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« Climate cuttings 48 | Main | Quote of the day »

The Royal Society and alarmism

A very interesting essay on the Royal Society and its sudden change from a body that promoted science as the antidote to apocalyptic vision, to one that used the same tool to promote the idea of disasters.

It is true that the Society’s president is not proclaiming divine direction and screaming fire-and-brimstone from a high pulpit. Yet behind the sober and reasonable façade there is the horror of imminent annihilation.


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Reader Comments (23)

In effect the Royal Society now acts as a Trade Union for "Scientists".

And, as those who control the Society have been specially selected (or self-selected) from the ranks of the Greenie Activists, it is improbable that they will rock the boat, let alone criticise those who are most active in the shroudwaving department.

In a year or two they will be bemoaning the fact that many more people are increasingly sceptical about both Scientists and Science. This will be a tragedy, not least for the genuine scientists whose work will (or at least, should) continue to do so much to improve life on Earth.

But if no-one is prepared to look seriously at what the boys and girls in CRU, the MET Office and in "Climate Science" academia up and down the land are all up to, even when confronted with the clear and unambiguous Climategate evidence, then they will all get their just deserts.

Jan 6, 2011 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

A very well written and argued essay. As I read it I could not avoid a mental image of Rees wearing a sandwich board displaying the logo of the RS and the message "The end of the world is nigh."

However, he is now yesterday's man. We can only look forward to the tenure of Nurse to restore credibility: let us hope he doesn't equally disappoint.

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

I've said it for many a year superstition has been creeping back into science - with environmentalism scientists have welcomed dogma thru the front door.

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

For those who haven't seen it, Professor Stott's take on the RS from May last year, on his now sadly defunct blog, is well worth reading:

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

And here is an example of Scientists becoming activists (or the other way round)

Claims that the "Great Garbage Patch" between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas is "grossly exaggerated" said the research which reckons it is more like one per cent the size.

Further reports that the oceans are filled with more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s are equally misleading, the new research claimed.

And they wonder why the AGW theory is loosing support.

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

And now I have a mental image of Nurse arriving at the RS in a white coat and carrying a straight-jacket. My apologies to Josh - but he did start it!

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

I recall Nurse having made alarmist comments. I don't expect any changes in the RS stance anytime soon. It does get over 2/3 of its funding from the government and it would not wish to be seen to be upsetting the apple-cart by showing some sense for a change.

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I think the essay is a very good and important one. I believe this sort of alarmism not only degrades the Royal Society, it degrades all who participate in it. Responsible adults do not behave like that. It is as if excitable adolescents had been given positions of influence, with the once sleepy old subject of climatology being both victim and vehicle. I have posted a much less scholarly essay on this recently myself:

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Many years ago (c20+) I was at a meeting at the RS when the then Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, was described by another attendee (a FBA) as the "Astrologer Royal". Everyone had a good laugh and thought it a very good joke. Now I wonder if he really meant it.

Jan 6, 2011 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

I have said for a couple of years or more - but what would I know? that adherence to AGW by the Met Office and The Royal Society (there is some overlap) will destroy their reputations.

The MO is already well down that road - BUT isn't it sad to see the most prestigious scientific organisation in the world go down the same route.

This essay is very thought provoking, it should be even for AGW followers. When religious zeal replaces reasoned thought - science is the loser. Once science closes its mind to the possibility that it's theory might be wrong, clearly a problem exists. Especially so when, up to now, no real supporting evidence is forthcoming, much alternative evidence is apparent, and evidence of bending data and massive cherry-picking to keep the thing going is shown in the ClimateGate emails.

Like David C I had seen the postings of Prof Stott. A voice of experienced reason. He hasn't posted for a while on his blog, but I don't know whether he will be back or not.

Thankfully he does occasionally post elsewhere like this from August 2010 at GWPF.

Jan 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave


A case of:
"And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse" ?

Jan 6, 2011 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Nullius ex Herba.

