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May 27, 2011

PR outfit behind Monckton backers a company 'beyond ideology'

Last week, it was duly noted by august journals like the Australian Conservative that something called the 'Galileo Movement' had launched a website to dispute the scientific consensus behind climate change.

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Last week, it was duly noted by august journals like the Australian Conservative that something called the ‘Galileo Movement’ had launched a website to dispute the scientific consensus behind climate change.

The two elderly Noosa-based founders — John Smeed and Case Smit — were spurred into action by the wildly-successful visit by climate change denier Lord Christopher Monckton that they co-hosted last year with mining heiress Gina Rinehart. Their “patron” is Alan Jones, who gave the group some free publicity on 2GB, and there’s also a panel of advisers headed by notables like Andrew Bolt, Ian Plimer, David Flint and Bob Carter.

If the world is indeed warming, then according to Smeed and Smit, this is caused not by industrial capitalism but by anodyne occurrences like Indonesian volcanos, solar radiation and ocean-atmosphere oscillations. “Carbon dioxide is a consequence of temperature, not a cause,” they say.

Just like their hero Galileo, people like them have been persecuted for pursuing the true climate truth against the forces of darkness.

But what has gone unreported has been the involvement of Sydney-based PR conglomerate Jackson Wells in the birth of Galileo, which has added the group to its roster alongside other shining lights like British American Tobacco, the Church of Scientology and The Exclusive Brethren.

Jackson Wells’ job is apparently to get Galileo into the mainstream media, a task that so far has proven difficult.

Much of the Galileo guff  has been penned by former Helen Coonan and Joe Hockey staffer Bob Lawrence, considered one of the architects behind John Howard’s 2004 election triumph. He became involved with the duo last year on the Monckton visit, managing to shoehorn the fake Lord into most of the nation’s media outlets (the triumph is recounted in Jackson Wells’ recent in-house newsletter here). But Galileo has been a much tougher sell.

The PR giant’s more controversial clients probably aren’t overly concerned by their association with the group. But the same certainly can’t be said of the lilywhite Sydney Peace Foundation, which last year awarded its $50,000 annual Peace Prize to enviro-socialist warrior Vandana Shiva.

The relationship with the Foundation sprouted after Jackson Wells Chairman and proud NSW ALP Central Branch member Keith Jackson attended Shiva’s acceptance speech at the Sydney Town Hall and was so enraptured he offered his services to the its three-person unit for free.

According to Shiva, “the system that has created climate change is being protected even if the poor and the planet have to be sacrificed to maintain that system, and even if the laws of nature and of our common humanity have to be violated.”

By contrast, Smit and Smeed liken the United Nations to Hitler because it banned DDT in the 1970s causing the deaths of 30 million people. And the Kyoto protocol was forged by a triple headed bastard child of Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

It seems Jackson Wells is more than happy being the broadest of broad churches.

Jackson, who has repeatedly posted about the perils of climate change on his “Keith Jackson’s PNG Attitude” blog and agrees that Monckton uses a fraudulent salutation, told Crikey there was “no conflict” between his firm’s work for Galileo and the Peace Foundation, offering a helpful primer on the concepts of ethics and free speech.

“A conflict of interest is where in terms of the project work and consultancy work that an agency does on a particular project are in direct conflict with the aims of a project that would be undertaken for another client…cutting across those aims as the project defines.”

“Let me tell you how I work. We’ve got a very comprehensive code of ethics on our website. I reckon it’s the best code of ethics of any public relations outfit in this country. Go and have a look at it. On ideological grounds we don’t always agree with each other. There’s a sense that that kind of plurality actually brings strength to a business like this.”

“But ideology doesn’t transmit itself to the company. The company should be beyond ideology.”

The broader issue, Jackson says, is that anyone should be assisted to say whatever they want in a democratic society.

“Those views are allowed to be promoted and argued and proselytised and even propagandised. Because that’s the kind of society we live in. People died for those principles Andrew.”

A spokesperson for the Sydney Peace Foundation, Melissa McCullough, said that the organisation wasn’t perturbed by the Jackson Wells Galileo link and confirmed that Keith Jackson was a good bloke.

“The Sydney Peace Foundation supports peace and justice in particular in the area of climate change and we would support anthropogenic climate change. We promote peace and justice and the ecological wellbeing for humanity.

“[But Jackson Wells’ role] is an advisory role as a PR company. We still make our own decisions, we’re independent and we take on board advice they may give us and strategies that they may suggest. At the end of the day, we’re an independent organisation, we’re three free-thinking individuals and we’ll make our own decisions.”

“The values of Keith Jackson and the staff at Jackson Wells with whom we work match our goals,” she added.

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100 thoughts on “PR outfit behind Monckton backers a company ‘beyond ideology’

  1. Sancho

    It’s hard not to admire the chutzpah required to name a scientific denialist organisation after Galileo Galilei, who was persecuted and harassed for producing observable scientific data that threatened the dominance of the most wealthy and powerful organisation of his era.

    In 2011, who is Galileo? The climatologists producing observable scientific data, or the wealthy and powerful industry lobby?

  2. Rufus Marsh

    Every time one begins to believe that Crikey might be a citable source for at least something factual one comes across cheap sneers like “fake Lord” applied to Monckton. I presume this is hearsay upon hearsay evidencing only the company Andrew Crook keeps. Monckton can easily be ascertained to be indeed the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (I haven’t checked the spelling) because his father (or grandfather but I think father) was Sir Walter Monckton and elevated to the peerage for his Cabinet and other services. He hasn’t been one of the 92 hereditary peers elected to the House of Lords and, though sneer upon hearsay upon sneer may have it otherwise, he has never been so stupid as to claim that he is a current member of the House of Lords – unless someone misheard or someone heard him joking about the matter. That he can make ready contact with a lot of sitting peers goes without saying if you know London and the UK. Now if you want a fake Lord, and don’t want to linger on some of Lloyd George’s elevations, think what it would mean to be one of Tony Blair’s picks!

    But you refer also to Monckton’s “fraudulent salutation”. What’s that?

    Have you ever met the man BTW? Have you heard him handling a serious audience’s questions?

  3. Sancho

    Which serious audiences has Monckton fronted? To my knowledge he only speaks at assemblies of committed denialists.

  4. ronin8317

    This is how it works.

    1) Deny it is happening, and refute the data
    2) When the data becomes impossible to refute, attribute it to be caused by something else
    3) When the causation becomes impossible to refute, it’ll be someone else’s problem.

    This is how the tobacco industry managed to avoid the smoking -> cancer link for 100 years.

  5. gregb

    Rufus, he uses a portcullis as header on his presentations which is eerily similar to that used by “real” lords. He is quite happy to let people believe incorrectly that he sits in the House of Lords.

  6. Sancho

    I’m surprised that isn’t mentioned more often, Ronin.

    Up to around five years ago, the pattern was complete, outright denial. Then, overnight, without the slightest acknowledgement, the denialists reversed their position to recognise the scientific data and begin denying from a new position and now get very upset at being reminded of their recent conversion.

    Imagine Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens suddenly began arguing that god exists, but religions just have the wrong idea about it, and that they’d never actually denied the existence of god at all. That wouldn’t wash for a second, but the right is fine with an identical dance around climate change.

  7. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    But you refer also to Monckton’s “fraudulent salutation”. What’s that?

    Rufus, what is fraudulent is Monckton pretends to be a member of the House Of Lords, when in reality he is not.

    He only stopped when the House of Lords threatened him with legal action.

    he has never been so stupid as to claim that he is a current member of the House of Lords

    Yes he has, multiple times. He also claims to be a Nobel prize winner, and this “joke” is repeated straight-faced on the bio of his thinktank’s website.

    Monckton’s rap sheet can be read here, and a long rebuttal presentation of Monckton’s talk can be seen here.

  8. Rufus Marsh

    @GregB

    But he is a “real” lord!! He is a hereditary peer whom you will find in Debrett, Burke’s Peerage and all other authoritative reference works.

    As to “he is quite happy to let people believe …. etc.” what is your authority for that? And if you are only saying that he doesn’t go out of his way to correct people who erroneously say or appear to believe that he sits in the House of Lords, what’s wrong with that? Why should he? Apparently he does nothing about the largely erroneous Wikipedia entry about him which is the work of enemies. Again, why should he? What money and personal effort should he put into either correction? And why?

  9. Penelope

    @rufus and anyone else wishing to take a look at the facts about Monckton- his rap sheet is pretty extraordinary. He is a curious specimen of a man, as indeed are most of our home grown climate deniers.

    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/lord-moncktons-rap-sheet/

  10. Mike

    Is it any wonder that mainstream the media think of Crikey as 21st Century Animal Farm?

  11. Sancho

    Crikey is a novelised allegory of communism featuring anthropomorphic animals?

  12. kate

    Well, FirstDog does do a very nice bandicoot

  13. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    But he is a “real” lord!! He is a hereditary peer whom you will find in Debrett, Burke’s Peerage and all other authoritative reference works.

    Nobody has said he isn’t a real lord. The article refers to him by using his title.

    What he isn’t is a member of the HoL, as per his many claims otherwise.

    Apparently he does nothing about the largely erroneous Wikipedia entry about him which is the work of enemies

    What kind of strawman argument is this?

    Interestingly, somebody with Monckton’s IP address does spend a lot of time editing the Wikipedia page. Somebody with Monckton’s IP address put in a section claiming Monckton had won a defamation case against the Guardian because of something George Monbiot wrote.

  14. Sancho

    Some endangered native marsupials are more equal than others.

  15. Sancho

    Monckton’s wiki hijnks don’t add much gravity to stature.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/10/watch_monckton_squirm.php

  16. uberin

    The deniers do love this co2 myth about volcanoes v Human activity,unless the USGS is a paid up member of the grand global conspiracy it was a myth yesterday and it will still be a myth tomorrow…( http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php )

  17. Rufus Marsh

    @ Sancho

    I have a bit of a problem with the idea of “denialists” because I have always shied away from those who get emotional in their opposition to the IPCC mob and associated hangers on and handout recipients. It took me a long time to start sifting wheat from chaff in the output, which I occasionally saw, of the Lavoisier Group and to realise that where I stood was that 1. average global temperatures have been rising for a couple of hundred years and are still rising, if you take a long enough moving average anyway; 2. This is not surprising since it was preceded by the Little Ice Age; 3. Increasing CO2 will, cet.par., cause global temperatures to rise a bit faster though, because of the inverse exponential (logarithmic) effect of CO2’s greenhouse effect, the ultimate effect will depend on whether it leads to sufficient positive feedback via increased water vapour greenhouse effect; 4. The degree of that positive feedback remains unproven. 5. The oceans are probably the least understood part of the whole complex of causation and there is a case for worrying about the CO2 which is being absorbed at high latitudes because of its effect on marine biology. It is worth remembering that the ocean’s mass is 200-300 times that of the atmosphere etc.et.c

    I could add a lot more complicating matters but mention only one because it relates to Monckton’s credibility.

    I have only heard him speak to 150 – 200 people of whom at least half were just intelligently interested seekers after truth. Nearly all the audience would have been honours graduates, many of them in science, right up to research physicists and high achievers in public service, proressions and business. When Monckton was given what could have been a Dorothy Dixer, effectually inviting him to co-op Svensmark and Calder’s “The Chilling Stars” to support his arguments he was quite clear that there had only been relevant data collected since 1983 so it was too early to tell. You would be quite wrong to dismiss him with glib stereotypical sneers as many do. He is obviously clever, mathematically acute, and not insane. Worth listening to. And of course questioning.

  18. Mark Matthews

    @Rufus I believe you might be missing the point here. I suggest you take a look at this video on Monckton http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfA1LpiYk2o which I suspect will change your mind on Monckton’s integrity on this issue. Monckton is renowned for stretching the truth regarding his connections to both British royalty and parliament. His credibility is shot now

  19. Penelope

    @rufus and any other readers who want a meticulously cited and referenced list of all the odd things Monckton has done and said, here they are:

    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/lord-moncktons-rap-sheet/

    I would be amazed that anyone could read this in full and consider the man worthy of being taken seriously.

    Thank you Crikey.

  20. john.hughes

    Monckton claimed to be “a member of the Upper House of the United
    Kingdom legislature’ in an open Letter to the US Senate that you can read at
    http://ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20061212_monckton.pdf

    There are skeptics and there are denialists. Moncton is a denialist, in that he actively distorts and selectively quotes the evidence.

  21. Sancho

    I’m not going to get into a terminable scientific argument, but the plain fact is that the movement against climate change is identical in every respect to the opposition to heliocentrism, evolution and the tobacco-cancer link.

    Science is non-partisan, and important scientific findings are confirmed and implemented constantly. It’s only when powerful interests are challenged that self-styled “skeptics” appear, armed with specious information against the same scientific methods that delivered the modern world we live in, and wild conspiracy theories about the motivations of scientists themselves.

    When you find yourself on the side of creationists, tobacco industry lobbyists, and people who sincerely believe that the world’s climatologists are running a global communist conspiracy to destroy capitalism by producing false data, you should probably wonder how much reason and sanity is underpinning it.

  22. Sancho

    Make that “interminable”.

  23. ConnorJ

    @ Rufus – “It took me a long time to start sifting wheat from chaff in the output, which I occasionally saw, of the Lavoisier Group ”

    There’s your problem right there, explains why you are parroting well worn and long discredited denier talking points.

    Please, for the love of Woden, cross check what you read from groups like the Lavoisier Group with more reputable assessments of the actual scientific literature like Skeptical Science (www.skepticalscience.com).

  24. Adam

    [In Australia, the main body trying to undermine the science of global warming is the Lavoisier Group. It maintains a website with links to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (more than $2 million from Exxon), the Science and Environmental Policy Project ($20,000) and the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide (at least $100,000). The Competitive Enterprise Institute returns the compliment to Lavoisier in its publication, which praised the group for its work in defeating the Kyoto protocol. Lavoisier, it said, “provides the principal intellectual and organisational opposition in Australia to Kyoto”. Its sources of funding are not public.

    The Lavoisier group is certainly influential in the Federal Opposition. During the Howard years, a senior figure in the group told Guy Pearse, author of High & Dry, a study of climate policy in Australia, there was “an understanding in cabinet that all the science is crap”.

    The Lavoisier board includes former mining executives Ray Evans and Ian Webber, the latter a former chief executive of Mitsubishi, and Harold Clough, whose companies include a provider of services to the oil and gas industries. Its president is the former Labor finance minister Peter Walsh.]

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/global-warming/the-climate-change-smokescreen/2008/08/01/1217097533885.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap3

  25. Rufus Marsh

    @ SANCHO

    “but the plain fact is ‘the movement’ (sic) ‘against climate change’ (sic) is ‘identical in every respect’ (sic) to the opposition to heliocentrism, evolution and the tobacco-cancer link”

    Would someone who perhaps knows at what level to pitch it, please explain to Sancho why anyone who emits that sort of tripe is likely to be treated either as arrogantly discourteous or as a complete intellectual tosser.

