Tim Minchin – an inspirational speech to graduates

Tim Minchin Occasional Address and Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters -

This is a real classic – Tim Minchin’s inspirational speech to graduates on his being awared an honorary doctorate. It has a lot of wisdom in it and the ideas are concisely, but effectively, expressed.

Tim has placed the full text of his speech on his blog – see OCCASIONAL ADDRESS. I urge you to watch the video but will just quote from one section of his speech – his advice to “Be Hard On Your Opinions:”


A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arse-holes, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts.

By the way, while I have science and arts grads in front of me: please don’t make the mistake of thinking the arts and sciences are at odds with one another. That is a recent, stupid, and damaging idea. You don’t have to be unscientific to make beautiful art, to write beautiful things.

If you need proof: Twain, Adams, Vonnegut, McEwen, Sagan, Shakespeare, Dickens. For a start.

You don’t need to be superstitious to be a poet. You don’t need to hate GM technology to care about the beauty of the planet. You don’t have to claim a soul to promote compassion.

Science is not a body of knowledge nor a system of belief; it is just a term which describes humankind’s incremental acquisition of understanding through observation. Science is awesome.

The arts and sciences need to work together to improve how knowledge is communicated. The idea that many Australians – including our new PM and my distant cousin Nick – believe that the science of anthropogenic global warming is controversial, is a powerful indicator of the extent of our failure to communicate. The fact that 30% of this room just bristled is further evidence still. The fact that that bristling is more to do with politics than science is even more despairing.”


Scientists will love this speech – so will teachers.

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52 responses to “Tim Minchin – an inspirational speech to graduates

  1. I do agree that the anus needs to be examined on a regular basis, especially for a male over 45, for a regular Prostate check up.

    A lot of men find this uncomfortable but it really does help pre-empt any issues down the track

  2. Another reason for rectal examination is for investigation into rectal bleeding which can be caused by haemorrhoids or an anal fiisure
    If the blood is quite red then it is most likely a fissure or piles, but if the blood has a darker colour then it may emanate from higher in the intestinal tract and be symptomatic of bowel cancer.

    Again, one should seek the advice of a medical professional and not attempt to self-diagnose by consulting Primary Sources of Information

  3. It should be noted that a Digital Rectal Examimation, just for the feint hearted, does not involve an electronic device like an iPhone being used. It is the direct insertion of a doctors latex clad hand into the chutney locker.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectal_examination

  4. The idea that many Australians – including our new PM and my distant cousin Nick – believe that the science of anthropogenic global warming is controversial, is a powerful indicator that Tim Minchin doesn’t know the first thing about science

  5. Some people can’t tell the difference between science and politics. Tim’s speech demonstrate a good understanding pf the nature if science, as does a lot of his other work.

    >

  6. Ken, I expect we’ll see a detailed analysis of AR5 and the political part of it – The Summary for Policymakers, designed for politicians, that was released before the scientific part.

    It’s interesting though, how the media made a big deal about the political part of the IPCC report, before any science was actually released, but then that is how science works.
    Politics first, science second

  7. I expect you will see a few analyses, Andy. But you are joking, aren’t you. You don’t really think the summary is produced first and then they get work on the reports themselves?

    Is this the level of criticism New Zealand climate change deniers/contratians/pseudo-scpetics are now left with?

    You have been spending too much time with Richard Cummings in that empty silo.

  8. The summary was produced first – yes Ken.
    The SPM is out is out now. AR5 WG1 is only in draft form.

    This is correct – you can check for yourself

  9. Is this the level of criticism New Zealand climate change deniers/contratians/pseudo-scpetics are now left with

    No Ken, it is not a crticism of New Zealand climate change deniers/contratians/pseudo-scpetics, or Canadain climate change deniers/contratians/pseudo-scpetics or UK climate change deniers/contratians/pseudo-scpetics or Belgian climate change deniers/contratians/pseudo-scpetics.

    It is a statement of fact, you can check it for yourself

    They are still changing stuff in AR5!!

