Saturday, November 30, 2013

Denier Weirdness: Anthony Watts, Tim Ball and Nigel Lawson on The Very Secret Society

Sou | 10:07 PM Go to the first of 21 comments. Add a comment

Update - see below for correction and update with a 1976 quote from Freeman Dyson.

You know that Anthony Watts has descended into fruit cake land when you read junk like this at WUWT (archived here).
A secret meeting occurred between Lord Lawson of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and members of the British Royal Society. Why the secrecy? It is likely because this collective of specialists is scrambling to recover reputations after being misled.
Yep, a secret meeting between the very royal very secret scientific society and the very unroyal even more secretive Global Warming Policy Foundation.

What a lot of nutters there are at WUWT.  Do they really and truly think that after all the publicity the GWPF gave to the very Laughable Lord Lawson's engineering of a meeting with the Royal Society that it was somehow "secret"?  Sheesh!

You want to know why they called it "secret"?  It was because the members of the Royal Society refused to allow Nigel Lawson to turn the meeting into a media circus.  The GWPF milked it for much more than it was worth, as science deniers are prone to do.  You know they are on a losing streak when they have to resort to getting conspiracy theorising greenhouse effect denier, Tim Ball and utter nutter Anthony Watts to help them do their dirty work (part of an incomprehensible mish mash of conspiracy theorising gobbledegook by Tim Ball archived here).

Here's an excerpt of what Nigel Lawson wrote on the GWPF website, which is kinda sad or weird or maybe funny if you're into black humour (full version archived here):
The charge that my critical views about climate change policy are based on inadequate exposure to reputable scientists was always absurd, not least given that the academic advisory council of the GWPF has on it, among others, the world’s most highly regarded physicist, Professor Freeman Dyson of Princeton, arguably the world’s most eminent climate scientist, Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT (who flew over for the meeting), and three Fellows of the Royal Society.
So Nurse’s team were able to tell me little I did not already know. But what did emerge was that, if anyone needed educating, it was them. Despite the fact that they were headed by Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, the Director of the Grantham Institute, which has pronounced views on climate policy, and a member of the Climate Change Committee, which is concerned with the implementation of the Climate Change Act, they were very reluctant to engage on the crucial issue of climate change policy at all. What was clear, however, was that they had no understanding of, or interest in, the massive human and economic costs involved in the policies they so glibly endorse.

Wow - they are getting advice from a 90 year old physicist - who has never done any research on climate (see update below), and an ageing contrarian climate scientist who hasn't published a paper in years.

The Brits are a funny mob sometimes.  Why the Royal Society would bother with idiots like Nigel Lawson is anyone's guess. I suppose they have their reasons.


Tonylearns in the comments alerted me to the fact that Freeman Dyson did do a bit of writing about climate back in the days when science deniers are under the mistaken impression that scientists thought the world was heading for cooling.  Here is a quote from one of Freeman Dyson's papers in which he urges "insurance" in case global warming gets too bad:
It is highly unlikely that the particular emergency program here proposed will ever be implemented. My discussion of it is enormously oversimplified. The purpose of this paper is to begin a process of mental preparation which may enable us to have realistic plans ready if ever the danger of catastrophe from CO2 accumulation becomes acute. To have plans ready is a form of life insurance, valuable even if the threatened catastrophe never happens. And there are many other useful purposes which a global reserve stock of organic materials might serve, quite apart from its use as a buffer against atmospheric CO2.


  1. I have the impression that the ROyal Society is part of the wider British Establishment, as is Lawson the lunatic; what that means is that there is a tendency towards reserved behaviour and carefulness, such that the Royal Society and it's members can't stand up and say "You are a madman who denies the last 150 years of physics, so fuck off".
    Also, what matters to a conservative and authoritarian mind, such as many members of the GWPF probably have, is AUTHORITY, like a game of top trumps, not the evidence. Especially for politicians, evidence is what you say it is.

    1. This letter from Paul Nurse, which was on the GWPF website (archived here) isn't so reserved :)

      See also the article attached to Sir Paul's letter in the same link.

    2. That's a brilliant letter from Paul Nurse. I wish more would be as forthright with their views sometimes. I have begun to wonder if the typical British reserve is not really helping in this particular situation.

    3. Yes, it's good isn't it. Paul Nurse doesn't shy away from taking on climate science deniers.

    4. @ Wotts

      I keep telling you to take your gloves off...


    5. BBD, it is tempting at times :-)

      Although, I think I would still regard Paul Nurses letter as civil.

    6. Yes, although clearly exasperated. One wonders what he says off the record...

  2. Actually Freeman Dyson says he was involved in climate research int he 70's but gave up on it because he thought that it was heading in the wrong direction. an interview with him I read he acknowledged he didn't know any of the specifics of ACC theory but he understood science better than the climate modelers and wasn't prepared to learn all he needed to to rebut them on specifics.

    1. Thanks, Tony. I wasn't aware of that. I'm amended the article accordingly, with a quote from an early paper of Freeman Dyson's.

    2. Wow, He certainly did not mention that comment you found in the interview I listened to.
      It was actually an interesting interview. He made some very good points and at least he admitted he did not know enough about any specifics to argue with experts. Part of his position was that technological solutions will easily solve any problems in the next 50-100 years. He threw out the idea of genetically engineered trees that would sequester any excess carbon or bacteria in top soil doing the same.
      It is worth checking out. I don;t consider him a denier because he is not someone intent on misrepresenting the facts to support his position. I think he is just wrong about his view of current climate research and takes a too glib attitude to his ignorance.

