A Titanic victory for the skeptics

I don’t know about you but I’ve been abso­lutely riv­eted by the recent release of records from a break-in at the White Star line. No really, it’s not just a stream of bilge from people who may not be experts but reckon some­thing. Frankly I can’t get enough of hear­ing about the same claim that one memo by one of the work­ers on the Titanic pro­ject clearly con­firms the ship was ‘unsink­able’. This should finally put to rest the biggest hoax of the 20th cen­tury, that the Titanic sunk in the North Atlantic. Still there’s always someone who isn’t going to find a bit of a memo quoted out-of-context con­vin­cing so it’s worth recap­ping the clear evid­ence that the ‘sink­ing’ of the Titanic is a scam.

1) The data is contradictory

The officers of the Titanic claimed it went down in one piece, yet some pas­sen­gers clearly saw it break up on the sur­face. How could this be? Either the ship broke or it didn’t. Obviously someone for­got to check every­one had their facts straight. If there’s dis­agree­ment on this one point then that’s enough to throw the whole sink­ing into doubt. This piece of evid­ence alone should be enough to con­vince you that the ship didn’t sink and arrived safely at New York, but there’s more.

2) The mod­els don’t work

Sure, phys­i­cists will try and tell you that iron sinks in water. They can even try and claim they can tell you roughly how long it would take for the Titanic to reach the sea bed. But look closely at the details and the mod­els fall apart. Can they explain how the ship is lying the way it is? Can they exactly explain the cor­ro­sion of the hull? The details of the cur­rents through the ship­wreck? The vari­ous mod­els may all agree on the broad pat­tern, but dis­agree­ments over the small details show the entire basis of these mod­els is flawed. If a phys­i­cist says that’s mad, look him in the eye and remind him Gravity is only a the­ory.

3) Ice is a nat­ural part of the ocean

Some people will try and tell you that ice­bergs are bad things to have in ship­ping lanes. Really. It’s like they’ve never seen the sea. Ice is what you get in the North Atlantic. It’s per­fectly nat­ural. In fact there’s noth­ing that could pos­sibly be bad about ice. As any chem­ist will tell you ice is H2O. Water is H2O. So really this is all about ‘sci­ent­ists’ find­ing water in the ocean. Pwned!

4) The QE2 crossed the Atlantic without sinking

In fact there’s evid­ence that sev­eral ships have crossed the Atlantic, which mars the claim that ships sink in the ocean. Yes someone will always try and tell you that an entirely dif­fer­ent ship on an entirely dif­fer­ent course will have a dif­fer­ent res­ult. But I deal with facts, not base­less speculation.

5) Natural detritus far out­weighs man-made wreckage

The bot­tom of the sea is a messy place. Whales die there and their skel­et­ons become home for all sorts of stuff. Have you seen a whale? They’re huge, espe­cially the huge ones. Imagine one of those pos­sibly killed by one of those stealth CO2 emit­ting vol­ca­noes that no-one’s found yet. Yet amongst all this there’s sup­posed to be a ‘ship­wreck’. Against the vast majesty of nature, isn’t a tiny bit arrog­ant to assume that man could do any­thing notice­able on the sea-bed?

6) There’s nowhere the ‘ice­berg’ could come from

Another thing is that there’s no ice in the Atlantic ocean. This is a fact. As Dr Fox would say it might not be true, but it is a fact. Sure west­ern sci­ent­ists will tell you there’s an ice cap in the north, but this is demon­strably false. Look at the inde­pend­ent evid­ence. A Chinese naval exped­i­tion found no ice at the north pole. No ice cap means no ice­bergs. No ice­bergs means no sinking.

7) Oceanographers need the Titanic to jus­tify their huge grants

You’ve prob­ably never been to an Oceanography depart­ment on cam­pus. Have you ever seen a ‘sci­ent­ist’ turn up in a Ferrari? No? That shows you how well hid­den many of these depart­ments are. They are massively rich from all the fund­ing gouged out of the tax­payer in the form of ‘ship­ping reg­u­la­tions’ because of the sup­posed Titanic sink­ing. What do you think would hap­pen to these depart­ments if it wasn’t for the Titanic? Think they’d spend their time research­ing another inter­est­ing prob­lem? Not a chance. Oceanography=Titanic and that’s that. Don’t for­get all that grant money, it’s money in the pocket. It wouldn’t, for example, be used to fund a research pro­ject with 10 staff and a fur­ther 12 post­grads.

