If Ben Goldacre thinks I'm a ***** what does that make him?

Ben Goldacre says I’m a “penis.” He has told his 85,000 or so followers as much on Twitter. I’m also “absolutely a dick”, he goes on to tell his fan base, lest any of them doubt Ben’s commitment to the view that I am some kind of penile appendage.

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38 thoughts on “If Ben Goldacre thinks I'm a ***** what does that make him?”

  1. After the horizon program I am so happy, as it was enough for my long term Telegraph parents to switch papers. No more Telegraph and now a Guardian house.
    Keep it up James your doing a brilliant job.

    PS Ben Goldacre is just so right, I think its the shape of your head.

  2. Stuart, when you grow up and become a big boy wearing long trousers you will look with disdain at your Grauniad and switch to the Telegraph.

  3. Ben is spot on. James – leave true science to those that really understand it, keep quiet in your armchair and don’t be so naive to believe the tiny minority of mostly self interested economists and non specialist ‘scientists’ who try to tease out minor bits and pieces of research/statistics to refute the anthropogenic contribution to global warming. The OVERWHELMING body of global scientific research supports anthropogenic global warming. You are arguing that they are ALL wrong! The cost of doing nothing is MUCH greater than the cost of reducing man’s impact. You are also quite literally playing with peoples lives as the increasing regularity of extreme weather events brought on by global warming will kill people. Sadly, you seem the kind of person who can sleep soundly at night with this on your conscience. You may also have lost the future respect of your children as it is they who will suffer the majority of the consequences should we fail to act now.

  4. James, I think that your response to Goldacres infantile name calling “sticks and stones will break my bones…….” was measured, fair and intelligent. I admire your patience and resilience in what must be constant attacks from the self righteous warmists. I am with you on everything you say on AGW and I urge you to continue saying it. It is only a matter of time. There are for more people with common sense than indoctrinated evangelists. We will prevail.

  5. “If Ben Goldacre thinks I’m a ***** what does that make him?”

    At the risk of stating the obvious… “correct”.

  6. James,

    As you have not responded to my email (submitted via your website “Contact me” page), I am forced to try this avenue to elicit a response… As you yourself admitted on the BBC’s Horizon programme this week, you are not a scientist; you are merely a self-appointed critic of science. Compared to this, even Tony Blair’s appointment as UN Middle East Peace Envoy seems sensible!

    Although it pains me to massage your ego in this way, I do feel you ought to take more responsibility to research facts (as they are) rather than just regurgitate disinformation (as the oil companies want you to)… Those who warn of serious environmental consequences for planet Earth if humankind does not radically change its ways are not trying to spoil anyone’s fun or freedom; they are merely pointing to the truth of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (i.e. that energy cannot be created nor destroyed) and the reality of Entropy (i.e. that energy conversion leads to increasing disorder in the Universe).

    You and your kind could do a lot worse than start by reading “The Betrayal of Science and Reason – How Anti-scientific Rhetoric Threatens Our Future”, by Paul and Anna Ehrlich – see http://www.amazon.co.uk/Betrayal-Science-Reason-Anti-environmental-Threatens/dp/1559634847/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296080071&sr=8-1#reader_1559634847

    Don’t worry; you don’t have to be a scientist to understand it!

  7. Nigel Kikby: “Is that John Sturman as in Commercial Director at Bee Green Energy Ltd?” Even if it is, how about refuting arguments rather than making lame accusations of bias or vested interest (I think the oil companies are the really guitly party in that respect).

    I am no friend of the Catholic church but, when you find yourself arguing against them AND the scientific consensus (including bodies such as the Royal Society), it is time to re-think your position – or renew your subscription to the Flat Earth Society.

    The fact that climate change deniers cannot agree who to pin their consipracy theories on demonstrates how much they are like those who insisted the Earth is flat; then insisted it is only 6000 yrs old; then insisted that it is orbited by the Sun. In each case, their position eventually became untenable and had to be abandoned…

    Just how much climate change will it take to make you refusniks to come to your senses? John Sturman is absolutely right; I do not think your children will be at all proud of you.

  8. James just does this for the money. He sees the likes of Glen Beck, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin making millions of dollars saying absolutely stupid shit that is totally wrong yet appeals the ignorant and gullible.

    It’s what the religious crazies do. He will never change because he can make money off this scam.

    He is to be despised for his negative contribution to people on this planet.

    Libertarians are like that. Selfish.

