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« Greens want your pension | Main | Inquiry into winter transport chaos »
Monday
Jan242011

More Horizon coverage

There are a couple more articles on the Horizon programme doing the rounds. Delingpole says he was done over by the BBC here and the Guardian agrees here.

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Reader Comments (90)

both links point to the guardian

Jan 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Of more interest is Nurse's belief that "we" should "trust the evidence".

Here is an actual Battle of Ideas 2010 discussion: "Can we trust the evidence? The IPCC - a case study"

It involved Tony Gilland, Oliver Morton and Fred Pearce

http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/2010/session_detail/4086/

It makes for interesting listening.

Jan 24, 2011 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The Guardian headline has Delingpole complaining about being 'intellectually raped', but in the 'small print' we find him saying he didn't think he would use that term.

Jan 24, 2011 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

Delingpole apears to have been asked,

'if a dear relative was suffering from a fatal disease, would he opt for the "consensus" treatment recommended by doctors, or advice to drink more orange juice offered by a fringe maverick quack?'


The correct analogy would have been to ask,
a)would he opt for a very expensive treatment that was recomended by doctors
b)Which had not been proven yet but was based on models with a good consensus
c) and might not work within a lifetime
and in that case one might not be so sure

Jan 24, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPK thinks

Bishop, both your links go to the Guardian article.

Here is the link to Delingpole's article:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100073116/oh-no-not-another-unbiased-bbc-documentary-about-climate-change/

Delingpole defends himself well and admirably.

Jan 24, 2011 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermovielib

The correct medical analogy would have been:

Doctor: You seem to have a very very slight temperature.
Patient: Really? I don't feel anything.
Doctor: It's true - I'm using a multi-billion dollar thermometer, so it must be true.
Patient: OK, so what do you suggest?
Doctor: Well, you can opt for either a massively expensive series of tests and operations to see what is wrong. Or ...
Patient: Yes, doctor?
Doctor: Or we can wait and see if it passes.

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterO'Geary

The question posed by Nurse makes one v. suspicious he does not fully understand the difference between a double blind randomised controlled study of a new patient treatment and the models used by climate scientists.

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPK thinks

The sad part about the reporting of this and the "public" debates around it is that they all take a populist black and white tone. It's either/or. No middle ground. And despite the actual content that is being discussed, one can sway the debate based on the adjectives and labels used.

Raise your hand if you want to be associated with maverick, insubordinate quackery? Raise your hand if you want to be associated with cool, calm, rational, science?

Hilarious. Look at the adjectives describing Nurse: distinguished, Nobel prize-winner.
Look at the adjectives describing Delingpole: vicious, lost-for-words, shrinking-violet.

Look at all the negative labels/objects associated with Delingpole: rape, slightest provocation, semi-automatic.

This article barely even touch the content of the debate...just all the contrived meta-data surrounding the debate.

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

In June 2009 Paul Nurse was asked the following:-

Question: What is the single greatest threat to global health?

Paul Nurse: This will be a strange answer but it’s: arrogance that we think we know what to do…
.
Read the full transcript at http://bigthink.com/ideas/15245

The concluding line:-

“Arrogance is my number one bogey in this. That’s what we have to get rid off.”

Now who would have thought that arrogance could be a problem in any scientific discipline? Isn’t it good that we now have a new president of the Royal Society that realises the problems that arrogance can have upon science?

Now what are the chances of him getting together with the BBC to do a programme on “arrogance in science”? You never know it might help in answering the present day question “why public trust in key scientific theories has been eroded”

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

'if a dear relative was suffering from a fatal disease, would he opt for the "consensus" treatment recommended by doctors, or advice to drink more orange juice offered by a fringe maverick quack?'
For a man called Nurse this is a really silly argument to use because if the condition is fatal then any treatment will be of only palliative use and will not affect the final outcome so if we are doomed why spend billions on ineffective treatments and still be doomed! also if I have this right there in little doubt that the "fringe maverick quacks" on this side of the debate are just as qualified as the "doctors" he claims are on his so maybe he should stick to the term 'scientists' in future .

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

Green Sand

Question: How important is measuring outcomes?

Paul Nurse: Measuring outcomes, particularly in cancer, is actually crucial because if you make incorrect assumptions in the way you’re doing analysis, things go bad rather quickly actually because you get statistics that show certain cancers, or certain diseases, are dramatically increasing, when it may be only that we are diagnosing them better, and then everything goes wrong in trying to think about it.

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Since climate science is in its infancy it should be compared to medical science when it was in its infancy and not the mature science it is now.

