Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Galileo Movement

Last year I, though I was not alone in this, noticed the tendency of cranks to invoke Galileo as proof of the inherent scientific basis of their refusal to accept the scientific consensus.

This time it is discussed by Scientific American as part of the epidemic, involving global warming denialism, in Australia. Apparently there is a new anti-science group Down Under:
Launched in February, the Galileo Movement is getting much of its lift from its influential "patron," conservative radio personality Alan Jones, one of the most popular broadcasters in Australia, who has touted the effort on his daily morning show.
For the casual observer this is yet more evidence that Merchants of Doubt was spot on, which makes Scientific American observe:
By casting doubt on the science, the need for behavior change is blunted – an approach the tobacco industry successfully employed throughout the 1980s and '90s to delay efforts to warn the public of smoking's dangers.
Independent Australia has more details on the who, and what, here and here. This campaign is part of the current non-debate over there on how to tackle the consequences of global warming. As expected there is vocal opposition to science whenever it interferes with ideological and/or monetary interests. As I noted before:
What these "sceptics" fail to notice is that Galileo made observations based in science, something they invariably refuse to do. Since his conclusions contradicted religious dogma, i.e. ideology, the Church attacked him. His findings were opposed not on their merits but by appeal to authority: the bible. Enter the anti-science brigade. The mere fact their stance is rejected too proves they, like Galileo, are persecuted. Wrong. They clearly misunderstand the meaning of the word.
Strangely enough the Galileo Movement missed the discovery that Galileo was wrong, although Ethan Siegel and Orac are less certain of that proposition. For those interested in the less fantasy infested version of reality I suggest visiting Skeptical Science, Open Mind, New Anthropocene, Climate Shifts, and RealClimate.

Update: Borrowed picture from Matthew Francis who also discusses this incarnation of the anti-science movement.

Update II: Found a post by Bycicle User on this topic.

Update III: The Galileo gambit is also explained by The Tracker.


  1. I freaking love that image. Can I steal it?

  2. The picture is not mine (see update I), but if you want to use it be sure to mention its maker: