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Monday 5 December 2011

Del Boy And The Junk Critique

Another week begins, and with it another vehement attack on climate science by king of the bear pit that is Maily Telegraph blogland, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole. Del Boy has been taken to task by climate scientist Michael Mann, and replies with the usual combination of dishonesty, misrepresentation, and straightforward abuse.

Del claims to be taking the side of “the innocent taxpayers being screwed to pay for the great green boondoggle”, but in reality this is just another desperate and easily debunked rewriting of history. First up is the Soon and Baliunas controversy from 2003, following publication of their paper in the journal Climate Research. Del says that Mann and his followers ganged up to “shoot the messenger”.

What actually happened can be read HERE. Mann criticised the paper, and there were resignations from the journal, not least because the peer review process had not been sufficiently rigorous. Delingpole’s analysis is utterly wrong: Climate Research has not been closed down as he suggests, and then editor Chris de Freitas is still at the University of Auckland.

But Del has another go as he tells of Pat Michaels, whose PhD thesis has attracted the attention of Tom Wigley, who has asked for it to be re-assessed, for reasons he lays out. Del Boy claims that Wigley has sought to deprive Michaels of his PhD and that he had “[no evidence] whatsoever”. Delingpole’s own link shows that he is being utterly and serially dishonest.

But the really hot and steaming pile of bullpucky comes as he upbraids Mann for mentioning the case of Herbert Needleman, one of the pioneers of researching the link between lead contamination and childrens’ brain development. To support his argument, Del turns to Christopher Booker and Richard North (no, please, don’t laugh) and their book Scared To Death (available at Amazon for just 1p).

Needleman stood as an expert witness in a case against the owners of a defunct lead mill where houses had been built on land where waste from the mill had been dumped. His data was challenged and he was then charged with scientific misconduct. The law firm making the case declined to say who was paying for it. Needleman had the case heard in public and was cleared.

Booker and North – needless to say – take the side of those who challenged Needleman’s data, despite it being re-assessed and its conclusions found to be soundly based. The scientists opposing him had been paid by the lead industry. As a fellow scientist put it, crying fraud “can be used to railroad people you don’t like”. It’s a case of what Del is alleging Mann is doing, except for real.

As Delingpole can be so easily debunked, one has to wonder why he bothers. Next.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

James Delingpole is set to shake the world of the credulous once more in an upcoming article where he repudiates gravity. Citing his own ability not to be influenced by the mass of scientific evidence and countering with anecdotal evidence of his own dreams of flying, Delingpole looked sweaty and maniacal in a recent interview. "Even physicists concede that gravity is an inexplicably weak force in the universe, but that's because it just isn't there. This is one of the greatest scientific con-tricks in history, dating back to the tale of Icarus". Delingpole is said to be "disappointed that not one so-called 'physicist' has the balls to enter into a serious debate" with him over his claims. He is taking some comfort from ally Lord Monckton, "You should have seen the look on his face after he read my notes" said Delingpole, "Scientists and engineers all have a vested interest in the multi-billion dollar aeronautics industry that they have created, and it's all about restricting free trade and the rights of the individual". Reactions from around the world range from "Incredible" and "Unbelievable", to "More sadly predictable idiocy", but Delingpole is undeterred and has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging anyone from the scientific community to join him in jumping off a very tall building, "then we'll see who's right".