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Climate Hustle

How climate change deniers led me to set up Skeptical Science website

Posted on 28 April 2011 by John Cook

I've published an article in The Guardian giving a brief history of how Skeptical Science came to be, culminating in the publishing of the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand which comes out today (will blog about that shortly). An excerpt:

My exploration of climate change denial began innocuously enough – namely some vigorous discussions with sceptical family members. This provoked me to dig a little deeper into the science (no one wants to lose an argument with their father-in-law), but before I knew it, I had wandered into a bewildering labyrinth of raging online debates and bottomless pits of misinformation. How to make sense of it all?

At this point, my inner-computer geek asserted itself and I began constructing a database of climate 'sceptic' arguments. To cut to the truth of each argument, I made peer-reviewed science the ultimate authority. There's no higher standard than evidence-based research conducted by experts, which is then rigorously scrutinised by other experts. As I began to piece together the various pieces, a clear picture began to emerge.

The case for human-caused global warming is robust. It's based on many lines of independent evidence, all pointing to a single, consistent answer. This preponderance of evidence is why we have a consensus among scientists. It's not about tree-hugging or secret plans to control the world – it's rooted in empirical measurements and the laws of physics.

Patterns in the sceptic arguments began to emerge. Instead of considering all the evidence in their search for the truth, climate 'sceptics' refuse to accept evidence that humans are causing global warming. This is not scepticism but denial. To deny a scientific consensus based on so much evidence, you have to deny the scientific evidence.

Then I explained how the Climate Change Denial book came about:

So I started the Skeptical Science website, with the sceptics' arguments collected together as the website's backbone. The systematic database, and more importantly, the rebuttals built on a foundation of peer-reviewed science, inspired Melbourne company Shine Technologies to create a hugely popular iPhone app of it, making the science easily accessible (and cool). While Shine were developing the app, I was contacted by environmental scientist Haydn Washington, who proposed co-authoring a book, Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand.

I had always focused on the external aspects of climate change denial – the how. Haydn was interested in the why. What drives climate denial? If only there was a simple answer. Human psychology is not rocket science – it's much more complicated. Many factors are involved, including conservative ideology, misinformation campaigns (often funded by the fossil fuel companies whose profits are threatened by climate action), fear of change, failure in values and the media itself.

How do we roll back climate change denial? We need to look the evidence full in the face and accept reality. Global warming is happening. We're causing it. Just as important, we also need to stop denying climate action. We can solve climate change – we have the plans to cut our pollution and the technology to switch to cleaner energy. To achieve this, we must abandon denial and demand climate action, from both ourselves and our leaders.

The article is not that old and already a few interesting comments have been posted. I notice past SkS contributor gpwayne describes me as "irritatingly calm, patient and polite". Thanks, Graham! The first comment posts an intriguing theory about the disappearance of the climate myth "It's the sun" - I wonder if it's true (it sucks that we can't quantify and confirm these kinds of things):

Fantastic resource that has really changed the online debate. The professional tone and ease of use has made it so much easier and clearer to debunk many talking points.
IMO SkSci is the main reason the 'its the sun' talking point has all but dissapeared over the past two years.

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Comments 51 to 86 out of 86:

  1. I had originally decided not to make any further posts on this topic. However, the sheer weight of ad hominem argument levelled at Ken beggars belief and can't go unremarked.

    Even more astonishing is the seeming inability of so many contributors to discern in themselves the very behaviours they attribute to Ken.

    Then again, it shouldn't surprise me knowing what I know about human nature.

    For my part, I was bemused when taken to task for describing this as a "warmist" site. I don’t see anything wrong in such a portrayal. If you look at Newcomers, Start Here, you will read:

    If you're new to the climate debate (or are of the mind that there's no evidence for man-made global warming), a good starting point is 10 Indicators of Global Warming which lays out the evidence that warming is happening and the follow-up article, 10 Human Fingerprints on Climate Change which lays out the evidence that humans are the cause. More detail is available in empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming. Contrary to what you may have heard, the case for man-made global warming doesn't hang on models or theory - it's built on direct measurements of many different parts of the climate, all pointing to a single, coherent answer.

