The Science

Another Scientist Who Publicly Dismissed Lab Leak Gave It Credence in Private Email

When it comes to the lab leak theory of Covid origins, there’s a lot of inconsistency between what scientists have announced in public and what they’ve revealed in private.

First, there was Professor Kristian Andersen, an American virologist. Writing to Anthony Fauci on 1st February 2020, he said of the virus that “some of the features (potentially) look engineered”, adding that he and several colleagues “all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory”.

Mere weeks later, Andersen co-authored a paper stating, “we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible”.

Next, there was Professor Jeremy Farrar, head of the UK’s Wellcome Trust. He wrote in his book Spike that he initially believed there was a 50% chance the virus had leaked from a lab, and that other scientists to whom he’d spoke had put the percentage even higher.

Yet Farrar signed the infamous Lancet letter, which referred to claims that “COVID-19 does not have a natural origin” as “conspiracy theories”.

A new freedom of information request, made by the group U.S. Right to Know, has revealed that another author of the Lancet letter gave credence to the lab leak in a private email. Professor Charles Calisher, an American epidemiologist, said he did not see how “anyone could definitively state that the virus could not possibly have come from that lab”.

Met Office Changed Global Temperature Record to Add 14% to Recent Warming, Says Climate Scientist

Satellite data show that global warming started to run out of steam two decades ago, but the U.K. Met Office’s record of surface temperature from 1975 was boosted by 14% at the end of 2020. At the same time, the period between 1880-1975 was cooled. The move accentuates the rise in the global temperature recorded in the 1980s and 1990s that forms the basis of much of the current hysteria about the so-called climate emergency.

The disclosure of the apparent warming and cooling is contained in the latest State of the Climate report from Emeritus Professor Ole Humlum of the University of Oslo, and published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Professor Humlum says the post-1975 warming is about +0.1°C and the pre-1975 cooling about -0.1°C. The version-change to the fifth HadCRUT Met Office database “conveys the impression of a somewhat more rapid global temperature increase following the relatively cold period terminating around 1975”. When the Met Office first announced the change in December 2020, it admitted to 0.16°C extra warming, although it didn’t give specifics about cooling and warming either side of the 1975 mark.

Professor Humlum also draws attention to significant retrospective changes in the American GISS surface temperature record. The graph below shows the effect of the changes made since May 2008 on the monthly temperature record, with increases in red and decreases in blue. As with HadCRUT, the changes warm the early part of the record, cool the period from 1900 to 1970, and heat up the later recordings.

Pro-lockdown Researcher Accuses Critic of “Libel”

A new pro-lockdown study has been doing the rounds on social media. In a Twitter thread, one of the authors claims that it “confirms the tragic consequences of delaying the UK’s first lockdown”. He argues that, if lockdown had started just one week earlier, there would have been up to “35k fewer deaths”.

Although the thread went viral (as many pro-lockdown threads do), the study was not without its critics. One of these was Philippe Lemoine, whose work I’ve discussed several times here on the Daily Sceptic.

In a Twitter thread of his own, Lemoine retorted that the study “doesn’t confirm jackshit” and merely exemplifies the “ridiculous methods that pass as counterfactual analysis in the field of epidemiology”. He went on to say that drawing strong conclusions about the “tragic consequences” of delaying lockdown is “intellectually dishonest”.

Profanity aside, the criticisms Lemoine proceeds to outline are well taken. As he points out, the latest pro-lockdown study is based – yet again – on the assumption that epidemics keep growing exponentially unless the government decides to do something. This assumption is not merely questionable, but false.

The Face Mask Cult

There follows a guest post by Hector Drummond, a former academic who worked in risk, who says when he came to research his new book The Face Mask Cult on the effectiveness of masks against COVID-19 the evidence was threadbare.

In 2021 I decided to write an FAQ on all aspects of Covid, lockdowns and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). I started with face masks, as they seemed to be the easiest issue to deal with, thinking that the whole mask situation could be summed up in five to six pages. After a few days work I had twenty pages of text, and another twenty pages of reminder notes on further aspects of face masks that I needed to consider and research. Those notes ballooned out in the next few weeks, and I realised that the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 was a far bigger topic than I had appreciated, and would require substantial amounts of writing, and months of research and literature-reading.

It took until the next year before I decided I’d written enough on the topic. I had read an enormous number of scientific papers and other articles on masks, and gone through some of them with a fine-tooth comb (see Part 3 of the book, for instance). I had spent considerable time analysing, synthesising and rewriting, and my short FAQ article had become a comprehensive 400-page book that tackled all aspects of the issue, as well as a unique resource with its extensive scientific literature review section.

In all my researches I failed to come across very much in the way of convincing evidence that masks work. The papers that were supposed to show that they did all turned out to be poor pieces of science. None were randomly-controlled peer-reviewed trials. Some were observational studies, with inadequate controls for dealing with the possibility of faulty or biased recollection. Some were ‘modelling’ studies, in which a computer program was used to ‘model’ the effect of face masks on disease spread. Modelling studies are generally hopeless at providing any confirming evidence for the effectiveness of face masks as they require the modellers to make assumptions about how effective the masks are when writing their programs. Some were mannequin studies, in which a dummy in a lab with artificial breathing functions, rather than a real person in the real world, was used. Some were simply tests of the porosity of various materials in regard to salt aerosols.