  10. Andy, how do you think the conspiracy actually works?
    Let’s start with the basics.
    Who’s in charge?

  11. Who mentioned a conspiracy?
    I said the IPCC SPM came out before the Wg1 scientific report.
    This is a statement of fact.

    Why does it need a conspiracy?

    Does it require a conspiracy that Tuesday comes before Wednesday?

  12. However, to answer the question in a bit more detail, without involving “conspiracies”, the mechanism is quite clear.

    (a) Release the political summary
    (b) Fiddle the numbers in the scientific report until they match the political summary
    (c) Release the scientific report

  13. Andy, that would involve an immense a conspiracy. Only a desperate fool would suggest it.

    >

  14. Presumably you are already aware of the fiddling that has been going on in AR5, as exposed by McIntyre.

    http://climateaudit.org/2013/09/30/ipcc-disappears-the-discrepancy/

    What amazes me is that you think you can defend this stuff, year after year, and not suffer any consequences for it.

  15. Of course this should be of no concern.
    None of these items are Primary Sources of Information

    The IPCC SPM is not a Primary Source of Information

    It is based on a report that is not a Primary Source of Information

    The report is not peer-reviewed, in the normal sense. The guys writing it change stuff to suit their needs after the expert reviewers have left the building.

    Why not? They can do whatever they want. It is just another useless inter-governmental body that produces reports that no one reads.

    We have higher standards.
    We use Primary Sources of Information

    The IPCC are not a Primary Source of Information

    NASA area Primary Source of Information
    They have a website

    NASA .. NASA … NASA

    Not the useless IPCC

    NASA .. NASA … NASA
    Primary Source of Information

    Everytime

  16. Maybe Tim Minchin could get a job with the IPCC, after all, being a stand up comedian and an IPCC Lead Author must be quite similar roles.

    Make stuff up and get people to laugh. It’s all in the timing.

  17. Sounds like you are make charges of a massive conspiracy to me.

    >

  18. Sounds like you might be a failed comedian, Andy. You have got the “make stuff up” part off pat – but really failed with the “get people to laugh” part.

    >

  19. Rihcard Lindzen thought the IPCC report “hilariously” flawed.

    And it is, just pathetic. Anyone who thinks the IPCC have any credibility now has the intelligence of poultry.

    Maybe the poultry could get a “job” as a New Zealand “Scientist”. Better than cleaning toilets and slightly more intellectually rewarding

  20. I tell you what Ken, I’ll write your next blog about this

    Denier denier denier anti-science blah blah drone smearing honest scientists denier drone right-wing think tank blah denier drone psuedo-sceptic/contrarian/denier blah drone

    Cool eh?

  21. Andy, your level of discussion appears to have deteriorated because of those long nights alone with Richard Cummings in the climate conversation silo.

    >

  22. Andy, you should take over blog writing from Treadgold. Seems a pity to waste that URL. And there is no one else to take the stand Treagold is meant to.

    >

  23. I am just reducing my level of discussion and intellect to match the level of the blog Ken

  24. I have tried to engage some serious discussion on local Eco-fascist blogs but I get banned for even quoting the IPCC

  25. Not surprised, Andy. People don’t seem to have time for that conspiracy theory you push any more.

    >

  26. Which conspiracy theory would that be Ken? The only people that I see pushing conspiracy theories are the ones that say that there is a massive, well-funded “denial” machine funded by Big Oil.

    This is the most ludicrous story of the lot

  27. (a) Release the political summary
    (b) Fiddle the numbers in the scientific report until they match the political summary
    (c) Release the scientific report

    Andy, you’re pushing a conspiracy theory when you say this.
    If you thought about it, you’d see how it simply wouldn’t work.
    It’s not reality-based.

    Start with the basics.
    Who’s in charge?

  28. Hey Cedric, the SPM was released first.
    Agreed?
    The WG1 is still in draft.
    Agreed?

    So if we can agree on points (a) and (c), we can look into (b).
    I have already given evidence of point (b), but let’s get (a) and (c) out of the way first

  29. Who’s in charge?

    Who was in charge of the “conspiracy” to nurture and cover up a culture of child abuse at the BBC?

