A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Another test of the BOM vs Corbyn

Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction appears to be getting noticed (finally). Recently, the Telegraph reported on The man who beats the Met Office. But, some people (especially outside the UK) don’t seem to realize Corbyn has been doing this for a long time. He started placing bets on his predictions way back in 1990, and set up his his long range forecasting business in 1995. His accuracy during a 6-month period of 2008 at predicting extreme weather events in narrow time windows was audited at 85%. WeatherAction sells forecasts that are 30, 45, and 60 day advance notices. Could you imagine our BOM giving us warnings now about a storm or flood on, say, February 23 – 25th 2011? Try to picture the weather girl suggesting anything like that in the local Channel Nine Weather Update.

The BOM in the UK have said they don’t do seasonal forecasts (“BBQ-summer” and “mild-winters” no more). Yet, here is Piers, still putting his name to forecasts, not just of a seasonal nature across an entire country, but for particular dates and particular regions.

If the CSIRO or BOM were really interested in predicting the climate, they could, say, pay to fly in a consultant […]

Merry Christmas

The immovable wall met the inflexible mind this week. The bitterly cold weather brought out some spectacular cases of cognitive dissonance. The Greg Graven’s who were overcome with passion, and the Monboit’s who were overcome with the complete “suspension of disbelief” whilst hunting for ways to rationalize their faith in a theory. Too warm? Too cold? It doesn’t matter, what ever it is, it matches a model somewhere, somehow, post hoc, ad hoc, hoc post, whatever…

Craven tried to explain himself on Judith Curry’s site and it only got worse.

I’m betting we’ll see more of those implosions in 2011.

Thanks to all of those who helped me this year — with advice, information, tips, and chocolate. Thanks to the unsung moderators too. 🙂

Apologies for all the times I forgot to say thanks to the right person for tips — a few weeks ago my intray seriously did reach 21,000 messages and the magic 4G mark, whereupon my email functionality collapsed, the computer crashed, and then I learnt the importance of something called “compacting”. I would like to thank people more often, and am conscious that I didn’t always get it right.

I’ll be taking a few […]

An insight into Hacker-land

UPDATED: Posted the full Pointman article instead of the much abbreviated edit version. Thanks to Pointman.

Hacked or leaked?

Pointman argues the case for the emails being leaked from inside. Part I of his thesis is that an expert hack takes a lot of money, patience and a rare personality. (And after reading his article I believe him.) In Part II Pointman suggests that there is not a lot of money or inclination to pay such an expert. Call me unconvinced on this second clause. Even though I’ve seen no evidence of big dollars at work in the skeptic case* I can imagine in any market worth 130 odd billion per annum that there would be players with handy shorts-ready-to-place who might like to pull some strings.

That said, the fact that the police investigation into the leak or hack has failed to find any answers combined with the obvious motivation for any half honest civil servant with a modicum of altruistic honor to act as a whistle-blower, means I find the whistle-blowing theory much more believable.

The ilk of the money-driven sociopathic derivative trader who makes money from shorting markets, […]

Could the Australian BOM get it more wrong?

Warwick Hughes has spotted a neat trifecta: whether it be rain, maximums or minimums, the BOM gets it wrong.

For this spring the Australian BOM predicted it would be dry and warm, instead we got very wet and quite cold. The models are so bad on a regional basis, it’s uncannily like they are almost useful… if they call things “dry”, expect “wet”.

On August 24 the Australian BOM had pretty much no idea that any unusual wetness was headed their way. Toss a coin, 50:50, yes or no. Spring 2010 was going to be “average”, except in SW Western Australia where they claimed “a wetter than normal spring is favoured.” What follows were 100 year floods, or at least above average rain to nearly every part of the nation bar the part that was supposed to be getting more rainfall. In the chart below, all shades of “blue” got above average rainfall. The dark blue? That’s the highest rainfall on record.

The rainfall deciles chart original is here.

On August 24 the BOM predicted that spring would be “hot across the north”. Instead it was cold everywhere except in the west […]

Glikson: descends to pseudo-psychology and projection?

Dr Andrew Glikson

Remember the Great Debate between myself and Dr Andrew Glikson? He’s back – in Climate change denial: The misrepresentation of climate science he calls names, resorts to inventing a mental illness, creates strawmen whom he beats down mercilessly, all the while misrepresenting thousands of scientists who disagree with him, and making statements that can be proven false with a few seconds of Googling.

12.30 pm 14 December 2010. Hedley Bull Lecture Theatre 1 Australian National University

We are most fortunate that Brice Bosnich managed to pop in and report on what Glikson had to say (below). I wish I could have been there to hear Brice ask those questions….

Glikson knows the main Skeptic arguments, so why did he ignore them?

