I have always considered Brian Cox, ATLAS experimental physicist and rock musician, to be a problem-free shallow promoter of science who doesn't teach you much but whose boyish looks at least give science an O.K. image in the U.K. and beyond. See e.g. Cox's interview with Leonard Susskind on string theory.
However, the statement that he has never made me angry ceased to be true today.
Go to the individual page if you see no video above.
The playlist above - 15+15+10 minutes - shows The Royal Television Society Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture from 1st of December, 2010, as aired on BBC2. Most of it is the same relatively problem-free, superficial babbling about some philosophy of science and the basics of physics that can't irritate (or enrich) anyone and that Brian Cox is known for.
However, I knew it couldn't have been an unproblematic lecture because it has made Martin Durkin, the film director who created the excellent The Great Global Warming Swindle, so upset that he wrote a text creatively called Big Daft Cox. :-) I received a copy of the article from Willie Soon; the essay may soon appear on James Delingpole's blog.
Finally, the explanation why Durkin got so upset became apparent to me at 3:45 of the second part of the playlist when Cox began to talk about climate change. This portion of the lecture began with the dramatic music theme from TGGWS.
At the beginning, I thought that Durkin has overreacted. However, after I have seen the whole lecture, I think that Durkin's "big daft cox" is simply an immensely accurate description of Brian Cox. I subscribe to it completely. Well, except for Durkin's point that the rock musician may look like a rebel to some people. I have always considered Cox a "good boy" who is controlled by the closest person who shows him a carrot or a whip.
To make things worse, right after the TGGWS discussion, Cox showed some totally atrocious mindless emotional fearmongering appeals to fake authorities - containing no actual scientific facts at all - by a total jerk from another film. Cox has claimed that the second movie, and not the first one, is more rigorously obeying the principles of scientific objectivity. Holy cattle.
You know, I've never known what Cox was thinking about the AGW business - and he probably didn't know it himself. Paradoxically enough, I considered him mildly on the positive side of the issue since September 2008 - the day when the LHC was activated - when he collided with Sir David King on TV (see also this blog). King, a totally unhinged AGW fearmonger, said that all the money and the scientific talent should exclusively only flow to disciplines like climate change - because the planet is going to die soon - and not to curiosity-driven research while Cox disagreed.
I don't know whether "they" have just ordered Cox to undo his sin - his disagreement with King - or whether he did it himself. But he did it, anyway. What he has been feeding the viewers during the Huw Weldon Memorial Lecture was totally disgraceful and I included this puppet among the unacceptable haters of genuine science.
While Cox has mentioned Richard Feynman a couple of times in his lecture, he has totally rejected all fundamental values of science that Feynman has always symbolized and defended. Instead, Cox has adopted the totalitarian ideology of the ideologically-driven environmentalist obedience and described the struggle between "the scientific consensus" which worships the "peer review" on one side and "the contrarians" (WTF?) on the other side while TV, in his opinion, is obliged to support "the scientific consensus".
Just like every consensus soul in Cancún is obliged to pray to the Mayan pagan goddess Ixchel, right? ;-)
Holy cow. You had to be joking, right? Feynman, in particular, has repeatedly emphasized the basic definition of science,
This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the length of the Emperor of China's nose? To find out, you go all over the country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China's nose is, and you average it. And that would be very "accurate" because you averaged so many people. But it's no way to find anything out; when you have a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it, you don't improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.Yes, indeed: instead of the length of the nose, you may substitute the climate sensitivity, too.
One more story about the averaging of many not-the-best people's opinions, from the very same chapter:
The man who replaced me on the commission said, "That book was approved by sixty-five engineers at the Such-and-such Aircraft Company!"Most readers who are the IPCC members must be specifically told the surprising peer-reviewed insight that 2,500 is even greater a number than 65. :-)
I didn't doubt that the company had some pretty good engineers, but to take sixty-five engineers is to take a wide range of ability - and to necessarily include some pretty poor guys! It was once again the problem of averaging the length of the emperor's nose, or the ratings on a book with nothing between the covers. It would have been far better to have the company decide who their better engineers were, and to have them look at the book. I couldn't claim that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys - but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!
Cox, the first key insight that there is a complete consensus about among the scientists is that the consensus doesn't decide anything in science. Whoever disagrees with this principle is simply not a scientist. Even in the most optimistic situation, peer review is just a method to improve the average quality, not a guarantee for the truth. The success rate of peer review primarily depends on the quality of the "peers". Moreover, Durkin's movie hasn't really contradicted any prevailing peer-reviewed facts: instead, it has uncovered many facts that are simply inconvenient for many people.
So all your ideas about the obligation of people - whether they're scientists or TV folks - to pay attention to the consensus is simply an oxymoron from the scientific viewpoint and an Orwellian political ambition from the political viewpoint.
Cox, you may have been a puppet in some OK TV shows that people liked for superficial reasons but you didn't do 10% of what Martin Durkin has done to explain some nontrivial scientific facts to the public. So you have just missed your chance to shut up. Cox, you are a despicable big daft cox, indeed. ;-)
And that's the memo.
BTW I managed to watch Martin Durkin's new documentary film, Britain's Trillion Pound Horror, aired on Channel 4 on November 11th, about the insanely skyrocketing public debt of the U.K. Their government now spends more than all individuals and companies combined. The trillions of pounds that are flying in the movie are just breathtaking. The film perfectly explains how the money is being borrowed from the children and how the emerging socialist government steals money from the productive sector of the economy and, obviously with losses, spends the money on less productive or unproductive things.
Vicky Pope of the U.K. Met Office wanted to go to Cancún and fight against this Earth that is way too warm for her. Fortunately, as The Guardian reveals, she got caught in the brutal British cold snap. Snow made her stuck at the airport. ;-)
Central European alarmist Alexander Ač is fighting a cold (in his throat) in Czechia and Slovakia where temperatures often reached -20 °C.