How “the experts” can be totally wrong about energy

A podcast from Alex Epstein:

An understandable reaction to my view that the world should be using more fossil fuels in the coming decades, not less, is “This is the exact opposite of what ‘the experts’ say. Almost every institution I trust says the expert consensus is that we need to rapidly eliminate fossil fuel use. How can you be right and they be wrong?”

On this week’s Power Hour, drawing on some brand-new material from my forthcoming book Fossil Future, I tackle this question head-on, explaining three ways in which experts are often wrong.

When we hear claims that “the experts” are wrong, we usually associate it with the claim that most experts in a field are factually mistaken. While this certainly does happen, there are two far more common ways in which “the experts” can be wrong–both of which are at work on the issue of energy.

The factual conclusions of experts can be misrepresented by those who claim to speak for all experts.

And the factual conclusions of experts can be misevaluated by those who claim to speak for all experts.

In this episode I will show definitively that our knowledge system is wildly irrational in its method of moral evaluation when it comes to not only fossil fuels but also other cost-effective forms of energy.

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August 22, 2021 2:12 pm

Consent of the governed is lost by following the science to a brave new world.

Reply to  gringojay
August 23, 2021 7:44 am

Mutating? Or losing it’s protective disguise?

August 22, 2021 2:27 pm

Podcast didn’t load for me 🙁

Reply to  Vuk
August 22, 2021 2:59 pm

“We could not find iTunes on your computer.You need iTunes to use Apple Music”
No way. If it doesn’t work ‘right out of the box’, forget it.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 22, 2021 6:12 pm

We could not find iTunes on your computer.

They say that as if this were a bad thing, for some reason.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
August 22, 2021 7:46 pm

I don’t want to sign up for anything. Even free.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 23, 2021 3:10 am

Right. A “podcast” is nothing more than an MP3 audio file. Put that file up on some webspace to download, and we might be tempted.

August 22, 2021 2:29 pm

Back in the 1950s the ‘settled science’ was that nuclear power could make electrical energy cheap for all.
The environmentalists wouldn’t have it and started to dismantle all such hopes by equating civil nuclear power with nuclear weapons and vastly exaggerating the dangers.
The same fear techniques were successfully employed as those currently being used in the climate change debate.
Authoritarian politicians cannot bear the prospect of a wealthy, free, comfortable and informed populace so left wing and often Soviet Union sympathisers piled onto the anti nuclear bandwagon.
In the UK, Labour and the Unions were also anti nuclear because it threatened to make redundant their beloved coal industry that supported the left with political influence having powered the UK right through the industrial revolution.
Scargill in the Miner’s Union and the Labour Party even tried to overturn the Conservative governments of the 1970s via political power on the streets rather than via the ballot box.
In the end it was all for nothing because North Sea gas destroyed the economics of coal production instead and fracking threatened to extend that indefinitely so they turned against fracking too.
The coal industry had appalling health effects on the particpants and the local communities yet we still hear sentimental nonsense of the harm allegedly done when that industry collapsed and Labour closed more pits than Thatcher ever did but she still gets all the opprobium.
There is nothing happening to the global climate that is in any way outside the ranges observed from the Mediaeval Warm Period through the Little Ice Age to date. It has all happened naturally multiple times before and there are now signs of a downturn in global temperatures which have flatlined since 2000 if one relies on satellites and weather balloons instead of adjusted surface measurements affected by the urban heat island effect.
The climate models have failed and are tracking way higher than observations.
Imagine the sophistication of the nuclear industry we could have had if it had not been stalled during the 1960s cold war period of fear of all things nuclear.
Environmentalists have been the worst thing for the environment that could ever have been created. They are literally killing the planet and potentially vast numbers of people too.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 22, 2021 2:36 pm

I am reminded of Paul Ehrlich’s comment that having cheap and unlimited power would be like “giving an idiot child a machine gun”.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 22, 2021 3:09 pm

And Ehrlich supported making Biden commander of the world’s most powerful military.

Reply to  Scissor
August 22, 2021 3:15 pm

Ehrlich’s coauthor on a sequel to the Population Bomb was John Holden, later Obama’s science advisor.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 22, 2021 9:33 pm

Is that supposed to be a good thing?

Reply to  Scissor
August 23, 2021 12:05 am

I suspect that is now the Taliban, judging by the huge amount of Vehicles and weapons left behind.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 22, 2021 8:40 pm

And I’ve heard on good authority, that no one ever gave Paul Ehrlich a machine gun.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 22, 2021 10:37 pm

I’m reasonably certain that Paul Ehrlich is certifiably insane.

