Richard Feynman on "Cargo Cult Science"


Following a link in Lubos Motl’s post yesterday (see here) led me to an article by the wonderful physicist Richard Feynman. It’s worth reading the whole thing here, but there were some quotes that were highly relevant to the current AGW debate, in particular to the concept of scientific “integrity”:

But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for example, with advertising. Last night I heard that Wesson oil doesn’t soak through food. Well, that’s true. It’s not dishonest; but the thing I’m talking about is not just a matter of not being dishonest; it’s a matter of scientific integrity, which is another level. The fact that should be added to that advertising statement is that no oils soak through food, if operated at a certain temperature. If operated at another temperature, they all will–including Wesson oil. So it’s the implication which has been conveyed, not the fact, which is true, and the difference is what we have to deal with.

We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.

Damning critique of global warming "science"

Climate sense

In a barnstorming tour de force, Luboš Motl of The Reference Frame exposes the shoddy practices passed off as science by researchers brainwashed with and biased by the dogma of global warming alarmism.

Luboš discusses the recent claims that stratospheric aerosols have “reduced” the global warming we would otherwise have seen from our emissions of carbon dioxide, which, the dogma states, is the main cause of global warming. He compares a recent paper on the subject with one from 1965, and the results aren’t pretty:

The point I want to make is that these difficult and technical questions were studied rationally in the 1960s; but they are no longer studied rationally today. The contemporary authors such as Solomon et al. have neither the expertise nor the scientific integrity to figure out where the aerosols are coming from and what’s happening with them. Consequently, they can’t make any justifiable predictions about the future evolution of the concentrations of these aerosols, either.

Instead of analyzing hundreds of numbers describing various elements etc. in the aerosol samples – which is what the 1965 paper is made out of – Solomon et al. are only interested in one, scientifically unimportant number – the average forcing that aerosols may be adding or subtracting from the energy fluxes that determine the global mean temperature.

Needless to say, they usually want to show that this number is low because aerosols shouldn’t threaten the “climate monopoly” that has been assigned to the carbon dioxide by all these a**holes. On the other hand, when they’re running into real trouble – e.g. when they predict a huge warming for a decade but they get a cooling – they want the aerosols to “explain” the discrepancy. They beg for a while, hoping that the aerosols will be erased from the science again in the future.

But if one only works with one number, such as the change of forcing caused by the stratospheric aerosols, it’s easy to adjust the arguments so that you get the number you wanted to get in the first place. It’s not robust science. To do robust science, one has to work with lots of numbers – such as the concentrations of the elements in various samples etc. in the 1965 paper. A theory can’t be scientific if it just “explains” one number – such as the global warming rate – by one parameter (and usually many more). A scientific theory must explain and/or predict many more numbers than the number of parameters. Using words of Feynman,

When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

The alarmists are violating this rule all the time. The main problem is that they’re not really interested in explaining Nature and the immense wealth of interesting patterns and unexplained numbers. They’re interested in making one ideologically chosen quantity, the global warming rate, high and seemingly believable – so that it may be worshiped by the brainwashed society. But that’s not science.

Read it here.

Sea level rises "decelerating"

Phil Watson

One of the biggest scares used by this government for action on climate change is the threat of rising sea levels, inundating coastal regions and flooding low-lying islands. The IPCC has predicted rises of up to 59cm by 2100, but the Labor government has exaggerated even this, often quoting rises of up to 1m.

Now a new study that actually looks at sea level records has shown that it’s all more of the same: alarmism. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that those who rely on flaky models predict massive sea level rises, but when one actually looks at the empirical data, a completely different picture emerges (much like in the area of climate sensitivity):

ONE of Australia’s foremost experts on the relationship between climate change and sea levels has written a peer-reviewed paper concluding that rises in sea levels are “decelerating”.

The analysis, by NSW principal coastal specialist Phil Watson, calls into question one of the key criteria for large-scale inundation around the Australian coast by 2100 — the assumption of an accelerating rise in sea levels because of climate change.

Based on century-long tide gauge records at Fremantle, Western Australia (from 1897 to present), Auckland Harbour in New Zealand (1903 to present), Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour (1914 to present) and Pilot Station at Newcastle (1925 to present), the analysis finds there was a “consistent trend of weak deceleration” from 1940 to 2000.

Mr Watson’s findings, published in the Journal of Coastal Research this year and now attracting broader attention, supports a similar analysis of long-term tide gauges in the US earlier this year. Both raise questions about the CSIRO’s sea-level predictions.

