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« Nigel Calder | Main | Lord Smith on Owen Paterson »
Friday
Jun272014

Royal Society has lost the argument, cannot be trusted

Readers will remember Nurse's infamous speech in Melbourne, in which he issued a fairly spectacular attack on Nigel Lawson:

We saw that, for example, in Britain with a politician, Nigel Lawson, who would go on the television and talk about the scientific case, and he was trained as a politician; you made whatever case you can to convince the audience. So he would choose two points and say, look, no warming is taking place, knowing that all the other points you chose in the 20 years around it would not support his case, but he was just wanting to win that debate on television. And that is of course over-spilling political views into your science.

As Lawson pointed out in a subsequent letter Nurse's statement was entirely untrue:

So far as the latter is concerned, you claim that I “would choose two points and say ‘look, no warming’s taking place’, knowing that all the other points that you chose in the 20 years around it would not support his case”. That is a lie.

To the best of my knowledge Nurse has never provided any evidence to support his claim nor defended himself against the accusation of lying. People more cynical than I might therefore assume that he had conceded Lawson's point.

For this reason, I was much amused by Nurse's recent speech at the Parliamentary Links day earlier this week, during which he said:

...organisations that are bombastic, resorting to personal attacks and misrepresentation, are likely to be resorting to such tactics because they have lost the scientific argument, and so their scientific advice should also be treated with caution.

At last we can find something to agree on!

(And before anyone asks, yes I know that Nurse was actually just attacking GWPF again, but given that he has never provided any evidence of personal attacks either - apart from vague allusions to their being in the Nullius in Verba report somewhere - I don't think we should take him seriously.)

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Reader Comments (55)

yes I know that Nurse was actually just attacking GWPF again

Yawn. "Resorting to such tactics because they have lost the scientific argument". Too true.

Jun 27, 2014 at 4:16 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Maybe someone should issue the Royal Society with copies of the peer-reviewed study by Doug M. Smith et al, entitled “Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model” – and which featured in the journal Science, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/317/5839/796.

Compare this paper's results to UK Met Office study that predicted temperatures would rise by up to half a degree centigrade, or as they put it -


“…predict further warming during the coming decade, with the year 2014 predicted to be 0.30° ± 0.21°C [5 to 95% confidence interval (CI)] warmer than the observed value for 2004. Furthermore, at least half of the years after 2009 are predicted to be warmer than 1998, the warmest year currently on record.”

However, now we are able to analyse the data on how temperatures really changed, we can see that there was actually a cooling of 0.014 degrees over the past 10 years, which is below even the lowest estimate.


Also, not a single year was warmer than 1998, despite the paper predicting that at least three years would be. The Met Office's predictions over the past 10 years are proved spurious, and any others from them face ridicule.

So continue to live in you overheated modeled world Paul Nurse while the rest of us start to shiver in the real one.

Jun 27, 2014 at 4:18 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

"... organisations that are bombastic, resorting to personal attacks and misrepresentation, are likely to be resorting to such tactics because they have lost the scientific argument ..."

One wonders whether Sir Paul ever read the output from Mann or his SkS cronies.

Jun 27, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterHG54

What I love about Nurse is that he quite genuinely appears entirely unaware that his wearily resigned de haut en bas pronouncements consistently show him as not just inept scientifically but as a clod hopper of the first order politically, wedded to a world view that, however many times reality over-trumps it, he smugly asserts to be right.

He might have been better off sticking to snails.

Jun 27, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Snails was Steve Jones, not Nurse.

Jun 27, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I posted a comment at that RS blog, saying that if he thought the consensus of experts was so important then he doesnt have a very good understanding of science, and reminding him of the RS motto and Feynman's remarks about experts.
I wonder if it will get through moderation.

Jun 27, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Nurse was studying 'Karl Marx' I believe!!

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Time for an RS members rebellion?

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterIlma

Apologies. It's been a long week. Time for a little lie-down perhaps.

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Isn't there something in his own field Nursie could be doing, or has genetics become a "settled science" too?

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

Philip Foster: "Nurse was studying 'Karl Marx' I believe!!" I think you mean, 'channeling'. /s

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Jun 27, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

If it gets posted he wont read it. If he reads it he will dismiss it. Even if he comprehends it.

