Number of the Month

October 2014

About time too

At last WUWT is taking is taking action to discourage the activity of internet trolls in its discussion columns. Admittedly, the paper on which this is based is only psychology, but it accords with reasonable subjective judgement. As Watts says, pseudonymous comments are of no intrinsic value, anyway; but the level of snide invective in those bloated discussion sections makes them virtually unreadable. The prime example is in the blog section of the Telegraph, which occasionally has stimulating entries (though fewer since the departure of Delingpole). The discussion responses, however, in their thousands, are on the whole full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

As noted in our rambling piece on thinking last month, this phenomenon testifies to the absence of thought in our modern communications. There is ground for preserving anonymity for some academics, who in our authoritarian times face the sack for failing to salute the flag of establishment beliefs, but otherwise there is no case for it. If pen names are used, however, there should be extra quality to justify their inclusion. It is sad and alien for a scientist to be supporting a form of censorship, when there are other official forms of it, now rife, that sabotage the tradition of scholarly debate, which was  the bed rock of scientific progress; but now that technology has provided a lair for cowardly malefactors to disrupt constructive discourse there is no choice.

Fourteen years ago, your bending author came under severe censure for refusing to install an instant discussion facility, as was becoming normal in the (then new) bog standard blogs. Je ne regrette rien. Incidentally, much thanks to the happy few, the band of brothers, who contribute sparsely, but cogently, to our Forum.


Medics on the March 

Putting “climate” in front of scientist is like putting “witch” in front of doctor

 So, the BMJ has finally tipped over into pure insanity. Just as the so-called “pause” has reached its eighteenth anniversary it produces an ex cathedra pronouncement on the dangers of global warming. The March of the Zealots has the medical establishment in the van on all fronts, loudly beating the hollow drums of propaganda. Scientifically inclined medics must be recoiling in shame. In their own words, they boast “Now we have gone a step further, with the publication of an article that contains no medicine or healthcare at all.”

The record of the BMA and BMJ over recent years is full of disgraceful anti-scientific episodes prompted by zealotry. Take just one example – one of the few epidemiologists who was also a great man of science was by them and the rest of the establishment written out of history, because he refused to play their silly games with fraudulent statistics. They had the temerity to publish a travesty of his wise rules on statistical inference (see The Big Liars: the article referred to has disappeared from the BMA web-site – typical!).

Now the medical establishment are promoting a pill that gives you a hangover without any of the pleasures that normally precede it. The known side-effects of this drug include nausea, vomiting, tachycardia and hypertension. The unknown unknowns are, believe it or not, unknown. They claim that there are an estimated 750,000 people in the UK who would be eligible for nalmefene who show no overt symptoms associated with their drinking. It goes with the slogan that summarises much of modern medicine – A pill for everything and everything has its pill. The presumption that justifies it is that anyone who enjoys a second glass of wine is an incipient alcoholic, hyperbole so typical of the zealot mind-set. We now have a new class of involuntary patient – the “mild alcoholic”, which satisfyingly embraces a large proportion of the population, along with “potential diabetics” and so on: diagnosis supersedes disease. They will not be satisfied until they have replaced every pleasure. Remember this in the future when you sit down for your Sunday lunch of pill and water. You might not live longer, but as the old cliché has it, it will only seem longer.


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Note: The following is a sequel to A fable for our times. The reader may wish to view this first.

Added Note: following a reader suggestion, the fable, together with sequel is shown here.


A fable continued

 The King, once again sore troubled, sent for his Grand Wizard.

“We have lived happily ever after these eighteen years; yet our spies tell us that there is again trouble throughout the land. You gave me the means of raising taxes, for which I was duly grateful, but the royal coffers are again empty and the royal debts fail to diminish. There is stirring among the peasantry, some of whom seem to be unconvinced about the fairies at the bottom of the garden.”

“I regret, my liege, that there is some truth in this. The business of constructing the giant mechanical idols, which I am proud to say now cover much of the land, has proved unexpectedly expensive. We have also had to get rid of inflexible groups of practitioners of previous versions of our mystical craft and replace them with followers of the cause, who being highly trained in the craft are costly to employ. It is also true that small pockets of Deniers still exist and we have to persuade the Guild of Town Criers to shout them down, which is not without cost.”

“But some of the common folk are now openly proclaiming that the fairies do not exist and are loudly opposing our taxes. How can we deal with them, other than filling our prisons?”

