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« Is this what's next? | Main | Jostling for position »

Professor Jones is angry

Steve Jones appears somewhat irked at the criticism that has flowed his way since the publication of his review of the BBC's science coverage. Referring to the demonstration by Alfred Russel Wallace of the curvature of the Earth he expounds

Wallace was described as a "pitiful dastard… a swindler and impostor, a coward and a liar" and several newspapers published virulent pieces on the supposed dishonesty of the scientific establishment and its unwillingness to allow debate on such a contentious issue.

Of course, that could never happen today and all this has nothing to do with the tsunami of criticism that greeted my suggestion last week in a report to the BBC Trust that the BBC should stop giving excessive time to those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence and should promote debate between scientists instead.

This is quite interesting. Jones says that he has recommended that the BBC should reduce airtime to "those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence". If this were the case I imagine the "tsunami of criticism" would have been a minor ripple at most. However, Jones' description of his recommendations does not match the actual wording of his report:

I recommend that the BBC takes less rigid view of “due impartiality” as it applies to science (in practice and not just in its guidelines) and takes into account the non‐contentious nature of some material and the need to avoid giving undue attention to marginal opinion.

So far from seeking to sideline non-scientific criticisms, Jones delivered recommendations that focus on non-mainstream views. According to the recommendations I have quoted, you can be as scientific as you like, but if you are "marginal", you can be ignored. Far from defending science, Jones is actually building barriers to the scientific method.

And this from a fellow medallist of the Royal Society.

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Reader Comments (81)

It is no surprise, frankly, that his defence of his position is disingenuous and trots out something he didn't actually say in his report. That's how scientists seem to behave nowadays.

Aug 2, 2011 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

'And this from a fellow of the Royal Society.' Well given the current head of this Society would seem to like to change its stance from 'take nobodies word for it' to 'Trust me I am scientist' , Jones is hardly on his own. But they Phil has never liked the idea that people he can't 'trust' should actual look into his work , in that he follows the Team principle that is pal review and not the scientific requirement of critical review , which is the one they think is correct in climate science.

Aug 2, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Brilliant post. Not another word need be said on the matter. Of course, getting Jones to understand his error might require something like a longish Powerpoint presentation. Maybe he is the more "visual" sort of learner.

Aug 2, 2011 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

How pathetic that Jones goes on about 'flat-earthers' in a feeble attempt to link it to scepticism of the AGW alarmist orthodoxy.

He must have picked up the technique from watching Al Gore, who never actually answers a question but keeps suggesting that AGW sceptics are the same as conspiracy theorists or believers in ridiculous events.

How typical then, is Jones, of AGW alarmists that he is unable to offer any evidence in support of his 'belief' but has to resort to ad homs and 'straw man' arguments.

Aug 2, 2011 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

Over at the Telegraph, if you have the patience to filter out the usual "noise", most comments about the article in today's paper would appear take exception to Steve Jones' point of view. I wonder if he'll read any of them? Or is it just a way of letting off steam?

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

I think if you read it carefully he is comparing 'non-contentious' science (the so called 'settled science') with what he calls 'marginal opinion'. His comparison between 'belief' and 'evidence' is not really so much different from his comparison between 'opinion' and 'non-contentious material'

He is not speaking like a scientist, and by his expressions and comparisons in both places it is clear that he doesn't knows what science is, or what the scientific method can achieve. And because of that, he is utterly incompetent to deal with a review of science coverage. And this is why his report is so utterly useless and crass.

It should be a prerequisite for anyone reviewing science coverage actually to know what science is. Science is not about 'non-contentious material' and 'marginal opinion'. There has never been a time in the history of science when it delivered 'facts' that could never be challenged, indeed the history shows that practically nothing believed as 'fact' 100 years ago is taken as correct today.

As far as the epistemology is concerned, to compare what is 'non-contentious' with 'marginal opinion' is to suggest that what is currently most widely believed, what has not yet been 'marginalized', is something other than opinion. Sorry to disabuse anyone who thinks that, but the so-called scientific method does not lead to Truth, i.e what is universal, necessary and certain. We can only strive for what is probable, at best. There would be no possibility of progress in science if what is believed is not 'opinion'. We, hopefully, exchange one opinion for a better opinion without zoning off areas as 'non contentious' interpretations that can never be challenged.

So, at bottom, all Steve Jones can be comparing is 'majority opinion' with 'minority opinion', which is both trivial and ephemeral.