Vincent Causey
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 23, 2021 12:20 am

I remember reading an article in GWPF last year which explained that the metrics we adopted to gauge the level of acceptable radiation levels (linear-no-threshold) was based on fraudulent and politicized science. Later research suggest there is a level below which no harm is done, and this level is not that low either.

Reply to  Vincent Causey
August 23, 2021 1:04 am

You remember correctly. The following paper is a good read to understand the corruption of the science (linear – no -threshold):

Estimating Risk of Low Radiation Doses – A Critical Review of the BEIR VII Report and its Use of the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Hypothesis

Edward J. Calabresea,1 and Michael K. O’Connorb

Reply to  Vincent Causey
August 23, 2021 1:17 am

Linear No Threshold was a regulatory response to almost complete lack of data on the long term effects of chronic low level radiation.
It was possible to build power stations with such low levels of radiation that even using LNT as a model, the general effect on the poulation would be undetectable.

Unfortunately, that led to the prediction that Chernobyl would kill tens or hundreds of thousands all over Europe. In reality about 50 people died.

It also led to the statement that ‘no level of radiation is safe

The actual expert here is Wade Allison – a nuclear medical scientist – who has done the experiments and has the true data.

It turns out that DNA replication has error correction built in, and wht is needed for cell mutation or cell death is a peak intensity of really rather a lot. Spread that out over a year, or ten years, and it’s approximately harmless. So not only is the LNT model seriously flawed, so too is the idea of cumulative dosage.

In short, it is complicated.

Its a bit like saying ‘no car speed limit is safe, and irrespective of other conditions 20mph is reasonably safe’

When in fact decent cars on decent roads with adequate spacing in decent weather are a lot after doing 70mph than trhe same car and drivcer on a snowy road in a town full of pedestrians and cyclists doing 20mph.

As to why the public were scared of nuclear power – deliberately? well we all know governments like a good moral panic in their citizens, and it suited the narrative of the Cold war to have people worried about the long term effects of radiation.

And it espceially suited the enemies of democracy to use ‘people power’ to agitate against nuclear in all forms.

And once you are a bearded be-sandalled Vegan, all brown rice and hiking boots, in moral outrage against something, its easy enough to move the outrage off nuclear on to fossil fuel as well, with yet more massively oversimplified ‘science’ for yet more power and profit.

Reply to  Leo Smith
August 23, 2021 4:10 am

The LNT model certainly exaggerated Chernobyl deaths but 50 is far too low. I suggest you read Midnight in Chernobyl.

Reply to  Newminster
August 23, 2021 7:05 am

Sorry somebody chose not to like that. Any reason? Have you read Midnight in Chernobyl, whoever you are?

Reply to  Vincent Causey
August 23, 2021 1:42 am

Japanese who received low doses from Hiroshima and Nagasaki were actually more healthy than the control group.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
August 23, 2021 3:10 am

Yes, I read that too. It’s called “hormesis”.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 23, 2021 6:10 am

Stephen – You are right on! Brilliant comment.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 23, 2021 8:56 am

Whilst the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons may have been exaggerated it is useful to remember that Calder Hall on the Windscale (now Sellafield)site, hailed as the world’s first nuclear power station when it opened in 1956, was in fact dual purpose and was actually built to provide plutonium for the UK’s nuclear weapons programme .

Likewise Chapelcross, not too far away in Scotland, opened in 1959, with the dual purpose of providing plutonium and also power. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)
currently describe it as the”first nuclear power station in Scotland” and ignore it’s military role.

So there was a real connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the UK.

August 22, 2021 2:43 pm

The established, popular religion is based on ethical, not moral principles and considerations.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  n.n
August 22, 2021 8:44 pm

But what have we got when their ethics are even immoral, or, perhaps more accurately amoral.

August 22, 2021 3:03 pm

The search for intelligent life on earth continues.

John F Hultquist
Reply to  Jphn
August 22, 2021 5:37 pm

Not really. All the tools of search are aimed out at the Cosmos.
They have given up searching on Earth.

Reply to  John F Hultquist
August 23, 2021 1:43 am

And I’m only visiting…

John K. Sutherland.
August 22, 2021 3:15 pm

You need to define that word, ‘Experts’. Usually, true experts are qualified in the field in which they are regarded as experts, with degrees or actual on the job experience. Other experts are self-styled, but truly have no expertise whatsoever. Others are dishonest mischief makers. My question is always… what are your qualifications? What industries have you worked in? Even then I will often doubt them. A few basic questions about thermodynamics, or asking general questions about how they would achieve something, will sort them out.

