Steve Jobs, climate quackery and democracy

If you discovered that you had cancer would you (a) find a doctor who is an expert in treating your disease and follow their advice, or (b) attempt to devise your own treatment by reading about cancer on the internet?

According to some sources, Apple founder Steve Jobs may have shortened his life by relying too heavily on (b). Martina Cartwright at Psychology Today writes, "When Mr. Jobs was first diagnosed in 2003, he chose to pursue alternative therapies, including acupuncture, herbal, diet and fruit juice therapy and spiritual consultations. Many of these therapies he found on the Internet."

In the Weekend Australian Cassandra Wilkinson cites Jobs as an example of the "countless tragic cases of people delaying or denying medical treatment in favour of quackery. Jobs is only a high-profile example of a growing problem." Andrew Bolt concurs: "’alternative medicines’ are not just a danger to our health but an insult to our reason."

Also in the Australian, Brendan O’Neill complains that climate change sceptics can’t get a fair hearing because activists attack their motives rather than engaging with their arguments. This "stinks of intellectual cowardice", says O’Neil. "Instead of taking sceptics up on what they say in public, campaigners dig for dirt behind the scenes."

O’Neill wants a free public debate where "all of us can hear ideas, assess their worth and accept or reject them." What he doesn’t want is activists wasting everybody’s time by uncovering which climate change sceptics are being bankrolled by oil companies.

The trouble is, most people don’t have time to become experts in every technical field that affects their lives. Modern society functions because we have a division of intellectual labour just as we have a division of physical labour. Attempting to live a physically self-sufficient by growing your own food, building your own house and weaving your own cloth quickly leads to poverty. Attempting to live an intellectually self-sufficient life would have the same effect.

On many issues the best we can do is figure out who the experts are and which of them we can trust to offer us unbiased advice. It’s hard to figure out who the experts are without a basic science education and some background work. And it’s hard to figure out who to trust without knowing something about the people and institutions who are offering advice.

If half the experts in the media say one thing and the other half another we might think that expert opinion is divided. In the case of climate change we might decide that there’s too much uncertainty about the science to justify costly efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

That might be a reasonable decision if expert opinion was evenly divided. But what if we discover that many of the sceptics are receiving funding from corporations that will adversely affected by action on carbon emissions or being promoted by organisations that are receiving funding from those corporations?

Despite what O’Neill says, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask who’s funding and promoting the work of experts appearing in the media. The experts may be respectable scientists and completely sincere. But they may represent only a small minority. Promoting their work to journalists and the public can create the misleading impression that the scientific community is evenly divided.

While most educated, intelligent people are capable of understanding something about the science of issues like climate change, it takes time and effort. For people with jobs both are in short supply. It’s just not possible to be an expert in everything.

By asking us to ignore information on things like funding, qualifications and institutional affiliations, O’Neill is asking us to take the Steve Jobs approach to issues like climate change. Rather than finding experts we can trust, he wants us to sift through all the evidence ourselves. Is that really a good idea?

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66 Responses to Steve Jobs, climate quackery and democracy

  1. Yobbo says:

    Scientists promoting the global warming line obviously work for free or are paid by the science fairy.

  2. Paul Montgomery says:

    Don, this is a perfectly reasonable, well argued treatise in defence of science. And thus will fall on deaf ears when it comes to fans of O’Neill.

    I have a solution for O’Neill’s dilemma. Climate skeptics should take a principled stand and refuse any further payments from right-wing think tanks. Let them compete for science funding like any other scientist to do their own research. This would obviate any need for conspiracy theories, and add to the weight of human knowledge.

  3. Pedro says:

    Hmmm, it seems to me that the sceptic funding claims are less about shining a light and more about demonising by association instead of really addressing their claims.

    Also, nowhere does O’Neill suggest that you and I ought to become experts. What he says is that the professionals need to engage each other on the science and not with smears. The claim is that you and I miss out on hearing the respective claims because the debate is about the motives and not the message.

    Finally, the scale of the division is irrelevant to which side is correct (or more correct). For we non-scientists, it is a salient fact, but not a justification for the dismissal of the small team from the debate. Anyway, wouldn’t it be a bit weird to report only one side on the grounds that the other side is a minority opinion.

  4. Pedro says:

    PS, here is exhibit A for O’Neill’s complaint.