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

For what it is worth, this is the letter I sent to the DT. Doubt they will publish it. Comments on the article on the DT website are mainly critical of Jones.




The rubbish written by Jones today continues in the vein of his so called independent report for the BBC. Rather than engage in any scientific debate, he adopted the usual warmist approach of ad hominem attack, liberally calling sceptics deniers. Now he compares us to flat-earthers to demonstrate his non existent grasp of the scientific method. No sceptic of the man made global warming religion believes that the climate does not change. It always has and always will. We just don't believe that man exerts a meaningful, if any, influence. Interestingly, he claims that recent sea level rise has been at the rate of 1.5mm per year. At that rate rate, we can expect 15 cm over the next 100 years or 6 inches in old money. So no need to man the lifeboats just yet. As always, facts, of which there are precious few in the article, get in the way of reality.

Yours sincerely

Paul Maynard FCII

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maynard

Fatuous censorship by another name. Infamous.

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Click on the comments and then order by 'Best rating' - there are some very good ones.

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

"Of course, that could never happen today and all this has nothing to do with the tsunami of criticism that greeted my suggestion last week in a report to the BBC Trust that the BBC should stop giving excessive time to those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence and should promote debate between scientists instead."

If the BBC truely followed this new interpretation of his advise then they would have to stop reporting most main stream climate offerings!

Not going to happen is it?

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

Where on earth did Steve Jones get the story of Newton, the sailor and the ship's pendulum clock from? Pendulum clocks don't work on board ship and mariners had no accurate time keepers until Harrison's chronometers.

He might be thinking of Jean Richer, a French astronomer who measured the length of a second's pendulum on a trip to Cayenne and found it was shorter than one calibrated in Paris.

Sloppy work Professor, if I can check the facts in a few minute Goggling, so can you.

Incidentally, Richer's result demonstrated that his boss (prolate spheroid) Cassini was wrong and (oblate spheroid) Newton was right. I hope he didn't get into trouble.

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

I think you might have confused Steve Jones and Phil "why should I let people see my data, they just want to find fault with them" Jones.

On the subject of what is and is not science. I see science as both a body of knowledge and the method by which such knowledge is aquired. That knowledge is qualified by different degrees of certainty and this certainty almost never reaches 100% although parts of it are pretty close. Astronomers can predict an eclipse to the second because their margins of error are tiny, but that degree of certainty cannot exist in climate science due to its very nature. So for any climate scientist to claim that those sceptical of man made catastrophic warming are as certain to be wrong as flat earthers is really overstating the case.

One more point, those that really claim to believe in this really apocalyptic stuff seem to be remarkably relaxed about it. "Yeah, total global meltdown in our lifetime apparently, I'm off down the shops do you wan't anything?".

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

It is informative, is it not, that the calibre of argument and discussion points put forward by CAGW enthusiasts such as Prof Jones is so poor. Has there ever been a 'the debate is over' position so badly handled at the intellectual level as this?

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Weren't flat earthers ' the concensus ' in ancient times ? So warmists are the flat earthers of today.
One of the comments on the article reminded Jones that Etna has erupted 7 times this year. He said it wouldn't erupt 'anytime soon' .

Aug 2, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob

For 'Goggling' read 'Googling' throughout.

Aug 2, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

I especially liked this bit:

Parts of Etna, for example, are slumping at around 20cm a year, which means that it will probably not erupt any time soon.
Oh, dear!

Aug 2, 2011 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

The rubbish written by Jones today continues in the vein of his so called independent report for the BBC. Rather than engage in any scientific debate, he adopted the usual warmist approach of ad hominem attack, liberally calling sceptics deniers. Now he compares us to flat-earthers to demonstrate his non existent grasp of the scientific method.

It's becoming tedious. Where exactly does Jones, or the BBC draw the line? Which 'science' is settled? Which, exactly, is being attacked? Questioning the quantum properties of the CO2 molecule is one thing, questioning government renewable energy policy quite another. Problem is that questioning either, or the endless churnalism based on greenpeace press releases evokes the same response - 'flat earth' climate denier.

Given that there is little left in the world that hasn't, at one time or another, been conflated with CO2, what exactly is still open for discussion at the BBC? I think the BBC need to create a searchable database of internal science policy decisions.