    Why does someone have to be “in charge”?

  30. I still don’t really see why my points require a “conspiracy”.
    It baffles me.

    I am just referring to my perceived view of bias and corruption in the IPCC, not all the entire world’s scientific establishments

  31. Boring aren’t I? You wanted me to say it is the New World Order controlled by the Marxist Lizard Overlords.

    Come on, admit it

  32. I still don’t really see why my points require a “conspiracy”.

    It’s really easy.

    (a) Release the political summary
    (b) Fiddle the numbers in…

    To fiddle numbers, you have to have fiddlers. The numbers don’t magically appear by themselves. Someone has to decide what numbers get fiddled and when.
    Who’s in charge?

    Global warming is a hoax?
    That required hoaxers.

    It’s all a fraud.
    Yep, ok. But that requires fraudsters.

    To fiddle numbers or create a hoax or fraud requires some basic level of organisation. You can’t just put in random numbers either. They have to at least look plausible to maintain the deception, right?
    So who?
    Who’s in charge?

  33. I am just referring to my perceived view of bias and corruption in the IPCC…

    Ok but, even working with the assumption that the IPCC is corrupt, who’s in charge?
    If you were the boss of the IPCC and you want to fiddle the numbers, how would you do it without your co-workers knowing?
    Or….
    Are your co-workers in on the plan?
    Ok, but now the conspiracy is bigger.
    Once you start to rely on other people, the risk of discovery gets more likely.
    Plus you have the problem of the entire world’s scientific establishments.
    It’s their data after all.
    Theres no way to stop them from reading the report.
    If the numbers are not their numbers, then they’re going to notice.
    Unless, you add them to the conspiracy too.
    It automatically gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

    You can cross your fingers and hope for bias and corruption to explain the report away but you have to think it through on at least some minimal level.
    How could it possibly work?

    That’s why I’m asking you who’s in charge.

  34. I don’t know “who is in charge”

    http://climateaudit.org/2013/09/30/ipcc-disappears-the-discrepancy/

    Who did this?
    Who is in charge?

    We demand to know!!!

    Who made these fiddled numbers?

    Who was in charge of the kiddie fiddling at the BBC?
    Which Alien Overlord decided that it was OK for Jimmy Saville to have underage sex with girls?

    There must be SOMEONE IN CHARGE!!!

    Please show me the BOSS!!!!

    Who is in charge?
    Where are our Lizard Overlords?
    (* awkward silence *)

    We *demand* Primary Sources of Information!
    It is out right!

    We, the indigenous people of Oceania, DEMAND that the Lizard people front up NOW and tell us ……

    ******************************************

    ***** WHO IS IN CHARGE ???????? *******

    ***************************************

  35. Figure 1.4 of the Second Order Draft clearly showed the discrepancy between models and observations, though IPCC’s covering text reported otherwise. I discussed this in a post leading up to the IPCC Report, citing Ross McKitrick’s article in National Post and Reiner Grundmann’s post at Klimazweiberl. Needless to say, this diagram did not survive. Instead, IPCC replaced the damning (but accurate) diagram with a new diagram in which the inconsistency has been disappeared.
    Here is Figure 1.4 of the Second Order Draft, showing post-AR4 observations outside the envelope of projections from the earlier IPCC assessment reports (see previous discussion here).

    Figure 1.4 of the Second Order Draft clearly showed the discrepancy between models and observations, though IPCC’s covering text reported otherwise. I discussed this in a post leading up to the IPCC Report, citing Ross McKitrick’s article in National Post and Reiner Grundmann’s post at Klimazweiberl. Needless to say, this diagram did not survive. Instead, IPCC replaced the damning (but accurate) diagram with a new diagram in which the inconsistency has been disappeared.
    Here is Figure 1.4 of the Second Order Draft, showing post-AR4 observations outside the envelope of projections from the earlier IPCC assessment reports (see previous discussion here).