Rud Istvan
August 22, 2021 3:20 pm

Too simple. There are at least two other ways ‘experts’ can be bigly wrong.
First, they only claim to be experts but actually are not. Mann’s use of ‘novel statistics’ to create hockey sticks out of red noise is a prime example.
Second, they can deliberately commit academic misconduct in exchange for grants, tenure, and other material rewards. I provided a number of proven climate related examples in ebook Blowing Smoke.

Gregory Woods
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 22, 2021 3:41 pm

Second, they can deliberately commit academic misconduct in exchange for grants, tenure, and other material rewards.

Yes, yes, yes – Klimate Change by Avarice….

August 22, 2021 3:53 pm

Hard to listen to. Painfully slow to make any points.

How about a written summary to avoid the tedium of trying to endure the pain?

Reply to  RickWill
August 22, 2021 4:56 pm

Agreed. I have a rule: if the podcast does not allow me to adjust the
speed of playback [I love 1.5x!] I probably won’t watch/listen to it.
Sorry Alex… I couldn’t do it, even though I like your ideas.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  B. Zipperer
August 22, 2021 6:16 pm

I have a different rule. I don’t listen to podcasts at all.

I find listening about 5 times as long as reading. The only thing I listen to is audio books when I’m doing something else. Driving is the most common one.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 23, 2021 7:33 am

I’m with you Zig!

I also dislike badly written dang near incoherent come-ons that are supposed to draw watchers/listeners to watch.

The fact that sentences meander around and go nowhere, utterly fail to convey any solid facts/points means I don’t even try to listen.

I did wonder just what was such a bait and switch come-on, doing as a WUWT article? A supposedly introductory article that was near gibberish as written and purposely conveyed zero real information..

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of car repair videos. There are a lot of well done videos that are far clearer than the lousy cheap repair manuals.

Only, I don’t bother turning the sound on until the video is showing actual repair. Some of those “intros” are painful to listen through as the speaker drones on through myriads of dull “sell” topics.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  RickWill
August 22, 2021 11:33 pm

My media player (a bog standard Firefox tab) made it as far as 14 minutes but I’d stopped listening long prior to that.

2 take-aways:

  • He is setting himself up as An Expert in order to trash experts = yet that minor detail perfectly eludes him. Long live Monty Python eh?
  • We don’t need 47 minutes – 2 words describe what he’s on about: i.e. Information Overload – which we all know about and is as ‘old as the hills’

Also Quote:”our knowledge system is wildly irrational in its

wildly irrational nicely sums up the recent articles about Hydrogen as it:

  • nicely describes Small Children made ‘hyper’ by giving them sugar
  • nicely describes Grown Adults who have had their rationality switched off via the consumption of ‘something’. ‘Drunks’ being the classic example of switched-off-rationality, but, I’m not talking about booze here. Especially.
  • nicely describes moderately sensible adults gone crazy splashing around in an ocean of somebody else’s money
August 22, 2021 4:02 pm

IPCC proposed banishment of fossil fuels would place most of the world’s population at risk. The oil derivatives and fuel manufactured from oil were the main reasons the world populated to 8 billion.
Fossil fuels are the gift to mankind that has allowed the healthy and wealthy countries to achieve prosperous growth, but the IPCC avoidance of the benefits to society, and just focusing on the negatives is irresponsible.

John Bell
August 22, 2021 4:03 pm

Ever notice how “renewables” are always made possible ONLY by fossil fuels?

Reply to  John Bell
August 22, 2021 6:05 pm

Intermittent/renewable Green technology conceived, birthed, and remains viable through reliable, low impact hydrocarbon and nuclear energy plants.

August 22, 2021 6:07 pm

It appears That the number of new cars is slowing, but the age of cars is increasing. This is largely do to better design and manufacturing. Toyota’s fame that any line worker can, at any time, press a button to stop the and have a problem fixed.
Another example- my wife bought a 2002 Toyota Avalon with 193k miles for $6 grand. It is still fully serviceable. The oil was changed regularly. It’s pushing 300K miles with only one problem with the engine that amounted to anything and cost $175 to fix. The VVactuator had to be replaced..
I bought a 2012 Ford Fusion with 93K miles 18 months ago. With regular maintainance is should be able to go 250K plus.

People are flexible and adjust. If they can buy a car that can run 200,000 miles or more with only routine maintainance they soon realized they didn’t have to buy a new, or any car as often.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Philo
August 22, 2021 7:42 pm

I generally run my vehicles to 300,000km +

2 of my 3 are at ~250k

Although just had nasty hail in calgary, might be bad

Reply to  Philo
August 22, 2021 11:18 pm

I’ve got 250,000 miles on my Toyota Tacoma, in bought it new in ’97, if it hadn’t been wrecked a couple of time it would look as good as it runs.

