The Cognitive Science Lab at the University of Western Australia has put together an internet survey to test people’s attitudes to science. Prof Stephan Lewandowsky describes it thus: “the rationale behind the survey is to draw linkages between attitudes to climate science and other scientific propositions (eg HIV/AIDS) and to look at what skepticism might mean (in terms of endorsing a variety of propositions made in the media)”. He’s particularly interested in the views of people who follow science blogs, so please go along and give it a try. Anonymity assured, and the results will find their way into the literature eventually.

[Rutles, if only for the lyrics…]

Talk in the town

Last night’s session with the Skeptics in the Pub in Christchurch was an interesting experience (some nice feedback too, thanks). It gave me a chance to develop a few of the thoughts that have been running through my mind recently — and it’s good to do that by presenting them to an audience willing to explore and challenge ideas. The question session at the end ran for about 40 minutes, and the best moment came when one sceptic (no “k”, he was clearly of the “not persuaded” variety) had been pushing me for a worst case. I said that it was conceivable that climate change could end our civilisation. The questioner turned to the rest of the audience and asked them if they really believed that, to receive a chorus of agreement and nods. That’s what happens in the real world: when sceptics leave the comfortable certainty of Wishart-world or Treadgold territory, µWatts or Morano’s depot, they find that the rational world is coming to terms with the real risks.

I promised the group I would make my slides available: they’re here [3.3MB pdf]. The first half of the talk dealt with some basics, and ended with a Katey Walter earth fart lighting session. I then moved on to explore some of the reasons why there is so much manufactured doubt about the reality or seriousness of climate change. The slides are reasonably self-explanatory, happy to discuss in comments.


Many thanks to John Cook at Skeptical Science for making so much of the necessary material so easy to find and use. And for the iPhone app…

[The (older) Pretenders]

The man who loved beer: Skeptics in the pub talk next week

Christchurch readers might like to know that I’m talking at the local Skeptics in the pub meet up next Tuesday evening (23 March) — working title is Sceptics, skeptics and septicsâ„¢. Should be a lively evening… 😉 Meet at The Twisted Hop from 5-30pm, talk begins at 6pm, probably over the road at CPIT before returning to the pub. Keep an eye on the Skeptics MeetUp page for final details.

[â„¢ as coined by Stoat, headline by David Byrne.]