  5. TimT says:

    The trouble is many of the most vocal and well-known adherents of AGW are not experts themselves, they are mostly politicians, PR hacks, or journalists – ie people skilled at spinning a message to suit themselves. And it’s on these people that a great many other adherents of AGW have got their concerns from.

    Examples: Al Gore, Tim Flannery, Kevin Rudd, etc etc

  6. Rafe Champion says:

    If you think that scientists will prostitute themselves for a few millions from Heartland, think what they might do for the billions of dollars spent to promote the “climate caper“, as Garth Paltridge described it.

    When the Prime Minister insists that “the science is settled” you know someone has lost the plot.

    At the very least responsible climate scientists need to blow the whistle on Al Gore and Tim Flannery and other “off the planet” alarmists.

  7. Rafe Champion says:

    How the “west was won” for environmental alarmism, putting in place the inrastructure to sustain the climate caper. The story of the international resistance to uranium mining.

  8. TimT says:

    I think the director of the Great Global Warming Swindle got it right…. (he says, losing all the hard-core AGW believers in the first half of his first sentence) when he noted in an interview that climate change is not a scientific theory – it’s a political one. At the very least, the vast majority of people encounter it by political means, and respond in a political way. For instance, chances are articles on the subject of climate change in the press will employ phrases like ‘the science tells us we should’. Science is not prescriptive; this is a phrase that belongs more to the political domain.

  9. TimT says:

    Oh dear. Sorry. I think I spilled the italics jar.

  10. michaelfstanley says:

    O’Neill is using a ridiculous straw man by rolling out stuff like this:

    The first is that it stinks of intellectual cowardice. Instead of taking sceptics up on what they say in public, campaigners dig for dirt behind the scenes. It’s the old lowdown tactic of trying to contaminate the witness rather than grapple with his evidence.

    This is bullshit. One barely needs to Google to see copious demolitions of the arguments Carter/Pilmer/Monckton et al.

    This came to light as part of “Fakegate”, the name given to Peter Gleick’s dishonest appropriation of internal Heartland documents, at least one of which is now suspected of being a fake.

    Only one is believed to be fake – Heartland admitted the other documents were genuine (but possibly altered)

    The fact that O’Neill can get this slippery nonsense published in the national broadsheet is proof there is a gross ‘contamination’ of public debate.

  11. michaelfstanley says:

    O’Neill is using a ridiculous straw man by rolling out stuff like this:

    The first is that it stinks of intellectual cowardice. Instead of taking sceptics up on what they say in public, campaigners dig for dirt behind the scenes. It’s the old lowdown tactic of trying to contaminate the witness rather than grapple with his evidence.

    This is bullshit. One barely needs to Google to see copious demolitions of the arguments Carter/Pilmer/Monckton et al.

    This came to light as part of “Fakegate”, the name given to Peter Gleick’s dishonest appropriation of internal Heartland documents, at least one of which is now suspected of being a fake.

    Only one is believed to be fake – Heartland admitted the other documents were genuine (although weaselling that there may be have been ‘alterations’ to others that have not been shown)

    The fact that O’Neill can get this slippery nonsense published in the national broadsheet is proof there is a gross ‘contamination’ of public debate.

  12. michaelfstanley says:

    Apologies for the double post

  13. wilful says:

    There’s a wilful conflation of two quite distinct groups that accept the basic science of climate change: i) the active scientists and their professional voices, and ii) climate change ‘activists’ including journalists, that think that transparency in these things matters.

    Any suggestion that the first group haven’t acted with integrity and probity, despite coming under withering attack for a decade or more, is laughable.

    And any suggestion that the second group have done anything that’s wholesale wrong requires strong evidence, not the piss-poor allegations raised so for.

    If people want to get into a debate about which side is morally more pure in all this, I think that’s an easy one to have. Where are the death threats, where are the stolen emails, where is the misquoting, the cherry-picking of data, the smearing, the lies? All coming from that cess-pit of idiocy on the denialist camp.

  14. Karl Kessel says:

    Rather than the usual skeptic/alarmist shouting match you could all go and read Roger Pielke Jnr’s ‘The Honest Broker’ and look at the role of scientific advice in a democracy.

    Also, compare the money that Greenpeace and WWF spend on promoting alarmism to the sums spent by Heartland. What’s the ratio, 10:1 ? 100:1 ?

    The interesting thing is that the Climate Alarmists have failed so dramatically despite substantial resources.

    It hasn’t been the scientific debate that’s decided the issue. The Economic debate is where alarmists have lost. The US, China, India and the developing world will not sacrifice much money for the dreams of environmentalists.