    This sounds very "warmist" to me if by "warmist" you mean (as I do) being of the belief that we are facing an era of unprecedented global warming (and the holder of that belief is rightly characterised by Ken as “a believer” in AGW). I see nothing pejorative in such a description just as I see nothing pejorative in calling Richard Dawkins a 'believer' in Evolution, and Stephen Hawking a 'believer' in the Big Bang Theory.

    I also happen to think a "warmist" outlook is a perfectly legitimate and very necessary standpoint. Without a coherent hypothesis, science becomes merely an incoherent amalgamation of interesting facts.

    "Warmism," however is not the only standpoint. While the physics behind CO2 as a greenhouse gas and the impact on temperature in a simple black body radiative transfer model are unassailable, robust debates exist as to the role of other competing forcings and feedbacks.

    Judith Curry’s Climate Etc has managed to create a very civilised forum with vigorous contributions from “warmists,” “lukewarmers,” sceptics,” and “deniers” alike all treated with equal courtesy and respect.

    Oh dear, I forgot:

    Curry is going to be reviled 20 years from now as the scientist who abandoned her profession, her beliefs, and her integrity in order to become a professional concern troll for denialism.

    Moreover, we take for granted courtesy of Marcus @ 50:

    …its [sic] Denialism that seems closest to a religion in its nature… [with its] complete inability to acknowledge even the most glaring errors on the part of their High Priests, & what you've got is something that looks increasingly like a *cult*.

    This last seems largely in response to Ken’s tongue in cheek references to belief in the angelic qualities of human nature and the apocalyptic tone underlying the predictions of the Club of Rome with a mild jibe recycling a chestnut relating to angels dancing on pinheads (none of this sounded even mildly religious in tone). Still, I must make allowances for the sensitivities of those like Sphaerica for whom [t]hese subtle little jabs, meant to prey on people's perceptions of the scientists, do not go unnoticed.

    Of course, all this is somehow compatible with the comments policy about ad hominem attacks stating:

    Attacking other users or anyone holding a different opinion to you is common in debates but gets us no closer to understanding the science. For example, comments containing the words 'religion' and 'conspiracy' tend to get deleted. Comments using labels like 'alarmist' and 'denier' are usually skating on thin ice.
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    [DB] Chris, I have long considered you to be one of the few "real" skeptics participating in this forum (along with Eric (Skeptic)).  While I'm glad to see you occasionally participating again, I feel I must step in here.

    First of all, what definition are you using for ad hominem? The issues I have seen revolve primarily around KL's continual running afoul of the Comments Policy (which I no longer consider accidental) and the reactions that engenders in others.  This is not to excuse the comments from others in reply to KL, for those receive moderation too.  However, most differentiate between attacking KL and his beliefs/motives and focus on his arguments.  The former is a violation while the latter is not.  If you can point to examples of the former for me, I will gladly revisit those comments.

    I hope you will reconsider your inactivity & continue to be an active contributor here, for I feel you have long been a moderating influence.

  2. "This last seems largely in response to Ken’s tongue in cheek references to belief in the angelic qualities of human nature and the apocalyptic tone underlying the predictions of the Club of Rome with a mild jibe recycling a chestnut relating to angels dancing on pinheads (none of this sounded even mildly religious in tone)."

    No Chris, my comments were in relation to Ken's *constant* insinuations-& outright accusations-that the consensus regarding AGW are some kind of religious belief-even though its clearly backed up by more than 100 years of physics & chemistry. Now had his comments been deleted, I'd have said nothing, but there's only so much denigration of the scientific community that I can stand-from Contrarians-before I'll step forward & say my peace, even if that involves intemperate language. Now, if Ken would like to stop making unfounded attacks on the proponents of AGW, & offer a more credible theory for the last 30 years of warming, then I'll be quite happy to respond in a civil fashion. Heck, I'd even like to see him take a break for long enough to make a criticism of the massive errors made by the more prominent members of his own side of the debate. Until he does so, then I will simply continue to dismiss him as a one-eyed contrarian.
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  3. DB: Thank you for your courteous response.

