P_{\text{CAGW}}$ of long-term catastrophic warming is about

        0.2 \lesssim P_{\text{CAGW}} \lesssim 0.8

      Outside that range resides demagoguery, not science.

      In coming decades, advances in climatological science will shrink this range of uncertainty. The sooner and faster this happens, the better.

    • Latimer Alder

      Before making such wild assertions of probability, are you going to give us a definition of AGW and CAGW? And timescales for them to occur?

      Because otherwise all you are doing is to construct an argument that looks ‘sciency’ but has in fact no discernible content at all.

      • If Florida’s underwater in the next 2000 years, in direct or indirect consequence of the physics chain:


        then that’s CAGW. So there’s your definition and timescale.

        Now, Latimer, it’s time for you to supply your personal estimate of the probability P_{\text{CAGW}}. And if you say “That probability cannot be estimated”, then we’ll take it to be 50%, eh?

        For the common-sense reason, that any probability that can’t be estimated, assuredly isn’t zero. Correct?

      • Your Average Joe

        Big place Florida.

        All of it? Half of it? A teensy weensy bit of it?

        According to Wikipedia, the highest point is 345 ft up (Britton Hill). Are you including total inundation of all of that? Covering the peak?

        Or would you prefer a gentler flooding of all the bits that are already damp and full of ‘gators and CSIs and Horatio Caines and Donald Ducks and all that stuff.

        Let us know and we might be able to make an educated guess. But I totally reject the idea you propose that an unestimatable probability is therefore 50%. It is in fact ‘null’. As in ‘don’t know’.

      • Latimer Alder

        Oops. My close associate Your Average Joe seems to have hijacked my computer again.

        But luckily I agree 100% with everything he said

      • Joe, the part where these bad boys used to swim … the last time the ice-caps melted! :eek:   :shock:   :cry:

        And Joe, think about it a little bit more … for sure, any probability that you can’t even estimate, isn’t “zero.”

      • “for sure, any probability that you can’t even estimate, isn’t ‘zero.'”

        Zero probability events are happening all the time. :)

      • Latimer Alder

        @a physicist

        Joe has asked me to answer on his behalf

        Please note that he says that an unestimable probability is ‘null’, (X’00’) not ‘zero’.

        Until you have enough information to estimate it, you know nothing about it at all and it is incorrect to pretend that you do.

      • John Carpenter

        if your worried about what’s to become of the planet 2000 years from now, you got a lot of time on your hands.

      • “If Florida is underwater in the next 2000 years?”

        “In direct or indirect consequence of the physics chain(?):

        The only meaningful word in all this gibberish is the little BIG word, “IF”.

        “IF” a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his rear when he jumps…

        The “:probability” of a bull-frog developing wings is about the same as the “probability” of your silly chain of events occurring.

        But EVEN IF sea level around Florida DID rise by several meters over the next 2000 years, the “probability” that Floridians would build dikes to keep the land high and dry is very close to 100% (just ask the Dutch).


  35. corporate message

    If Santer is the climate doctor, then:

    he’d use his employer’s status and his personal expertize to say that we should be using animals for transport, and using the waste and also sugarcane, to make the world’s biofuel – and thusly would Kilimanjaro’s snows be saved.

  36. My take on it has been, since I started reading what Nurse has been saying last year, is (a) he does not realise that he is wanting to have his cake and eat it too, and (b) that while he talks about uncertainty and scepticism, he does not include climate science in the domains where scepticism and uncertainty should operate, because for him that domain is settled science.

    • “he is wanting to have his cake and eat it too”

      Yes. It strikes me that Sir Paul wanders from this qualifier to that, until you can hardly tell what he’s trying to say. I start to suspect he deliberately not saying anything of interest.

  37. When a Climate Scientist appeals to something other than the evidence he(or she) collected (in this case he(or she) appeals to doctors), he (or she) has abdicated his(or her) role as a scientist.


    • You know, Bad Andrew, there is a reason review articles play such an important role in science. In writing such reviews, the scientist authors are drawing together a large number of studies (from many laboratories) and looking, among other things, for trends, for global explanations, for emerging models, and for points of consensus. An individual research scientist is almost always working in too narrow an area to see the whole picture on the basis of his/her work alone. From your comments, I’d be interested to know if you have actually ever done science.

      • As Stalin pointed out, it is not the number of votes cast that is important, but who counts the votes.
        So it can be with reviews.

      • Owen, there is also a reason to present evidence. Because apart from that, it’s all belief.


  38. I apologize that this is somewhat off of the topic of Sir Paul Nurse, but I remember another Nobel Laureate who offered relevant thoughts on Science and Society more than 25 years ago.