    Roger Pielke’s Iron Law, That there are fair small limits for what people will pay for environmental goals should be looked at.

  15. billie says:

    Only in Australia is there still a public arguement over whether the earth is warming as a result of human activity, specifically releasing burnt carbon into the atmosphere. The rest of the world argues over how much the earth will warm and what its effects will be. I hope Rafe Champion and Micheal Stanley don’t rely on the Great Barrier Reef tourist trade for their income or live in the new canal developments on the Australian coastline.

    For many cancers the science for its treatment is well established. The medical establishment can tell you the likely outcome of your condition couched in statistical terms, if you care to ask. Cancer is emotive, some patients with a low likelihood of relapse may opt for agressive prophylactic treatment. Other patients with a grim prognosis may opt for alternative therapies – and why not – modern medicine has said their condition is beyond help of western medicine.
    Time and time again over a number of medical complaints people have noticed that life expectancy increases with a positive mental outlook.

    I am not sure why you compare climate skepticism with alternative cancer treatments.

    The science of global warming is well established
    The boundaries of cancer treatment are well established and few begrudge patients beyond the help of effective cancer treatments using alternative therapies

  16. Alan says:

    I ask Rafe to demonstrate his capacity to judge the merits of various claims about climate science. How does he evaluate assertions from people who all claim they know enough to reach the correct conclusion but who disagree with each other?

    Rafe, please explain why carbon dioxide absorbs more infrared radiation than nitrogen and why the peak wavelength of the thermal radiation leaving the earth is about 20 times longer than the that of solar radiation.

    I’ll give some analogies. I am disinclined to pay attention to opinions on statistics from anyone who does not know the difference between mean and median, nor to opinions on disease treatment and control from anyone who doesn’t know the difference between a virus and a bacterium.

    I suppose Rafe can ask Garth Paltridge or Chris de Freitas to compose an answer but how would he know if they were correct? If Rafe can’t answer off the top of his head, perhaps he will pause for a moment and think “How do I know that Ian Plimer, Joane Codling, Christopher Monckton and Bob Carter are correct? If they were mistaken, how would I know?”

    By the way, Rafe, we have more in common than I expected: I regularly use calculations of shear failure in clays in my day-time job.

  17. Karl Kessel says:

    Most of the world is not signing up to limit emissions. It’s fantasy to suggest otherwise.

    China, India and the developing world will have massive increases in emissions that will dwarf any cuts made by the developed world.

    The US is not going to limit emissions.

    This reality needs to be faced by climate campaigners.

  18. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Thanks Don,

    Good post, and you’ve put your finger on how much more problematic the division of labour in thought is compared to the division of physical labour.

    Rafe, you’d be that fellow wouldn’t you, who was discussing with Lord Monckton – whose lack of bona fides on climate change science is there for all to see – how to propagate the Fox News style of media operation?

  19. Mel says:

    Yobbo @1:

    “Scientists promoting the global warming line obviously work for free or are paid by the science fairy.”

    Some other astute observations:

    Scientists promoting the evolution line obviously work for free or are paid by the science fairy.

    Scientists promoting the vaccination line obviously work for free or are paid by the science fairy.

    Scientists promoting …

  20. wilful says:

    Mel, don’t you know, all scientists should be gentlemen of independent means?

    Like Discount Monkton.

  21. conrad says:

    “Only in Australia”

    No the US too. Of course, there you can have a serious presidential candidate that thinks that dinosaurs roamed the Earth in recent times and is willng to try and pass legislation as such to inflict this on all children. It’s not clear to me how one argues with people like that.

  22. Paul Frijters says:

    Don is right, but Karl and TimT are also right:

    – the climate is changing, most likely due to fossil fuel burning, and it is scandalous that there are people still pretending it is not.

    – the climate is changing and it is scandalous that this is being portrayed in over-the-top terms by scientists and their representatives. Changes that in all likelihood will take many centuries are depicted as if they are going to occur in mere decades, such as massive increases in sea levels, mass-extinctions in animals, loss of all reefs, etc. It is on this point that key scientific bodies betrayed their own moral codes: not only was Al Gore given an ovation by American scientists for pulling the alarmist button so effectively in his over-the-top video, but they even gave him a Nobel prize for this act of scientific vandalism. Honesty and integrity was lost under loud applause by the climate scientists who knew better but remained silent because it suited them. The very highest science bodies betrayed what they stood for at that moment, which really undermined the subsequent authority of the scientific elite.

    – the climate is changing and the world is not going to implement the carbon-emission reduction policies called for by most scientists. Its the realistic ones who are now calling for geo-engineering and adaptation. If they dare, which too few do.

    So in this debate, there are honest and straight-shooting individual scientists and commentators, but as an establishment, science has done poorly. It succumbed when it applauded and rewarded demagoguery because that demagoguery brought attention and resources to a message it found appealing. Whilst demagoguery is an inevitable part of the political game, it is not the role of science to applaud and condone it, but to keep playing straight. Whilst it is also inevitable that some centers will play the alarmist button in the competition for funding, particularly the Academies and the Nobel prize committee should not have gotten involved in this kind of politics.

    The result has been a diss-service to science and a loss of moral authority on this issue, gratefully exploited by those with an economic interest in shooting the message. This is unfortunate because the general answer to Don’s concern that people want nonsense to be taken just as seriously as well-supported theories, is elitist, i.e. that one looks to stories that help explain reality better than other stories which in turn requires staunch defenders of those ‘fitter’ stories. If you cant find any honest defenders of stories that do a good job, then you are in trouble.

  23. Pingback: Manchester Climate weekly nuggets #6 | manchester climate monthly

  24. JC says:

    …..nor to opinions on disease treatment and control from anyone who doesn’t know the difference between a virus and a bacterium.

    Interesting, so you would take the word of an orthopedic surgeon if s/he diagnoses a serious neurological disorder? Presumably an ortho knows the difference.


    Actually I’m not sure what the point of the thread proves. Steve Jobs sort out alternative medicine and possibly may have shortened his life? I find that more than a little doubtful because of the simple fact that he had pancreatic cancer and the prognosis is close to the worst of all cancers. Unfortunately it’s a death sentence. There is really nothing that can be done. I wouldn’t do it, but if the odds are so low, perhaps it may be worthwhile taking a shot at very long odds as it doesn’t much matter anyways. In other words Jobs may have been acting very rationally in a very subtle way that people miss.

    In any event we’re human, some of us believe lots of bullshit. Some of us believe in horoscopes for instance. Why care so much what some people believe? In fact it smacks of authoritarianism.

  25. JC says:

    Here are the survival rates on prognosis.

    Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death across the globe.[1] Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis: for all stages combined, the 1- and 5-year relative survival rates are 25% and 6%, respectively;[2] for local disease the 5-year survival is approximately 20%[2][3] while the median survival for locally advanced and for metastatic disease, which collectively represent over 80% of individuals,[3] is about 10 and 6 months respectively.[4]

    So collectively 80% of individuals have a survival rate of 10 to 6 months. Jobs lasted 5 years or so I think from the first diagnosis. So how many people are willing to say his regimen didn’t without first testing it? I want to emphasize that I’m dogmatically against any form of treatment other than western medical science that hasn’t been proven.

    Curiously, when Nic had a bad neck thread, people were suggesting all sorts of voodoo crap to help cure the pain. I think from memory you were advising some voodoo stuff, yourself Conrad.

    Getting back to O’Neill. He has a great point. The taking money from private sources was even used against people like Richard Lindzen for instance in a way to suggest his views aren’t worth it.

  26. Don Arthur says:

    JC – In Scientific American, Jessica Wapner writes: “With few facts available, we can only speculate about whether the approach that Jobs took early on had any impact on his survival.”

    According to Wapner:

    Jobs had a rare form of pancreatic cancer known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET). Accounting for about 1 percent of all pancreatic cancers, pNET is a cancer of the endocrine cells, known clinically as the islets of Langerhans, which exist in small clusters throughout the pancreas. These cells produce hormones such as insulin, which lowers blood sugar, and glucagon, which increases it.

    Unlike the vast majority of pancreatic cancers (known as pancreatic adenocarcinomas) of the ductal part of the pancreas, pNET is not always deadly. These cancer cells tend to be slow growing, and so the cancer does not spread to other sites in the body as quickly. That means surgical removal of the tumor can sometimes be curative. For patients whose disease is detected while it’s still confined to the pancreas, the five-year survival rate is 87 percent—in other words, the majority of patients live for quite a while.

  27. JC says:


    I’m going from memory here, but I recall that I read jobs stalled his surgery, but later relented and had it done.