  9. Just checking. Nothing of any significance to be found from the professional trolls who hover around JD’s excellent blog. Really, why do you bother (apart from for the money)?
    Myself, I couldn’t give a t0ss if there are 1,000 comments rubbishing Dellers. Do you think that’s how people make their mind up on issues – from troll-posts? What a waste of protoplasm you are Chris P.

  10. Blogs are what they are? Nothing of scientific value can be found from a man who openly admits he doesn’t have time to read scientific literature yet feels he can ridicule scientists. But what can you expect from a libertarian denialist? Except to get “intellectually raped” when confronted.

    So next time Jimbo, stop believing what you write and try reading a little before you start debating. You might fair better than a lemming with its brain removed.

  11. I’m a little confused.

    1. Do you have any time for AGW or not?

    This from your piece – “Anthropogenic Global Warming. In a nutshell, I think it has been greatly exaggerated by a number of special interest groups with an axe to grind” – would suggest that you do, but you’re saying is that certain groups and individuals are milking it for gain. Or do you really think that AGW is rubbish?

    2. Is it OK to appeal to authority on the issue of AGW?

    When Ben Goldacre and the chap on the Horizon prog do it, it’s questionable.
    When you do it in your article, to support your view that AGW is exaggerated, then it’s fine.

    An appeal to authority is fine if the authority is legitimate, of course. What makes your authorities OK and Ben and Nurse’s dodgy? The UEA lot are just a tiny number among thousands, and I don’t think their data can be written off entirely; how they presented it is the questionable aspect. It seems that some scientists are dumbing down their findings in order to make science more accessible to the public.

    I feel (because I don’t have any data to prove it) that AGW is exaggerated by some, because they benefit from doing so. It’s possible. People are like that. Equally, some may say that AGW is rubbish for the same reason.

    To suggest all the groups you mention in your article are lying, cheating and self-serving is a huge sweeping statement. Where’s the evidence? Your certainty worries me. Unfortunately, you look and sound too much like a ranting conspiracy theorist. It’s a shame, because we need a variety of intelligent, measured views from scientists and non-scientists. At least, I think so.

    Perhaps you just want to encourage debate. Well, you’ve done that, although there’s an awful lot of name calling on both sides, sadly. Must the argument be so polarised and adversarial? Do you think this approach will get to the truth?

  12. Dear Denise, thanks for your email but I don’t think you quite understand what “appeal to authority” means.

    As I thought I’d explained in my piece, it’s a rhetorical cheat whereby, for example, you say: “Well Sir Paul Nurse is a Nobel prize laureate and president of the Royal Academy and if he says it it must be true.” This was essentially the technique used throughout the documentary: he goes to NASA, is convinced by the glitziness of their equipment and the scienceyness of their credentials; he goes to the UEA and because Phil Jones is a fellow scientist, Nurse accepts on no evidence other than Jones’s say-so that his version of events is correct.

    Can you not see why this might not be damaging for the cause of truth and openness and scientific integrity?

    At what point do I cite anyone as an authority so superior it trumps other authorities? I don’t. All I’m asking is that when research is revealed to be flawed, the scientists defend themselves through open debate rather than bullying and cover ups and – yes – appeals to authority like the one we saw on Nurse’s disgraceful, dishonest hatchet job.

    How exactly is that unreasonable?

  13. Why should scientists defend themselves against a clueless journalist who can’t and won’t read graphs? Someone who is deliberately biased and confused about facts that are staring him in the face. You wouldn’t understand what they were saying if they tried to explainit to you. And, yes, science makes mistakes occasionally – that what science is all about.

    We don’t “debate” creationism because creationists do the same thing – they quote a stream of unsupportable garbage and expect the scientists to refute every clueless thing that comes out of their mouths. When the scientist refutes the first stupidity they come out with yet more crap.

    N0 – get your own freaking proof that global warming isn’t happening – collect your data give us graphs and explain how the atmosphere really works. With a libertarian brain like yours I’m sure you come out with something in ten seconds.

  14. @Chris P

    It’s clear that you haven’t the faintest idea of what the scientific method is. It’s up to the AGW alarmists, who are purporting to explain how earth’s climate works, to prove their theory. IT’S A THEORY. Get it? It hasn’t yet been proved. Read your Karl Popper.

  15. You agreed to go on the telly to talk about how science works with the President of the Royal Society and Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse and it turns out he knows more about it than you.

    So you look a bit silly in the programme and then you complain that you’ve been stitched up.