    3. Steig and Pierrehumbert provide more insight into Dyson's mindset in this RealClimate article.

      But an enigma remains:

      In short, it’s not so simple as the ‘self delusion’ Brower talks about. Dyson is not doing science, but he is deluding others under the guise of science. Given’s Dyson’s evident love of science (and expertise in it), that’s the part that we still don’t get.

  3. For context, Dyson has lately often deprecated climate modeling, while showing he did not understand the state of the art very well.

    From Dyson's location (IAS Princeton) to GFDL is about 5 miles drive. GFDL of course is one of the world's premier climate modeling labs and for years used big SGI ccNUMA computers I helped architect. But apparently Dyson doesn't go over there and talk to them much.

  4. I have to laugh at Sou. She is so fixated on Anthony Watts it is funny to read.

    Watts site has won the internet's "Best Science & Technology" site 3 years running. He has more than a million reader comments, in only a few years.

    So it is to be expected that a few of society's mi9sfits will be nipping at his heels.

    Well, there is no bad publicity as they say. Anthony doesn't need more publicity, but I am sure he doesn't mind, ewven if this psrticular publicity is coming from societal misfits who do not understand the climate Null Hypothesis or the Scientific Method.

    Keep at it, misfits. You give the rest of us a good larf.

  5. I have to laugh at Sou. She is so fixated on Anthony Watts it is funny to read.

    Watts' site has won the internet's "Best Science & Technology" awartd 3 years running. He has more than a million reader comments, in only a few short years.

    So it is to be expected that a few of society's misfits will be nipping at his heels.

    Well, there is no bad publicity, as they say. Anthony doesn't need more publicity, but I am sure he doesn't mind, even if this psrticular publicity is coming from societal misfits, who do not understand the climate Null Hypothesis, or the Scientific Method.

    Keep at it, misfits. You give the rest of us a good larf!

    Well, I am going back to WUWT now, where my comments will be read by thousands — not by a dozen or so. Enjoy your tiny echo chamber. That's what head-nodders do.

    1. Ah, but who among you is going to point out the true state of your Emperor's attire?

      It's all a popularity contest, eh? Well, as soon as you manage to vote in new laws of physics everything will be fine. Until then your insouciant hubris is both tragic and ridiculous...

    2. Wow, someone being proud of being part of such a large group of illiterati.

      Oh, go on then, Mogumbo, sing it:
      "I am idiot and I know it, so clap your hands ; I am an idiot and I know it, so clap your hands ; I am an idiot and I know it, and I have such fun to show it, I'm an idiot and I know it, so clap your hands !"


    3. Translation:
      "Well, I am going back to the echo chamber at WUWT now, where my comments will be read by thousands of brainless idiots — not by a dozen thinking people or so. "

    4. I am sure you will find, after a while, that you are reading the same material, recycled like a good environmentalist, perhaps put in a different order. We are surely due any day now a piece of waffle from Monckton saying there has been no warming since [fill in time span here] that he trots out on a monthly basis.

      The true test of a pseudo-science is how it deals with criticism. If you look even remotely at the way Watts and his cronies deal with it you will see that, basically, he doesn't. He ignores it, insults those that criticise him and carries on regardless. True science takes on board criticisms and tries to improve. Watts doesn't.

      You are free to read anything you want. Please, however, employ the universe's most impressive computer, your brain, to question the claims at WUWT. If you do, you will see how empty they are. As for thousands reading your comments - science isn't a popularity contest. It isn't, as you would no doubt say, done by consensus. It is done according to the evidence and that, my friend, is where the answer was blowing in the wind all along.

  6. Mumbo-jumbo from Mogumbo Gono.

    1) Watts' site is the one of the most anti-scientific and misleading web sites anywhere, and Sou is to be admired for participating in the refutation of the agnotological crap that Watts and his guest posters produce. Watts is against professional science; Sou is reminding her readers that the real science is diametrically at odds with Watts' propaganda.

    2) Watts having a lot of readers do not validate his anti-science - it simply shows that there are many stupid, ignorant, and/or ideological who are willing to be fed the crap that he promulgates.

    3) The "Best Science & Technology" award is not remotely an objective measure of the quality of the entrants, and it is easily and significantly gamed by its unqualified, populist voters.

    4) The misfits are those unqualified people who reject real science on the basis of their personal interests and ideologies.

    5) The only head-nodders are those who unquestioningly frequent WUWT.

    Nice try though.

    Bernard J.


    1. As I recall the last time WUWT won the "Best Science & Technology" award there was not a single science website among the finalists. It was all climate disinformation and conspiracy blogs. Not even a general pseudo-science blog. There wasn't a whiff of a proper science website in any field, let alone a proper general science website.

      Correction: the single science website that somehow got into the finals pulled out, refusing to be on a platform with the scientific illiterati.

      It does show that climate science deniers are capable of finding the "vote for me" button on their mouse, but not much else.

    2. James Delingpole won the award for Best Weblog About Politics 2013. No more evidence needed that it is a competition in offensive stupidity.


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.