Return to Website

Number Watch Web Forum

This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

Number Watch Web Forum
Start a New Topic 
Johnny Ball & hypocracy in the libel reform group

I keep getting emails from the libel reform group and must admit, much of what they say is right.

Then I think back to this and wonder what these people are really about.

Some of those in the libel reform group were there, booing & hissing someone for an opinion, an informed one at that.

EDIT: Yes I know it's an old story but when I lent my support to this group, I didn't realise their bigotry.

I didn't learn of this until I signed into their libel reform. Not to say they are wrong but that the motives may be


Re: Johnny Ball & hypocracy in the libel reform group

Well it depends whether supporters of this libel reform group were directly involved in the booing Of Johnny Ball. Robin Ince, some fairly obscure British comedian who organised the event, claimed in an interview a couple of months later that the incident wasn't accurately reported:


Q - Perhaps you could revive Johnny Ball's career?

A - That was very interesting. Someone bootlegged it and gave me a copy of Johnny's set. Basically, Johnny did a set that was about three times longer than it was meant to be. He was on quite late and the last eight or nine minutes was about why he doesn't believe there's a man-made contribution to global warming. The way it was reported by the only journalist who was there was, "Johnny Ball started raving and then it all went a little bit mad and it was all very confusing." Then Dara Ó Briain came on and said something like, "That was like seeing Tinky Winky w**king on stage."

But then it was reported by everybody as, "Poor Johnny Ball, he just tries to make one joke about global warming and everyone boos him off." It didn't happen like that! He'd been talking for eight minutes on that subject and then once he came up to Climategate with the East Anglia thing, there were enough scientists in there who were getting bored of the way it was getting misrepresented in the press. That's when people started to shout out, "This is rubbish, this is not true!" and that's what led to the slow handclapping.

Interestingly, if it had been any other act I would've walked on and taken them off stage because when you've got sixteen acts on a night you can't have someone going ten minutes over. But because of what he was talking about, I thought I couldn't go on because if I did say, "Johnny you're way over - we have to move on."...

Q - ... It starts up the censorship argument?

A - Yeah! But as it was they still got everything they wanted, those who don't want to believe in climate change and the manmade contribution to it.

So according to Ince, Johnny Ball only got booed when he brought up the issue of Climategate after he'd been talking about AGW for eight minutes, and the booers or slow handclappers were some scientists (presumably climate scientists or Green-leaning scientists) that were sitting in the audience. Simon Singh was one of the people who performed on stage at the event, and is a key campaigner for libel reform, but the heckling scientists in the audience might have been in attendance to watch the comedy acts rather than be there to support Singh.