Climate change researcher Howard Brady, at Macquarie University, said yesterday the recent research meant sea levels rises accepted by the CSIRO were “already dead in the water as having no sound basis in probability”.

“In all cases, it is clear that sea-level rise, although occurring, has been decelerating for at least the last half of the 20th century, and so the present trend would only produce sea level rise of around 15cm for the 21st century.

Dr Brady said the divergence between the sea-level trends from models and sea-level trends from the tide gauge records was now so great “it is clear there is a serious problem with the models”. (source)

As usual, the models are incomplete and unreliable and are no basis for government policy. And I wonder if Gillard and Combet (and Labor MP in drag Malcolm Turnbull), who are always saying we should “trust the science” will be taking note of this? Doubt it – doesn’t fit with their pre-conceived agenda.

And in a shock reversal of its usual pandering to climate hysteria, the UN has rejected climate change as a “global security issue” – despite pleas from Australia’s own moonbat. And again, another empirical study blows the models for sea level rises out of the water (so to speak):

THE federal government’s Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific, Richard Marles, used dire warnings of rising sea levels and the impact on low-lying islands to urge the UN to adopt climate change as a global security issue.

Evoking images of standing atop Majuro atoll in the Marshall Islands and feeling the “intense vulnerability” of a flat landscape against a rising sea, Mr Marles said that a sea level rise of 1m could lead to the erosion of up to 80 per cent of the atoll, which measures just 3m at its highest point.

However, a new paper in the Journal of Coastal Research by Murray Ford of Hawaii University, based on an analysis of 34-37 years of aerial photos and satellite imagery, says sea levels are only rising around Majuro by an average 3mm a year.

If the present rate of rise is maintained, the total rise at the start of the 22nd century would be about 27cm.

Mr Ford found that while the rural lagoon shore is mainly eroding, “the ocean-facing shore is largely accreting”, or growing, although that may be in surface area rather than in depth.

Strong pleas from Mr Marles and Nauru’s President Marcus Stephen in New York on Wednesday failed to convince the UN Security Council to adopt climate change as a priority.

Climate sense from the UN? Am I dreaming?

Read it here.

Russian heatwave in 2010 was "primarily natural"

CO2 Science

The moonbat media went to town last year about the Russian heatwave, blaming climate change and using it as a stick to beat us all into taking action on global warming.

However, a paper in Geophysical Research Letters shows that it was far more likely to have been a natural occurrence, finding virtually no change in July temperatures over a period of 130 years. Their conclusion:

“In summary,” to quote Dole et al., “the analysis of the observed 1880-2009 time series shows that no statistically significant long-term change is detected in either the mean or variability of western Russia July temperatures, implying that for this region an anthropogenic climate change signal has yet to emerge above the natural background variability.” Thus, they say their analysis “points to a primarily natural cause for the Russian heat wave,” noting that the event “appears to be mainly due to internal atmospheric dynamical processes that produced and maintained an intense and long-lived blocking event,” adding that there are no indications that “blocking would increase in response to increasing greenhouse gases.”

Read it here.

Solar effects only cause cooling

Thames Frost Fair, 1694

Climate scientists in the consensus camp are scrambling to find a reason for the slowing of the global temperature rise in the last decade. According to their models, in which climate sensitivity is very high and positive feedbacks rule, temperatures should have continued rising with CO2.

Solar effects are to all intents and purposes ignored, since as the IPCC states in AR4, changes in solar irradiance are too small to affect the climate, and other methods such as cosmic ray modulation are “controversial” [translation: they don’t fit our agenda – Ed]. So they are simply glossed over.

Just yesterday, we read that the additional aerosols from burning coal have “offset” the greenhouse warming over the past decade and are actually cooling the planet, and today, we read that solar effects may cause UK winters to become colder, as the BBC reports:

Britain is set to face an increase in harsh winters, with up to one-in-seven gripping the UK with prolonged sub-zero temperatures, a study has suggested.

The projection was based on research that identified how low solar activity affected winter weather patterns.