In the Great Debate of May 2010, Andrew Glikson and I exchanged replies in a five part series that took six weeks and amounted to over 17,000 words, 26 graphs, and dozens of references. It’s the only long serious climate debate in writing that I’m aware of. He was unable to provide convincing empirical evidence to back up his claims of impending catastrophe. He asked if he could respond […]

Global Warming takes a holiday

Here in the sunburnt country, floods are running rife, temperatures are so low some people might have a White Christmas, indeed many people are wearing clothes that are from the wrong season, and all of this of course is just weather.

Luckily we aren’t getting as much weather as the UK and Europe.

This is not a real post, that comes tomorrow, but I thought it gives you some idea of the transformation going on downunder thanks to the PDO switch. If only our policy makers had seen it coming. They might not have thrown so much money at desalination plants to boost water supplies in Dams that on the Eastern Seaboard are all now suddenly full.

Bear in mind all this rain recorded above was before the current December floods

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A journalist who confuses journalism with propaganda

Great news: This commentary appears in The Weekend Australian today (in a slightly different edited version). Below was what I submitted, before the edits, with the links intact. Comments are open at The Australian. I’ll be posting less often over the Southern Summer, possibly quite irregularly, so if you want to get an email from me and find out when the more important posts go up, please add your email to my list (top right, see “register”).

In the print edition the headline is “Journalists who think Newspapers should lead the country”*

David McKnight’s criticism of The Australian (Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths) makes a good case study of the intellectual collapse of Australian universities.

Here’s a UNSW “Senior Research Fellow” in journalism who contradicts himself, fails by his own reasoning, does little research, breaks at least three laws of logic, and rests his entire argument on an assumption that he provides no evidence for. Most disturbingly — like a crack through the façade of Western intellectual vigour — he actually asserts that the role of a national newspaper is to “give leadership”. Bask for a moment in the inanity of this declaration that newspapers “are our leaders”. Last […]

Could we make that flood worse?

Many landholders along the Tumut River have not returned to their homes because of increased outflow from the Blowering Dam. (AAP: Wolter Peeters). From the ABC site.

It’s not like we need another case study in just how creatively dumb bureaucracy can be, but Jennifer Marohasy has been relentless in pursuing the extraordinary case of a government contracting a corporation to pour nearly 7000 Mega litres into a area facing life threatening floods. That’s more than 2000 Olympic pools worth of water dumped into a flood zone just last Wednesday.

Remember, this legislation was made with good intentions, and it was supposed to help the environment…

The Whole Truth: Water Deliberately Dumped into Flooded Area

SNOWY Hydro chief executive, Terry Charlton, recently confirmed that water was dumped into the already flooded Murray-Darling Basin, but said the authority had little choice (The Australian, December 15, 2010, page 7). A real time operational diagram, however, tells a very different story.

Last Wednesday, Snowy Hydro could have sent water into Eucumbene dam. At only 20 percent it had a storage capacity of a whopping 4 cubic kilometres of water.

Instead, the water managers set the trans-mountain tunnels so water was flowing away […]

Global Warming — it’s just another joke

UPDATE BELOW:See also the Shut Up Choir’s new song — self satire at work

Armstrong and Miller mock the Global Warming thought police as they tell us to ignore our lying eyes, and give us glossy printed pamphlets telling us what we are allowed to think.

The formerly fashionable theory of man-made catastrophe is becoming the regular butt of jokes. Bear in mind that half of the comedic team of Miller and Armstrong is known as an eco-activist (that would be Ben), and the skit isn’t necessarily poking fun at the science but at the militant marketing, and over-the-top dogma. Possibly even funnier (in a tragic kind of way) are the comments from pro-man-made global warming fans. They think it’s funny too.

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Inflation: the creeping hand of corruption

UPDATE May 27, 2011: While the inflation information here is correct, be aware news has just come out that the NIA (who made the video) is a pump and dump group, doing potentially fraudulent work. So enjoy their videos but beware of their stock recommendations. We wondered who was behind this video — at least it finally makes sense.


Background Joanne occasionally writes about the science and corruption of monetary systems. She summed up the connection between the two dismal sciences (climate and economics). If you are new to this theme see the explanation and links at the bottom of the article.

You might think inflation and climate science are only linked metaphorically. But the corruption in science is fed by the corruption in our currencies.

The monetary system that allows a privileged few to print money from nothing is the same system that allows massively misdirected spending. When there are so few controls on the growth of money, there is less negative feedback, fewer brakes, and virtually no limits. If the system is swimming with easy money, people can “afford” to build wildly extravagant and unproductive things — like wind-farms, carpets of solar panels, or symbolic rivers […]