Thursday, September 3, 2015

The scientific illiterati rise up at WUWT

Sou | 1:48 AM Go to the first of 33 comments. Add a comment
Illiterati: Definition from the Urban Dictionary

The opposite of the Illuminati, who take pride in their high level of knowledge and learning. An Illiterati takes pride in the fact that they are ignorant and refuse to learn (adjust their paradigm) often to the severe detriment of those around them.

Sometimes science deniers are quite unabashed about their desire to suppress all knowledge and particularly scientific knowledge and education. Anthony Watts has a "guest essay" by Eric Worrall (archived here), in which he claims that:
  • Earth and Space Science is only about climate
  • Earth and Space Science is "dogma" and "politically convenient pseudoscience".
Hmm. That sums up WUWT rather well, don't you think?

Eric wrote about how the American Geosciences Institute found that 77% of US colleges accept Earth and Space Science courses in high school for admission, while 8.6% didn't, saying:
While I find it horrifying that over 77% of US colleges think learning a bit of dogma qualifies as a science education, I believe the day will come when America attempts to rebuild her damaged scientific institutions. On that day America will discover she owes a huge debt of gratitude, to the handful of courageous college and high school administrators who held the line against officially sanctioned superstition, who fought to keep the memory of the scientific method alive, who did everything in their power to protect their students from being indoctrinated with politically convenient pseudoscience.

Eric Worrall and presumably Anthony Watts think that learning about geology, plate tectonics, the solar system, the moon, the oceans, the atmosphere, weather and everything else that could be covered in Earth and Space Science is "politically convenient pseudoscience".

How weird is that? Especially on the blog of someone who claims to be a "meteorologist" (albeit without formal qualification) and owner of "the world's most viewed climate website".

Just so you know, here are a few websites that indicate the sort of topics covered in Earth and Space Science:

The topics in the above are wide-ranging and I'd say would be among the most interesting classes a high school student could take, as well as being a great way to learn physics, chemistry and biology, geology and the rest.

From the WUWT comments

Claudius agrees with Eric that teaching science in schools is a dreadful idea:
September 2, 2015 at 6:16 am
But from a practical perspective though, it is probably extremely difficult for a credible university to maintain a degree program in Earth and Space Sciences. You’d have to be a died in the wool, complete goldfish of a true believer to accept this bunk as “science” at first glance.

There are only a few other comments, which you can read here if you want to. 


  1. Gracious me.

    That's beyond parody.

  2. Congratulations to Eric and Anthony. Just when you thought they couldn't look any more stupid, they do. One wonders what dogma, beyond the non-dogma of climate change, Eric is concerned about in earth and space science.

    Does he think the Earth is flat? It's the centre of the Universe? The Universe was created/exists in a steady state and there was no Big Bang?

    Like lots of deniers, Eric seems to be afraid that students who learn something might find out what is real and what isn't, based on rules of evidence and logic?

    1. Well, sort of, Eric Worral thinks the Earth may well be cooling.

      Interesting thought from one of the main content providers of "the world's most viewed climate website". If that is the main blog of your political movement, you'd better start cleaning up.

  3. Eric Worrall's idiocy managed to flush out a few like-minded twits. But even at WUWT, some commenters were taken aback by his consignment of geology and astronomy to the realm of pseudoscience.

    Not that Watts ever had much in the way of quality control, but it seems he's desperate for filler these days.

  4. I've only recently discovered Hot Whopper. I see there's a great little community here, and I hope to join in. I find the blogs to be informative, intelligent, cogent, entertaining, and, well, brilliant.

    I'm afraid I don't have anything insightful to say at the moment, other than to encourage you to keep up the good work.

    I wrote a blog post in May about Monckton's fraudulent "pause" that WUWT has been pushing, (I should move my blog to wordpress, and update it more frequently.) I hope you find it useful.