However, the authors were keen to stress that their findings did not suggest that the region was about to be plunged into a “little ice age”. [Note the essential caveat – don’t anyone start thinking this is some kind of global effect – Ed]

The findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

“We could get to the point where one-in-seven winters are very cold, such as we had at the start of last winter and all through the winter before,” said co-author Mike Lockwood, professor of space environment physics at the University of Reading. (source)

There is a clear double standard at work here. The IPCC and the consensus scientists are terrified of investigating solar links to climate change too closely, since it may blow their CO2 driven cash cow out of the water. In their book, virtually none of the current warming is linked to increased solar activity or other solar-related phenomena, it’s all down to man-made CO2. That’s despite the fact that by their own admission, the level of scientific understanding of forcing by solar irradiance is “low” and that of cosmic rays “very low” [translation: “virtually zero” and “zero” – Ed].

But suddenly, as soon as there is a need to find a reason for cooling, the fog clears, as it were, and they invoke the sun as a cause.

Either we understand enough about the sun to link it to regional or global changes in climate or we don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

Shock: Burning coal now causes global cooling

Aerosol clever

On the one hand, the warmists insist we stop burning coal because the evil CO2 emissions were frying the planet. But now, because the planet isn’t warming as their clunky models think it should, they’re on the lookout for excuses, and this is a good one.

Burning coal, no less, is also cooling the planet allegedly, by greater emission of sulphur into the atmosphere, cancelling out the warming from CO2 we would otherwise have seen:

CHINA’S soaring coal consumption in the last decade held back global warming as sulphur emissions served as a coolant, according to a study that takes head-on a key argument of climate sceptics. [Notice how AFP is more interested in gleefully scoring points over climate sceptics than actually getting to the truth; no surprise there – Ed]

While 2005 and 2010 are tied as the hottest years on record, sceptics have charged that an absence of a steady rise from 1998 to 2008 disproves the view that people are heating up the planet through greenhouse gas emissions.

Robert Kaufmann, a professor at Boston University, said he was motivated to conduct the study after a sceptic confronted him at a public forum, telling him he had seen on Fox News that temperatures had not risen over the decade.

“Nothing that I had read that other people have done gave me a quick answer to explain that seeming contradiction, because I knew that carbon dioxide concentrations have risen,” Kaufmann said.

The US-Finnish study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, named a culprit – coal.

The burning of coal jumped in the past decade, particularly in China, whose economy has grown at breakneck pace. Coal emits sulphur, which stops the Sun’s rays from reaching the Earth.

Warming hysteric Joe Romm goes into full “Yah boo sucks” mode, thinking this will shut up the filthy deniers once and for good (er, wrong, by the way):

“There has been no hiatus in global warming,” Romm wrote on his blog, saying that the years 1998 and 2008 were “the favourite cherry-picked endpoints of the deniers” due to outside factors such as El Nino and La Nina. (source)

Dr David Whitehouse restores a bit of sanity on WUWT:

The researchers tweak an out-of-date climate computer model and cherry-pick the outcome to get their desired result. They do not use the latest data on the sun’s influence on the Earth, rendering their results of academic interest only.

They blame China’s increasing coal consumption that they say is adding particles into the atmosphere that reflect sunlight and therefore cool the planet. The effect of aerosols and their interplay with other agents of combustion is a major uncertainty in climate models. Moreover, despite China’s coal burning, data indicate that in the past decade the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere has not increased. [I have emailed Dr Whitehouse for sources of that data – Ed]

Despite what the authors of this paper state after their tinkering with an out of date climate computer model, there is as yet no convincing explanation for the global temperature standstill of the past decade.

Either man-made and natural climatic effects have conspired to completely offset the warming that should have occurred due to greenhouse gasses in the past decade, or our estimation of the ‘climate sensitivity’ to greenhouse gasses is too large.

This is not an extreme or ‘sceptic’ position but represents part of the diversity of scientific opinion presented to the IPCC that is seldom reported. (source where you can also download the paper)

Julia quotes "the science"


And gets it spectacularly wrong. Hypocrisy Alert as Julia Gillard launches a scare campaign, and then accuses the Opposition of, er, a scare campaign:

JULIA Gillard has invoked a doomsday-like scenario of metre-high sea level rises and a 2000km southward shift of Australia’s climactic [the dumb journo means “climatic” – Ed] zones as she battles an opposition scare campaign over her proposed carbon tax.

Setting the scene for a week of intense debate on the government’s carbon tax – which is yet to be fully detailed – the Prime Minister today returned to scientific arguments for putting a price on carbon.

The move came as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott renewed his now hopeless call for a plebiscite on Labor’s carbon tax, but changed tack by saying he would accept a popular vote if it backed the measure.

