Adam Curtis: All watched over by machines of loving grace, BBC2 (updated 22 July 2011)

Professor Steve Jones, the author of a report on behalf of the BBC Trust, says the Corporation should not go out of its way to challenge ‘consensus’ views among the elite. That is a dangerous argument … the BBC Trust is exactly wrong. Good journalism should be about testing and scrutinising elites, not uncritically peddling their propaganda to the masses.”

- Daily Express editorial, 21 July 2011, p12.

James Delingpole, ‘BBC’s biased climate science reporting isn’t biased enough’ claims report, July 21st, 2011: “The report, as you may be aware, was written by my fellow Telegraph columnist Steve Jones. Besides being a fine and engaging writer, Dr Jones is a geneticist of distinction and I would certainly never dream of questioning his judgement in his fields of expertise (notably Drosophila and snails). Fortunately, as becomes quite clear reading the report, climate science isn’t one of them. Dr Jones sets out his ideological position fairly early on when he strives to bracket global warming “denialism” with a range of other syndromes … I’d love to see his evidence for this casual slur-by-association. The distinction he tries to make between “scepticism” (good, up to a point, he thinks) and “denialism” (bad, obviously) is in any case a straw man argument. Of all the sceptics I’ve ever met or read, not a single one has ever striven to deny that climate changes nor that modest global warming has been taking place since 1850 (when we began emerging from the Little Ice Age).

What many of these sceptics – or deniers, if you must – do question is

a) whether – and if so by how much – this warming is anthropogenic (ie human-caused)

b) whether the warming constitutes a threat – or whether its benefits might in fact far outweigh its drawbacks

c) whether this warming likely to continue or whether – as happened without human influence at the end of the Roman warm period and the Medieval warm period – it will be followed by a period of natural cooling

d) whether the drastic policy measures (tax, regulation, “decarbonisation”, the drive for renewables) being enacted to ‘combat climate change’ will not end up doing far more harm than good.

Where they differ is over a fundamental scientific concept: “Correlation is not causation.” … Another category error Dr Jones falls into is in his use of the Argumentum ad Verecundiam, the appeal to authority. He tells us: “The IPCC concluded that it is beyond doubt that the climate is warming and more than 90% likely that this has been driven by human activity.”

And he cites an open letter to the journal Science by two hundred and fifty members of the US National Academy of Sciences: “(T)here is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.”

[The so-called "evidence" for the causal link between CO2 and temperature is a huge pile of pick-and-mix indirect proxy observations: tree growth rings and satellite "clear sky" area temperature proxies that ignore the rise of atmospheric cloud cover causing negative feedback, by ignoring the tree ring data after 1960 which indicate increased cloud cover, and also ignoring the fact that satellite surface temperature data is restricted to cloud-free areas, not the increasing areas under cloud cover which are precisely the areas where the cloud cover negative-feedback is occurring!

The only reliable evidence is the CO2 rise, and it's trivial compared to evidence for natural CO2 variations in the past, as shown even by the old GEOCARB models (which ignore negative feedback from cloud cover which increases as a function of CO2). All the temperature data was fiddled for the politically correct hockey stick curve by using tree-ring proxies to suppress temperature variability up to 1960 (tree rings are insensitive since hotter ocean increases evaporation and cloud cover, thus trees get less sunlight and this offsets the growth effect from natural air temperature variations).

From 1960-80 they rely on weather stations, affected by local hot air emissions from growing cities and industry. After 1980 they rely on satellite data, which implicitly ignores negative feedback because you can't measure Planck spectrum surface temperature through cloud cover, so you're measuring surface temperatures for cloud free areas, which is just another way of saying that you're biased against including evidence from the negative feedback due to increased cloud cover. Microwave temperature determinations of air temperature by satellites don't discriminate the altitude of the air whose temperature is being measured, and you're then biased in favour of measuring contributions from warmed air above clouds, obfuscating the effect on surface air temperatures under clouds by negative feedback from the increased cloud cover!