Aug 2, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

That a scientist of such eminence should think that an ostensible concensus accepting one hypothesis trumps all other hypotheses makes the mind boggle. That, on the hypothesis of this unproven consensus, the western world is about to send itself back to the Middle Ages makes such a standpoint all the more incredible.

It seems to me that Professor S Jones FRS would be quite at home either dismissing Copernicus's (consensus challenging) Heliocentric arguments, or as a member of the Inquisition investigating the heresy of the similarly lone voice of Galileo.

I bet Isaac Newton and Co. are turning in their graves.

Aug 2, 2011 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterdusty

Jones is less than honest with his story about the religious zealot attacking the noble biologist. The skeptic who placed the bet and the skeptic who wrote to the biologist's wife were one and the same person. The story is actually one of a bitter old fool being unable to listen to and comprehend a logical argument.

(But, I suppose this means that he didn't plagiarize this article - so that is an improvement).

I wonder if the Nurse and Jones comedy duo will be putting on a media event defending phlogiston next?

Aug 2, 2011 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

His comment "the BBC should stop giving excessive time to those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence and should promote debate between scientists instead" reminded me of the behaviour of the so-called enquiries by the UEA into climategate conducted by Muir Russell and Lord Oxburgh.

Both of these enquiries were notable for not examining the evidence behind the science and for failing to engage with anyone who submitted evidence to the enquiries. This seems to be the science establishment`s party line - ignore the critics, ignore their evidence, appeal to their own "higher" authority. This is the narrative that they are seeking to sustain. It will only be countered by the rest of us continuing to ask the questions that remain unanswered. It will require much stamina and persistence.

Aug 2, 2011 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Jones is a serial suppressor of views he doesn't agree with, he has form, and asking him to see if the BBC was impartial enough was akin to asking the BNP if there should be more immigration. As for this statement:

"Of course, that could never happen today and all this has nothing to do with the tsunami of criticism that greeted my suggestion last week in a report to the BBC Trust that the BBC should stop giving excessive time to those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence and should promote debate between scientists instead."

He clearly took the money under false pretences. Can anyone tell me if the BBC has ever given any time at all, let alone "excessive time" to those who support science on the basis of belief rather than evidence". The only people I know who fall into the latter category are warmists. All the sceptics are doing is challenging the evidence, if they, the scientists are scared of that then there's something wrong.

Finally, the arrogance, it's all of a piece with other senior scientists in the UK, and for all I know, elsewhere. I spent a short period of my career as a sponsor for scientific research, it was an eyeopener for me, because I'd assumed, in my ignorance that Professors were teaching researchers, most I met were OK, but not excessively bright outside their area, and frequently within it, but there major job was to get funding for their departments. I once funded Cambridge to do some work for me and a Professor from another university told me it wasn't a wise choice because they never give honorary doctorates whereas his own university often did to generous donors. I don't know to this day if he was joking, but...

Aug 2, 2011 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

not "Dr. geronimo, I presume." ;-)

Aug 2, 2011 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

Flat earthism is a popular myth.

Quote, "The myth that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth is flat appears to date from the 17th century as part of the campaign by Protestants against Catholic teaching. But it gained currency in the 19th century, thanks to inaccurate histories such as John William Draper's History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1874) and Andrew Dickson White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896). Atheists and agnostics championed the conflict thesis for their own purpose"

If Steve Jones considers himself to be an educator as well as an educated man then he must know that he has deliberately forwarded a bogus arguement.

..... and this from someone who is a FRS.

I would argue that Steve Jones is now guilty of misconduct in not only misleading the media on how it should report scientific arguements but also attempting to mislead the public in raising a bogus arguement to support this stance.

Aug 2, 2011 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

At the risk of being boring, I repeat that the Royal Society was never terribly interested in non-gentlefolk doing actual science, and quite visibly horrified that those outside the RS club should dare to criticise scientists and the particular science the majority of the gentlefolk who enjoy the fellowship of the RS believe to be 'good science'. Prof Jones has demonstrated his own incredibly blinkered and strange view of the world; it is easy to see the reasons for the BBC choosing him as a useful idiot, as he is truly that.
Professor Jones is proof that the inescapable end to the years of successive governments attempting to shoehorn every high school student who could actually read and write their own name into a university education has inevitably lowered the standard of academic achievement to the point where a university degree is as common and as unremarkable as the human posterior - everyone has one.

