Number of the Month

November  2007

Clever?

People are reporting this as a clever hoax. What is so clever about it when the first equation is obviously just a string of symbols and signs arranged by someone without the faintest knowledge of mathematical conventions? A really clever hoaxer, if not able to get advice from a schoolboy student of mathematics, would have copied an equation from any scientific journal.

Verbal hoaxing is relatively easy, when each branch of science develops its own jargon to fend off interlopers, but the language of mathematics is universal. The really successful hoax of our time, Alain Sokal’s demolition of the pretensions of the post-modern movement, succeeded because his targets habitually talked nonsense about mathematics rather than using the language of that subject.

Nevertheless, this hoax had a disturbing, if brief, period of success (Number Watch received it from three different sources). Its target seems to be the political hangers-on to the diminished band of scientists who still practise the sceptical approach. Some of them fell for it, hook, line and cliché; through neglect of one of the central principles of scepticism – if it seems to be good to be true, it is too good to be true. There were obvious other technical defects, such as the perfect sine wave graph, but even the relatively innumerate should have enough experience of life to know that treasure simply does not fall into your lap like that. But give the hoaxer his due, it was neatly done and convincingly presented. Perhaps it will have caused a useful lesson to be learned.

A small turn for the better

A better class of stunt from Stuntman Dave. As the Englishman says "Keep it up Dave!"

Anything that offends the master hoaxer Chris Huhne must have something going for it.

08/11/07

Excuses, excuses

Thanks to all those who enquired. The recent period of ill health experienced by your bending author ran into the annual period of purdah caused by the need to prepare accounts. It is a measure of the irony of accounts that the preparation takes as long now as it did when the “firm” was a consultancy practice with 100 times the present turnover. Then a parcel arrived, which turned out to be a review copy of “Scared to death” and it seemed to be worth a bit of priority. See the conclusions here. The next priority is to deal with the dissatisfied customers who have ordered books and have not yet received them: wretched apologies to them if they read this. The hope is to get back to some form of stuttering productivity of diatribes within the next few days.

25/11/07

Number of the month 400

400 C is the temperature reached on the surface of Venus. The media are full of the report from the operators of the latest space probe.

The lengths to which some modern “scientists” will go to distort their science to make it conform to their religion can be quite extraordinary. Much of the media picked up on the suggestion that Venus is the hell hole it is because of runaway global warming. The value of some fascinating scientific observation is all but destroyed by the trivial theological interpretation imposed by believers among the elite.

"In the light of the new data it is possible to construct a scenario in which the climates on Venus and Earth were very similar when they started out, and then evolved to the state we see now, like twins separated at birth. Billions of years ago there is even the possibility that Venus would have been habitable."

It is always possible to construct all sorts of scenarios, but is it science? The probe tells us what it is like today. How does that paint a scenario of billions of years ago? The past history of the earth was painfully established by centuries of geology. Could you do the same by satellite observations? How could the two planets be regarded as twins, when one of them, by the immutable inverse square law, receives almost twice the radiation density of the other? We observe that, by terrestrial standards, Venus is bloody hot and Mars is bleedin’ cold. While admitting that, for example, the eventual presence or absence of an atmosphere and its nature will have a considerable influence; do we need anything more than the inverse square law to differentiate them?

But there is another and more delightful curiosity in this account. The carbon dioxide theory is accepted by more or less everybody to be inadequate to support the required threat of a global warming catastrophe. It is a self-limiting process (logarithmic) that cannot lead to instability. Therefore the servants of the alarmist cause have been obliged to call in water vapour to provide a feedback factor in their computer models (and by now we all know what feedback can do in computer models). These new alarmists seem to have forgotten this when they observe that all the water has been driven off Venus (to be more accurate, it has been stripped off by the solar wind, which apparently has the power to differentiate between water and all the other atmospheric components).

How then could such a global warming catastrophe come about? The second reader comment to the Telegraph piece has the answer:

It’s obvious that life on Venus developed at a far faster rate than that of Earth. The Venusians obviously were far quicker at developing fossil fuel power stations, gas guzzling 4X4s and kept their heating at far too high a level.

It is a paradox.

Apology

The number of the month is posted late. Your bending author was idly contemplating the pleasures of life under a regimen of steroid tapering, with the intention of  raising the effort to  put together a piece as above, when all hell broke loose. The harbinger was the admirable Sandy Szwarc, who e-mailed to say that Rush Limbaugh was reading out the entire contents of the warm list on his radio show. By the end of the day Number Watch had experienced 36,000 page views and the back log of incoming e-mails (not including the usual 300 odd spam messages) had grown to dispiriting proportions. The list was included on American Thinker and thence linked on a few dozen other sites. The hit statistics boiled over with new links.

The nicest hyperbolic comment was from Newsradio 620 This may well be the best web posting ever... at least on global warming:

And there is still the backlog of book orders to deal with – collapse of stout party.

PS There is an animated version of the list at http://www.stillspinninblog.com/ .

2/12/07

Index

 

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