Ms Gillard warned of threats to infrastructure, failures of urban drainage and sewerage systems, blackouts, transport disruption and private property damage as temperature rose by between 2.2 and 5 degrees by 2070.

“Now this is a huge change,”  said Ms Gillard, as she again accused Mr Abbott of mounting a scare campaign over prices under a carbon tax.

Where on earth does Gillard get 5 degrees by 2070? That’s total fiction. In fact it supposes a rate of warming of over 2 degrees per century MORE than the absolute WORST estimate of the IPCC (which is 6.4 degrees between 2000 and 2100):

IPCC AR4 WG1 Summary for Policymakers

And a 2000km shift in climatic zones? This is pure, unadulterated nonsense. A metre rise in sea levels? Again, the worst IPCC estimate is 59cm, and with sea levels currently rising by about 3mm per year, it’s probably more like 25cm. More exaggeration and spin.

Keep it up, Julia, your credibility is sinking faster than a Pacific island. Desperation has taken over, and invoking alarmist, hysterical claims like these is like tying a hundredweight of lead shot to your ankle.

This debate (if it could ever be called that) has descended into total and utter farce. At least Abbott’s scare campaign on the carbon dioxide tax is based on some kind of possible future reality, but this is just lies, pure and simple.

Read it here.

Skeptical Science, or just plain old alarmism?

Fully un-Skeptical

As expected after Bob Carter’s article appeared in The Age on Monday, the editors have lined up responses to try and tear it down. First off was John Cook, author of the “Skeptical Science” website:

Cherry-picking the evidence to suit a pseudo-scientific argument misses the alarming reality.

A Yiddish proverb states ”a half truth is a whole lie”. By withholding vital information, it’s possible to lead you towards the opposite conclusion to the one you would get from considering the full picture. In Bob Carter’s opinion piece on this page yesterday, this technique of cherry-picking half-truths is on full display, with frequent examples of statements that distort climate science.

The partial truths are further bolstered by scientific statements that have almost no basis in fact. It is not surprising that people present such fallacies, since the blogosphere is full of climate pseudo-science, but it is surprising that newspapers are still reporting such statements. Opinion is one thing, but scientific fact is another. Every major science body in the world has effectively refuted the assertions made by Carter. (source)

So far, so boring. And today they pull out some journalistic non-entity to smear Carter some more:

The myth of Climate-gate has endured because of media failings.

GEOLOGIST and long-time climate change denialist Bob Carter materialised on this page on Monday, reprising a weary routine – tiptoeing through the scientific archive to find the morsels of data that might, with a twirl here and a shimmy there, contrive to support his theory that global warming is a big fat conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in real news, the journal Nature Geoscience published a paper by American and British scientists that found West Antarctica’s Pine Island glacier is now melting 50 per cent faster than in 1994. (source)

Yawn. So far, so boring, again. I assume Pravda on the Yarra will run another dozen or so of these articles, just to keep its urban-green readership happy. The excellent blog Bishop Hill in the UK picked up on John Cook’s article and I thought I would share with you something that I discovered in the comments.

When I first became interested in climate change a few years ago, I visited “Skeptical Science” thinking it was exactly that, sceptical of the consensus on man-made warming. To my surprise it was exactly the opposite, attempting to rubbish all the sceptical arguments and bolster the alarmist consensus. In fact, the site is “skeptical” of sceptics, which is an odd concept, but still. The site lists the usual “denialist half-truths” (as I am sure they are regarded by the author), and places a rebuttal next to them.

However, in the comments on Bishop Hill’s post, someone pointed me to an extensive response to these “rebuttals” by Luboš Motl, who writes the equally excellent blog “The Reference Frame“. Here are the first few, with the sceptical argument first, then Cook’s rebuttal (each of which is a link on the site to a longer rebuttal) and then Lubos’s response (since Luboš wrote the response, the numberings have changed, so there’s a little cross-referencing to be done):

1. “Climate’s changed before”: Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.

Cook says that the previous history of the climate shows that the climate is sensitive to imbalances. Indeed, it is and it has always been. And he says that the past history provides evidence for sensitivity to CO2. Well, it virtually doesn’t. CO2, much like other effects, adds imbalances and pushes the temperature around. But there exists no way to disentangle CO2 from many other effects or argue that it has become the most important driver. So the climate continues to change in the same way as it did in the past, by the typical changes per year, decade, and century, and Cook has offered no evidence whatsoever that something has changed about the very fact that the climate is changing.