Aug 2, 2011 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Where on earth did Steve Jones get the story of Newton, the sailor and the ship's pendulum clock from? Pendulum clocks don't work on board ship and mariners had no accurate time keepers until Harrison's chronometers.........
Aug 2, 2011 at 6:21 PM Dreadnought

Well spotted.

How on earth can the Telegraph and BBC's go-to-scientist and all purpose renaissance man be ignorant of a basic fact that most of us learned in O-level physics - and those that didn't must have picked up from the widely celebrated TV series on Harrison's development of the marine chronometer - "Longitude".

It's not bloody professorial science - it's basic general knowledge.

Oh, and he thinks Etna doesn't erupt - I wish he'd been in the back seat when the missus and I took the mountain road back from Taormina a couple of years ago.

My impression is - he's a narrow minded geneticist whose media savvy, TV documentary maker wifey has promoted him as a general purpose, pop-science, talking head.

Aug 2, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Can somebody point out to me when Jones was elected FRS? I can't find this information anywhere.

Aug 2, 2011 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Broad but shallow indeed.

I wouldn't have even known that there were those believed that the earth was flat, but from the climate activists.

Aug 2, 2011 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Steve Jones is not a Fellow of the Royal Society, but is a recipient of the Royal Societies Michael Faraday Medal.

Aug 2, 2011 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

J. Ferguson. No, not Dr. Geronimo. Although for some reason Sky believe I am, and steadfastly refuse to take my word for it that I'm not. Culminating in the following exchange.

Me. "While I'm on, could you please note that I'm not a doctor and nor do I have the title doctor.

Sky customer service: "Righto Dr. Geronimio, I'll get that changed for you immediately."

Still Dr. Geronimo to them.

Aug 2, 2011 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Paul that case, can the Royal Society not ask him to hand the medal back, given his total ignorance of what science is? Etna is subsiding, therefore it will not erupt any time soon - note the careful use of precise scientific terminology. Is it about time that his scientific, peer-reviewed publications were fisked? After all, who pays attention to snails...

Aug 2, 2011 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay on the meme that people thought the Earth was flat.....he found very little evidence and yet morons like Jones continue to trot it out without any scientific

Aug 2, 2011 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

There's a nice book called 'Flat Earth' by Christine Garwood that looks at the history of the flat earth idea throughout history. It has a great discussion of the experiment on the Old Bedford Levels to determine if Earth is flat or spherical. The experiment was subject to a bet between Alfred Russell Wallace and a 'flat earther' (I can't remember his name). The results of the measurements and what they meant were hotly debated and the bet wasn't paid up. I think that whilst the concept for the experiment/measurements seemed sound they were not carried out correctly allowing for some ambiguity in interpretation.

Aug 2, 2011 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

1- Even a deck hand could tell Steve Jones that a boat is no place for a pendulum clock. I should know because I was a deck-hand once ...on a Panamax bulk carrier for 3 years before I turned 20. The ship's chief mate was meticulous in determining the coordinates with his trusty sextant and internal chronometer ("thousand-one-thousand-two-thousand-three") because, though he had grown accustomed to radar, he still did not have confidence in the numbers that flashed on the green screen of that super-duper new gadget that had just been installed on the bridge.

We used to call that instrument 'satellite' then, and it gave the coordinates of the ship by calculating the angle of the beams from several satellites, not by calculating how much time it took for a single signal from a single satellite to reach the bridge. As far as I know even the current generation of hand held GPS devices use the same basic principle that our chief mate used: the angle of the celestial object to the horizon.

2- Once, I got rapped in a History and Philosophy of Science tutorial for suggesting that, despite what Aristotle had established in De Caelo, the best minds of the Medieval Era reverted to thinking the Earth was flat. Had I even done my reading for the week? No. Because if I had done my homework I'd have known that aside from a Christian mariner by the name of Kosmas and another chap with a rather forgettable name, no one worthy of note ever seriously claimed that the Earth was anything but spherical. Galileo didn't earn his rap for claiming the Earth was a sphere.

3- I was also a primary school kid once and 5 out of 5 of my peers believed the dead could get up and walk, no matter what the adults said. So I am quite impressed that only 1 out of 5 primary school kids today believe the Earth is flat.

Steve Jones is an idiot. Because of him, I trust scientists even less today.

Aug 2, 2011 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Jones's waffle, his rambling error strewn guff, is just symptomatic of the hidebound closed-mind attitude, which is prevalent in much of British [so called] Scientific Institutions and 'hallowed' corridors of academia.