If they had any solid evidence at all, they could state the evidence, rather than merely stating they have formed a dogmatic consensus like a political party; in science the numbers of brainwashed followers are irrelevant, the facts are relevant instead. In politics, consensus vote size is what counts. This is the bias groupthink of dogmatic politics, not objective politics, let alone science. The lying methodology they use is as follows.

First, brainwash yourself that your objective is a "good" utopia, just as Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, and Gadaffi did. Second, write your manifesto under a grandiose title like "The Communist Manifesto", "The Guardian" or "Mein Kampf", to reinforce your self-delusion about a noble cause. Then take short cuts to achieving your cause in the belief "the ends justify the means"; use personal ad hominem "shoot the messenger" tactics - rather than scientific objectivity and facts - in dealing with criticisms. Brainwash yourself that critics are Trotsky vermin, to be ignored or better shot on sight. Then present yourself as a persecuted minority, struggling against vermin, an imitation of Hitler's propaganda. Then fiddle all "evidence" to conform to your utopian political prejudices, and use authority arguments to enable the media to censor criticisms. It's been tried and tested many times: epicycles, phlogiston, caloric, eugenics, Piltdown Man, Cold Fusion, supersymmetry, superstrings, M-theory, etc.

The climate change “debate” and bogus “science has settled” consensus is a fault of the critics for not winning the debate hands down, and flunking repeatedly with quick-fix speculations about sunspot variations causing global warming, which are not solid proven science and merely act as strawmen for the mainstream to attack. The mainstream then stereotypes all criticisms with the strawmen it has debunked, and then declares the "debate won" for eternity. Unsurprisingly, the BBC pick-and-mix politically correct “ethics” censors ignore the chance to endlessly promote Professor Steve Jones’ somewhat better informed and fact-qualified but politically incorrect genetics advice on inbreeding risks among first cousin marriages in outraged ethnic communities, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392217/Muslim-outrage-professor-Steve-Jones-warns-inbreeding-risks.html, while listening to his advice on global warming, a physical sciences subject he is unqualified in.

“Volo, mi Keplere, ut rideamus insignem vulgi stultitiam. Quid dices de primariis huius Gimnasii philosophis, qui, aspidis pertinacia repleti, nunquam, licet me ultro dedita opera millies offerente, nec Planetas, nec , nec perspicillum, videre voluerunt? Verum ut ille aures, sic isti oculos, contra veritatis lucem obturarunt.”

- Letter from Galileo to Kepler, 19 August 1610

(“I want, my Kepler, that we laugh at the enormous stupidity of people. What do you say about the main philosophers of this Gymnasium, who, full of the obstinacy of the serpent, never wanted to see the Planets, the Moon, the telescope, although I was offering facts, expressly for them, for a thousand times. Really, they closed their eyes against the truth in the same way as that one closed his ears.”)

“Oh, my dear Kepler, how I wish that we could have one hearty laugh together! Here, at Padua, is the principal professor of philosophy whom I have repeatedly and urgently requested to look at the moon and planets through my glass, which he pertinaciously refuses to do. Why are you not here? What shouts of laughter we should have at this glorious folly! And to hear the professor of philosophy at Pisa laboring before the Grand Duke with logical arguments, as if with magical incantations, to charm the new planets out of the sky.”

- Galileo’s letter to Kepler, quoted by Sir Oliver Lodge, Pioneers of Science, page 106.]

But as both Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn could have explained to Dr Jones, science does not advance through “consensus”; and as Einstein could have told him, science is not a numbers game. When Hitler commissioned the book 100 Authors Against Einstein, Einstein coolly replied that if he were wrong, one author would have been enough.

As Biased BBC notes, it has been five years since the BBC officially abandoned all pretence that it was adopting a neutral position on “Climate Change”. … The conclusion, however, he draws from this is … that media organisations like the BBC aren’t doing enough to promote the “correct” version of reality. “The divergence between the views of professionals versus the public may be seen as evidence of a failure by the media to balance views of very different credibility.”

