Sunday, February 2, 2014

Have a geek at the "bunch of headless chooks" at Jo Nova's blog

Sou | 1:26 AM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

In my last blog article I was slinging off at someone who complained that a scientist referred to the work of other scientists when discussing climate science and evolution.  This led to some comments about appealing to authority.  So I thought I'd look around to see just who the fake sceptics appeal to when they reject the science.

Coincidentally, in Joanne Nova's latest article, she was rousing at Prince Charles for saying "baffling ... that in our modern world we have such blind trust in science and technology that we all accept what science tells us about everything — until, that is, it comes to climate science".  He is quoted by AP as calling calling climate science deniers the "headless chicken brigade".

Jo Nova wrote:
This is the same old argument: authorities want us to believe authority, while stupid punters ask for data instead.

So just who do the headless chooks at Jo Nova's place appeal to?  Well, Jo Nova doesn't call on any authority.  There were 87 comments to Jo Nova's article so I looked through them all to see what authorities the members of her fan club prefer. (Archived here.)

I've listed nearly every name mentioned in the comments to Jo Nova's article.

Kevin Lohse complained that David Bellamy was uninvited to some do at "Buck House" (presumably Buckingham Palace).  So maybe Kevin regards David Bellamy as the ultimate authority on all things climate. David Bellamy made it into George Monbiot's top ten list of climate science deniers back in 2009.  He's been woefully wrong on things climate so not much of an authority, sad to say.

Tom Harley referred to a Richard Lindzen comment that climate scientists aren't the cleverest people on the planet, or something.  Such a comment presumably meant that Tom doesn't regard Richard Lindzen as an authority, if he's that dumb.

Another commenter referred to Robin Warren and Barry J. Marshall.  I wasn't aware they were climate scientists, but I guess that discovering H pylori is an achievement.  Maybe on par with John Tyndall's experiments but then again, probably not.

There were several disparaging comments about Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young.  I don't think the commenters were touting her as an authority on climate science though.

Quite a number of people decided Prince Charles didn't know what he was talking about when he said that people should trust the science, because he's a fan of homeopathy.  One would think that argument would have led to support for the idea that it pays to take note of science.  On the contrary. That chain of logic didn't follow.  Jo Nova's blog is devoid of logic.  The critical reader will recognise their comments as the "ad hominem" fallacy, which is arguably the reverse of the "appeal to authority".

I might have missed a couple of names, but I covered it fairly well.  No name stood out as an authority that the fake sceptics would defer to.  I'll keep my eyes and ears open.  If you come across an authority on climate science that all fake sceptics support, do let me know.

Looking through the 87 comments, the term "headless chicken brigade" was as good a description of Jo Nova's flock as any you're likely to find.  It reminded me of why I almost never visit her blog.

Here are some typical comments, in case you thought I was understating the insight and wit of the Jo Nova crowd:

February 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm · Reply
Always thought he was a complete Bozo ! This just confirms emphatically what I believed.

February 1, 2014 at 6:35 pm · Reply
At least for a couple of weeks after Charles goes to meet his Anglican Maker.
I’m an unashamed Constitutional Monarchist and sincerely trust that William is the next Sovereign.

John F. Hultquist
February 1, 2014 at 4:24 pm · Reply
What a nitwit. No wonder his mom won’t let him play king.
I suppose he has never heard of Helicobacter pylori and the Australian scientists, Robin Warren and Barry J. Marshall. To name one instance.

February 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm · Reply
25% of his future “subjects” now live in fuel poverty. Youth unemployment is rife. Because of sky high energy costs, manufacturing is moving abroad. The list goes on but all the result of inbreeding can talk about is saving the planet.

Turtle of WA
February 1, 2014 at 8:34 pm · Reply
Charles I believed in the divine right of kings – the notion that the king is chosen by god to rule with absolute Authority. It’s similar to the Divine right of Alarmists, whereby the representatives of absolute scientific Authority are chosen by Gaia

February 1, 2014 at 4:36 pm · Reply
He’s a nitwit.

February 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm · Reply
Bother! I’ve been ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence. Could you show me where it is, please, so that I can stop ignoring it?

Reed Coray mentioned a couple of people I missed, but I get the impression he doesn't regard them as authorities on climate science
February 1, 2014 at 3:23 pm · Reply
Australia has Tim Flannery. The US had Al Gore. It’s nice to hear from England’s entry in the my-idiot-can-beat-your-idiot race. I wonder what the odds are on each contestant?


  1. The world is full of headless chooks and they're all armed with Global Surface Temperature Records.... don't ya just hate that?

  2. Yes, Anonymous, and if they read Tamino's blog they'd realise how brainless they are.

    1. That article of Tamino's will become another classic, John. It's a must read.

  3. The denier nest is easily riled these days. Evidence of a sinking feeling over there, I think. The Pause is pretty much shattered and they know it'll be years before they can proclaim another one. Perhaps more years than they have in them in many cases.

    We could do without Batty Prince Charlie's backing, frankly, but I suppose it gets AGW a few minutes on the BBC. The flooding has barely got it a mention.

  4. I think the reference to Barry Marshall is supposed to indicate that one should not accept the 'consensus', just as Barry didn't accept the 'stress causes gastric ulcers' explanation.

    The thing is, the stress-ulcers meme was one that was accepted without particularly rigorous experimental testing, and Marshall's testing followed the sort of careful experimental procedure that has given us the physics understanding to be able to predict 'greenhouse' gas warming with high confidence.

    I'm sure that Barry Marshall would agree. In fact it would be interesting to get a statement from him on this so that denialists can be confronted with the adject logical fallacy of their straw man whenever it's raised - Barry's toes must curl with disgust every time a denialist invokes H. pylori as a refutation of human-caused global warming.

    1. Stress is the typical medicos answer to anything for which doctors can't identify a cause. Over time there will be more human ails that will no longer be put down to "stress". It was a practitioner's "cause" more so than that of any medical researchers. I don't know that too many people ever investigated the cause of stomach ulcers beforehand.

      Apart from this being a condition that was more or less solved by research three decades ago, it's not a good analogy. The greenhouse effect was shown by experiment 150 years ago. There were no similar experiments to deduce the cause of stomach ulcers at the time.

      If that's the best someone has to offer it shows they probably know as little about medical research as they do about climate research. (A more appropriate medical analogy might be our understanding of the human digestive and circulatory systems.)

    2. Historical note : the rejectionists in this case were principally septuagenarian ulcer specialists being asked to accept that they'd spent their entire careers barking up the wrong tree, and missing something rather simple. They were given a great deal of space to fume by a press which depends on drug company advertising; the "controversy" spluttered out when Zantac (ranitidine), Glaxo's top-earning ulcer palliative, came out of patent protection.

      Note the irony. Deniers championing the real scientists in a manufactured controversy.

    3. Also note the irony of the role played by pharmaceutical companies mirroring that of the fossil fuel industry. The power wielded by pharmaceutical companies is not to be sneezed at (pun intended).
      But the Helicobacter pylori analogy is not a good one as Sou states above. Whenever Wattites trot out the analogy they are oblivious of the reality that H. pylori doesn't cause every stomach ulcer (around 60 per cent). An increasing number of stomach ulcers (around 30 per cent) is caused by long term use of self-prescribed and prescribed aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (active ingredient in Nurofen that is sold in supermarkets) and meloxicam (prescription only).

  5. Perhaps Skitz is a Poe? Could he/she be a more obvious example of woolly "skeptical" thinking?

    Denialism - Trying to advance human knowledge through Confirmation Bias since 1998...


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