Number of the Month

January 2016

 Games people play

Another year, same old mess! Once again Booker says it all. The delusions of the Western leaders are exposed in all their fatuity by this lone voice of reason within in the establishment media gallimaufry. Time and time again we are taken apart by countries playing hardball, while we carry on playing puff ball. The most remarkable thing about our leaders is their total lack of embarrassment about their performance. It is a consequence of the domination by the new political classes, who are solely concerned with the winning of elections. When they achieve power they exhibit no coherent strategy and when they find themselves in opposition they collapse in confusion. The bureaucratic sub-stratum is more focussed, secretive and pervasive. The farcical pantomime of international aid is just one manifestation of the general bewilderment. Another is the mental paralysis induced by the perpetual crisis in the turbulent Middle East. It is so much more comfortable to concentrate on imaginary threats than real ones; so having avoided exposure over the violent attack in Paris, the great ones religiously turned up there for the later ritual. It is much more pleasant to spout about millions of imaginary lives saved by the generous distribution of alms than to talk about lives of real innocents mown down by crazed savages.

Booker has two other bitingly relevant stories of our time this week. Stuntman Dave, still sucking up to the “Green Blob”, replaced a competent environment minister with a glaring green incompetent, which only exacerbated the problems largely created by bizarre EU flood regulations; and how the EU continues the destruction of our fishing grounds by factory fishing, while stamping on harmless anglers, who do not have the resources for the required lobbying and bribing.


The year is gone, but the fantasy lingers on

How are the mighty fallen! The once greatly and rightly honoured Royal Society is parading the statistical fantasist (or, if you prefer hoaxer) Lewandowsky as its new hero. A fugitive from Australian defenders of science, he now sullies the once respected University of Bristol, thanks to massive hand-outs from the same RS. The colonisation of the Society by politically motivated pseudo-scientists has been one of the most tragic episodes in the passing of the age of science. They are mainly self-described geneticists, ignorant of physical sciences, mathematics or the scientific method. Since the foundation of genetics by that meticulous experimenter, Gregor Mendel, most of the startling progress in that field was facilitated by physicists and chemists. An unfortunate outcome is that they have bequeathed powerful tools to charlatans who are unfit to use them. For example, they can slice and splice genes with great precision and then profess to determine how those genes are expressed by the corrupt statistical methods of modern epidemiology. Worse, they then presume to pronounce on the whole panorama of physical sciences, while packing influential bodies such as the RS with their own kind. It is know in political circles as entryism. They go further and invade the establishment media with opinion columns: see, for example, Numby Laureate, Steve Jones, who lectures us on astrophysics without understanding Newton’s first law of motion.

The BBC radio slogan of the moment is “Ooh, Mr Corbyn, what a huge mandate you’ve got!” The “huge mandate” that is being brandished by interviewers to goad their victims into approving a leftward lurch in the shadow cabinet membership is nothing more than a fantasy number generated by a counterfeit election. It largely comprised non members of the party (far left zealots, joiners of an entryism project promoted by the Telegraph and jokers who were just having a bit of cheap fun by buying a vote).

A mad world, my masters (or have I said that before?)

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Where ignorance is bliss ...

One of the sadder examples of the failure of ill-educated members of the political class to understand the simplest of mathematical concepts is their difficulties with the logarithmic function. It is commonly found in a great many physical systems and, it so happens that, it characterises two of the most potent current debates in the political arena. In the simplest cases, like its inverse, the exponential function, it occurs when the rate of growth of a quantity is determined how much is already there. If the rate of growth is proportional to present population, of bacteria for example, the consequent growth of population is exponential. On the other hand, if the rate of growth is inversely proportional to population the growth is logarithmic.

A similar idea applies to cases of cause and effect. Consider the effect of carbon dioxide on global warming by the so-called greenhouse effect. There is relatively constant amount of solar radiation in appropriate parts of the spectrum, so as the concentration of this gas increases less of it is available to any newly introduced molecules, because it has already taken up by those already there. Thus the process is self-limiting, i.e. logarithmic. Not a point the scaremongers like to be drawn to attention!