Heres an extract from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medicine_in_the_middle_ages.htm that demonstrates the comparison.

However, medicine became steeped in superstition and the Roman Catholic Church effectively dominated what direction the medical world took. Any views different from the established Roman Catholic Church view could veer towards heresy with the punishments that entailed. Therefore, when the Roman Catholic Church stated that illnesses were punishments from God and that those who were ill were so because they were sinners, few argued otherwise.

Replace "Roman Catholic Church" with "IPCC", "illnesses" with "weather events" and God with CO2 and its an apt description of climate science.

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Green Sand

Paul Nurse: Creativity is the core of great science.

I am Paul Nurse and I’m President of Rockefeller University.

The training and also the way of actually carrying out the profession is quite different between a scientist and a doctor, understandably so. That’s not a criticism of either side; it’s just how it is. So then we mix two sorts of people like this together, in the same activity, and we expect them to work together, it’s like mixing somebody who only speaks English with French and assuming that it is going to work, it won’t.

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Yes Mac, there is plenty in there:-

"If we have imprecise information there, we’re going to get deeply misled. And, once again, will give rise to quackery because people will read, maybe allergies have increased tenfold or something, and then they say this is due to pollution or whatever, because this is how the way people think when in fact it may have nothing to do with that, and we get campaigns in favor of certain approaches which is simply totally misplaced."

Jan 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Much as I admire Delingpole's capability as an acerbic and very gifted commentator, it's rather dishonest of Paul Nurse to choose him as a protagonist in what appears to be a 'scientific' discussion or presentation. James does not have the in depth knowledge to be light on his feet in such a discussion, particularly when the editors are going to pull the worst 30s of three hours taping. There are plenty of candidates of a similar or higher calibre to Nurse around. I've no idea if other scientists of sceptical views are included, but if James is the only one, then the program is a fair one in the same way that 'you three hold him down while I land him a couple' can be described as a fair fight.

Jan 24, 2011 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Nurse’s question to Delingpole is one of the stock rhetorical questions put to sceptics by warmist trolls on climate threads. Anyone using it is an idiot who hasn’t been following the argument.
Another one is: “I suppose you think you’re more intelligent than the President of the Royal Society?” to which the only honest answer is “Yes. I have a maths O-level and I can read a graph, thank you.”

Jan 24, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Paul Nurse and the BEEB may take heed to read:-

As you'll answer it, take heed
This Slave commit no Violence upon
Himself. I've been deceiv'd. The Publick Safety
Requires he should be more confin'd; and none,
No not the Princes self, permitted to
Confer with him. I'll quit you to the King.
Vile and ingrate! too late thou shalt repent
The base Injustice thou hast done my Love:
Yes, thou shalt know, spite of thy past Distress,
And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn'd;
Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd - or a journo stitched up on the tele!

William Congreve, in The mourning bride, 1697:

Jan 24, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Nurse wants politics to be taken out of science so that we can admire the gleaming scientific edifice without the distortion provided by poltical perspective. Why then, does he bang on about the importance of respecting the "consensus"? The scientific question concerns the truth of hypotheses, not how widely or firmly they are held to be true. Consensus, when achieved, can provide the impetus to action but this is exactly when scientific enquiry runs into politics. Consensus itself is a sociological matter and a very poor guide to truth as even the most cursory study of scientific history reveals.

As a schoolboy I was fortunate enough to attend a special lecture at the Royal Society to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus. To the best of my memory I do not recall that the Royal Society then took the view that respect for the consensus was the proper attitude.

Jan 24, 2011 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

AGW "science" really helps me appreciate the works of Paul Feyerabend more and more.

Jan 24, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Actually I welcome criticism of the sceptics position because it allows you check the veracity and the context of the criticisms.

Here is a Paul Nurse quote from in October 2010, "I think it is clear that the rise of the blogosphere and the internet has allowed a very small group of vociferous anti-science doubters to have a disproportionate impact on policy issues."

You can see how the editing of Delingpole's contribution on Horizon is likely to have been done. Dellingpole has been targeted as a vociferous anti-science blogger and so in order to make Paul Nurse's arguement he has to be shown as that. The producers would have known that to be anti-science is not necessary to be knowledgeable of science.

So if it transpires that views of scientists and other scientific knowledgeable people who are sceptical of climate change science are not aired on Horizon tonight then you can be assured that was was done deliberately by the producers. It is the only way that Paul Nurse can argue "we" should "trust the evidence".

