Monday, 27 May 2013

Deniers denying they are denying they are deniers

The word denier is a dirty word.  I found that out haging around some denier websites trying to learn things that might be helpful.  I was finding out how not to do science.

So here is a rogue's gallery of people who like to do science but don't often know what they are really doing. 
Immanuel Velikovsky

Willis Eschenbach
Christopher Monckton

Erich von Daniken

Professions - in order from top to bottom they are (or were in the case of the first one) a psychiatrist, an engineer and a, well, not really sure but policy maker is how he has described himself.  And von Daniken was a hotel manager turned alien spotting archaeologist.  Sort of.

They share something in common.  They think they know better than those who have spent their lives since the age of eighteen or so getting their heads around some of the trickiest and most impenetrable problems.  For Velikovsky it was settling the problems of Biblical archaeology - fitting the stories of the Bible to what we know from science about the solar system.  For the other two it is overturning the tenets of global climate change.

I won't go into how wrong those two are here - I shall just provide a series of links that you can peruse to your heart's content.    Perhaps that will help the rest of us sleep more easily at night.

Willis Eschenbach:

Christopher Monckton

I think that's enogh of a Gish Gallop of websites that should give you a flavour of the ease with which some of the claims of these gentlemen can be dismantled.

Sadly those ducks at the seaside that get blasted by your pop gun but keep popping right back up.  But these ducks deal with criticism in two ways.  One is to repeat the original argument but s l o w l y, as if you were a rather stupid waiter from Barcelona.  The second is to be abusive.

Heaven forbid, abuse.  Yep.  I won't point you in the direction of their usual habitat, the site that put the tat into habitat by the way, Wattsupwiththat.  This site hilariously wins (oops, I just have copped a phrase from a true sceptic on that site) science blogging awards.

You see, real genuine scientists would not bother putting their wonderful theory overturning pardigm crushing discoveries on a blog.  They would work them up properly, check their facts, get the drafts reviewed and then hopefully get the results published.  Sadly this isn't the way with this pair.  Neither has published a peer reviewed article on climate change although the former does claim something like that (although when I checked the Nature submission rules for Urgent Communications Arising it was ambivalent on the subject of peer review).

And those peer reviewed papers would be stuffed full of reliable references so we can check.  That's right.  So we can check.  Not what we get with this pair online often.  Some references but normally in the form of a list at the end rather than citations throughout the text.  Oh, and misrepresentation isn't normally what a scientist does either.  Real scientists have little to hide once the paper is out there.  They stand or fall on the evidence.

 About those ducks.  Deniers so want the science to be wrong they spend a lot of effort trying to undermine the science, through trying scientific analyses (which is valid) to ad hominem attacks via all sorts of misrepresentations and cherry picking of quotes and figures.  A denier will do something interesting when confronted by a criticism.  They will stand their ground, they will not check their facts or results and they will turn the criticism around.  Has the critic got a theory to explain all this?  Does the critic have qualifications in this area?  Is the critic a mousy woman who should get a life?  Not edifying and not meant to be.  A bit of bullying really.

If you think that's a bit strong, try pointing your browser at Wattsupwiththat and check out the comments on some of those threads with more than a few comments.  Watch for when you spot a real sceptic, not the fake kind.  Just watch what happens.

One more thing.  If you want a laugh:

PS I'm not the only one keeping an eye on this and others are much better at it than me.

Here's a few links

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Viva Until June

Following the demise of the Spice Girls' stage musical, perhaps we could have one based on the music of the Prefab Four.  Here the boys respond to the news that Viva Forever is to close.

And here is one of their greatest hits.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A musical interlude

Some songs for your edification to take your mind off all that heavy heavy science stuff...

These are songs that I have a fondness for from the eighties, the memory of which has been brought back after recent events.

1  Freight Train Rain - The Reivers (nee Zeitgeist)

Because of a clash of names, this American group had to change.  This folk rock snippet is over in a breathless rush and, so far as I can tell, isn't about anything.

2  Denmark - Claire Hamill
Claire Hamill had been around for some time when she did an odd folk meets electronica album before veering into the middle of ambient new age music.  For this one brief album she was brilliant.

3  Brand New Friend - Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
Lloyd Cole was briefly sort of hip circa 1984-5.  Didn't care about this.  Just thought this single was amazing.

4  The Last Word - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Intelligent, grown up music for intelligent grown up people.  Not country but sort of.