Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Up With That Watts! | Main | Josh 75 »

Singh low, sweet skeptic

There has been a conference today of skeptics - that's the Skeptic Society lot -  and one of the star speakers was science writer Simon Singh, fresh from his contretemps with James Delingpole.

As far as I can tell from the tweets, the highlights of his talk were:

  • a proposal for a credibility spectrum on climate change, with the Royal Society at one end and Nigel Lawson at the other
  • a proposal that us climate sceptics should henceforth be known as "climate numpties".

So, an argument from authority and some name-calling. Is it just me that finds this rather unimpressive from people who claim to be all about science and logic?

(As ever, please don't respond in kind.)

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (77)

Well Bish, I suppose 'climate numpties' is a step up from 'deniers'.

What a dismal farce it all is.

Feb 6, 2011 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

" "

Feb 6, 2011 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Singh something simple

Feb 6, 2011 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Singh something Sinful

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnockJohn

Your Grace

Is that the Westminster Skeptics, convenor David Allen Green?

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Rugby metaphor.

Singh bin

Apologies Bish, we seem capable only of responding in kind. Tis the weakness of being a numptie.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

From the Urban Dictionary - Numptie

1) Scottish colloquialism, a stupid person, a figure of ridicule.
2) A cross between a nummie (num-nuts) and a humptie (short fat person)
3) (Australian) Drunken aboriginal woman available for sex with all comers

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

He's not one of the Sea Green Singhers is he?

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterClimate Numpty

Singh something Sinful

His new singhle?

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson


You got snipped for referencing the Luftwaffe. It was a fair cop. Get over it and rejoin the fun.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Climate scientists wasted their opportunities to retain some 'skepticism' for their own use. Professional skeptics like Singh waste their time attacking those out to make two bucks on the side - shamans, chiropractors, astrologers, numerologists and iridologists - providing some service to society for its imagined ills.

The ensuing vacuum is naturally filled by amateurs and scientists addressing real issues of data availability, organized alarmism and exaggeration, foundational corruption and misuse of scientific effort (UNFCCC) and activities much worse.

These guys missed the boat and seem to be suffering, literally, from penis envy.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

From Singh's book

Quoting Hippocrates; 'There are, in fact, two things, science and opinion;
the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.'


"Even when a conclusion has been decided, science still probes and prods its own proclamations just in case it has made a mistake. In contrast, opinions are subjective and conflicting, and whoever has the most persuasive PR campaign has the best chance of promoting their opinion, regardless of whether they are right or wrong."

A bit more probing and prodding please and less of the opinion based PR.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth


Booker comments:

Today 04:38 PM
Troll Central Revealed

Visiting I find they have an email list you can signup for to get "alerts" on where to troll, and they also have an RSS fee here:

Guess who is most prominently featured (hint - not me) ;-)

Appears this is a Monbiot production...

[BH adds: Thanks - apparently I have been featured prominently in the CCC alerts for a number of months. I had a problem with some of the vistors for a while, but they have gone away now.]

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Watts

I have to admit that the word "sceptic" is a rotten one. Scepticism - as they use it - implies little more than a belief in using rationality in problem-solving. It's an ideal, not a singular practice, and to use it describe oneself is queasily indulgent. I try to be nice but I'd hesitate before describing myself as a nice person.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBenSix

I may be a Climate Numpty but at least I don't look like a muppet:

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterClimate Numpty


Booker comments:

Today 04:38 PM
Troll Central Revealed

Hey Anthony, I forwarded that to Bish last week. Its been Bishop Hill almost 24/7, every day of the week since I signed up. Fortunately I don't think many other people have signed up, because I hardly ever see an astroturfer here. I guess Monbiot isn't as popular as he thought.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Looks like QEDCon, up in Manchester. Steve Novella tops the list of speakers, one of my favourite sceptic bloggers.