    So how’d the observations move from outside the envelope to insider the envelope? It will take a little time to reconstruct the movements of the pea.
    In the next figure, I’ve shown a blow-up of the new Figure 1.4 to a comparable timescale (1990-2015) as the Second Draft version. The scale of the Second Draft showed the discrepancy between models and observations much more clearly. I do not believe that IPCC’s decision to use a more obscure scale was accidental.
    The coloured shading shows the projected range of global annual mean near surface temperature change from 1990 to 2015 for models used in FAR (Scenario D and business-as-usual), SAR (IS92c/1.5 and IS92e/4.5), TAR (full range of TAR Figure 9.13(b) based on the GFDL_R15_a and DOE PCM parameter settings), and AR4 (A1B and A1T). ,,,
    The [AR4] data used was obtained from Figure 10.26 in Chapter 10 of AR4 (provided by Malte Meinshausen). Annual means are used. The upper bound is given by the A1T scenario, the lower bound by the A1B scenario.

    The envelope in the Second Draft figure can indeed be derived from AR4 Figure 10.26. In the next figure, I’ve shown the original panel of Figure 10.26 with observations overplotted, clearly showing the discrepancy. I’ve also shown the 2005, 2010 and 2015 envelope with red arrows (which I’ve transposed to other diagrams for reference). That observations fall outside the projection envelope of the AR4 figure is obvious.

    The new IPCC graphic no longer cites an AR4 figure. Instead of the envelope presented in AR4, they now show a spaghetti graph of CMIP3 runs, of which they state:
    For the AR4 results are presented as single model runs of the CMIP3 ensemble for the historical period from 1950 to 2000 (light grey lines) and for three scenarios (A2, A1B and B1) from 2001 to 2035. The bars at the right hand side of the graph show the full range given for 2035 for each assessment report. For the three SRES scenarios the bars show the CMIP3 ensemble mean and the likely range given by -40% to +60% of the mean as assessed in Meehl et al. (2007). The publication years of the assessment reports are shown. See Appendix 1. A for details on the data and calculations used to create this figure…
    The temperature projections of the AR4 are presented for three SRES scenarios: B1, A1B and A2.
    Annual mean anomalies relative to 1961–1990 of the individual CMIP3 ensemble simulations (as used in
    AR4 SPM Figure SPM5) are shown. One outlier has been eliminated based on the advice of the model developers because of the model drift that leads to an unrealistic temperature evolution. As assessed by Meehl et al. (2007), the likely-range for the temperature change is given by the ensemble mean temperature
    change +60% and –40% of the ensemble mean temperature change. Note that in the AR4 the uncertainty range was explicitly estimated for the end of the 21st century results. Here, it is shown for 2035. The time dependence of this range has been assessed in Knutti et al. (2008). The relative uncertainty is approximately constant over time in all estimates from different sources, except for the very early decades when natural
    variability is being considered (see Figure 3 in Knutti et al., 2008).
    For the envelopes from the first three assessments, although they cite the same sources as the predecessor Second Draft Figure 1.4, the earlier projections have been shifted downwards relative to observations, so that the observations are now within the earlier projection envelopes. You can see this relatively clearly with the Second Assessment Report envelope: compare the two versions. At present, I have no idea how they purport to justify this.
    None of this portion of the IPCC assessment is drawn from peer-reviewed material. Nor is it consistent with the documents sent to external reviewers.

  36. The science of AGW is not controversial
    signed Tim Minchin

    Stand up comedian

  37. “I discussed this in a post leading up to the IPCC Report.” – Where is this post of yours Andy?

    >

  38. Which post?

  39. I guess that is the problem with copypasta – you tend to lose track of things.

    >

  40. I copied McIntyres post for the readers who don’t know how to use hyperlinks

    So, which post, Ken?

  41. “I discussed this in a post leading up to the IPCC Report.” – Where is this post of yours Andy?”

