Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Words, words, words

Hamlet responded something like that to Polonius. I had a similar reaction when searching for some information on a certain Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Who is that and why you should ask? He gained some notoriety at the recent Climate Change conference in Bali as one of the leading sceptics of climate change.

One of the sites that I found is another scientific blog called the Reference Frame, penned by a self-confessed "conservative physicist" called Lubos Motl a Czech. I quickly realized I should abandon this blogging thing immediately since I am just not cut out for it. I noted our Lubos had 38 posts in December alone and a whopping 782 so far in 2007. Can one really have more than two meaningful things to say per day and have the time to write them all down and really think that others will benefit from reading them?

I was taken with the "conservative physicist" moniker since I had seen the same descriptor applied to the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons - a faux "journal" posing as a soap box for right-wing activists to peddle their agendas. Lubos is clearly enamoured with the Viscount. Regarding the Viscount's GW scepticism he writes,

"His conclusions more or less mimic the conclusions of a vast majority of those people whom I know and whose IQ exceeds 120, who are able to think critically and apolitically..."

Lubos clearly numbers himself and the Viscount among the brainy people who are able to think critically and apolitically. Wait a moment, I thought our Lubos is a conservative physicist. Can one be both conservative and apolitical at the same time? I tend not to interrogate people as to their IQ when I'm talking to them and I have never measured my own; perhaps I'm afraid it won't fall in the lofty territory occupied by those of Lubos and the other critical thinkers. The implied criticism in his quote is that all those other thousands of scientists who are not GW sceptics are dumb and unable to think either critically or apolitically, and must be motivated or corrupted by political influences. Is that likely?

Wikipedia, the one-stop shopping for all knowledge shares some interesting information about our aforementioned Viscount. Back in the day he gained some notoriety for his compassionate views on AIDS. I quote from Wikipedia,

"In an article entitled "The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS", written for the January 1987 issue of The American Spectator, he argued that "there is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month ... all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently." The Wiki entry goes on to say that the Viscount later disavowed those views; but the comment suggests that he only did so because the 33 million carriers would render the approach impractical.

As we have seen with other notable scientists recently, being a nutter in one area does not guarantee nuttiness in another (or the converse: being brilliant in one area does not guarantee it in another); but I'm thinking that, just because you went to Harrow (a few miles from where I was brought up) and Cambridge, and have a long name and title, does not of itself bring credibility, particularly when the resume is distinctly absent of scholarship.


CresceNet said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é . Um abraço.

Snipper "Book Zeller" said...

Mi nambre es Lopez?

Indeed, nutterness and brilliancy are not often related or independent. Its funny, some top scientists will completely laugh at the idea that we ever landed on the moon, that global warming is a leftist ideal, and that petrolium deposits will last for ever.
I was going to point out the 9/11 conspiracy as well but I have recently been studying that with some interest, given my latest aviation studies and advancements.
Perhaps the nutter recommending the isolation of all AIDs infectees may be on to something... that WOULD limit the amount of sex going on and may help hamper the exponential human growth rate.
However, even after all my spoutings, one could also point the "absent of scholarship" needle at me too.