Suspence About James Randi

The Amazing James Randi has stepped into the AGW debate with a reasonable blog, stating truisms several times:

scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to “belong” in the scientific community

a growing number of prominent scientists disagree (on the IPCC consensus)

science does not depend on consensus

History supplies us with many examples where scientists were just plain wrong about certain matters, but ultimately discovered the truth through continued research

as far as humans are concerned, ten times more people die each year from the effects of cold than die from the heat

In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming.

A Skeptic that is skeptical about making Global Warming THE defining issue of our times?  Obviously, that’s not something that could be left unpunished. And in fact…there are some slightly ominous remarks by Phil “Jekill” Plait (not the usual reasonable Plait one can find talking about every topic but global warming):

I just talked with Randi about it (and sent him some info on AGW), and he’s posting a followup tonight

Let’s see how things develop.

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  1. Sean Casey
    2010/01/25 at 14:23

    Like in any war, and make no mistake, the climate issue is a war between factions, the first casualty is the truth.. One faction is lying through their teeth and are inexcusable whatever slant you put on their point of view and the other, with little to gain financially, are reacting to their knowledge and intelligence being abused by these left wing dickheads supporting the Wall Street Greens as though carbon tax and carbon trading is going to solve the problem. How absurd can things get. The melting of the Himalayan glacier is a dead cert ,if you belief the IPCC, and even though the report was based on second hand after dinner information culled from the WWF and quoting an Indian Glaciologist out of context the best Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), can come up with is that they are going to review their research procedures. Surely he means lying procedures. The idea that the Himalayan glacier will disappear by 2035 is no small concern and one would imagine such a revelation would require a detailed analysis before committing to report, but no, straight into the mix as proof positive the earth is warming out of control. Ringing it comes to mind when they said “It was an honest mistake Gov” they meant to say it was 2350. That in itself is a hanging offense, if it was remotely true but the guy who said it has sold many second hand cars that once belonged to little old ladies. Rajendra Pachauri is a liar of the first order and should be arrested along with his Boss in hiding Sir Maurice Strong for crimes against humanity. And stick Al Gore in that package for good measure. The hole in the Wall Street gang.

  2. Jack
    2010/01/14 at 15:04

    Let’s face it, Science has genitals.

  3. Laydevant
    2009/12/18 at 15:18

    Something that I find is being missed both through the blogosphere, and the MSM is that most of the funding pledged by politicians at the moment as ‘aid to the third world’ to prepare them for global warming actually comes from existing aid budgets.

    24,000 children die everyday from preventable causes (Mostly lack of vaccination, lack of sanitized water, etc…).

    The budgets pledged by the Uk at the moment and other head of states mostly comes from that aid.

    So removing funding from people who are dying now, to place them for hypothetical death in 100 years time – via dubious wind turbine scheme and the like – sounds to me as a scandal that it little spoken about.

    JL

    • geoff chambers
      2009/12/18 at 16:05

      You’re right, it is a scandal. There are a number of interesting blogs about it at climate-resistance.org. The fact that the Make Poverty History website hasn’t been updated for two years says it all.

  4. Umbongo
    2009/12/18 at 13:20

    Sadly, while admitting his amateur status in climatology, Randi appears not to have commented on, let alone condemned, the flagrant breaches of the scientific process in that discipline. The process has not been transparent: the raw data, the adjustments to the raw data and the algorithims underlying the computer models have not been released into the scientific community let alone the public domain at large. The “peer review” process has also been imperfect to say the least: reviews of learned papers of those committed to supporting the GW and AGW theories have been undertaken by those who have already bought into the very same theories: papers setting out contrary conjectures have been refused publication (apparently) at the behest of those whose theories might be thereby refuted.

    It’s all very well for some commenters to assert that the science of climatology (and criticism of it) should be restricted to the “experts” but what is a sceptic supposed to believe when the “experts” betray the very essence of the discipline of science? If intelligent people are not allowed to criticise anything because the “experts” – no matter how compromised – have spoken then we’re back in the Dark Ages. The observations of non-expert Steve McIntyre on the abuse of statistics in climatology indicated, not only that the statistical basis for AGW theories may be wrong but, because of this the whole AGW edifice may, thereby, be at risk of collapse. Is he not allowed to make the deduction that bad statistics lead to mistaken conclusions because he is only a statistician not a climatologist? And am I not allowed to think for myself when such evidence is put forward?

    • 2009/12/18 at 14:35

      thank you Umbongo. There is another question I have read raised somewhere…once the guys at CRU had realized there were troubles in their code and with their data, what prevented them from getting professional help by expert programmers? Unless of course climatology is the one and only field where only experts can speak.