    Wouldn't the Judith Curry citation alone (admittedly from another Skeptical Science thread) qualify under the Comments Policy as an ad hominem remark?

    I guess so much of reality is in the eye of the beholder. However, Ken's integrity was fiercely attacked especially in the Flanner thread. I've never met Ken, have never corresponded with him, and indeed know nothing about him save what I have gleaned from his comments.

    I really don't want to regurgitate the arguments. However, looking at the Miriam-Webster definition of “ad hominem,” I note two meanings:

    1) appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect

    2) marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions

    I suspect rightly or wrongly that the website moderators might be relying on the literal meaning as in (2) sometimes referred to as “Play the man and not the ball.” However, I think there has been evidence aplenty of appeals to feelings (if not prejudices) rather than intellect on this and other threads. Marcus' most recent comments ("I will simply continue to dismiss [Ken] as a one-eyed contrarian") possibly fall into this latter category.

    As someone who has spent the better part of a professional lifetime writing reports and giving expert evidence in court, I've learnt that courtesy and politeness even towards people with whom you strongly disagree is integral to good argument. Knowing and acknowledging the weaknesses of your own position/ hypothesis is equally vital. In relation to the latter, I don't recall any sceptic here citing Plimer or Monckton in support of their positions both of whom I find somewhat an embarrassment (but I'm happy to stand corrected).

    I've also learnt that labelling others' arguments as "ridiculous" or "bad" invariably spills over into an inference that the proponents of these arguments are being deliberately obtuse or posting only to make trouble. It is far better to state that an argument is "flawed" and to point out the flaw without rhetorical flourishes. Simple formulae on the lines of "With respect" are essential lubricants of a genuine civil discourse. Other formulae on the lines of "You may have overlooked this" or "Have you considered such and such?" are equally helpful. It takes a patience and consideration but it’s always worth it in the end.

    I note a couple of contributors have suggested that I ought to look at what takes place on other sites. With respect, I’m not that naïve. I know the blogosphere is all too often a feral place. However, it doesn't need to be.
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    [DB] Thank you, Chris, for taking the time to make your reply.

    I don't know who brought Judith's home on the webs into play here, but the only difference between that & CA or WUWT is the spelling of the URL.  I simply do not care for the lack of respect, invective and abandonment of science and the scientific method expressed daily there.

    WRT Skeptical Science and the dialogue on the various threads: it is an on-going work-in-progress keeping the conversation on-topic and focused on the science and not on the individual.  The moderators are human and sometimes miss things.  Nor is there any wish to stifle the conversation or dictate its direction.

    That being said, certain individuals have taken it upon themselves to derail discussions on various threads.  Some refuse to adhere to the Comments Policy, treating it as an optional practice not only not applicable to them, but raise a fuss and commotion when they force the moderators to intervene (further derailing the dialogue).  Please realize that what the reader sees is but the tip of the moderation iceberg: the 90% of comments you don't see simply beggar belief.  And yes, some of the most egregious were written by active contributors to SkS.

    So it's a no-win scenario.

    While I appreciate the candor and the striving for calm, invective-free dialogue you call for, please realize we are trying, and that Skeptical Science is one of the best places to interact in its online community of all the various climate science blogs on the Internet.

    If you choose to remain & participate here, your contributions are welcome.  If you choose not to, then I'm sorry to say that you will be the one depriving yourself of some of the best science dialogue available anywhere on the Internet.  And I will miss the moderating example you have set.

  4. Chris @51,

    "Judith Curry’s Climate Etc has managed to create a very civilised forum with vigorous contributions from “warmists,” “lukewarmers,” sceptics,” and “deniers” alike all treated with equal courtesy and respect.

    Absolute and utter twaddle Chris, and you know it. Climate Etc is a cesspool of invective and vitriol, and innuendo (by the host), not to mention the posters are allowed to run amok and hurl insults at each other, and in some instances worse. Anyone who has spent any amount of time perusing the threads at Curry's place can attest to that fact. I could post some examples, but they would probably violate the "comments policy" here.

