Don’t Tell Me What To Think

I’m not inclined to believe experts. I’m not inclined to trust authorities.

When I was a postgraduate in Bristol university 40 years ago, tasked to build an building electronic heat flow simulation model, I found that one of the pieces of equipment – a current pump that simulated solar heat gain – didn’t work too well. I asked if anyone had tried getting it to work better, and was told it was a big problem, and a lot of people had tried, but nobody had succeeded in making it work better. It couldn’t be done. But I soon found that there were a number of equations governing the behaviour of the operational amplifiers in the current pump, and suggested to my physicist boss that we try and write as many equations as we could. So we sat down one afternoon and thought up equations. We ended up with about 10 equations. And I took the equations home, and pored over them for a couple of weeks, sliced them and diced them, and came back with a new equation that I’d managed to generate from the 10 I’d started with.  The new equation suggested that it would be quite easy to make the current pump work a lot better. My physicist boss didn’t believe it. So I went and built a new current pump using new numbers, and it worked a treat. But my physicist boss still didn’t believe it. It took him two years to grudgingly admit that my new current pumps worked far better than the old ones. Because it couldn’t be done.

And it wasn’t as if I was an electronics wizard, or a great mathematician. I just don’t believe experts. If I’d believed the experts, I would never have tried to make the current pump work better. Because they hadn’t managed to make it work better.

I had the same feeling with the Chelyabinsk fireball of February 2013. All the experts said that it was completely unrelated to asteroid 2012 DA14 that passed close to the Earth the same day. And I didn’t believe the experts. I had my own orbital simulation model, and I used it (and improved it) until after about 3 years of modelling, I found that a rock that had been travelling 25 million km behind DA14, along the same orbit, could have passed close to the Earth in February 2009, and ended up landing on Chelyabinsk in 2013. The two rocks were closely related to each other: they were companions. I seem to be pretty much the only person in the world who thinks this, but that’s my view. I don’t care what the experts say.

This year I’ve got interested in climate change. I don’t believe all the experts that have been telling us that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing global warming. I think that, in this respect, it was the Vostok and EPICA ice cores that had the biggest effect in changing my mind.

And what these ice cores were saying was that there’d been a pretty regular succession of ice ages over the past 400,000 years. We’re currently in a warm interglacial period. These interglacial periods only last about 10,000 years. In between there are 100,000 year long ice ages.

So if we’re going to worry about the climate, shouldn’t we be worried that our current 12,000 year long interglacial period is likely to come to an end? All the previous ones did. Why the heck is anyone worried about global warming at all? Or shouldn’t we be glad of any global warming we can get, and encourage people to generate more of it, in the hope that we can stave off the looming ice age?

But hardly anyone seems to think this way. And I’ve been wondering why. And I have what looks like a plausible explanation.

And it’s that Global Warming alarmism really only got under way in 1988, and has been on a roll for 30+ years. But the Vostok and EPICA ice cores were only completed in about 2007. They’re actually new data. I can’t remember when I first saw the Vostok and EPICA data, but it can’t be more than 10 years ago.

I’m now beginning to think that when “global warming” suddenly became “climate change” (from memory, sometime around 2008), it probably did so because of the new Vostok and EPICA ice core data. The global warming bandwagon could only keep on rolling if it was “climate change” that we were to be concerned about, because “climate change” could include both warming and cooling.

It’s also meant that, after 30 years of thinking about warming,

Science has struggled to explain fully why an ice age occurs every 100,000 years.

Well, of course it was going to struggle, given that it was 2013 was

“…the first time that the glaciation of the entire northern hemisphere has been simulated with a climate model that includes all the major aspects.”

They simply hadn’t been looking at glaciation, they were so fixated on warming.

My prediction: What started out in 1988 as Global Warming alarmism, and became Climate Change alarmism in 2008 will become Ice Age alarmism in 2028. It’ll be a long U-turn, during which the climate science bandwagon will shift the focus of alarm from warming to cooling, while keeping all their multi-billion dollar funding.

