Speaker: Kary Mullis
Rating 3 / 5
A talk of 2 parts. The first was a history of the establishment of the Royal Academy in England under King Charles II, and the importance of experiment. It is full of interesting anecdotes, and theories on how we know what we know.
Suddenly the talk changes to be about ‘bad science’ – the idea that a lot of scientists are in it only for money. Much of this section of the talk is devoted to climate change – Kary lists 2 papers with findings that he thinks disprove climate change
- the measured increase in average temperature is driven by an increase in only night time temperatures
- that despite the planet absorbing more heat than is emitted (5.5W/cm2), temperatures have not changed
This is a tough one to review because of its speaker. Kary is a Nobel prize winner in Chemistry, and his meandering talk of backyard rocketry involving frog astronauts is fascinating. His talk about the history of science is interesting. However, a quick search shows he has a habit of ‘talking out his ass’ on subjects he has minimal experience in. These include denying the link between HIV & AIDs, denying ozone depletion and climate change.
It is too easy to dismiss as a rant, but I learnt a lot. I fully respect him for questioning climate science, but disagree with his statements. In searching for the 2 papers he quoted, I found quite a few people disputing his conclusions of the papers, including someone who claimed to be Bruce Wielicki, one of the writers of the second paper. An good rebuttal to Mullis’ points can be found here http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/blinded-but-not-by-science/.
So the first half of his talk was interesting enough, and the second half provoked me to do some more research and learn a little more. From that point of view I’m glad I watched it. Just be careful if you’re easily irritated by crackpots.