Another phenomenon that has recently been to the fore is an increase of flood records in certain limited areas. Increase is what records do. It is the only thing they can do. On average, they obey the rules of the statistics of extremes, but any particular outcome will be different from another. The extreme value fallacy is a happy hunting ground for scaremongers, but the general rule is that records increase with the logarithm of the length of time over which they are recorded (or the number of samples). The political and media classes, however, are much more satisfied with global warming as an explanation for everything.

... Tis folly to be wise.


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Tales of the insignificant

In a piece aptly entitled How stupid is air pollution ‘science’? reveals that the EU is claiming that 432,000 people in Europe are killed by tiny atmospheric particles every year. Such precision, already, and such a number!

It is now a couple of decades since I warned colleagues that they are out to get particles. So these became the basis of the third front against industry established by the enemy within, a project that has now reached the ever-increasing-number phase. The campaign has been so successful that much of Western industry has migrated eastwards.

Evolution has developed efficient methods of dealing with such particles when inhaled: they are trapped in mucus and swept upwards by motile cilia, then via the digestive tract they are excreted in the usual manner.

Of course, such a mechanism can be overwhelmed by high concentrations, as might happen in a house fire or direct inhalation of cigarette smoke. The pioneering zealots, however, wanted their ban at all costs, so they have suppressed any reference to inhalation as the key ingredient. In times of yore, smokers tasted the smoke and then swallowed it in their saliva, receiving thereby not only tasteful pleasure but also the benefits, such as stress-relief and improved cognition. The invention of the cigarette changed all that, so mass direct inhalation became almost universal. The resulting wave of “smokers’ cough” and the apparent increase in lung cancer rates prompted investigation by real scientists. Sir Austin Bradford-Hill, who was largely responsible for scientifically affirming the link, later suffered the indignity of being written out of history by the new establishment (in the form of the malevolent BMA with the connivance of his treacherous former assistant) because he refused to compromise his scientific principles for propaganda purposes.

While I was writing the above, the BMA were agitating for medical staff to go on strike, thereby ruling themselves out of being a profession, and Government “Health Chiefs” decreed that drinking one glass of wine carried a danger of cancer. The latter brought even some of the subservient media into contention. The top front page Telegraph headline was

Health chiefs attacked over 'nanny state' alcohol guide.

 Incidentally, that last link contains the Matt cartoon, which as usual says such a lot in so little.

 It all concerns the latest pronouncement on alcohol consumption on the authority of the CHIEF Medical Officer. This apparently stupid, ignorant woman (who bears the titles of Professor, Dame and FRS as well as that of her office, which tells you more about titular inflation than anything else) seems to have no knowledge of the nature of biological responses. In particular, the “linear, zero-threshold” model is virtually unknown in biology, though it is common in zealot junk science propaganda. It is perhaps a little more understandable that she also knows nothing about statistical significance, as it is part of the proud medical tradition to be totally non-mathematical; but parading a relative risk of 1.15 (linking alcohol to breast cancer) is unacceptable as evidence. Even some modern epidemiologists would shy away from it. Furthermore, as the Telegraph editorial points out, the other biological reaction she does not understand is the human one to coercion. There is an ever-growing army of authoritarian figures, living off the public teat, who ruthlessly exploit the distortion of the laws of science to achieve their ends. It is difficult to follow the thought processes of such people. What part of Correlation is not causation is it that they do not understand? Not that they ever do even establish correlation. The very titles of some of their professorial chairs reek of zealotry. Mad world, or not?


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 and tales… and tales … and ...

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


Time was when every village had its official idiot. Subsequently every media outlet had to have one. See, for example The epistle of Paul to the Gullible, which was partly inspired by my childhood memory of proudly being able to read a headline in my father’s newspaper (What is happening to our weather?) but not understanding it.  Now every university, however prestigious, has to have one.  Thus we have this (viaWUWT). Sixty something years later and I still don’t understand it.

 Footnote: Yes, I do know the real meaning of prestigious, which is “practising conjuring tricks”. Strange how the old definitions maintain their validity, despite the efforts of the “neologists”! Sorry, too, about there adding another somewhat autological word. I hope to grow up one day.

Also, please remember that it is customary for the establishment media (and other propagandists, such as the BMA) to delete their embarrassing past pronouncements from the internet. Reminds me of a nervous lecturer, when I was a student, who rubbed everything out on the blackboard, before turning to respond to a raised hand form the class know-all.