2. “It’s the sun”: In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions

I agree with Richard Lindzen that it’s silly to try to find “one reason behind all climate change”, because the climate is pretty complex and clearly has lots of drivers, and this applies to the opinion that “everything is in the Sun”, too. Cook shows that the solar irradiance is too small and largely uncorrelated to the observed changes of temperatures. I agree with that: a typical 0.1% change of the output is enough for a 0.025% change of the temperature in Kelvins which is less than 0.1 °C and unlikely to matter much. But I find it embarrassing for a student of solar physics such as himself to be so narrow-minded. The Sun influences the Earth’s atmosphere not only directly by the output but also indirectly, by its magnetic field and its impact on the cosmic rays (via solar wind etc.) and other things. He has completely ignored all these things. Of course, I am actually not certain that these effects are very important for the climate but the evidence – including peer-reviewed articles – is as diverse as the evidence supporting CO2 as an important driver.

3. “It’s not bad”: Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.

Cook claims that the negative impact on agriculture, health, economy, and environment outweighs any positives. In reality, the overall impact is positive in all four cases. The agriculture becomes more effective, is able to feed people more easily, the economy grows, the fees for heating go down (and they exceed the money paid for cooling today). Cook’s statement is preposterous: if there were warming, it would be beneficial for life on Earth and the human society, too. Even 5 °C of warming would be a net positive. Cook’s methodology to “prove” that the negatives win is completely absurd. He first decided how many “positives” and “negatives” he allows in each category (so that the negatives dominate), and then he randomly added a few papers supporting them. That’s a completely wrong methodology. If he actually calculated the effects on agriculture in dollars rather than in “talking points” (whose number was predetermined, anyway), he would see that the positives outweigh the negatives by an order of magnitude or more.

There are 101 more which Lubos responds to in equal detail – it is a superb tour de force, and, I suggest, essential reading.

Cook has now reached 160 plus of these arguments, but there is little reason to doubt that the extra 50 or so are as unreliable and skewed as the original 10o-odd.

There is no scepticism at all in Skeptical Science, in fact it attempts precisely the opposite – to shut down free thinking enquiry and any challenge to the consensus. So it’s as we thought – plain old alarmism.

Read it here.

Author’s Note: Personally I find the formatting of Luboš’ blog a little tiring on the eyes, so I have produced a PDF of his post for download here.

Earth's natural negative feedbacks

Negative feedback

Feedbacks are what climate alarmism is built on. The warming effect of carbon dioxide alone is already almost at its maximum, and a doubling of the concentration would at most add less than 1 degree C to the global temperature. But the alarmist models use that modest warming to initiate positive feedbacks, increasing and accelerating it to dangerous and catastrophic levels.

Here, however, is a great example of the planet’s natural tendency for negative feedbacks:

Bacteria ate nearly all the potentially climate-warming methane that spewed from BP’s broken wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico last year, scientists reported on Thursday.

Nearly 200,000 tons of methane — more than any other single hydrocarbon emitted in the accident — were released from the wellhead, and nearly all of it went into the deep water of the Gulf, researcher David Valentine of the University of California-Santa Barbara said in a telephone interview.

Bacteria managed to take in the methane before it could rise from the sea bottom and be released into the atmosphere, but the process contributed to a loss of about 1 million tons of dissolved oxygen in areas southwest of the well.

That sounds like a lot of oxygen loss, but it was widely spread out, so that the bacterial munching did not contribute to a life-sapping low-oxygen condition known as hypoxia, said Valentine, whose study was published in the journal Science.

What happens to methane has been a key question for climate scientists, because methane is over 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Like carbon dioxide, methane comes from natural and human-made sources, including the petroleum industry.

The BP spill offered an “accidental experiment” that showed particular bacteria with an all-methane diet multiplied quickly as the methane spread with the underwater plume from the broken well. Peak consumption of methane probably came in late July and early August, Valentine said.

Other organisms dealt with other hydrocarbons, including ethane and propane emitted in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The methane-eating bacteria were the last to the hydrocarbon banquet, and based on past observation, the scientists questioned whether they could do the job.

“Given observations about how slowly methane is normally consumed, we didn’t think the (bacteria) population was up to the challenge at all … we thought it would be a lot slower,” Valentine said. (source)

How wrong they were. It’s not surprising if you think about it – in a massively complex ecosystem such as our own planet, when a particular variable begins to increase (methane concentration), there will be some natural process (explosion of methane-consuming bacteria) to act as a negative feedback to restore the system to a quiescent state. Crikey, I’m beginning to sound like a Gaia-freak!