    In 1986 Dr. Ivar Giaever delivered a lecture at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. entitled “Pathological Science 2”. The intention was that this would be an update to the presentation called “Pathological Science” by Irving Langmuir in 1953.

    A note from the lecture stated “….. although the public may expect that science only expresses the truth about nature, this is not always so. In fact, there have been many instances of incorrect theories being widely published and accepted, either because of self-deception or outright fraud on the part of the researchers.”

    Examples cited were:

    1. Discovery of “N-Rays”.
    2. Piltdown Man.
    3. Polywater.
    4. Potential use of fudge in Mendel’s data used to prove his theory of Genetics (theory was correct, but the data used to prove it was considered too perfect).

    From what I have read of Dr. Giaever’s recent decisions in the news, I can think of at least one more example that he would cite if he ever delivers a revision to his lecture.

    A list of characteristics of “pathological science” was presented as follows:

    1. Phenomena whose effects are just barely detectable.
    2. Effects independent of the strength of the source.
    3. Effects independent from the distance to the source.
    4. Researchers show very high accuracy in their results.
    5. Fantastic theories contrary to experience are proposed.
    6. There are always supporters and confirmers of bad theories.

    • Latimer Alder

      I read the last 6 and I feel ‘Teleconnections’ and ‘PaleoClimate’ coming upon me like a rash.

      Am I alone?

    • There used to be a link that had this list and others which discussed bad science. AGW ran the check list at about 100% correlation.

    • I was aware of either ”Pathological Science” lecture, very interesting, thanks for pointing it out.

      Another feature I think is bullying – maybe that is too prevalent in non-pathological science to get a mention : ). It reminds me of the great un-work on Eric Thompson in holding back the deciphering of Mayan writing, basically bullying anyone who thought there could be a phonetic component into silence.

      Great documentary on the history of it here:

      • Sorry, didn’t realize this system embeds video with just a link, that wasn’t my intention. It isn’t that relevant to the thread, I would remove it if I could.

  39. For many years Science was my mistress. She was beautiful. She was elegant. She seduced me. She gave me great pleasure. Then she was abused by political opportunists. Now she has lost her beauty. She has lost her elegance. Now she traduces me. She no longer gives me pleasure.

    That’s wot you done Sir Paul. You plonker!

  40. It is impossible to achieve complete certainty on many complex scientific problems, yet sometimes we still need to take action. The sensible course is to turn to the expert scientists for their consensus view.

    AGW is not complex. There cannot be a consensus view when it contradicts observations. Before introducing a cooling variable of aerosols and a warming variable of CO2, we must first ask whether we need to introduce these variables into climate. By looking at the following data since record begun, we must ask: has the climate pattern changed?

    The answer is a clear no.

    Instead of aerosols, what if the cooling from about 1940-1970 was caused naturally just like from about 1880-1910?

    Instead of CO2, what if the warming from about 1970-2000 was caused naturally just like from about 1910-1940?

    • As Lindzen stated in the recent presentation and as shown in the following data, AGW is not a “plausible proposition.”

    • Latimer Alder


      You are not allowed to make such heretical remarks. It upsets the climatologists.

      And you’ll never get a decent answer anyway.

      Because though it doesn’t take a great deal of thought for either you or I to realise that any comprehensive theory of climate must be able to explain all four periods in just as much detail as each other, this comes as a terrible shock to climatologists who have been (mis)led to believe that the climate was entirely stable until 1975 when carbon dioxide induced warming suddenly kicked in.

      So the bets you’ll get is either an argument that the 1910-1940 period wasn’t really warming but just rebound after the (unexplained) unusual cooling 1890-1910, and so doesn’t need any explanation at all. Or the weasel words ‘discussed in the literature’ and/or ‘consistent with climate models’ will be used.

      I can translate both of these, The first means ‘Yep, a few people think its a problem but we have f*** all idea what to do about it’. The second is climatology speak for ‘our models are so imprecise that anything apart from the next Ice Age can be made to be ‘consistent with’ them. And we’re working on that’.

      • Chris C explained it all last week. They don’t have enough data to explain all the temperature changes from 1880 to 1970; but they do have enough data to show that its warmer today that any time in the last 2000 years.

  41. Perhaps the ozone hole issue is the best comparison with AGW. Science was done, chemists showing a possible mechanism and measuring increasing levels of CFC’s and decreasing levels of O3, the National Academy built consensus, industry fought back against inconclusive science, Reagan wanted no part of more environmental regulation, but in the end consensus and international cooperation prevailed (see Wikipedia account). But many must have thought it a hoax, the CFC levels were only in the parts-per-billion range – even lower than CO2.
    Thank God that consensus prevailed.