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Government by noise spike

Noise in applied physics generally means any unwanted signal, but it is often an abbreviation for random noise. Many of the more difficult measurement problems involve extracting a real causal signal hidden in such a background. Supervising a training in research methods, usually leading to a PhD, often involves teaching that you do not get carried away by the latest data point in an emerging sequence in time.

You might wish to skip the next paragraph, which is a bit boring.

My own PhD project, in those primitive times half a century ago, was fraught with such temptations. It took me three years to build the apparatus (which involved several novel materials) and get it working, which in modern bureaucratic times could have meant failure by running out of time. Then each data point required three weeks of hard physical work, and I only managed that by bribing the caretaker with bottles of light ale to let me in to work alone at weekends. I had to build up a large and heavy oven around the apparatus, so that it could be heated up under high vacuum to remove adsorbed oxygen, which was the suspected contaminant. Then dismantle the oven and perform a triple distillation of the liquid sample under vacuum before delivering it to a test-cell to make the measurements. During each of those three week periods I could not help conjecturing what the next point might be, but kept it to myself. My final results suggested that the oxygen impurity actually stabilised conduction and breakdown processes, but for me my most important contribution was to show that human control of the measurement process was mischievous and that automated electronic control was more consistent. Incidentally, my thesis was the first in that particular area of research to include an appendix that comprised computer print-out.

Anyway, returning to the matter in hand, government control of the economy exemplifies the effects of decision making in response to random variations. There is no starker demonstration of this is in the behaviour of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the summer of 2015 he was spreading doom and gloom, only to confound the consequent expectations a few weeks later by giving an upbeat Autumn Statement. Now, a few weeks on, he is back on the pessimist trail. All this is done on the basis of gathered statistics of dubious quality and highly influenced by random events, such as, for example, the relative dates on which particular data are announced. These are invariably adjusted later, demonstrating that they were erroneous in the first place. The political motto seems to be “Talk long, act short”. Random lurches in noisy data are not a rational basis on which to plan for the future. The establishment media romp joyfully through the excessive amount of instantaneous data on offer. Data generation has become a huge parasitic industry, which is leeching the life out of the economy. In over-bureaucratised institutions, such as the NHS, the appetite for management information is diminishing the effectiveness of the human resources by diverting them to form-filling. I well remember my first experience of this in the prologue to the process of nationalising the universities, the bureaucratic Transparency Exercise, the pain of which drove me to write a parodic poem, The Provision of Data.  Within months of this, the ludicrous  Research Assessment Exercise unveiled the true nature of the nationalisation coup. The rapid decline of the best university system in the world was inevitable and, for me, it really was time to go.


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Yet another Green triumph

Now they are coming thick and fast. No sooner had the Greenies seen off the British coal industry, than they have engineered the loss of another great lump of the steel industry.

The immediate cause is the outrageous behaviour of China in dumping massive quantities of steel on the international market, more than the total European requirement, while tolerating internal financial losses that no democracy would be able to get away with. Yet only a few weeks ago Stuntman Dave was grovelling to the controllers of that benighted country, trying to sell it the nuclear future of the original pioneers of nuclear engineering, just as we sold our steel present to India. It is natural, even right and proper, to give priority to your native country over others when it comes to preserving industry in difficult times. Thanks to decades of mismanagement by the political classes, UK industry is largely owned by foreigners and has therefore ceded control of much of its economy. The rest of it is largely in the hands of the EU, which is not only riddled with bureaucracy, fraud and corruption, but has exhibited a fatal indecisiveness in the face of serious and urgent problems. A policy of protectiveness towards its own markets is one of its dubious claims to rectitude, but it has procrastinated to the point of paralysis over this urgent issue (and many others, to boot). The UK Government is restricted to fiddling round the edges of these problems with the few levers that remain at its disposal.

Much of all this is the work of the Greens and the obeisance that the political classes have paid to them. Greenpeace was a once honourable, if naďve, popular movement that was hijacked by a far left faction devoted to world socialist government. By assiduous playing of a political game of charades, it amassed considerable wealth and influential allies within existing governmental structures.