Speaking of Gaia freaks, ACM stalwart Andy Pitman (see here for one of Pitman’s previous classics) comes to a fellow warmist’s aid in today’s Australian, playing down Tim Flannery’s “earth-mother” nonsense on The Science Show (see here), and spouting all the usual alarmist nonsense we would expect from someone on the AGW funding bandwagon:

Flannery made a series of eloquent points in his interview and the transcript is worth reading in full. However, he also said: “I think that within this century the concept of strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest.” This is about as silly, in my view, as Flannery’s statement on the ABC’s Lateline program in November 2009 that global warming had not occurred over the past 10 years, that “there hasn’t been a continuation of that warming trend”. This statement was incorrect and highlights the dangers of a scientist commenting outside their area of expertise. (source)

So the one statement Flannery gets right, Pitman complains about! You get the picture…

And finally, a moral tale of junk science which cost millions of dollars (and possibly lives), which was finally exposed as fraud. Sound familiar?

RESEARCH linking childhood vaccination to autism is not only flawed but a fraud, the British Medical Journal declared yesterday.

The journal thus “closed the door” on the health scare of a decade.

It branded the bombshell study by Andrew Wakefield – published by its prestigious rival The Lancet in 1998 and retracted last year – as an “elaborate fraud”.

Mr Wakefield had been secretly working for a class-action law firm that planned to sue the manufacturers of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, at the time he published his paper linking the jab to childhood autism, the BMJ claimed in an article published yesterday.

The resulting public health scare caused by the original article triggered a boycott of the vaccine in Britain, where immunisation rates crashed to 80 per cent.

The BMJ article, by investigative journalist Brian Deer, claims that Mr Wakefield was paid a total of $677,000.

“The paper was in fact an elaborate fraud,” the BMJ says in a separate editorial. “Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues.” (source)

And this is just small fry compared to the fraud being perpetrated by the GW alarmists on the global economy and standards of living.

What does "in history" mean?

The Age-of-Earth Ruler, where 1cm = 150 million years

This is a short post about time. Like distances in the universe, be they large (like the distance to the nearest star – 4 light years, or 40 trillion kilometers), or small (like the width of an average atom – a few hundred picometres, or less than a billionth of a metre), most people cannot comprehend the sheer enormousness of time. Climate alarmists and the media play on this understandable ignorance (especially at this time of year) by continually using terms like “in history” or “on record”, which are calculated to make people believe that a particular climate record has some great historical significance, and that therefore it carries weight in the argument about whether current climate conditions are unusual or “unprecedented”. Such weight is then used to justify drastic action to “tackle climate change” and tax our Western economies out of existence.

Climate records generally extend back 150 years or so, with the longest being the Central England Temperature record, which dates back to the mid-1600s. So I thought it would be interesting to put this in some kind of geological context. The earth is considered to have been formed about 4.5 billion years ago, so let’s make that period of time equal to a standard 30cm ruler – let’s call it the Age-of-Earth Ruler. How much is 150 years on that scale?

  • 1cm = 150 million years
  • 1mm = 15 million years
  • 1 micron (0.001mm) = 15,000 years
  • 10 nanometres (0.00001mm) = 150 years

So on that scale, 150 years equates to 10 nanometres, or 10 billionths of a metre. So “in history” or “on record” actually refers to a distance of about 50 atoms across at the very end of the ruler, yet we are constantly reminded by climate scientists, governments and media that this year or that year is the “warmest year in history” or “the warmest year on record”. A little perspective on these superficial statements is therefore essential when we are dealing with politicians who, like the public, have no understanding of scale – climate scientists however, should know better, but it is often only geologists who have that necessary comprehension of universal timescales.

Don Easterbrook, writing on Watts Up With That, shows a graph of a Greenland ice core derived temperatures for the last 10,000 years, which shows that the majority of that period was warmer than today (2010 ranks about 9000th):

Greenland ice core temperatures

But even this period is less than a thousandth of a millimetre on our Age-of-Earth ruler, and still cannot be regarded as significant.

Moral of the Story: be sceptical when anyone uses the terms “in history” or “on record”. Ask yourself, what does it really mean? Often the answer will be a big, fat NOTHING.

%d bloggers like this: