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« Still still | Main | Big wind just got smaller »
Wednesday
Feb272013

Nurse left licking wounds

Nigel Lawson has responded to Paul Nurse's wild accusations of cherrypicking, accusing the Royal Society president of lying:

You claim that I “would choose two points and say ‘look, no warming’s taking place’, knowing that all the other points that you chose in the 20 years around it would not support his case”. That is a lie.

and continuing with a withering put-down

I hope that, on reflection, you will recognise that there should be a difference between the behaviour appropriate to a President of the Royal Society and acting as a shop steward for some kind of scientists’ closed shop.

Ouch.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (62)

I wasn't a great fan of Lord Lawson when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in his "retired" role at the GWPF he has shown an intellect and agility of thought which should be envied by many half his age. It'll be interesting to see if Nurse feels able to respond to the accusation of lying.

Feb 27, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

About time somebody stuck it to him.
That final jibe ought to hurt, possibly enough to get him to start asking questions; you know, like scientists do!

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:04 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I think Nurse and his coterie of alarmists has already brought the RS into complete disrepute. A good response from Lord Lawson, I can't wait for the BBC to report it.

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"It'll be interesting to see if Nurse feels able to respond to the accusation of lying."

I believe Lord Lawson has him bang to rights. If you misrepresent someone without checking their position the it is a lie. Nurse aka Harry Enfield has taken up the typical climate science position of ignoring the empirical evidence and trumpeting the calumny.

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Nurse is just polishing his public persona so that the right people know how 'sound' he is, with the hope of being made Lord Nurse of Flummery at some not-too distant date.

But if he looked a bit closer, he would notice exactly what it is he's trying to polish.....

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

There’s a final jab after “...closed shop”.


Not to do so can only bring the Royal Society into further disrepute, which cannot be in the public interest.
re-ouch

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Fat chance that our ABC will give this equal coverage to the original lecture.

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBozo

The situation regarding the Royal Society is so very sad. And Nurse's disgraceful and poorly researched attack on Lord Lawson has brought the Society further into disrepute. Surely the man must now make a public apology. He should be politely requested to stand down.

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Nurse is a disgrace, of that there is no doubt. He has abandoned all objectivity and aligned the RS with FoE, Greenpeace etc. I am concerned that the membership of the RS appears to be compliant with their leader's position. Unless there is some behind closed doors criticism being directed at Nurse it would appear that the rot goes very deep.

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

"That is a lie". To quote your original reaction to Nurse's remarks: "Strong stuff. Very strong stuff." That really is.

Feb 27, 2013 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Where can one find the transcript that Lawson refers to?



OK found it.
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/paul-nurse---making-science-work/4508096#transcript


"We saw that, for example, in Britain with a politician, Nigel Lawson, who would go on the television and talk about the scientific case, and he was trained as a politician; you made whatever case you can to convince the audience. So he would choose two points and say, look, no warming is taking place, knowing that all the other points you chose in the 20 years around it would not support his case, but he was just wanting to win that debate on television. And that is of course over-spilling political views into your science."


"That is a lie" is strong stuff but sounds as if it's justified if it is correct that Nurse really did say:

“(Lawson) would choose two points and say ‘look, no warming’s taking place’, knowing that all the other points that you chose in the 20 years around it would not support his case”.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:09 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

When a man with the gravitas of Lord Lawson calls you a liar, it must hurt. Nurse has made himself look very foolish.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

The fellowship of The Royal should be ashamed of themselves for electing such a series of Presidents.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

The trouble with the establishment now is that it is made up of people who, in their youth, probably hated it.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I would have thought it impossible but the estimable Lord Lawson's stock has just risen higher - well said Sir, very well said indeed.

Lord Lawson, his reasoning well founded and always justified, plainly and concisely speaks for the silent and glowering majority.

Nurse: you are a mean minded and petty charlatan.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Phillip Bratby ..Don't even bother to wait for the BBC, I haven't seen balance in a science program like' Horizon', let alone the news room, for many years...

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

This will be ignored by the RS and in the media.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

When a person uses Ad Hominem attacks instead of reasoned arguments, he/she exposes what that person really is like. Sir Paul Nurse is merely showing what an unprincipled politician he really is. Not only does he push the Royal Society deeper into the quagmire, but degrades the Nobel Prize as being a meaningful measure of scientific quality.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

The perfect sharp, straightforward response to Nurse's lying and dissembling.