    If Curry's place is your idea of a "civilized forum", then we simply have to agree to disagree. And if you feel at home there and prefer that sort of poisoned environment, then by all means feel free to do so.

    SkS has very reasonable rules, that make it one of the most pleasant places on the internet to read and contribute to. If poster breaks those rules, including me (I had quite a few comments removed when I first started posting here, but instead of blaming SkS I took it upon myself to up my game and respect the host's rules), then they are welcome to try again, up their game or go elsewhere. What is more, they will often be warned first, and then only if they continue are posts deleted.

    The fact that some "skeptics" here are now reduced to complaining and arguing about the very reasonable moderation and comments policy here goes to show just how much trouble they (or rather their arguments) are in.

    And a closing note, as for "playing the ball and not the man", I am all for that, but certain "skeptics" here are very much in the habit of playing the man, and that then annoys others who, after much provocation, sometimes respond with comments of a personal nature.

    Now can we please get this thread back on track. If you want to pursue this further might I suggest that you please email John in person instead of clogging up threads? Thanks.
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  5. Interesting how some not only feel the need to defend those who they feel are on the same side as themselves and accuse others of a version of ad hominem (while turning a blind-eye to any such examples from said fellow-travellers). But even more interestingly is how such people also believe that websites like Judith Curry's are paragons of scientific discussion carried out in a rational, level-headed and objective version of reality - as opposed to Skeptical Science, I presume.

    Anyway, from the latest thread there on Curry's site, these fine examples :

    Ya know, you really haven’t got a clue about the true objectives of the UN via its front organization the IPCC and the white-coated wiseguys, but you do now.

    What if CO2 is beneficial? Yes, but not just more likely, it has been proven with experiments.

    Temperature and mean sea level indices are objective and non- manipulable? News to me.

    There have been far too many inaccurate climate predictions which seem to somehow be swept under the carpet and expediently forgotten when the forecast is ‘busted’ and there are seemingly no penalties for such alarmist behaviour which continues unabated.

    For me, Judith, this thread shows that neither you or the lawyer understand the idea of the “null hypothesis”.

    Climate change has always happened and it always will. It’s unstoppable.

    (I’m sure “Travesty Trenberth”, “Juggler Jones” and “Hysteria Hansen” have thought the same recently.)

    Of course ivory tower scientists and impractical wafflers have no clue about realities of the world.

    And the reaction to anyone who varies slightly (and I mean slightly) from the tribal viewpoint :

    Oh Bart – such obvious posturing from the clown prince of verbosity.

    Yes, I had a problem replying to silly Bart's silly description of Aus

    But were any of them "warmists", "lukewarmists", whatever-term-you-wish-to-make-up-to-define-those-you-oppose-ists ? Who knows.
    And what fine examples of courtesy and respect...
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  6. I have the same thoughts about Curry's blog as comments #54 and 55. In my short time there (about a week), I was treated quite rudely by other commenters. The majority of the comments were either off-topic, insulting, or both. Most would have not made it through the SkS moderation process because they would violate the site comments policy.

    There is clearly no moderation at Curry's. You can't blame her, since the volume of comments is so high and she has better things to do. But to compare the commenting and moderation at Curry's favorably to that at SkS is just bizarre. There's really no contest in terms of quality of both comments and moderation (or quality of the blog posts, for that matter). Like I said, I left Curry's after less than a week and haven't been back since, that's how bad I found it (mainly due to the rude comments).
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  7. My comments are being deleted so I cannot respond to Chriscanaris and his useful opinions.

    Suffice to say that Chris is pretty right in his analysis.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] You have forced the moderators to delete comments as said deleted comments contained complaints above having to comply with the Comments Policy. Compliance with, and adherence to, the Comments Policy is not optional, despite your railing against it. You are clearly able to formulate a comment that passes moderation: your not doing so & then complaining about the moderation you have then forced upon yourself is clearly a gambit meant to reframe this as bias towards yourself. Very transparent.
  8. The Albatross has landed.