…and if that’s not enough then some of these research­ers into the Titanic who’ve been a bit mean about us in their memos. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be put off by a sys­tem­atic politically-motivated cam­paign by a bunch of nut­ters free-market entrepreneurs.

I think that’s all pretty con­clus­ive. You can take these argu­ments, mangle them and denounce any­one who sup­ports the ‘Titanic Sinking Swindle’ as a cor­rupt liar who should be up on crim­inal charges. If any­one responds by say­ing your evid­ence is ludicrous or you use long debunked argu­ments then denounce that as an ad hom­inem attack. Follow that up with a sage pro­nounce­ment that there’s no place for that kind of smear in science.

Apparently not only do you have the right to an opin­ion, you also have the right to be taken ser­i­ously even if you’re mak­ing a career from being ignor­ant, mis­taken or just down­right barking.


When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.

12 Responses

  1. J. J. Dukarm says:

    With your shiny new PhD (con­grat­u­la­tions), you want to be regarded as a sci­ent­ist, yet in this and other post­ings you are com­ment­ing on “cli­mate change” mat­ters not in sci­entific terms but by belittling people who dis­agree with the pos­i­tion that you have evid­ently sub­scribed to (even though you are neither a phys­ical sci­ent­ist nor a math­em­atician). Some of those (e.g. Lindzen, Pielke Sr., and Wegman) are ser­i­ous and well qual­i­fied sci­ent­ists who have raised ques­tions con­cern­ing (a) lack of obser­va­tional evid­ence sup­port­ing sig­ni­fic­ant CO2-based green­house warm­ing, (b) improper applic­a­tion of stat­ist­ical meth­ods, and © appar­ent attempts to con­ceal data and rig peer review by a small clique of research­ers. In view of the multi-trillion dol­lar implic­a­tions of the eco­nomic meas­ures being con­sidered on the basis of claims of CO2-related global warm­ing, it would seem that a sober and open sci­entific debate would be more appro­pri­ate than par­tisan slang­ing. There is an oppor­tun­ity here for you to exer­cise some pro­fes­sional dis­cre­tion and provide an example to those read­ers who look up to you as a well-educated professional.

  2. geoffcarter says:

    Great stuff, Alun, Doctor of Philosophy, I presume,the only thing that it lacks is some good car­toons, a pic­ture can tell a thou­sand words.

    Truth is a mov­able feast. We live in a world were chil­dren are con­di­tioned, quite leg­ally, to believe, for example, that a divine anthro­po­morphic per­son­i­fic­a­tion knobbed a vir­gin, and their off­spring died and got bet­ter again; this type of belief being typ­ical of many car­ried in adult­hood in many cul­tures. Clearly, such ideas can reside in a mind, which in all aspects of its intel­lec­tual life, is gov­erned by rational think­ing processes.

    Belief, like faith, is a dan­ger­ous phe­nomenon that cuts both ways.

    I was plan­ning a sim­ilar broad­side on how about the all per­vas­ive intel­lec­tual cul­ture of struc­tur­al­ism in aca­demic depart­ments, and its mis­ap­plic­a­tion to archae­olo­gical inter­pret­a­tion, has set British Prehistory back by 20 years, lead­ing, [iron­ic­ally], to much struc­tur­ally illit­er­ate think­ing being accep­ted in peer reviewed archaeology.

    It’s a lot of words, and I would save a lot of time if I could draw cartoons.

  3. alun says:

    I’ll cheer­fully admit I don’t have the intel­lec­tual stature of Sarah Palin when it comes to sci­ence. Thankfully I can rely on care­fully honed argu­ments of some of the top skep­tical minds when tack­ling the Titanic. I’d like to thank you for your con­sidered responses to the points above. The com­plete lack of effort in address­ing them means I can be sim­il­arly lazy in rebut­ting them.

