Carry On Nurse
Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society used climate-change science to illustrate his wider theory that scientists, no matter what their level of experience or expertise, are no longer trusted by the public at large. Nearly half of all Americans and a third of the British believe that the extent and significance of global warming are being exaggerated. Certainly, no issue better exemplifies the truth that for every scientist arguing that black is black, you can find another arguing that, actually, it's white. Nurse sat down in a New York diner with one of the world's smarter climate-change sceptics, Professor Fred Singer, who sipped Earl Grey tea and briefly outlined his conviction that solar activity is principally responsible for global warming, not man-made carbon emissions. But by then I'd dismissed Professor Singer as a shameless contrarian: who orders Earl Grey in a New York diner?
Science needs better advocates. As Nurse rightly said, it's "far too important to be left to polemicists and commentators in the media", yet it is they who wield disproportionate influence on public opinion. And inevitably, the problem, like just about all problems these days, is exacerbated by the internet, where crackpot conspiracy theories compete on equal terms with authoritative scientific findings.
It was an amiable ramble across the subject but I don't think we learnt anything. His problem was he conflated all questioning of, scepticism, denying, crackpottery together.
He talked to an HIV positive gay who had had many friends die of AIDs. The man had refused all drugs for 13 years because he believed that probiotic yogurt was the cure and that a virus wasn't the problem. That is some who is putting his life on the line with his "denial". Is he brave, stupid, scared? We don't know, because it wasn't asked.
Nurse tried a softball question to Delingpole about would he be so sceptical of a consensus if a life was at risk. What ever temperature the world is at it won't affect Dellers' comfortable life so it was a reasonable question, especially as we had the previous example. A bit of hand flapping and the question was forgotten. It wasn't the killer question that was hyped, it was just all inconsequential.
Sir Paul Nurse was just too nice and it was all too nice and cosy, where was the rigour of investigation as what were the various types of sceptics, what drove them, are anti-GM protestors the same type as Climate Change Deniers?
A missed opportunity.