    • Owen –
      What makes you think that story is closed?

    • Not really.
      The chemistry of organohalogens and ozone/oxygen in the upper atmosphere was very easily to mimic in the lab.
      The catalytic hypochlorite radical/chlorine radical cycle was well know and so it was quite reasonable to suggest a steady state increase in CFC’s leads to an increase in steady state OCl(dot)/Cl(dot) and so leads to a steady state drop in ozone.
      Modeling the radiative fluxes though the various layers of the atmosphere is far more complex. The vast majority of people expect a minor photon recycling effect.
      What they will not swallow is the postulate that increased CO2 causes an increase in water feed-backs, resulting in amplification, so that doubling CO2 increase the temperature by 3-8 degrees.
      Moreover, the behavior of the leading players in the Hockey-Stick Team mean that everything they have produced or produce in future has to be treated with contempt.
      I suspect that they will not suddenly stop cherry-picking, ignoring statistical tests which their data fails to give the correct results, being wedded to box equilibrium models and general behaving like charlatans.

    • Owen,
      It was not because it was there was a consensus. It was because there was proof.

    • Owen

      The ozone hole is interesting because it is not doing what it is supposed to do-shrink dramatically

      There are several scientistsI I have contacted who have done a lot of work on this and they seem a bit surprised, as are theMax Planck institute and Cambridge University-both of whom I have contacted.

      There is also the interesting question of course-that neither of those two august bodies could answer. That question? How do we know that the Ozone Hole hasn’t ALWAYS been there?

      We only acquired the instruments to measure it in the 1950’s but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t always there.

  42. Views of sceptics have hardened there is no longer any respect or regard for ‘grey’ science in the service of an agenda or for any of the advocates on the other side. I for one have simply stopped listening.

    We don’t believe that 2010 was the warmest year on record. There is no statistical difference between 1998, 2005 and 2010 – all El Niño years and really all it measures is the persistence of El Niño in any year. There has still been no warming since 1998 and February 1998 is still the warmest month on record – in any record – by a country mile.

    We don’t really believe it is necessarily going to keep warming at all. None of the peer reviewed science dealing with decadal forecasting is anticipating any warming for the next decade or three. To continue to pretend this isn’t the case is a case of galloping advocacy of catastrophic global warming rather than impartial science and it leads the case for growing disdain for science.

    The prospect of no warming for another decade or three emerges from ocean cycles in both the Pacific and the Atlantic and associated cloud cover change. This is natural variability that is unnaturally neglected until it becomes too obvious and is belatedly incorporated into the warmist group think. It emerges also from such things as changes in sea level pressure at the poles pushing storms and cold water deeper into lower latitudes – these are related to solar variability in the ultravoilet. There are mechanisms of ice loss influencing thermohaline circulation and snow and ice in northern latitudes.

    We don’t believe in climate models as predictions. For God’s sake look at the underlying behaviour of the fundamental Navier-Stokes partial differential equations.

    The failure of the the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, to bring it home, is especially egregious. We have known about “Drought Dominated” and “Flood Dominated” Regimes since the mid 1980’s. They failed to prepare us for decadal drought and then stood by while fortunes were wasted on drought proofing – just in time for renewed flooding. La Niña is poised to increase in frequency and intensity over the next 10 to 30 years. All too much water flowing in our creeks and rivers. They are still not focused on any relevant hydrological issue and this is a negligent failure of intellectual leadership.

    We have decided – on the basis of science – that recent warming was at most 0.1 degrees Centigrade per decade discounting what we know of natural variability. No one serious is arguing that greenhouse gases should increase for the rest of century – but this is not a problem that threatens the world itself and demands suspension of democracy, the imposition of immense costs and the curtailing of individual freedoms. This is a problem best addressed in the context of our enlightenment heritage of individual freedom, free markets, minimal government, the rule of law and science, progress and economic development. I don’t think they get it – and so the climate war drags on for a little while yet. We sceptics are on the right side of the near term temperature trend – and don’t doubt that we will exploit the advantage.

    Their – the warminista, lentil eating, sandal waearing, bike riding, collectivist, watermelons – only chance is if it starts warming again and keeps warming. Good luck with that.

    Best regards
    Captain Kangaroo

  43. Willis Eschenbach

    … it is an established rule of the [Royal] Society, to which they will always adhere, never to give their opinion, as a Body, upon any subject, either of Nature or Art, that comes before them.

    I don’t know why, Judith, but far too often the folks you showcase in your blog are remarkably ignorant of both science and climate science.

