More Monckton

Duae Quartunciae has been more patient than me, and found even more problems with Monckton’s paper.

Monckton has struck back at the APS. Check out this press release from the SPPI

Said, Monckton elsewhere, “Trying to duck the usual process of scientific discourse by arguments about peer-review procedures is an ad-hominem approach which is not worthy of the name of science. What has happened is that the usual suspects, instead of ploughing through the (not particularly difficult) math and saying what I got wrong and why (which is what Popper calls the EE or “error-elimination” step in the scientific-method algorithm), decided it would be easier simply to lobby the president of the APS, who – instead of consulting me first – instantly and shamefully crumbled.”

Since Monckton’s errors are so blatant (see above) I think it is more likely that the APS folks noticed them as well.

Reported Monckton, “I’ve had hundreds of emails from Professors, PhDs and other physicists who belong to the APS, on all sides of the “global warming” debate, saying how dismayed they are at the unethical conduct of their President and Council.”

I’d believe him, except that Monckton has a habit of making things up.

Lastly, added Monckton, “One might ask President Bienenstock what steps the APS took to peer-review its own half-baked Council policy statement on “global warming”, which is unadorned by even a single reference to a reputable, peer-reviewed journal. “

Because nobody could find the IPCC assessment reports without a cite…

Monckton’s letter to the APS is pretty funny. Monckton doesn’t understand what peer review means. Let me just quote John Mashey on Saperstein’s review:

The reviewer was Co-editor Saperstein. The words in black are from him, and they include, with [notes by me]:

“Fig. 7 is clear. Make more of it: it contradicts the GW claims.”

[no, it doesn't]

“Other anthropogenic forcings”: What is meant by his? Why are they net-negative?

“Forcing”: I don’t understand why forcing can’t be measured. that shows I don’t understand the difference between solar flux incident on top of atmosphere and “forcing”,…

“Feedback”: I don’t know the difference between “forcing” and “feedback”. If “forcing” is not just external energy flux, than I would assume it includes “feedback”.

[Well, do I need to articulate the level of climate science competence displayed? Of course, the Viscount labels this "peer review", which of course shows what he knows about peer review.]

Update: From a Creationist blog, a response from Arthur Bienenstock, President of the American Physical Society:

Thank you for your message concerning the American Physical Society’s treatment of the article by Lord Monckton in the Newsletter of the Forum on Physics and Society. I am writing to discuss issues raised by some of you.

Some of those writing to me have claimed that the American Physical Society is censoring Lord Monckton’s article in the Newsletter of the APS’ Forum on Physics and Society. That is far from the case. The article has been presented and retained in the form agreed upon by him and the Newsletter’s editor. You will find it readily available on the APS’ website in that form.

Indeed, there was absolutely no censoring. The APS did not even do a scientific evaluation or peer review of the article. Lord Monckton’s presentation of the interaction between him and the editor indicates clearly that the editor’s review was aimed at ensuring the clarity and readability of the article by the intended audience. As Lord Monckton points out in his covering letter to me, “Most revisions were intended to clarify for physicists who were not climatologists the method by which the IPCC evaluates climate sensitivity – a method which the IPCC does not itself clearly or fully explain.”

That is, the review was an editorial review for a newsletter, and not the substantive scientific peer review required for publication in our journals. No attempt was made to analyze the scientific substance of the article and no censoring was performed. As indicated above and in Lord Monckton’s letter to me, the article appears in the form agreed upon by Lord Monckton.

Some people and news services misinterpreted the Newsletter publication of one editor’s comments and Lord Monckton’s article as a retreat by the American Physical Society from its official position on the contribution of human activities to global warming. Consequently, the APS felt it necessary to ensure that its official position was known both to those who logged on to the APS website and those who had followed a link to Lord Monckton’s article on our website and were unaware of the context in which it appears. That is the origin of the comment that appears at the top of the article on the website. I am sure that you would not want the Society’s position to be misunderstood in this important matter.

I hope that this clarifies matters for you. Let me thank you again for your interest in the American Physical Society’s activities.

And Monckton’s inevitable response:

I have had your notice of refusal to remove your regrettable disclaimer from my paper Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered. Since you have not had the courtesy to remove and apologize for the unacceptable red-flag text that, on your orders, in effect invites readers of Physics and Society to disregard the paper that one of your editors had invited me to submit, and which I had submitted in good faith, and which I had revised in good faith after it had been meticulously reviewed by a Professor of Physics who was more than competent to review it, I must now require you to answer the questions that I had asked in my previous letter, videlicet -

[repeated stuff snipped]

7 If, as your silence on these points implies, the Council has not scientifically evaluated or formally considered my paper, please explain with what credible scientific justification, and on whose authority, the offending text asserts
primo, that the paper had not been scientifically reviewed, when it had (let us have no more semantic quibbles about the meaning of “scientific review”);
secundo, that its conclusions disagree with what is said (on no evidence) to be the “overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community”; and,
tertio, that “The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions”? Which of my conclusions does the Council disagree with, and on what scientific grounds (if any)? And, if the Council has not in fact met to consider my paper as your red-flag text above my paper implies, how dare you state (on no evidence) that the Council disagrees with my conclusions?