    Best wishes to all.
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  9. chriscanaris #53

    "I don't recall any sceptic here citing Plimer or Monckton in support of their positions both of whom I find somewhat an embarrassment (but I'm happy to stand corrected)."

    Well I have never quoted the work of Plimer or Monckton in any of my arguments put forward on SKS.

    chriscanaris: "the sheer weight of ad hominem argument levelled at Ken beggars belief and can't go unremarked."

    The reason for that attack was the attackers were shown by my reasoned argument and calculations to be factually wrong on several important numbers. This unleashed the torrent of abuse.
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    [DB] Your failed attempts to recast the dialogue of the Flanner thread to cover your errors are transparent.  Multiple transgressions of the Comment Policy have forced moderation; your subsequent blaming of the moderation as cause for your failure to prove your arguments ring hollow, as does your trying to reframe comments critical of your retreat & diversion escape plan as being "abuse".

    You were in error, you were corrected on the error, and you have spent weeks trying basically saying "no I wasn't".  Black Knight Syndrome embodied.

  10. It has always fascinated me the amount of attention, threads and posts that are directed against Plimer and Monckton by the more regular contributors here. They are obviously seen by many here as being far more important and influential than what I or most sceptics seem to credit them with.
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  11. Well John D, you might want to ask that bastion of "Skepticism"-The Australian-why they frequently devote so much space to the rantings of Monckton & Plimer? Also, why is Monckton frequently invited to give testimony at Congressional Hearings in the US, & why do the various skeptic conventions around the world frequently feature one of these two people as Guest Speaker? You might not credit them with too much importance or influence, but I'm afraid you're still in a minority amongst your fellow "skeptics".
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  12. Marcus at 18:24 PM, you are confirming my point.
    Virtually everything I know about Monckton is through what I have read from the various threads devoted (did I say devoted?) to Monckton here at SkS.
    Unlike yourself I don't even feel the need to avail myself of even greater knowledge by scrutinising "The Australian" to see how much time they devote to him, or who invites him to speak. I only read "The Australian" online and honestly can't recall even seeing any mention of him there. Perhaps I need to seek out any mentions of him through their search function.
    Anyway, here seems to provide a more than adequate blow by blow coverage of his engagements.
    You now have me wondering who gives him the greatest attention, pro-rata that is, "The Australian" or SkS?
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  13. Perhaps, johnd, you should read THE AUSTRALIAN more closely, especially the National Affairs section :

    Monckton's back: Christopher Monckton is returning to Australia in July to warn about the threat of the carbon tax.
    May 02, 2011 7:41AM

    Haven't read about that on SkS yet...
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  14. Daniel Bailey #59

    I must be in a parallel universe.

    Daniel - there was no error, no retreat and diversion escape plan - no Black Knight.

    I invite all SKS readers to the "Flanner" thread and ask any one of them to point out my errors.

    Your comment is such a breathtaking distortion of the facts that I am frankly shocked at the attempt.
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  15. Ken Lambert @64, while you have not made any significant errors of calculation, you have persistently made conceptual errors which if left uncorrected would result in errors in the final result of up to two orders of magnitude. You are equally persistent in never acknowledging these errors as errors, not matter how glaringly obvious they may be. Of these, my favourite examples are your rather arbitrary decision that the incoming flux for 90 days must really be the incoming flux for (approx) 10950 days, a view you returned to repeatedly and have never acknowledged as a mistake; and your decision that the average incoming flux over a 90 day period was the peak incoming flux over that period, and that consequently it needed to be divided by two to find the average. To cap the later of you then divided the result by two again apparently because the measured 2 million square kilometer reduction in sea ice did not fit your prejudice. Again, you have refused to acknowledge that that mistake was a mistake.

    All of this is of a piece with the original basis of discussion, your insistence that the low altitude of the sun in the arctic summer must raise ocean albedo so much that any calculation showing a strong positive feedback from loss of arctic sea ice can be rejected out of hand. In arguing for this, you never calculated the relevant values, but merely insisted the work of a number of scientists who had was flawed. Apparently the effect was so obvious it did not need calculation, and the scientists so stupid that they had missed it entirely in their calculations. The belief that you can rebut the scientists without making the calculations makes no sense without those two assumptions.