Lifestyles and Diets Must Change, Says Latest IPCC Report of Climate Doom – But Where Are the Scientists?

Even the Fonz only got to jump the shark once. But every day is a happy day for the IPCC, seemingly intent on plumbing new depths of climate alarmist gimmickry with every passing report. Its ‘now or never’ latest offering comes in a long line of sci-fi fantasy episodes, guaranteed to run for many more seasons.

The Guardian reports that scientists have said it is a final climate warning for governments. According to the BBC, scientists say carbon dioxide must peak within three years, and even then we must invent machines to suck the gas out of the atmosphere. The IPCC says diets and lifestyles must change. Having the right policies in place will enable the changes in our lifestyles and behaviours to take place, co-chair of the latest report Priyadarshi Shukla told the BBC.

Mr. Shukla was an interesting choice to co-chair the report. Until August 2017, he was Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, specialising in energy and environment modelling. Amongst his published work is a contribution to Fair Weather? Equity concerns in climate change.

Sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere is typical fantastical IPCC. The technology is expensive, largely untried and uses huge amounts of energy. Maybe, with the face mask fetish still going strong in many parts of the world, humans could be persuaded to wear some kind of attached breathing receptacle to trap the three billion tonnes of CO2 they emit each year. Two figures always missing from IPCC reports are what temperature and CO2 level they consider most suitable for the Earth’s atmosphere.

How the Medical Establishment Covers Up the Harms of Adding Fluoride to Drinking Water

We’re publishing today a piece by Robert Carnaghan, in which he challenges the received wisdom that adding fluoride to drinking water to protect teeth is safe and effective. In fact, he says, there is no robust evidence it is effective, and plenty of evidence it is harmful – but all of this is suppressed by a medical and scientific establishment that is in up to its neck defending claims that don’t withstand scrutiny.

Here’s the introduction:

The addition of a fluoride, such as hexafluorosilicic acid or disodium hexafluorosilicate, to public water supplies has been recommended in a joint statement by the four Chief Medical Officers of the U.K. The Government’s Health and Care Bill, which has reached its final stages in Parliament, includes a small section to facilitate water fluoridation, which is now expected to be spread throughout the U.K.

Although water is already fluoridated in a few parts of the U.K. (mainly Birmingham), for nearly forty years no new schemes have been implemented since local opposition has managed to defeat them all. The Government is now determined to impose its wishes.

A recent press release said that “higher levels of fluoride are associated with improved dental health outcomes”, and that the “Health and Care Bill will cut bureaucracy and make it simpler to expand water fluoridation schemes”. The Bill’s explanatory notes state: “Research shows that water fluoridation is an effective public health intervention to improve oral health for both children and adults and reduces oral health inequalities.”

For about 70 years it has been claimed that fluoridation reduces dental decay, and that it is safe. Although there is abundant evidence showing that in fact it is neither effective nor safe, the proponents of fluoridation have long had the advantage of far greater funding than that available to sceptics.

Trials of fluoridation started in 1945 in the U.S. and Canada but, before any had been completed, and without any comprehensive health studies, fluoridation was endorsed as safe and effective by the U.S. Public Health Service. The American Dental and Medical Associations soon added their approval, as later did their equivalents in the U.K.

The original trials were studied by Dr. Philip Sutton in Australia who graduated with honours in Dental Science. Asked to examine them, he found they were of low quality, full of errors and omissions.

In Austria, Rudolf Ziegelbecker also studied the original fluoridation trials and found they did not show what had been claimed. Professor Erich Naumann, Director of the German Federal Health Office, said of him: “Your results have been accepted everywhere in Germany with the greatest interest and have increased the grave doubts against drinking water fluoridation.” Prof. Naumann added: “It is regrettable that the existing data on water fluoridation had not been examined earlier using mathematical-statistical methods. Otherwise the myth of drinking water fluoridation would have already dissolved into air long ago.”

Worth reading in full.

The Climate Change Paper Cancelled by The British Hydrological Society

We’re publishing today an article by James Dent, a retired hydrologist and meteorologist. In a long career, Mr. Dent worked in many parts of the world, specialising in floods and droughts. For a time, he was the World Meteorology Organisation Chief Technical Advisor to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre in Bangladesh. The article was initially published in the British Hydrological Society journal Circulation, but was quickly withdrawn.

Here’s an excerpt:

Like the predictions of the progress of Covid, we need to ask what the limitations are to modelling. Too easily the model output is given the status of truth, and quickly becomes unchallengeable. Climate change predictions have been commonplace for at least 25 years, but I recently read an agricultural journalist state that in the future, farmers will have to cope with hotter, drier summers, and warmer, wetter winters, and there will be more extreme events. The message has remained the same, so have we not yet reached the predicted future? It becomes easy to summarise complicated ideas into sound bites.