  4. J. J. Dukarm says:

    You are cer­tainly too mod­est regard­ing your sci­entific back­ground, which prob­ably exceeds that of most minor US or British politi­cians, and your rhet­or­ical skill is at least on a par with the one you mention.

    If you had actu­ally read my com­ment, you would have noticed that it is a gen­eral response to your Titanic piece (and at least one other) in the form of a non-partisan urging to set an example of reasoned sci­entific dis­course. There is noth­ing there to rebut, unless you are opposed to civ­il­ized dis­course, which from the tone of your response appears to be the case.

  5. alun says:

    Scientific dis­course hap­pens when there’s a sci­entific debate. I hap­pen to have received a few emails, includ­ing a bizarre rant from my local MEP based on the ram­blings of Christopher Monckton. Now, if someone is pulling out an ima­gin­ary Chinese fleet, I think there’s reason to ques­tion if the dis­course is sci­entific. Nonetheless if you look at the points above the most offens­ive thing I’ve done is taken them ser­i­ously.

    Let’s be hon­est there’s prob­ably reason to ques­tion if the Competitive Enterprise Institute has a fin­an­cial interest in down­play­ing the effects of pol­lu­tion. However, I haven’t said they’re in for the money. Instead I’ve shown that the argu­ment ‘natural=good’ is non­sense. The ‘Mars is warm­ing’ argu­ment is also bizarre. Readers in the UK may not know that the Heartland Institute is a right-wing think tank, I didn’t think it was rel­ev­ant so I didn’t men­tion it. Still, they’ll know I thought the argu­ment about Mars is inane, because of the way I drew an analogy.

    The ana­lo­gies are not all equally strong. The Chinese navy makes me des­pair because that’s a dir­ect lift, but the model ana­logy could be a lot weaker. The cli­mate mod­els are extremely com­plex because the cli­mate is extremely com­plex. There is no single for­cing mech­an­ism so there must be a vari­ety mod­els and it would be extraordin­ary that if there wasn’t one some­where that gave a res­ult counter to the typ­ical res­ults. If you want to go with a hard­line logical pos­it­iv­ist pos­i­tion, that things can­not be proved but one neg­at­ive res­ult can dis­prove everything then I think you can knock down that ana­logy and fol­low­ing the same pos­i­tion the fail­ure of one ana­logy would make all of them value­less. That would open an inter­est­ing debate because while I think pos­it­iv­ism is an inter­est­ing descrip­tion of sci­ence, it’s a bit out of date. I’d take a more post-positivist approach. It’s some­thing I was to expand more on when I get the time because I’ve got a gen­eral interest in the nature of pseudos­cience which I think is not simply bad sci­ence. But you’d like to talk about tone, so lets talk about tone.

    Last month I got an email from my MEP call­ing a few of my col­leagues crim­in­als. No prob­lem. I have very low expect­a­tions of that MEP, so it’s not worth respond­ing to. Then some­thing odd happened. I got one or two more emails and a few tweets from his­tor­i­ans quot­ing an out of con­text email as if it’s some­thing spe­cial. Now you really don’t need to be a his­tor­ian to know that there’s con­text around all these mes­sages and you won’t have all of it. But his­tor­i­ans should be par­tic­u­larly aware because their job is tak­ing the writ­ten record and examin­ing its con­text. The idea that a his­tor­ian, archae­olo­gist or clas­si­cist will uncrit­ic­ally par­rot mater­ial like that is actu­ally pretty amus­ing. After a while every time I got a ref­er­ence in my inbox or on my twit­ter account I took an argu­ment and applied it in a dif­fer­ent his­tor­ical con­text with the same kind of reas­on­ing. After a while it gets a bit tedi­ous so I top ‘n’ tailed it and put it up. What I haven’t done is gone out and named indi­vidu­als to humi­li­ate them. I’ve just stuck it up on an incon­sequen­tial web­site. Now let’s talk about your tone.