    I attempted to supply the calculations for you - making sure to bias the results in favour of your arguments. Unfortunately I made a number of trivial errors which needed to be tracked down and corrected. Now that they have been tracked down and corrected, they clearly show your original assumptions about the magnitude of the effect where mistaken. Rather than acknowledge your error, you have launched a major attempt to disrupt this thread - and changed the subject on the Flanner thread. You have certainly not, or course, acknowledged your error.

    I have resisted pandering to your attempts to derail this thread until now. Rather, I responded on the appropriate thread. Rather than filling this thread up with your false claims, perhaps you also can keep the discussion where it belongs.
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  16. Albatross@54
    I think that comments regarding the quality (or lack thereof) of other climate blogs are relevant and on topic for this thread. I became a regular (lurker) here because of SkS' quality of science and dialog when compared to places like WUWT.

    Ken Lambert@everywhere
    Please stop trying to derail this thread and take the discussion back where it belongs.
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  17. JMurphy at 22:30 PM, I don't know what more I can say except, courtesy of your post, I read it here first.

    Is Monckton that important a figure to you that you are now actively recommending others should read certain sections of certain newspapers just to keep up with the latest news about him?
    I remain fascinated/bewildered by the close attention being paid to him by the regulars here.
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  18. Tom Curtis #65

    I have already invited everyone to the Flanner thread, where Tom Curtis has not responded to my latest piece, even though he has quoted numbers in detail above in #65.

    This gross bit I cannot let go elsewhere:

    "To cap the later of you then divided the result by two again apparently because the measured 2 million square kilometer reduction in sea ice did not fit your prejudice. Again, you have refused to acknowledge that that mistake was a mistake."

    I got that 'prejudice' from Dr Trenberth, Tom -

    Dr Trenberth says in his "Tracking the Earth's Energy" Aug09 paper:

    "Sea ice is important where it forms. Record losses of Arctic sea ice of about 10^6 km2 occurred in summer of 2007
    relative to the previous lowest year [25], although the
    thickness and volume of the ice is quite uncertain. To
    melt 10^6 km2 of ice 1 m thick and raise the temperature of
    the water by 10 degC requires 3.4 x 10^20 J, or globally
    0.02 W/m2. For 2004–2008 this is about 0.9 x 10^20 J/yr."

    Am I to be allowed to answer the rest of Tom Curtis' post at #65?
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  19. Ken Lambert @68, so you don't see using the previous lowest year to 2007 as the benchmark when the discussion regards net increase in incoming flux relative to 1979 as an error?
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  20. #69 Tom Curtis

    Dr Trenberth is estimating the 'annual' contribution of Sea Ice loss in the Arctic to the global energy imbalance budget.

    If you want to look at the Sea Ice loss relative to 1979, you need to look at the 'cumulative' loss over 32 years.
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  21. pbjamm #66

    "Ken Lambert@everywhere
    Please stop trying to derail this thread and take the discussion back where it belongs."

    I have already done that at #64 - come on over to the Flanner thread yourself.
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  22. Ken @71,

    "I have already done that at #64"

    And yet before your comment #71 and after #64 you managed to make two more off topic posts at #68 and #70 :)

    Now, please either speak to the content of John's post/article, or move on. Thank you so very much.
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  23. "Marcus at 18:24 PM, you are confirming my point."

    How so? I don't exactly seek out mentions of Monckton, Plimer or any of those other hard-core Denialists in The Australian, they're there in Black & White in every single Op Ed piece that is devoted to the issue of Climate Change. The Editorials also frequently make mention of these "stars" of the denial movement, as do many of the journalists who work for The Australian. If you've missed these frequent mentions, then I can only suggest that its because you're trying to read the *braille* version of the newspaper.
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  24. Ken Lambert@71
    Your comment @2 was an off topic complaint about moderation and a claim of victory on the Flanner thread. Nothing at all to do with the creation of SkS or why you come here. This was a fairly successful redirected of this thread into a subset of Flanner. Quite frankly I think the moderators should delete *ALL* the Flanner based comments (including my own) as they are 100% off topic.
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  25. "Is Monckton that important a figure to you that you are now actively recommending others should read certain sections of certain newspapers just to keep up with the latest news about him?"