Feb 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Nobody has yet linked to this BH thread, "Nurse accuses Lawson of cherrypicking" from a few days ago, that started with the offending quotation that Martin quotes above.
On that thread, several of us cast doubt on Nurse's statement.

The ball is now in Nurse's court - he needs to either find a clear example of Lawson "choosing two points", or withdraw the comment and apologise.

Feb 27, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews
Feb 27, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Professor Jones had to withdraw a lie about Lawson and Peiser from his report on Impartiality in Science Reporting for the BBC. (He left in a lie about Montford and Newbery - nobody’s perfect).
Monbiot recently repeated the same lie when he called the GWPF “Nigel Lawson’s climate misinformation campaign” in an article entitled: “Secrets of the Rich - Billionaires are hiding behind a network of “independent” groups, who manipulate politics on their behalf.”
If Nurse doesn’t withdraw, would there be grounds for a libel action?

Feb 27, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

@ Rick Bradford

"he would notice exactly what it is he's trying to polish....."

You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.

Feb 27, 2013 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Could this be about the gwpf logo? That has a graph.

Feb 27, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Registered Commentershub

I think that is what is described in political terms as 'tearing him a new arsehole'

Feb 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Nurse isn't Deller's best mate is he? I'd stick a quid on this making one of Deller's blogs shortly.

Feb 27, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

@Geoffchambers

If Lawson was a scientist, it might just be actionable, but even then it would be a borderline case and would probably be considered frivolous by most courts.
English law allows actions for libel to be brought in the High Court for any published statements which are alleged to defame a named or identifiable individual (or individuals) in a manner which causes them loss in their trade or profession, or causes a reasonable person to think worse of him, her or them. As a public figure, for Lawson would ALSO have to prove actual malice, rather than negligence, on Nurse's part if he wished to seek compensatory damages.

Lawson is best known as a politician, and more recently political activist. Calling politicians stupid or unintelligent is not deemed actionable in the UK. In fact it is a national pastime. However, you cannot accuse them of being mentally defective (or of having any other ailment or disease) or of having done something criminal - unless of course you can prove that the statements are true.

Feb 27, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

Lawson did not write 'lie' without consideration. He may be trying to provoke Nurse into a libel suit. If Nurse does not sue, some will say it is because he knows he will lose. Cleft stick, intentionally.

Feb 27, 2013 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

As you would expect, Lord Lawson has penned an extremely effective letter. He has called Nurse a liar in the plainest language and has provided Nurse's own words, verbatim, as proof. Nurse is now on the horns of a dilemna; let's see what he chooses to do next.

Feb 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Shame that the Bish's piece about Nurse on the Spectator Coffee House blog has been hijacked by their resident commie troll.. He even manages to praise Stalin. :-(
http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/02/nursing-prejudice-how-climate-change-activists-are-prisoners-of-their-own-politics/

Feb 27, 2013 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

Jimmy Haigh on Feb 27, 2013 at 11:19 AM
"The trouble with the establishment now is that it is made up of people who, in their youth, probably hated it."

I looks like many of them still do.

Feb 27, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

I must say I admire Lawson. The GWPF was much needed. With Lawson on board it has substantial gravitas. That is, of course, the reason why the warmists constantly feel the need to attack it and him. Lawson could have let Nurse's comments go but it is very much to his credit that he has called out the current loathsome creature that presides over the RS. It will be very interesting to see if Nurse responds at all. My bet is that he plays stumm and hopes it goes away.

Let us not forget that the good Lord Lawson also gave us Nigella.

Feb 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterNTropywins

Is there any part of what passes for "The Establishment" that has not been discredited or found wanting in its behaviour or utterances in the recent past? It is a slow burn but I do wonder just how long it will be before we get the reaction to the political class that we have just witnessed in Italy.

Feb 27, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Readers should understand that the CO2 religionists are realyly, really rattled because their personal and group power is slipping away fast.

Feb 27, 2013 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

I like the "denied" in this passage from Lord Lawson's letter. Nice switch of who is denying.

there has been no further recorded global warming at all for at least the past 15 years, as even the IPCC Chairman, Dr Pachauri, has now conceded. Whatever the precise reason for this, it cannot simply be dismissed or denied

Feb 27, 2013 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

But Lawson's still wrong.

Feb 27, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJ Bowers

This comes closely on the heels of another confrontation about much the same subject, on this BH thread

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/2/14/warm-letters.html?SSLoginOk=true

Lord Turnbull and Dr David Whitehouse v Prof Chris Rapley.