He most certainly wont deign to answer it.

Betcha a quid.

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Galt

With the glorious notions that led to their Nullius in Verba idealism, the Royal Society could have, and indeed should have, made a superb contribution to society simply by refusing to accept at face value the case for acute alarm and urgent action over our CO2 emissions. Instead we have had a degrading and disappointing spectacle that is little short of toadying to government and to the IPCC. Nurse did not instigate this descent, but it is hard to resist suspecting that the political dreams of his youth swamped his rationality when he saw the actions and attitudes the climate scare was being used to promote: more state control, vilification of capitalism, elevation of a new set of Guardians to guide humanity. All enhanced by the likelihood of widespread acceptance thanks to the naive 'caring for the environment' angle, complete with naive adulation of computer models - pretty much in imitation of the Limits to Growth guff that made such a remarkable impact some decades earlier.

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:53 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I think it is entirely possible that we're going to feel sorry for these lost souls someday. Like today.
==================

Jun 27, 2014 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Agouts: "He might have been better off sticking to snails."
Bishop Hill: "Snails was Steve Jones, not Nurse."

At the risk of being labelled 'Ant-Snail' I offer the following:

Once in a position of authority and influence, you don't stick to snails, they stick to you!

The slimey little creatures suck up to you, repelling outside influences with their crusty shells. Once you are covered, they are your only link with the world at large.

Some, like Nigel Lawson and Matt Ridley, scrape off the snails and put salt on their tails!

Many, like Paul Nurse and Mark Walport, seem unable or unwilling do this. Perhaps, not having studied snails, they find them hard to recognise?

And as for Steve Jones; his lifelong contact with snails means that he will encourage and protect them for all he's worth!

Jun 27, 2014 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayJ

When does a Society who is supposed to provide leadership in areas like science develop contempt for the people who are looking to them for leadership?

Andrew

Jun 27, 2014 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Philip Foster: "Nurse was studying 'Karl Marx' I believe!!"

He had to. The presidency of the RS is a much sought after position... applicants must get full Marx!

(Sorry - my only excuse is that it's Friday :-)

Jun 27, 2014 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayJ

John Shade: "With the glorious notions that led to their Nullius in Verba idealism, the Royal Society could have, and indeed should have, made a superb contribution to society simply by refusing to accept at face value the case for acute alarm and urgent action over our CO2 emissions."

John, the RS is "bought and paid for - end of" - or, to give it some bottom: "et pro venditione - finis".

Jun 27, 2014 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Mr Nurse is an embarrassment to the RS.

When opposed he doesn't ague rationally, he becomes nasty.

The sooner he leaves his position the better.

Jun 27, 2014 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

HG54

"One wonders whether Sir Paul ever read the output from Mann or his SkS cronies"

One wonders whether Sir Paul ever listens to anything that he himself says.

Jun 27, 2014 at 8:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Poor Nurse. He's taken on an impossible job.

Jun 27, 2014 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Nurse's speech contains the following:

"In some cases, scientific advice is offered by more shadowy organisations who do not want to declare where their support comes from for their policy work. They are likely to be acting more as lobby groups without revealing for whom or for what they are lobbying, and so should not be relied on for giving impartial scientific advice. Organisations that do not reveal where their funding comes from should be viewed with suspicion. Similarly, organisations that are bombastic, resorting to personal attacks and misrepresentation are likely to be resorting to such tactics because they have lost the scientific argument, and so their scientific advice should also be treated with caution."

At the bottom of the RS site where his speech appears, readers are asked to start a 'conversation'.
So I reproduced the above quote and asked to whom was he referring.
My contribution to the 'conversation' has been removed.
Surprise!

Jun 27, 2014 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

He's been proven wrong and he's nursing a grievance.

Jun 28, 2014 at 2:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

With hundreds of billions of dollars wasted over 20+ years, and nothing achieved, the Alarmists naturally have to conjure up some 'enemy' who has 'thwarted' them.

Just think how psychologically damaging it would be if they had to face the fact that they had failed on their own account, despite the support of the EU, UN, UK and US governments, most of the MSM and all of the NGOs and academia.

So they are forced to elevate the skeptics (who are largely powerless, as Pielke points out) to an evil worldwide organisation which Mann recently called the CDM (Climate Denial Machine).