[Luckily the BBC wasn't around in 1905 to dismiss the "credibility" of patent examiner Einstein, or in 1609 to dismiss the "credibility" of Galileo against the profitable mainstream quacks.]

Tree ring proxies rely on correlating air temperature to photosynthesis rates. Sunshine variation effects on photosynthesis due to cloud cover variations are ignored completely. This is a fraud because an effect of the negative feedback from water evaporation is increased cloud cover, which reduces sunshine and hence photosynthesis. Hence, there is a factual mechanism at play which ensures that tree ring proxies will suppress large swings in estimated air temperatures. As the air temperature goes up, more water is evaporated and carried aloft to form clouds, which suppress sunshine. So the enhancement of tree ring growth from increased air temperature is offset by the increased cloud cover, giving a tree ring growth record which – analyzed using the false assumption of constant cloud cover – gives a misrepresentative air temperature record with smaller fluctuations.

This is an obvious explanation of why tree ring growth records show smaller swings in apparent air temperature in the 1960s-present than direct temperature measurements, or satellite data.

Next we have the systematic errors in weather station data, which are used for the period 1960-80. Industrial growth and growing cities in this period produced direct local warm air emissions which affected the data. This 2C “urban heat island” effect has been proved experimentally; cities are a warmer than the unpopulated areas at similar latitude and with similar average weather, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_heat_island It has nothing to do with alleged CO2 global warming, but it contaminates early direct temperature measurements, in cities or downwind of industrial factories, power stations, steel mills, etc.

Then after 1980, we have satellite data. You can’t measure air temperature in space, because there’s no air. So it’s down to indirect sensors of temperature, which again introduce bias into the data. If you rely on microwave radiation by air molecules, the satellite is measuring an integrated average temperature of the entire vertical depth of the atmosphere, not the sea level air. This is biased against negative feedback, which only occurs in low level air below clouds. The air near the tops of clouds is warmed by sunlight, so the microwave air temperature data excludes negative the feedback from cloud cover. It gives a misrepresentative air temperature, excluding the effect of low altitude air cooling from increased cloud cover.

Finally, Planck thermal spectral emission temperature data for the earth’s surface gives a reliable surface temperature reading by satellite, but only for surface areas not covered by clouds. So it is biased in favour of clear sky areas, precisely “greenhouse effect” with no negative feedback. It automatically excludes the surface temperature contributions from the 62% of earth’s surface which is under clouds, and it is this area which suffers negative feedback (cooling), not the clear sky areas. So all satellite temperature data implicitly excludes negative feedback effects on surface air temperature.

To my mind, this systematic “temperature record” fiddling is the key problem in the AGW debate. Since cloud cover has been increasing as CO2 increased, the effects of the increasing shadowed surface area is excluded from estimates of temperature. When you include these effects, there the overall temperature rise as a function of CO2 emission falls by as much as a factor of ten; negative feedback from a small increase in cloud cover cancels out the CO2 “greenhouse effect”.


Adam Curtis’s latest offering (“All watched over by machines of loving grace”, episode 2, “How the idea of the ecosystem was invented”, BBC2, 30 May 2011, 9pm) is more substantial in research depth and ideas than his earlier 1992 attack on systems analysis in Pandora’s Box: To the Brink of Eternity.

In this new episode, which gets ever better towards the end, Curtis makes an effort to attack – in a compelling way – the basic errors in mainstream political eco-evangelism. He gets down to business and shows that systems analyst Jay Forrester, who designed early warning radar computer analysis systems in the 1950s, was behind the Limits to Growth Club of Rome environmentalism scam in the early 1970s. Forrester claimed to include feedback loops for all possibilities in the computer model he developed for the Club of Rome, but in fact omitted all feedback loops for human responses to overpopulation and the energy crisis, such as political actions.