8 Please provide the requested apology without any further mendacity, prevarication, evasion, excuse, or delay.

Finally, was the Council’s own policy statement on “global warming” peer-reviewed? Or is it a mere regurgitation of some of the opinions of the UN’s climate panel? If the latter, why was the mere repetition thought necessary?


  1. #2 John Mashey
    July 20, 2008


    BUT, how did all this happen? Does it seem odd to anyone that FPS, which normally publishes comments by and for physicists, seeks out Monckton? What is that connection?

    I conjecture that the answer lies with a Physics Professor at the University of Hartford named Laurence (Larry) Gould. (H/T to Ian Forrester). Larry’s views of climate can easily be ascertained just by looking at his home page. The department is small, ~5 faculty.

    Dr Gould:

    – is the co-editor of the newsletter New England Section of the APS, and during 2004, was the Chairman of the NES. (The 2004 sometimes gets lost).

    – has been studying climate science for about 4 years, although as far as I can tell, has never published any such research in peer-reviewed journals. It looks like that interest dates from a APS-NES meeting in 2004 with Christy, Lindzen, Rock, and Weart.

    – Wrote an editorial in Fall APS-NES Newsletter, which could serve as a useful catalog of denialist writings, although references to peer-reviewed material are … scarce…

    – About that same time, appears to have signed on for the OISM Petition Project. At least, “Laurence Gould PhD” appears in the Connecticut list.

    – Wrote yet more in the Spring 2008 newsletter: An Open Letter to Members of the American Physical Society/NewEnglandSection — Anthropogenic Global Warming Alarmism: A Corruption of Science. Note the title.


    – As it happens, Viscount Monckton spoke at the University of Hartford on March 5, 2008. This is labeled as by invitation from UHA President Walter Harrison … but one wonders where the impetus came to do this, and who hosted him. [Monckton was in NYC for the Heartland March 2-4 conference.]

    SPPI says: “Apocalypse? NO! been described by Professor Larry Gould of the University of Hartford, Connecticut, as the best film ever made on climate change.”


    – one wonders if there was any contact between Gould and the editors of FPS – is that how Monckton got hooked into FPS?

    Larry Gould is quoted widely as supporting Monckton’s work.
    Google: larry gould monckton aps

    In SPPI July 15 we find:

    ‘Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chair (2004) of the New England Section of the American Physical Society (APS), has been studying climate-change science for four years. He said:

    “I was impressed by an hour-long academic lecture which criticized claims about ‘global warming’ and explained the implications of the physics of radiative transfer for climate change. I was pleased that the audience responded to the informative presentation with a prolonged, standing ovation. That is what happened when, at the invitation of the President of our University, Christopher Monckton lectured here in Hartford this spring. I am delighted that Physics and Society, an APS journal, has published his detailed paper refining and reporting his important and revealing results.’

    “To me the value of this paper lies in its dispassionate but ruthlessly clear exposition – or, rather, exposé – of the IPCC’s method of evaluating climate sensitivity. The detailed arguments in this paper, and, indeed, in a large number of other scientific papers, point up extensive errors, including numerous projection errors of climate models, as well as misleading statements by the IPCC. Consequently, there are no rational grounds for believing either the IPCC or any other claims of dangerous anthropogenic ‘global warming’.’

    Note that this appeared on the SPPI website on July 15, in the *first* mention of it by SPPI, and the FPS article appeared either on the 14th or the 15th. From past watchings of SPPI, Ferguson tends to be “ready-to-go”, so one would expect that Gould had seen this material before…

  2. #3 Steve Bloom
    July 20, 2008

    Hey, Tim, give my Figure 7 discussion a link.

  3. #4 Craig Pennington
    July 20, 2008

    Reported Monckton, “I’ve had hundreds of emails from Professors, PhDs and other physicists who belong to the APS, on all sides of the “global warming” debate, saying how dismayed they are at the unethical conduct of their President and Council.”

    I am quite certain it’s true that the lurkers support him in email. What a loon he is.

  4. #5 WotWot
    July 21, 2008

    Reported Monckton, “I’ve had hundreds of emails from Professors, PhDs and other physicists who belong to the APS, on all sides of the “global warming” debate, saying how dismayed they are at the unethical conduct of their President and Council.”

    Well, he shouldn’t have any trouble proving that, at least. Bet he won’t.

  5. #6 Tim Lambert
    July 21, 2008

    Wotwot, Monckton can’t possibly tell us who these hunderds of APS members are, because then they would be persecuted by the AGW cabal at the APS. After all, look how they’ve mistreated “Galileo” Monckton.

