Number of the Month

February 2010

Sins of omission

It’s what they don’t say that counts. In response to the current chaos in the scientific establishment John Krebs wrote a piece for The Times that is the epitome of the emollient – move along there is nothing to see here. These are the words he has to say about the place of scepticism in science:

This philosophy of science was formally instituted 350 years ago in  London by the small band of men, including Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle, who founded the Royal Society, the world’s oldest national academy of science. Their motto, Nullius in verba (“Take nobody’s word for it”) embodies the Royal Society’s founding principle of basing conclusions on observation and experiment rather than the voice of authority.

What he did not say was that as soon as the Greenies seized control of the Royal Society they abandoned that motto of centuries and replaced it with one that is apparently bland but actually reverses the sentiment. As we said on the subject of global warming as religion:

The Royal Society, as a major part of the flowering of the tradition, was founded on the basis of scepticism. Its motto “On the word of no one” was a stout affirmation. Now suddenly, following their successful coup, the Greens have changed this motto of centuries to one that manages to be both banal and sinister – “Respect the facts.” When people start talking about “the facts” it is time to start looking for the fictions. Real science does not talk about facts; it talks about observations, which might turn out to be inaccurate or even irrelevant.

If you include that “fact” the whole argument is reversed.

We welcomed the arrival on the national scene of Sir John Krebs, but he soon went native and even eventually appeared as a bit player in that appalling holocaust.

The establishment sticks together.


Which leads us to:

Passing sentence

It being the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society, celebrations by the new Greenie proprietors are only natural. The Telegraph has a page largely dominated by President Martin Rees with an article entitled The unstoppable spirit of enquiry. Rees is a notorious serial scaremonger, through doom-laden books and articles. One wonders, however, whether many readers paused to consider the import of one particular paragraph that occurs in the middle of this piece:

Traditional journals survive as guarantors of quality, but they are supplemented by a blogosphere of widely varying quality. The latter cries out for an informal system of quality control, indicated by the approbation by discerning readers, by blogs or by commentaries.

There are those of us, who have long ago published in some of these traditional journals, who might question whether some of them still act as guarantors of quality. It is the second sentence, however, that for all its vagueness and understatement carries an implied threat. Who are these discerning readers, blogs and commentators? While no one can argue that most of what is on the internet is not irredeemable nonsense, it still has the overarching merit that it is uncensored. Readers are able to make their own judgement.  The implication of this statement is that there are those who are more qualified to decide what hoi polloi are allowed to read. So far the internet has been free of the self-censorship observed by the establishment media, which has allowed ludicrous and costly theories to reign, and it is only recently that the establishment has come to realise that upstarts out there are pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. The neo-Marxists who are the backbone of the new Greenie establishment would early love to extend their censorship to the internet. Be warned! 


Link to this piece

Talking of which:

Lords a-leaping to the barricades

Rees and other LORDs fear public is losing confidence in climate change science. It now looks as though the consensus defence has emerged that a few errors and misjudgements by a minority of incompetents has put the whole immaculate edifice of climate change evidence under threat from those evil sceptics.

They must be hoping that the inadequate establishment media just stick to those leaked e-mails and do not cotton on to the much more damaging annotations to software that accompanied them, let alone the evidence that is arising all round the world of fraudulent adjustment of temperature data accompanied by “the dog ate my homework” excuses for not releasing the source data.

The main thing to remember is this:

Such people do not hold their beliefs because of their positions: they hold their positions because of their beliefs.

Link to this piece

You heard it here first

Number Watch is obliged to accept its destiny as the producer of great ideas that are taken up later by others around the world. Seven years after we launched our miracle diet the same thing has turned up in Hong Kong.


Correspondence received (and commended)

Dear Friends,

  I’ve had an idea – an unusual idea, but I think it might just work.

A s you know, England ’s chilling libel laws need to be reformed. One way to help achieve this is for 100,000 people to sign the petition for libel reform before the political parties write their manifestos for the election. We have 17,000 signatures, but we really need 100,000, and we need your help to get there.


My idea

My idea is simple: if everyone who has already signed up persuades just one more person each week to sign the petition then we will reach our goal within a month!

One person per week is all we need, but please spread the word as much as you can. In fact, if you persuade 10 people to sign up then email me ([email protected]) and I promise to thank you by printing your name in my next book … which I will start writing as soon as I have put my own libel case behind me. I cannot say when this will be, but it is a very real promise. My only caveat is that I will limit this to the first thousand people who recruit ten supporters.

  When persuading your friends remember to tell them:  

(a) English libel laws have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.

( b) These laws gag scientists, bloggers and journalists who want to discuss matters of genuine public interest (and public health!).

( c) Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the powerful (Saudi billionaires, Russian oligarchs and overseas corporations) come to London to sue writers because English libel laws are so hostile to responsible journalism. (In fact, it is exactly because English libel laws have this global impact that we welcome signatories to the petition from around the world.)

( d) Vested interests can use their resources to bully and intimidate those who seek to question them. The cost of a libel trial in England is 100 times more expensive than the European average and typically runs to over £1 million.

(e) Three separate ongoing libel cases involve myself and two medical researchers raising concerns about three medical treatments. We face losing £1 million each. In future, why would anyone else raise similar concerns? If these health matters are not reported, then the public is put at risk.

My experience has been sobering. I’ve had to spend £100,000 to defend my writing and have put my life on hold for almost two years. However, the prospect of reforming our libel laws keeps me cheerful.

Thanks so much for your support. We’ve only got one shot at this – so I hope you can persuade 1 (or maybe 10) friends, family and colleagues to sign.

 Massive thanks,

Simon Singh

The Libel Reform Campaign is a coalition of English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science.

So far, 188 MPs have signed our Parliamentary Early Day Motion calling for libel reform and the Justice Secretary Jack Straw has formed a working party that the Libel Reform Coalition is represented on.

Please also considering donating to keep our campaign going:


Apologies for absence – yet again

It will be evident to regular readers that there has been yet another hiatus in output on this page. The cause is the same as usual – post-infection torpor exacerbated by the necessity to resort to strong pain-killers. One of the consequences is that many e-mails have gone unanswered and several promises broken: for this much regret.

Meanwhile a retrofit suggested by a member of our forum

Number of the month  -  2035

This is the latest date for the new Apocalypse, when all sorts of nasty things are going to happen to us (unless, of course,  we submit to yet more central direction). It also happens to be the date at which that great authority, the UN IPCC, has decreed that all the Himalayan glaciers are going to melt. Even by Pachauri standards calling questioning of this claim “voodoo science” is a bit extreme. Are we still allowed to refer to the pot calling the kettle black? The natives, though, are getting restless.



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