Jan 24, 2011 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

'if a dear relative was suffering from a fatal disease, would he opt for the "consensus" treatment recommended by doctors, or advice to drink more orange juice offered by a fringe maverick quack?'

I like this question. Its the basic appeal to authority, but was somewhat spoiled by a rather prominent climate scientist who discovered he was suffering from a potentially fatal cancer, did not opt for the 'consensus' treatment, and challenged the medical profession. Story described here-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Patient-Hell-Worked-Doctors-Medicine/dp/0738210781/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1295887432&sr=1-1

It's quite an interesting read. Gist is it's ok to challenge the medical consensus, but Schneider never seemed to offer the same courtesy to people trying to challenge his own trades consensus.

Jan 24, 2011 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

"If a dear relative was suffering from a fatal disease, ..............etc"

Ah....the good old, 'Have you stopped beating your wife yet?' question. Such a pity that JD couldn't think fast enough to point out that the disease being described was 'fatal'; or that back in the days of consensus medical practises, leeches were the thing every good doctor used.

I bet the BBC and Nurse would not have used such a flippant argument against Lord Monckton.

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

PK Thinks

"The question posed by Nurse makes one v. suspicious he does not fully understand the difference between a double blind randomised controlled study of a new patient treatment and the models used by climate scientists."

Oh yes he does PK - he just thinks us thick idiots watching the programme don't.

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

I must admit that I am surprised that a NObel Prize winning genetic scientist would be an advocate of "consensus based medicine".

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Oh,

I believe that Thalidamide enjoyed a wide spread "consensus" among the medical profession that it was a safe and effective treatment for morning sicknes sin pregnanty women.

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

That's right Geckko, and it wasn't so long ago that the medical consensus was that stomach ulcers were caused by worry. Currently there is a consensus that heart disease is caused by dietary fat and cholesterol but it would be foolish too to think this settled science - more sceptics over here: http://www.thincs.org/

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

@Geckko - "pregnanty" - nice word! ;-)

@Nicholas Hallam - I've followed Ravnskov's writings for some time and the emergence of the diet-heart theory is a fascinating example of how vested interests and dubious academic studies can feed off each other.

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

To dispose of Nurse's argument, one need only point to the numerous times that consensus medicine was no0t only wrong but harmful. A recent example was that common practice that babies were operarted on without anesthesia. Anesthesia has side effects for newborns and so the consensus seized on some early research that babies did not feel pain in the way that older people do. The consensus was not toi use anesthesia because babies did not feel pain. To overcome the problem that babies undergoing apinful operations would scream and struggle, they were temporarily paralyzed with curare. One Oxofrd researcher showed that babies had elevated levels of cortisol after operations which is an indication that they felt pain. Despite this evidence, his research was not accepted for years. Happily babies today are provieed woith adequate anesthesia. However even as late as 20 years ago, babies were bring subjected to long and pinful operations without pain control.

So take Nurse's question and apply it to thios situation. If your baby was about to undergo an operation, would you make sure that it had adequate pain control despite teh medical consensus that this is not advisable

One could also go back to the issue of hygiene and teh work of Semelwiess . Doctors in the 19th century did not practice strict hygiene and as a result were killing women by infecting them in childbirth. Semewweiiss noted this and proved that these infections could be stopped with effective hygiene. This was also known to traditional midwives but not to the scientific consensus. Semeweiss' research was rejected by teh consensus. As a result he left medicine

So take Nurse's question and apply it to hygiene in childbirth. Who would you believe - Semeweiss or teh consensus

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Gray

@ Geckko

Sir Paul Nurse, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "The use of thalidomide offers us scope for optimism, any improvement we can get on the existing survival figures would be very welcome news."

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Can Delingpole FOI the 3hr footage? Surely, if he feels misrepresented, the BBC has an obligation to have the footage independently assessed and some form of arbitration to ensue?

Jan 24, 2011 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

A better analogy IMHO:

My wife sought information from a qualified surgeon who recommended surgery. His reaction to the fact that the surgery in question had historically been rather useless was "Techniques are better now, I can guarantee you'll be helped". Upshot - my wife had an expensive surgery that didn't help. The guarantee was "There are no guarantees that any given individual will be helped."

So who would you trust? An expert with a financial interest in your decision, or an independent review which might be a bit more skeptical, based on historic outcomes.

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeP

The Guardian agrees? I must have been reading a different Guardian than you. The Guardian skewered Delingpole. Maybe you need glasses?

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarkB

I was interviewed recently by a BBC local radio station about an issue in my area. When setting up a telephone interview the researcher asked if I'd just put my view point and answer a few questions. The radio host was a nice guy I was told - so no problem there.