And, distrusting the experts, I’ve been putting together my own climate model. It’s very simple. It’s a 6,000 km long core running from the hot centre of the Earth to the cold top of the atmosphere. And I’ve been dropping ice on the surface, and watching it melt. Over the past few months I’ve been adding complications in the form of a multi-layer atmosphere, a daily solar radiation regime, and multi-million year Milankovitch cycles. So what started out simple has been getting more and more complicated. But I’m hoping to show that the system naturally alternates between a “hot” state with little ice present, and a “cold” state with lots of ice. But I haven’t managed to do that yet, except with the very simplest models.

And my distrust of experts only deepens. I don’t trust the experts in Tobacco Control. I think they’re all fraudsters. And I don’t trust the experts in Public Health. I encourage people to do their own thinking, and build their own models. Because if you don’t do your own thinking, somebody else will start doing it for you, and next thing they’ll be telling you what to think.

About Frank Davis

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14 Responses to Don’t Tell Me What To Think

  1. Lepercolonist says:

    Al Gore does not approve of your heresy. Don’t you know that hockey stick rises to infinity.
    Well done. Frank.

  2. Joe L. says:

    Another excellent essay, Frank. I have also always been one to think (and speak) for myself, and I believe most other regular visitors here are like-minded. What’s most bizarre and infuriating to me is how many of those who unquestioningly believe the proclamations of “experts” will treat people like us as if we’re the crazy ones for doing our own research, using our intellect and arriving at a contradictory belief.

    • Frank Davis says:

      It’s maybe because they’ve never seen anyone think for themselves,

      I had a formative experience at the age of 16 or so. I was in a Religious Education class at school. Those were classes in which we were authoritatively taught all sorts of stuff that I couldn’t make any sense of at all, and so I never learned anything. Anyway, on this occasion, the Benedictine monk who was doing the teaching, after saying something or other about morality or something, stunned me by asking of the class: “What do you think (about what I just said)?”

      And my unspoken response was to think: “I bet nobody thinks anything at all about that. I certainly don’t think anything. Isn’t it your job as a teacher to tell us what we’re supposed to think?” But to my astonishment, several hands shot up, and several of my classmates revealed that they had indeed been thinking about it, and furthermore had their own ideas about it. And I was utterly astonished. You could have your own ideas? Really? And I listened with rapt attention as the Benedictine monk engaged in conversation with my thoughtful and vocal classmates.about a whole set of subjects about which I was completely clueless, because I’d never ever thought about them. He’d climbed off his authoritative podium, stepped down from being teacher, and become simply another participant in a conversation.

      That day I decided that I was going to start thinking for myself too. If my classmates could do it, then so could I. But it was only when I’d seen people doing it that I realised it could be done. A bit like it’s only when you see someone juggling with 6 balls that you realise it can be done.

    • Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

      You got that right Joe L. These days it all seems to be more ‘we the sheeple’ not ‘we the people’, with institutions supposedly dedicated to developing analytical, critical and research skills telling students what to think not how to think, especially about tobacco, the most toxic substance known to mankind, I mean personkind. 🐏

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    In Brisbane, a petition with a mere 51 signatures triggered a move to ban smoking in the CBD. Clearly the antis consider only their own voices and ignore smokers. If 51 smokers filed a petition to remove a smokizgban the petition would be ignored and the smokers attacked. This unequal treatment must stop.

    “Calls to extend Brisbane CBD smoking ban”

    • RdM says:

      “Calls to extend Brisbane CBD smoking ban”

      Comments are now closed
      There were no comments on this article.

  4. Philip Neal says:

    It would not amaze me if climate science had studied and learned from the success of tobacco control. The transition from “global warming” to “climate change” over the past ten years reminds me of the elastic concept of “smoking related” disease.

    Frank, I looked at your model of heat flowing from the centre to the surface of the earth. Does it not need to take into account the fact that the core, mantle and crust have progressively larger surface areas?