    Aha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

  16. The sad thing about this situation Mr Delingpole is you just don’t get it, do you? if Ben Goldacre and Simon Singh say its right, it simply must be right by virtue of the fact they have said it is, forget evidence. This reflects to my mind a stance, which seems to be simply one of intolerance to any other opinions, views or even an acceptance that we have an ability to analyse and in fact rationalise any information on our own. We must agree or be ‘punished’, which is a bit Orwellian I think. I get the impression that in the world of the Singhacre Skeptics, there is no place for disobedience by having an opinion that contradicts their own.

    I think the real reason of the abusive smokescreen is that they must attack loudly and vehemently in a manner, which will hopefully prevent fair-minded people seeing that they are as fallible as the rest of us. I remember reading on a blog once where a guy was advised to be wary of anyone who claims to have all the answers, as they are either ignorant, arrogant or stupid, either way it was alluded that these people were dangerous to themselves or others. Does that apply here, who knows?

    PS, I have never read the Telegraph as until lately I had always taken the Guardian, but I must say having read some of the nonsense that’s been published lately, its time for a change. You have a new reader!

  17. “… wisdom itself cannot flourish, and even the truth not be established, without the give and take of debate and criticism. The facts, the relevant facts … are fundamental to an understanding of the issue of policy.”

    – J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1950

    “Fascism is not a doctrinal creed; it is a way of behaving towards your fellow man. What, then, are the tell-tale hallmarks of this horrible attitude? Paranoid control-freakery; an obsessional hatred of any criticism or contradiction; the lust to character-assassinate anyone even suspected of it; a compulsion to control or at least manipulate the media … the majority of the rank and file prefer to face the wall while the jack-booted gentlemen ride by.”

    – Frederick Forsyth, 2005

  18. Frank Tavos is clueless about science. Theory has two meanings – in the “theory” of evolution it means the consensus facts that are true.

    You people are just as clueless as creationists – you use the same old twisted words game.

  19. “Theory has two meanings – in the “theory” of evolution it means the consensus facts that are true.” – Chris P.

    “What is truth?” – Pilate.

    Chris, did you copy that straight from Orwell’s “1984”? Doublethink is: “to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies … knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it … to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.”

  20. Nigecook

    Thanks for the definition of ‘doublethink’. Here’s the definition of ‘scientic theory’, which is indeed different to the definition of ‘theory’ which is in general useage:


    Frank Tavos is indeed clueless about science, as are you. Did neither of you stop to consider that you might not know what you were talking about before wading in?

  21. “A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

    Seanos, Wikipedia is itself a consensus effort. Did it not occur to you that a consensus effort would be likely to produce a definition of science that is biased in favour of consensus?

    It fails to distinguish between the political abuse of “science” by authority which deliberately ignores, covers up or otherwise (perhaps using “peer-review”) renders effectively secret vital facts (“hide the decline”) and a theory which considers all of the evidence. It fails to cover the problem of anomalies. The definition of scientific theory is actually a big discipline all of its own, running from Occam’s Razor to Susskind’s fairies.

    The definition of a scientific theory as one which is “useful” to the scientists crops in in superstring theory, where it’s useful to investigate a 10/11 dimensional M-theory theory with its 10^500 different metastable vacua, since it’s impossible to experimentally disprove them all during your career.

    Like climate theory, superstring theory is here “useful” not in the experimental sense, but in the political sense. Ivor Catt makes the cynical-sounding but all too true observation that groupthink science is very easily corrupted, because scientists don’t live on air.

    ‘The President put his name on the plaque Armstrong and Aldrin left on the moon and he telephoned them while they were there, but he cut America’s space budget to the smallest total since John Glenn orbited the Earth. The Vice-President says on to Mars by 1985, but we won’t make it by “stretching out” our effort. Perhaps NASA was too successful with Apollo. It violated the “Catt Concept”, enunciated by Britisher Ivor Catt. According to Catt, the most secure project is the unsuccessful one, because it lasts the longest.’

    – Robert P. Crossley, Editorial, Popular Mechanics, Vol. 133, No. 5, May 1970, p. 14.

    E.g., compare the Apollo project with the Vietnam war for price, length and success. Both were initially backed by Kennedy and Johnson as challenges to Communist space technology and subversion, respectively. The Vietnam war – the unsuccessful project – sucked in the cash for longer, which closed down the successful space exploration project!

    Scientist even in pure science have to ensure that whatever they do will not result in a P45. If that means building a theory that’s complete rubbish by the use of so-called “peer-review” as censorship of critics, then they’ll do it to survive, just as when the chips go down most people will fight for survival. Ethics are important, but they come lower down the Maslow’s list of human priorities than putting bread on the table!

  22. “Seanos, Wikipedia is itself a consensus effort. Did it not occur to you that a consensus effort would be likely to produce a definition of science that is biased in favour of consensus?”

