The Euston Manifesto

The Euston Manifesto seems to be making quite a buzz today. I've had a very quick skim of the document and found much that I agree with and, at first glance, nothing I totally disagreed with. I think I'll be printing this one out and having a good read over the long weekend (it's a holiday weekend in the UK — some sort of pagan festival or other from what I can gather).

If nothing else item 14 caught my attention as it deals with Open Source. Okay, it's bound to annoy the hell out of RMS if he ever reads it but, hey, it's nice to see it get a mention.


Quote of the week

From an article in The Guardian:

Last night, the Royal Society gave a public platform to Steve Jones, the award-winning geneticist and author, to deliver a lecture entitled Why Creationism Is Wrong and Evolution Is Right. Professor Jones said that suggesting that creationism and evolution be given equal weight in education was "to me, rather like starting genetics lectures by discussing the theory that babies are brought by storks."


Daily Mail in Theory Cock-Up Shock

It shouldn't and, to be honest, doesn't surprise me to find out that the hacks over at the Daily Mail don't have the first clue about what a theory actually is when talking about science.

A story there today, Pupils 'confused by science lessons in creationism' gets it very wrong in the wording of a poll associated with the story:

Should creationism be taught as truth or theory?
  • It should be truth
  • It's all theory
I think that's got to be the most biased set of answers I've ever seen from a poll but, in this case, it would appear that it's more to do with ignorance on the part of the person setting it as opposed to it being down to a deliberate attempt to get the answer they want.

Is it any wonder that the readership of the paper then make comments such as
The fact is nobody knows anything because theories are just thoughts or ideas and nothing more...Monkeys are cute and will never be humans.
Evolution theories change every other week because they haven't a clue really. Remember the big bang?
I really do not see what the Royal Society are getting all steamed up about! They admit that Darwin's theroy is just that - a theory.
And so on, that's just a random sample. Thankfully there are a couple of comments made against that story that actually point out what "theory" actually means.


Further AGAST

It seems that AGAST is now fully up and running. This morning I found a leaflet on the doormat and it also seems that they've got a website up and running — the site contains much of the text that's in the leaflet but nothing else.

Sadly, so far, it seems that they're running the usual sort of FUD campaign that is common to many protest groups. This tends to be a case of preaching to the converted, it seldom seems to convince anyone else. Worse yet, it plays right into the hands of the opposition.

I think the thing that really reduces the usefulness and believability of the site (and the leaflet) is that some bold claims are made (literally, some of them are written in bold) but no source is given for the information. That's a real shame. I can understand space being short on the leaflet but there's no reason for failing to cite sources (and link to them where possible) on a website.

Take the claim that the plans are for "6 of the largest on shore turbines in Britain" for example. Okay, ignoring for a moment why that's actually an issue, where's the evidence, where will they actually be in the wind turbine height league for the Britain? I'd have an easier time believing this and putting it into some useful context if the details were actually given.

Another example: "It is reported that from as far as 2 miles the aerodynamic sound can be heard and felt like the boom boxes teenagers have in their cars". Sounds bad doesn't it? Even more so in Billingborough because there are plenty of those sorts of cars around so many people know what that's like. But, "it is reported" where and who reports this? Is this hearsay evidence, just an anecdote? How do I test the validity of this? Compare this with the BWEA's factsheet on wind turbine noise where they give plenty of values, place them in context and provide you with information as to who did the study so you can follow it up. While I wouldn't expect AGAST to do the same it would make the whole thing appear a little more believable if I know where it had been "reported".

I won't comment on the rest of the content as pretty much every item is presented as a fact with no backing whatsoever. I hope this was a design decision, I hope the intent was to get people thinking about the issues — sadly it doesn't look that way, it looks a little more like an attempt at FUD.

I'm not, by default, opposed to a wind farm on our doorstep; then again I'm not, by default, fully in favour of one either. I've been doing a fair bit of reading up, on and off, and so far I've failed to find very convincing arguments either way (although the balance is slightly in favour of the "pro-" rather than the "anti-" side but only because the "pro-" arguments tend to be more rational).