    • Frank Davis says:

      It does take that into account. My core is one metre square at the surface of the Earth, and tapers down tp zero metres square at the centre of the Earth. I’m assuming zero heat flow between adjacent cores – something that’s probably true deep in the Earth, but not so true at its surface, and untrue of air layers above the surface of the Earth.

      And I certainly think that climate science is following in the footsteps of Tobacco Control, and using the same playbook, with highly elastic definitions Originally Tobacco Control was focused on new-fangled cigarettes alone, not pipes or cigars. But it gradually extended to any tobacco product.. And now of course it has been extended to e-cigarettes, which don’t contain any tobacco at all, but do contain nicotine. Next they’ll be calling for a potato ban, I suppose, because potatoes contain small amounts of nicotine.

      • Rose says:

        There’s no safe level of potatoes either.

        “The common potato, Solanum tuberosum, contains toxic steroidal glycoalkaloids derived biosynthetically from cholesterol
        (Sharma & Salunkhe, 1989).
        In older literature (before 1954) these have been referred to only as ‘solanine’ or as total glycoalkaloids (TGA). The potato glycoalkaloids have not been evaluated previously by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee.”

        4. EVALUATION
        “The Committee considered that, despite the long history of human consumption of plants containing glycoalkaloids, the available epidemiological and experimental data from human and laboratory animal studies did not permit the determination of a safe level of intake.
        The Committee recognized that the development of empirical data to support such a level would require considerable effort.”

    • Rose says:

      Lessons Learned From Tobacco Control Should be Applied to Climate Policy

      “The approach the world has taken to tobacco control holds many lessons for the COP-15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. A newly-published article in The Lancet (available with free registration) summarizes the many similarities between tobacco control and climate policy, and how the lessons learned from tobacco control can be applied to the way countries approach climate policy.”

      Why did Copenhagen fail to deliver a climate deal?

      “Although “climate sceptical” issues made hardly a stir in the plenary sessions, any delegate wavering as to the scientific credibility of the “climate threat” would hardly have been convinced by the freezing weather and – on the last few days – the snow that blanketed routes from city centre to Bella Center.”

      Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past – The Independent

      “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is”
      https: //

  5. RdM says:

    Re current pumps

    But I soon found that there were a number of equations governing the behaviour of the operational amplifiers in the current pump, and suggested to my physicist boss that we try and write as many equations as we could. So we sat down one afternoon and thought up equations.

    Equations like that boggle my mind …

    Diagrams are perhaps more appealing …

    But what about the practicalities of implementing such a circuit back in those days, when 5% tolerance resistors were common – did they have 1% by then?


    • RdM says:

      John Broskie talks about the same here, in a tube (UK ‘valve’) amplifier context, and at the very end remarks on the need for 0.1% precision resistors in the circuit.

      The real difficulty the Howland circuit faces is resistor tolerances. Other than RIAA equalization and active crossover networks, few audio circuits demand tight-tolerance resistors. The Howland circuit does. Here is an example of why 1% just isn’t good enough.
      The output voltage should have been 3V, not 2.67V. No doubt, some are wondering what the dig deal is, as who really cares what the exact voltage-to-current conversion ratio is? Sure, I can see how a 11% error wouldn’t trouble some readers, but what guarantee do you have that both channels will be off in the same direction? For example, the other channel might look like this, with a 14.3% error.
      Mind you, these two examples were worst-case for 1% resistors, with 5% or 10% resistors, the results could be insanely off. This is why 0.1% are so often specified in schematics of Howland current pump circuits. By the way, it is fairly easy to find matched resistors in a group of ten 1% resistors. They might be both 9.92k ohms or 10.06k, not 10k.


      I have myself taken a multimeter or better test device to an electronics store and quietly selected batches of resistors (and capacitors) to match pairs to better than 1% tolerance for the sake of matching pairs in an amplifier restoration…

    • Frank Davis says:

      I wasn’t using a Howland circuit. My current pump had two op-amps,

      And the governing equations for op-amps weren’t particularly mind-boggling.

      I seem to remember 1% tolerannces of resistors.. But in any case I carefully measured the resistances to get pretty near the exact values I wanted..

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