    Logic and comprehension aren’t your strong suit are they? The wiki article is a perfectly simple and straightforward explanation of what a scientific theory is. Here, read these:


    So we’ve now established that scientists use the word ‘theory’ in a very specific way and this is different to its collquial use, can we agree that no ‘doublethink’ is involved and that making posts without having any real understanding of what you are talking about is a spectacularly idiotic thing to do?

    I skimmed through the rest of your post because it looked like bullshit. If you actually have a point could you please try and make it succinctly?

  23. Seanos,

    ‘Science is the organized skepticism in the reliability of expert opinion.’ – R. P. Feynman (quoted by Smolin, The Trouble with Physics, 2006, p. 307).

    “Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive in-group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. It is a second potential negative consequence of group cohesion.

    Irving Janis studied a number of American Foreign policy ‘disasters’ such as failure to anticipate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941); the Bay of Pigs fiasco (1961) when the US administration sought to overthrow Cuban Government of Fidel Castro; and the prosecution of the Vietnam War (1964–67) by President Lyndon Johnson. He concluded that in each of these cases, the decisions were made largely due to the cohesive nature of the committees which made them. Moreover, that cohesiveness prevented contradictory views from being expressed and subsequently evaluated. As defined by Janis, “A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action”.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink (your beloved consensus-based wikipedia is EXCELLENT when it defines groupthink, which is consensus).

  24. …and if I were you Frank, I’d learn what scientists mean when they use the word ‘theory’ before spouting off about in public, to avoid coming across as someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.

  25. The only proper response that I can think of is that it’s time for you to call the guy a doo-doo head. Let’s this debate onto a higher plane.

  26. @Seanos I’d have to try a lot harder to come across as ignorant and idiotic , yet pompous and full of himself, as you do. Thanks for the advice, Mr. Science!

  27. Frank, try and understand, Einstein’s theory of relativity is just a theory, but it goes a long way in explaining the world of the large. Quantum theory is just a theory, but it goes a long way in explaining the world of the very small. Darwin’s theory of evolution is just a theory, but it goes a long way in explaining the creatures we see today. Just as AGW theory goes a long way in explaning greenhouse gases and climate. Scientists like explaining the world in theories, but it doesn’t mean it’s all wrong. So get your science right before debating.

  28. DaveDude, the “greenhouse” analogy is false! When did you last see a “greenhouse” which had sunlight-reflecting clouds in it, formed by the evaporation of an ocean that covered 70% of its surface?

  29. @ DaveDude. Alright, already! I meant “AGW hypothesis”, not “theory”. Enough with the semantics. The point I was originally trying to make way up above is that it’s up to those claiming that the hypothesis is supported by sufficient empirical evidence to demonstrate its predictive value.

    In the case of AGW, the “evidence” has been demonstrated to have been either falsified or massaged or cherry-picked in such a way that no rational person would trust it. Not only that (and this relates to my Jan 28 admonition to Chris P to “Read your Karl Popper.”) but the AGW hypothesis is a moving target. Every time the evidentiary basis of AGW is knocked out from under it, its proponents simply change the name (e.g.: “Global Warming” becomes “Climate Change”) or the predicted effects of AGW (“the earth’s temperature will rise by X degrees” becomes “the earth’s temperature will maybe rise or fall by X degrees”). If it can’t be disproven or if it purports to explain everything that occurs, regardless of what happens, it is what is known as pseudo-science. AGW is no different than dialectic materialism (a.k.a. Marxism) or astrology, or even Christianity. It can’t be disproven because it does not adhere to the scientific paradigm.

    So, no, AGW does not go “a long way in explaning greenhouse gases and climate”. It may go part of the way to saying that earth’s climate is changing, but so what? That’s no surprise. The very nature of climate is that it never stays the same. It is in constant flux as a perfunctiory examination of climate history tells us. But the most important thing that theAGW hypothesis fails to to do is demonstrate a link between human-produced CO2 and climate change.

    So what it has become is a convenient tool for governments to justify to the gullible, the ignorant and the lazy their attempts to wield more power and take away human freedoms. I don’t know why any sane and rational person would chose to believe the AGW hypothesis unless they have somnething to gain from it; be it grant money or control over the levers of society and the economy or support for their socialist world view. Which one are you DaveDude?

  30. “The very nature of climate is that it never stays the same. It is in constant flux as a perfunctory examination of climate history tells us.” – Frank Tavos

    Spot on! We’ve been in a warming period for 18,000 years. The whole holocene, during which humanity thrived, has been a period of climatic change.