    @ RICH UNCLE SKELETON

    You seem to have a problem of arrogance combined with -certainly – carelessness.

    You say “nobody said he isn’t a real lord”. Would you care to check that I quoted the article correctly in attributing the expression “fake lord” to it? Any problem with my suggesting that “fake lord” means “not real lord”? Then you compound your error by saying “The article refers to him by using his title”. Sorry, you have been absorbing too much gossip pages usage. His title isn’t “Lord Christopher Monckton” for which he would have to be the son of a duke, marquess or earl, which he is not. That would be a courtesy title. His real title is The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (or something like that) or, for short, Lord Monckton.

    But, please note, my principal point is that you are just plain wrong in your primary assertion.

    What you describe at a “straw man argument” is of course merely a piece of corroboration by consistency – possibly no stronger than the legally inadmissable evidence of prior convictions but still of some relevance as a matter of common sense. My principal argument which you should have dealt with, if you were concerned to have it rejected, is that he was under no obligation to stop people ignorantly supposing he was a member of the House of Lords.

    Admittedly I think my somewhat dated info about his Wikepedia entry was derived from hearing someone ask him about it and his saying he didn’t have time to give to correcting the constant intrusion of lies. Maybe he now has someone doing it for him, or has changed his mind. What intrigues me is how you can be sure that what is being done on Wikipedia comes from (a) a known IP address and (b) that it is his. I would be very pleased for an explanation, particularly as I understand that I don’t have a permanent IP address but can still get access to any site that I am able to connect to electronically.

    @CONNORJ

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt at first pass, but you have no reason to suppose that my information comes to any great extent from Lavoisier Group sources and, in fact, I would say that, in the ten years I have been taking an increasing interest, only about 2 per cent at most could be so characterised.

    My personal contact sources include several distinguished and, in their fields famous, scientists in relevant fields (apart from Bob Carter and Ian Plimer), a couple of retired particle physicists, an academic mathematical astronomer, Dr David Evans who did carbon cycle modeling for the Commonwealth government, and a large variety of papers on a couple of dozen sites. So, as you have committed yourself to a view on what you allege I have said by describing them as “well worn and long discredited denier talking points” would you please do your readers the courtesy of specifying such points and where they have been truly discredited?

    Just to make it quick and easy for you, what do you say to each of my statements or points 1. to 5. if you think any of them qualify for your glib dismissal? And, if you, like some others, suggest that “The Chilling Stars” hypothesis has been discredited rather than simply not yet proved would you care to say where and when that discrediting occurred. The English co-author, as you should know, was editor of The New Scientist, so it is not appropriate to dismiss such work on lightweight hearsay.

    BTW, why do you say that the Lavoisier Group is less respectable than e.g. Skeptical Science? Bob Hawke’s highly respected Finance Minister Peter Walsh was president for a long time, its members include retired senior Treasury officers who have first class honours degrees in physics or mathematics and tough standards of proof, and many others whose intellectual processes have been tested by their successful pursuit of their professions.

    There is a problem of course in climate science which is rarely mentioned. What is “climate science”? How many of the contributors to the IPCC’s compilations could themselves be described truly as “climate scientists”? How many of the “lead authors”? In what sense, for example, is the evangelical David Karoly a climate scientist rather than one contending mathematical modeler?

    Much safer for Australians to simply be adaptationists.

  26. heavylambs

    Why is attempting to change our energy generation base to a less carbon intensive one not seen as ‘adaptionist’,Rufus? Australians will be ‘adaptionists’ anyway. ‘Adapting’ would have been a little easier if some useful consensus on lowering fossil fuel consumption had been achieved by now.The only consensus we currently have in that department is to use it as quickly as possible. Every decade of BAU commits us to higher global average temperatures and therefore even greater adaptive efforts.

    There is not space here to deal with Monckton’s nonsense..as a start,I suggest you look at the work of Professors John Abraham and Barry Bickmore for a comprehensive dissection of his deceptions and misuse of data.

  27. Rufus Marsh

    @ HEAVYLAMBS

    “Why is attempting to change our energy generation base to a less carbon intensive one not seen as ‘adaptionist’,Rufus? ”

    You are referring to adaptation to perceived pressure to reduce our contribution to climate changing gases but not to adaptation, as I was, to actual or prospectively very likely climate change.

    We could changeover at vast cost to a combination of nuclear, solar PV, solar thermal, wind generation, tidal, wave power, and gas but it would not improve our adaptation to the climate change which will be inflicted on us by the rest of the world assuming one of the reasonably bad case scenarios plays out.

    Thank you for the references to Monckton and critics. However, I am not nearly interested enough in Monckton’s works to promise to get round to reading it. You seem to be somebody that dislikes bad and careless arguments. So do I, and that extends to people using the cheap shots at Monckton which sometimes seem to be motivated as much as anything else by anti-Pom chip-on-shoulder attitudes as anything else.

    I am, FWIW, particulary critical, or at least likely to gear up to criticise, when someone who seems to be basically on the right side gets something wrong, even innocently. For example, a scientist friend wrote a paper which made a brilliantly researched and reasoned case for the view that most of the recent decades of additional CO2 in the atmosphere came from the ocean rather than fossil fuel burning. I’m afraid I couldn’t help doing my best to nail him with the possibility that it was an illusion created by freshly created CO2 being absorbed at high latitudes and, after circulating in the top 500m of the ocean towards the tropics, being emitted again after thorough mixing with oceanic CO2 that has a different isotopic marker. Science, as some Crikey cliché monger said rather fatuously “isn’t partisan” but it does require close attention to detail, dotting of i’s, crossing of t’s and testing at every point. It goes for both or all sides.

  28. Sense Seeker

    The moment Monckton publishes a peer-reviewed scientific paper about climate change I’ll take interest in what he has to say. Until then, he remains one of the denialists’ fake experts to me.

    McKee’s 5 telltales of denialism:
    Conspiracies
    False experts
    Selectivity /cherry picking
    Impossible expectations of science
    Misrepresentation of scientific work and logical fallacies

  29. 7cccb1f12846378a9d3293b2936c942b

    There seems to be some confusion here about what Monckton has claimed about his title. You are engaging in wishful thinking if you think Monckton has merely “let people believe” he is a member of Parliament. Here are the details.

    1. He is a real Viscount, and can legitimately called a “Lord”.
    2. He is NOT a member of the House of Lords, which is part of the UK Parliament.
    3. He has repeatedly claimed (falsely) to be a member of the House of Lords.
    4. When confronted with the fact that he doesn’t appear on official lists of members of Parliament, he has claimed that he is a member, but “without a seat or vote”.
    5. However, the House of Lords Information Office says he is not, and has never been, a member of Parliament, and that there is no such thing as a non-voting member.
    6. When confronted with this information, Monckton has referred to some obscure legal argument to claim that the House of Lords Act 1999, which made it so most “Lords” are not members of the House of Lords, wasn’t lawful. His argument is based on a statement by the Lord President of the Council.
    7. But if you actually look up that statement, it turns out that the Lord President was saying the polar opposite of what Monckton claims.
    8. He often uses the portcullis as his logo, and he has publicly stated that it is the symbol of the House of Lords.
    9. The British government has asked Monckton to stop using the portcullis and stop claiming to be a member of Parliament.

    For all the gory details, see this:

    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/lord-moncktons-rap-sheet/

    Does this have anything to do with climate? No, but it serves to neatly illustrate the fact that the people who listen to Monckton are either listening to someone who is a serial, um… “fabricator of false facts”, or is a bit off his nut. If you get a chance, when you look at the above link, check out the section that talks about how he claims to have come up with a miracle cure for all kinds of diseases, including AIDS and MS.

  30. goldsztajn

    “to enviro-socialist warrior Vandana Shiva.”FYI, Vandana Shiva is no socialist. She’s aligned to the BJP in India. Her politics are grounded in a Hindu-Brahmin-elite Third World nationalism…but most definitely not socialism in any form.

  31. Rufus Marsh

    @ Sense Seeker

    That’s a pretty good list but I think it is a pity to tie it to what you call “denialism”. Suitably adapted provides a pretty good description of lots of people with bees in their bonnets. Have you tried tuning in at a typical political party branch meeting?

  32. LisaCrago

    Gee, knew it would not take long to see a muck rake rant written about this in Crikey. Like Jackson I also believe “that anyone should be assisted to say whatever they want in a democratic society”… ANYONE must be able to say ANYTHING even one eyed hack journos. So keep up the good work as it is fantastic to see the Galileo Movement promoted in Crikey.

    Crook’s claims that this Galileo crew are only ‘motivated to dispute the scientific consensus’ shows he is not able to objectivly report. But maybe the deeper motivation of this networks”concern[ed] about misrepresentation of science by the Government, Government agencies and some academic institutes dependent on Government grant funding.” ( Galileo web site) plus who is funding who does not fit in with the derogetory ‘denialist’ lable chucked about in the likes of Crook’s camp.

    We simply MUST ask these questions and expose any form of corruption.
    And for those who like to think that the AGW ‘believers’ have all the right answers and are purer than the driven snow….. WAKE UP!

  33. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    You seem to have a problem of arrogance combined with -certainly – carelessness.

    In a post about Monckton you’re accusing me of arrogance.

    You say “nobody said he isn’t a real lord”. Would you care to check that I quoted the article correctly in attributing the expression “fake lord” to it? Any problem with my suggesting that “fake lord” means “not real lord”? Then you compound your error by saying “The article refers to him by using his title”. Sorry, you have been absorbing too much gossip pages usage. His title isn’t “Lord Christopher Monckton” for which he would have to be the son of a duke, marquess or earl, which he is not. That would be a courtesy title. His real title is The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (or something like that) or, for short, Lord Monckton.

    Granted, I missed that. He still isn’t a member of the House Of Lords though. As for the semantics of his title – it’s all poppycock.

    What you describe at a “straw man argument” is of course merely a piece of corroboration by consistency – possibly no stronger than the legally inadmissable evidence of prior convictions but still of some relevance as a matter of common sense. My principal argument which you should have dealt with, if you were concerned to have it rejected, is that he was under no obligation to stop people ignorantly supposing he was a member of the House of Lords.

    Except Monckton is the one feeding the delusion. He wants people to believe it. Monckton has claimed that he is a “member without the right to sit or vote” as well as claiming he is “a member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature” in a letter to US senators. Monckton is nothing of the sort.

    We call that lying.

    Admittedly I think my somewhat dated info about his Wikepedia entry was derived from hearing someone ask him about it and his saying he didn’t have time to give to correcting the constant intrusion of lies.

    Speaking of carelessness.

    Maybe he now has someone doing it for him, or has changed his mind. What intrigues me is how you can be sure that what is being done on Wikipedia comes from (a) a known IP address and (b) that it is his. I would be very pleased for an explanation, particularly as I understand that I don’t have a permanent IP address but can still get access to any site that I am able to connect to electronically.

    Because of the work of the Wikipedia moderators who outed him. Feel free to go the the talk page of his Wikipedia article and read the archives. Monckton is the main editor of the page, and the only person who has put obvious untruths into that page is Monckton himself (Google the fiasco when Monckton added a section claiming he’d won a defamation suit against the Guardian because of something Monbiot wrote. This was, amazingly, a lie).

    Lisa:

    You people are mad. Expose away. Meanwhile Monckton is flouncing around pretending to be a member of parliament, a Nobel peace prize winner and an Arabian prince who was born over 1,000 years ago but it’s good to see the conspiracy theorists who their real enemy is the big bad climatologists who want to “impose a communist world government on the world” (to use Monckton’s own phrase).

  34. Sense Seeker

    “ANYONE must be able to say ANYTHING”

    That’s absolute BS. Slander, for one thing, is clearly liable and for good reason. Otherwise presenting things as fact of which you know, or should know, that they are not facts is also not to be allowed. We call that lying and deceiving.

    We can only have healthy democratic discussions if we get the facts right.

  35. LisaCrago

    Sense Seeker, there is quite an art form to ‘Selectivity /cherry picking’ as you have shown by taking just a couple of words out of a sentence in a post and then frameing them in your own rant; totally out of context.

    I think the media and the PR men know all about defamation.

    and as far as “healthy democratic discussions if we get the facts right”…
    just who decides which facts are right and which are wrong
    is this to be done without a discussion?

    best I get out of the way of all those who are “right” lest you goose step all over those of us who you say are wrong.

  36. Rufus Marsh

    @ MONCKTON

    As indicated I am not sufficiently interested in Monckton to spend time on him and his emissions but thanks to whoever gave us

    http://ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20061212_monckton.pdf

    It certainly seems to be a clear unambiguous case of his misrepresenting his status with respect to the House of Lords. It is true that one could imagine him replying that, in context, he was not misrepresenting the substance of any argument but merely enhancing the emotive impact of a piece of advocacy primarily designed to make a couple of Senators honour the US commitment to free speech. However, I would be most concerned, if advising him, to avoid giving such hostages to fortune and would be more than questioning my own statement that he would not be, maybe was not, so stupid as to claim to be a member of the Lords.

    Even so….. I note that the letter was dated 2006 and it may be that he had a technical case for correctness then (which he may or may not have now) because, as a hereditary peer he probably had a vote for the hereditary peers who would, under the Blair-Cranborne (?anyway Salisbury heir) compromise, still sit in the Lords. One shouldn’t be too quick to suppose him stupid. Mind you the photograph of himself I saw on a webpage that presumably he approved wasn’t a great tribute to his PR sense…… Nonetheless, who are most of us to damn his nous as a PR person? The extent of the anti-Monckton industry suggests that sneering at him as we who called Tony Abbott unelectable did of Abbott, suggests that humility on our part might have its place.

    I won’t plow through the You Tube and other anti-Monckton stuff because I don’t regard him as providing more than an occasional glimmer of interesting questions, but I thank those who have supplied the links. I might learn a bit more about Wiki and Monckton however if I find time to follow up RICH UNCLE SKELETON’S references. I am bound to look for quibble points though so know time is involved.

    My excuse for not denouncing sceptics about “warmists” – or “thermals” as one of my sceptical scientist friends liks to say – is that, apart from assertions by the self-interested or starry-eyed believers, I can see very little to be said for Australia trying to get in first by spending money that wouldn’t be spent either by reason of Research Council grant, private investment or other non-ideological subsidy. Prima facie the whole world can benefit if we continue to produce the world’s cheapest electricity, just on Ricardo’s comparative advantage principles, even without intergovernmental measures. The best thing about a modest carbon tax (which as noted previously I have supported for many years) might be that we can use this fig leaf to cover our going for broke on producing more and more of the world’s cheapest electricity.