    • Sean Casey
      2010/01/26 at 17:45

      Quite right. Even a blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun, or into a snow drift as is more than likely the case if you were relying on the IPCC as a guide to what the weather may hold for the future. Having said that, logic dictates that climate and weather are definitely not the same thing unless you’re a scientist with the IPCC who also view Co2 as a dangerous green house gas and think we should put a stop to all emissions, thereby killing the planet. Not the best people to be handing out advice.

  5. Luke Warmer
    2009/12/18 at 08:08

    Geoff – I think you’ve missed “media skeptics” – forget Berkeley et al – his influence in terms of spoon bending and the paranormal etc in the 70s and 80s was massive.

    In fact, I must admit to having dipped into Randi’s world every now and again in the last few years to see how the ‘official’ skeptics were dealing with AGW. Also, I’m amazed that Dawkins and the ‘brights’ haven’t reached any conclusions although there were long threads debating it at one time.

    My first thoughts on this news were that it would be interesting if Randi said he’d changed his mind and believed in AGW. The gnashing and shirt-ripping of the skeptics-lite that he picks up on in his second post could be construed as proof of their religiosity. I see from the later link that he even picks up on the “sad” point to perhaps begin to see that this is entirely an emotional issue.

    Really tragic for the skeptics-lite is to read comments about how Randi is only an amateur and should consult professionals first – oh how far we’ve come, what a tragic irony.

    • geoff chambers
      2009/12/18 at 16:13

      Luke,
      I have certainly missed the professional internet sceptics like Randi, largely because I am naturally gullible, and believe all sorts of things which the likes of Bad Astronomy reject, such as the Electric Universe, and Halton Arp on red shift and qasars. I may be the only atheist in the world who believes the Turin Shroud is genuine.

      • Luke Warmer
        2009/12/20 at 10:27

        Geoff – Randi pre-dates t’Internet – and there’s even a magazine, The Skeptic – but he was the first high profile, popular and professional skeptic. He was, for a while, the automatic hero of anyone who was in the science field as the champion of the process – controlled experiment, independent investigation and the like. Which is why it’s also tragic that so many of his acolytes are posting things like “trust the professionals” or “defer to the experts” on this matter.

        I think we’re all naturaly gullible in one way or the other, that’s why science is so fascinating. Read Francis Bacon on the four idols of science in Novum Organum to see how far back this goes. Also, re weather find the Sally Ballunias talk on the links between bad weather during LIA and witchcraft. We only have a thin veneer of rationality at the best of times.

  6. 2009/12/17 at 21:50

    And here he is. A fully-fledged denier, in most AGWers’ eyes:

    I do not deny the finding of GW. AGW, to me, is less clear, though I accept that it is likely true

    Randi has also discovered how idiotic his “friend and ally” PZ Myers can be, all for the sake of getting attention. I’ll leave as an exercise to the reader to establish how idiotic it could be, to have “friends and allies” like that.

  7. geoff chambers
    2009/12/17 at 21:28

    What’s so interesting about this Randi that both you and Climate Resistance devote a blog to his twinges of AGW scepticism? In his latest update, he’s just admitted that he wrote “cooling” instead of “warming” in the blog you link to, because of his “chemo-altered encephalon”. His modest admissions of incompetence in climatology hide the fact that he hasn’t bothered to inform himself at ClimateAudit and Wattsupwiththat about the nuts and bolts of the story.
    There are now thousands of computer geeks and politically motivated bloggers contributing more to the development of the global warming story than the blog philosophers of science scepticism like Goldacre and Randi. The fact that Rose in the popular Daily Mail, and the lightweight Delingpole of the Telegraph, are contributing more to the debate than all the “serious” science correspondents is now in itself an important part of the story.

    • 2009/12/17 at 21:40

      Randi IS the historical side of skepticism. You can’t simply put him aside. Eventually, one hopes they’ll all move away from catastrophism, Randi, Shermer and maybe even Plait.

      • geoff chambers
        2009/12/17 at 22:22

        ok, I take your word for it that these people I’ve never heard of are the
        historical side of scepticism (though I’d put in a word for Socrates, Diogenes, and Bishop Berkeley as sceptical ur-bloggers of quality). But their hundreds of scientifically informed readers are presumably capable of making up their own minds. The question now is about the opinions – and possible voting intentions – of the millions of readers of Delingpole, Rose, and Monbiot.

      • 2009/12/17 at 22:29

        Before AGW, the likes of Shermer and Randi (and Sagan before) were kind of the people one would turn to to understand if something were “baloney” or not. After AGW I suspect a lot of people like me have learned to find their way. That said, still it is nice to see that there is someone among them with the courage of not following the party line

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