    In your link, it says the type he had was very slow growing type, so it’s next to impossible to know if his delay actually caused premature death. He also lived 8 years after his first diagnosis, which according to Wiki was in 2003. So why the confidence that he under-stayed his welcome on this fine earth? I don’t see it from the stats.

    Again, I don’t think that alternative stuff is worth a hill of beans. Any of that crap. However I wouldn’t be entirely confident anyone can say he died prematurely. And perhaps he did act rationally. He was a cool headed type and perhaps he took his time and figured the odds that waiting and trying other stuff wouldn’t hinder his chances.

    Again we don’t really have enough information on Jobs personal diagnosis in terms of knowing the exact diagnosis given by his doctors as that’s important in framing it against the stats.

    Then again perhaps he was a screwball and did root the whole thing up.

  28. JC says:

    Also Jobs had a decent reason to be concerned. The way they remove the pancreas is through what is called the “whipple” procedure, which your link talks about and also alludes to the risk. It’s not a lay down that you come out of this thing alive either. I heard that mentioned to me by a doctor friend over the diagnosis of the relative. It can be as high as a 15% death rate from the operation.

  29. rog says:

    More media quackery – commentators say that Jobs contributed to his demise without knowing the full facts or more importantly, without the ability to process the facts had they known them.

    This ties in with climate science – a true skeptic would argue the case scientifically. Deniers like Rafe just prattle on with conspiracy theories that suit their own particular world outlook.

    An expert is not defined by the ability to google.

    I don’t know the full science on climate nor do I have the ability to form an expert opinion on the science. However I accept the bona fides of those that are expert and I also accept their opinion.

  30. Yobbo says:

    the climate is changing, most likely due to fossil fuel burning, and it is scandalous that there are people still pretending it is not.

    Yes Paul, the climate is changing, as it has always changed since the Earth was formed.

    However, nobody – despite what the usual suspects in this thread think – knows for sure that it’s due to burning fossil fuels, nobody even knows how it is changing, and nobody knows whether or not it will be a good or bad thing for humans.

    Every piece of evidence suggests that in historical periods when the world was hotter than today, it marked huge leaps forward in the welfare of the human race.


  32. Pedro says:

    I suppose it was inevitable that a post about “debating” techniques would descend into a discussion about AGW claims, but to get back to the original topic, I happened to read yesterday an article about salt and hypertension claims. According to the article, published in Science and written by a reputable science journalist, the salt-is-terrible story is actually disputed and dubious and the pro-salt side were subjected to claims from the antis about how they must have been in the pay of the salt lobby and food manufacturers.

    The same fellow writes extensively on diet and obesity issues, another area where he claims that the strongly promoted consensus view about diet and exercise actually lacks scientific support. He most recently took issue with the Harvard study about red meat killing you early. When reading his criticisms of that study I couldn’t help thinking that the really important AGW claims are based on computer models about future effects of GHG increases and the many complicated relationships in the atmosphere.

  33. Pedro says:

    PS, I love this quote:

    “Science is ultimately about establishing cause and effect. It’s not about guessing. You come up with a hypothesis — force x causes observation y — and then you do your best to prove that it’s wrong. If you can’t, you tentatively accept the possibility that your hypothesis was right. Peter Medawar, the Nobel Laureate immunologist, described this proving-it’s-wrong step as the ”the critical or rectifying episode in scientific reasoning.” Here’s Karl Popper saying the same thing: “The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.” The bold conjectures, the hypotheses, making the observations that lead to your conjectures… that’s the easy part. The critical or rectifying episode, which is to say, the ingenious and severe attempts to refute your conjectures, is the hard part.”

    Does anyone else have the feeling that a whole bunch of AGW scientists aren’t moving past the easy bit. Taubes goes on:

    “The problem with observational studies like those run by Willett and his colleagues is that they do none of this. That’s why it’s so frustrating. The hard part of science is left out and they skip straight to the endpoint, insisting that their interpretation of the association is the correct one and we should all change our diets accordingly.”

    The whole thing is worth reading and is at the link given earlier.

  34. Nicholas Gruen says:


    The quote is a nice quote, and I guess it’s a big problem – getting bigger given how little due diligence the media do on any science story. However there are contra considerations. We all want to know what science says. One central message of science is scepticism. But what do we do about fossil fuels and the atmosphere?

    I for one won’t be hugely surprised if AGW turns out to be wrong in some sufficiently important way that we hugely revise our opinion of it. There have been too many other examples where the scientific community went into groupthink. Consider the story of stomach ulcers for instance.

