Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Another CSA moves on | Main | Representative of what? »

Quote of the day writer and academic Ben Goldacre would rather slam his “cock in a door” than engage in a phony debate with climate change deniers.

From here.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (112)

Further down:

In an excerpt broadcast on radio national’s The Science Show, Goldacre explains why he thinks the show’s format is questionable and how, as part of the broader treatment of the climate change issue in mainstream media, it is a “gift” for the likes of Minchin. Goldacre says "You will win every time."

I think that explains everything we want to know. If given equal time, the sceptic will win every time. Welcome to democracy, Mr Goldacre.

Apr 24, 2012 at 7:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I'd have to agree with Goldacre, if he has entered in to a debate with no intention of listening or attempting to understand the other sides points then it is nothing more than a phony debate.

Also that write up is full of the usual ad homs one comes to expect from the Mann Made Global Warming Creationists (tm), big bad oil, republicans, Tge other side doesn't use peer review etc.

I think the reality is that until the creationists can come to the table with an open mind in an honest attempt to understand points contrary to theirs nothing will change.


Apr 24, 2012 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman



Apr 24, 2012 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I agree with him.

I would rather that he slam his cock in a door than engage in debate on climate change.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

He has a cock?

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Goldacre must realise the rapidly evolving consensus from objective scientists is that real CO2 climate sensitivity cannot be more than ~0.3 - 0.4 K, an IPCC exaggeration by a factor of ~7.5 - 10. I derive it from the 2.6 energy gain implicit in the perpetual motion machine in the climate models multiplied by 3.7, the calibration error from using 33 K present GHG warming [flat Earth model] when it's ~9 K. Others come from other directions.

Goldacre is well educated, a medic, also very Establishment. As he a psychiatrist, this looks like an interesting case of 'physician heal thyself': it's a case of collective madness.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

He must have a small one ... judging by the flowing ad hominems in his write-up. I'll add to that, he is seriously short of education in matters of CAGW. Something that we have come to accept with the leftists in Australia.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Its the medium as much as anything. I remember a Scotch politician who used to rattle off stats on the telly, the other bloke either in no position to rebut them, or giving him the chance to didn't make for 'good television' in the producer's eyes. Scotch bloke always won the 'argument' and was touted as an economic who was he? If you're ready to lie big, lie bold, then telly's the medium for you, whether you're a warmist, sceptic, or socialist traitor.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Scottish, please. Scotch is the drink. Also, don't remind me he was Scottish.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Walter Scott was happy to use the word "Scotch" in its wider sense. I do not understand the current prejudice against its use.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Yes, it was used widely in the 19th centruty and before interchangably. I suppose it's a bit like the Eskimo/Inuit thing - doesn't have to be rational but it's just polite to call people what they want to be called :) Personally I think it's the rise of the American usage of the word Scotch as a drink (it's called whisky everwhere else).

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

someone unknown:

Goldacre must realise the rapidly evolving consensus from objective scientists is that real CO2 climate sensitivity cannot be more than ~0.3 - 0.4 K, an IPCC exaggeration by a factor of ~7.5 - 10.

Oh come on. Rapidly evolving consensus? Let's see at least one paper please, before signing up to any of this. Sensitivity of 1K is generally taken even by ardent warmists to be not a problem. Produce at least one paper before interrupting each and every thread with this pabulum.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

If that's the way he wants it ... it is a free world.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterjV

'Whatever its origin, by the latter part of the nineteenth century scotch was being used figuratively for frustrating some plan or decisively putting an end to something — metaphorically putting a stone under its wheels.':

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

He might as well have said the way I debate CAGW is by stick my fingers in my ears and then scream LaLaLa at the top of my voice, this is a debating technique only used by climate scientist who have been beer reviewed in Nature.

