25 Mar 2009

Johnny Ball, what happened to you?

I listened to Stephen Nolan's bumptious phone-in show on local radio this morning. He had a few people on discussing our climate change denier Minister for the Environment, Sammy Wilson and his latest kerfuffle in Stormont. The Belfast Telegraph reports that his department admitted that he, "did not consult any scientific articles when deciding not to air the Westminster-sponsored Act on CO2 ads."

Naw, our Sammy came up with that grand idea off his own back. He knows better that them scientists with their ungodly evidence.

He called another assembly member the 'carbon king of Stormont' because he lives 100 miles from the parliament building and has to drive, public transport links in NI being utterly pathetic, and getting worse the further west you go.

But then, once the drone of whinging politicians blended to innocuous background noise to my kitchen cleaning endeavours, Johnny Ball was on the air again, blustering about matters he doesn't understand and ruining my good opinion of him.

He used to be an exuberant presenter of children's TV shows about maths and science, and is fondly remembered by nerdy types of a certain age:

But he has turned cranky in his old age. He said today that "Sammy Wilson is right."

"People are talking about a carbon footprint. Carbon dioxide is half as heavy as air again. It falls to the ground and it feeds the plants. A tree is made of CO2, it puts the oxygen back into the atmosphere and takes the carbon. 85% of every tree is CO2...
When you're talking about CO2 you're helping the plants, you could say you're greening the planet."

I think that here, Johnny has employed the logical fallacy known as the WTF? fallacy.

But he goes on (and on and on) and eventually, near the end of the interview, he gets to the "dangers of scientific consensus." He even has examples, 100 years ago, so Johnny says, all the scientists agreed about eugenics. I think he's trying to make the point that we're more enlightened now and have moved on from those bad old days, something I'm not so sure about. He also mentions how in Darwin's day, the consensus was against him. But he neglects to mention that the science consensus changed to adopt the new ideas when they were explained, understood and backed up by huge amounts of evidence. Does Johnny really think that scientific consensus is always dangerous? What about our ideas on gravity, germ theory, what about consensus on units of measurement? What a ridiculous argument.

Silly old duffer. And why on earth has he been asked to come on to the programme to talk about climate change? Is it really reasonable for the BBC to allow this man 7 minutes to talk a load of old nonsense, just because he was once a wacky kind of kids TV presenter?


Manuel said...

another hero (well somebody I like) bites the dust.....if sammy wilson told me tomorrow was Thursday I call him a liar......I am so disappointed by this....

Unknown said...

I wish that Green party protest up at Stormont the other day wasn't whilst I was at work. I signed the petition but would have loved to have been there in person to show my support for the call to see him removed from his position.

How he got the job I'll never know. I saw on TV he was spouting off about the cars in the car park and saying that people can't criticise him because they drive a car with a big engine like his - I guess when you can't defend yourself with sense it gets to that point. In my mind he's now on par with the Iraqi foreign minister from 2003, very similar attitude. Though I think Sammy actually believes what he's saying whereas Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf was just acting. By the looks Johnny Ball seems to have fallen for the head in the sand approach too. It's worrying to say the least.

Jen said...

Hey Sharon
You might have heard of this book already, but encase you haven't:
Aileen McCallan lives in my home town of Buncrana and recently published a book called 'world of our own' about raising her son Cian who has autism. I've blogged about it (third or fourth post from the top i think) and just thought I'd mention it.

Sharon McDaid said...

@Manuel, what, SW was a hero? Just joking, I know what you mean. Someone who cares should keep Johnny well away from the phone.

@On my edge sun, SW's full of bluster, with his pointless fluff about cars. He seems to have styled himself as a bit of a rebel who has no fears about going against the majority. But simple minded certitude is not to be admired.

@Kev, I know, it's so sad. I'll have to start a Facebook group for the afflicted, "Why Johnny, why?" or something!

@Jennifer, thanks for telling me about the book. I'll be sure to look it up.

The Biologista said...

Since when were the agendas of humans and plants in alignment? They won't mind if global warming wipes us out, we make excellent fertiliser and we're always trying to chop them down.

Sharon McDaid said...

@Biologista, quite right!

Wo said...

I just went on Johnny Ball's site to send him an email asking him not to damage himself in this way. I then read his blog and it's all come clear. He's a religious nut. Should of been clear before. That's why he tied scientists to eugenics. Something religious people do. Suggesting that science caused the holocaust. Heard it before, again and again from these people. Johnny is not a man who should go anywhere near children with his ideas. He is not a man of reason and evidence but a ranting old lunatic. Guess the reason he dissappeard from our screens is a mystery no more. Sad.

BullyJohn said...

David Bellamy's been embarrassing himself for a long time and now Johnny.
Who'll be next?
Terry Nutkins?
John Craven?
Perhaps Roland Rat?
Thankfully he isn't still purported to be educating the kids.
Donger indeed!

Anonymous said...

RIP Johnny Ball, 15 April 2009

Ed said...

Johnny Ball came to speak at my school when I was in sixth form a couple of years ago. He actually claimed that the atmosphere today is 'cleaner' than it was 400 years ago from a global warming point of view. Totally mental.

Anonymous said...

Same story as Ed for me, except a couple of months ago, not a couple of years. It was a "local community" talk, and as a minor celebrity, he actually got an audience. The real worry is that people might actually have believed him.

Oh, and the rest of the lecture was pretty poor too - we've had actual scientists, at the forefront of research, and cosmonauts, and Johnny Ball.

Rudolpt said...

I like the idea that the man was at one time held in high esteem untill he disagreed with the theory of anthropogenic global warming.Mabay some commenter might explain why he should refrain from educating children and adults alike, puting forward an alternative view is not in any way damaging to childrens education the alternative is brain washing.