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An argument with George

George Monbiot invites everyone to come along for an argument on his spring/summer speaking tour of the UK. Dates are here.

It would probably be a cheap shot to make too much of the fact that one of the dates is at the Glasgow Comedy Festival.



Will Sir John condemn "hide the decline"?

Government chief scientific officer, Sir John Beddington has a post up at New Scientist (H/T Matt Ridley in the comments). Like his pronouncements last week, this looks at the subject of scepticism, but adopts a more sensible position:

It is time the scientific community became proactive in challenging misuse of scientific evidence. We must make evidence, and associated uncertainties, accessible and explicable. In a world of global communication, we cannot afford to only speak to ourselves. We must also be confident in challenging the misrepresentation or exaggeration of evidence and the conclusions it leads to. Where significant consensus exists, it must be made obvious.

I have left a comment challenging him to condemn "hide the decline" in unequivocal terms. I'm not holding my breath though.


Diary dates

A few dates for your diaries:

There is a debate at Imperial College London on Thursday. The subject is "Has the media failed science" and it will feature Richard Black and Simon Singh among others.

On Friday, dendroclimatologist Rob Wilson is speaking at the University of St Andrews Open Association. I will be going along if anyone wants to hook up. [Update: not sure if this is open to the public - I'll find out].

I'm speaking in the same series of lectures at St Andrews on 18 March.


James Fleet on The Heretic

James Fleet, who plays the part of Professor Maloney in The Heretic is interviewed on BBC Radio 2. Amusingly the line he pushes is that it is not a sceptic play.

Audio here from 1:19:00

(H/T Foxgoose in the comments)


More heresy

Just back from London, where I got a chance to go and see Richard Bean's The Heretic. Thanks to everyone who helped this to happen.

It is astonishing how much science has been stuffed into the show, which is a brilliant comedy in its own right. It's an extraordinary achievement.  And how about this for a quote:

KEVIN: Do these tree ring guys make a habit of pasting in the instrument record on the end of a proxy series?

DIANE: You're not seriously telling me that you did not know that Professor?

KEVIN: No! Fucking no! They can't do that! That's like a vegetarian getting his blood sugar up with a bacon sandwich. Why don't I know this?

Buy the script here.


Josh 79


Another book

A few people have asked if I am going to be writing another book. The answer is yes, and I have started work, but progress is painfully slow at the moment. Two chapters done before Christmas. It's a matter of being able to get the time to do it.

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I'm away for the weekend, so be good while I'm away.


Who ya gonna call?

Leo Hickman is asking for examples of eco-indoctrination in schools. I know a man who may be able to help him...


Another gig

Another speaking engagement last night, but again a private one.

I gave a talk to the Scottish Oil Club, which I've mentioned here before. The club has its roots in oil, but brings together people from across the energy industry, including renewables, and also has many members from the academic community and from the service industries - lawyers and accountants and the like.

The audience, perhaps 70 strong, was largely from the academic community, but there was no sense of antagonism and although there were many questions, I had no sense of being "got at". One questioner identified himself as an IPCC author, and although he was disputing a couple of things I had said, his questions were fair and put in a moderate way. Somebody else was concerned with me making money out of selling books.  This struck me as a poor argument.

All in all, a good evening. Thanks to Rob Scheider and the SOC board for making this happen.


Josh 78

Referring to this story at WUWT.


Spectator debate

Spotted on the Spectator website:

On Tuesday 29 March, The Spectator is hosting a debate on the motion 'The global warming hysteria is over. Time for a return to sanity'.

SPEAKING FOR THE MOTION are Lord Nigel Lawson, Chairman, Global Warming Policy Foundation and Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Global Warming Foundation.

SPEAKING AGAINST THE MOTION are Professor Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics, Oxford University and Simon Singh, Science Writer.

Details here.


Myles' fludd

Lots of people pointing to the Richard Black posting on floods. This includes papers by such familiar names as Myles Allen. No time to comment myself, but here's a thread for those that want to discuss it.


Steig story on Spectator cover

The cover story of the latest edition of the Spectator is about the Steig/O'Donnell rumpus. I can't see it anywhere online, but the cover art looks like this:

The headline is:

The Ice Storm: Nicholas Lewis and Matt Ridley expose the bias and bluster behind the latest set of shaky global warming data.

(Nic Lewis is of course one of the authors of the O'Donnell et al paper.)


Learned societies

A couple of postings elsewhere where help is being requested. Both relate to the subject of the learned societies:

Hilary Ostrov is concerned about learned societies putting words into the mouths of their members. She wants scientists to speak for themselves and to that end she's running a survey of scientists' attitudes to global warming.

Meanwhile Jo Nova is appalled by the groupthink of the learned societies and she is interested in the idea of setting up a new scientific society - an idea that has occurred to me in the past.



DECC reaction to SciTech

I have recently obtained a new document under FOI. This is a briefing issued to civil servants at the Department of Energy & Climate Change on the subject of the first Science & Technology Committee inquiry into Climategate. The briefing is dated 31 March 2010.

I was particularly amused by the observation that the committee had found no evidence that Jones had subverted the peer-review process.

Given that they didn't look for evidence and simply took Jones' word for it, that's not very surprising, is it?