Friday 18 February 2011

Ball Feels the Heat

One of the reasons I've been sceptical about anthropogenic climate change from the get-go is that to me it's always reeked of 'spilt religion'. It felt less like the conclusion of reasoned inquiry than a body of unshakable belief - faith indeed - and a badge of identity, coming complete with a readymade narrative of impending apocalypse and of sinful man in need of atonement, a readymade apparatus of ritual (recycling etc) and symbolism (rooftop turbines etc) and a readymade way of dividing Good from Evil - everything in fact to satisfy man's unquenchable need for a religion. It soon became apparent too that its adherents were capable of behaving less like rational inquirers and more like religious enthusiasts, pouncing on heresy (i.e. dissent) with hysterical mob fury. The latest victim is, of all people, Johnny Ball. If the enforcers can persecute a children's entertainer (and gifted educator) like this, it's no wonder scientists are reluctant to raise their heads above the parapet. What kind of science is it that feels the need to harry and silence all who object to it? It looks far more like something from the dark days of religious persecution - a witch hunt indeed...


  1. Same here.

    There are two more ways in which AGW/ACC/ACD etc resemble a religion:

    - It has no deductive consequences (which is another way of saying everything proves it is true)

    - All end-of-the-world assertions go into a memory hole. A couple years ago many scientists asserted the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer by [fill in the blank with some number between 2013 and 2025]. Should these dates pass without an ice-free arctic, that will in no way be held as an indictment of the originating belief.

  2. Brilliant post, Nige - and so true. Mr Ball is an unlikely scapegoat.

  3. Thanks Susan - and yes Skipper, two very good points. I think there's also a kind of warmist pilgrimage industry too (to the 'melting' Arctic etc) - shrines will surely follow...

  4. I reached my absorptive capacity for the actual science some time ago, and since then I've been content to track the psychology of the controversy. Two things in particular would worry me if I were concerned about the integrity of science:

    A) Skeptics, no matter how credentialed, are shouted down as denialists and liars. Leaving aside questions of competency, how can one "lie" about or deny a prediction?;

    B) Despite widespread increasing misgivings and suspicions, the industry keeps churning out alarming studies showing dramatic and worrisome evidence of climate change, but have you noticed they almost always report on remote, inaccessible areas with hardly any people? The Arctic, the Antarctic, the Greenland ice core, the Himalayas, remote Tibet, ten metres under the ocean surface, etc.(another focus is favourite exotic vacation destinations of rich Westerners). They never talk about temperature changes in south London or reduced harvests in Pennsylvania. Could it be in order to avoid having too many locals saying: "We hadn't noticed, mate."?