Jan 6, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival
The Conversation Continues

For most of us trapped in the human condition, in a world and a universe at most indifferent to our existence, we crave a connection to something larger than ourselves. Science as it exists now is a tool. It cannot give us that connection. For that we seek out religion. There is a choice for everyone. Can I be a Taoist? Can I be a Christian? Can I be a Dervish? Can I be a Buddhist? Religion is not a tool, it is not a way to know the universe. It is a way to know ourselves, to order our lives with morality and faith. The religious right is in error if they think their beliefs inform them about the physical universe. The grand idiots of science are in error if they think they can turn a beautiful tool for viewing the universe into a way into the human soul. Both corrupt what they love by trying to turn it into something it cannot be.
Please note the names of the idiots of science. If you run into them on the street, be sure to explain how their attempt to "save" science could destroy science

Jan 6, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

Priests in Lab Coats
Philosopher Michael Ruse is an ardent evolutionist who thinks creationism is claptrap. So why is he accusing atheistic scientists like Richard Dawkins of being as religious as born-again Bible thumpers?

Jan 6, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

" he is the unassuming and quietly spoken current president of the Royal Society, Martin Rees."

"unassuming"? Try again!

Jan 6, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

The New Divinity
By Julian Huxley

Religion Without Revelation
Julian Huxley

How can Man improve Man?

18 November 2006 by Sir Julian Huxley
Magazine issue 2578. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

This is a classic article from New Scientist's archive, republished as part of
our 50th anniversary celebrations

To better understand UNESCO, consider a quote from Sir Julian Huxley, brother of the famous Aldous Huxley. Julian Huxley was the founding director-general of UNESCO when he said the following:

The legacy of Julian Huxley - 'Evolutionary Studies

Evolutionary Studies' edited by M. Keynes and G. Ainsworth, Macmillan, pp 256, Pounds sterling 35

JULIAN HUXLEY was born in 1887 and he died in 1975. From the end of the First World War through to the early 1960s, he enjoyed a formidable reputation as an evolutionary biologist, a science writer and broadcaster, and as something of a political activist. His creed was humanism, while his medium was the Eugenics Society and, for a time, UNESCO.

With incredible energy, he helped to found the World Wildlife Fund, IUCN, the Ecological Society and the Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour

Possibly it was Julian Huxley who best summed up the confidence with which so many British academics who lived during the first half of this century viewed the future, when he wrote (1941, p. 22):

Once the full implications of evolutionary biology are grasped, eugenics will inevitably become part of religion of the future, or whatever complex of sentiments may in future take the place of organized religion. It is not merely a sane outlet for human altruism, but is of all outlets for altruism that which is most comprehensive and of longest range.

I believe the State exists for the development of individual lives, not individuals for the development of the state. – Julian Huxley (1878-1975)

Huxley Family Tree (partial)

Crispin Tickell (CAGW Godfather)


Now you come from an Anglo-Irish family. Your great, great grandfather was TH Huxley - Aldous Huxley was in your background too. Now this is a legacy ofseriously thoughtful, intellectual address, isn't it?
Well T H Huxley was in many respects one of my heroes. Aldous was as well. In fact I think if anybody had any influence on me during my adolescence, it was Aldous Huxley. And I remember going to lunch with him and he asked me what essay I was writing that day for my history teacher. And I replied it was about the relations between the Pope and the Emperor. And he sort of took a deep breath, and for about 15 minutes he spoke about the secular versus the spiritual power. And I really sat back, staggered by what I heard, because he illuminated every aspect of this immensely complicated and still continuing problem, and I found it fascinating. When I sat down afterwards to try and write my essay, I was hardly able to write a word.
You've said in various situations, and different contexts, that environment has a relationship to religion, and that religion has a relationship to the environment. Could you elucidate that?

Sir Crispin was President of the Royal Geographical Society from 1990 to 1993 and Warden of Green College, Oxford between 1990 and 1997, where he appointed George Monbiot and Norman Myers as Visiting Fellows. Green College merged with Templeton College in 2008 to become Green Templeton College, located at what was previously Green College.

Jan 6, 2011 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

Attempts by the Royal Society to suppress climate scepticism reach back at least to 2005, when the Telegraph replied as follows:

This is the one-time seat of learning I once revered, collecting offprints and xeroxes of Phil Trans Roy Soc papers relevent to geology. It is now the one, or at least the council of which, with great sorrow, I have greatest contempt for.

Jan 6, 2011 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Forty Years of Drama Queen Scientists
"…offers radical proposals for immediate action…The Blueprint is supported by 34 distinguished biologists, ecologists, doctors and economists… [bold added, see list of names here and here]"

It's been commented on before but to reiterate, Donna's been doing a real good job digging into the ideological roots from which the Greens "evolved"

Julian Huxley is of course one of those who signed this

Need we wonder whence the Misanthropy which is THE root and core value of Green ideology arose considering the ideological roots from which the Greens sprung?