    You come on to a site, don’t bother address­ing any of the points in a post but instead decide to make per­sonal com­ments. You can per­haps see why I doubt your sin­cer­ity about tone. I’m afraid if I were really ser­i­ous about want­ing ‘to be regarded as a sci­ent­ist’ I prob­ably wouldn’t have chosen to spe­cial­ise in ancient his­tory and archae­ology. On the other hand a quick smear as seek­ing desire for acclaim would be con­sist­ent with Lindzen, who you cite an example of ser­i­ous sci­ence. I’m not sure that dis­cuss­ing ulterior motives is really help­ful for set­ting a dis­pas­sion­ate tone.

    Suppose, for example, you were respons­ible for a product related to the ana­lysis of petroleum-based min­eral oil for used in the insu­la­tion of trans­formers, and that this form of insu­la­tion is cri­ti­cised for the envir­on­ment harm it causes. It could hypo­thet­ic­ally sug­gest that you have an undeclared a fin­an­cial interest in attack­ing green policy whilst attack­ing mine. Would it really help to know that? My guess is no. It would clearly about the per­son rather than the argu­ments and I think if there were the case it would prob­ably miff you slightly that I raised it. Instead it would be bet­ter to tackle facts.

    You’re not inter­ested in the ‘facts’ I’ve put up so to move the dis­cus­sion for­ward I’ll talk about yours start­ing with (a) lack of obser­va­tional evid­ence sup­port­ing sig­ni­fic­ant CO2-based green­house warm­ing. I’ve shown why I’m not eager to fol­low Lindzen so I’ll take your other two examples. For example Pielke Sr. I could type Pielke Sr CO2 warm­ing click “I’m feel­ing lucky’ and you’ll get a page which includes:

    There is no ques­tion, for course, that the human addi­tion of car­bon diox­ide is a major cli­mate for­cing, both with respect to its warm­ing influ­ence but also its biogeo­chem­ical effect. However, there are other equally or more import­ant cli­mate for­cings in terms of alter­ing cli­mate pat­terns such as droughts, floods and extreme weather. We dis­cussed this broader view of the human role in the cli­mate sys­tem in a recent art­icle in EOS (where all of the authors are AGU Fellows)

    …with Pielske Sr’s name first on the list. As it hap­pens Pielske Sr has argued sea-levels have flattened, so there’s clearly a nuanced pos­i­tion to dis­cuss, but not the one you’re arguing for. Nor any of the ones I was allud­ing to in the blog post. Let’s try Wegman.

    For any­one else mas­ochistic enough to be fol­low­ing this, Wegman is the guy who ana­lysed the fam­ous hockey stick graph for the US Congress. He found a basic error in the stat­ist­ical ana­lysis. There’s some huff­ing that this wasn’t a peer-reviewed ana­lysis but I’m not con­vinced that counts for much. I don’t think any­one is claim­ing that the error wasn’t there, though when it’s cor­rec­ted the hockey stick remains. Now Wegman is aware of this but he’s said: “I am baffled by the claim that the incor­rect method doesn’t mat­ter because the answer is cor­rect any­way. Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science.” That’s inter­est­ing. That’s some­thing I wanted to work on with Alex Smith. Not exactly that but some­thing similar.

    The Antikythera Mechanism has got a huge amount of pop­u­lar press and the response to the research has been over­whelm­ingly pos­it­ive. Why? I’d like to think that it’s because it really is a very clever and stun­ningly impress­ive bit of work. That’s unlikely. How many people will have actu­ally read the art­icles in Nature? Ok, maybe it’s suc­cess of the pub­li­city and sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion. How do you meas­ure that suc­cess? I sup­pose you could see how many people accept your research. Except people tend to express accept­ance of facts rather than pro­cesses. If they think the Antikythera Mechanism Research Group is right simply because they believe its evid­ence of the real­ity of Atlantis then clearly there hasn’t suc­cess­ful com­mu­nic­a­tion. All you’ve done is rein­force people’s pre­ju­dices. If that’s the case there’s a com­mu­nic­a­tion prob­lem which needs to be addressed. Likewise even if Mann has come to the right answer and Wegman says, the route he took to get there is a prob­lem, so clearly there was a stat­ist­ical prob­lem which needed to be addressed.