    It follows that I can sit back and look at the science as something which doesn’t matter to Australia once you realise that it shows that we haven’t got a chance of influencing our fate (absent delusions of diplomatic grandeur or moral impact on China’s and India’s rulers). Unless we find out something interesting about cloud formation related to intra-galactic cosmic radiation and the fluctuation of the sun’s magnetic field it looks as though the coincidence of rising CO2 levels and rising global temperatures is going to be proved to be more than a coincidence only when the positive water vapour feedbacks required by the IPCC’s models are suficiently validated by measurements or, perhaps, when a great deal more is learned about oceanic cycles and changes than we know now (remembering that the ocean has 200 -300 times the mass of the atmosphere and stores vast amounts of carbon including CO2). The potential methane problem looks like a bit of a bogeyman because of its v. short life in the atmosphere. Certainly it is just an imaginable problem at present. Incidentally there is a remarkable divergence of positive assertions about the life of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. There is such a huge uptake of CO2 in the northern spring that it is easy to imagine biological takeup being greatly increased by plantings, genetic engineering, use of some sort of algae or other aquatic organisms….. So, good subjects for Australian research but not much to do with whether we should waste money now on wind farms, the present generation of photovoltaics etc.

    Remember adaptation will be easier if we are rich. And, as BK and others have pointed out, we will be richer if we don’t squander all the proceeds of successful mining and mineral exports on consumption – including consumption via handouts to anyone. Enhance the Future Fund or duplicate it and keep politicians’ hands off the money.

  37. Nutsnbolts

    Jackson Wells are providing a professional service in a competitive business environment. Why should they question their client’s beliefs? Does your Dentist or Accountant refuse your business if you a climate denier? Would you refuse to sell a car to Monkton?

    Andrew is being far too precious. Reeling off a list of Jackson Wells clients whose views you disagree with is shallow journalism and smacks of bullying.

  38. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Interesting that someone who was demanding to know if we’d heard Monckton speak and boasted about the intellectual make-up of his audiences is now backing away.

    Funny what Monckton’s own words and actions do to his own credibility.

    I can see very little to be said for Australia trying to get in first

    We are far from the first.

    Unless we find out something interesting about cloud formation related to intra-galactic cosmic radiation and the fluctuation of the sun’s magnetic field it looks as though the coincidence of rising CO2 levels and rising global temperatures is going to be proved to be more than a coincidence only when the positive water vapour feedbacks required by the IPCC’s models are suficiently validated by measurements.

    Your arguments have already been looked at and discarded. Co2 is the only known driver of climate at the moment and we are well within the range predicted by the IPCC, unless you are arguing the climate has a low sensitivity to Co2 in which case you are sadly mistaken.

    Waiting for the models to be validated is meaningless: 1) because they have been, 2) because it will be too late, 3) because deniers will still be suing the same arguments in thirty years time as no amount of evidence is “sufficient” enough for them.

  39. rhwombat

    Hmm. RUS, you have either uncovered another Monckton sock-puppet, or Rufus Marsh is uncannily similar in mendacity, verbosity, pomposity and demeanour. As for referring to Sancho as ‘a complete intellectual tosser’ : Pot, meet mirror. Read Naomi Oreskes, and get back to us, you name-dropping wanker.

  40. Sense Seeker

    @lisacrago

    “just who decides which facts are right and which are wrong
    is this to be done without a discussion?”

    In the case of climate change and it’s cause, how about the scientists who study the matter? Some 97% of them believe we are causing it with our CO2 emissions.

    Do you honestly believe this Galileo thing is about uncovering ‘any form of corruption’ by climate scientists and governments? Geez, some people are gullible. There is not the faintest evidence for any such corruption. It’s just a smokescreen for the unwary.

    The anti-scientific PR firms hired by the fossil fuel industry misuse the name of scientist Galileo Galilei, who was persecuted for his science, as a cloak from under which to deny science! And they set out to uncover corruption among the scientific camp, while ignoring all the proof that the fossil fuel industry (Koch brothers, ExxonMobil) are funding propaganda denying CO2-related climate change. You gotta give it to them, they have cheek, spinning things around like that.

    I pity the simpletons that still fall for the denialist propaganda. They must be blind.

  41. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Nah, if it was Monckton he would have threatened us all with libel suits and recorded a series of YouTube gish-gallop “rebuttals” by now.

  42. Rufus Marsh

    @ RHWOMBAT

    Please give us cause to regard anything you write as worth wasting 5 seconds on by defending Sancho against the criticism I embodied in

    ” “but the plain fact is ‘the movement’ (sic) ‘against climate change’ (sic) is ‘identical in every respect’ (sic) to the opposition to heliocentrism, evolution and the tobacco-cancer link”

    Would someone who perhaps knows at what level to pitch it, please explain to Sancho why anyone who emits that sort of tripe is likely to be treated either as arrogantly discourteous or as a complete intellectual tosser. ”

    You implied that there was no difference between my standard of analysis and criticism than Sancho’s. If you are not one of those who was kept back a year at school and sneered at those of us who weren’t maybe you would like to prove your intellectual and foresnic potency.

  43. Rufus Marsh

    @ RICH UNCLE SKELETON

    1. You are also beginning to display the symptoms of the kid who could only jeer at those with IQs over 100 who went from grade 5 to 6 in even time.

    “poppycock bullshit nonsense hogwash balderdash piffle drivel baloney bunkum rubbish twaddle claptrap crap lies poppy bollocks cock tomfoolery falsehood …”

    So it should be clear enough when you say “As for the semantics of his title – it’s all poppycock.”

    The trouble is the actual point was whether the author had “referred to him by his title” in a way which indicated that he accepted that he was either a modern life peer or a real hereditary lord of the sort who might, if elected, be a member of the House of Lords. And the answer is that he didn’t. In a previous life I had to get things like that right and Lord Christopher Monckton is just American tabloid or Australian gossip column (cp. “Lady Mary Fairfax” or “Lady Susan Renouf”) usage. In the current context it conveys no more than “the chap sometimes referred to as Lord Crhistopher Monckton”.

    2. “Funny what Monckton’s own words and actions do to his own credibility.” You suggest that I am backing away from something. Not if you read what I have said carefully. While I tended to regard his 2006 use of membership of an Upper House as possibly foolishly bad PR that wouldn’t affect the small and occasional interest that I might take in anything novel (to me) that he might say I ended with suspended judgment even on that peripheral item because he might, as I pointed out, have been technically correct. (After all who else would vote for the elected hereditaries than hereditaries who in some sense were members of the House of Lords? I don’t know, but it is a plausible line of inquiry).

    3. (a) “Co2 is the only known driver of climate at the moment ” Do you expect to be taken seriously when anyone can Google for “climate drivers” and easily get a tabulated list of 18 of them, in which, incidentally, CO2 is not rated as one of the strongest (the cosmic radiation effect in cloud formation is at the bottom and, as Monckton did, left as insufficiently evidenced).
    (b)”Your arguments have already been looked at and discarded”. Is that what you do with “arguments”? What about “analysed and refuted”? What arguments are you referring to and how have they been dealt with, by whom, when and where?
    (c) “we are well within the range predicted by the IPCC”. Presumably you are saying that the collation of models by IPCC editors produces a range of projected possible global average temperatures of which the maximum estimates have been and are above what we have experienced and the minimum below. Or what? If that is what you are saying, and it is probably correct, is it not truly amazing as a way of demonstrating anything? It makes no more sense than saying that a conference of the world’s religious leaders and gurus has agreed that the world will come to an end somewhere between many billions of years in the future and at the time of the 1740s Rapture and that we are tracking just fine within that range.

    A more substantial point about the IPCC’s output is that, if you read the paper I have seen, possibly still unpublished, from the Erice, Sicily, conference last September in which it was demonstrated that all of IPCC’s models, if adjusted for the proven availability of fossil fuels to create the future CO2 emissions got no further than than pointing to a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature by 2100. Being inclined to nit-pick (I wish you would take as much care) I pointed out to the author that it didn’t take account of what mining companies might call “inferred resources” or anything but the kind of proven reserves that it is economically sensible to prove up. However, you might regard it as having this relevance, namely that their are many models which, by their very differences, imply that there is error in at least all but one of them and that those who make them think there is something wrong about the others which needs correction. And before you go along with the commenter who believes that all models pointing in a similar direction (i.e. the world is warming and CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas) compels belief in the continuation of that direction and its importance you should attend to the way that models are built and, in particular, how the IPCC’s have been built, chosen and tinkered with. (If your imagination needs stimulation, read some of the recent stuff about the scandalous publication record – in esteemed peer reviewed journals – of lousy medical research – to be found in The Atlantic and on the ABC site to name accessible and reasonably respectable websites.)

    (d) “Waiting for the models to be validated is meaningless [SIC]: 1) because they have been, 2) because it will be too late, ” Well, which is it? They have been or they haven’t yet been!!
    Have Dr David Evans’s lucidly written criticisms about the IPCC’s models been answered? His case was that the models required a certain hotspot to be found which the recently available record showed not to exist. Without that hotspot (actually cold but an area of the troposphere which should have heated up relatively over several decades) the models which relied, as they had to, on positive feedback via increased water vapour, simply didn’t work. I haven’t followed it up since a couple of lame attempts were made to escape his criticisms a couple of years ago.
    And what is the status of Lindzen and Choi’s work on the evidence for negative as against positive feedback? Knowing that bloggers on RealClimate and SkepticalScience had got stuck into the peer-reviewed August 2009 Geophysical Research Letters paper I have searched and found that, as a result of some serious scientists’ criticisms, a new article was written of which the Abstract is below. Can you give chapter and verse in refutation of this vital element of proof provided by a genuine climate scientist (Richard Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT)
    http://www.heliogenic.net/2010/05/03/lindzen-and-chois-new-paper-out-confirms-negative-feedback-unlike-agw-climate-models/
    Lindzen and Choi’s new paper out — confirms negative feedback, unlike AGW climate models
    Posted on 05/03/2010 by jblethen
    “Abstract: To estimate climate sensitivity from observations, Lindzen and Choi [2009] used the deseasonalized fluctuations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the concurrent responses in the top-of-atmosphere outgoing radiation from the ERBE satellite instrument. Distinct periods of warming and cooling in the SST were used to evaluate feedbacks. This work was subject to significant criticism by Trenberth et al. [2009], much of which was appropriate. The present paper is an expansion of the earlier paper in which the various criticisms are addressed and corrected. In this paper we supplement the ERBE data for 1985-1999 with data from CERES for 2000-2008. Our present analysis accounts for the 36 day precession period for the ERBE satellite in a more appropriate manner than in the earlier paper which simply used what may have been undue smoothing. The present analysis also distinguishes noise in the outgoing radiation as well as radiation changes that are forcing SST changes from those radiation changes that constitute feedbacks to changes in SST. Finally, a more reasonable approach to the zero-feedback flux is taken here. We argue that feedbacks are largely concentrated in the tropics and extend the effect of these feedbacks to the global climate. We again find that the outgoing radiation resulting from SST fluctuations exceeds the zero-feedback fluxes thus implying negative feedback. In contrast to this, the calculated outgoing radiation fluxes from 11 atmospheric GCMs [global climate models] forced by the observed SST are less than the zero-feedback fluxes consistent with the positive feedbacks that characterize these models. The observational analysis implies that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.”
    It seems it was published in Journal of Geophysical Research, perhaps with a further revision 23 July 2o10.

    So, to one purporting to know that arguments (unspecified) have been “discarded” and the opposite validated, can you go beyond your Wikepedia searches and give credible chapter and verse?

    As should be clear I take the view that there is nothing Australia can do with any perceptible degree of probability about what climate may do to us and our descendants so we should take an economically rational course. If I seem to be on the side of AGW sceptics it is because the economically illiterate and innumerate in our politics and would-be opinion-making community are so dominant that it is necessary in practice to ensure that they can’t get away with thinking they have some absolutely certain scientific foundation for their foolish policies. (And, I repeat, for those who wish to argue dismissively but have short term memory difficulties, I have long thought that a low level Carmody style carbon tax should be imposed).

  44. Sancho

    Where were we?

    Ah, yes. Rufus still doesn’t know how “(sic)” is properly applied, and also hasn’t twigged that isn’t a News Ltd blog, so simply quoting criticisms isn’t the same as refuting them.

    I’m happy to elaborate.

    [T]he plain fact is the movement against climate change is identical in every respect to the opposition to heliocentrism, evolution and the tobacco-cancer link

    Climate change denialism is a movement: not all right-wing conservatives are climate change deniers, but all climate change deniers are right-wing conservatives. There is no broad, cross-spectrum agreement among climate change denialists, but the scientific community – which represents thousands of people from across the political spectrum – is all but unanimous in agreement that CO2 emissions are driving rapid climate change.

    It’s impossible to ignore that climate change denialism and pro-industry ideology go hand-in-hand.

    As noted, the arguments, methods and history of climate change denialism are identical to those mentioned, as described by Ronin in post #4.

    Firstly, deny the existence of any evidence, and rely on public illiteracy and ignorance to posit conspiracy theories about the motivations of the scientists:

    “There is no evidence at all for [heliocentrism/evolution/lung cancer/climate change]!” [Galileo/Darwin/doctors/climatologists] are trying to confuse us with big words and mathematics because they hate [the church/God/corporations/capitalism]!”

    As the public becomes more aware of the data and straight denial won’t wash, concede that SOME of the science is correct, but not enough that any action is required:

    “Okay, there is clearly a little basis to the claims of [Galileo/Darwin/doctors/climatologists]. This is not a reversal of our position! We never denied the scientific evidence, we just didn’t think it was compelling. But the scientists go too far! These findings barely support their claims, and you will find that [the bible is infallible on every other topic/micro-evolution only!/tobacco only causes cancer in lab conditions/humans aren’t driving climate change].

    Continue to smear scientists and appeal to authority:

    “Funny, isn’t it, that the findings of these so-called scientists so perfectly suit the goals of [atheists/communists/enviro-hippies]? [The church/man’s primacy/corporations/high-emission industry] are inseparable from the history of western civilisation, and we should view with great suspicion anyone who claims we should change it in any way.”

    Play follow-the-money in one direction, but not the other:

    “Just look at the money and influence [Galileo/Darwin/doctors/climatologists] stand to gain from public acceptance of their “data”! Fame! Research grants! Political power! THIS is what motivates them!”

    “What? There’s nothing wrong with incredibly wealthy [religions/tobacco companies/industry] employing scientists and public relations experts to discredit scientific data that threatens their influence and profit margins. It’s crass to suggest that these professionals would tell lies for money.”

    Get started on that, Rufus. Demonstrate how I’m wrong.