    1. I read your article back in May. And used it's points to argue that Monckton's chart is deliberate cherry-picking.

    2. I also saw your article and thought it was very good. It was very insightful for me. Keep it up.

    3. Very timely.....Chris has another post up at WUWT, lengthening the "pause."

    4. Yes, the faux pause lengthened. Also, the date the faux pause started changed again, from December of 1996 to January of 1997.

      The WUWT article says that faux pause is likely to shorten due to the current el Nino, thus admitting it isn't an actual pause.

      I think they're just parodying themselves now.

    5. Harry, Jammy, Joshua, thanks for the kind words. We all do what we can.

    6. It is indeed a strange pause which gets shorter over time.

  5. Dark Matter and Dark Energy are both labels for observable realities that astrophysicists do not fully understand, yet.

    The experimental evidence for invisible dark mass and dark energy are irrefutable.

    I wonder what contempt these ignorati would hold astrophysicists in, when they themselves cannot or will not even understand the greenhouse effect. Almost two hundred years behind the times.

    As for the idea of multiverses they would most probably start to behave more strangely than is usual now even at the thought.

    We very smart monkeys have a magnificent tool we use. it is called mathematics and physics. So many times in the past the mathematics pointed to completely unknown and unobserved phenomena. Once we went looking for these predictions they were inevitably found to be real. This is not always the case. I can go on and on etc. with many examples but this is not the place. We have universities for this.

    I do not know how you do it Sou looking into that cesspool of ignorance and fear. Bert

    1. In addition to their gravitational properties, dark matter and dark energy exert a powerful attraction for cranks, who whinge on at length about how astrophysicists are just making stuff up.

      Of course, these folks never take the time to review the observational evidence and to learn how they fit into the picture -- they just know they don't like it.

    2. There was a documentary on BBC2 in the Horizon strand last night on the multiverse idea. There was, so far as I remember, not a hint of a mention that there are scientists who do not accept the multiverse idea. However, there won't be a pile of complaints about lack of balance. Now if the BBC could stick to that on climate, progress might be made faster.

    3. palindom it could be that the 'revelation' that what makes up the visible Universe including us, is only 4% of our Universe. And then to find out that our Universe is only one of an infinite number of universes makes the old battles of an Earth centred universe rather quaint.

      I wonder why all the religious texts missed out on this. Was/were their god/s keeping it a secret?

      Science is not in the business of proving or disproving anything about the supernatural. By definition it is beyond rational analysis.

      What I find appalling is that religious people attack science with no more than ancient superstitious beliefs written by goat-herders.

      The attacks on climate science and scientists by the ignorati/denialati is very much the same as the old religious vs science battles during The Enlightenment.

      It is as usual not about the truth but about power and resources.


  6. The Illiterati have friends in strange places. Today BBC Radio4 was presenting a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs as if it was something we should take notice of.

    Apparently the net impact of alcohol on the economy isn't negative after all. Who would of thunk it? I wonder who paid for that 'deliverable'.

  7. Is Eric a young earth creationist then? I know they sometimes refer to geology as a pseudoscience and/or reject outright many foundational (pun, however weak, unintended) aspects of geology.

  8. Off Topic (again) Check out CE. Judith has made a complete spectacle of herself again. Willard strips her naked and David Appell has another Hockey Stick to ad to the list.

    1. That's truly extraordinary!

      The hypocrisy is so blatant that one wonders that some part of Curry doesn't simply rebel at the contortion, along the lines of the fate of (Hitchhiker's Guide's poet) Grunthos the Flatulent who '...was about to embark on a reading of his 12-book epic entitled "My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles" when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain.

      And, yes, Willard skewers both Curry and the purported 'honest broker' she's attempting to promote.

    2. Funny you should mention Grunthos the Patriot
      Mosher's intestines have been tickling his throat as he desperately searches for mechanisms to defend his host. He's now reliant on impenetrable non sequiturs. It's a wicked problem.

