Science Heresy

November 2011

Matt Ridley

Science and Pseudoscience

When are scientific heretics right and when are they mad? How do you tell the difference between science and pseudoscience?

  Astronomy is a science; astrology is a pseudoscience
  Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.
  Molecular biology is science; homeopathy is pseudoscience.
  Vaccination is science; the MMR scare is pseudoscience.
  Chemistry is science; alchemy was pseudoscience.

Matt Ridley discusses scientific heresy here

We also recommend Matt Ridley's great 5 minute video: "When Ideas have Sex"


Georg Knibbs

ABS collection

The Trend of Destiny

The planetís seven-thousand-millionth person arrived this year, perhaps in a village in Upper Volta, or maybe an apartment in Lower Manhattan.

The global population reached one billion in about 1800, two billion by 1927, three billion in 1960, four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, and six billion in 1999. How many billion more?

By 2050, Australia will have between 29 and 43 million people, but we will still be a very small fish in a global pond with at least nine billion other folk.

George Handley Knibbs and the population problem.



But what does the data say?

Possibly the most reliable measure of global temperature is sea surface temperature (SST) which has been routinely measured and logged by ocean-going vessels for more than 150 years. Once it was an important navigational aid (e.g. for locating the Gulf Stream). It is unaffected by the "urban heat island effect" and the sea has an integrating effect which smoothes spatial and temporal fluctuations.

SST measurements are very "noisy" when compared to climate model predictions. This noisiness is usually attributed to experimental error and scientists go to some lengths to remove or reduce this noise. Despite their efforts much variability remains.

Perhaps the baby is being thrown out with the bath water. There could well be real physical causes underlying this observed variability in sea surface temperature. Some of them are discussed here.