In other words, the Club of Rome’s disaster predictions for overpopulation, starvation, lack of sufficient energy resources, and pollution were all based on the assumption that the world would not politically adapt to growth to compensate for them. As a result, the computer forecast led to a prediction with a false claim behind it: there will be disaster unless the world is stabilized in its present form to stop further growth. The more sensible option of naturally taking countermeasures against the undesirable effects of growth was neglected in favour of stabilizing the world in its present form. (This claim is identical to the Cold War era nuclear war propaganda “science”, which claimed that we will cease to exist if we don’t disarm, neglecting the fact that similar gas warfare lies in the 30s caused appeasement and ethnic minorities being exterminated not by bullets or bombs but by cold-blooded starvation and gas chambers in concentration camps.)

Adam Curtis goes further still, arguing that this claim was supported by another error as well, an error from the leading ecologists of that time who claimed that there is a cybernetic type “ecosystem” in nature which is stabilized into a stable equilibrium by feedbacks that counterbalance all change. E.g., Odum’s textbook, Fundamentals of Ecology which portrayed the Earth as simply a network of ecosystems, like a well oiled, predictive, stable machine. Cybernetics is the study of feedbacks in systems analysis, developed originally by Norbert Wiener after WWII anti-aircraft guns were linked to radar by a mechanical computer which was designed to predict the location of the aircraft when a shell arrived at the aircraft, and to compute and fire the shell accordingly to maximise the probability of hitting the target and thus improve the efficiency of anti-aircraft defenses (which when used manually, routinely missed high speed aircraft due to the problem of firing shells which would arrive at the correct spacetime location some seconds later).

The “ecosystem balance of nature” theory, Curtis explains, was first abused to defend racism status quo by Field Marshall Smuts in South Africa in the 1930s. Smuts used the “ecosystem” to argue for a stable “holistic” (a word he coined) world, in which everything and every race has its “natural place”: racial apartheid was therefore deemed to be essential to maintaining the balance of nature, and preventing instabilities in the ecosystem. This pseudoscience was used to try to “justify” racism, just as eugenics pseudoscience was then being used by the Nazis.

Adam Curtis states: “What Smuts was doing showed how easily scientific ideas about nature and natural equilibrium could be used by those in power to maintain the [racist] status quo.”

He interviews the skeptical environmental activist Tord Björk, who states: “The trick is claiming that you have something as nature, and in nature you have this balance, and we need society to have the same balance. And then it becomes unquestionable, because you cannot change nature.”

Enforcing global status quo is convenient to racists and the West because it helps to retard industrial revolutions in the third world, keeping the West ahead in the game. It is a false solution to overpopulation to claim that there is a “balance of nature” which must be “maintained”. If there was a balance of nature, how did evolution occur? Why are most species that have ever lived extinct – long before the arrival of humans? Clearly, nature is not in a perfect Biblical Eden equilibrium. It’s always changing.

Enter Buckminster Fuller, the architect of the “buckyball” and “fullerine” designs of radar dome and carbon molecules, a spherical shell made up from numerous small triangles. Fuller claimed that we live in “spaceship Earth” eternally cruising through space, assembled from fragile interdependent ecosystems all working in harmony and equilibrium, like the individual fragile triangles meshed together to form his strong domes. This was cemented by photos of the earth taken by NASA astronauts on the moon in the late 1960s. Curtis states:

“But at precisely this moment in the mid-1970s [when ecosystem collapse scaremongering reached its climax in the media], the science that supported the idea fell apart. The fatal flaw in the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem was exposed. A new generation of ecologists began to produce empirical evidence that showed that ecosystems did not tend towards stability, that the very opposite was true, that nature – far from seeking equilibrium – was always in a state of dynamic and unpredictable change.

This brings to mind the old “heat death of the universe” hype from the 19th century (the third law of thermodynamics, eternally increasing entropy or a tending towards temperature equilibrium in the universe, which would prevent any work from being done since there would be no cool heat sink left anywhere). The fact that the universe is accelerating in its expansion suggests that the expanding expanses of space between stars will provide an eternal heat sink and that thermal equilibrium therefore cannot be obtained; the third law of thermodynamics only predicts a thermal equilibrium in a closed system or non-expanding universe. The redshift of radiation dumped into an expanding, accelerating universe will ensure that the radiation we see coming out of space will always be cooler than the radiation we dump into it! Thus, the impending “heat death of the universe” is a hoax.