    3. van der Voosen's abstract is worth reading several times:

      Abstract. Many political theorists, philosophers, social scientists, and other academics engage in political activism. And many think this is how things ought to be. In this essay, I challenge the ideal of the politically engaged academic. I argue that, quite to the contrary, political theorists, philosophers, and other political thinkers have a prima facie duty to refrain from political activism. This argument is based on a commonsense moral principle, a claim about the point of political thought, and findings in cognitive psychology.

      Academics have a self-evident, common-sense moral obligation to abstain from political speech. Wow. I don't think that ringing in my ears is tinnitus.

    4. PG, link for those of us who try to avoid Curry's nonsense threads?

    5. Turns out there was an error in printing! That abstract was supposed to say I argue that, quite to the contrary, political theorists, philosophers, and other political thinkers have a prima facie duty to refrain from political activism that libertarians disapprove of.

  9. It's hard to wrap my sleep deprived mind around all of it.


    Dahr Jamail | The World on Fire: Record-Breaking Wildfires, Greenland Melting and Earth's Hottest Month Ever

  10. Unrelated to the current topic, but Wiki user Sphilbrick (who I've written about previously) is once again trying to pull the same denier crap on the WUWT wiki entry. The talk page is quite a laugh.

    1. The shills, tea partiers etc. started their own version of Wikipedia a long time back. Sphilbrick could go there and do his thing safe from interfering lefty villains.

      Only problem is that a Wikipedia edited by the likes of Sphilbrick is shite so nobody uses it.

  11. Dear Eric,
    Geology and Mineralogy has been rebadged as Earth Science. As such, Earth Science covers Physical Geology, Mineralogy, Petrology, Paleontology, Stratigraphy, Seismology, Cosmology, Geological and Cosmological History, ... The 'name change' occurred 20-30 years ago in secondary schools in your part of the world. Where you live, students are more likely to cover Meteorology and Climatology as major units of work in a Multi-strand Science course; if they are part of earth science or geology courses, they are minor elements.
    The rebadging was partly driven by the need to attract more school students to the subject in the face of competition from 'emerging' subjects in the area of IT, performing and visual arts, marine science, technology studies, legal studies, ... Among other considerations, it was thought that this could or might potentially slow the trend in declining numbers of students entering geology courses at tertiary level. Numbers in tertiary Geology courses in your part of the world are cyclical, being responsive to and generally lagging behind mining booms.
    There's not a lot of time for dogma in Earth Science courses at any education level in your country, let alone in the US. The courses are weighted towards content as there's not much point in having students in the field being unable to identify the rocks, minerals, fossils, stratigraphy and landforms that they're looking at. Earth science laboratory time is spent in becoming adept at mineral, rock and fossil identifications, identifying rocks and minerals from their thin-sections, stream table modeling of erosion processes, mapping exercises, seismogram analysis, … It's a bit hard bringing geologically-scaled objects and geological-time scales into the laboratory.
    All in all, you've totally missed the point. So, ease up on the interpretative and affective comprehension of what you read and, concentrate on the lexical and literal comprehension aspects of reading. It will help you avoid getting lost in the words and failing to understand what you're perusing. Finally, you can't form valid opinions on an article without the background knowledge; in other words, your piece fails the 'applied comprehension' test.
    Warmest Regards, George

  12. You have to work hard to be that much of an idiot.

    Once more Richard Betts indicates that being Head of the Climate Impacts at the Met Office is probably not his metier..

    1. Agree.

      But one could always get a gig at the Daily Mail with 'IPCC scientist Emma Thompson predates total disaster by at least 3 decades!'

  14. It doesn't matter that Emma Thompson got her facts wrong, she is an actress, she's allowed to. Betts is a scientist who has distinguished himself by making poor public choices.
    He felt compelled to rush into print to attack an actress who is half right yet happily gets pissed with a bunch of climate swindlers and publicly laughs about it afterwards.

    He thinks the worst crime in science and risk is to be prematurely prepared for 2C+. The guy's a jerk.

    1. ???

      Oh, 'pissed with' meaning 'drunk with', not 'annoyed with'.


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