I wonder, if Sir Paul picks up the gauntlet at all, he will use something more impartial than the Skeptical Science blog to make his points?

Feb 27, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

J Bowers
Many thanks for your cryptic comment. Brevity is always to be appreciated.
On the other hand it helps if there is some meaning included. What is Lawson wrong about and in what way precisely is he wrong?

Feb 27, 2013 at 6:37 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Once a Marxist, always a Marxist.
[Raise the tone please]

Feb 27, 2013 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The trouble with the establishment now is that it is made up of people who, in their youth, probably hated it.

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Jimmy Haigh

PROFOUND !!!

Feb 27, 2013 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

It would appear Lord Lawson and Lord Monckton have been comparing notes.

http://joannenova.com.au/2013/02/monckton-accuses-tony-press-uni-tasmania-of-fraud-and-deception/

I applaud both of them for sticking up for themselves and not letting these guys get away with the rubbish they are saying. Whether they get any where --we'll wait and see. But Lord Lawson's letter has been "reprinted" on Andrew Bolt's blog in Australia ( one of the most widely read columists in Australia).
For Lord Monckton all these attacks are just great free publicity for his current Australian tour of speaking engagements. ( anyone who trys to take him on in a verbal or written stoush is a complete idiot)

Feb 27, 2013 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

You cannot polish......

Actually you can, shown by Mythbusters.

But it is still a turd!

Feb 27, 2013 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuy Fardell

Lawson may be wrong, but at least he doesn't lie like a turd in a bucket

Feb 27, 2013 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Nurse favours “measures which involve greater concerted world action, curtailing the freedom of individuals or companies and nations”. But Lawson objects not because he values individual freedom (which he says he does) but because the measures are “not cost-effective”. If the measures could be shown to be cost-effective, would Lawson accept the curtailment of the individual freedom he values?

Feb 28, 2013 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Green

If the measures could be shown to be cost-effective, would Lawson accept the curtailment of the individual freedom he values?

If they were cost effective, they wouldn't require the curtailment of freedom.

Feb 28, 2013 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Ben Pile (12:19 AM): "If they were cost effective, they wouldn't require the curtailment of freedom."

I don't see how you can make that assertion. For example, think about particulate scrubbers. Considered to be cost-effective in that they reduce health hazards from poor air quality although it incurs some expense in power generation, yet an international agreement to install them is a curtailment, in that countries/industries are subject to additional regulation.

Feb 28, 2013 at 12:57 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

@Richard Green

"Nurse favours “measures which involve greater concerted world action, curtailing the freedom of individuals or companies and nations”. But Lawson objects not because he values individual freedom (which he says he does) but because the measures are “not cost-effective”. If the measures could be shown to be cost-effective, would Lawson accept the curtailment of the individual freedom he values?"

Why not ask him this tedious attempt at a trick question?

Feb 28, 2013 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Sir Paul Nurse may not like to pick cherries, but he is obviously quite tolerant of horsemeat in his lasagne....

Feb 28, 2013 at 2:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterManniac

Feb 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM | NTropywins |

Let us not forget that the good Lord Lawson also gave us Nigella.

An event for which I shall be eternally grateful ;)

Feb 28, 2013 at 4:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Feb 28, 2013 at 12:02 AM | Richard Green

Nurse favours “measures which involve greater concerted world action, curtailing the freedom of individuals or companies and nations”. But Lawson objects not because he values individual freedom (which he says he does) but because the measures are “not cost-effective”. If the measures could be shown to be cost-effective, would Lawson accept the curtailment of the individual freedom he values?


You seem to imply you have spotted a contradiction in Lawson. Let me help you out with your parsing Lawson:

It is true that I value individual freedom... But my objection to the policy you favour ... is that it is not cost-effective.

My emphasis.

You do see how that doesn't contradict itself? It doesn't matter that Lawson values "individual freedom" he says, nevertheless, that he has spotted that Nurse's reasoning is flawed because it is "not cost-effective".

Up for debate (as you may be doing) - but not a contradiction.

I am betting Lawson is better informed on the concepts of perceptions of economic value, trade-offs, externalities, and costs, say via Stern, Pigou and Coase for example, than Nurse is, and that is what is informing him here.

And, what with him having been UK Chancellor and Energy minister, an' all ;)

But well done for sort of asking Lawson's opinion, instead of claiming what he "knows", even though it is in the wrong place as diogenes says ;)

Feb 28, 2013 at 7:07 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

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