Thursday, January 28, 2010

Science and Bullshit - how to tell the difference?

Clive Hamilton in Crikey today - re-posted below. All I can say is "Go Clive" and wonder why the ABC is pandering to the *numbnuts*. Hope Crikey won't mind me re-posting here.

"Fifty metres from where I sit at the ANU, 300 meteorologists and oceanographers are listening to the latest research on climate change at the annual conference of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

But you wouldn’t know it. Instead of sending someone over to hear what the scientists are saying, Radio National this morning decided to give over its program to a charlatan, Lord Monckton, who expounded unchallenged his bizarre theories.

He earnestly told Fran Kelly on Radio National that decades of climate science research could not be believed because the scientists are being paid by governments and governments want to cede national sovereignty to a “world government”.

He compared climate scientists, like those at the conference next door to me, to the eugenicists of Nazi Germany and to the Soviet scientific fraud Trofim Lysenko. It was one of the most shocking slanders ever heard on the ABC.

Fran Kelly allowed Monckton to present himself as a credible scientific voice, and could not challenge his repeated absurdities. She did not ask him what his qualifications were. She did not ask him why he lied about being a member of the House of Lords, or why he claims to be a Nobel laureate.

She did not ask him about his preposterous claims to have won the Falklands war or to have invented a cure for Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, and HIV.

Nor did she ask Monckton why Kevin Rudd, Barack Obama and the leaders of Europe, Japan and the developing world would participate in a process designed to relinquish national sovereignty to a communist world government.

Monckton’s views are so extreme that even some of Australian’s hardened climate deniers will not go near him. Tony Abbott will not meet him. Even Barnaby Joyce regards him as too dangerous to associate with.

Janet Albrechtsen, the Australian’s right-wing attack dog, laments the fact that “...while Monckton has mastered the best arts of persuasion, he also succumbs to the worst of them when he engages in his made-for-the-stage histrionics.”

Most of Australia’s leading climate scientists have declined requests to debate Monckton on air because they understand that debating him on the science carries the implication that Monckton is a scientist with something worthwhile to say.

They also know that what Monckton lacks in credibility he more than makes up for in showmanship. In a 10-minute radio or TV debate the showman who is willing to lie brazenly will usually come out on top, especially against a scientist hamstrung by the quaint belief that truth emerges from the careful presentation of the evidence.

One of his former editors said of Monckton that he has the ability to talk nonsense in a very compelling way; some naive members of the public lap it up.

Fran Kelly is not the only journalist suckered by the denialists, although one would expect the ABC to have a better understanding of the scam than Channel 7’s Sunrise.

Some in the profession have been known to express bewilderment at the rise and rise of climate denial. When Al Gore was interviewed on Lateline a while back, Leigh Sales spent the first half of the interview asking him to respond to the claims of the sceptics.

She then asked “Why do you think the sceptics are so influential?”, apparently unaware that she had answered her own question by spending half of the interview talking about them.

Over recent months we have witnessed a sustained assault on the reputation of Australian climate scientists led by the Australian newspaper, which magnifies and gloats over every real or confected mistake by the IPCC and promotes the opinions of every mad-eyed denier, including Monckton.

Throughout this trashing of scientists, the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have been missing in action. The Academies of Science have been silent too. It’s well past the time they roused themselves from their slumber and muscled up to those now ditching three centuries of science in favour of a fanatical belief."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How the worm turns to...

It is amazing to discover how the blue worm has turned - in the space of a few short weeks.

Even two weeks ago the *numbnuts* in the blue team were vehemently denying that climate change existed.

Nothing to worry about Tony said - when we get back into government we will "get rid of this crazy climate change superstition" he said.

It's all a "left wing plot" designed to "deindustrialise" the western world - said Nick Minchin. And other blah, blah and blah.

That was before the *numbnuts* discovered that the most recent decade was the warmest in history. And before they saw (and heard about) the absolute devastation caused by the bushfire events across Australia over the past couple of weeks.

As I travel around the nation over the holidays - all I hear is commentary about the recent *bushfires* or about how people are concerned for the future and how they will organise themselves to deal with a permanently hot tomorrow.

Summer in Australia this year has escalated the issue. The risk of devastation by fire has suddenly become the key. Perhaps even issue number 1.

No longer do the Joes and Julies on the ground doubt "climate Change". They know it is happening - what they are looking for is a credible response from their political leaders.

Actually most of these people are natural supporters of the *blue* team - they distrust Labor and are mostly small business people - the big problem is they now know that they have been lied to by their political friends! Oops.

Meanwhile back in the *blue* bunker we find Tony Abbot, Nick Minchin, Cory Bernardi and about 30 other Liberal "skeptics" wondering what the next plan is. Because the last one turned to sh*it real quick.