What have they got to be scared of? Are they running scared of the politicians and of the government shillings?

Can it be...................Being shown to be wrong? Or, being aware of, the knowledge that, in their heart of hearts, they KNOW that they are wrong = Denial.

The idea of being in error - never frightened true scientists - the fascination of pure science, is the pursuit of proving one's ideas through; experimentation, observation, collating results and drawing of appropriate conclusions, then publish [results with computations!].

Show the evidence and the proof but remember - nothing but nothing is ever settled in science..............I wonder what Albert Einstein would make of all this nonsense and of Steve Jones: I mean, just, who is being small minded here?

Aug 3, 2011 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan

OK. I am sorry, I should withdraw the word 'idiot' because his IQ number is probably higher than 70.

But Steve Jones is certainly ignorant on most things he so authoritatively spoke about in the article.

Aug 3, 2011 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Jones: "He was told by a sailor that his ship's pendulum clock, accurate in London, lost two minutes a day at the equator."

Geology undergraduate html text on gravity from the web: 'Newton based his assessment of the earth's shape on a set of observations provided to him by a friend who happened to be a navigator on a ship, named Richer. Richer observed that a pendulum clock that ran accurately in London, consistently lost 2 minutes a day near the equator.'

Likely closer to the truth:

which says: "In 1672, M. Richer, going to Cayenne, in order to make astronomical observations, found, that his pendulum clock, which at Paris had been regulated to the mean motion of the sun, when carried to this island, which is about five degrees distant from the equator, lost every day two minutes and twenty eight seconds."

Perhaps there should be a Steve Jones award for cut-and-paste scientific story 'creation'?

Aug 3, 2011 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Aug 3, 2011 at 12:16 AM ZT

"Perhaps there should be a Steve Jones award for cut-and-paste scientific story 'creation'?2

O, there will be Steve Jones award, I forsee several contract awards from the BBC, maybe not directly but from some BeeB spawned "Independant" production company. Followed by an honour of some degree, all to a recipient of the Royal Societies Michael Faraday Medal, who can write about "ship's pendulum clock" in the same article as accusing other people as being "flat-earthers"

O, the glare, the shining light that the RS and its members bring to the scientific world!

Words are really beginning to fail me, these were my heros, now they are in danger of becoming charlatans.

Aug 3, 2011 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

OK. I just found out that GPS uses trilateration, not triangulation as I thought. Wikipedia isn't particularly helpful in explaining trilateration unfortunately.

Aug 3, 2011 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Basically this article is Steve Jones having his "bit of afters".

I think he was stung by the "tsunami of criticism" to his report to the BBC Trust. But maybe it was the logic behind the "tsunami of criticism" that prompted the need to produce such a quick ill-researched response.

I cannot see that it was written to serve any other purpose? It does not attempt to reason and resorts to ad hom. If so the DT has just provided "excessive time to those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence"

Dismay is my only true response, as one comment on the DT said Steve Jones in time will regret this article greatly, I somehow think he may already be do so.

Aug 3, 2011 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

John Shade,

Yes, it seems that all those who are tried and true, who have a steady hand at the podium, have been used up. All we get from the Warmista now are utter amateurs who cannot get their history of science correct.

Aug 3, 2011 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

I wonder if it is just possible that the sailor/pendulum nonsense/cut-and-paste found its way into the Jones 'article' by way of world famous geology expert, Geoffrey Boulton?!

(Both Jones and Boulton have lengthy Edinburgh associations, it seems.)

And..." Time, he realised, could be transformed into space." Possibly Newton realized this - but if he did, he did not tell anyone - that came later. But to defend Jones, his nonsense sounds good. I suspect that random strings of almost anything could be fed into Jones, to be turned into mellifluous, mildly plausible, nonsense, ad infinitum. No wonder climatology appeals to him.

Aug 3, 2011 at 2:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Not being a scientist or a meteorologist, I've no idea how true the following might be ... but it is found elsewhere in the Aug. 1 edition of The Telegraph - and makes a rather amusing counterpoint to Jones, the snail expert, channelling fruit-fly expert David Suzuki (Canada's uber-guru of all things green).

Way we look at weather 'is wrong', scientists claim

The way we look at the weather is wrong, scientists have claimed.

Researchers found that our basic understanding of "low pressure systems" has been flawed for more than 90 years.

Scientists from the University of Manchester contradicted traditional understanding of how low pressure systems evolve.