I’m using it mainly to haul the building materials I need to finish the interior of my cabin. I hope it runs another 10 years.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  kazinski
August 23, 2021 9:02 am

Don’t you spell that “Kaczynski”?

Vincent Causey
Reply to  Philo
August 23, 2021 12:13 am

Well that’s good news, because after 2030 in the UK, old cars are all Johnson’s subjects will be allowed to drive.

Reply to  Vincent Causey
August 23, 2021 1:46 am

Don’t care. My Alfa Romeo is already old.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Philo
August 23, 2021 2:48 am

My 2014 E class Mercedes estate has over 150K kilometers and runs great. I can drive to Lisbon and back on a tank of diesel with fuel to spare, ~700 km RT. Friends here tell me that MB taxis routinely get over a million KM before being replaced.

Serge Wright
August 22, 2021 6:56 pm

When you consider that the greatest increase in CO2 occurred during a period where we had climate treaties to reduce CO2, this is not surprising. Of course the elephant in the room is the developing world, which will have 10x the emissions potential of the developed world by the end of this century and it’s these countries that are pushing emissions up by ever increasing amounts.

Considering that climate change policies are 100% dictated by politics, as noted during the past 40 years of emissions growth, we can expect that by 2100, the 1B people living in the developed countries will reduce their emissions by ~50%, reducing global emissions by ~15% in the process, however the 10B people living in the developing countries will increase their emissions by > 100%, which will result in global emissions being at least 50% higher than today, even taking into account the reductions by developed countries. This outcome will be hailed as a great success because the aim of CC politics is only to restrict developed countries.

August 22, 2021 10:18 pm

Stupid comment, Ingrown. You’ve misinterpreted the plot of car sales in the US. Car, SUV, and Light Truck sales run about 17 Million per year in the U.S. and have been fairly constant in the last few years after recovering from the Great Recession. Cars are a smaller fraction of the total but only because SUVs and Pickups have become more popular.

comment image

Per capita car sales have declined slightly (sales steady, population increasing) for two reasons; 1) Cars last much longer than they used to and, 2) The U.S. has become more urbanized where more people have the opportunity to take public transportation. City dwellers own fewer cars per capita. Despite this, there are actually MORE total cars on the road than there ever were.

comment image

This has got NOTHING to do with oil consumption which is going up.

The standard of living across the world is IMPROVING. Claiming otherwise makes you either ignorant or a liar with an agenda.

August 23, 2021 12:03 am


Rare earths seem to be much more limited than fossil fuels and we will need a planet, B, C, and D . to supply the vastly increasing demand.

Most known reserves are owned by the Chinese. Ae you suggesting those as an alternative to fossil fuels?

If you exclude them we need a massive and rapid expansion of nuclear power plants.

So what are you suggesting we do in future for our our energy needs?

August 23, 2021 2:07 am

Here’s a classic example of what he’s talking about-
Solar power in Australia outstrips coal-fired electricity for first time (

‘Unlike more nimble solar and wind producers, coal generators are particularly hurt when prices turn negative. The costs associated with shutting down and restarting coal generators are prohibitive, meaning operators will choose to keep running even at a loss.’

‘Energy analyst Simon Holmes à Court said the overall proportion of renewable energy – solar, wind and hydro – would have been higher in the energy mix but wind producers chose to shut down to avoid the price hit.
“There was a significant amount of curtailment,” he said. “What it shows is that there’s already more renewables that could have gone into the grid if the coal plants were more flexible and transmission was upgraded.”’

Peter W
Reply to  observa
August 23, 2021 7:33 am

And just how flexible are the renewables?

August 23, 2021 3:44 am

“Almost every institution I trust” I think I see the problem.

Bruce Cobb
August 23, 2021 5:13 am

“Expert consensus” is a logical fallacy two-fer: The Appeal to Authority and the Appeal to Consensus. Anyone who uses logical fallacies as the basis for their argument essentially has no argument, and is simply blowing smoke.

August 23, 2021 9:14 am

In my experience, it seems the more often an “expert” is wrong, the more of an “expert” they are considered to be.

Jeffery P
August 23, 2021 1:24 pm

I notice the “experts” don’t ever call anybody out for exaggerating their statements on “climate” or “extreme weather.”

Mostly the problem is appeal to authority and deferment to the judgement and opinions of the expert class. This expert class is limited to people who share their beliefs, not dissenters or contrarians. It’s a collective mind thing.

August 24, 2021 5:30 am

They are not experts, they are politically driven liars. Period. Full stop.

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