    The point, John, is that whether you choose to accept it or not, the majority of your fellow Denialists clearly see him as an important figure-to the extent of viewing him as an "expert" in the field-otherwise, why would they give him so much air-time? Talk-back radio, Right Wing Newspapers (like The Australian), Fox News & the US Republican Party *all* give him & his ilk plenty of lime-light, hardly something they'd do for someone they considered inconsequential. This, of course, speaks volumes about the dearth of *real* experts that exist within the Denialist Camp. JMurphy's link was simply to show that, in spite of your rampant denial, The Australian still views him as a very newsworthy figure. That point, like most others, appears to be completely lost on you however.
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  26. By the way Ken Lambert,
    Your last comment on the Flanner thread was May 2nd while your last Flanner based comment here was May 4th. If you really intended to invite people over there you would post something to the effect of "please see my comments here" with a link to your latest comment.
    And so I don't add to your feelings of persecution, Tom Curtis should be doing the same.
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  27. I will say this much, though. Its true that Plimer & Monckton have become slightly *less* important, in the eyes of the Denialist Community, since the start of this year-maybe because their comments are so blatantly embarrassing that even their fellow travelers are beginning to want nothing to do with them. That certainly shouldn't allow the Denialist Movement to try & rewrite history, & pretend like Monckton & Plimer weren't ever their "star performers". As I said, though, some elements of the Denial community *still* view Monckton & Plimer as heroes of their movement.
    Last point, John, I personally *rarely* mention Plimer or Monckton unless they're first mentioned by one of the Denialists. Given that it was *you* & Ken who brought them up in this thread, then that surely suggests its *you*-& not us-who are fixated on them.
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  28. Marcus, johnd - Here in the States, we don't read the Australian at all.

    Washington Post? CNN? The Guardian? Yep. But not the Australian. That's "local" news for a locality far from here.

    That said, Monckton has shown up in front of Congress for the Kabuki theater that is the US Congress (which I state as someone for whom Congress is local news). When he does, we in the States make appropriate noises in response. Usually gagging.


    For me, looking at the world through the clearest glass I can find is important for my personal integrity. Logical fallacies, rhetoric contrary to facts, and lying for self-interest are maddening to me. I have the greatest respect for John Cook for putting so much effort into this website. I believe that it has had an effect - clearly delineating the science, and hopefully killing off some of the counterfactual rhetoric.

    I hope, in my own small way, to help contribute to this effort for some time to come.
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  29. Marcus @77,

    You can add Pat Michaels and Christy to that list.
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  30. Albatross #72

    I invited all to the Flanner thread at #64. Tom Curtis has not responded to my posts there since 30th April. He then places a post here at #65 which should have been on the Flanner thread.

    Direct your criticism to Tom Curtis.

    If this thread has a clearly defined topic, it is about the personal musings of our host John Cook on what motivated him to start up the site.

    Other than say - well done John, one could suggest that disagreement is not denial, and that there are valid reasons to doubt some of the supporting evidence for the AGW case.
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  31. "Other than say - well done John, one could suggest that disagreement is not denial, and that there are valid reasons to doubt some of the supporting evidence for the AGW case."

    Hmmm, I'd say the only *valid* reasons to doubt the supporting evidence would be if (a) the evidence was obviously flawed or (b) if the Contrarian Camp were able to come up with a better hypothesis to explain the observed warming trend of the past 60 years, in general, & the last 30 years in particular. Neither seems to be the case-the evidence is as strong as it was over 100 years ago & the Contrarians have yet to come up with an opposing hypothesis which is able to stand up to scrutiny. What I see from Contrarians, most often, are attempts to discredit the scientific community, wacky conspiracy theories, attempts to downplay the future seriousness of the problem and attempts to overstate the possible economic consequences of taking action. None of which I'd define as *valid* reasons for doubting scientific *fact*-just a desperate bid to muddy the waters & delay action for as long as possible.
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  32. Marcus wrote : "I will say this much, though. Its true that Plimer & Monckton have become slightly *less* important, in the eyes of the Denialist Community, since the start of this year-maybe because their comments are so blatantly embarrassing that even their fellow travelers are beginning to want nothing to do with them."