    Oh dear.

    Wegman says Mann got the right answer by acci­dent, so who is arguing for a lack of obser­va­tional evid­ence sup­port­ing sig­ni­fic­ant CO2-based green­house warm­ing? It must be Lindzen. So I typed in Lindzen CO2 warm­ing and clicked ‘I feel lucky’ and there it is. There’s con­tra­dict­ory evid­ence, and that’s point one in this post. That’s my own petard I’m look­ing at isn’t it? No it’s not.

    If I were to say Lindzen says there’s no CO2 effect while Pielske Sr and Wegman say there is there­fore there’s no one deny­ing CO2 is a driver in cli­mate then it would apply. What I can say is that the argu­ment is inco­her­ent. If two of your exem­plars are say­ing there’s CO2 driv­ing cli­mate change and one per­son doesn’t, you could go with the one that says no. His data or meth­od­o­logy could be bet­ter. However if that’s the case you’ve knocked out the other two people as your experts because if Lindzen knows what he’s talk­ing about then clearly Pielske Sr and Wegman don’t. I sup­pose you could arbit­rar­ily pick and choose which bits of evid­ence you admit and which you don’t to advance a point but I don’t think that’s a viable meth­od­o­logy. If you were to do that you could spin a mad fantasy that the Titanic never sank.

    So after about one and a half thou­sand words, we’re back where we came in.

    Here’s how I see it. I put up a few obser­va­tions laugh­ing at some of the frankly ludicrous claims I’ve seen recently. I stick them on my own site rather than going out and pick­ing a fight. What I get is a global warm­ing mil­it­ant who com­plains about tone by kick­ing off about my motives. He ignores the post and demands that the dis­cus­sion should be about his own pet com­plaint that non­sense is entitled to respect without mak­ing any effort to show why that should be so. He chucks out a few names regard­less of whether or not they sup­port his pos­i­tion. Is he sin­cere in ask­ing for reasoned discourse?

    In social sci­ences dis­course is not dis­cus­sion. Discourse has lim­its, in the case of sci­entific dis­course one of the basic assump­tions is there has to be some sort of coher­ence to real­ity. What do you do if that doesn’t exist? How do you mean­ing­fully have dis­course with someone who argues that evol­u­tion­ists are the tools of Satan, or someone who argues that “there has been rapid and sig­ni­fic­ant cool­ing for nine years?” (a dif­fer­ent post with graph). The notion that wild flights of fancy deserve the same respect as reasoned argu­ments isn’t just a bad idea. I think it’s an insult to research­ers whose work might be rig­or­ous but out­side the main­stream to say their work is on a par with the ram­blings of con­spir­acy the­or­ists. It doesn’t pro­mote dis­course, it pois­ons it.

    I’m now keenly aware I have a lim­ited num­ber of heart­beats left in my life. If you want to pick a fight and demand I join the per­sonal asper­sions – per­haps I could pre­tend you need to trained in social sci­ences to be able to spot when someone is blath­er­ing about aca­dem­ics becom­ing mil­lion­aires from €1m grants – feel free to do that on your own blog where I’m sure you’ll find a big­ger audi­ence. If you don’t have one I’d recom­mend word​press​.com or pos​ter​ous​.com. I’m happy to point and laugh when I find some­thing funny, but I’m really not oblig­ated to respond at length to every opin­ion. Especially those who aren’t inter­ested in other opin­ions and just want to talk about their own. There’s bet­ter things to do, like Christmas shop­ping tomorrow.

    Anyone else who slogged it down to here deserves some kind of medal.

  6. J. J. Dukarm says:

    > You come on to a site, don’t bother address­ing any of the points in a post but instead
    > decide to make per­sonal comments.

    For this I apo­lo­gize unre­servedly. No offence was inten­ded. My com­ments were indeed unre­spons­ive to the con­tent of your piece, and the per­sonal remarks were not as respect­ful as they should have been, given that we don’t know each other. I am not a global warm­ing mil­it­ant, and I don’t want to attack you or even argue about global warm­ing, cli­mateg­ate, etc.