The Norwegian model in use since the 1920s is that when a storm occludes, it will automatically weaken.

Writing in the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, they found that the Great Storm of October 1987 and the Burns’ Day storm of January 1990 did not fit the model. [...]

Geee ... if the way we've been looking at weather for 90 years is "wrong" - and setting aside that we all know that weather != climate - what does this say about the way Jones, the BBC, the CBC and the coterie of clever climatologists are convinced we should all be looking at "climate"?!

Aug 3, 2011 at 2:20 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate, with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

The BBC, it seems, might have been better advised to appoint a committee to do their review. Individuals have opinions and now they have Jones’. But their committee, of course, would have come up with the proverbial camel!

What should they have done?

The impression I have after a scan of preceding contributions is that the erudite who contribute here criticize scientists more or less in proportion to their eminence. Maybe in the context under consideration, I suppose. Is this because eminence in science has come to mean knowing more and more about less and less? Are not those, like the BBC and the Gov’t, who find themselves wanting to know something to do with science in the round, misguiding themselves if they think that scientific eminence demonstrates ability to make an appropriate analysis on an informed basis?* Would they not be better advised to ask one or more people who take part in blogs like this? Clearly, there are contributors here who know at least something about quite a lot, care enough to blog without promise of tangible reward and have demonstrable patience (as with ZBD) in sufficient measure to give then the required aura of eminence.

* However, did not the Jones in question have some sort of non-scientific track record that might have been held to make him the right man for the job? If yes, then maybe scientific eminence should disqualify notwithstanding other claims for broadmindedness.

Is it any wonder that the Government Chief Scientific Adviser is an economist?

Aug 3, 2011 at 5:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Guy's a dunce. Period

Aug 3, 2011 at 5:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDBD

Jones pretending that all skeptics are 'flat-earthers' suggests he hasn't studied his enemy any more than he seems to have studied "the science".
However, we do need to shake off the 'trace-gassers'. They make us look like idiots by association.

Aug 3, 2011 at 6:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank

Aug 2, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Bob
Weren't flat earthers ' the concensus ' in ancient times ? So warmists are the flat earthers of today.

Not all the time they weren't.

See Eratosthenes of Cyrene 276BC? to 195BC?. He measured the circumference of the Earth within 17% or 2% depending on which stadia you think he used as units of length.
He also calculated the angle of tilt of the Earth's axis, again with remarkable accuracy. He was highly regarded in ancient times.
Unfortunately humans have a remarkable talent for believing that previous generations knew nothing.

In the cases of the Professors Jones the words of Robert Burns come to mind:

Oh, would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion.

Aug 3, 2011 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandy

sHx, was it satellite back then, or maybe.... Dedicated Englishmen Causing Chaos Abroad. (DECCA radio navigation) which was shut down in 2000.

Sat Nav gives a lat long, DECCA had to be plotted on charts with different coloured lines.

Aug 3, 2011 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty


Thanks for the textbook references. Newton credits Richer in the Pincipia, no less and refers to him as an astronomer:

"Now several astronomers, sent into remote countries to make astronomical observations, have found that pendulum clocks do accordingly move slower near the equator than in our climates. And, first of all, in the year 1672, M. Richer took notice of it in the island of Cayenne; for when, in the month of August, he was observing the transits of the fixed stars over the meridian, he found his clock to go slower than it ought in respect of the mean motion of the sun at the rate of 2m.28s. a day."

Aug 3, 2011 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Bish, there is a list of current Fellows of the Royal Society here: Professor Steve Jones is not on that list. I think this is pretty definitive.

Aug 3, 2011 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

Both Paul Nurse (FRS) and Steve Jones(FRS?) has gotten themselves in a right pickle in the debate over climate change. Their scientific eminence is tarnished by their forays into a subject that makes it plain that on the basic science they simply don't know what they are talking about. More worryingly is their acceptance of the idea that if a consensus holds sway then scientific arguements can be censored in academia, in the media and in public.

In a 2009 letter to the then education secretary Ed Balls concerning review of science for the primary school curriculum both Paul Nurse and Steve Jones were signatories to this statement, "Children’s
understanding of science is a source of inspiration, enjoyment and fulfilment. It enables them to participate in and respond to debates in the life of their communities about scientific and technological issues using skills of critical evaluation."

Closing down the public debate on climate change as Paul Nurse and Steve Jones have both advocated runs counter to the sentiments they both signed up to.

Aug 3, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

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