    Due, no doubt in large part, to sites like this which pick apart their outpourings and show them up for the propagandist disinformers they really are. Previously, the so-called skeptics used to lap-up whatever they said or wrote because it sounded good (coming as it did from supposed experts, albeit self-described ones) and made their denial seem more science-based.
    Now that they have been shown to be nothing more than wafflers and purveyors of ill-thought out ideas, some of the so-called skeptics are embarrassed and are now trying to deny all knowledge of these people - especially by pretending that it is sites like these that are giving them publicity, as opposed to the reality that sites like this are reacting to, showing-up and countering the disinformation.

    Older Australians of a certain political persuasion still seem to lap-up their nonsense, though...
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  33. Dear John,

    Reading your excerpt from the Guardian's, for me it's a bit odd.
    On one hand you say that you think you have a sceptic view, on the other hand you define something as an 'ultimate authority'. In my point of view there is a conflict.
    As I understand it, an ultimate authority means something like the Pope or a government or general officers at the military etc. That means that only people like believers or soldiers have to follow such an institution without questioning. If not, well, a believer would face the risk to be excommunicated or a soldier would be die soon if he questions the orders.
    But is this in common with science? Shouldn't it be that way that even scientists have to question themselves, to question their own theories and not only those that might be contradictory?
    Is it really sceptic when you declare an ultimate thruth -what you definitely do if you state an 'ultimate authority'- what will never be possible because there is no such thing like an 'utimate truth'?

    To be sceptic means for me to question everything - independent from the meaning behind and regardless of the person that told it.
    Would you agree to this?
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  34. JoeRG, I'm sure John Cook can answer for himself if he feels the need to but I think he makes it clear that the 'ultimate authority' you are referring to (i.e. a single body) is different from the 'ultimate authority' referred to here - the peer-reviewed science. That has no definition as a defining body which determines the truth - rather, as a whole, the peer-reviewed science has congregated around a consensus (in the same way as with regard to Evolution Theory) and this was what John consulted to determine the facts.

    This is explained, as far as I can see, in the piece above :

    I made peer-reviewed science the ultimate authority. There's no higher standard than evidence-based research conducted by experts, which is then rigorously scrutinised by other experts. As I began to piece together the various pieces, a clear picture began to emerge.
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  35. Sphaerica #48

    "This is probably the crux of Ken's problem, and why he gets so much wrong. His efforts to do so are clearly handicapped by his own preset desire to arrive at a chosen result. He even admits to this when he says:
    it might not be there..
    He doesn't know. It's just a possibility, and one that he'll wager on because he hasn't considered the rather deep and detailed science which reasons that it should be there and almost certainly is... it will be shocking if it's not. But for him, it's only a short step to go from "it might not be there" to closing his eyes and insisting that it isn't there, even though all of the evidence says that it is.

    It's climate change denial in a well wrapped package, with a nice, shiny bow."

    I am glad that the package is presentable.

    Spare us the amateur psychoanalysis Sphaerica.

    This thread is about John Cook's efforts to deliver the planet from 'deniers'.

    When the scientists have found the 'missing heat', then reasonable persons like me will accept the facts. When facts change - so does my opinion - what do you do sir?

    Until then, "the quantity of belief is the difference between what we can measure and what we think is there."
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  36. Oh dear. It turns out that despite Lambert's best efforts to get this thread back on topic on post 64, Sphaerica just went an opened up that whole can of worms again @48. How inconsiderate of him.
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  37. Ken, I have responded to you here
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  38. John, did you eventually manage to convince your father-in-law?
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