Pathetic. And self-defeating.

Jun 28, 2014 at 2:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

"Snails was Steve Jones, not Nurse."

But Nurse would be well advised to turn to snails, his incompetence would do much less damage overall. (But, I suppose, we must think of the snails...)

Jun 28, 2014 at 4:15 AM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

tom0mason,
The first rule of the internet is to check the date of the publication, before posting.

"Maybe someone should issue the Royal Society with copies of the peer-reviewed study by Doug M. Smith et al, entitled “Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model” – and which featured in the journal Science, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/317/5839/796."
Received for publication 4 January 2007.
Accepted for publication 19 June 2007.

Jun 28, 2014 at 4:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterCC Squid

I've just looked at the In Verba page link and checked through Google as well but there are no comments at all. Have they had to delete them all , including Bruce's?

Jun 28, 2014 at 7:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Bruce "Nurse is an embarrassment to the Royal Society" The Royal Society is an embarrassment to science.

Jun 28, 2014 at 7:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

...organisations that are bombastic, resorting to personal attacks and misrepresentation, are likely to be resorting to such tactics because they have lost the scientific argument, and so their scientific advice should also be treated with caution.

This was said without irony.

Nurse should read some Burns. O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!

Jun 28, 2014 at 8:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterStu

Compare this idiot and Wolpert to Dr. R V Jones whom Churchill spotted and promoted in WW2 to lead the scientific effort (battle of the beams, V-weapons etc). Churchill never hesitated to confess his ignorance in science but, crucially, could spot a man who knew his stuff.

If GCSA is a prime ministerial appointment (is it?) then I hope that the next election will free his hands to nominate a rational one.

Jun 28, 2014 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Bruce/Peter "Nurse is an embarrassment to the Royal Society" The Royal Society is an embarrassment to science.


And year after year the Fellows are content to be elected. It must be the Dames turn soon.

Jun 28, 2014 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

I regard his description of me as a "Denier" to be a resort to personal attacks and misrepresentation also.

Touché

Jun 28, 2014 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter

In the past the green gravy trainers, Nurse included, spent all their efforts and our money on trying to prove that an increase in CO2 emissions would cause catastrophic global warming. Now they spend all theirr efforts on character assassination of people who disagree with their false hypothesis and who show it to be so.
Empty vessels make the most noise.

Jun 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

@Brent Hargreaves: Jun 28, 2014 at 8:19 AM

Compare this idiot and Wolpert to Dr. R V Jones whom Churchill spotted and promoted in WW2 to lead the scientific effort...

It's also worth noting that prior to that Jones had spent most of his time between 1936 and 1938 at the Clarendon labs working on infra-red detection systems, but like a "real" scientist, abandoned it and strongly supported Watson-Watt's radar project as soon as he realised that it had far more potential to be effective.

Jun 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Registered Commenterpogo

When the Royal Society is faced with 'facts' as opposed to flawed computer models and 'consensus opinion', presumably the cry goes up:
'Nurse..! The screens..!'

(I know - my wife worries about how my mind works...)

Jun 28, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

There is almost a pathological need for AGW hypesters and rent seekers to project.
Sir Nurse gives a fine example of this in his speech.

Jun 28, 2014 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Sorry O/T but a million times more important than Lawson


‘Steven Goddard,’ the man behind ‘Real Science,’ a prominent anti-global warming blog, admits his real identity is Tony Heller, a former US government climate modeler. Heller broke the astonishing news on his website (June 27, 2014) declaring he is a life-long committed environmentalist sickened by the orchestrated campaign of misinformation pumped out by governments.


Among a list of gripes Heller writes, “The claims of 97% consensus are a massive lie. Only 52% of American Meteorological Society members believe that man is the primary contributor to global warming.”
Governments Know Carbon Dioxide Cannot Cause Warming
But without doubt the greatest of Heller's revelations from the climate modelling community is that it is well known by insiders that increases in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide will not cause global warming.