The fact was he turned out to be an obnoxious BBC w@nker who went totally off subject and had a go at me. I was rapidly losing my temper when they cut the interview after yet another glib smart arse comment from the host.

Lesson learned.

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMactheknife

Paul Nurse is like the British Greg Craven.

Those who cannot refrain from medical analogies in the climate change debate are just playing Pascal's Wager.

You can win any argument with the precautionary 'principle'.

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

So is Sir Paul arguing that if one scientific consensus is correct, all the others are also correct?

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDR

Where did the Paul Nurse go to school, UEA?

Probably Geoffrey Boulton's drinking chum...what a booby.

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBT

Paul Nurse:

"He was born in Norwich, East Anglia"

"..his PhD degree in 1973 from School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia. "

(wikipedia)

Nurse is a big dude no doubt, but he must feel a bit of kinship with his juniors at the University of East Anglia.

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Re Anoneumous at 5.50 pm: Not sure what your point is on that quote? In context it seems like a sensible statement of the research in cancer treatment. Also, makes it pretty obvious why he would use the cancer analogy in the interview with JD. Personally, I'll take the unusual step of watching the programme before judging it.

Jan 24, 2011 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterPedro

@Pedro

does there have to be a point?

In context, most things make sense or consensus tells us so.

Which came first Solutrean or Clovis?

Jan 24, 2011 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

if temps keep going down at this rate AGW will be pronounced dead this year see AMSU DISCOVER PROJECT

Jan 24, 2011 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephan

Anoneumouse: Interesting. I assumed were making a point and had something in mind. Obviously I was mistaken.

Jan 24, 2011 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterPedro

Please pedro, the medical establishment gave up a good bit on thalidomide with the phocomelia disaster, but Nurse is now able to sing its praise only because a few (non-consensus) folks persisted by not folding over completely to the counter-alarm.

Jan 24, 2011 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Just wait till some gung-ho orthopaedic surgeon maims Sir Paul, the way the guy at the Horton in Banbury wrecked my mother's knee with a botched replacement. Then he will know how far to trust medical orthodoxy.

Jan 24, 2011 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

"if a dear relative was suffering from a fatal disease, would he opt for the "consensus" treatment recommended by doctors, or advice to drink more orange juice offered by a fringe maverick quack?"

Correct answer: "Neither. I'd go for the one that was able to produce verifiable evidence that it worked."

Jan 24, 2011 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

Dellers, like most people, need to learn what strawmen and red herring arguments are about. Then when interviewers try these types of stunts they're crushed and spat out for the logical fallacies that they are.

Jan 24, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin NZ

@Pedro

I am making a point.

i.e. Nurse's Delingpole quackery argument its all bollix and smokeballs

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it not a hen.

I just don't buy it!

(Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company)

Jan 24, 2011 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Q. Suppose you were ill with cancer would you wish to be treated by “consensus” medicine or something from the quack fringe?

A1. If the “consensus” medicine was simply a product of computer modelling then no doctor would prescribe such medicine on medical or ethical grounds.

A2. If the “consensus” medicine was a product of clinical trials where the patient data was truncated and spliced with data from a completely different clinical trial to produce a desired result then no doctor would tolerate such fraudulent practices.

A3. If the “consensus” medicine turned out to cause permanent change, drastically reducing the patient's quality of life, then no doctor would prescribe such medicine on medical or ethical grounds.

Paul Nurse asks us to accept that evidence of climate change is equivalent to evidence derived from clinical trials. As such Paul Nurse is indulging in climate change quackery.

Jan 24, 2011 at 8:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

'if a dear relative was suffering from a fatal disease, would he opt for the "consensus" treatment recommended by doctors, or advice to drink more orange juice offered by a fringe maverick quack?'

If I discovered that all of the doctors who were part of this purported consensus were also shareholders of the drug company that produced the treatment they were recommending then I might have a few questions before I accepted their advice. If they refused to answer my legitimate questions and were found to be using words like 'hide' in their emails, then I would be very skeptical.

Jan 24, 2011 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

Watching the broadcast now.

Sir Paul first sets out his stall as a “scientist” by talking much about the need for “evidence” to support AGW theory yet presented not one iota of it: lots of statements about correlation but NOTHING supporting causation… scandalous!

Jan 24, 2011 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Watching it now. Delingpole came out okay from that. The hysterical warmist presenting this is pathetic.
Wasn't he concerned about splicing data to 'hide the decline'? I guess not.

Jan 24, 2011 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

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