    Here is my belated response to your Titanic post­ing (and related com­ments above). It is clear that you are greatly exer­cised by the tor­rent of noise, non­sense, abuse, and pro­pa­ganda issued by the tin­foil hel­met bri­gade, polit­ical act­iv­ists, assor­ted ama­teur the­or­eti­cians, and even by people who should know bet­ter. It is appar­ent that this babble is a fea­ture of the Internet and of the lazy, ignor­ant cor­por­ate mass media. It is not lim­ited to the topic of global warm­ing. (I have no solu­tion). Reacting to the assor­ted celebrit­ies, journ­al­ists on a mis­sion, and fan­at­ics is coun­ter­pro­duct­ive. They aren’t listen­ing any­way. It is a shout­ing con­test. This is my spe­cific cri­ti­cism of your Titanic piece: you are tilt­ing at wind­mills erec­ted by assor­ted idi­ots. As you say above, “the most offens­ive thing I’ve done is taken them ser­i­ously.” As a satir­ical lit­er­ary work, it may need pol­ish­ing. But hey, it’s your blog, so poke fun and blow off steam if you want to.

    I com­pletely agree with your “dis­course is not dis­cus­sion” para­graph. With regard to the “I’m really not oblig­ated to respond at length to every opin­ion” remark below that, I would say that indeed you are not oblig­ated to respond to _any_ opin­ion. You have chosen to respond at heroic length to some ima­gined opin­ions of mine, and I appre­ci­ate that, although I may dis­ap­point you by not defend­ing most of those non-opinions.

    As for my ref­er­ences to Lindzen, Pielke Sr., and Wegman, I did not intend to advoc­ate their pos­i­tions or even indic­ate agree­ment with them, but only to point out that there exist well-qualified, exper­i­enced, and respec­ted aca­dem­ics who do not agree that a con­clus­ive case has been made for cata­strophic CO2-based global warm­ing. The items (a)-© were meant not as debat­ing points, but as examples of import­ant issues which are being debated by qual­i­fied experts in the field and not “settled.” And for­get about “cli­mateg­ate.” I am not talk­ing about that at all.

    Evidently I should have said all this in a dif­fer­ent way without rais­ing red flags and without derog­at­ory per­sonal ref­er­ences, for example: “There are exper­i­enced and respec­ted aca­dem­ics in the field of cli­ma­to­logy who do not agree that a strong empir­ical case has been made for cata­strophic CO2-based global warm­ing. Perhaps, then, it is not unreas­on­able to think that more sci­entific work needs to be done before the issue can be regarded as really settled enough to divert tril­lions of dol­lars into mit­ig­a­tion. I urge edu­cated and ser­i­ous people on both sides of the con­tro­versy to treat each other with respect and not feed the fanatics.”

    As you say, on some points Lindzen and Pielke Sr. (and oth­ers) may dis­agree among them­selves. But that is sci­ence, not inco­her­ence. It hap­pens in phys­ics and chem­istry, too. The final arbiter is exper­i­mental and obser­va­tional fact. The “Wegman Report,” authored by stat­ist­i­cians Wegman, Scott, and Said, is not as nar­row and mis­guided as indic­ated by the item in Realclimate that you link to. You can get the full report by Googling for it. It provides a clear and inter­est­ing sum­mary of many of the import­ant papers in paleo­cli­mato­logy which is not at all one-sided and is a good intro­duc­tion to the tech­nical issues which the sci­ent­ists are wrest­ling with. It also says unequi­voc­ally that Mann’s stat­ist­ical meth­ods were flawed and simplistic and did not sup­port the res­ults he claimed. The luke­warm “right res­ult but wrong method” ver­dict you men­tion was in the NAS report, not Wegman’s. Of course, Mann is not the only one pur­su­ing this line of research, so the Wegman report is not the last word.

