Terry, RoyalAuto interview

Don’t toss out your RoyalAuto just yet. Victorian Skeptics president Terry Kelly featured in a RoyalAuto article this month.

Amongst the car safety reviews and suggested holiday destinations, a four page interview style article about Terry and things of interest to skeptics. I found the writing and photography to be excellent and it’s always nice to see a good positive story in the press.

You can read the September 2010 article on-line.

Mal.

8 Responses to Terry, RoyalAuto interview

  1. Mick says:

    Great picture ! Just a nice portrayal of the skeptic as a questioner, not a debunker only.

  2. davidp says:

    Good article. A pity it’s labelled “People – Uri Geller” on the RACV’s website!

  3. keng2 says:

    (Reply on behalf of Mark Imisides)
    Terry Kelly is apparently a prominent Victorian sceptic.

    Can you please tell him that an otherwise interesting article was torpedoed by the last paragraph, in which he proved how little he knows about the nature of (scientific) scepticism.

    On the topic of Global Warming, after acknowledging the different views on the topic, he said that he was “going with the view that Global Warming was a reality because this was the view of 90% of the scientific community”

    Can you please tell him that science does not work by democracy. Scientific truths are not determined by votes but by evidence. If he has not seen any evidence for the influence of man on global climate he ought to adopt the default position of any sceptic on any topic – “I have not seen any evidence for your claims. When you present me with some evidence I will believe it”

    To say “I believe it because someone else told me it’s true” is a logical fallacy known as “appeal to authority.” A person who touts himself publicly as a sceptic ought to know better, as it is exactly the same argument used by anyone that says “God told me it’s true, so it must be.”

    It’s worth noting that WA sceptics adopt the correct position on this – open scepticism to an unproved hypothesis.

    Regards

    Mark

  4. Terry Kelly says:

    Mark,
    Thank you for your interest and the comment that the RoyalAuto piece was an (otherwise) “interesting article”.

    I think you may have confused the scientific process with someone publishing a considered opinion which is different to yours.

    Let me quote from the latest edition of “The Skeptic”, our national magazine. This where Richard Saunders interviews Massimo Pigliucci, author of “Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk”. Massimo says:
    ,
    “I always thought (what) the skeptic movement was about was to promote critical thinking and the understanding of science. In other words, mediators between scientists, who may not have the time or the inclination to write for the public, and the general public. But when it comes to issues like global warming, that is an area where skeptics do not have expertise.
    So what makes it puzzling is that you would expect that skeptics would treat it the same way as something like evolution or the connection between HIV and AIDS. In other words they would look at the scientific literature see the consensus and say to the public, “Look, this is the best understanding we have”. We do that with evolution, with AIDS, with vaccines, but some of us don’t do that with climate change and it’s interesting to ask why………
    ….You can always find scientists who don’t agree with the consensus, you can find biologists who don’t support evolution so I’m sure you can find climate scientists who don’t think climate change is happening. But, my understanding of the literature is that the majority of those who know what they are talking about agree that the best conclusion at the moment is that it is happening and at least in part human caused (sic)”.

    Mark, if you want to start an argument amongst skeptics just bring up politics or climate change.

    This diversity of opinion can be good. If we didn’t consist of people with different political views, for example, we would be failing.
    Climate change is trickier. We have lots of debates within the skeptics movement about it. Very heated debates at times – on line, in person, at conferences and in the forum/letters section of our magazine.
    Scientists themselves may not work by consensus when doing their research and experiments but to get work published and accepted and put into practice it has to be peer reviewed, scrutinised, challenged and, eventually, it actually is consensus that decides what makes its way to acceptance and into everyday lives. Consensus of qualified people. And we do actually live by the argument to authority to some extent. How else are we to live? We can’t all possibly know all there is to know about physics, biology, geology, climate change etc…
    As a non-scientist, educate myself as I might, I have little else but “authority” and “consensus” on many issues.

    As a movement the skeptics have tried to word our statements about climate change very carefully. We have statements on our websites, in Victoria and nationally, which have been subject to much debate. The National site made a new one recently. There is a shift developing more to word it in terms of the scientific consensus.
    I think the purpose of RoyalAuto contacting us for a story (being a car magazine) was to see if we could say something provocative or definitive about climate change, one way or another. I didn’t allow the interview to go too much in that direction because it is not a strong area for me. As a “lay person” that was my best shot at addressing that highly contentious issue. I was interviewed in about June and the story came out in September. I’m pleased to see that my position almost exactly duplicates Massimo Pigliucci (above) which was just published a few weeks ago.

