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Ben Pile on the Royal Society

A thought provoking post by Ben Pile of Climate Resistance fame, documenting the Royal Society's track record on climate change and presenting some disturbing possibilities about where its attention may be directed next.

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    Rees and the Royal Society are seeking ever greater roles for science in the political sphere. Politicians, who are suffering from a historic inability to define their purpose, take the authority this lends them with ever more enthusiasm. But this has resulted in a qualitative shift in the character of science. ...

Reader Comments (13)

I will need to read that a few times, but Ben Pile's closing comments are extremely "thought provoking":-

"But this has resulted in a qualitative shift in the character of science. Where once it provided the means to liberate human potential, it now exists to regulate it. Instead of ‘speaking truth to power’, science increasingly speaks official truth for official power."

"official truth for official power" I wonder what Mr George Orwell would say?

Thanks Bish, Ben Pile not normally on my read list, he is now

Oct 16, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

I second Green Sand. A thought provoking article.

Oct 16, 2010 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I'll third that too. Very good piece.

In summary:
Instead of ‘speaking truth to power’, science increasingly speaks official truth for official power. The result is bad politics and bad science.

Oct 16, 2010 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

I read the whole thing (only falling asleep once). I can not remember reading another such wide reaching article that so resonated with my own thoughts. I found nothing I could disagree with and as above , I will read more of this man.

Oct 16, 2010 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Great to see you referencing Climate Resistance.

Anyone new to CR should take a long, leisurely trawl through its archive over the next few weeks.

There is much to entertain and inform. I'm still working through the trove.

Oct 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

That is a well justified and devastating judgement on the defilement that now infests even (indeed especially), the elite of our former honourable scientific institutions.

Oct 17, 2010 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

I’m amazed to see regulars here not knowing about Climate Resistance. I regularly visit all the British sceptical blogs, since, much as I’d like to see more of Donna Laframboise and Joanna Nova, one really need to spend time with one’s own folk to understand what’s going on.
I love the way each blog has its own feel to it. Bishop Hill is obviously the town’s main pub, with a noisy crowd, discreetly animated by an extremely tolerant landlord. After a few pints here, I’ll stroll across to Omniclimate, where Maurizio serves an excellent caffé stretto, and the atmosphere is more cosmopolitain and cerebral. Then I pop into Harmless Sky, my favourite old fashioned club, where the armchairs are comfortable and the conversation is too relaxed to ever comes to a conclusion. I usually finish at Climate Resistance, which is frankly more like an old-fashioned reference library, with long periods of silence, and earnest paper rustling from the old hands. (Chez Shub is on my visit list, and I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone here).
Finally, when I’m feeling strong enough, I’ll pop into the Guardian’s basement BierKeller, KommentmachtFrei, where I’ll signal wildly to Latimer across the teeming throng, receive a couple of broken bottles in the face from angry trolls, and retire to Casualty.
And that’s my Saturday night.

Oct 17, 2010 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

"Where once it provided the means to liberate human potential, it now exists to regulate it. Instead of ‘speaking truth to power’, science increasingly speaks official truth for official power. The result is bad politics and bad science.”

Now there's an apt epitaph for the RS.

Some people are real word-smiths, this quote has the cadence of a classic writer IMO. Probably not much of a compliment coming from someone still aiming for the word-smithing level of Douglas Trendle though :) (Buster Bloodvessel -Bad Manners - "Twas on the good ship Venus" )

Oct 17, 2010 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete

CA's up for best .ca science blog, go on it won't take a minute ;)

Oct 17, 2010 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete

Geoff Chambers comment above is most interesting and informative. Thank you. I for one, will be delving into the blogs he suggested. If there are any more sites out there that you come across, please let us all know.

Peter Walsh

Oct 17, 2010 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW


It's my round. Same again?

Oct 17, 2010 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought


and a packet of peanuts for me please, 'dry roasted' if possible?

preffer salted, but better get used to the future of nuts.

Oct 17, 2010 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

The Royal Society :o

Every time I hear that phrase I am reminded of the face of Lord Rees of Ludlow, staring at the floor as he tried to explain to MPs in the British House of Commons, just why there was no subterfuge attached to the climategate e-mails. Lord Rees of Ludlow also now believes that there are multiple dimensions in lecture rooms, and that many hundreds more people turn up to his lectures, than can actually be seen. This is because they are inhabiting other dimensions invisible to "normal people".

Whaaat ?

This is also the man who is always decrying opinions of people on climate change, who are not peer reviewed climatologists, as he calls them, and then he goes on to give his pronouncements on the climate change, when he is of course a Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics. Does this mean that ....

a) Lord Rees now believes that, the cosmic ray controlling clouds and climate, theory is correct, and so then he is entitled to pronounce on "climate change as a peer reviewed climatologist", or does it mean that ....

b) Lord Rees is a complete and utter hypocrite

Whichever the case, I believe it is time for him to step down, just so long as this does not mean
that he will be replaced by the effervescent (charged artificially with carbon dioxide) Bob Watson,
unless that were the famous Robert Jose Watson, known as "Bull". He was a baseball all rounder
who played in three decades, and is most famous for having scored the Millionth Run in Baseball history. Now that's the kind of guy we need in charge of the Royal Society, He is also the only player to have ever hit a cycle* in both the American and National Leagues He is a "big hitter" and he is 4 years younger than Lord Rees.

*cycle (baseball)
The cycle is a relatively rare feat. To accomplish a cycle, a player must get a single, double, triple, and home run in a game. A four hit game is rare enough, but to include each of the four hits is a significant feat. In fact, it is on par with a no-hitter in rarity.

Oct 18, 2010 at 12:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterAxel

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