The dynamic between sceptics (/skeptics) and anthropogenic climate change fascinates me. Supposedly sceptical people who engage in groupthink and weak arguments supported by little evidence. Unfortunately, the reality is that the sceptic movement is just like any other movement; it has its own array of "joiners" who don't really understand scepticism, and amongst those there are plenty of vocal advocacy of the AGW variety.

In my experience, the sceptics more knowledgeable about scientific matters tend to steer clear of AGW. I have to admit I'm a bit surprised Simon Singh has taken such a strong position on it, although smart people are susceptible to bad ideas. I assume he knows little about it given that he wanted some scientific support to debate a journalist on the subject. I guess he feels confident that there will be enough advocates in the audience to sell fallacies to sceptics. Kind of depressing when you think about it. Even amongst the sceptical community, groupthink carries more weight than reasoned debate.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

Troll Central Revealed

Monbiot to the fore indeed.
Caroline Lucas slipstreaming along behind him, I understand.

Feb 6, 2011 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic


Good comment.

You conclude:

Even amongst the sceptical community, groupthink carries more weight than reasoned debate.

Welcome to the human condition ;-)

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Sorry if this is going OT...but just out of interest Monbiot wrote an article about astroturfing:

These astroturf libertarians are the real threat to internet democracy

... and yet he's trying to get people to do it here. What a hypocrite!

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson


Have you ever noticed, when looking at global temperature graphs they tend to concentrate on showing anomalies, rather than actual temperatures? Have you ever consider why? When you deal in anomalies, from the start you are looking for change, while missing the bigger picture.

The naked human body is able to continuously maintain its body temperature only when the ambient temperature is above 28 C (82 F).

That means, should minimum temperatures - such as found at night and in winter - drop below 28 C (82 F) for a period of time, an unprotected human will die of exposure.

The global average temperature for 2010, the warmest year on records was: 13.9 C + 0.6 C = 14.5 C (58 F)

This means that the earth on average is too cold to support unprotected humans. The idea that the earth is somehow at an optimum temperature for humans in not supported. Humans almost certainly evolved in a much warmer climate than the present day earth.

Looking at the history of earth's temperature it is clear that 22 C (72 F) was the typical average temperature of the earth for most of the past 600 million years, independent of CO2 levels. It should not strike us as surprising that this is the exact same temperature that most of us find most comfortable inside our houses. Millions of years of evolution have determined this.

Today the earth's average temperature is 7.5 C (13.5 F) colder than historical norms. In fact, outside of the tropical rain forests, there is almost no place on earth where the long term minimum temperature exceeds 28 C (82 F) season to season, year to year. Even today, almost every place on earth is too cold for human beings to survive without access to clothing and domesticated fire.

If climate science worked in actual temperatures, rather than anomalies, the affects of long term climate would be more readily apparent. The idea that the earth is somehow at an optimum temperature for humans in not supported. Humans ancestors almost certainly evolved in a much warmer climate than the present day earth.

The current attempts to limit access to domesticated fire through CO2 reduction will almost certainly harm the ability of human beings to live outside those very few area where temperatures are consistently above 28 C (82 F). Historical evidence for this can be found in the rise of past civilizations, including our own, which almost always took place during periods of warming.

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterge0050

Anthony Watts

"Guess who is most prominently featured (hint - not me) ;-)"

There you go, the double benefit of PokéMobile!

Either that or come on AW, step up to the plate and up the game:-)

Have fun, Monbiot is out in the Welsh hills planting lettuce seed, Iceberg lettuce seed.

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

So I'm guessing the Royal Scociety will be at the "opps I think we may have got that wrong" end of the spectrum!

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

May I come to the defence of the Royal Society? Their website is no longer a hysterical apocalyptic warmist rant. And hence they wouldn't deserve a position at the loony edge of the mooted Credibility Spectrum.

Hey I heard a rumour that the RS's motto was to be changed from "nullius in verba" to "terminus est propinquus".

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

BBD, thanks, and you are spot on: it is a part of human nature, as Feynman pointed out in his Caltech cargo cult lecture, the easiest person to fool is yourself, and it takes extra measures to counter that tendency. Very few people realise and take those measures.

