Tuesday, 15 June 2010

An Evil Agenda?


Gerard Baudains's website functions very much as a blog, albeit without comments. It is a collection of pieces, some relating to the election, and some quite obviously his own bête noire, such as, for example, global warming, which he regards as a hoax. He writes:

'Useful idiots' support the global warming hoax. I guess there are 3 categories supporting global warming:
1.     the public who have received the propaganda from the media & haven't done their own research, therefore believing the nonsense,
2.     the 'useful idiots' who go further by preaching this bullshit to their fellow men without realising they are being used by others with an evil agenda,
3.     those who use 'global warming' as a tool for their evil agenda.(1)
The "evil agenda", of course, is in the name of global warming, to do away with democracy under the pretext of dealing with the problem. One wonders - after looking at Copenhagen - why these conspirators are so ineffective. No doubt Mr Baudains would argue that it is due to the efforts of those who are vigilant like himself.

Like many of the global warming sceptics, and indeed like creationists, Mr Baudains tells the reader that they must deal with "the facts", and then purveys a selection of those facts which support his own case. The more rarefied schemes of geoengineering are taken seriously to be laughed at and dismissed, and at the same time, this is used to dismiss anything to do with greenhouse gases or carbon footprints. Likewise, the thawing of the ice caps and mountain tops is dismissed on the basis of a few bad winters, which shows how little Mr Baudains actually understands of climatology.

Similarly, the near drought conditions that Jersey faced recently are dismissed scathingly about the Jersey Waterworks Company - "Weren't they aware we had TWO INCHES of rain last weekend? Apparently not.". But if Mr Baudains had gone out to the reservoirs, he might have noted their level, which is surely a better indication than a few days of rain. After a very dry spell, it takes time for the water table to become saturated, and a good deal of his two inches may not reach the reservoir as it seems away from streams on the way.

And yet, amidst the dross, there is some very serious and important stuff. For example:

Now the JEP reports that our water company (Jersey New Waterworks Company as was) wish to raise the dam at Val de La Mare....Oh, and have they forgotten Val de La Mare dam has problems? Concrete degradation & sits on a dodgy base. And they want to substantially increase its loading. Glad I don't live near there. 

Now that, if true, is certainly something that bears investigation, but it is lost amidst the middle of a diatribe about water supplies and global warming. 

On evidential matters closer to home, I understand Mr Baudains is a dowser. Now I think there may well be reasons why dowsing works in some cases, but I'm not convinced by dowsers own explanations. But all the evidence - from scientific controlled tests - shows that dowsing simply does not work. The interesting fact is that the dowsers themselves usually agree to the tests, and are confident that they can perform, and then they don't. Here is are the results of one such test, as done by James Randi:

All of the dowsers agreed with the conditions of the test and stated that they felt able to perform the test that day and that the water flow was sufficient. Before the test they were asked how sure they were that they would succeed. All said either "99 percent" or "100 percent" certain. They were asked what they would conclude if the water flow was 90 degrees from what they thought it was and all said that it was impossible. After the test they were asked how confident they were that they had passed the test. Three answered "100 percent" and one answered that he had not completed the test. When all of the tests were over and the location of the pipes was revealed, none of the dowsers had passed the test.(2)

A survey of the literature (3) does not provide a great deal more success, and when the States conducted tests to see if there was any water coming from France, this was negative despite the dowsers convictions:

The report concluded on the basis of the investigations undertaken that there is no significant difference between the water in the shallow aquifer and the deep groundwater beneath the Island.  There is no evidence of underground streams from the European mainland.  Thus Jersey's groundwater is recharged entirely by the rainfall that falls on the Island.  Based on the present evidence, there is no separate major deep groundwater resource that is capable of significant future development to contribute to the water needs of the Island.  On the basis of the signed agreement of the D.G.A.G. members, the findings of the investigations represent the definitive test. (4)

With his strong and forceful agenda against global warming, it is perhaps wise that Mr Baudains does not mention dowsing on his site, as the scientific evidence for that would raise the question about why he can be so sceptical about an idea for which there is certainly some scientific evidence, and so credulous about an idea for which there is virtually none.

There can be no doubt that he has done some good work in raising matters in the States assembly, unlike his successor, Deputy Anne Dupre, who almost instantly reneged on her campaign manifesto regarding exemptions on GST. He is one of those mavericks who ask awkward questions, and if he was elected, it would not be a bad thing; he would not be one of those "yes men" (or "yes women" politicians, if we count Deputy Dupre), who appear to be part of the "block vote" that the Council of Ministers can rely upon. One global warming sceptic would be no bad thing in the House.

(1) http://www.gerardbaudains.com/archives/33
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Randi_Educational_Foundation#Example_of_a_test_.28dowsing.29
(3) http://www.phact.org/e/z/dowsepro.bak
(4) http://www.statesassembly.je/documents/hansard/19190-13217-1362007.htm
(5) http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/documents/questions/47110-6802-21112006.htm

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