Curtis then interviews ecologist Dr Steward Pickett, who states:

“Ecologists really thought that we were dealing with a stable world. You didn’t question it at all. Now the really remarkable thing is, when people began to find out that that might have some chinks in it, that that might not be right, people were really almost viscerally upset. Ecologists, many ecologists, were almost viscerally upset, because it offended that very comfortable idea that nature was stable.”

This is like the response of superstring theorists to Dr Peter Woit. Adam Curtis then points out that “environments that were supposed to be models of stability” were revisited by ecologists, who found, on closer inspection, that they weren’t stable ecosystems after all. The very interesting point is also made by Curtis that a mirror image of this instability occurred in efforts to make human 1960s “communes” work without politics:

“In the communes, anything that smacked of politics was forbidden. No coalitions or alliances with others in the group were permitted.”

Instead of producing a natural stability as predicted, the lack any formal political structures prevented any organized opposition from forming against the emergence of dictatorship by powerful personalities who dominated and intimidated the weaker personalities in the group. The “communes” went bad. Curtis fails to point out the analogy to peer-review politics in science, where exactly the same opposition to politics is implemented in order to free science from democratic principles, but the result is a dictatorship by status quo mainstream ideas, instead of an objectivity-driven enterprise. Attempts to cut “politics” out of “scientific” communes and other “logic based” organizations failed, because they simply banned the kind of political structures that represent opposition, and by preventing organized opposition, permitted powerful personalities to take dictatorial control by intimidation. The claim of outlawing “politics” is used to simply outlaw democratic political methods in deference to dictatorial mainstream majority-is-right intimidation, abuse, and corruption political methods. Curtis just concludes:

“What began to arise up in the 1970s was the idea that we and everything on the planet are connected together into complex webs and networks. Out of it come epic visions and utopian ideas about the world wide web and the global economic system. Underlying this was a profound shift. What was beginning to disappear was the enlightenment idea, that human beings are separate from the rest of nature, and masters of their own destiny. Instead, we began to see ourselves as components, cogs in a system, and our duty was to help that system to maintain its natural balance.”

(The first episode in Adam Curtis’s new series is less impressive. He attacks the pursuit of wealth in the American dream in the novels of Ayn Rand as being the basic cause of the current world recession, claiming that Monica Lewinsky distracted Bill Clinton’s attention from the regulation of the American economy in the 1990s, which paved the way for a hands-off approach which permitted a boom-bust debt bubble to grow and burst. However, this over-generalises. The failure of communist state economic regulation in the USSR proves that it is not good enough to over-regulate because that stifles the forces of progress like innovation and particularly competition for profit. The entire cause of the world recession is due to the gambling of the banking sector, which lent money for mortgages which in turn fuelled the property development boom. Gambling in debt portfolios by the banking sector fueled the false economic boom – a debt bubble – which caused the crisis. It is folly to blame Ayn Rand for this: she argued for the creation of wealth by work, not by bank gambling or buying for resale dud lottery tickets, debt portfolios. The way to stop further economic crises is to nationalise the banks and prevent – by firing the investment bankers – or driving them out of our economy to jobs overseas, so we lose them and their disastrous gambling – and make money by producing goods and genuine services; gambling with investors money is not an honest service. Curtis instead seems to try to attack capitalism generally instead of the gambling of the banking sector, the demotivating mistake Marx made.)

Quantum field theory


Fig. 1: revised electromagnetic force mechanism diagrams, 4 June 2011. This blog is becoming a diary of developments. These are for a new paper, a revised version of my articles in the August 2002 and April 2003 issues of Electronics World.

Fig. 2: some background experiments and facts for understanding the content of Fig. 1.