“Indeed, it is a problem that fairies have not been directly observed for these eighteen years. Our highly paid observers have been assiduous in their work, but there has arisen a new and scurrilous group of denialists who have made it their business to observe the observers. It appears that the fairies are discomfited by all this observational activity and have withdrawn into obscurity to exercise their mischief. Our greatest minds have dwelt continuously on the problem and they have come up with no fewer that fifty possible explanations, but the one that we favour, and are now propagating, is that they are hiding at the bottom of the bottomless lake beyond the palace garden wall.”

“But won’t people just say that they were never there in the first place?”

“Majesty! I urge you not to utter such remarks, even in jest. It would be a disaster if your gracious personage were branded with the name Denier.”

“Nevertheless, our Most Secret Sources tell us that our most skilled artisans, such as blacksmiths and wheelwrights, even fuel gatherers, are leaving for other kingdoms, who are less absolute in imposing the fairy taxes.”

“Again, I regret that there is some truth in this. Some rulers are less gifted in wisdom than your glorious self, and they fall into the easy path of seeking popularity by pandering to the selfishness of the unwashed masses. It is for this reason that we have devoted great effort and funds to promoting international gatherings of the enlightened ones. This incidentally is one of the causes of the unplanned costs; for these distinguished international scholars expect to be entertained according to their reverend status and not as mere peasants. The outcome of these conferences, however, has been most gratifying, and our surveys tell us that 97% of wizards, sorcerers and soothsayers believe in FATBOG.”


“Aye, Sire. It is an ancient logical device of using the initials of a phenomenon to give it apparent familiarity and authority. It is known as an acronym and has great mystical power.”

“That is all very well, but what about our common people? Fewer and fewer of them seem to be willing to follow our lead.”

“We have no choice but to follow the path we have chosen. We must set an example by demonstrating the power of our faith. If we seem to hesitate now, the masses will begin to feel that their sacrifices have been in vain. Kingdoms have fallen in such circumstances.”

“We only hope that you are right. So let it be! Issue a royal decree that we still believe in foot bag.”

“FATBOG, Sire."


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The climate crunch

The first thing to understand is that it is nothing to do with climate. It has everything to do with the Climate Change Act, which also has nothing to do with climate. It was Ed Milliband’s magnum opus, and a monumental exemplar of the triumph of fantastical scaremongering over calm reason. Nothing is more illustrative of the state of decay of our political class than that this disastrous act was passed by the House of Commons virtually unopposed. It was an economic suicide note writ large. The great irony of the last decade and a half of our history has been that the climate crunch has been delayed by a politically generated recession.

The Sunday Telegraph edition of the today has several relevant items. The big front headline is Let’s rip up the climate change act about a forthcoming speech by sacked cabinet minister, Owen Patterson. If only the media and politicians would give up that silly cliché about “keeping the lights on” – it is not the darkness that is going to kill people (other than, perhaps through falls) but other disastrous effects of loss of energy; see Time: the future (2009) and the fourteen other occasions when we have warned “people are going to die” since August 2003. The Lone Ranger, Christopher Booker, takes up the story in detail. Great stuff – the only reservation I have is that it is one of those “he will say” accounts. What is the point of making the speech if the main points have already been published? As a counter-balance, there is a piece by Matthew D’Ancona (whom we have formerly dubbed Stuntman Dave’s representative on Earth). The audacity! He has the impertinence to write  It’s time to fight against UKIP’s fear driven agenda, when UKIP is the only political group to oppose the climate scare-mongering that is driving us into economic suicide. But of course the official Westminster Village line is that UKIP has no policies (try their own website as an antidote).  He says of UKIP:

In Ukip’s eyes, everything is a threat, all the main parties are simultaneously useless and indistinguishable, and almost everything is in decline. For Farage, the public space is coterminous with the pub. There are votes in this, as he has realised. His smile is really a sneer at a world that he claims, ludicrously, has been made “unrecognisable” by immigration and “not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren” – the very people, by the way, who are most at ease in this supposedly ghastly landscape.

The first sentence is an acceptable truth about an acceptable truth; the rest is a sneering accusation of sneering: such a characteristic Village ploy. By the way, children accept the world as they find it: when I was an infant I accepted that bombs fell and that they would always fall.


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What an unpleasant creature Naomi Oreskes is. When it isn’t spouting nonsense it is spouting bile. To do so against one of the true gentlemen of science is way beneath contempt.