  45. rhwombat

    Rufus: Oh goody, fresh meat. Why don’t you pop along to PP or Deltoid and try blowing your intellectual vuvuzela. And it’s forensic, Dufus. Try to keep up.

  46. Rufus Marsh

    @ RHWOMBAT

    Your old schoolmarm granny will be v. disappointed in you. We were all hoping for at least a C+ for effort this time but picking up just one of the mistypes and literals isn’t enough. Still you can stay for trivia night till bedtime.

    @ SANCHO

    Indeed, you haven’t a clue what I was saying have you? Oh dear, I don’t wish to be patronising, but I am sorry. Doesn’t “sic” give you a clue. Supercilious or sarcastic it may be – and was in this instance – but the two main uses of “sic” are pretty common currency.

  47. Rufus Marsh

    @ SANCHO

    I was about to suggest an alternative, intellectually respectable and accurately expressed approach for someone like you who wants to draw attention to the similarities you see between people (some and which? one might ask) who contend that there is much missing in the supposedly “settled” science and those who notoriously went on, even go on, denying the truth of the central place of the sun in the solar system, the reality of evolution or the tobacco-cancer causal link. Something along the lines of “I don’t wish to go into the scientific arguments because, when I look at those denying the seriousness of AGW, I find only people who seem to display the same intellectual and psychological characteristics of the latter day deniers of heliocentrism, evolution and the tobacco-cancer link”. The trouble was I could see that you would still just be telling us something rather uninteresting and not very flattering about yourself it you didn’t go on to discuss e.g. the interesting case of the sceptics who didn’t fall into that category which you showed no sign of wanting to do. And I also went back and realised you had said also

    “When you find yourself on the side of creationists, tobacco industry lobbyists, and people who sincerely believe that the world’s climatologists are running a global communist conspiracy to destroy capitalism by producing false data, you should probably wonder how much reason and sanity is underpinning it.”

    That seems to me on all fours with the assertions which I used to see as offensive that AGW and other Green concerns were a religious phenomenon in a post Christian age. After a while I had to concede that some enthusiasts for AGW as a great danger did sound remarkably like religious enthusiasts in many ways. But that is no more reason for refusing to deal with arguments of substance than the observation that some opposition to IPCC reports sounds mad. Neither statement of one’s own emotional orientation towards the debates should be worth spending time on by now.

  48. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Rufus, your fence-sitting act might be more believable if you didn’t lapse into denier language so frequently.

  49. Sancho

    Show us ” the interesting case of the sceptics who didn’t fall into that category”. Providing that sort of rebuttal is precisely what I’ve invited you to do, and precisely what you seem determined to avoid.

    Denial of the clear-cut evidence for AGW has followed the same motivation and process as the denial of heliocentrism, evolution and the cancer-tobacco link, all of which resulted in the vindication of science.

    Saying “no, it isn’t” and waffling about emotions is a painfully obvious way of conceding the point.

    This is beginning to sound awfully familiar…http://tinyurl.com/3lwtvr7

  50. Rufus Marsh

    Whoever quibbled about whether Australia might be “leading the world” allow me to point out that “leading” in the sense of preaching, exhorting and expecting to have an influence thereby – the Rudd delusion it seems – is one thing we seem constantly under threat of. The other form of leading, which is to do things first, is also threatened in substance because the only question is whether we are going to incur heavy expense ahead of anything adequate being done by China, India and the US to prevent our suffering from whatever AGW may inflict on us.

    @ RICH UNCLE SKELETON

    Please specify the “denier language” you accuse me of lapsing into without misrepresenting what I have said or dealing with it out of context and explain why it deserves that description which implies unreasoned refusal to accept the evidence.

    @ SANCHO

    You say ” Show us ” the interesting case of the sceptics who didn’t fall into that category”. ”

    In using that phrase I was simply suggesting what YOU might have gone on to discuss if you were to make a contribution which wasn’t more about your personal reactions than anything else. However, if you want some assistance, here it is:

    “Providing that sort of rebuttal” is not appropriate choice of words because I was suggesting only that you might want to consider how the sceptics who didn’t fall into your anathematised category might be distinguished. Nonetheless, if you want some help in finding respectable, qualified sceptics (in the sense that they would point to areas where the evidence is lacking to support an extreme AGW-is-so-threatening that we must decarbonise our economy or whatever asap position) I can mention Dr David Evans, former carbon cycle modeler for the Commonwealth Government, Dr Tom Quirk, former particle physicist at Oxford and Chicago, Dr Ian Wilson of the Univ of Queensland, Em Prof Paul Gross, former Director of the Woods Hole Institute, Em Prof John McCarthy, Kyoto Prize winner inter alia, Prof Nir Shaviv, Dr or Prof ?? Svensmark and many many others (Stephen McIntyre is obviously an important one and I should certainly not forget the BoM’s former leader Dr Bill Kininmonth). I haven’t checked the list of 900 peer-reviewed sceptical-of-IPCC articles recently proffered in answer to some challenge but no doubt a great many of them do qualify as peer-reviewed etc. One would, also, be wrong to dismiss everything said by Ian Plimer and Bob Carter who know a great deal about what they do know about. I can see why you might interpret the light of battle in their eyes as fanatically “denialist” in some Freudian school sense but but I would tend to regard it as similar to the way some Catholic convert friends defend the indefensible out of, as it seems to me, sheer intellectual joie de vivre.

    I see your real problem in the words “Denial of the clear-cut evidence for AGW “. No doubt you can find all sorts of very odd things being said online and in the pub but don’t those words describe a straw man? Who doubts, beyond raisng faint possibilities that are acknowledge as such, that increasing anthropogenic CO2’s greenhouse effect is contributing to the medium to long term warming which we are experiencing? It is true that the paper in Environment and Energy which noted the apparently oceanic origins of the increases in CO2 over the last 50 years offers some slight, to me unconvincing, reason to think that long cycle oceanic effects could be responsible but have you heard any fanatical “denialist” who is even aware of that article? True too, that Lindzen and Choi’s work on feedbacks might qualify though it concedes the AGW from CO2 even if it suggests that it is offset by other factors (I haven’t done more than glance at the abstract so can’t say). So…..

    Don’t get so excited by ignorant ranters whom you seem to prefer to tune into and are easy to deride. What about a soul cleansing perusal and analysis of the papers to be found on the Lavoisier Group site? Apart from anything else you might find fascinating stuff about India’s 6o year famine cycle amongst other major phenomena that are barely touched on by IPCC papers. (Dr Ian Wilson wrote about that I think, as he did also – with some Russian scientists – about the influence of the Jovian planets gravity on very long cycles of the meridional flows from the sun).

    By the way, didn’t “science” give us for decades the “luminiferous ether”, the non-pathogenic causes of stomach cancer, Einstein’s cosmological constant which decades on he declared to be the biggest “blunder” of his life, then the belief that it was a blunder which was itself disproved long after Einstein’s death…. etc.

    If you hold fast to the economic logic of what Australia should rationally do you can enjoy, as I do, occasional but thorough forays into matters of science which, basically, are irrelevant to Australian decision making apart from doing what we can to ensure that all the serious scientific questions are thoroughly researched, especially in China, India and the US, given that our own unaided efforts can’t do it.

  51. Sancho

    That’s quite a Gish gallop, Rufus. I’ll go para by para for convenience, then we’ll see if you’ve addressed the argument.

    Here are the scientists you’ve cited who don’t ” fall into [my] anathematised category”:

    Emeritus professor Paul Gross – no record of any comments regarding climate change.

    Emeritus professor John McCarthy – no record of any comments regarding climate change.

    Tom Quirk – former Chairman of Virax Holdings Limited and board member of far-right think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. This is what you consider an unbiased skeptic, free from corprate influence.

    Professor Nir Shaviv – published papers on climate change positing the now-dead sun-ray theory of warming. As relevant as luminiferous ether. Invited speaker of the Heartland Institute, an industry-funded think tank with a proud history of backing every single denialist claim ever made.

    Professor Henrik Svensmark – you can be forgiven for not knowing his title, even though it’s easily found, because you don’t actually have a clue who these people are, but they appeared on the page you copied and pasted from. Svensmark is also a proponent of the debunked solar warming theory, and has a history of dismissing equally-eminent critics by claiming they just don’t understand science.

    Ian Plimer – needs no debunking. You may as well cite Harold Camping. Just for good measure, I’ll quote from a review of his book, Heaven + Earth:

    I couldn’t help noticing on page 120 an almost word-for-word reproduction of the abstract from a well-known loony paper entitled “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”…It is hard to understate the depth of scientific ignorance that the inclusion of this information demonstrates. It is comparable to a biologist claiming that plants obtain energy from magnetism rather than photosynthesis.”

    Already, two things are obvious. One, you have absolutely no idea what these scientists have said about climate change because, two, you simply copied them from one of those bogus petitions that lists scientists without their knowledge or consent.

    Also, you’ve used Gross before, when you were posting on Crikey under the username “Julius”: http://tinyurl.com/27rlcsn

    And again, when you registered as “Fitz”: http://tinyurl.com/4mdlfj2

    Factually wrong AND sock puppets? All you need is a contract with the IPA to score the denialist trifecta! You must have a lot of faith in your arguments if you need at least three aliases on Crikey alone.

    The strangest part of all this, Fitz, is that you’re trying to dispel the notion that climate change “skeptics” are paid-up industry obfuscators, and you’re doing it by repeatedly citing…the Lavoisier Group, which John Quiggin described as an organisation “devoted to the proposition that basic principles of physics…cease to apply when they come into conflict with the interests of the Australian coal industry.”

    Just in case you’re under the impression that Lavoisier is a free-spirited beacon of scientific skepticism, nobly fighting the self-interested forces of the IPCC, here’s a run down of the executive:

    President: Peter Walsh, former Finance Minister
    Vice President: Ian Webber, Director of WMC Resources
    Secretary: Ray Evans, President of the HR Nicholls Society, formerly of the Western Mining Corporation
    Treasurer: Harold Clough AO, Institute of Public Affairs board member and Director of Clough Group, a mining and resource service company.
    Bruce Kean, Chairman of Committee for Economic Development of Australia
    Peter Murray, coal industry consultant

    These are the people you trust to be “sifting the wheat from the chaff” on climate change science.

    Your second paragraph boils down to this:
    – You don’t know what a straw man is.
    – Scientific data which contradict your statements must have their genesis “online and in the pub”.
    – Rufus Marsh is unconvinced by the data produced by scientists, therefore the data is unconvincing.

    Then we have criticism of “ignorant ranters” that are “easy to deride”, and will be blown out of the water by (yay!) the Lavoisier Group.

    Well, if they’ve been derided, they must be ignorant. And who better to put these alarmists in their place than an organisation bought, paid for, and run by the very industries who stand to lose profits from addressing climate change?

    I have to say I’m genuinely interested in what possible link climate change denialists have made between climatology and Indian famine cycles. I suspect the IPCC didn’t touch that for the same reason it didn’t consider other patterns that are completely unrelated to what the IPCC does.

    Then it just gets ridiculous. No, science didn’t give us luminiferous ether. That was among the hundreds of untestable ideas put forward by learned gentlemen of the 18th century, who had only limited scientific resources and no data to base conclusions upon.

    You’re saying that because every wild idea spawned 200 years ago didn’t come true, no science can be trusted in the 21st century.

    Actually, Julius, I’m very glad you mentioned “the non-pathogenic (sic) causes of stomach cancer (sic)”. You mean stomach ulcers, of course, which are caused by pathogenic bacteria – a fact that was carefully hidden by pharmaceutical companies that wanted chronically ill customers to sell a lifetime of medication to, rather than a one-off course of antibiotics.

    In other words, you’re citing a case of corporate scientific denialism as proof that corporate denialists can be trusted to publish accurate science.

    What you’re exhibiting is known as the Dunning-Krueger effect: you don’t know enough about the topic to realise how little you know about the topic.

    Now, it’s quite frustrating to have to laboriously point out such extremely basic and readily-available facts, but it’s also very instructive.

    This is why the Plimers and Moncktons and Lavoisier Groups are such a good investment for the industry lobby. They can publish anything – anything at all – and the faithful will enthusiastically disseminate the nonsense, even if it means creating sock puppet accounts to do so.

    If the Lavoiser Group tweeted that climate change is caused by a layer of parmesan cheese coating the ionosphere, Rufus Julius Fitzmarsh would be right along to recite it as gospel truth and start shouting about the green religion at anyone who points out the utter, transparent stupidity of it.

    It takes hours of careful explanation to correct even the most basic lies promulgated by the denialists, while the gullible flit across the internet making specious proclamations that appeal to our risk-averse nature and prevent any sort of industrial innovation that aids the environment and human survival.

    It’s tiresome, but the histories of heliocentrism, evolution, and oncology are reminders that it’s worthwhile.

  52. Mark Matthews

    @RUFUS In my experience, denial of AGW seems to mostly focus around a contradiction of one’s world-view. This is called cognitive dissonance. In my experience those most vocal in denial (The Andrew Bolts of this world) spend more time focussing on the messenger, rather than the facts. Bolt hates “greenies” and socialists and seems to have confused the facts of AGW with some kind of conspiracy brought on my the left for… I don’t know really.. World domination? Re-destribution of wealth, Bring down capitalism, bring Australia to it’s knees. etc. In Europe most of the denial comes from the far-left so it’s not just a right wing-thing really. It just seems to be a belief issue.

    Good luck with your world-view Rufus.

  53. Rufus Marsh

    @ MARK MATTHEWS

    My first reaction to any kind of jargon, particularly items taken from various branches of the psychological sciences (for this purpose including Freud as a scientist which he was intermittently in his work), is to react with scornful scepticism but I admit to liking “cognitive dissonance” though I am not sure you are using it in the way I do. To me it means something one bends ones thought processes, and one’s words, to avoid (well, wouldn’t you, like anyone with a musically tuned ear, avoid dissonance?).

    But perhaps you are indeed saying that denial of AGW tends to be the contortion of one’s thought processes in order to avoid admitting that one’s Panglossian assumptions (or happy self-funded retiree-grandparenthood) are gravely threatened. Indeed I think you may have put me on to something. What are the various avoidances of cognitive dissonances which one might expect of the happy elderly? (No doubt dozens of examples can be imagined. “Dad, please don’t smoke your cigars in the baby’s playroom”. “Mum, please don’t let Martina see that you drink six dry martinis before dinner”. Oh, darling, it hasn’t hurt me or my Dad, so I wouldn’t get too fussed).

    And then, extending the use of that plausible bit of pop-psych (much, much more plausible to my mind than “denial” because the latter is so often applied by those who don’t realise that some people simply don’t choose to confide in them) what is a typical application to the thought processes of younger age groups?