Oh and if he is not willing to stand up and defend his CAGW religion he may be a cock but he has no balls.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

"beer reviewed" - love it. Even if it was a typo.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Perhaps he should do this anyway as a gesture to his friends and their obsession with world population control.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth

Ben Goldacre - please feel free to do so. Maybe he could also do a guest spot on Jackass or some other reality TV program of that ilk.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

"Scotch is the drink"

Short fot 'Scotch Whisky' I believe. I always rather liked P G Wodehouse's references to 'Scotchmen', especially when in comparison to rays of sunshine.. :-)

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I don't suppose Goldacre has considered that his stance on AGW diminishes the authority of his 'junk science' website, which contains some interesting stuff that may even be true.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:24 AM | TheBigYinJames

He has a cock?

yes, but clearly no balls

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:05 AM | Registered Commentermangochutney

Richard Drake; I shall not argue the point in detail, however there are quite a few such assessments from continental scientists who now feel able to talk publicly.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Ben Goldacre has done some great work but has a blind spot when it comes to the climate debate. Pity.
He is of course a darling of the BBC and the Guardian. Something which would soon change were he to become sceptical about the likelihood of catastrophic man-made global warming.

The article linked to is a classic in that it ignores the real debate...which is not about sea ice, temperature or whether the climate is changing. We must never lose sight of the reason why the debate has become so contentious. The "beef" is with scientists who claim, on the basis of computer models, that we are doomed to fry unless we stop using fossil fuels and with their antics to promote and produce "science" which might possibly support this view and suppress any real science which does not.

If it were not a constant undercurrent that WE WERE CAUSING a decline in Arctic sea ice, small increases in surface temperatures etc: it would be relegated to a mere scientific curiousity.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

There's audio and a transcript of the Goldacre interview on the ABC site which makes him seem slightly more reasonable than the paraphrased quote above but the sentiment is basically the same.

Ben Goldacre: It's just boring, it's a boring, boring argument. I would literally rather slam my cock in the door than get involved in this, because it's special pleading by a very small number of people who are desperate to make a fuss, and actually I don't think...

Narrator: Goldacre delights in exposing the dodgy use of science in the media.

Ben Goldacre: But one real problem that you get a lot in the media is this idea of balance. People who are climate change deniers get equal footing because I think journalists can't be bothered to research it adequately and communicate it adequately themselves, so what they think they'll do is they'll just kind of triangulate the truth. We'll just get one person on one side and one person on the other side and they can just have a fight. And actually dodgy positions in complex areas of science are pulled apart under the microscope at length, and you don't get under the microscope at length in the media.

To you, the media is an absolute gift. You will win every time. You can cherry-pick data and there will be no time to point out the flaws, you can pull out dodgy science and there will be no time to point it out, you can pull out arguments that have already been refuted and you can find one of those that the person that you're arguing with hasn't yet heard of, and then it will be next Tuesday by the time they've gone off, looked it up and gone, 'Oh, bloody hell…'

You're doing well because the proportion of the public who believe your side of the argument is vastly greater than the proportion of scientists working in the field. And it's a gift. You should thank your lucky stars.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I wnder how many volunteers he would get to help him " slam his cock in a door" I suspect that there would be lots to slam the door for him!

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterdave38

Shevva, is your reference to Zed's Dead Bed an inside joke? I seem to recall she was a strident warmist, but good fun nonetheless, and ended up banned from this site. Has she resurfaced under a pseudonym?

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

someone unknown:

I shall not argue the point in detail

I'm not expecting you to argue the point in detail here, given it's totally off topic as usual. I am expecting you to argue the point in detail in a published paper. And until then to stop making such claims on threads devoted to other things.

... however there are quite a few such assessments from continental scientists who now feel able to talk publicly.

Great. I'm sure the host won't mind you providing URLs to those published assessments of known scientists right away.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Damn, dave38 beat me to it. I was about to stand up and offer to do it for Ben.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterBiddyb

Readfern seems obsessed with "denialists". Like a cleric obsessed with Beelzebub.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

His good points aside (and he appears to have many) a recognition of a sense of personal fallibility doesn't seem to be one of them.