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He made his mark

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6

If this turns out to be the year that the climate chickens come home to roost (and that eventuality will only be determined by random events, such as the Didcot fire and, of course, weather) it will be a good time to read Tony Blair’s introduction to that portentous White Paper, particularly the last two paragraphs. Blair and his chief henchman, Alistair Campbell, refined media management (an invention of US politicians) to the point of absurdity, but they got away with it because the pay-off would not come until they were long gone from office. Consider the WMD scam, to name just one other acronym of mysterious power. Like AGW it was pure fantasy. There was the sexed-up report, the duplicated, low-key, “fixed” inquiries into dramatic consequences (a technique later successfully replicated in the Climategate whitewash) and the consequent unholy murderous mess in the Middle East. He controlled the media with some ease (just look at the way they kept quiet about the continuing slaughter in the foot and mouth disaster as the election approached). No Prime Minister of modern times has ever left a country so changed.

In fact, Blair’s constant catch-word was change, and he pursued it with mindless constancy. There was a new law every four hours, a hundred new "crimes" and a thousand new misdemeanors, but much was done without resource to the legal process. He maintained his unspoken policy of unrestricted immigration by initiating cries of racism to prevent it even being discussed. Was it simply a way of increasing the Labour vote? Multi-culturalism was imposed without the electorate ever being consulted. On the other hand, he was quite open about his hostility to the traditional British pub and his campaign to destroy it was entirely successful; one of the greatest short-term cultural changes ever. He had an intimate closet relationship with the major zealot lobby groups and put through a number of bans and controls that are inimical to the British tradition of freedom of choice, though dear to the hearts of dogmatic socialists, while the nation fell into disorder and decay. Perhaps his greatest triumph was the take-over of the Conservative party by the self-styled “Heir to Blair” and the subsequent installation of the also self-styled “Greenest Government ever”. Meanwhile, the consequent dismantling of locally-based party organisations and the replacement of lively and democratic party conferences by carefully choreographed dull performances further insulated the Westminster Village from popular contact: which all makes UKIP such breath of fresh air.

Whatever else you say about out ’Tone, he certainly made his mark.


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Diagnoses for sale – corrupt or what?

The offer of bribes to medical practitioners to provide diagnosis of dementia, whether correct or not, is a new nadir in the history of politically-controlled medicine in the UK. There are already bribes on offer for such things as promoting the cholesterol myths, mindlessly increasing the rate of diagnosis of incipient diabetes and the proliferation of blood pressure pills. The latter case is taken up by the recorder of the Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, James Lefanu, in a recent column about the side effects of the medication (I have personal experience of the disturbing incidence of dizziness he quotes). As we have already noted above, in the mind of the bureaucrat, in importance for medical priorities diagnosis supersedes disease. As always in modern times, there is a strong influence of zealotry in the formulation of health directives.

It is time for the medical profession to return to the discipline of its Hippocratic Oath (augmented by Inman’s instruction –  First do no harm) and, in particular, cleanse the Augean stables at the top of its professional bodies. Above all, they must draw a line in the sand and say "NO!" to further bureaucratic intrusion into their discipline.


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A case of advanced dementia

The EU Government (unelected, unsackable and inscrutable) has now morphed into an insane parody of even its previous self. Its headlong flight into economic suicide has now accelerated to the point where it is seeking bankruptcy on all fronts. The new set of commissioners, unknown to the continent’s populace, but imposed upon them willy nilly, contains characters even more bizarre than formerly (look for example at the Incredible Bulc). Its augmented and increasingly lonely campaign of carbophobia, if it were ever carried out (which it never has been), could only result in the financial collapse of an entire continent. Now it has added a Robin Hood tax on individual states that rewards economic failure and penalises relative success (just look at the chart from the Daily Mail):

New figures reveal the increased bill the UK faces, on top of the £8billion-a-year it already pays, is higher than any other EU country, because its economy has been growing faster than expected. France, Germany and Denmark are among those told they will get money back from Brussels


It is a grotesque proposal, which in effect charges the UK not only for the inevitable failure of the Eurozone but also for the harebrained socialist splurge in France and the continued incompetent governance of Germany. As for including activities such as prostitution and illegal drug dealing in the estimated national income, it is an outrage that beggars belief in all but the most intensely disturbed of minds.

We have to get out now!

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 Number of the month – 2003

This is the year of the infamous UK Government White Paper - Our energy future - creating a low carbon economy. If we are unlucky this might be the year in which it finally delivers its payload. To mark it we have added an extension to out contents list, headed What’s old at Number Watch.


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