Christopher Booker’s scientific credentials

December 31, 2008 at 12:39 am | Posted in Climate Change | 1 Comment

Polar bear: "thank you Christopher Booker!"

Rejoice, people! Whatever you may’ve read, however many chilling predictions you may have heard, however frequently Al Gore might haunt your dreams, telling you that the world will end in a torrent of fire because YOU don’t use energy-saving lightbulbs, I can promise that all those fears are unfounded. For as people across the world glance at 2009 with such foreboding and dread, Christopher Booker has made the jolly discovery that instead of getting much, much worse, climate change doesn’t actually exist all!

Now, I understand that there’s a great deal of misinformation out there in BlogLand, and since I’m not a scientist (well, neither is he, but he sure seems to know a lot more than ‘real scientists’), I have to make sure that all my sources are of the highest calibre. So I did whatever any forensic time-deprived blogger would do, and checked him out on Wikipedia. Without further ado, and just to show how seriously you should take his scientific acumen, here are some of Booker’s greatest hits:

Booker’s articles in The Daily Telegraph on asbestos and also on global warming have been challenged by George Monbiot in an article in The Guardian [1].

Booker’s scientific claims, which include the false assertion that white asbestos (chrysotile) is “chemically identical to talcum powder” [2] were also analysed in detail by Richard Wilson in his book Don’t Get Fooled Again (2008). (The chemical formula for talc is H2Mg3(SiO3)4 or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2, while the formula for chrysotile, the primary ingredient of white asbestos, is Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4).

Wilson highlighted Christopher Booker’s repeated endorsement of the alleged scientific expertise of John Bridle, who has claimed to be “the world’s foremost authority on asbestos science”, but who in 2005 was convicted under the UK’s Trade Descriptions Act [3] of making false claims about his qualifications, and who the BBC has accused of basing his reputation on “lies about his credentials, unaccredited tests, and self aggrandisement”.[4].

Christopher Booker’s scientific claims about asbestos have been criticized several times by the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive. In 2002, the HSE’s Director General, Timothy Walker, wrote that Booker’s articles on asbestos had been “misinformed and do little to increase public understanding of a very important occupational health issue.”[5].

In 2005, the Health and Safety Executive issued a rebuttal[6] after Christopher Booker wrote an article suggesting, incorrectly, that the HSE had agreed with him that white asbestos posed “no medical risk”[7].

In 2006, the HSE published a further rebuttal[8] after Christopher Booker had claimed, again incorrectly, that the Health and Safety Laboratory had concluded that the white asbestos contained within “artex” textured coatings posed “no health risk”. [9].

In May 2008, the Health and Safety Executive accused Booker of writing an article that was “substantially misleading”[10]. In the article[11], published by the Sunday Telegraph earlier that month, Booker had claimed, falsely, that a paper produced in 2000 by two HSE statisticians, Hodgson and Darnton[12], had ‘concluded that the risk of contracting mesothelioma from white asbestos cement was “insignificant”, while that of lung cancer was “zero”‘.

In December 2008, an article by Booker was published in The Daily Telegraph, ‘Facts melted by ‘global warming”[13] and subsequently in The Australian, ‘More inconvenient cold weather, snow and polar ice’.[14] The article claims that “Without explanation, a half million square kilometres of ice vanished overnight.” That claim is false as an explanation was provided on 13 December and Booker’s article was published on 21 December.[15]

If this doesn’t persuade you that everything the guy writes should be trusted, nothing will!

Anyway, if it’s really that easy to get a newspaper column to write about subjects you know nothing about, I think it’s time to get myself some of that. From now on, all of the posts on this blog will be detailed discussions about global economics. Granted, I have no academic training or related work experience, and some of my more controversial pronouncements (like ‘Capitalism Makes You Impotent!’ or ‘Marxism Clears Blotchy Skin!’) are based on flawed or fabricated evidence. But just like Booker can claim that cold winters disproves global warming, so I can claim that my lack of money proves the inherent evil of capitalism. Now all I need is for someone to hire me because, regardless of my rare imperfections, I’ll tell them everything they want to hear.

Form a queue people, and I’ll start reviewing job offers in the new year.

(By the way, if you want, y’know, a scientific rebuttal of Booker’s piece rather than just endless snark, here’s a good place to start)

1 Comment »

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  1. Very interesting…!!
    avid – mesothelioma resource

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