    We’ve had the debate about “science not being done by democracy it’s done by evidence” over and over. It’s true that scientific practice is not done by democracy- it’s done by experiment, observation etc. Interpreting the results is a more consultative and democratic process, however. The “evidence”, to a non expert, is that the overwhelming majority of those with the “authority” to say anything meaningful seem to say that humans are contributing. This may change based on the evidence provided by future study.

    It’s not that “someone else” told me. It’s a very large number of “someone else”‘s who have submitted their evidence and conclusions. “Someone else”‘s with considerable expertise.

    I challenge your assertion that the WA Skeptics position is “the correct” position. Your choice of saying “the correct” seems overly restrictive and a form of “argument by authority” in itself.

    Thank you for your interest and bothering to comment. This is how we operate. I may have a different view on climate change in the future. It has changed several times in the past.

    Regards,

    Terry Kelly
    President
    Victorian Skeptics.

  5. Podblack says:

    I was directed here by a comment on Twitter – the stance of the WA Skeptics does not in any way represent all skeptics in Western Australia – and certainly does not represent that of Perth Skeptics, which is just an informal Meetup.com group and does not support climate change denialism.

    The last talk at the WA Skeptics was by David Archibald – online I can find mentions of him as: David Archibald… The worst climate science paper ever of all time anywhere… Lavoisier is a crazed denialist group based in Australia so the fact that the article was reprinted there didn’t bode well.”

    “…Also on the tour is David Archibald, who along with Bob Carter, is on the core scientific advisory panel of the Australian Climate Science Coalition. The ACSC is a project of the deceptively-named Australian Environment Foundation, which is in turn a front-group of the coal and oil-funded Institute of Public Affairs. According to the Greenpeace report, these groups have a 20-year history of collobarating with the Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute and other US denier organizations.”

    and

    “David Archibald argues that climate change is natural and that patterns of warming are due to sunspots. His speech at the NY Heartland conference was titled “The Solar Cycle Length: Temperature Relationship in US Climate Records and the Implications of Solar Cycle 24.” David Archibald has not published any scientific articles on climate change and its impacts in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    A woman who was sent a document by the WA Skeptics about their citing of Archibald, David Bellamy, et al in regards to their support of climate change denialists, responded to everyone on a skeptics mailing list with:

    “The following is a newly released summary of the State of the Climate: ‘The 2009 State of the Climate report released today draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.’ – I consider the evidence makes denialist activism unconscionable.”

    Thankfully, climate change denialism is no longer a feature at Australian Skeptics conventions and will not feature at TAMOz.

  6. Mark Imisides says:

    Quote:

    “The following is a newly released summary of the State of the Climate: ‘The 2009 State of the Climate report released today draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.’ – I consider the evidence makes denialist activism unconscionable.”

    Reply:

    1. The world may be warming. I don’t know – I haven’t checked. But where is the evidence that CO2 is causing it?

    2. The use of the word “denialism” is a pejorative and puerile term that is based upon the narrow minded view that you are right and no one is allowed to disagree with you. Such irrational labels belong with terms such as “heretic” or “infidel” and belong to the language of religion, not science.

    Quote:

    “Let me quote from the latest edition of “The Skeptic”, our national magazine. This where Richard Saunders interviews Massimo Pigliucci, author of “Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk”. Massimo says:”

    Unfortunately, all this is, is another appeal to authority. That is, you have used an appeal to authority to establish your right to appeal to authority. This is, of course, a petitio principii, a logical fallacy in which to prove a point you first assume the truth of the point in question.

    Nowhere, from what I can see, have you either

    a. produced any evidence for your belief in AGW, or

    b. shown any evidence that you have even looked.

    Thus, it is a statement of fact to say that you believe in something for which you have not seen any evidence. That’s about the last thing I’d expect to ever have to accuse a sceptic of.

    This is of course in direct contradiction to the statement on your website that tells us to “examine the evidence yourselves”

    But here’s the rub. The reason that you, and most people, fall into the understandable trap of believing something just because clever-sounding people do, is because we are being repeatedly told there is a consensus on the evening news.

    And since the media control information, they control opinions.

    And most nonscientists don’t understand that to believe something just because someone else does is in the realm of faith. You are putting your “faith” in their opinions without viewing the evidence that caused them to form those opinions.

    In fact, in the scientific community no such consensus exists anyway. Like everyone else I believed it too, until I became suspicious and started to look at the evidence myself. The more I looked, the worse the science looked.

