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Pies for damn lies and statistics!
Bjorn Lomborg is a statistician based at the University of Aarhus where he has already made such an impact that his colleagues have set up a website cataloguing their extreme concern over his rather bizarre views. He has just published a book called ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’. This has been accompanied by a rash of publicity for its perverse worldview - one that feeds right into the corporate PR machine. He considers that there is no serious problem with deforestation, that the amount of waste we generate is trivial and that climate change is not worth bothering about. His principle trick is to be highly selective about the data he uses. While there are some 2900 references, it is obvious that there are at least as many sitting in his filing cabinet that argue against his conclusions.
A great example of the paucity of his argument comes from his section on GM foods. In this he sets out what he describes as the real reasons people get upset - and then subjects them to critical analysis. But what he describes as the over-riding concerns of people does not tally with the experience of people here at the Genetics Forum.
He dismisses the concerns raised by Dr Arpad Pusztai principally on the grounds that the cautionary word, ‘could’ appears regularly. Yet when he introduces the value of GM food he uses a wide range of similar words.
Given his great statistical background, it is surprising to find that Bjorn is so taken in by information that is provided with absolutely no justification - statistical or otherwise. And it is this repeated arrogance and general contempt for the views of people who dare to try and counter the status quo that resulted in him being on the receiving end of the most appropriate response - the custard pie.
Actually in this instance it was a Baked Alaska, delivered by another author, Mark Lynas who has just returned from Alaska where he has been reporting on the damage that is already being caused by climate change - the anthropogenic effect that is not worth bothering about according to the great statistician.
for more information: www.anti-lomborg.com
‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ is published by Cambridge University Press