Over the last 15 years, I have resigned from two national institutions which have incorporated climate change hypotheses into rigid policy statements. This situation could so easily escalate to the dystopian future depicted in the recently published novel The Denial by Ross Clark. Like all the ramifications and issues relating to Covid, the danger comes when theoretical projections provide the basis of legislation, or define the stance of particular organisations, while the media presentations rely on throw-away lines and virtue-signalling in reporting.

I can see similar dangers arising from so-called ‘environmental’ policies, such as ceasing river dredging and weed clearance, ‘rewilding’ and abandoning land and road drainage maintenance. Ultimately we could find ourselves regressing to medieval conditions, where roads and marshy areas become impassable in the winter months.

British Hydrological Society (BHS) President Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts at Newcastle University, subsequently explained that the paper was “a personal view from one of our membership that climate change was not a real phenomenon”.  She went on to say: “We do not think it is appropriate to provide them with a forum under the BHS logo.” She further noted that the “climate sceptic” viewpoint  did not represent good scholarship in science and we “will be reviewing our governance procedures to make sure that members voices can still be heard, but through the lens of good science”.

How to Ensure Lockdowns Cannot Happen Again

There follows a guest post by former Google software engineer Mike Hearn.

How can we avoid a repeat of the last two years?

To ensure policy failure on such a scale never happens again, those of us who oppose them need concrete legislative proposals that could be implemented by a parliament or congress, and which address the root causes of the failed policies themselves. Very often in history we see that ideas for political reform have to be kicked around the public sphere for a while before being picked up by politicians. In that spirit I lay out some proposed changes to the law, designed to encode lessons learned from the Covid pandemic. Not all of these proposals apply to every country and they take for granted the acceptance of a viewpoint that is still contested – namely, that Covid non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) were a mistake. But the ideas here will hopefully prove useful as a launching point for further discussion – and perhaps, eventually, political campaigns.

My goal here is to make proposals that are only partially within the Overton Window of currently acceptable political thought. The justification: ideas fully within the Window will be generated by politicians during any normal public inquiry anyway. Ideas fully outside it won’t be considered at all. All proposals should be somewhat uncomfortable to read for someone fully committed to mainstream politics, but not entirely so. Please note that anything related to pharmaceutical or financial interventions are out of scope for this article. Further work (perhaps by other people) may address legislative proposals around these.

So Farewell Then Roger Harrabin – May We Never See Your Like Again

The BBC’s long-serving Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin is due to retire in June. What must his thoughts be as he contemplates the possible destruction of his cherished Net Zero fantasy, crushed, as seems more than likely, by its first encounter with hard financial reality? A lifetime’s work, all for nothing, as people, inexplicably, turn their back on the prospect of blackouts, being colder and poorer, restricted diets, personal travel rationing, impracticable electric buggies and no foreign holidays. How could they be so selfish?

It was all so carefully prepared from the seminar he helped organise back in 2006 that led green activist cabals from within and outside the BBC to stamp out debate about the science of climate change. From that date on, the science was ‘settled’. To this day, the BBC has ignored scientific work that disputes humans cause all or most climate change. This work involves hundreds of dissenting atmospheric scientists, and many of their findings have been reported in the Daily Sceptic. Rather than repeat ourselves, further details are available in a recent article here.

For the last 20 years, a highly politicised doomsday agenda has been constructed that highlights the work of ‘post normal’ activists determined to show that burning fossil fuel is leading to a ‘climate emergency’. Describing themselves as scientists, Harrabin and his pals have created increasingly implausible doomsday scenarios, full of value judgements, light on evidence and easily debunked. Many of these people work out of re-branded geography and social science university departments and seek to impose a command-and-control Net Zero global system. The IPCC has come to play a central role in promoting this narrative.

When is a Scientist Not Really a Scientist? When He’s a ‘Post-Normal’ Scientist

Some people will do anything to save the Earth… except take a science course.

P.J. O’Rourke

Last Saturday, the Daily Sceptic drew attention to the lack of traditional science qualifications among many of the authors of the latest IPCC climate report. But we missed the point. In the post-normal scientific world, everyone is a scientist, whatever their qualifications and expertise. Everyone has a view on the climate. The hard stuff that hardly anyone liked at school – physics and chemistry – can be safely declared ‘settled’, and any irritating debate likened to Holocaust denial. What is it with this CO2 gas anyway? Temperatures went up a bit in the 1980s and 90s, so did emissions. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. Climate emergency, end of. Send the press release to the BBC.

The arrogance of this view is vividly on show in a recent article written by past IPCC lead author Bruce Glavovic. He is a professor at the School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University, and his article called for a climate research strike. Governments are said to have agreed since 1972 that the “science is settled” – an interesting take, since that date was actually the start of the once fashionable global cooling scare. He added: “For climate change, the science-society contract is broken. The failure to arrest global warming is an indictment on successive governments and political leaders of all persuasions.”

Global warming has in fact ‘been arrested’, with the trend running out of steam for about two decades and a current 88-month standstill in progress. And, of course, temperatures have risen by just over 1°C since 1800, seemingly without any catastrophic consequences. In fact, many scientists point to numerous beneficial effects. Far fewer people die of heat than cold, and slightly warmer growing conditions, not to mention extra CO2, which helps crops grow, has helped alleviate famine in many parts of the world.