Just in case the exorcism squads weren’t embarrassing and anachronistic enough, the Pope has decided to lead in the new year by reinforcing the Catholic churches opposition to the non-traditional family on the basis of, wait for it, world peace. I kid you not.

Pope Benedict XVI ushered in the New Year by criticising policies that undermine the traditional family, saying they eroded one of the most important foundations for peace in the world.

The Catholic Church celebrates January 1 as World Day of Peace, and the pope used a midmorning Mass and a window appearance before thousands of faithful in St Peter’s Square to mark the occasion.

Traditional? Uh oh.

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All hail our Noodly Lord

November 17, 2007


The the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting has the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster on the agenda:

When some of the world’s leading religious scholars gather in San Diego this weekend, pasta will be on the intellectual menu. They’ll be talking about a satirical pseudo-deity called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose growing pop culture fame gets laughs but also raises serious questions about the essence of religion.

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The Age reports that the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has launched a magazine aimed at influencing policy making on key election issues. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing – any special interest group has the right to lobby, just as any politician has the right to judge them based on the quality and content of any submission*. Let’s have a closer look:

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Mostly frame-ous

October 18, 2007

Nisbet has posted another installment in the “it’s great that Gore won the Nobel Prize but” series.

Sigh. I understand his point, I just disagree.

EDITED TO ADD (18/10): It looks like Chris Mooney has Nisbet’s back.

Still in-frame-ous

October 14, 2007

Matthew C. Nisbet has backed up his gracious nod to one of this years recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize entitled “Does Gore Contribute to the Communication Crisis?”, with a new post “Only 50% of Americans Have a Favorable View of Al Gore”.

Here he basically reinforces his previous point that Gore has only limited success communicating his message on Global Warming because lots of people don’t like him (be that due to partisan political view or whatever). In the first post, Matt suggested that his message should be “re-framed” to be promoted by “less partisan opinion leaders” if it is to be effective.

I’m sorry, but I’m calling bullshit.

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October 13, 2007

(Sorry about the title, but I refuse to be out punned.) I was going to comment on Nisbet’s latest, a backhanded compliment to new Nobel Laureate Al Gore, but it looks as though PZ and Chris Clarke have comprehensively beaten me to it.

I don’t have a problem with framing a priori, it’s just that Matt’s approach seems to involve alienating a large percentage of the people who are already advocating an issue, because they aren’t advocating it in the right way (Matt’s way or the highway as it were).

If you’re interested in some history have a look through the links and commentary of PZ’s coverage of the preceding “that Dawkins is such a big meany!” iteration of the scienceblogs framing debate. It’s makes for some fun reading.

Almost missed this one.

From the article:

Hard-core global warming sceptics will descend on Canberra today for the release of a book claiming environmentalism is the new religion.

Well. This should be interesting.

“Environmentalism has largely superseded Christianity as the religion of the upper classes in Europe and to a lesser extent in the United States,” Mr Evans says in the publication.

Says who?

“It is a form of religious belief which fosters a sense of moral superiority in the believer, but which places no importance on telling the truth,” he says.

Since when has any religious belief been contingent on truth or evidence? But seriously, Environmentalism is manifestly not a religion and this is just an unsubstantiated ad hominem attack.

“The global warming scam has been, arguably, the most extraordinary example of scientific fraud in the postwar period.”

Interesting – are they accusing any specific researchers of fraud? Or is it just those nasty “scientists” in general?

The function is organised by the Lavoisier Group, founded in 2000 by Ray Evans and former mining executive Hugh Morgan to test claims that global warming is the result of human activity.

Ah, and suddenly it starts to become clear. You can find the Lavoisier Group’s official site here and their Source Watch profile here.

From their website:

Given the doubt and uncertainty about both the science and the economic consequences of Kyoto, a group of Australians, concerned that there has been very little ongoing public debate about these proposals, founded the Lavoisier Group. We are of the view that the science behind global warming policy is far less certain than its protagonists claim, and we also believe that the economic damage which Australia would suffer, if a carbon tax of the magnitude canvassed in AGO documents were imposed, would be far, far greater than is currently appreciated in Canberra.

It’s interesting the way that people with different agendas look at risk. To the average person, who’s only direct stake is in the general effect on their lives, the potential consequences of global warming are so dire that it is worth starting to address the claimed problems now, even if they are not convinced of the effect. However, to someone who has a vested interest in industries contributing to global warming, any shred of opposing evidence or differing opinion can be enough to outweigh existing evidence or scientific consensus, because to them the financial ramifications outweigh the potential harm to the environment.
It’s a bit like when evidence started to emerge that smoking might be harmful – even if you weren’t convinced, the seriousness of the potential outcome were so great that it was certainly in your best interests to err on the side of caution and act as though it was true until such a time (if ever) it might be proved otherwise.

But back to the article:

Mr Evans is a longstanding friend and colleague of Mr Morgan and a committed activist on issues such as workplace reform through the HR Nicholls Society, which he founded with federal Treasurer Peter Costello.

So the group is founded by people with a vested interest in debunking global warming, and no expertise in climate science? Well, what reason could you possibly have to think them biased?

In an interview with The Age last month, Mr Evans acknowledged that last September’s visit by former US vice-president Al Gore to promote his Oscar-winning global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth had helped generate a lot of publicity on climate change.

But he described Mr Gore’s film as “bullshit from beginning to end”.

Wow. Great technical criticism.

“The science from the anthropology point of view has collapsed. The carbon-dioxide link is increasingly recognised as irrelevant,” Mr Evans said.

By you maybe matey, but considering your interest in the industry, forgive me if I’d like to see some actual positive evidence about that before I take your word for it.

Considering his contributions to the accuracy of scientific methodology, I suspect that Antoine Lavoisier would not have considered himself well represented by the group that has taken his name.