    The rule above, not to “give their opinion as a Body upon any subject”, was one of the reasons for the century-long pre-eminence of the Royal Society. The Society kept its force and power because it kept its independence. It did not do any of the things that are proposed and expounded upon by Doctor Nurse. It never let itself get suckered into a foolish “consensus” on any subject at all … until modern times and the destructive actions of the last three Directors, Robert May, Martin Rees and Paul Nurse. I’m not sure which one is worse, but Doctor Nurse is a strong contender.

    Historically, the Royal Society did not, for example, issue a series of dire warnings of calamity year after year regarding some aspect of science. As the early founders of the Royal Society realized, there’s no quicker or better way to become irrelevant than to bow to the gods of Consensus.

    But under the leadership of Doctors May, Rees, and Nurse, it has done just that, and it has been a catastrophic mistake. It has turned one of the world’s pre-eminent scientific bodies into a scientific joke.

    And regarding that huge breach of the Society’s rules, a breach which has cost the Royal Society (and the planet) heavily, Judith, both you and the good Doctor say … well, sadly, you say absolutely nothing. Somehow, regarding that very basic principle of both science and the Society, you are strangely silent.

    So I’m sorry, Judith, but all you have posted here is another series of pathetic pseudo-scientific excuses for unscientific actions. This includes the asinine “if you were sick would you go to a doctor?” story once again. Sure I would, because unlike climate scientists, doctors have a long string of successes under their belt at fixing actual real-world problems. If doctors had the pathetic track record of failed doomcasts of say Michael Mann or Paul Ehrlich or Doctor Nurse, I’d stick a bone through my nose and go find a witch doctor before I’d consult one of them.

    Unfortunately, Doctor Nurse is neither a doctor nor a nurse in the sense he claims. Instead, he is much more like a lightning-rod salesman telling you that the Royal Society, as a Body, has reached a consensus that your house needs a lightning rod … maybe it does, but I’m not going to take a con-man lightning rod salesman’s word for it, as Doctor Nurse advises me to do.

    I continue to be surprised, Judith, by your take on some of the comments you post here. For example, Doctor Nurse says:

    Renewables like wind, wave, tidal and solar should be evaluated, putting vested interests aside, to determine what is effective.

    To that, you say:

    JC comment: a good statement, that gets neglected in the “urgency” of adressing the climate problem.

    Hogwash. That’s not “a good statement”, that’s in large measure how we got into this fix. The (relatively) free market is the only body competent to evaluate the utility of wind, wave, tidal and solar … and it has rejected all of them unequivocally.

    It is because of the asinine statements by people like the nurse, allied with non-thinking support of his nonsense by scientists like yourself who say that “a good statement”, that the UK landscape is littered with dying and dead bird-shredders … “good statement”, my eye.

    It is not a good statement in any sense. Instead, it is a prescription for disaster, and not a theoretical disaster, but a disaster we have all witnessed.

    That point of view, that we should let scientists rather than the market decide about alternative energy, is a proven failure wherever it has been tried … yet here you are, Judith, after years and years of watching the failure of that very idea, calling it a “good statement” … and you wonder why people don’t pay much attention to climate scientists? In part it is because y’all seem singularly blind when it comes to the repeated failure of both your doomcasts and your brilliant ideas.

    After years of the failure of activist scientists trying to push “renewable energy” down our throats, anyone but a climate scientist would have said “well, that didn’t work, let’s try something else.” Instead we get you, Judith, endorsing Doctor Nurse’s claim that what we need is more scientists to push renewables down our throats … yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Part of this is the overweening arrogance of the scientific elite, which sad to say runs from Dr. Nurse all the way down, that somehow we need scientific answers for each and every question in life.

    We don’t. In some instances we need common sense. In some instances we need the marketplace. In some instances, we need to be left alone. In some instances, we need scientists to shut up and let the real doctors talk, not play doctor like Doctor Nurse and the Royal Nursettes are doing.

    Alternative energy is a great example of when the scientists should just shut up. For years, listening to the “scientific answers” to energy questions has led the planet into a quagmire of ever-increasing energy costs, “fuel-poverty”, wasted money, Solyndra and its thousand sisters, tropical forests clear-cut for palm oil plantations, skyrocketing costs for corn tortillas in poor countries as foodland is converted to fuelland, my own energy expenditures going through the roof despite no increase in energy consumption, and frozen pensioners in the UK.

    And all along, we did not need a scientific answer. We needed scientists to shut up so we could pay attention to the answer we’d already gotten from the marketplace.