Maybe they should write a joint volume
""From Eugenics to Bioethics"

Perhaps Moonbat as editor

Jan 6, 2011 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

David Suzuki on science, elitism and the apocalypse (Worth a listen)

Broadcast Date: June 28, 1972
Suzuki talks about the politics of science and the science of politics.

Portrait of the environmentalist as a younger man

Warms about EcoFreaks, and fears having a scientific elite as a priesthood.
Examples cited of the day, Shockley
and Herrnstein
and more

David Suzuki Now :

Forecast Earth In Depth: David Suzuki, Part 2

Accepts Al Gore as his "scientific mentor" on AGW and explains exactly how the AGW political process works. Craven supposed scientists are to convince the sheeple so they demand action from the Politicians

David Suzuki accepts Lucien Bouchard as another of his "scientific mentors" on AGW :(

David Suzuki wears the badge of martyrdom on his sleeve as his family was interned during the second world war.

Yet the Modern David Suzuki does what ?

Jail politicians who ignore climate science: Suzuki

Jan 7, 2011 at 7:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

More damage to the credibility of science. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has decided to publish a paper on ESP, not to debunk such nonsense but to support it.

Superstition and dogma are threatening the very basis of modern science.

Jan 7, 2011 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Are intellectuals allowing dogma in science but not in religion?

Michael Ruse

Jan 7, 2011 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterbrent


I would go along with that.

I am an atheist, not out of a refusal to believe, nor out of secular instruction but because there is nothing actually there to believe in. Superstition and dogma show up the evolutionary flaws in human development. It is easy and natural to have faith. It is only by constantly reminding ourselves of these dangers, these human failings, that allows science to progress.

Jan 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Hi Mac,
In terms that are commonly understood, I would be considered an agnostic.
However I’ve come to interpret religion very broadly (not just as belief in God), and now really don’t draw much distinction between religion and a belief system.
The question I pose is from whence morality is derived in the future. It cannot come from a vacuum.

The answer is that the so called bioethicists are beavering away developing this.
An appropriate question to ask is “Is bioethics itself ethical and by what standards? “

Some years ago, after getting tired of banging my head against a wall, I decided to study what the elite bioethicists were up to. It really is something that one has to study oneself to get one’s mind around. Be prepared however to have a barf bag handy.

All the best

Rebutting Rockefeller

The chairman of the Earth Charter Drafting Committee takes issue with this magazine’s expose, "The New World Religion." The facts show that his objections are not sustainable

Rockefeller: "The Earth Charter is the product of a worldwide, cross-cultural, interfaith dialogue on common goals and shared values that has been conducted as a civil society initiative."

Response: The global campaign for the Charter is not a grass-roots, bottom-up effort, but a closely controlled, top-down operation masquerading as "dialogue." The Charter was cobbled together under the leadership of Dr. Rockefeller, former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev (representing Green Cross International), Earth Summit I Secretary-General Maurice Strong (representing the Earth Council), and representatives from the government of the Netherlands.

Maurice Strong opened Earth Summit I with a "Declaration of the Sacred Earth," accompanied by "indigenous" animist Earth worship ceremonies — standard practice at UN convocations. The Charter says protecting Earth is our "sacred trust."

Dr. Rockefeller is a leading advocate of the radical "biocentrism," under which, he says, "the rights of nature are defended first and foremost on the grounds of the intrinsic value of animals, plants, rivers, mountains, and ecosystems" against "human oppression." Biocentrists believe that humans are no more important than other life forms or natural objects. Of course, rocks, trees, and ecosystems speak in words only understood by enlightened souls like Rockefeller and company, who have assigned themselves the noble task of defending these "rights of nature."

Interview: Maurice Strong on a "People's Earth Charter"
(transcript of interview conducted March 5, 1998)
Mr. Strong is Chairman of the Earth Council and Co-Chair of the Earth Charter Commission

The Charter will stand on it's own. It will be in effect, to use an Anglo-Saxon term, the Magna Carta of the people around the Earth. But, it will also, we hope, lead to action by the governments through the United Nations
But, let us be very clear, the UN action is not going to be the only goal. The real goal of the Earth Charter is that it will in fact become like the Ten Commandments, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It will become a symbol of the aspirations and the commitments of people everywhere. And, that is where the political influence, where the long-term results of the Earth Charter will really come.

Jan 7, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

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