    I know that you are not, at least in so many words, suggesting “denial” in either the pop-psych or AGW denialist sense of my views (you may have read them carefully enough) but I would readily concede that I put a fair bit of effort into working out whether anything useful can be done about something that might, accordingly, give me a sense of responsibility to give money or time or my vocal support to the doing something. But I am not comfortable about the status quo in my present balance of that section of my world view because I get so irritated by bad arguments – sloppy about facts, carelessly expressed, defective in logic, dishonest or careless in attributions etc. . Fair enough that I do that in the case of family members and friends with IQs and education presumptively capable of better but I seem to have saddled myself with the absurd idea that Crikey bloggists should be held to the same standards. I must try gardening when such a ridiculous idea takes hold. Pity winter is coming on.

  54. Nutsnbolts

    In a rather stunning turnaround – which I am sure will leave his usual congregation somewhat perplexed – Andrew Bolt this morning declares that climate change is real.

    “Who disputes that climate change is “real”? The argument is what causes that, whether it’s dangerous, whether we can stop it and whether it’s worth our while to try. ”

    So climate change (AKA GW) IS happening (but maybe not AGW), but we don’t know what the causes are, and it’s not as bad as Scientists predict, and anyway Gillard is lying about it all.

    He often conveniently shifts the goalposts when confronted by evidence, but re-aligns his targets to the true villains, the Labor Government in cohorts with the Greenies. I suspect he doesn’t really give a toss about the climate change arguments per se, but just wants something to use to continue railing against his pet hates. If its not climate change, then it must be Cate Blanchett being too rich or Tim Flannery being too successful, or whatever else comes to hand.

    I know he uses the words ‘climate change’ rather than ‘global warming’ but he’s getting there inch by inch – as even the commentators on his blog are jumping to the same conclusion and conflating the two.

  55. Mark Matthews

    @RUFUS. Well well this is interesting. It seems you actually know who I am. If that is the case and you are who I think you are, then, firstly… how on earth can a scientific man of your intelligence and experience compare the “denialist” movement to Galileo? What is your response to Sancho on this issue?

    Secondly, surely you can concede that a person who:

    1. makes a living from mining
    2. has a deep seeded dislike of greenies and socialists
    3. hates government in general and paying tax
    4. has virtually zero respect for the CSIRO and pretty much all government-funded research on the environment.

    might find AGW difficult to accept.

    For that matter, why do you use an alias?

  56. rhwombat

    Shorter Rufus Marsh: “All right, it’s a fair cop. I am a Koch-sucking, Denialist troll working for the IPA in my own time, but I thought no-one would recognise me under the sock puppets and verbiage, then I won’t have to admit that I’ve been caught bang to rights (or should that be rites?), Gov. If it hadn’t been for you meddling kids (and bloody Turnbull), I would have got away with it! Still as long as the Gish gallop means that no one realises that I’m Lord Lucan, I’m OK.” (yes that is a long winded shorter, but still qualifies given Dufus’ diarrhoea.)

    Nice one Sancho. Oh…and Dufus, do try and understand some physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and history before poking your ignorant ex-“investment-banker”-now-turned-political-propagandist’s- schnoz into blog discussions between reasonable, well informed adults (Lisacrago being the exception), there’s a good boy.

    I love the smell of burning denial in the morning. It smells like….victory.

  57. JamesH

    @ Rufus,

    Many of the scientists or ex-scientists who put forward the view that AGW is not real, not happening, insignificant, etc, are the very same people who argued that tobacco smoke was not harmful and that there was no link between ozone depletion and CFCs. They are supported by the same think tanks (eg the Heartland Institute, the IPA) and right-wing foundations (e.g. the Koch brothers). Dr Fred Singer and Dr Frederick Seitz are high-profile examples. It’s also very easy to show that a large number of the AGW denying community are creationists: Roy Spencer, Tim Ball, Ross McKitrick and Mark Steyn, for example, are all creationists who have publicly expressed ill-founded criticism of evolution, and Anthony Watts wants “equal time in the classroom” and “teach the controversy”. Steve Milloy has promoted all of these views on his junky anti-science website.

    When it is the same people and institutions expressing these ill-founded views, it’s no smear to say that AGW denial is like denial of evolution or the tobacco-cancer link. Another common linkage is AGW denial and denial that HIV causes AIDS, although that one’s on the wane, thank the Great Green Arkleseizure.

  58. JamesH

    PS I’ve been trying hard to think of someone who died for the right to hire a PR firm, but no names spring to mind.

  59. Mark M

    @RUFUS I have read over your reply to my comment about cognitive dissonance a few times and I still cannot figure out what the hell you are talking about. You’re all over the place. Can’t you get your point across without resorting to such drivel …

    But perhaps you are indeed saying that denial of AGW tends to be the contortion of one’s thought processes in order to avoid admitting that one’s Panglossian assumptions (or happy self-funded retiree-grandparenthood) are gravely threatened.

    I mean really???

  60. Rufus Marsh

    @ JamesH

    With respect, and I do think respect is due to those who, at least initially, show courtesy and care, I don’t see much value in making the kind of associations you have, even if correct.

    Like many of the kinds of evidence disallowed by the traditional legal rules of evidence they are not actually irrelevant but are only about third or fourth best evidence.

    When I ran into a very high powered US lawyer who was a friend of Fred Singer my reaction was to back away from my prima facie position that he must be mad or bad because – entirely as a matter of hearsay – he was a gun for hire for the tobacco industry with no intellectual or moral scruples. But that is a diversion because. apart from seeing some cc’d correspondence which may have involved Singer I know nothing of him or his view.

    I was actively involved on the anti-CFCs side from the early 80s and don’t recall any systematic opposition. It seemed such a clear case that I would be interested to know who of the anti-AGW crowd did engage in any sustained opposition to the attempts to close the ozone hole by banning CFCs but it is peripheral in the current context.

    Who’s Frederick Seitz? I’ve never heard of him and am only mildly interested to know anything about him. Nor have I heard of Steve Milloy (sic, is that really the spelling?).

    What does somewhat interest me is your saying that there certain people are creationists. Not because of the association you make with anti-AGW people because that is obviously answerable by the undoubted truth that the notable Australian AGW sceptics are, more typically, Ian Plimer, the great scourge of creationists. I can’t think of anyone who is an AGW sceptic in any degree and who would even give creationists the time of day.

    Mark Steyn is a brilliant writer on some things but I suspect you might be right about his dubious grasp of the evidence for evolution by natural selection. But we can set him aside, rather as I would Christopher Pearson, as having nothing of value to say about scientific matters. But Roy Spencer! Surely not. Evidence?

    As to the others I know little of their significance or their attitudes to AGW except that I did once hear a presentation by Ant(h)ony Watts which was very well done on the limited subject matter of badly cited data collection points. (I understood he was about to collaborate with a properly accredited academic scientist to have something published in a peer-reviewed journal, by the way). It would have surprised me if he had sympathy for creationism or so-called Intelligent Design though maybe I don’t know enough about the range of opinion in America amongst people of respectable cognitive capacity.

    I agree that it is not unreasonable to make one’s point by saying that denial of any AGW is like denial of evolution or that HIV causes AIDs or the tobacco-cancer connection (although I might quibble over when it became reasonable to make such comparisons: after all, the very sceptical Hans Eysenck, who did a job on Freudian therapy, held out for a while against accepting the tobacco-cancer link from memory). But none of that has got anything to do with what I have said or objected to. Sancho is at best careless and seems to have trouble with strict logic and precise use of language. And I repeat that none of the people I have had anything to do with in relation to AGW matters are other than straight up and down sceptical rational thinkers who would certainly not support creationism, HIV as not causing AIDs, tobacco as harmless etc. (Come to think of it I remember that the Eysenck argument – most likely a bit of provocation to keep up his book sales – was that the actual physical connection between elements of tobacco smoke and carcinogenesis had not been established, not that King James l was wrong in saying smoking was unhealthy, and he may well have been right way back then). Mark Matthews has given additional food for thought about why people believe what they do and where they more or less instinctively put the emphasis and find the balance of argument. It would be interesting to compare the young-insouciant about AGW with the old-insouciants as well as those, young and old, who do justify the notion that Green has become a religion and AGW fills an important traditional niche in the psychology of religion.

    My strong preference however is for ignoring such peripheral items of only moderately relevant evidence and to go to the sources, preferably spending time actually cross-examining the author/scientist till what he/she is saying is entirely clear and any gaps in the proof are also apparent. One’s turn to ask a question at a meeting or lecture is one thing, but a private hour head to head is much much better.

  61. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Pity winter is coming on.

    With four words Rufus/Fitz/Julius distills his argument and probably still ponders why he’s referred to as a denier.

    Despite all Rufus’ empty pontifications I think Sancho has pretty much nailed him.

    (I understood he was about to collaborate with a properly accredited academic scientist to have something published in a peer-reviewed journal, by the way)

    Sadly, peer-review demands scientific rigour not psedudo-scientific waffle (please see anything you have written above) and published paper was forced to conclude that Watts’ pet theory, which he had based his entire website on and devoted years to, was wrong.

    My strong preference however is for ignoring such peripheral items of only moderately relevant evidence and to go to the sources

    Funny, I didn’t see you running off to any sources when it came to Monckton or Plimer.

  62. JamesH

    @ Rufus;

    If you desire chapter and verse, I suggest you read Naomi Oreskes’ “Merchants of doubt”, which lays out the overlapping people and organisations which cross various branches of science denial very clearly. This is not “third or fourth hand evidence”; it is quite clear from the publication record of those involved and the records of payments from the tobacco companies. Nor is this a general “smear by association” idea. The point is to establish whether these scientists have bona fide track records of being correct and of supporting the public good. Singer, for example, is on record as questioning the link between Ozone depletion and CFCs, between UV and melanoma, between smoking (later, between secondhand smoking) and cancer, etc. Now, there is nothing wrong with playing the intellectual gadfly. However, it is noteworthy that, on his track record a) whenever an issue has arisen that involves a conflict between private profit and public health, Singer has always taken the side of private profit; b) most of the time he has been wrong; c) Each time he has directly or indirectly subsidised, paid consultancy fees, promoted, etc by the relevant industry (chemical, tobacco, and currently Oil). Can you really say that, e.g. in a court of law, such considerations would be irrelevant to whether someone was an appropriate expert witness?

    Various others have similar connections. For example Willie Soon, Sallie Balunias, Gerhard Gerlich and Patrick Michaels were all members of the “European Science and Environment Forum”, a tobacco industry front-group set up to oppose environmental regulation of tobacco smoke, pesticides, and chlorine-based products (eg CFCs), among others, affiliated with Fred Singer’s Science and Environmental Policy Project. Here’s a typical presentation by the SEPP – note the list of speakers:

    “PANEL #2: THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT, INCLUDING GLOBAL WARMING, OZONE DEPLETION, AND ACID RAIN, with Elliot Abrams, senior vice president, meteorologist, Accu-Weather, Inc.; Dr. Robert Jastrow, Wilson Observatory, president, George C. Marshall Institute; Dr. Henry Linden, director, Energy and Power Center, Illinois Institute of Technology; Prof. Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the National Academy of Science; Dr. S. Fred Singer, professor of environmental sciences, University of Virginia, president, The Science & Environmental Policy Project.

    Panelists presented concerns that scientist-activists were distorting the issues by (1) presenting only part of the data, (2) distorting logic, (3) repeatedly stating their case in apocalyptic terms, (4) announcing findings at press briefings before other scientists have had a chance to examine their research, (5) using science to advance a political agenda, for example, “Nuclear Winter,” and (6) intimidating other scientists through coercion.”

    That list of issues really is the pot looking at its reflection in the shiny kettle and calling it black. Again, none of this would matter if they had turned out to be right that these links didn’t exist; but they were wrong then, and in all probability, are wrong now, for the same reasons: they are defending vested interests, not truth.

    On Roy Spencer’s – from his Wikipedia page:
    “Spencer is a proponent of intelligent design as the mechanism for the origin of species.[25] On the subject, Spencer wrote in 2005, “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. . . . In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college.”[25] In The Evolution Crisis, a compilation of five scientists who reject evolution, Spencer states: “I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world… Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer.”[26]”

    One honestly has to question the scientific credibility of someone who argues for intelligent design.

    PS: Yes, Steve Milloy is his name, and he is very famous in denialist circles; I find it slightly hard to believe you’ve never heard of him.

  63. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    five words

  64. Rufus Marsh

    @ SANCHO

    While I am pleased to know that you have stirred yourself to a little effort now it is too late for me to take more than a glancing interest in what is essentially an asymmetric game. You don’t read or quote or use words with precision and I do, give or take a few typos and literals.

    It is hard to believe tbat it doesn’t amount to dishonesty in your case such that it would disqualify you from appointment (maybe has already done so) by an academic appointment committee at any half-decent university. I say this because it is hard to believe you are so stupid that you can’t see the difference between my ” It took me a long time to start sifting wheat from chaff in the output, which I occasionally saw, of the Lavoisier Group” and your characterisation of it as “These are the people you trust to be “sifting the wheat from the chaff” on climate change science” in reference to the office bearers of the Lavoisier Group. Come on, even the nincompoops and mentally troubled on this blog might notice that you can’t argue in a fair dinkum way. Maybe it’s just sloppiness but that means both unemployability and not-worth-bothering with when taken to your level. And your level tells us that Peter Walsh is president of the Lavoisier Group when I had already said that he had been (past) for a long time. He retired to recuperate from serious ill health at least a year ago. I think Ray Evans has also retired as sec.

    En passant

    Paul Gross and John McCarthy are personally known to me and their views are known to me through personal contact and correspondence.

    You may know Tom Quirk only from what you can read about him that gave you the snippets you have repeated which, if s0meone had been criticising Lysenko as a Communist you would no doubt have dismissed as “guilt by association”. As it happens I can vouch for his intellectual honesty completely untouched, not just untainted, by corporate money or interests. Maybe, as an a priori guess, a touch of the snobbery physicists feel entitled to when confronted by some of the bigger claims from practitioners of the “soft sciences” and don’t think much of the standards of evidence and proof.

    Your remarks in reference to Nir Shaviv and Henrik Svensmark are so recklessly inaccurate that I wonder whether it is worth asking you to say what you mean by “the now-dead sun ray theory of warming” and with what authority you can say it is dead, or for that matter that it is Shaviv’s last word. For one who erroneously says I don’t know who “these people”are but have copied and pasted them you had better come up with the source for the copy and paste but also should be able to justify and explain “Svensmark is also a proponent of the debunked solar warming theory”. Is that the same as what you attribute to Shaviv? If so why use confusingly different words? As Svensmark is best known in recent times for his contribution to the theory to be found in “The Chilling Stars”” which he wrote with former New Scientist editor Nigel Calder are you sure you are up to date?

