This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
Does anyone here read the New Scientist magazine and what do they think of it? I was sent a recent (7 Dec 13) editorial piece about AWG.
I am not a practicing scientist but my late father was (reputedly an extremely good one) and he had an opinion on the journal. What do you (and JB) think?
I think I've tracked down the editorial piece you're talking about. It should be free to view for at least a couple of months:
The editorial looks more as though it has been written by the science spokesman of a Green NGO than the staff of a scientific magazine.
The first paragraph shows astonishing ignorance about the people who are the subject of the article:
"CLIMATE sceptics are finding it ever harder to persuade the public that the climate isn't changing. So now some are turning to a more last-ditch line of attack: even if climate change is happening, it's not worth worrying about."
In regard to the first sentence 'climate sceptics' are not trying to persuade the public that climate isn't changing. There is no such thing as a sceptic of natural climate change, only the man-made contribution is under dispute. Climate sceptics go to quite a bit of trouble to describe themselves by such terms as 'AGW sceptics' to emphasise this particular point.
In regard to the second sentence this type of sceptic is covered by another acronym - CAGW sceptics (where CAGW stands for Catastrophic AGW). But the idea of CAGW sceptics has been around for a long time, and is not a recent 'last-ditch line of attack'. The most prominent example of the type is Bjorn Lomborg, who agrees pretty much completely with AGW science, but has been arguing since 2001, when he wrote his book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist" that the money would be better spent on solving other world problems, obviously implying that he doesn't think AGW is catastrophic. It could even be argued that most AGW supporters are actually CAGW sceptics, because it is a common position amongst many of them to reject nuclear power as a 'solution' to climate change, suggesting they think nuclear power is more dangerous than climate change, and therefore that climate change isn't really all that catastrophic.
I wouldn't describe myself as a reader of New Scientist. To me, a 'reader' would be somebody who has access to the full content of the magazine. I last read a full copy of the magazine in the late 1990s, and since then I've only read online free to view articles, often following links given in the blogosphere. My opinion of New Scientist is that they are major accomplices in the pushing of the "Union of Concerned Scientists" version of science.
Going back to the years when I used to read the print edition of New Scientist, one overall impression I had of it is that it has always had a left-liberal bias, but that this bias was relatively harmless until it picked up a Green bias as well about twenty or more years ago. The old school leftie science journalists didn't really do activism, whereas for the more modern Green-leaning scientific journalists, activism seems to be in their DNA.
An example of New Scientist's historical left-liberal bias, and how it was relatively harmless, would be what was one of the most popular features in the magazine, the comic strip "Grimbledon Down", which ran from 1970 to 1994. This article from 1994 written by Bill Tidy, to mark the closing down of the cartoon, explains the idea behind it (only the first paragraph is free to view, but you can get the gist of it from that):
Grimbledon Down was fairly obviously based on Porton Down, but many people who read it might not have picked up that the cartoon was meant to be disparaging to such research establishments, and to the whole idea of Dr Strangelove-type applied science. The cartoon suffered from something like the "Alf Garnett syndrome", where people who disagreed with Alf's views thought that the TV character was obviously ridiculing such people, but on the other hand a supporter of Alf's views might think that such views were being given a much needed airing on TV (the experience of ethnic minorities was apparently the latter). I don't think anybody reading Grimbledon Down would be put off from joining that particular area of the Scientific Civil Service. To the more activist-inclined New Scientist magazine of the 1990s, the Grimbledon Down comic strip probably looked like a pretty pointless exercise, as it would be giving publicity to such establishments, and hence they gave it the boot.
In my student days I subscribed to the New Scientist, and Scientific American, amongst others.
Last year I happened on some copies of both New and American in a hospital waiting room and could not help notice the Green bias.
I'd forgotten about Grimbledon Down so did not notice it's absence.
Come to think of it, I probably have most of my subscription issues in my garage somewhere. (and Omni, a much more satisfying read!)
I suppose it might be worth adding to the thread that there has been quite a bit of criticism of New Scientist by the scientific community over two sensationalist-type articles in the past few years which have actually resulted in campaigns against the magazine being set up.
The first of these campaigns relates an article published in September 2006 called "Relativity drive: The end of wings and wheels?", which enthusiastically talked up an alternative energy idea proposed by a British engineer called Roger Shawyer. Somebody called Greg Egan (who I believe is a sci-fi writer) was so apalled by the article that he organised a letter writing campaign to discourage the magazine from publishing this sort of material again, described in this link:
The 'relativity drive' article was actually free-to-view for several years as I remember it. Egan calls it "Fly by light", but that might be how the story was described on the magazine cover.
The second campaign relates to a cover story in 2009 called "Darwin was wrong", which caused a backlash particularly in the US scientific community as it was seen as being helpful to creationists. Somebody called Jerry Coyne called for a boycott of the magazine, and I believe Richard Dawkins joined in with the boycott.
The relativity drive article I think may have been a product of New Scientist's green bias. In the mid-00s there was a revival of the 'peak oil' scare in a section of the blogosphere, notably coming from an influential blog called "The Oil Drum", set up in 2005, which published the opinions of a bunch of Green-leaning energy experts. This revival of the peak oil scare did not get much publicity in the mainstream media (apart from the environment section of the Guardian), but pretty much every Green leaning scientist and science journalist tended to believe it. Such believers might be likely to start taking alternative energy ideas seriously. The Guardian did something similar in the autumn of 2006, where they publicised the activities of the Irish alternative energy company, Steorn, which was discussed in this forum at the time.
I wonder where they stood on cold fusion or, more interestingly, the Steorn perpetual motion/free zero point energy gimmick.
I managed to find a free-to-view copy of the 'relativity drive'/'fly by light' article online on this link, for anyone interested:
My understanding of New Scientist's attitude to Steorn is that they regard them as a bit of a joke, for example this article:
My understanding of New Scientist's position on cold fusion is that they appear to be more sympathetic to it than average for the scientific establishment, but don't go as far as actively promoting it (they would probably have a boycott organised against them if they did). For example this interview with a leading cold fusion researcher following the death of Fleischmann in 2012 gives the researcher a fairly easy ride:
I used to be a subscriber to New Scientist and it gave a useful tour d’horizon of science in general, but that was long ago and it is now just another journal that has been penetrated by watermelons, who have seized control. I had forgotten about it until recently, when the BBC showed that brilliant film The IPCRESS file. In the preamble it is being read by the scientist who is about to be kidnapped.
New Scientist is still a good place to advertise jobs - we get a lot of response, and usually at least one or two of adequate quality.
I have a hypothesis for the next move of the warmists, after another 10 years of zero warming. That it's irrelevant whether warming is man made or not. It might be completely natural but it's still bad, so all your money are still belong to us.
That and the fact that zero warming is proof that their prescription is working. In the same way that, throughout history, the continued failure of whichever god to pour out fire and brimstone on the world has been given as proof that the prayers are working.
Reminds me of the story of a man who travelled by train to the city every day and every day, year in and year out, he would carefully shred his newspaper and spread it on the floor around his feet.
Finally one of his fellow passengers could resist no longer and said to him:
"Excuse me for bothering you but I've watched you do this every day for some time now and I just wondered why you do it."
"Oh," he replied, "It keeps the elephants away."
"But there are no elephants in Surrey."
"I know. Effective, isn't it."