I'd be interested if anyone has any links or references for Goldacre admitting, in a straightforwards way, that he was incorrect or misguided about anything. I can't find anything but maybe my Googling is just sub-par this morning.

In his forays into light entertainment, he was funny and articulate, but also couldn't forbear a every instance from correcting other people or having the last word with additional information.

Debating in an area where the typically cited low-hanging fruit are absent (it's a fraud! etc.), and he may have to concede a point may not be to his liking.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

In other news, I can't type.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

Given the RSPCA was on the radio this morning bemoaning its lack of funds and resources, I think it's a poor show of Mr Goldacre to be suggesting further cruelty to out feathered friends.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad


As in Mann Made Global Warming Creationists (tm).

It's a p1ss take on the alarmists continued use if the word "denier" to refer to anyone that dares question their religious faith.

Plus I like how it sounds :)



Apr 24, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

@mailman doesn't work very well (confusing) for me but if it floats your boat....


Apr 24, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I agree with Jack Savage, Ben Goldacre is often very a true sceptic in his writings, but when it comes to Climate Science, his approach alters. Puzzling indeed. If the remedy for CAGW were a pill, would he prescribe it for his own patients?

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Wilkinson

For many of the Scots Diaspora Scotch is used without any negative meanings.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I don't think he actually has patients. He always self-describes as a doctor, and clearly has the appropriate qualifications, but I am not aware that he is in clinical practice anywhere, rather that he is a professional columnist and opinionator. If you ever see him on TV, he has enormous self-regard, which by itself does not make him wrong on any topic. but does suggest he could benefit from the short sharp shock he is proposing for himself.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Goldacre is a complex character. For some background I recommend this thoughtful summary by John Stone:

It seems that politicisation and corruption are not unique to climate science.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:49 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

I'm good at slamming doors....

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterKon Dealer

Logically, since won't have a debate, he will slam his cock in a door.
Can we watch?

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Setting his sexual proclivities aside, he should attend to engaging his brain before spouting wild and poorly thought out oral drivel, who would allow this bloke anywhere near a hospital - and is that why he became a media whore?

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Note that the "media balance" lie has been debunked long time ago, and even Boykoff has stated it only applied before the Gore Oscar/Nobel watershed.

Talk about being refuted...

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Can he let us know how he gets on with that....?

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMr Bliss

To be fair to Mr Goldacre, his website does explicitly say:

'Ben is 36 and currently works full time as an academ'ic in epidemiology. He does not see private patients'

and his wikipedia entry describes hom as a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford.

There are plenty of reasons to be a little careful of his writings, but beating him up for not being something he makes no claim to be is not one of them. It also gives easy ammunition for those who might wish to dismiss all sceptic arguments out of hand.

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Thanks for that link Lapogus

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

" Goldacre is a complex character. For some background I recommend this thoughtful summary by John Stone:

It seems that politicisation and corruption are not unique to climate science. "

Thanks lapogus, there's more to BG than I had had realised.

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Wilkinson

Good link, Iapogus. Here's the money quote about Goldacre: "It has been a lamentable feature of Ben Goldacre’s contribution to the public discussion of science in the UK that he has everywhere generated an atmosphere of intolerance in support of his views, and rather than raise the tone of the debate it has encouraged a new kind of scientific infantilism, in which you deride your opponents and defer to authority. The ruthlessness of this power was demonstrated when LBC radio journalist Jeni Barnett questioned the heavy-hand of the MMR lobby. She could not have been proved more right when the station was inundated by protests from Goldacre’s website, LBC removed the broadcast from its website, and Goldacre arranged for Liberal-Democrat Members of Parliament to organise a motion censuring Barnett..."

Look him up on Wikipedia: member of a powerful dynasty, born to privilege, funded-by-this and awarded-for-that. Regardless of whether this bloke has any merit, he's headed for high office. If he makes Climate Change Minister, will the last person to leave Britain please turn the lights out.