    So I fear that Doctor Nurse’s prescriptions, of ever increasing government/scientific control of every aspect of our lives in the pursuit of the chimera of climate control, is a sick fantasy from a sick “doctor” who is not even a nurse … and Judith, you do not do any of us any favor by your support of his lunacy, particularly yourself.

    I do not refer to your posting his ideas for discussion, that is a good thing. Sunshine is indeed the best disinfectant for the myriad Doctor Nurses of the climate world.

    I refer to your supporting some of his more destructive ideas, as I illustrate above. You have achieved an unusual position in the climate discussion, and your words carry unusual weight. You need to take great care with what you support if you wish that to continue.

    If you want your opinion to continue to carry its unusual (and deserved) weight, I’d advise strongly against using your good name and good blog to support people like Doctor Nurse, who has done great damage to the Royal Society and to society in general.

    Because at best, doing that makes you look like what in Marxist terms is sometimes called a “useful idiot”, someone who repeats the party line without thought or consideration of the damage it might do. And at worst, it makes you look like an accomplice in the damage.

    I firmly believe that you are neither … but dang, Dr. C., by this kind of action, you are doing your best to look like one or the other.

    My best regards to you,


  44. Is there any doubt that climate scientists are in fact the very brightest of the environmentalist and environmental issues are at the very core of their passion for activism? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vast majority of them support the CAGW cause. In contrast, I think it is revealing that a healthy number of statisticians and physicists are a bit more circumspect as evidenced by many of the great posts and comments on this blog and others.


  45. Australia’s BOM on ABC last night got its usual reverent response to its dire predictions of future alarming temperature and sea level rises rise due to the dreaded co2.

    Well, weather ain’t climate but BOM summer forecasts were out, (again) this year and summer temp means for 3 months Dec/Feb were down 2.8 (2010/11) and 2.9 (2009/10) (H/T Aus Climate Madness.)

    Git yer message t shirts, folks, write yer letters, its gonna be on fer one and all.

    • Channel 10 treated the latest Oz climate report with the same deference to authority as the ABC.

      Paul Nurse is a disgrace to his profession. Real scientists do not espouse policy solutions to issues that they identify. Not only that, but real scientists do actual experiments to collect data. Real scientist don’t write computer programs to analyse data which was collected & selected by others before they got their hands on it. If you don’t know the provenance of your data like a bloodstock breeder knows the ancestry of his mares, than you know nothing.

      • “Real scientist don’t write computer programs to analyse data which was collected & selected by others before they got their hands on it.”
        Who the hell ever told you that?
        By the way, Ray, are you a scientist?

      • “Real scientist don’t write computer programs to analyse data which was collected & selected by others before they got their hands on it.”

        Actually, this would be a great rule to enforce. You send in your computer program to your journal of choice… registering what you plan to do in advance, so to speak. The journal accepts or rejects your planned tests, not your results. Then the program is run, and you write up the results. No data mining, no pretest bias, no snooping.

        “If you don’t know the provenance of your data like a bloodstock breeder knows the ancestry of his mares, than you know nothing.”

        Ray, on that point, you are right on the money.

      • But NW, they promise that they do train their models, all their constants are independently chosen and not picked so that they can match the historical record. You seem to be suggesting that the modelers are being less than honest.

      • Golly Doc, I really can’t tell the difference between genuine objections and deadpan sarcasm, being a trifle autistic.

      • Owen, to simplify it for you, a real scientist would spend a long time making sure that he knew every tiny detail of what was done to the data he intends using, from the moment it was collected right up to the time he uses it himself. Do you think that any modern climate scientist has done even the smallest audit of the data he uses? No. You can guarantee he just takes a file supplied by Jim Hansen or Phil Jones & runs it through his own program without any checking whatsoever. Then they have the audacity to call this science.

      • Ray Boorman

        Oh. You mean like those fellows screen-scraping Canadian temperature readings and moshing them together?

        I’m right there with you on that criticism.

  46. Go Girma! Git yer heretical t shirt.

  47. Doug Badgero

    “In times of crisis (like the present)………………”
    What a load of bunkum.

  48. A little OT, but the PBS Newshour carried a story on sea level rise (and its likely impacts on the US) tonight, featuring someone from “Climate Central” which I just found online. It was pretty scary warmista-type stuff. I notice that Dr. Curry doesn’t even list Climate Central on her blog roll. And there was no countervailing opinion at all (well almost, they had one countervailing quote from someone else).

    Anyone know anything more about Climate Central?

    I think it is important to keep PBS’s feet to the fire whenever they don’t deliver a balanced story. This is why I am asking.

    • The Miami Herald on-line had something on that. The climate central sit is pretty warmist, but the flooding maps seem to be fairly accurate. For Jacksonville, FL, it states there is a 1 in 6 change for flooding of under +1 foot elevations by 2025 considering, sea level rise, storm surge and tide. They, if anything, underestimated that risk. It is presented like it is a big deal, but Florida coasts have had a few flood larger than that.

      Where I live is about 3 foot above mean high higher water and it was under by a couple feet in 2005.

  49. How? Where?

  50. Will someone please sell Girma a tee shirt?

  51. Willis Eschenbach

    Science will also be required to develop new ways of producing energy that are environmentally less damaging. Renewables like wind, wave, tidal and solar should be evaluated, putting vested interests aside, to determine what is effective.

    JC comment: a good statement, that gets neglected in the “urgency” of adressing the climate problem.

    YIKES, Judith! Do NOT, under any circumstances, give the job of evaluating new energy sources to scientists. They have proven over and over they can’t do it. Nor can engineers, nor energy analysts, nor governments.

    The (partially) free market is the only group that has proven itself capable of making that selection. Governments and scientists and NGOs and think tanks? Forget it, they’ve blown it more times than the market has gotten it right, and that’s a lot.

    Sometimes, what we need scientists to do is shut up and let market forces decide. Letting the scientists and the politicians and the so-called “green” folks decide the energy question has been an unmitigated disaster. It has led to soaring energy prices, previously un-heard of “fuel poverty”, ethanol-driven conversion of food-lands to fuel-lands, economic slowdown, increase in my energy costs despite unchanged consumption, pensioners shivering through the winter, tropical forest clearcut for oil palm plantations, and at the instigation of people like Doctor Nurse, a UK that is littered with dead and dying bird shredders.

    C’mon, Judith, that is not a “good statement”. Doctor Nurse’s idea that noble scientists can simply “put vested interests aside” is Utopianism on steroids.

    Unfortunately, it is a utopianism that hits the poor the hardest. To a wealthy woman, if gas goes up a buck … so what? To a poor woman, it may mean she’s now spending so much on gas she can’t pay her artificially inflated electric bill. Because at present, a war on carbon is a war on energy, driving up prices.

    As a result, I see the war on carbon as being a war on the poor. Oh, not a deliberate war, in fact those waging it have convinced themselves (I’m not sure how) that they are helping the poor.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The poor spend way more on gas, home heating, electricity, and transportation energy than the rich as a percentage of their income. Increased energy costs are a hugely regressive tax. I think that history will not look kindly on those waging that war on carbon.


  52. Nurse, like many of his like-minded colleagues, seems to believe in the “Scientist-King'” model of world governance. Offering and promoting policy solutions is not just an option, it is a duty for The Wise Ones such as him.

    As well as being profoundly anti-scientific, it is totally anti-democratic.

    Scientists are citizens, and have the same rights to political activism as any other citizen. What they are not entitled to do is to use their special, taxpayer funded status to tell the rest of us how to live on company time, using company resources (the company in this case being Taxpayers Inc.)

    Despite his grandiose pretensions, most scientists are working stiffs doing uncontroversial research into things like plastics, food stabilisers, plants and critters etc. Those who are employed in the private sector do not seem to share his enthusiasm for becoming the engine room of government – as indeed, many in the public sector do not. Nurse and his self-selecting bunch of elitists are a disgrace to science.

    As Don Aitkin correctly pointed out, he wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants the status of being an impartial scientist and the power to prescribe political solutions. That he even suggests this as an ethical way for a scientist to behave shows not only his cluelessness about ethics, but also his contempt for the people he is preaching to.

  53. It occurred to me that some people might find it interesting to compare and contrast Sir Paul’s address with that of George Stigler–his presidential address to the American Economic Association in 1964, entitled “The Economist and The State.” Unusually, the entire thing can be read here on googlebooks:

    To mollify cwon and Captain Kangaroo in advance, they might note that Stigler was an inaugural member of Hayek’s Mont Pelerin Society, which Stigler said “could be called ‘The Friends of F. A. Hayek.’“

    The most interesting thing about Stigler’s address is how incredibly skeptical he is of economists’ pretentions to policy-relevant knowledge…but at the same time, how hopeful he is for the future.

  54. Girma@14/3 11.07am

    Hi Girma, you google and your location. Here in Melbourne you can get minimum lots. I’m getting two tee shirts, one for
    my nephew, hey, maybe he’ll wear it on stage :)

    Co2’s cool. Wage, wage war
    Against the lying and the fright.’

    AGW is a Death Star. Co2 is Cool.

