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2009/12/08

Professional suicide by a climatologist - "Wot an assh#le"

Professor Andrew Watson
from East Anglia University.
Uses argumentum ad hominem
Witness this vid clip example here of professional suicide on BBC TV's Newsnight on the 4th December 2009. With the simple phrase "Wot an assh#le", a professor Andrew Watson (pictured right, as he uttered the words), in one fell swoop:


  • brought his own professional reputation into disrepute;
  • brought the reputation of his academic institution into disrepute;
  • destroyed his credibility and any presumption of his objectivity - by uttering an ad hominem which ironically in retrospect may have been more aptly describing himself rather than the person he was name-calling;
  • risked bringing the already seriously tattered UN IPCC policy on "global warming" (of which he is a proponent) into further disrepute.
This was a fascinating piece of TV, and it looked like professional suicide.


If it was not a deliberate piece of sabotage by Watson, then it was at least an arrogantly careless and regrettable mistake - a stupid piece of accidental shooting-in-his-own-foot form of self-destruction, of a man's reputation, in public, and with quite a lot of collateral damage.

Watson (email: a.watson@uea.ac.uk) is a professor at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, which was the source of the recently leaked "Climategate" files. Watson's emails appear in the Climategate files. He is a "climate scientist" and a proponent of the UN IPCC's "global warming crisis" statements. Those statements - from the files - would now seem to be quite clearly part of a political ideology, and a lot of the statements now appear to have been manufactured through the dubious and unscientific manipulation of statistics (as revealed in the files).

The TV newsreader had been managing a loose and heated debate between:
  • Professor Watson, and
  • Marc Morano, a climate crisis sceptic and executive editor of the blog Climate Depot.
Ironically, prior to uttering the profane ad hominem "Wot an assh#le", Watson had reportedly been complaining that sceptics were arguing ad hominem against climate scientists. Earlier during the televised debate he had become increasingly frustrated with Morano and had said to him "Will you shut up just a second?" and later had been theatrically rolling his eyes at something that Morano had said. Not a good look.

It would be surprising if Watson's colleagues at the University of East Anglia were not now rapidly distancing themselves from him and the IPCC as though they were the Plague. Having demonstrated a major flaw - his surprising inability to maintain an objective stance in the debate - then, if Watson is an exemplary professor, the implication is that the whole department of Environmental Sciences could be similarly flawed/inferior, along with the climate ideology and rationale that they apparently have been attempting to statistically manufacture and promulgate.

The University of East Anglia apparently used to have a pretty solid reputation in academic circles, but this incident, coupled with the revelations of Climategate (including the sad revelation that the university apparently deliberately destroyed all the historic and unique climate raw data in its custody) indicates that it might be a good idea to find some other university to send your child to - for quite some time and until East Anglia University has been straightened out. You wouldn't want professors like that infecting and indoctrinating the minds of your kids with their mediocre, irrational, arrogant, subjective and non-critical thinking. Speedy and early retirement of some of the sinecured professors is clearly indicated.
[UPDATE: refer The Cato Institute's 1992 post Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus, by Richard S. Lindzen (the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). This explains the evolution of the "Global Warming" ideology, and why sound meteorological or "climate" science has effectively been buried - because it conflicts with the ideology.]

As an additional note: If we needed it, this is yet another example of where you can get to using the flawed "confrontational" kind of thinking that Edward de Bono described as a thinking skills limitation and which was holding back academic thinking and holding back the development of thinking skills in humankind generally. (He described it as a block to human development on several fronts.)
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