    So you discussed the IPCC SpM before it was released, based on the Wg1 report that hasn’t been released yet.

    ken, did you read my blog post that I published criticising your blog post that you hadn’t written yet?
    I used a blogging platform that hasn’t been invented yet, powered by a source as yet unknown to humans
    Luckily for you and I, time travel is an easily accessible technology available to even the lowest of humans

  42. Go to bed, Andy. You are just getting silly.

    >

  43. I am inspired by Tim Minchin.

    An arts grad with no knowledge of science or the scientific method, who looks like his hair might house a small almost extinct species yet to be discovered by scientists, surrounded by sycophantic academics who are proud that their most famous grad is a comedian, so they gave him a dLittt

  44. Jealous, Andy?

  45. I don’t know “who is in charge”

    Yet (according to you) the numbers were fiddled. You have no idea how that could have happened.
    It’s not like I’m being hard on you.
    I’m not asking you to give any actual evidence.
    Nothing so strenuous.

    All you have to do is give a plausible explanation as to how those numbers got changed.
    You could say that a secret agent snuck into the IPCC and changed the numbers.
    Fine but then that doesn’t explain why the staff at the IPCC didn’t notice.
    It could be a small, secret circle of friends within the IPCC who are responsible for cooking the books but…again, that doesn’t really work.
    Why does the rest of the IPCC not notice the numbers that have changed?

    You could say that the entire IPCC is corrupt and biased.
    All of them.
    So they all did it and changed the numbers.
    Ok….but….
    …there’s serious holes in that theory too.
    How would you get all them to agree to do such a thing in the first place and what stops the scientific communities noticing that that the numbers they gave the IPCC have been doctored?

    Your own premise is unsupportable.
    It’s nonsense.
    There’s no way to make it work.

  46. There is no way it could work.
    Huh?

    In the first draft, there is a diagram showing the discrepancy between models and reality. In the next draft, this diagram has gone and been replaced by one where the discrepancy has gone or been obfuscated

    This stunt must have been incredibly hard to pull off. A person would have had to open a word doc, delete an image, and replace it with another, then hit save.

    Totally implausible, I agree.

  47. Given that the images have actually changed (as shown in McIntyre’s post, and you can check the docs yourself), do you have a better explanation?

    Maybe there was a virus that changed the document?
    Or maybe, like you say, a secret agent crept in during the night.
    Or maybe it was the cleaner

    However, I think that my explanation seems most likely.

    It was the author of the document wot dun it.

  48. You know what Cedric, I just checked a couple of docs of mine, with different rev numbers, and you’ll never guess what

    THEY WERE DIFFERENT

    I know it is hard to believe.
    How could this happen?

    How could two documents be different?

  49. Because they are 2 different documents? Duh.

    >

  50. In the first draft…

    So you’re complaining that a first draft of some document isn’t the same as the second draft?
    I hate to break this to you Andy but that’s usually the way drafts work.
    They’re drafts.
    They get re-worked, edited, changed or dropped altogether…..because they’re drafts.

    “Any of various stages in the development of a plan, document, or picture: a preliminary draft of a report; the final draft of a paper.
    A representation of something to be constructed.To draw up a preliminary version of or plan for.”

    I am just referring to my perceived view of bias and corruption in the IPCC, not all the entire world’s scientific establishments

    I’m happy to let you expound on this theory of yours that the IPCC is biased and corrupt because I don’t see how you can make it work.
    Given that numbers (it doesn’t matter which numbers or which documents) don’t change by magic, then it follows that some one or some group of people in the IPCC are responsible for the various and manifold acts of skullduggery.
    You have have decide how it could possibly work.

    No evidence needed. I’ll give you a free pass on that.
    Just come up with the mechanism on how you personally think it works.

    If it’s just one person, such as your cleaner, then that explains how numbers get changed….but…..it doesn’t explain why the rest of the IPCC doen’t change them back or complain about it.
    Of course, the classic option to resolve this problem is to expand the conspiracy.
    That, however, has it’s own drawbacks. The more people in on the conspiracy to “fiddle the numbers”, the more tenuous the conspiracy becomes.

    The problem the climate deniers have is the same one the moon landing deniers. Either you go for a very tiny circle of conspirators or you expand it to all of the scientific communities on the planet…including the Russians.

    Apollo 11 Moon Landing – A Hoax ?! (2/5)

  51. I am being sarcastic, in case you didn’t get it.

  52. So you don’t really believe that the IPCC is corrupt and/or biased?

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