How quickly and conveniently the establishment media forget the villains of the piece. There are, for example, twenty eight mentions of the name Huhne in the pages of Number Watch, but he is now deemed never to have existed. The first of these identifies one of the most outrageous statistical frauds ever committed in the attempts to manufacture data to support the Climate Scare. Yet this is the man that Stuntman Dave appointed to be Secretary of State for Energy and the Environment; such a disastrous combination of responsibilities to give to such a destructive candidate! Among his more notorious pronouncements was that Britain did not need nuclear energy, which has ultimately led to Dave’s expensive grovelling to the Chinese. Huhne was finally brought down by an entirely separate aspect of his criminality, in which he involved and then betrayed his unfortunate wife. Despicable is barely an adequate word.

We said of his reign at the time that Insanity Rules UK. Note these words in that piece “… perhaps not during his tenure of office, but at some time in the future”: something to which the establishment media pay no heed. Perhaps some future Gibbon will map out our decline and fall and its causes and effects; but do not expect such a service from the modern establishment media.


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 By the way

Anyone notice the missing link between the two latest sets of ramblings above? Huhne utilised not one but two noise spikes to further his political ends and his personal ambitions. The spikes originated in unusually high fresh water flows, which have no obvious link to global warming (except to those fantasists and opportunists who think everything is caused by AGW).


The corrupt, the complacent and the complicit

Here we go again: yet another record year for global temperatures, but only the adjustable kind. Yes, the adjusters are at it again! Having found that the satellite records could not be fiddled, naturally they simply ignored them.

We first raised the question in these pages eight years ago in a piece called Yes, global warming really is man-made. Then it was just about US temperatures, but the adjusters had been quite brazen about announcing what they were up to. The feeling of unease began when the term “High quality” appeared twice (in the first two sentences), which makes it read more like a salesman’s patter than a scientific treatise, but the real discomfort began with the shape of the curve of adjustment against time. Not only does the correction account for most of the alleged global warming signal, but the beginning of the dramatic rise occurs just where required by the hypothesis of causation by the rise of industrial activity.

Of course, that great and late-lamented lone scholar, John Daly, had begun to expose ghastly examples of low quality siting seven years before that and groups of other observers subsequently turned up many more. That high quality US network was nothing more than a chimera; yet it was soon extended to embrace the whole globe, regardless of huge gaping holes in the coverage and little checking of the quality, management and siting of sensors.

The lazy journalists and editors of the establishment media love nothing more than a ready-made scare story, so they lapped it up and broadcast it relentlessly. They also deleted the articles from their web sites when they had served their purpose, never having quite understood the concept that the internet never forgets.

There was also, however, always the presence of the enemy within, the watermelons, so comprehensively exposed in a book  by James Delingpole, who now pours scorn on this latest eruption of hocus pocus. His marshalling of the evidence and application of reason should be a model for the adjusters, but that would be in the realms of porcine aviation. So, in words that would make a suitable title for corny comedy film, their motto is “Carry on adjusting!”


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Slow progress

It is all over the media that the UK internet service is becoming slower by the day; for some of us often coming to a complete halt. Your bending author has thus been obliged to fork out for an upgraded connection, which might cause some disruption of updating for the next few days.

 Quick March

Unlike the internet, the March of the zealots is speeding up. The time interval between the invention of a new meaningless slogan and the Government proposing consequent taxation is now reduced to three years. In that time interval a whole new branch of the zealotry industry has mushroomed from one Californian monomaniac’s slogan “sugar is poison” to a world wide phenomenon. In retrospect, there was an inevitability about it: after all, if the fundamental basis of all life on earth, carbon, gets the blame for all evil, it is only natural for the second stage of life also to come under attack.  The arrival of photosynthesis not only transformed the atmosphere into a life-supporting supplier of oxygen, but also created the fundamental substances from which all the myriad of complex chemicals that go to make up living things are built, namely sugars. The same group of compounds also serve to store and distribute energy originally from the sun for the functioning of life itself.

Of course, there is always a grain of truth on which the zealots’ towers of Babel are built. Thus the fact that some US farmers were abusing DDT became the justification for a ban that condemned millions to death from malaria around the world. Likewise, some food manufacturers have been abusing the availability of cheap corn syrup. Never forget how the obesity crisis was manufactured (and then you could have looked upon a picture if the establishment media were not in the habit of deleting the evidence of their inconsistency). The road from new scare to new taxation is now a short one. How pathetic the political classes are in conditioned response to zealot pressure!

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 Hence we have

Number of the month – 3

This is the number of years to which the zealotry time to maximum impact has been reduced.



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