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Hegerl on stupidity

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Gabriele Hegerl's lecture in Edinburgh and said that she said that sceptics were "stupid". The video of the lecture is now available here and my recollection of what was said was not quite right. The exact quote is as follows:

...What is frustrating to me as a scientist is that the objections raised by the skeptics groups are scientifically so stupid would be really much more fun to fight really interesting assertions.  But it's often things that often ring reasonable to people who have not background in this but that are scientifically totally with out value. I would find it more interesting to discuss if the sceptics would raise better questions.

So Prof Hegerl was quite correct to say that she didn't call anyone stupid. It was the questions asked by sceptics that she said were stupid. 

(H/T to Rob Schneider and also thanks for the transcript of this excerpt)


New vacancy on S&T committee

One of the Labour members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Jonathan Reynolds, has been appointed a whip. In this position he is no longer eligible to sit on the committee.

New elections will be held among the Parliamentary Labour party to select a replacement, with nominations closing on 25th October.


(Via Farah Bhatti)


Josh 49


Lobbywatch and the Fox

Interesting suggestion here that the SMC may have been "got at" by the Lobbywatch organisation.

(H/T Messenger)


Pursuit of Fox

When I wrote yesterday's piece about Fiona Fox, I expected little or no reaction, but a number of science commentators are now reporting the story, including Climate Audit, The Blackboard and the Guardian's Science Notes column.

Some of the commentators on CA were quite critical of Steve for discussing the story, even though he had made clear Fox's involvement in the Oxburgh report. To that we could also add her involvement in the recent Royal Society statement on climate change or the involvement of her various colleagues at the Science Media Centre in sceptic-bashing activities: Bob Ward's various smear campaigns need no introduction of course, but there were also the roles of Mike Granatt and (briefly) Philip Campbell in the Russell review.

I had been particularly interested in the press release issued by the SMC at the time of the Oxburgh report. The centre's choice of experts and their remarks on the inquiry were very interesting:

  • Bob Ward, who described Oxburgh's five page report "rigorous" and "thorough";
  • Sir Brian Hoskins, who had rubber-stamped UEA's selection of papers for the inquiry and then described the report as "thorough and fair"
  • Lord Rees, who had helped select a chairman with a conflict of interest and a biased panel and who had allowed the  Royal Society's name to be used to disguise the fact that UEA had chosen their own papers. Rees described the 5-page report as "thorough".
  • Myles Allen, a very vocal critic of climate sceptics, wisely made no comment on the thoroughness or otherwise of the report.

Given that the report was so embarrassingly short, for the SMC to put forward a series of people who were willing to describe the investigation as thorough suggests strongly that they are a propaganda outfit rather than a body that helps journalists get at the truth. One commenter at CA suggests that SMC is the "public relations arm of establishment science" in the UK. That may well be right and journalists might do well to consider that possibility when they are fed stories by Fiona Fox and her chums.



Bob's boss in bizarre hoax

It's not often I link readers to the Sun, but this turned up via a Google alert. It appears that Bob Ward's colleague at the Science Media Centre, the former revolutionary communist, Fiona Fox, is something of a practical joker. Fox, readers may remember, has called for sceptic views to be avoided in media coverage of global warming.

She is also apparently a close friend of Jim Devine, a former Labour MP who is now facing fraud charges over his expense claims. She appears to have got herself involved in a bizarre and rather nasty practical joke involving Devine and his office manager, and which has now led to a substantial damages award against the politician.

They're a rum lot at the Science Media Centre aren't they?



William Connolley has been topic banned by Wikipedia. Climate change is now off-limits for WC.



Patchy is apparently staying on at the IPCC.


More Bob bashing

In the wake of Delingpole's wading into Ward, Jo Nova has picked up on the LSE man's (ahem) critique of Bob Carter on ABC in Australia the other day.

Ward produces a file of typos and inanities so long, hardly anyone will read it. It allows him to make vague claims about “inaccurate data” and hidden in the fine print it turns out the inaccurate data was made by someone else, not Bob Carter, and when corrected, it doesn’t change the meaning of Carter’s message anyway.


New historic temp series

There is a new historic temperature series available. There is a small problem though: the data is all handwritten. Volunteers are therefore being sought to translate the data into machine readable formats.

World War One ships chart past climate

The public are being asked to revisit the voyages of World War One Royal Navy warships to help scientists working on a JISC project to understand the climate of the past and unearth new historical information.

Visitors to, which launches today (12 October 2010), will be able to retrace the routes taken by any of 280 Royal Navy ships including historic vessels such as HMS Caroline, the last survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland still afloat.

The naval logbooks contain a treasure trove of information but because the entries are handwritten they are incredibly difficult for a computer to read. By getting an army of online human volunteers to retrace these voyages and transcribe the information recorded by British sailors we can relive both the climate of the past and key moments in naval history.


Delingpole on Bob Ward

James Delingpole takes aim at Bob Ward.



Wonky code

Nature has an article up about wonky computer code, with particular reference made to the Harry Readme file and Nick Barnes' efforts to get climatologists to do better on the coding front.

This struck me as interesting:

When hackers leaked thousands of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, last year, global-warming sceptics pored over the documents for signs that researchers had manipulated data. No such evidence emerged...

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but none of the inquiries actually looked at the computer code, apart from there being a brief word from Tim Osborn in evidence to Muir Russell, denying that the bodges he'd mentioned affected published results. I'm pretty sure the Harry Readme was not looked at by any of the inquiries.

There is an accompanying comment piece by Nick Barnes here.



I have had a couple of people (quite justifiably) criticise me for not putting them in my blogroll. In essence I've never had a proper blogroll, the relevant section of the site having half a dozen sites that represented a half-hearted attempt to rectify this, plus a few where I'd come across new sites.

Back when I had a hundred readers a day nobody gave a damn whether I linked to them or not, but nowadays these things matter and so I consider myself suitably reprimanded.

I've added the main climate blogs I follow (in no particular order) and will add the political ones over the rest of the day. I've also set up a public Netvibes page (see navigation section) where you can see these sites as feeds.

If I've missed anyone out, do drop me a line.


BBC will stop being biased

New editorial guidelines have been issued by the BBC and the Telegraph is reporting that these are likely to force the corporation to take a more balanced approach to scientific issues, presumably including global warming climate change disruption.

But the BBC’s new editorial guidelines, published yesterday after an extensive consultation that considered over 1,600 submissions by members of the public, say expressly for the first time that scientific issues fall within the corporation’s obligation to be impartial.

“The BBC must be inclusive, consider the broad perspective, and ensure that the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected,” said BBC trustee Alison Hastings.

I feel certain that the head of factual programming will be telephoning to commission a miniseries based on The Hockey Stick Illusion, so I'll wait by the phone today...


Josh 48