    (What do you think? )

  55. Listen to the arrogance:
    “The new enlightenment to be sceptical about established orthodoxy, and must not be too strongly directed from the top, which stifles creativity.”
    The “new enlightenment” is, of course, exemplified by his own post-modern self; the “established orthodoxy” is standard scientific research; the “top” is any body or anybody who might tell him to fly straight; and “creativity” is making sh** up about AGW.

    And it’s not even a grammatical sentence! Where’s the beef verb, Paulie?

  56. Sir Paul Nurse is a brilliant Nobel Prize winning geneticist and cell biologist. He has recently taken the largely political (and honorary) post of President of the Royal Society . He is also Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, a startup biomedical research center to be set up in London.

    Nurse supports the “consensus” view on CAGW. However, he has shown in past interviews that he has no specific knowledge regarding our planet’s climate; most of the denizens here are arguably more knowledgeable in this area than he is.

    I would take anything he says about the ongoing scientific and policy debate on climate science with a large grain of salt.


    • Steve Milesworthy

      Why is his level of relevant science knowledge important to his input into the policy debate. For that he needs to understand the tactics of lobbyists, astroturf organisations, self-interested companies and self-interested journalists. These tactics are common to many areas of science including his.

      Enough knowledge to spot misleading arguments, gish-galloping and so forth is additionally beneficial, and he has demonstrated his ability to spot these in his TV programmes such as in his mugging of Delingpole.

  57. Martin Lack@12.17 pm.

    Ah mon professeur, le bon mot.,’education,’ is a chamelion word that can have many meanings. ‘Indoctination’ is one that comes to mind.

  58. Thanks to JC for her sane comments, the e salon denizens will now be out in force. LOL.
    There’s an issue for me in Excerpt 3:
    ‘Scientists need to identify issues early and encourage open debate ‘ re imperatives… to benefit society.
    Hmm, I would’ve thought that wasn’t their role. I would’ve thought, jest do the science, test the science, fight out the science in the science forum, let others be adjudicants and make the policy decisions, just DON’T hide the data or act as gate keepers. ( Heck, what do i know, I’m only an escapee from the Humanities and I seem to have metamorphised into some kind of crazy cowgirl.)

  59. Hadn’t read your posting, Johanna,@ 1.46 am.

    Yup, ‘scientist king’ syndrome for sure, direct from Plato:

    ” Gee, if we can only get the right leaders, up there, and keep everyone else in their place, down here, ( Plato speaking,) (in Greek,) we can recreate the Golden Age before the rot set in. But we need real intellectuals,( like me,) well shamen really, to bring you back to the Golden Age, (stupid,) and save you from that goddam flux…. (stupid.)

  60. The contrast between Sir Paul Nurse and the state of science and Sir John R. Maddox, the late past editor of the journal “Nature” is starkly revealing.
    Maddox wrote a book, reviewed here
    called the “Doomsday Syndrome”.
    Sir John Maddox would have resisted the AGW promoters from hijacking his magazine and the institutions of science early. Sir Paul Nurse seems to revel in the extended detour from good science that AGW represents.

    • Yes, Nature under John Maddox was radically different from Nature today, under Philip Campbell.

      We published several major findings in Nature while John Maddox was editor.

      Today, I am not allowed to comment on anything published there, although still a subscriber.

  61. Science and engineering are to side of the same coin.

  62. Judith and denizens, latest post at WUWT: ‘Australian Govt proposed unlimited speech regulation, names climate skeptics and Labor critics as targets.’

    ( It’s gonna be on fer one and all.Action stations, everyone.)


    This one has me scratching my head on the science-society relationship.

    I suspect an April Fool’s Day prank sprung early.

    • Bart R,

      Do you seriously think Dr. Curry is going down this “advocate” dark alley? She isn’t going to talk about her friends in Australia are up to either on the speach suppression topic.

      Given the weenie suck-up persona by attacking my questioning Dr. Curry on these politically related specifics it’s annoying you could put this topic up. No, it isn’t a “prank”. It’s direct from inside the AGW think tank fringe.

      • cwon14

        It appears one of us have slipped into the Twilight Zone.

        Are you accusing me of reading your post at 11:07 and time-traveling back seven minutes to somehow derail your.. well, it’d be hard to call it a point, as it lacks the focus to get to one, or to call it pointless either as it’s not blunt enough to hammer home its meaning.

        How does a direct inside become a fringe?

        And who’s been attacking your questioning of Dr. Curry? Certainly not me; I know Dr. Curry’s quite capable of withstanding the silliness, whether it’s yours, mine, or the oddball comments about her contained in the Climategate hack.

        Question her all you like. Unlikely to be answered, if your questions involve time-travel and paranoid delusion, but who am I to judge? It’s her blog.