    Much of the Sahara desert was a tropical paradise a few thousand years ago, and it wasn’t destroyed by humanity. The last ice age is still receding. What the natural climate change deniers insist, by lying, is that the climate is a delicate equilibrium, critically controlled by CO2 levels. In fact, the relative influence of H2O, plain old water vapour, is a bigger greenhouse gas.

    However, as always, the eco-evangelists misunderstand this, claiming it has a positive feedback on CO2, e.g. see http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm where James Frank on 2 September 2010 falsely claimed:

    “Studies show that water vapor feedback roughly doubles the amount of warming caused by CO2. So if there is a 1°C change caused by CO2, the water vapor will cause the temperature to go up another 1°C. When other feedback loops are included, the total warming from a potential 1°C change caused by CO2 is, in reality, as much as 3°C.”

    This is what the IPCC computer models say, and is precisely why they’re wrong.

    I blogged about the error over a year ago, http://nige.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/how-natural-climatic-changes-are-lyingly-covered-up-by-doom-mongering-lying-propaganda-to-secure-research-grants-for-crackpots-with-a-political-agenda-an-analogy-to-string-theorists-spin-2-graviton-p/

    Summary: NASA scientist contractor Dr Ferenc Miskolczi of AS&M Inc on 1 January 2006 resigned with a protest letter about being censored out, stating:

    “Unfortunately my working relationship with my NASA supervisors eroded to a level that I am not able to tolerate. My idea of the freedom of science can not coexist with the recent NASA practice of handling new climatic change related scientific results. … I presented to NASA a new view of greenhouse theory and pointed out serious errors in the classical approach of assessment of climate sensitivity to greenhouse gas perturbations. Since then my results were not released for publication.”


    His theory is described by his research associate Dr Miklos Zagoni, see the paper http://www.scribd.com/doc/25071473/Saturated-Greenhouse-Effect-Theory

    NASA effectively banned its publication through the peer-reviewed literature, just as it had used groupthink fear to censor out the effects of low temperatures on making the rubber Challenger O-rings brittle, so they leaked during a cold morning launch, causing the 1986 space shuttle explosion. (This was the big cover-up that Feynman famously exposed with the cup of iced water and a rubber O-ring during a TV news conference, as part of the Rogers’ Commission report into the disaster, which NASA astronaut Niel Armstrong failed to spot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Commission_Report .)

    Basically, Dr Ferenc Miskolczi’s life as a NASA climate research scientist was made hell because he discovered that the extra water vapour being evaporated is not having a positive-feedback (increasing the CO2 warming effect by absorbing more infrared from the sun), instead it is going into increased cloud cover, which reflects incoming sunlight back to space. So it has a negative-feedback effect, not a positive-feedback effect. NASA’s climate computer models all have not merely a quantitative error in the effect of H2O on climate, but an actual qualitative error. They have a plus sign where the sign is really negative.

    Dr Miskolczi’s evidence is that, as stated on page 4 of Dr Miklos Zagoni’s paper http://www.scribd.com/doc/25071473/Saturated-Greenhouse-Effect-Theory , “During the 61-year period [since 1948] … the global average absolute humidity diminished about 1 per cent.”

    That shocked me, and made me really angry that nobody is reporting this in the media, and just coming up with straw-man “sunspot” stuff (no offense to Lord Monkton, but that’s astrology).

    “Since the Earth’s atmosphere is not lacking in greenhouse gases [water vapor], if the system could have increased its surface temperature it would have done so long before our emissions. It need not have waited for us to add CO2: another greenhouse gas, H2O, was already to hand in practically unlimited reservoirs in the oceans.” – Dr. Miklos Zagoni.

    The only media report on this scandal is a terribly written story by Dianna Cotter of
    Portland Civil Rights Examiner, “Hungarian Physicist Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi proves CO2 emissions irrelevant in Earth’s Climate”, 12 January 2010, see http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-portland/hungarian-physicist-dr-ferenc-miskolczi-proves-co2-emissions-irrelevant-earth-s-climate

  31. Actually Frank you old charmer, I think I will fuck off.

    Being exhorted to read Popper by a man who doesn’t understand what a scientific theory is surely has to be the comedy high point and things can only go downhill from here, so I’ll leave you little Einsteins to it. Adios!

  32. @Seanos – You’re right, things would go downhill from here for you – because I just obliterated your side’s weak arguments with my last post. You realized that you had absolutely no chance of refuting my argument, so you gave up. Good for you. I like a person who knows when he/she has been soundly beaten. Adios, loser.

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