One typo in my comment, it should say "even smart people are susceptible to bad ideas".

And while I'm commenting, I'll include a link to Steve Novella's blog, which doesn't carry much in the way of climate change stuff, but has my full endorsement as one of my favourite blogs promoting rational / critical thinking.

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

Re Sunderland.

No problem, just flip the graph. Another trick that's been used by climate science. As for a new motto for the RS, the one used for Terry Pratchett's Unseen University would seem appropriate "Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides" especially wrt some climate scientists data policies.

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

'Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.' Einstein

And one to ponder-

'Nature does nothing uselessly'. Aristotle


Feb 6, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos


Thank you for the link to Steve Novella's blog. It's new to me, and I look forward to a good read.

Feynman was a wise man.


Feb 6, 2011 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


What the ****, when did I ever mention the Luftwaffe, or for that matter Germany or even an Airforce.

You will be telling me next that, because I don't agree with your version of climate science that I am a holocaust denier.

If you are going to read between the lines, look out for the 6:15 out of Euston


Feb 6, 2011 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Followed Anthony Watts' link above to campaigncc and then clicked on "Hall of Shame". Pretty short list, mostly predictable:


No surprises there - all sceptical activists or journalists.

We get 1 scientist: Plimer

And then we get......Lomborg!

No other scientists make the lists - Lindzen, Spencer, Singer, Pielke etc. And why Lomborg? Its an interesting choice - he believes</> in AGW, he just thinks the cost / benefit calculation is flawed. Or is he viewed as an apostate?

And why do they call it Campaign against Climate Change? I could almost sign up for that title...except if its natural, how can you campaign against it.

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

I am (very) surprised by Simon Singh's stance on climate change. I would have thought that he would be quite able to take a look at the PCA shenanigans for himself. I wonder if he has had the time and inclination to do this? If he hasn't - he should. If he has taken a look, perhaps he could publish an article explaining why this 'science' is unshakable.

Feb 6, 2011 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

'Not only is the Kyoto approach to global warming wrong-headed, the climate change establishment's suppression of dissent and criticism is little short of a scandal. The IPCC should be shut down… In Europe, where climate change absolutism is at its strongest, the quasi-religion of greenery in general and the climate change issue in particular have filled the vacuum of organised religion, with reasoned questioning of its mantras regarded as a form of blasphemy.' Nigel Lawson

'It will, without doubt, have come to your Lordship's knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice, has been during the last two years greatly abated. This affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened, and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them, not only interesting to the advancement of science, but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.' Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, on 20 November 1817

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos


"Either that or come on AW, step up to the plate and up the game:-)"

While I was away, I discovered the game has just been upped. I'm in the blogging superbowl!

Please visit here:

Click on the WattsUpWithThat thumbnail little grey circle to turn it into a checkmark. Ditto for any other blogs in other categories you want to vote for.

Scroll to bottom, submit your email, complete the captcha phrase.

You'll get a confirmation email - click on that link to verify your vote. I'm told you won't be spammed.

Thanks for your consideration.

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Watts

Has Simon Singh read The Hockey Stick Illusion?

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Bafflingly, you ask:


What the ****, when did I ever mention the Luftwaffe, or for that matter Germany or even an Airforce.
You will be telling me next that, because I don't agree with your version of climate science that I am a holocaust denier.
If you are going to read between the lines, look out for the 6:15 out of Euston

‘Nasaschmidt junker’
‘Messerschmidtt Junker’

And I am not the only one to notice:

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

88 - '98'

Junker Ju-88 Most common German bomber. Later developed into Ju-188 and Ju-388.

Read more:

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD - hmm, since it was a couple of weeks ago since I last visited Neuroligica (it is a slower blog than the likes of BH or WUWT), I thought I'd better drop by and check what I was endorsing - usually wise to do before the endorsement, of course - and depressingly found a post in which Steve favourably cites the pew centre research about global warming "denialism" and ideology (which could, of course, be equally applied to AGW advocacy and ideology). Not sure if that was a one-off lapse or whether I've misjudged his usually nuanced and thoughtful view. Still, unlike many, he does respond to blog comments, so perhaps I shall wait for another similar post and probe his views a little further on it.