    But that doesn’t mean that I want to make it up myself. I’m happy to go with the scientific consensus and sacrificing 0.1% of growth per year for the next decade and then revising seems like a bleedingly obvious prudential strategy.

  35. JB Cairns says:

    Exactly when were the periods when the earth was hotter than now in both hemispheres?

    Yes it does seem bleedingly obvious

  36. Paul Frijters says:


    its a nice quote but also presents a far too idealized notion of what science is or could be: in reality these processes are less in the minds of the scientist and more embodied by the competition between scientists. Particularly when things get very tough and there are many variables in play which you don’t individually control, the reality of science is more that a good scientist looks at whether his theory holds most of the time for most of the cases he finds important. Then he tries and publish it, at which point the main question is whether he has sufficient grounds to merit consideration by the status quo crowd. Then he tries to get attention for it. 99% fails at these two tests, i.e. most ‘findings’ in the top journals get taken no notice of and most findings dont make it in the better journals because they dont sufficiently appeal to the right crowd. Then, of the stuff that gets attention, the findings that generate fevered controversy get replicated and poured over such that anything that really has no validity on close inspection gets unmasked, but findings things that cant be refuted survive and get taken up by others.

    The process I describe above is more competitive and evolutionary: only those findings that are on areas people care about really get examined. On stuff we don’t care about all kinds of nonsense can survive for a long time as accepted truth.

    With this in mind, the main thing to say about the AGW theories is that despite huge incentives to do so, no serious competitor has successfully explained the same data. Surviving that competitive test is the main reason to take it seriously, even by those who know nothing about the science.

    Where it becomes difficult is when scientists who know about AGW think that their knowledge of the problem entitles them to insist on a particular solution.

  37. Pedro says:

    NG, only problem is that the 0.1% reduction is not an insurance policy because not enough others are paying the premium.

    Paul, yes some theories are not capable of experimental testing with a view to disproving them, but are you really sure you can say “that despite huge incentives to do so, no serious competitor has successfully explained the same data”.

    The only data that are capable of explanation are current temperatures and the relatively little that is known about past temperatures. The respectible sceptical position seems to me to be:

    1 the world is in a warm phase and the increase in GHGs is an explanation for some or all of that;

    2 the different systems and forcings that affect the global climate are so complex that a substantial degree of uncertainty exists;

    3 evidence of past climate fluctuations shows that the world is capable of heating without big increases in GHGs;

    4 the future warming from GHGs, all else being equal, is quite modest;

    5 the predictions about amplification from feedback effects are quite a bit more undertain than the causes of the current warming.

    If that is an accurate summary, then I don’t see any particular call for sceptical scientists to explain the data. The reason being that the sceptical position exists because the data remain difficult to explain on current knowledge.

    Homer, I pronounce you the World Un-Gotcha Champion for your incessant fails on gotcha statements.

  38. JB Cairns says:

    what on earth are you raving about Pedro?

  39. john says:


    “evidence of past climate fluctuations shows that the world is capable of heating without big increases in GHGs”

    At least two periods of sustained green house climate are attributable to GHGs, triggered by massive volcanic eruptions and the vaporization of carbon/sulfur, provably caused by big meteor impacts punching concussive holes deep into the crust.

  40. Hugo says:

    So, I think that this point of view is so wrong. Just because Steve Jobs died due to his stubbornness against simply anything in the world doesn’t mean that natural medicine is wrong. He was a zen like believer and just thought that his reality distortion field is stronger than a cancer without paying attention for that a cancer is something that his own body created. Academic medicine as well as natural medicine have a right for existence. It’s just sometimes hard what to decide for. Steve definitely did a mistake to choose the natural side. Here we come to the “internet knowledge”. Internet knowledge gets you sometimes or often on the wrong path if you’re not a specialist on that field. So whom should people listen to? I’d say someone with a liberal view. Someone who doesn’t oppose any side just due to his ideology and that can be applied for anything. For medicine, climate or politics.

  41. Pedro says:

    john, and that contradicts my point exactly how?

  42. john says:

    Variations in climate not attributable to GHGs have provably been mostly to do with things like sun energy inputs . The reason why the “snow ball earth” came to an end was because of life becoming mostly aerobic( oxygen rather than sulfur based) this created enough GHGs to warm the planet back up.

