2012 Nerenberg Lecture

Monday, March 19, 2012

The 2012 Nerenberg Lecture was delivered by The Rt. Hon. Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley at the University of Western Ontario on March 19th 2012. The following information about the event is take from the University of Western Ontario's website for this event Premise:Mathematics is the lingua franca of the sciences. Few speak it. Today’s statesmen and the handful of courtiers they have time to trust must often go beyond their expertise. This is the Courtier’s Conundrum: how can the inexpert adviser advise expertly? Margaret Thatcher’s six policy advisers were not scientists. Yet they often gave scientific advice, because they had to. They applied what they knew to what they did not. Second-guessing the specialists to whom ministers will otherwise defer requires a consciously “back-of-the-envelope” and yet objective deployment of mathematics – a simple but not naïve quantitative inspection of policy options. Checking the tire-pressures is better than merely kicking the tires. On the other hand, neither statesmen nor their advisers have time or competence to reinvent the wheel. Simple calculations done honourably and properly can prevent large and wasteful errors. For example, the cost of abating CO2-driven warming turns out greatly to exceed that of focused adaptation to the damage the warming may cause. Mathematical simplification of complex issues is no panacea and can be abused, but some attempt at rigour is preferable to the merely qualitative, partisan approach that is customary. Uncosted ideology is costly. It is immoral too. Bio: Christopher Monckton is the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. He was Special Advisor to Margaret Thatcher as UK Prime Minister from 1982 to 1986. Monckton graduated from Cambridge’s Churchill College, and Cardiff University. Among other contributions, he was among the first to advise the Prime Minister Thatcher that the prospect of “global warming” caused by CO2 should be investigated. His lecture to undergraduates at the Cambridge Union Society on climate change has been released as in a video entitled Apocalypse? NO! He has testified twice before the US Congress on this topic. After leaving 10 Downing Street, he established a successful specialist consultancy company, giving technical advice to corporations and governments. Among many other activities, he has given speeches, lectures, and university seminars all over the world; he was a newspaper editor, a classical architect, trained public orator, and an autodidact mathematician. In the latter regard he is the inventor of the million-selling Eternity puzzles, and the very successful Sudoku X puzzles. He discovered mathematics that made the near-impossible 256-piece jigsaw, Eternity II possible. While the $2 million prize for solving it was not claimed, the £ million prize for Eternity I was claimed by two Cambridge mathematicians nearly two years after it was released. The Nerenberg Lecture is presented by the Department of Applied Mathematics.