Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Have the sceptics taken over the asylum?

I'm planning to attend the EGU General Assembly in April. Each year they award medals (named after eminent scientists) in various fields. Imagine my surprise to see on browsing the list of the 2009 medal winner lectures that the Petrus Peregrinus medal is being awarded to Eigil Friis-Christensen (PP was a pioneer of magnetism).

The citation reads that the award to F-C is made "for his fundamental contributions to our knowledge of the Earth's magnetic field from space and his innovative leadership in geomagnetism". I believe that most climate scientists will know him primarily for his fundamentally dodgy work on correlations between solar cycles and global temperature (debunked by Damon and Laut, with further work by Lockwood and Frohlich, see posts on RC for more on this), which has only contributed to the public misunderstanding of science.

It's a difficult problem when genuinely talented and productive scientists go emeritus and end up saying silly things - often, not always, outside their area of expertise (such as Akasofu - in fact F-C and A have co-authored several papers). I doubt that many climate scientists people would complain were Lovelock to be awarded some prize, despite his silly "last few breeding pairs" book. And I'm sure that Friis-Christensen has done lots of worthy work in his own field. But I bet that at a minimum this medal will cause some discomfort in the climate division of the EGU.

Talking of which, it seem that the Exxon association that I blogged about previously is going ahead the form of a two-day course for students. I'm not sure that the Exxon approach to science is really to be recommended to students. Perhaps the climate division should produce some slick advertisements highlighting Exxon's sceptical activities with the slogan: They call it statistics, we call it lies.


Hank Roberts said...


"Going on CNBC ... does mean that for the few minutes before going on I have to listen to the screamers.

"And what I learned today was that Larry Kudlow has adopted the full Treasury View* ... Presumably he’s getting it from Heritage.** So the Conintern — the vast right-wing conspiracy — has settled on a misunderstanding of the meaning of accounting identities as the basis for its opposition to, you know, actually doing anything to prevent Great Depression 2.0."

quote from:



Try this, full program is online:

Hank Roberts said...

Say what?
as seen at

C W Magee said...

In the process of finding all that oil, Exxon has done some of the best Earth science around. For over a decade, they had the world's best global geologic map- it is still sometimes referenced, and can still be found on the walls of many geology departments. If you wanna learn seismics, there are few better people to take a course from...