    Your sly para­graph on my hypo­thet­ical interest in petroleum-based trans­former insu­lat­ing fluid is witty and rein­forces a point which we agree upon — that super­fi­cial work or eco­nomic con­nec­tions do not always indic­ate one’s beliefs or motiv­a­tions. The link you provided is hil­ari­ous. I did not know that there was a “coali­tion” devoted to expos­ing the evils of trans­former oil. They don’t seem to say who has “coalesced,” but it is abso­lutely true that min­eral oil insu­lat­ing fluid and the asso­ci­ated envir­on­mental issues are a big con­cern in the elec­tric power industry, and altern­at­ive insu­lat­ing flu­ids are a hot topic. I am involved in the devel­op­ment of stand­ards for the inter­pret­a­tion of dia­gnostic test res­ults for both the min­eral oil and the veget­able oil insu­lat­ing flu­ids. Caution has to be exer­cised regard­ing the effects of the altern­at­ive flu­ids on the wind­ing insu­la­tion, the beha­vior of the flu­ids under extreme con­di­tions, and so on before min­eral insu­lat­ing oil can go away. Those things are being addressed by the industry quite exped­i­tiously. I won­der if there is a coali­tion devoted to expos­ing the evils of sul­fur hex­a­flu­or­ide gas, which is also used for high-voltage insu­la­tion and has its own envir­on­mental peccadillos.

    Anyhow, I hope we can both go do our Christmas shop­ping now. Merry Christmas!

  7. alun says:

    Alas, I’ve spot­ted another basic error above and I can’t let it go. I referred to falsifi­ab­il­ity as logical pos­it­iv­ism. It is in fact crit­ical ration­al­ism. It’s not just jar­gon, because I was think­ing of Popper who was a critic of logical positivism.

    Still, it’s a nice example that people should read me uncrit­ic­ally either. Merry Christmas.

  8. Katie says:

    Ha. This is HILARIOUS!! Alun Salt — you are a hoaxer right? This is for fun right? Brilliant. Why would the titanic sink­ing be a hoax, why would people make it up? And who cares?

  9. Alun says:

    I’d com­pletely for­got­ten about this. The hacked emails thing from UEA was giv­ing a lot of nut­ters free time on air, but they’re fairly dull people. I think the tip­ping point was that I had been sent a press release on cli­mate change, which was amus­ingly mad. It got on to the front page of the Daily Express. Reason 13 is cli­mate change isn’t hap­pen­ing because people don’t believe it. It might be hap­pen­ing, it might not, but I’m pretty sure Nature isn’t going to change based on the res­ults of an opin­ion poll in the UK. Reason 79 is global warm­ing is nat­ural because it’s nat­ural. Also around this time there was a pop­u­lar claim CO2 is essen­tial for life and so couldn’t pos­sibly be harm­ful. So’s water, but try sit­ting on a lakebed for an hour and breath­ing naturally.

    Evidence really wasn’t an issue, and a long blog post rebut­ting every point would be long, tedi­ous and change no one’s mind. So what I did instead was take some of the pop­u­lar ‘skep­tical’ pos­i­tions on cli­mate change and wondered “What hap­pens if we apply the same stand­ard of evid­ence to the sink­ing of the Titanic?”

    • Katie says:

      AAAAAAHHHHHH, this makes sense now!!!!! Sorry, taken out of con­text. Followed link from another site. I like this! Very clever.

  10. Jonathan says:

    What utter claptrap! The Titanic’s sink­ing def­in­itely did hap­pen! Witnesses and vic­tims have proven this, alongisde evid­ence to show that the Sinking happened. You, are a moron!

  1. March 1, 2010

    […] Alun Salt has the full story: I don’t know about you but I’ve been abso­lutely riv­eted by the recent release of records from a break-in at the White Star line. No really, it’s not just a stream of bilge from people who may not be experts but reckon some­thing. Frankly I can’t get enough of hear­ing about the same claim that one memo by one of the work­ers on the Titanic pro­ject clearly con­firms the ship was ‘unsink­able’. This should finally put to rest the biggest hoax of the 20th cen­tury, that the Titanic sunk in the North Atlantic. Still there’s always someone who isn’t going to find a bit of a memo quoted out-of-context con­vin­cing so it’s worth recap­ping the clear evid­ence that the ’sink­ing’ of the Titanic is a scam. […]