    Silly of me. You don’t read what people write so as to understand. You just cook up a version in your imagination after reading one or two words but still….. wistfully, if you did I would be interested in the answers. Rather frustrating because occasionally you can do better. You noticed (though significantly it wasn”t a slip relevant to the main discussion) that I had said “stomach cancer” when I meant “stomach ulcers” and, to my surprise you showed some linguistic discrimination in suggesting that “non-pathogenic” was not an adequate way of saying that the cause was not a pathogen.

    Then you offer a hostage to fortune in the shape of an argument that maintaining the old view of stomach ulcers was the work of the pharmaceutical companies. Set aside the rather important detail that this could only have been for the relatively few years it took for the two Aussies work to overcome resistance and the fact that, before their work began to threaten sales of traditional stomach ulcer medicines it was medical specialists who maintained the erroneous doctrine, what does it say about the AGW sceptics charge that availability of money for research is behind much of the “climate scientists'” enthusiasm for the IPCC version.

    You can hardly dismiss that out of hand because you seem quite sure the Lavoisier Group is an industry funded front group. Actually I think you are wrong about that. Though I have only attended a couple of events run by the Group and looked a few times at its web site I would have thought it was actually run on the smell of an oily rag. With Marius Kloppers coming out in favour of a price on carbon and other such examples of industry finding advantage in (apparently) accepting that something needs to be done about AGW by Australians where do you get even the glimmer of evidence that the Lavoisier Group is a body which exists only because it gets corporate money or is pushing some (and which ????) corporate interests?

    Then you go on about things you clearly don’t know about such as suggesting that the Lavoisier Group

  65. Rufus Marsh

    @ Mark Matthews

    “Secondly, surely you can concede that a person who:

    1. makes a living from mining
    2. has a deep seeded [read as seated] dislike of greenies and socialists
    3. hates government in general and paying tax
    4. has virtually zero respect for the CSIRO and pretty much all government-funded research on the environment.

    might find AGW difficult to accept.”

    I don”t just “concede” it: I might even assert it. But who do you have in mind? One of those semi-mythical bogans like Clive Palmer (as portrayed in the media)?

    ”For that matter, why do you use an alias?’ You go first.

    As to your later concern that you didn’t understand my “drivel” about cognitive dissonance. Of course you did. What you quoted was what I meant to convey. I’m sorry that you didn”t appreciate that my somewhat discursive ramble, like a letter from bluestocking aunty on holiday, didn’t make you see that I was showing appreciation of the train of thought you had prompted. While I didn’t initially think you were using “cognitive dissonance” in the usual way I was very pleased to have it in my list of explanatory tools for the reasons certain people believe certain things and the various differences amongst people. Obviously the world view as you or someone put it is very important but it doesn’t really have to be the grand Weltanschauung but just the changing-with-age-or-circumstances set of ideas, feelings and assumptions which keeps someone happy and stable (or as near to it as they can be) – or I suppose in the state of adrenalin rush and anger that keeps them going…..

  66. Mark M

    @RUFUS Wow – you have a lot of time on your hands. When you’ve finished your circumlocution, maybe you could just get to the point

    See – here’s an example

    It would be interesting to compare the young-insouciant about AGW with the old-insouciants as well as those, young and old, who do justify the notion that Green has become a religion and AGW fills an important traditional niche in the psychology of religion.

    See… that is just fluff really. Why so wordy?

    Comparing being Green (taking responsibility for one’s impact on the environment) with a religious belief is nonsense. Perhaps it is easier for you to consider Greenies as irrational believers, faithfully and uncritically following the AGW alarmists. Once again, back to your world view. Put the Greenies in a box with the fundies and you can write then off. It’s just not that simple however. Where do NASA fit into all this, and the Royal Society. Wait…. they are under the employment of the government. Write them off too.

    Oh wait – there I am again with the pop-psych…. silly me. While I’m here though, check out any research on motivated reasoning. As clever as you are, could you accept the possibility that you might be avoiding the facts. If not, ask yourself what evidence it would take to convince you on AGW, and be honest with yourself.

  67. JamesH

    @ Rufus,

    I have to say that your claim to use words with precision is hard to support, because I find it very difficult to untangle the meaning of your long, rambling sentences (an average of about 30 words per sentence).

    On Svensmark, a number of other studies (e.g. Lockwood & Frolich 2007; Sloan 2008) have reanalysed the data and failed to find the link Svensmark claims between cosmic rays and climate trends. Svensmark responded to Lockwood & Frolich by saying that the effect was only evident if you removed a warming trend from the data – effectively admitting that global warming was independent of cosmic rays. So far, the cosmic ray effect only seems relevant to day-to-day changes in the weather.

    You seem to regard your opinion as an adequate substitute for evidence. For example, you dismiss the idea that Lavoisier is an industry funded front group because “I think you are wrong about that” and “I attended a couple of meetings and looked a few times at its web site”.

    It would have only taken a moment’s research to find that Lavoisier was founded by Ray Evans, a senior executive at Western Mining Corp, and was opened by Hugh Morgan, his boss. This was simultaneous with Ray’s foundation of the Bennelong Society (dedicated to opposing Aboriginal land rights in the name of aboriginal freedom) and the HR Nicholls society (dedicated to promoting the idea that unions are incompatible with democracy). “My role”, Ray Evans is on record as saying, “was to engage in the culture wars and provide him [Hugh Morgan] with feedback”. Sounds like an industry funded front group to me.

  68. Rufus Marsh

    @ RICH UNCLE SKELETON

    I’m afraid I am having the same asymmetry problem with you as with Sancho. What you say about what I say and your responses seem to have nothing much to do with anything I do say.

    The odd thing is that I merely raised objections to glib gibes at people that you and he don’t know or know much about (in fact it all started with my lament that Crikey should be so low grade as to call Monckton a “fake lord” when it was totally gratuitous and, especially because it was wrong, more revealing of the author than of Monckton). Why you wanted to get in to that act I find it difficult to imagine, especially as you also didn’t take the trouble to get it right and then tried to bluster your way out of it.

    I’ll be mildly grateful to you if you can come up with something to support your rather ungrammatical passage which reads

    “….. and published paper was forced to conclude that Watts’ pet theory, which he had based his entire website on and devoted years to, was wrong.”

    You write as if you know what the paper was that Watts was writing with an academic (because that is what I mentioned) and know what happened to it. So what can you tell us about the paper and its reception at whatever journal(s) it was submitted to? You seem to know more about Watts than I do – how would that be I wonder. I merely observed that he told a good story, well illustrated about poorly sited data collection points on which, I believe, he has generally been acknowledged to have been correct. Or do you know better or know more?

    But I fear that yours (and Sancho’s) is the same facade as that of the novice gossip columnist who looks up the work of other low grade journalists to discover the nicknames of celebrities she/he has never met and who don’t have nicknames amongst people who actually know them. OK for a young wannabe on the make but grown up people should have more self-respect.

    You end with a very small and unpretentious gem. You say

    “”Funny, I didn’t see you running off to any sources when it came to Monckton or Plimer.””

    And that would be because you don’t see or otherwise hear about much that I do and, in these cases, that there was absolutely no occasion to, given the very limited interest I have in either of them (and I don’t think I expressed any at all for Plimer) as sources of information or argument.

    Still I should thank you for something that occurred to me when I wondered if I should rate your output as garbage. Nah, garbage can at least be worth recycling.

  69. JamesH

    @ Rufus:

    The fact that the recent paper by Fall, Watts, Neilson-Gammon et al contradicts Watts’ long-standing assertion that poor siting of temperature measurements was distorting the temperature record of the continental US is a matter of public record. Try here: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/05/anthony_watts_contradicted_by.php

    Watt’s paper says that “Temperature trend estimates vary according to site classification, with poor siting leading to an overestimate of minimum temperature trends and an underestimate of maximum temperature trends, resulting in particular in a substantial difference in estimates of the diurnal temperature range trends. The opposite-signed differences of maximum and minimum temperature trends are similar in magnitude, so that the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications.”

    This totally contradicts Watts’ assertion that poor siting was leading to an over-estimation of maximum temperature trends, and that it was introducing systematic bias (that last sentence essentially means that the errors cancel each other out, e.g. they are random.) He is generally acknowledged to have been incorrect, by everyone except Watts.

  70. Mike

    SANCHO states
    “I’m not going to get into a terminable scientific argument, but the plain fact is that the movement against climate change is identical in every respect to the opposition to heliocentrism, evolution and the tobacco-cancer link.”

    Sancho in due course you will get into an argument, perhaps even a punch-up, if you continue with your inane remarks.
    What scares you people the most, being wrong or not being able to explain why you think you’re right?

  71. Mark M

    @MIKE (@SANCHO if I may)

    What on earth are you talking about Mike? I believe what scares “us people” is having to constantly explain the facts over and over and over again. Meanwhile, as predicted… More frequent and extreme weather events. Are you paying attention?

    perhaps even a punch-up Good grief. So, what you are saying is that if Sancho and others continue to explain the theory behind AGW, you might punch him?

    You sir, are a goose

  72. Rufus Marsh

    @ JamesH

  73. rhwombat

    Mike. Strangely, I almost prefer your blunt Bogan threats to Rufus’ interminable, self-aggrandising putdowns on things that he contradicts himself on two posts later. Not that Mike has a hope of getting as far up your own backside, even in senility. Sad really, to see the vacuous maundering of the once acute, in decline.

  74. Rufus Marsh

    @ JamesH

    I apologise for the long sentences. My excuse is Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s once famous “I’m sorry I didn’t have time to be briefer”‘. Given the standard for instant sustained lucid composition set by Bertrand Russell and Georges Simenon, to name the two that come first to mind, I struggle so I put precision first, correct punctuation (without which the precision which lends itself to clarity is almost impossible) next and then cutting words and rearranging for brevity and felicity. So I trust that, if you do take the trouble to wade through you will find precision without having to go back too often to check that the punctuation or what should be the punctuation.

    Thank you for the references re Svensmark and Watts and their civil presentation in such marked conrast to the inane gotcha effusions of Sancho. If I ever hear again that there might be something in the Svensmark theory (which has some relation I daresay to Shaviv’s work on clouds) I’ll go gratefully to your links. Also for Watts though I think I had read somewhere that there were studies which showed that the errors cancelled out. It doesn’t make on entirely comfortable with the scientific institutions which have been right because their errors cancel out – though it was the estimation of errors in astronomical work which was the reason for Gauss’s great work which is now said to be so dangerous when applied mindlessly in the financial world! So, yes, the Gaussian approach may work, probably because there are/were still several thousand measurement sites in use and, fortuitously, the large scale closing down of them wasn’t a cause of bias by reason of their all being isolated ones or of a particular construction (which I seem to remember was another point).

    While no doubt the conclusion you point to is correct it does seem that Watts did some excellent work, not least in the organisational effort he put into it. A bit remiscent of the amateurs and bright largely self-educated contributors to science before the late 19th century. I woulld be sorry to think he was not only, as it turned out, wrong, but that he was a nutter on evolution.

  75. Mark M

    @RUFUS

    ROFL. Never let it be said that you love to hear the sound of your own keyboard.

    My excuse is Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s once famous “I’m sorry I didn’t have time to be briefer”‘. Given the standard for instant sustained lucid composition set by Bertrand Russell and Georges Simenon, to name the two that come first to mind, I struggle so I put precision first, correct punctuation (without which the precision which lends itself to clarity is almost impossible) next and then cutting words and rearranging for brevity and felicity. So I trust that, if you do take the trouble to wade through you will find precision without having to go back too often to check that the punctuation or what should be the punctuation.

    Good grief. Struggling … to…. keep…. from … glazing … ov zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  76. Rohan

    Rufus. Are you related to Frank Campbell?

  77. Rufus Marsh

    @ JamesH

    I can understand your taking mild exception to the way I dealt with Sancho”s proven-on-the-face-of-it ignorance of the Lavoisier Group. Again it is a matter I am not terribly interested in. I am familiar enough with the people involved and the proceedings to know that the idea of it being a well-financed industry front is ludicrous. (One might imagine Bob Hawke accepting a retainer from the Burmese generals, but do you really see his curmudgeonly old wheat farmer turned Finance Minister, Peter Walsh, being bought?)

    As one of my friends said recently in wonderment that the often over-the-top Ray Evans should have been such an energetic figure in the Bennelong Society, the H.R. Nicholls Society, the Samuel Griffith Society, the Lavoisier Group -and, as I only learned recently, the Galatians (Christian – Anglican I think – and Evans certainly knows his Bible, KJV, very well) – “but he was right”‘. Well perhaps least likely to be proven ultimately right on AGW as his positions have been pretty extreme – as in Thank God for Carbon taken as symbolising his zeal for the cause.

    As a matter of interest I don’t think the Bennelong Society,whose president is a Keating government minister, opposes land rights though modification of the rules relating, for example, to access and permits would be well within its agenda. Again I have attended one meeting which was opened with an Aboriginal woman singing some apparently trawitional songs beautifully and involved was addressed by Warren Mundine v-p of the ALP. My recollection is that founder or co-f0under Peter Howson, minister of Aboriginal Affairs in the Gorton government, was concerned by the disastrous policies promoted under the influence of Nugget Coombs and continued under Fraser. It seems common gtound now that NT, WA and outback Q’l’d Aboriginal children and youth are now less well educated than their parents’and even grandparents’ generation, and that the keys to (at least non-urban) Aboriginal well-being, apart from healthy living but also contributing to it, are education and ending welfare dependency. Although Evans no doubt wrote speeches for Hugh Morgan after being hired by WMC in the early 80s which cited scripture in aid of arguments for developing land as God’s industrious husbandmen or whatever I don’t see any relevance of that in 2011 even to Aboriginal concerns.

    No doubt the use of Ray Evans’ time was the big WMC gift to all the above-mentioned organisations though his own gift of his own time would have been even bigger. But….

    Perhaps the short answer to your suspicions about the Lavoisier Group is that the very prominence of WMC via Evans and Morgan points in an opposite direction. By far the biggest prospective money earner for WMC was Olympic Dam uranium (plus go;d and copper). Where was the WMC interest in CO2? If any it would be to have coal mining and burning closed down in aid of selling uranium.

  78. Rufus Marsh

    @ Mark M

    No sound of keyboard, just a silent lightweight computer to operate while supine after a sleepless night with a damaged back. Are you suggesting that I have successfully shared my pain and boredom, that I have even proved them infinitely divisible like the Magic Pudding?

  79. JamesH

    If Peter Walsh has held a left-wing position on anything in the last 15 years I would be very surprised – he seems to be something of a LINO now. And as far as I can tell, as your mention of their bible bashing indicates, Evans and Morgan are religious anti-environment zealots; they would never agree with “the greens” on anything, whether or not it would advantage their uranium business. A group doesn’t have to be “well funded” to be an industry front.

    I recommend the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse for an unbiased collection of high quality research on the causes and consequents of Aboriginal disadvantage.