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Has everyone missed the bizarre proposition, widely held by hysterical alarmists, that the MSM gives the same amount of time to skeptical arguments that it does to catastrophic arguments. I haven't researched this personally, but my really don't see very many arguments about the science in the MSM and articles about policy are roughly 1000 times more favourable to the warmist cause than they are to the common sense cause. I'm afraid Dr. Goldacre has fallen for the same delusion his comrades in the cause have. They believe that the science that they believe is so persuasive that the only reason that haven't got popular support from the hoi polloi is that shadowy big oil figures have captured the media and are brainwashing the hoi polloi. That they they have not a scintilla of proof for this fantasy does not in the least bit stop them propogating it at every turn.

Memo for Dr. Goldacre, Ben the hoi polloi are incredibly clever, they are not, as you assume, a bunch of dumbos who believe scientists are infallible and have a healthy skepticism for people who won't argue their corner with critics. It is the failure to shine a light on the science you support that is the reason the public, who you clearly see as your intellectual inferiors, have doubts about your arguments.

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

And I should have added that, shame as it is, each member of that despised public has exactly the same number of votes that you, the chosen ones, do. One vote each, although there are many members of the cause you support w ho are challenging this notion, some even want to "treat" sceptics, others argue they have smaller brains. If I wasn't a sceptic I soon would be if I found myself on the side where scientists refer to their science as the "cause".

Apr 24, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Graham Readfearn (the blogger who quotes Goldacre) is a paid contributor to DeSmogBlog, by his own admission:

Ironically, in the article I linked he simultaneously implies sinister doings because Heartland pays people for their work while admitting that DeSmogBlog pays him for his work. Also typical of his output is an article on the ABC website last year called "Australia's Place in the Global Web of Denial":

in which he says:

"In Australia, the issue has turned decidedly unsavoury, with climate scientists revealing inboxes chock-full of hate and Government advisors being slurred as Nazis." This statement is sheer fantasy, and I won't bore readers with the various debunkings, but came at a time when there was a wave of whining from Team members around the world about being bullied by hate-filled 'deniers'.

Doubtless many will recall that phase of the campaign, which proved to be remarkably light on fact. In particular, there was no sign of videos of people being blown up, calls for houses being allowed to burn down etc such as have proliferated lately from the peace and love crowd aligned with the Team.

Just to give you more of the flavour of Readfearn's output, which is consistent across his many outpourings, here are a couple more quotes from that article:

"But as a memo from US Republican communications guru Frank Luntz revealed in 2003, the most important aspect of climate change denial is not to throw hate, but to sow doubt.

'Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.'

Doubt is the product of the climate change denial industry – an industry which is tightly knit, well resourced and globally linked."


"With all of this noise being generated in the coming weeks over climate change, Australians could be forgiven for thinking there is a genuine debate over the causes of rising global temperatures, melting ice-sheets, retreating Arctic ice, acidifying oceans, rising sea-levels or the many other direct consequences of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

I think that gives readers an idea of Mr Readfearn's mindset. So, tightly knit (tell that to Tallbloke or Steve Goddard!), well-resourced (we've been through that furphy before) and globally linked (that would be the internet again, dang it's eyes) - unbelievers, I introduce Mr Readfearn, an embarrassment to this Australian, and let you draw your own conclusions.

As for Ben Goldacre, it is a pity that someone who did such good work on junk medical science has a mote in his eye on climate issues, not to mention potentially painful consequences for other parts of his anatomy. But what he seems to miss is that his point cuts both ways - people on any part of a debate spectrum can throw around unverifiable numbers, make wild assertions etc. Is he seriously saying that only one side of the CAGW debate is going to do this, while the other is always hobbled with sober fact in its public utterances? If so, he must have one of those special transmitters in his head that some of his erstwhile patients talk about. My transmitter distinctly told me and hundreds of thousands of others that Robin Williams, on the ABC Science Show, said that global warming could cause sea levels to rise up to 100m (yep, nearly 340 feet!) by 2100, and the link is even on the ABC website:

And that's just one example.

Apr 24, 2012 at 11:10 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>