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

You really dont see the irony do you.........Gavin never said "The Science is settled", it was all down to an intepretation of what he had written.

Is that Junker as in feudal nobility?

i.e. Judith Curry's take Mainstream climate scientists seem to want to loudly proclaim that the science isn’t settled. And prefer not to be labeled as a “leader of mainstream climate science.”

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse


Feb 6, 2011 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos


Don't worry. I'll give the blog a chance. I rarely stop reading a book unless it remains awful after 150 pages ;-)

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


Stop digging!

Let's move on. I have no quarrel with you.

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Climate Numpties could describe those who invested in subsidized energy projects, then went broke when governments cut the subsidies. From Jo Nova..

The label would also fit the BBC pension fund trustees who invested in green projects.

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

I suppose I'm impossibly wicked to like Anoneumouse's WUWT post on February 5, 2011 at 12:34 pm.

Feb 6, 2011 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Done AW, first and goal!

Good luck

Feb 6, 2011 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Why would Simon Singh use the comic Scotticism "numpties" when he has no known association with Scotland or the humour of Scots.

Also the well known phrase "eco-numpties" used to characterise environmental and climate alarmists pre-dates Simon Singh's use of the phrase "climate change numpties" from his Guardian acticle in Apr 2009.

It would suggest that Simon Singh is more bampot than numpty.

Feb 6, 2011 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

"Is it just me that finds this rather unimpressive from people who claim to be all about science and logic?"

I'm left wondering if they'll still want to be scientists when they grow up.

Feb 6, 2011 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Thanks for that. I've suggested (on the 'big cutoff' thread) that if he can call me a numpty I can call him a nyaff, but bampot is better.

Feb 6, 2011 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

Mac, I wasn't aware of Simon Singh's guardian article - I quickly googled it. It explains a lot to me - I'd originally thought Simon Singh was merely weighing in to defend his fellow sceptic Ben Goldacre from James Delingpole, but it is now clear Simon has strong prior views on the subject.

That said - the Guardian article was a riot. Simon Singh suggests that, in order to learn about climate science, we should go and look at Greg Craven's "witty and informative" YouTube videos. He tells us Greg's ludicrous presentation of the precautionary principle is "much more reasoned than it sounds".

OK, I was willing to forgive Simon's appeal to consensus, but not being able to tell that Greg "f*** the science" Craven is about as rational as a chocolate teapot suggests very poor judgement on his part.

Feb 6, 2011 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed and more than a little surprised by Simon Singh's statements and apparent attitude. I would've thought that he would be supportive of people who are unwilling to accept things they are told or read until they feel a compelling case has been made. René Descartes, in his "Discourse on the Method", says that one should never accept anything for true that one does not clearly know to be true so as to avoid jumping to conclusions or forming prejudices until every possible doubt has been excluded.

Feb 6, 2011 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterpluck

Here's Martin Durkin to Simon Singh, via Carl Wunsch who has somehow come into this correspondence:

The BBC is now a force for bigotry and intolerance. Most of the temperature rise in the past 150 years happened before 1940. Most of the human CO2 happened in the latter part of the 20 century.

Since 1940 we have had four decades of cooling, three of warming, and the last decade when temperature has been doing nothing. The IPCC's own figures show the hottest year in the past ten was 1998, and the temp has been flat-lining now for five years. If it's greenhouse gas causing the warming the rate of warming should be higher in the troposphere than on the surface. The opposite is the case. The ice core data shows that temperature change causes the level of atmospheric CO2 to change - not the other way round.

Why have we not heard this in the hours and hours of shit programming on global warming shoved down our throats by the BBC?

Never mind an irresponsible bit of film-making. Go and fuck yourself.

It is here.

Feb 6, 2011 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>