    And I am not alone. If you go to http://www.petitionproject.org/ you will see a list of 31,000 US scientists who have signed a statement along these lines.

    And if it is true that 90% of scientists believe in AGW, then of course you need to find a list of about 280,000 believers.

    In short, if you look at this with a critical, rational eye, you will very quickly realize that you have been, like so many of us, conned.

  7. Terry Kelly says:

    Mark, I agree that the term “denialism” can be pejorative, is not helpful and contributes nothing to an examination of the facts and evidence. Much the same can be said of the pejorative use of the term “believers”.
    My quoting of Massimo Pigliucci was not meant to be simply another “appeal to authority” but, I admit, it could look like that. It was simply a good expression, from a credible, informed source, of what many in the skeptical/scientific community appear to be thinking lately. The debate goes on but it would have been irresponsible of me, even if I held a different view, to have said anything much different when making a statement, in a public domain, representing “the skeptics”. The feedback has generally been positive. Believe me, the evidence around this issue has been examined “with a critical, rational eye” and lots of people, more qualified than me, and even you I suspect, have come to a different conclusion to you. Interestingly, both sides of the debate at times claim the other side has been “conned”.
    I think your statement “…it is a statement of fact to say that you believe in something for which you have not seen any evidence” is simply wrong. I just don’t have the time to go into all the books, articles, conferences, websites, online discussions, presentations etc that I, as a “lay person” have examined. It’s been a fairly major theme at 3 National Skeptics’ Conventions, for example. I’ve seen Ian Plimer speak several times and I saw him skewered by a persistent Tony Jones on Lateline. The bottom line is that, as far as I can objectively understand, it seems that the scientific consensus, at this stage, supports the AGW explanation as the best we currently have.
    Interesting comment you make about “the media” – the title of the Melbourne National Conference in 2006 was “Science, Truth and the Media”.
    Of course we do “appeal to authority” all the time. Why else do we have academic specialities? I heeded the warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology today when they said it was going to bucket down. I didn’t have time to become a Meteorologist myself, or even go to a website and examine the charts. I trusted them, with a reasonable level of confidence, based on their pretty good recent track record. Sure enough it bucketed down and I was prepared for it with my brolly and raincoat. I even over compensated and it didn’t cost me anything.

  8. Mark Imisides says:

    Quote:

    “I think your statement “…it is a statement of fact to say that you believe in something for which you have not seen any evidence” is simply wrong. I just don’t have the time to go into all the books, articles, conferences, websites, online discussions, presentations etc that I, as a “lay person” have examined.”

    No Terry, my statement was true, and it still is. You have still not produced any evidence. The most you have said is essentially “I have seen evidence, but I don’t have it handy.”

    Fair enough. Then please get it. I’m in no hurry.

    The onus of proof is one the warmists to prove the causal link between CO2 and temperature.

    Every time I ask for this proof I get this:

    “It’s in the IPCC report”

    “Really? Which bit? I have a copy of it on my shelves. I didn’t see any. Which page is it on?”

    “Oh, it’s in there somewhere.”

    “But where? Which page? Which measurement? Which table or graph?”

    “Oh in lots of places.”

    “You haven’t read the IPCC report, have you?”

    …(crickets chirping)….

    At this point I am usually banned from the blog.

    I suspect that these talks you went to went to great lengths to prove the world is warming, and then went into great detail about how CO2 is increasing, but ENTIRELY FAIL TO LINK THEM. Correlation is, of course, not proof.

    But here’s the really scary thing. No matter what aspect of this I look at, I find science that is so bad that you only need high school science to debunk it. Here, for example is an article that I wrote for Quadrant http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2009/12/diy-ocean-heating in which I use high school thermodynamic calculations to calculate the feasibility of the temperature shifts that are being quoted. Really basic stuff.

    And here’s another one – ocean acidification. I won’t go into the sheer implausibility of the chemistry involved, but I can tell you this. If you do a lit review of it, as am doing, you will not find ONE SINGLE PH measurement. It’s all based on – wait for it – computer models.

    If you review all the evidence you say you have seen, and strip away the pretty graphs, eloquent speeches and impressive computer models, you can then ask “which part of this proves that CO2 causes warming?”

    And you are, of course aware that the correlation between temp and CO2 that Al Gore et al make so much of is easily explained by the fact that a warming ocean will liberate CO2 – high school chemistry, with the outcome that CO2 FOLLOWS temp, not the other way around. This is the single biggest problem with their theory, and the ice core data is now unequivocal on this.

    Cheers
    Mark

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