That's the problem with a "lightweight" political strategy. If you don't choose wisely then you end up looking like the *numbnut* that you surely are.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poor White Trash

I must be getting old and grumpy - because every time I look at one of the various responsibilities of our state governments - I see systemic failure. And it p*sses me off.

Take education for example - particularly tertiary education.

The states have now almost universally abandoned any notion that the tertiary education sector is there to educate our kids and turn out excellent Australian graduate doctors, lawyers, engineers and scientists.

Nope, apparently now the tertiary education sector is there to charge serious fees to foreign students and to turn out excellent Indian graduate doctors, lawyers, engineers and scientists.

We can't manage to educate our own kids but we can manage to educate foreign kids - I wonder if it has anything to do with the money?

As usual the states are raking it in - does anyone know where it goes?

Meanwhile we have a huge number of local kids dropping out at year 10 and going to work for $10 to $15 bucks an hour in a menial service job because they don't value a tertiary education. Mostly they and their parents don't know why such a thing is important. After all we're the lucky country - aren't we?

But the Indians have worked it out - mum and dad back in the home country scrape and save to fund a tertiary education for their children - over there in the lucky country - knowing full well that it is the key to their child's long term success.

Lee Kuan Yew nailed it - when in the 1980's he called us the "poor white trash" of Asia.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Milching the Cow

With more revelations today about the incestuous nature of South Australian state politics - I thought it was time to reflect again on why this odious little state government is increasingly "on the nose".

Apparently ex Premier Dean Brown has been paid $800,000 for 3 years work in providing "strategic advice" on how to drought proof the state. Great value if you ask me ;-)

Of course anyone who knows the place will appreciate that the state is just a hive of water activity - with everyone wallowing around in huge amounts of excess H2O - gardens and greenery are mountainous and it’s a veritable water world. The tropical paradise of the South.

Perhaps not - I suspect most locals view the whole thing as a rather poor joke.

Forgive my mirth but Dean Brown was a failure when he was Premier and it looks like he is an even bigger failure in his latest job.

Some of you will think that is a little harsh - but the facts are that he presided over the destruction of around 300 small IT businesses when he was Premier - and the Garnaut Review is very clear about the parlous state of the water resources in South Australia. I reckon that is two strikes - are we going to give him a go at the third?

Probably. But this is just another scam engineered by a government that is intent on looking after itself and its mates. This is all about being seen to be generous to the "losing team" when they are in opposition - so they will reciprocate when the tables are turned. It's a little bit of "insurance" that will help Mike and Kev and Pat and Co. gain sinecures with the state after they have been deposed.

This is about engaging previous state government ministers for the "benefit of the state" and paying them handsomely - to set a precedent that will apply when the current ministers are kicked out for being incompetent.

State politics are different - and mostly irrelevant. There is no reason for state governments to exist and state politicians know it - that's why they behave like greedy little sh*ts because they know that eventually the people will wake up and deal with it.

Until then they are just "milching the cow". Happy holidays cow.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Holiday road toll - a pathetic response

As usual this holiday period, we ended up with a large number of dead Australians and an even larger number injured as a result of accidents on our substandard roads.

It's a sad and sorry set of statistics that are exploited by our State Governments to justify their *pathetic* road safety measures and response.

I use the word *pathetic* because that is what it is.

The States aren't serious about dealing with road safety. If they were they would do a lot more to understand accident causes and then they would design programs to educate and inform road users and build a policing system that complimented that.

But what they actually have is poor information and a policing system that is designed to punish road users. And then they usually deliver a simplistic *message* all designed to generate *fear* and capture as much *revenue* as possible.

How often do we hear that "speed kills" and "drink driving" is evil? Far too often - to the extent that "Bill and Betty Bogan" now believe this to be true - irrespective of the evidence.

The facts are that we don't know the root cause of the majority of road deaths - because the important data are not collected - and it's certainly not analyzed in any scientific way.

We don't know the driver occupation, state of mind and any distractions, the mindset and circumstances of other vehicle occupants, the vehicle state, the weather state, the road conditions, the traffic conditions, and a hundred other important variables associated with these deaths from road accidents - because these data are simply not collected and analyzed by the authorities.

Instead, they collect a small and rudimentary subset of the necessary data and then they try to fit these to the circumstances of all road accidents and end up with - "speed kills" and "alcohol is evil".

This has been going on now for 30+ years - hundreds of low level bureaucrats and police sergeants have built careers on telling a gullible media that we road users are "dumb fu_ks" - and wringing their hands about the shocking road toll.

The stupid thing is that we let them get away with it. Maybe one day it will change - as if.