      • “How does a direct inside become a fringe?”

        I’m sure you meant “insider” but below is a good start.

        Aside from considering warmist agendas that set the society back we should look at pointless skeptics who think a spagetti chart is going to change the debate. this is where the “delusion” really lies Bart R.

  64. Ban the C-word. Nothing says ‘politics’ like the obsession with ‘consensus’. If I am in a committee, we have a consensus only if everyone agrees or accepts the motion anyway. If just one person disagrees then it is not a consensus. The word is meaningless in science so it should not be used. Clearly there is no consensus about CAGW among knowledgeable scientists. To say there is is wrong and intimidating. Say ‘commonly accepted’ if you must, or ‘generally believed’. Claiming a consensus is yet another way of hiding the uncertainty.

    • Diag,
      A natural evolution of “consensus thinking” is the transformation into “bunker mentality”.

      • This is all true Hunter but it misses the bigger meme of “Why” all of this has happened in the first place. As long as skeptics are divided on the motives of the AGW agenda it will remain a long slog.

        Don’t be an enabler, get focused on the “why” and get beyond the technical obfuscations of how science is used to hide the why.

      • Luboš site has an old article which sums up the process well:

        The message is that a misleading text written by one activist that has many errors, misconceptions, and typos is routinely copied and parroted by all other activists in his political wing. This is how consensus science works: a lousy text by one scientist below the average is simply copied among thousands of his political allies who are completely unable to think independently. It’s not surprising that most conclusions of similar processes are absurd. A rational observer knows that there is no non-trivial consensus of 2,500 people in certain questions but rather a consensus of 1 or 2 average scientists followed by 2,499 or 2,498 parrots.

        I can’t convince my eco-friends because they are parrots. They never scratch the surface to find the truth hidden beneath.

  65. Somewhat related:

    This organization announced a milestone of improving access to clean drinking water worldwide, having reached 50% of the world population with access to clean drinking water two years ahead of schedule. The target, I believe, is 85% access by 2020.

    That’s up from under 15% 30 years ago. Go Science!

    On the downside, access to hygiene is still abysmal.

  66. John from CA and Tom FP @ 15/3 (Paul Nurse.)
    Just read your great t shirt messages,

    ‘Drop the BOM before it is too late.’

    ‘Bin the Bomb.’

    This is becoming a growth industry, guess I’ll go into production again.

    (So, J and T, are you both gonna put your words into action?
    (Jest email -Put it on a T Shirt)

    • Thanks, Beth, but you have gelded my pun. “Bin the Bomb” doesn’t really work. I’m sure it was a typo and will be fixed before it goes on a tee-shirt…

      ‘course we could always Bomb the BOM, but that would be a bit Glieckish…

    • Perhaps “hey kids I might be passing 60 but I am still cool! I still go to the music halls! by the way don’t reduce carbon emissions!” would be equally effective.

  67. evilincandescentbulb

    “Implicit in this approach is that scientific knowledge evolves…”

    sans accountability.

  68. “The public want clear and simple answers but sometimes that is not possible.”

    Oh please! You yell Thermageddon iin a crowded theater and wonder why the public wants to know who was responsible for the Fall of Western Civilization?

  69. Willis Eschenbach

    Bart R | March 17, 2012 at 1:19 am |

    Latimer Alder | March 16, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    …Are Dr. Hansen’s expenditures for travel out of line for a director of NASA?

    Not by a longshot.

    You missed an important foundation question. Is James Hansen the Director of NASA?

    Not by a long shot.

    He is the head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies New York City office, which in turn is a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which in turn is a part of NASA … so whether his expenditures are out of line for the NASA Director is meaningless.

    Is anything illegitimate suggested about them? No.

    Umm … I think the actual answer is “Lots” …

    As specifically detailed below, Hansen failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in global travel provided to him by outside parties — including to London, Paris, Rome, Oslo, Tokyo, the Austrian Alps, Bilbao, California, Australia and elsewhere, often business or first-class and also often paying for his wife as well — to receive honoraria to speak about the topic of his taxpayer-funded employment, or get cash awards for his activism and even for his past testimony and other work for NASA.

    Ethics laws require that such payments or gifts be reported on an SF278 public financial disclosure form. As detailed, below, Hansen nonetheless regularly refused to report this income.

    So yes, they definitely have more than a suggestion of illegitimacy. And in addition to not reporting them, it appears he did not pay income tax on the travel honoraria.


  70. tomfop@17/3 3.49
    LOL- Human fallibility,
    ‘gelded your pun,’ I did- would you call it a freudian slip?
    Of course it’s ” bin the BOM”