  80. Rufus Marsh

    @ JamesH

    Again, thanks for the reference which I must certainly remember against the day when someone again invites me to a Bennelong Society meeting. I am not sure what urgency I should accord to it while there seems so little serious contention on Aboriginal issues these days, and none where I live. There is of course much to do but the fantasies seem to have evaporated.

    “LINO” ?? Left in name only I guess, but that might exaggerate his leftness – and maybe always did. He and Ray Evans would make a good pair fulminating against “rent-seekers” but I don’t know where that syndrome is located on the left-right spectrum. I have heard him support death duties which may or may not be consistent with his wheat farming past. I know another WA wheat farmer who had no objection to death duties but related gleefully how little his family had to pay.

    Many years ago I read a book on psychology by Eysenck which promoted a v. simple system of personality characterisation which had some merit in adding to the left-right dimension. One of its dimensions was authoritarian and its opposite. I am reminded of that as I think of a letter from a former Labor candidate to a former Liberal candidate in which the former said some very stern things about Aboriginal behaviour he disapproved of and noting that “I can’t say this to my lefty friends”. Perhaps authoritarian personalities are commoner on the right than the left. I don’t know (I would pick Christine Milne as an authoritarian perhaps wrongly). In any case, before I forget what started me off, I am relucant to regard right and left as anything like adequate in the number of dimensions which be used for accurate desciption.

    And thank you again. I have just come across your 1.30 post. I had, as indicated, assumed Roy Spencer was a straight up and down scientist with maybe a bit of the healthy contrarian in him but I am glad that I don’t have to assess him as an expert witness knowing that he supports Intelligent Design (despite the fact that I know a lof of highly intelligent people with religious views that I regard as incomprehensible in a rational sense: basically all of them. And then there all those coincidences of being guns for hire in losing causes.

    Still, as I don’t actually have to make any decisions which turn on their evidence or even adopt a decided view on the level of danger from AGW, given my view of what Australia should do and why, I can entertain the thought that Newton believed in alchemy and that, if one is following the money, there is vastly more available to those who support the assumptions on which the IPCC was set up. A perfectly neutral point is that the amont of lousy medical research in the peer reviewed journals, including the most prestigious, is horrendous. The sort of practical reasons which explain that should inspire careful analysis in other fields. For example, the editor of a journal wants novelty if not a breakthrough and he isn’t interested in the paper which says “we basically replicated the experiments and there was no or v. little statistical difference in the results” so of course the paper doesn’t get written and indeed there is very little research money available for the needed replications.

    I have no doubt you are familiar with the work done on the quality of medical research by Prof Ioannidis, of Harvard I think but once a Greek mathematical prodigy who has applied statistical rigour. As I say, a neutral point in the AGW context.

  81. AR

    RufusSwamp – one of the most obvious signs of a troll/Astroturfer is the sheer eyeglazing volume of their verbiage.

  82. LisaCrago

    Looks like the “well informed” here can not have an intelligent debate without resorting to throwing their own shit at the walls resulting in personal insults.

    Ho Hum.

    Would be novel to see the usual suspects actually comment directly on the article instead of getting lost in the atypical schism of ‘believer’ or ‘ non believer’.
    I guess some people just place too much importance on the little bits that they have managed to grasp in the debate on the causes of clmate change and can not see the wood for the trees.

  83. Mike

    Wether we agree or disagree on climate change we can surely all agree that Cate Blanchett is a pompous, condescending, air headed, imbecile. Yes??

  84. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Let’s distil some of Rufus’ overly wordy contributions to see what he really thinks:

    Excuse my brevity, but I work for a living so don’t have as much time to bombard comments sections as our fellow retirees.

    Still, as I don’t actually have to make any decisions which turn on their evidence or even adopt a decided view on the level of danger from AGW, given my view of what Australia should do and why, I can entertain the thought that Newton believed in alchemy and that, if one is following the money, there is vastly more available to those who support the assumptions on which the IPCC was set up.

    “Scientists are distorting the evidence for money”

    And thank you again. I have just come across your 1.30 post. I had, as indicated, assumed Roy Spencer was a straight up and down scientist with maybe a bit of the healthy contrarian in him but I am glad that I don’t have to assess him as an expert witness knowing that he supports Intelligent Design (despite the fact that I know a lof of highly intelligent people with religious views that I regard as incomprehensible in a rational sense: basically all of them. And then there all those coincidences of being guns for hire in losing causes.

    “I will overlook a scientist’s crank beliefs if he supports my denialism”

    A perfectly neutral point is that the amont of lousy medical research in the peer reviewed journals, including the most prestigious, is horrendous. The sort of practical reasons which explain that should inspire careful analysis in other fields. For example, the editor of a journal wants novelty if not a breakthrough and he isn’t interested in the paper which says “we basically replicated the experiments and there was no or v. little statistical difference in the results” so of course the paper doesn’t get written and indeed there is very little research money available for the needed replications.

    “Peer review is corrupt”

    I can understand your taking mild exception to the way I dealt with Sancho”s proven-on-the-face-of-it ignorance of the Lavoisier Group. Again it is a matter I am not terribly interested in. I am familiar enough with the people involved and the proceedings to know that the idea of it being a well-financed industry front is ludicrous. (One might imagine Bob Hawke accepting a retainer from the Burmese generals, but do you really see his curmudgeonly old wheat farmer turned Finance Minister, Peter Walsh, being bought?)

    “I am intimately involved in a industry front group that aims to spread global warming denial throughout the community”

    While no doubt the conclusion you point to is correct it does seem that Watts did some excellent work, not least in the organisational effort he put into it. A bit remiscent of the amateurs and bright largely self-educated contributors to science before the late 19th century. I woulld be sorry to think he was not only, as it turned out, wrong, but that he was a nutter on evolution.

    “I am sorry that a global warming denier was proven wrong.”

    As for the rest of your joyous tidings:

    The odd thing is that I merely raised objections to glib gibes at people that you and he don’t know or know much about (in fact it all started with my lament that Crikey should be so low grade as to call Monckton a “fake lord” when it was totally gratuitous and, especially because it was wrong, more revealing of the author than of Monckton). Why you wanted to get in to that act I find it difficult to imagine, especially as you also didn’t take the trouble to get it right and then tried to bluster your way out of it.

    Stop lying. I admitted I made a mistake in not seeing the “fake Lord”. Why do you lie?

    I’ll be mildly grateful to you if you can come up with something to support your rather ungrammatical passage which reads

    “….. and published paper was forced to conclude that Watts’ pet theory, which he had based his entire website on and devoted years to, was wrong.”

    You write as if you know what the paper was that Watts was writing with an academic (because that is what I mentioned) and know what happened to it. So what can you tell us about the paper and its reception at whatever journal(s) it was submitted to?

    That’s been answered by others here.

    You seem to know more about Watts than I do – how would that be I wonder.

    Probably because I research things.

    I merely observed that he told a good story, well illustrated about poorly sited data collection points on which, I believe, he has generally been acknowledged to have been correct. Or do you know better or know more?

    I merely observed that you are wrong.

    “Told a good story?”

    “Generally acknowledged to have been correct?”

    Don’t make me laugh.

    But I fear that yours (and Sancho’s) is the same facade as that of the novice gossip columnist who looks up the work of other low grade journalists to discover the nicknames of celebrities she/he has never met and who don’t have nicknames amongst people who actually know them. OK for a young wannabe on the make but grown up people should have more self-respect.

    Is this mysteriously nonsensical sentence in reference to the Monckton information I gave you? I’ve read it three times but can only assume you’ve been injecting opium before typing.

    You end with a very small and unpretentious gem. You say

    “”Funny, I didn’t see you running off to any sources when it came to Monckton or Plimer.”“

    And that would be because you don’t see or otherwise hear about much that I do and, in these cases, that there was absolutely no occasion to, given the very limited interest I have in either of them (and I don’t think I expressed any at all for Plimer) as sources of information or argument.

    You own Plimer’s book, paid to see Monckton and Watts, have intimate knowledge of the workings of the Lavoisier Group, worship Roy Spencer, rattle off every discredited denier meme, yet the moment your deities are shown to be incompetent fools you immediately back off and deny having any interest in them.

    Then why bring them up?

    You do know what a liar is, right?

    You know, somebody who lies?

    You, sir, are a liar. A compulsive liar. A frequent liar. If there were frequent lying miles you could book a cruise around the world and still have enough left over to get a meal at the Stokehouse.

    Still I should thank you for something that occurred to me when I wondered if I should rate your output as garbage. Nah, garbage can at least be worth recycling.

    Another denier cracks the shits. Well lah-dee-dah.

  85. Mark M

    @MIKE

    we can surely all agree that Cate Blanchett is a pompous, condescending, air headed, imbecile

    Why are people like yourself not focusing on Michael Caton. Why just Cate? I can only conclude that you are misogynist pig. Successful women frighten you don’t they.

  86. Rufus Marsh

    @ RICH UNCLE SKELETON

    I too work for a living, still increasing my superannuation for ultimate retirement, FWIW.

    I have merely glanced at enough of your emissions to know that your are too dim for “liar” to be applied as the first explanation of your errors of logic, attention and interpretation. Oversimplification, lack of attention to nuance and inability to imagine why anyone would want to make distinctions which are not black and white are more your thing.

    Just taking your first two pieces of nonsense.

    “Scientists are distorting the evidence for money”. What I had been saying was that I didn’t find it necessary to take a concluded view of the arguments on science and scientists so could enjoy the nuances of the cases being put and looking for fallacies and gaps in the reasoning. You ignore completely that I was actually agreeing that some of the scientists mentioned by JamesH were apparently “guns for hire” and then, in the spirit of one who saw no reason to come to a certain concluded view, pointed out that the logic of that was, perhaps, that one “followed the money” and saw that there was a hell of a lot more money being put into supporting the initial IPCC remit than opposing views.

    In order to avoid the quibbles, which on Crikey so often consist of silly gibes at literals, typos and easily resolvable ambiguities, I wouldn’t anyway say “distorting the evidence”. What is obviously true however, and was what I was taking from JamesH and adding reference to the work on medical science of Prof Ioannidis, is that many, though I wouldn’t suggest a majority, scientists tend to be influenced by money (including professional advancement) in what they choose to work on, what they re-test, what they treat as significant etc. sometimes with good honest reason, sometimes not.

    So, what’s your view of that longwinded but fairly precise formulation which is certainly consistent with what JamesH proffered?

    As to “I will overlook a scientist’s crank beliefs if he supports my denialism”

    you would be the sort of person I would be terrified, as defence counsel, of having on a jury. A straight down the line eschewer of complexity and doubt. Listen to the prosecution case and then interpret everything said by the defence to be consistent with the preformed view.
    When I say that, because he is shown to be a crank on Intelligent Design I am glad I don’t have to assess him as an expert witness, i.e. bother to take account of what he says as true or false or misleading, I am plainly saying that I will not overlook his crank beliefs. (Obviously it is just intellectual boganism to write of my expressed position as “denialism” but you may think it persuasive to some. I realise of course that my lengthy attempts at precision and nuance is not persuasive to those with the habit of preferring quick answers to correct ones. My faint hope has been that those who are capable of engaging with it may refine their own thinking and get some benefit from that.)

    You use the word “liar” and “lying” frequently. Given your habits of expression, and, I presume, of thinking, I wonder if you have really considered that the words always connote consciousness of the truth while saying something which is not the truth. In your case I would most confidently apply the description “reckless whether it is true or false”. That is basically carelessness plus virulent indifference about whether that results in untruth.

    For example, I did not say or imply that I own a book by Plimer. I do not own, have never owned and have not read his book (or any of his books). I did not say I had paid to hear Monckton or Watts, and, indeed it has cost me nothing to hear either of them: I didn’t pay, nor did anyone on my behalf.

    If you are working for a living in a way which requires you, writing at 2.05 am to try and be brief on this blog, I would suspect your mental health. That is far from conclusive of questions about your intellectual performance or capacity for it. However when I find this ridiculous summary version of what I have said, viz. “Peer review is corrupt” there has to be an explanation outside mainstream sane intelligent behaviour.

    On the whole I am inclined to think “mad” is nearer the truth than “stupid”. Maybe you are just stressed and need more and better sleep. Either way, I don’t propose to react to your contributions again, assuming I recognise them (Sancho’s attribution of multiple personalities makes me add that qualification).

  87. Rufus Marsh

    @ Mark M – presumably the same as Mark Matthews whose link to a YouTube video contra Monckton on Friday 27th I have just come across and opened. I’ll come back to that.

    But as to Cate Blanchett. I won’t stop to consider why she is criticised or more attention is given to her than Michael Caton (possibly richer, more famous and better looking) because as far as I’m concerned she’s gorgeous and I wish I was able to see her regularly on the stage. The more ads she does the better.

    Your point in the earlier posting was that Monckton’s credibility was shot and that the YouTube video supported that view. The point about “credibility” depends a bit on what people might have believed because of what he said.

    I think he did pin down and embarrass some of the bureaucratic draftsmen and the politicians who hadn’t bothered to read what had been drafted for the Copenhagen conference (and I have much sympathy for politicians who can’t possibly read everything they would in principle want to). That is something that I would expect him to be good at but I see no need to verify exactly what he did or whether his version is correct because it is not likely to change my view of the range of possible political and bureaucratic behaviours (whether or not one can or even wants to do anything about them).

    On matters scientific I would be inclined to put him in the class in which a Harvard economics professor once put his famous colleague J.K. Galbraith. That is often wrong but ingenious and requiring that useful work to be done to answer him.

    After (I think), though probably not because of I would readily concede, his 2009 performance on the video there was a lot of interesting and relevant material published to show that his (?earlier) statements about Arctic ice and perhaps Greenland were contradicted by seriously weighty evidence. Contradicting Monckton is one thing. Destroying his credibility wholly is a bit different. Whether the warming causing ice melt is AGW and horrendously dangerous is another. I am inclined to believe it is a serious danger worth spending a great deal of money on. How Australia should spend its money is another thing. I am glad to see that Garnaut seems to be pushing for tax reforms and no over compensation (i.e. vote buying) for pensioners.

    Subject to a couple of qualifications I have never been much interested in the assertion that temperatures have plateaued or declined since the late 90s but I note that the warmest month cited was after his 2009 address (anyway as those contra Monckton might in other circumstances would be the first to point out the odd month is almost irrelevant).
    My first qualification is that the East Anglian emails did in fact disclose considerable disquiet at the inconsistency of the recent temperature trends with the IPCC models. That seems to me almost a sufficient ground on its own for condemning those non-scientists who parrot the “the science is settled” line so that scepticism should no longer be given an airing.
    The other qualification is that I am assured by one who has used this kind of mathematics in his work that the Chow Test has been applied to the temperature record from about 1940 to about 1975 and that of the subsequent 25 years or so and shown that they do not, statistically, belong to the same series. Don’t ask me to support that with personal expertise but I gather it gives great support to the view that the Great Pacific Climate Shift of the late 1970s – presumably of oceanic origin – gave us a new starting point which makes the smoothed line of warming from the 1940s misleading.