    The worst mass extinction of all time, Permian/Triassic event , 252 million years ago is very possibly down to a runaway greenhouse event triggered by volcanic events resulting in a chain reaction releasing GHGs on a massive scale.

    Round the world in marine deposits there is a thinish layer of rocks at 252-234 million years ago , life is almost completely absent from these rocks ,there is a very high sulfur content (anaerobic conditions )and there is also evidence of massive ,continental scale, sheet erosion = little vegetative cover on land . All consistent with a extreme green house event caused by GHGs. %90 of all life died.

  43. Pedro says:

    So john, just to be clear, you are saying that climate scientists have an excellent grasp of all of the different causes of past climate changes and therefore are well placed to confirm that the current warming is largely attributable to the industrial age increase in GHGs?

    Here’s an interesting comment

  44. john says:


    I have No need to say any of that.

    “green house” means transparent to visible light and opaque to infrared light: I.e the energy is reflected back into the biosphere.
    CO2 and CH4 are ‘greenhouse’ to infrared. GHGs are the reason this planet is not frozen solid.

    The biosphere is effectively a closed system. Over the past 300 years we have dug up and burnt shirt-loads of carbon. There is a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere because of what we have done . CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    Alternative explanations for the changes fail Occam’s razor.

  45. Steve X says:

    Skip the science debate. It’s the usual 1,2,3,4 Let’s have a link war! It really is a poor way of trying to convince each other.

    Instead, imagine that there was a zero C02 emissions power source that was the same cost as coal.

    Who would oppose it then?

    What if it cost you $20 per year? $100? $1000?

    That’s the question to ask.

    And indeed, check the Lowy Polls and you see that it has.

    Then design a policy within those parameters.

  46. Yobbo says:

    Instead, imagine that there was a zero C02 emissions power source that was the same cost as coal.

    Well The Greens and Labor would, assuming it was uranium, which is the only known source likely to achieve what you are supposing.

  47. Yobbo says:

    Would oppose it, I meant to say.

  48. Mel says:

    Wow, Yobbo, you appear to be an expert on so many things. I’m surprised you haven’t been asked to write an op-ed for the WSJ.

  49. Yobbo says:

    Your contribution to this thread has been A+ Mel, thanks.

  50. JB Cairns says:

    we still do not know when the earth had higher temperature than now ( in both hemispheres).

  51. JC says:


    Not for nothing, but if I recall correctly you believe in the biblical interpretation of the earth’s beginning, which means it’s 6,000 years old! So what you’re really asking is if there have been any warming spikes during this interval, right?

  52. john says:

    JB Cairns @50 ??

  53. Rafe says:

    A suggestion of warming spikes in 1100 BC and 1300 AD which were well above 2011.

  54. john says:

    Actually a significant mystery is the quite longer than normal period of ‘quiet sum’ that we are currently in, it presumably will come to an end and solar energy inputs will spike upwards.

  55. JB Cairns says:

    sorry Rafe,
    not in the last 20,000 years.

    I did say BOTH hemispheres.

  56. JB Cairns says:

    For most there is possibly more information in the news release.

  57. Tel says:

    A lovely, clickable world-map of temperature reconstructions in both hemispheres, showing that the MWP was indeed decidedly global (including references and abstracts of all the original papers).

    I’ll also point out that going by sea-ice extent, the recent warming has been in the Northern Hemisphere.

  58. JB Cairns says:

    out of date Tel.

  59. john says:

    Jobs actually did pretty well for somebody with pancreatic cancer. Who knows maybe the alternative stuff was as good or better?

  60. Yobbo says:

    Oscar do you have some kind of magazine or brochure that I can subscribe to?

  61. john says:

    Well sassiparilla and preserve our bodily fluids.

  62. Paul Montgomery says:

    All scientific evidence tells us that extra CO2 is good for the biosphere, no evidence suggests otherwise, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Thats the end of the argument.

    “Skip the science debate.” The warming-fear fraud promoters always and without exception skip the science debate.

    Quack quack, little duck.

  63. Paul Montgomery says:

    Obviously you have solved the issue already Oscar, the debate is settled. You win, we can skip the debate.

  64. Paul Montgomery says:

    The science is settled! Oscar’s Nobel is in the mail.

  65. Paul Montgomery says:

    You can delete my stuff too, whoever just wiped Oscar. Sorry, just having a bit of fun.

  66. Paul Montgomery says:

    The medal looks nice. Probably goes for a mint on eBay.

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