He explains, “The radiative transfer models used by government climate scientists show that going up to 550 PPM or even 1000 PPM CO2 will make minimal difference to the radiative balance of the atmosphere. The knee of the CO2 curve is at about 30 PPM, and additional CO2 has little first order effect. This is because almost all radiation in the CO2 absorption spectra is already being absorbed by H2O or CO2 molecules. Adding more CO2 has minimal effect, because there is not much radiation left to be absorbed. (This is a bit of an oversimplification because of second order effects, but those are also small.) There is no indication from the radiative transfer models used by government scientists that additional CO2 will cause large amounts of heating.”
 
http://www.principia-scientific.org/breaking-whistleblower-blogger-admits-he-is-climate-science-insider.html
 

Jun 28, 2014 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

esmiff: O/T certainly but a million times more important than Lawson I think not.

Jun 28, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake

A dog barking at the clouds in the sky is more important than Nigel Lawson in the climate debate.

Jun 28, 2014 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I don't want to debate it, just for the record to show that at least one reader deeply disagrees. Steve Goddard revealing himself as Tony Heller should not be discussed here but, if at all, on a BH Discussion started by you (or someone who feels similarly) or, just perhaps, on a main thread, in the event the host considers it sufficiently important. The first rule of BH participation is don't pollute what's already devoted to other things, begin your own discussion thread.

Jun 28, 2014 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake

Sorry, I have never used the discussions. I will if I feel the urge again.

Jun 28, 2014 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

If I remember rightly, the House of Commons committee recently rather pointedly reminded Nurse where the RS funding came from. I think those words should be dusted off and quoted, to attach due weighting, whenever RS or its minions make a pronounceent.

Jun 28, 2014 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

On topic. The reason the GWPF has a place at the table is to make real sceptics look like deranged right wing nutters in the mould of Lawson, Delingpole, Monckton, Ridley, Heritage Foundation etc.

Lawson has a public profile somewhere Ayn Rand and the Mummy of the Crypt. A debate between Lawson and the President of the Royal Society is utterly risible. Not as risible as Delingpole, mind you.


The only credible sceptics are scientists. http://goo.gl/70tzt

Jun 28, 2014 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

With hundreds of billions of dollars wasted over 20+ years, and nothing achieved, the Alarmists naturally have to conjure up some 'enemy' who has 'thwarted' them.

Just think how psychologically damaging it would be if they had to face the fact that they had failed on their own account, despite the support of the EU, UN, UK and US governments, most of the MSM and all of the NGOs and academia.

So they are forced to elevate the skeptics (who are largely powerless, as Pielke points out) to an evil worldwide organisation which Mann recently called the CDM (Climate Denial Machine).

Pathetic. And self-defeating.

Had to be said again well said ;>)

Jun 28, 2014 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLorne50

Did Nurse ever issue a correction to his assertion that the human contribution to the CO2 cycle was seven times that of the natural world? Since the actual figure is between three and five percent that is a pretty large error, which I believe has been pointed out to him by better informed people. If I had made such an absurd statement on national television I would be pretty embarrassed about it, but I wouldn't be able to sleep until I had made a statement of correction.

Jun 28, 2014 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

esmiff,
When political types, media writers, artists, cartoonists, grade school science teachers using poorly constructed strawman arguments etc. stop hyping AGW, then skeptics might consider limiting just who should debate.
Controlling the agenda is something AGW extremists have engaged in far too long.
Climate science (any real science) is not a mystical religion that can only b e discussed by the approved priesthood.
Real science is open ended when it works.
Climate science, as we see, has stopped working quite some time ago.

Jun 28, 2014 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

So has Richard Betts.

Clock this one:

"All of this misses or trivialises the real, systemic significance of climate change: that humankind is encountering the finitude of our planet, [the end is near] confronting the need to share and protect our endowment from nature, and realising that much will have to change to make this possible".

Professor Richard Betts, chair in Climate Impacts at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK.

Totally lost it.

Jun 28, 2014 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

I'd rather burn trees than coal

Jun 28, 2014 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered Commenternofixedaddress

@ Don Keiller

That sounds very un-Bettsian....and indeed it is. Wrote* is from Michael Raupach http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/jun/26/what-really-annoys-scientists-about-the-state-of-the-climate-change-debate

["Quote"? BH]

Jun 28, 2014 at 11:01 PM | Registered Commenter@warrenpearce

Warrenpearce- Sorry my bad- I used a second-hand source. I won't do that again.

My apologies to Richard Betts too.

Confirmation bias is a dangerous thing.

Jun 28, 2014 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

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