  88. Mark M

    @RUFUS A man of many words….

    Regarding Monckton’s credibility. My personal belief is that Monckton doesn’t want AGW to be true. No doubt he has his own reasons for this. He is obviously highly intelligent and can therefore rationalise his beliefs in a coherent and convincing manner. He is also a great communicator.

    Should I change my belief in AGW because I have heard Monckton speak on AGW and he sounds convincing? Well… I am skeptical and therefore, will do some research and see if what he says is valid. What do climatologists say about Monckton?

    Well it seems that many of his arguments have been debunked (http://www.skepticalscience.com/Monckton_Myths_quote.htm)

    Some of his arguments are even a little bit silly.

    Destroying his credibility wholly is a bit different.

    I agree. I just think he is not credible on the issue of AGW. Give me James Hansen any day.

  89. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Rufus, I distilled your arguments because you waffle. You write neither clearly nor directly. You pontificate in a transparent attempt to cover all your bases, but despite all this you still can’t keep your toxic twaddle from seeping out.

    Don’t like that? Tough shit.

    Also, I apologise for not believing you to be the intellectual giant you so obviously believe yourself to be. I am clearly beneath you and I should be grateful you even reply to me.

    Please refrain from personal attacks. It really is unbecoming of such an intellectual bohemeth, and only evidence that I am right.

    Anyway, back to Monckton and your continued rejection of reality:

    I think he did pin down and embarrass some of the bureaucratic draftsmen and the politicians who hadn’t bothered to read what had been drafted for the Copenhagen conference (and I have much sympathy for politicians who can’t possibly read everything they would in principle want to). That is something that I would expect him to be good at but I see no need to verify exactly what he did or whether his version is correct because it is not likely to change my view of the range of possible political and bureaucratic behaviours (whether or not one can or even wants to do anything about them).

    Monckton claims from quoting a draft of a report that the Copenhagen agreement was about bringing a one world government and you make excuses for him.

    And you question my mental health?

    Have you bothered to read the Monckton Rap Sheet you were provided with by multiple people, or are you continuing to ignore it because it’s inconvenient to your beliefs that Monckton is some kind of heroic truth teller?

    Do you have some kind of condition that causes you to reject reality and go screaming into the arms of whatever fraudulent nutter is telling you what you want to hear?

    My first qualification is that the East Anglian emails did in fact disclose considerable disquiet at the inconsistency of the recent temperature trends with the IPCC models.

    Please cite which one so I can debunk you.

    I mean, debunk you again. Like the Watts thing? Remember that? Watts, whom you believed was “generally correct”? You know, and I proved you wrong?

    BTW, do you intend to bring this up at the next meeting of the Lavoisier Group?

    That seems to me almost a sufficient ground on its own for condemning those non-scientists who parrot the “the science is settled” line so that scepticism should no longer be given an airing.

    It’s interesting you should mention this. What science are you referring to as not being settled?

    Greenhouse effect? Settled.

    Co2 a greenhouse gas? Settled

    Exact Radiative forcing of Co2? Not settled according to the IPCC.

    Fascinatingly the only person I have ever seen say the “science is settled” (in his favour, naturally) is Christopher Monckton.

  90. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    And I can’t help but note for someone who pretends to be as pragmatic on the issue as you, you have nothing but anger and abuse towards those who don’t accept the fringe frauds and vested-interest nutters you support (then back away from) are the pinnacle of scientific integrity.

  91. Rufus Marsh

    @ Mark M

    I don’t think we are disagreeing in substance (though there may well be matters of substance o which we would disagree I acknowledge) . So there is room for a quibble.

    “My personal belief is that Monckton doesn’t want AGW to be true. No doubt he has his own reasons for this. He is obviously highly intelligent and can therefore rationalise his beliefs in a coherent and convincing manner. He is also a great communicator.”

    But who does want AGW to be true (in there relevant sense of a major threat to global welfare)?

    One doesn’t need to rationalise one’s reasons for not wanting it to be true (in that sense).

    So, you have raised an interesting question about his motivation which hangs in the air. Why does he campaign so actively on the subject. I believe he is quite well off but still is probably happy to have others pay his fares round the world (if they do, as I assume). But my experience is that most people begin at least to start demanding first class fares for them and companion and lots of other goodies to relieve them from the inconveniences of travel. Still, tastes differ and Monckton probably enjoys the combat (the publicity too perhaps whether for itself or as an instrument to …. well further combat, publicity and whatever). Supposing he thinks, however, that he is doing God’s work or some such. I think he is Catholic and it is interesting that George Pell is a bit of a sceptic, but these days Catholicism isn’t a mark of being anti-science nearly as much as being a Bible belt fundie is.

    Maybe there is an element of the kind or recklessness which wins *some* VCs? Wouldn’t it be glorious to be seen, in 2020, as the man who did more than any other single person in the Anglosphere to stop disastrous damage to the economy being done for no good cause? I wonder if, as an investor, he is a big punter; cp. at the other end of the social and educational scale the young coalmine owner Nathan Tinkler who, according to the AFR has just bet the house again.

    So, agreed, not a credible source for one’s decided views (if one feels one has to have them) about climate science but not sure about credibility shot as a source of info and ideas which might need following up.

    Clouds, precipitation, water vapour and positive feedback seem to be the major areas where empirical evidence is needed. That seems to be Dr William Kininmonth’s view and nobody has shot his credibility down. But maybe I am already out of date on his views and the latest studies/articles. Work on the oceans could also turn up surprises. The trouble is the oceans also seem to be a source of worry from all sorts of things we are doing to them of which forming more carbonic acid may only be a minor one……

  92. Rufus Marsh

    @ RICH UNCLE SKELETON

    Why do you let yourself get so agitated? I haven’t had a negative emotion for years though just occasionally I have to struggle with contempt which is why I have to let the Rufus avatar off the verbal leash from time to time.

  93. Mike

    MARK ?

    I take offense at your portrayal of me as a misogynist pig.
    I am not a pig.

  94. Mark M

    @RUFUS

    Wouldn’t it be glorious to be seen, in 2020, as the man who did more than any other single person in the Anglosphere to stop disastrous damage to the economy being done for no good cause

    How does that apply to this situation? Please elaborate on this.

  95. Rufus Marsh

    @ Mark M

    What a pleasure to converse with someone who doesn’t get hold of the wrong end of the stick then explode in vituperation as if he has.

    The particular version you quote of my speculations about Monckton’s motivation was based on

    1. Most people think something needs to be done about AGW and whatever the something is it is going to cost a lot of money if it is going to be even close to effective. (By cost a lot of money I don’t exclude the good things that can happen if, for example, expensive research makes some great breakthroughs in the cost of producing renewable energy or biological sequestration and we all live happily after 204o in a postcarbonised world with cheap energy. But I would take account of opportunity costs and the time value of money – and not at the 1 per cent or nil discount rate favoured by Nicholas Stern. If we reduce our electricity production from coal in Australia before we have access to other cheaper sources then that is going to “cost a lot of money” without possibility of quibble, particularly if we continue to export coal to China so it can produce relatively cheap electricity for its industry which competes with First World countries’ industries).

    2. So, if it turns out by 2020 or 2030 that we are pretty sure we didn’t need to do some of the more expensive things we launched for political reasons (like Howard’s eventually promising an ETS under the pressure of the opinion polls and virtually all the subsidies directed to wind farms and solar panels which have already cost a lot of money without counting negative effects from wind farms in proximity to where people live, or blighting historic landscapes) wouldn’t anyone, even if not of Monckton’s lineage (famous father of great achievement) and temperament, like to be the one who could say “I told you so, and, what is more, I fought the battle to save you from yourselves like a good advocate using good, passable and bad but plausible arguments. Concede, please, that I was right”. I am of course supposing that Monckton genuinely thinks there is a god chance that the sceptical arguments will prevail in the sense that, by say 2030, if not 202, the rate of global temperature increase will be known to be no higher than it has been for 150 years.

    All that is almost totally independent of the strengths and weaknesses of his and anyone else’s scientific argument. It prompts the thought that a scan of the population of the well publicised may find quite a number of calculating punters who simply like the risk/reward ratio they see for a modest investment of credit and time. I can’t help but be reminded of that well known gibe “He predicted ten out of the last five market crashes”. I wonder how many of the anti-fluoridationists are actually quite flexible but, in the case of some maverick dentists perhaps, hoping to be able to say “I told you so”. Maybe a 5 per cent chance of that is attractive if you were always regarded as the dunce of your dentistry course.

  96. Naughty Naughty Nephew

    Aha, Rich Uncle Skeleton – as I shall call you for the moment.

    Uncle Rufus has just shown me stuff from some person using the nom de guerre of Rich Uncle Skeleton and he said to me “Could it be? Could it really be?”

    Yes, indeed, the clues are all there Aunt Dorothy. It is you pretending to be thick.

    Naughty Aunt Dorothy. You know how irritable Uncle Rufus gets with members of the family who don’t listen carefully, quote out of context, misrepresent people’s points, make sloppy arguments and are careless about the facts. So, I see the game. Could Uncle Rufus’s saintly patience with mankind be so tested by someone outside the family that he would erupt?

    Have you won your bet with yourself? I can’t bear to read all Uncle Rufus’s careful expositions as if he were an old fashioned conveyancer paid by the folio or a parliamentary draftsman hoping to prevent any tax avoidance. Anyway, I think I know what he would say and I have to admit he has beaten my brain into submission.

  97. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Hi Rufus.

    Or do you preferred to be known as Julius, Fits, or Naughty Naughty Nephew? Glad to know my gentle probing of your actual motives and beliefs is causing you to act out in an embarrassing and irrational manner.

    I believe I have represented you fairly.

    Here’s another representation you’re not going to like while you’re busy not replying to me using pseudonyms – ever heard of the term “concern troll”?

    A concern troll is a false flag pseudonym created by a user whose actual point of view is opposed to the one that the user claims to hold. The concern troll posts in Web forums devoted to its declared point of view and attempts to sway the group’s actions or opinions while claiming to share their goals, but with professed “concerns”. The goal is to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt within the group.

    That would be a fairly accurate description of you, would it not?

    Now why don’t you stop being a troll for an admitted vested-interest group and start showing some real skepticism and start being skeptical of the skeptics? Or would that take time out of being a Monckton apologist?

  98. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Well into the second year of Monckton apologism, I see.

    I’m getting a very clear idea why you won’t read the Monckton Rap Sheet. Just continue sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming “la la la I can’t hear you”. He tells you everything you want to believe so why challenge those beliefs?

    Not only are you a liar but you are also an intellectual fraud.

  99. Mark M

    @RUFUS

    If I may, here is what I believe you are saying about a carbon tax

    A carbon tax will have a detrimental affect on our economy. The risk to our economy is too high. We should not put a price on carbon.

    Assuming that is what you are saying, here’s my two cents

    1. A carbon tax is a sure thing
    2. Just like the GST, a carbon tax will be here to stay. I seriously doubt that Abbott would ever reverse a carbon tax if he is elected.
    3. Our economic state is highly sensitive to a number of factors, not the least, the environment itself as we have seen in the latest GDP figures. I suspect we are in for a bumpy ride. This makes a carbon tax look pretty insignificant really.
    4. Our “way of life” will not fall apart if we have to pay a small amount more for the things we use. (And the AGW scientists are called alarmist FFS)

    Hopefully this carbon tax will reduce our dependance on power generated from brown coal through investment in innovation and technologies. Brown coal might be cheap, but burning it at great environmental cost to boil water to turn turbines. Really??? It’s 2011 – are we still using that technology? I am no expert here, but even I can see that we can do better than this, but what is the incentive? It’s cheap and profitable and no doubt those involved in the industry want it to stay that way. They also have loads of money to lobby accordingly.

  100. Rufus Marsh

    @ MARK M

    Only have time to answer your initial misconception and do so because you have put it courteously.

    “A carbon tax will have a detrimental affect on our economy. The risk to our economy is too high. We should not put a price on carbon. ”

    I readily forgive you for not reading where I have actually said that I have long favoured a carbon tax (indeed advocated it). I have acknowledged that my advocacy was for a modest one which provided political cover against the emotions of those who just wanted to “do something” and to provide revenue for other reforms. Still I don’ think a carbon tax, properly structured – preferably the Carmody model – would do any serious harm (though putting Blue Scope and Onesteel out of business, e.g., can’t be dismissed as harmless – hence the need for subtlety of design).

    Putting a price on CO2 emissions in some way is, especially when the complications, petty dishonesties, quibbles and outright frauds involved in a global regime are properly imagined, depressingly difficult but probably the best theoretical way to go. Goes with a cap as in cap-and-trade I think whereas a carbon tax doesn’t involve picking a level of output by the government except in the extremely rough and ready way that might be an aspiration based on Treasury modeling of the tax’s effect.

    I haven’t digested the rest of your post but probably agree with most of your propositions. Still we shouldn’t be pushed too far from the logic of a world where we produce relatively clean cheap power from coal burned here rather than export the same to China or anywhere else to burn it. I’m all in favour of hedging one’s bets but the great thing about money is you can spend it in all sorts of ways and if, in the world as it is, we make more money by not restricting the use of our coal there is much to be said for making the money and being able to adapt to change ourselves and help others to adapt. I can’t possibly deal with all the variables but should emphasise the big assumption which is that nothing Australia does can influence our climate materially unless it were an essential part of what India, China and the US agreed to do and actually did. (Also I believe that what was proposed at Copenhagen wouldn’t have done a damn thing if one believes the IPCC projections, but that is BTW rather than an element in my core reasoning).

    I would be in favour of increasing the cost of liquid hydrocarbons for a number of reasons, particularly for motor car use – what a pity that Howard got spooked into dropping indexation of excise nearly 10 years ago…. But I confess to being an investor in the electric vehicle industry FWIW (in every sense) but that was long after my rather puritanical move to a pro hydrocarbon tax ….

    I am, following the economic logic that I do, very much in favour of cheap coal fired power generation being able to continue by buying credits from the preservation and restoration of major forests, especially tropical rain forest. I don’t know that a carbon tax regime is likely to allow for that – though it could by allowing tax rebates I suppose. The position of brown coal power generation may depend (apart from technological ingenuity in the use of brown coal) on whether one is proposing to build more generators or simply using those whose capital costs are sunk. (Sunk costs doesn’t necessarily help the private buyers of Victoria’s generators in the early 90s if they loaded up with debt and haven’t paid it off yet – BTW).

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