  6. #7 dhogaza
    July 21, 2008

    I am delighted that Physics and Society, an APS journal…

    So, not only Monckton, but the editor of the Newsletter’s New England section, misrepresents it as a “Journal”.

    There’s really no excuse possible. Gould knows exactly what he’s doing.

  7. #8 John Mashey
    July 21, 2008

    dhogaza: yes, of course.

    Try reading Gould’s Home page.

  8. #9 Steve Bloom
    July 21, 2008

    John M., you should compare notes with Jennifer O.

  9. #10 El Cid
    July 21, 2008

    As the Fourth and Final Discount Monk of Peter Benchley, I demand your immediate and complete apology.

    Further, since you invited my comments in your peer-reviewed journal by leaving the comments function open, I will take this as clear evidence that you have endorsed my theories of the Hollow Earth, no takebacks.

    Yours, Sincerely,
    Lord High Mugwump Blisterford Monk,
    Discount Bench At Tiffany’s

  10. #11 WotWot
    July 21, 2008

    After all, look how they’ve mistreated “Galileo” Monckton.

    He he.

    Obviously I haven’t wrapped my head around conspiracy style thinking. Just too used to dealing with evidence and logic.

  11. #12 dhogaza
    July 21, 2008

    Try reading Gould’s Home page.

    I tried. It ain’t pretty :)

  12. #13 quraina
    July 22, 2008

    “The APS did not even do a _scientific_ _evaluation_ or peer review of the article.” Well, with that, I concede I way overestimated the editorial care of a newsletter of a scientific professional society, and I am in over my head. Best of luck sorting it out!

  13. #14 John Mashey
    July 22, 2008


    Professional societies usually have journals, staffed by paid editors and full-time staff, which call on referees. They do serious peer review, which is a *lot* of work on the part of editors and referees. (I’ve done both). It can take a long time to get something published.

    Newsletters, or sometimes Special Interest Groups are more informal, often staffed by volunteers as part of professional service. I think the problem here is that:

    - physics is big, which makes it hard for any editor to personally know every topic. SIGS (like of ACM) are usually much more focussed, and usually edited by people who are knowledgable in the specific area.

    - Of course, while global warming is a legitimate hot topic, realistically, the natural discussion isn’t in APS, but over in AGU or other places.

    - I do think the editors screwed up, and I’ve suggested elsewhere some ideas about possibly rethinking the role and structure of FPS in the Web era. I know they are now learning all about Monckton tactics.

    - However, I also think the editors were hoodwinked by Monckton, and I conjecture (see #2 above) that Larry Gould (the APS-NES newsletter co-editor) set it up. I.e., I have no proof, but it’s the obvious connection for such a weird thing.

    - I have long read James Randi’s books, and the Skeptical Inquirer, and a practical rule emerged:

    When investigating someone claiming psychic powers
    - you can take scientists along
    - but you *should* take stage magicians

    The former are often fooled because, by default, they do *Not* expect the universe to be purposefully tricking them, whereas the magicians are looking for tricks, and are better at finding them. Of course, some scientists get well-trained at this.

    Googel: puthoff targ geller

    Hence, I feel a little bad for the editors: most people in the US have never heard of Monckton, and normal scientists would not anticipate this sort of tactical behavior. Again, I suspect Larry Gould brought Monckton to them with superlative references. Still not an excuse, but I can imagine how it happens.

    So, if people can help them fix this, please do.

  14. #15 Marion Delgado
    July 22, 2008

    Curse you, El Cid!

    (hating self for not having come up with Discount Monck of [Peter] Benchley)

  15. #16 Luke Silburn
    July 22, 2008

    I see that Andrew Orlowski has weighed in on Monckton’s behalf over on The Register (

    If you are tempted to zip over there and put a correction in the comments, don’t bother – El Reg seems to have switched comments off for this article (replacing it with a mailto link instead).

    This seems to be a the same for all of Orlowski’s stuff; can’t think why…


  16. #17 z
    July 22, 2008

    lest we forget:

    ‘Well,’ he says, breezily, ‘for a few years, the temperature will continue to rise, but nowhere near as fast as the alarmists would wish it to rise. Then solar physicists suggest that in the next solar cycle but one, and a solar cycle is about 10.6 years, there will be a considerable cooling of the Sun. And the panic will disappear.’
    -Monckton’s Ripping Yarns
    May 8, 2007
    there is no doubt of course that this will be somehow welded to the “warming has ceased and it’s now cooling” meme as a grand success of prediction, despite it’s having come true a couple of decades ahead of schedule.

  17. #18 JB
    July 23, 2008

    “I have had your notice of refusal to remove your regrettable disclaimer from my paper Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered. Since you have not had the courtesy to remove and apologize for the unacceptable red-flag text…

    Please provide the requested apology without any further mendacity, prevarication, evasion, excuse, or delay.” — Lord Monckton

    One possible title for the APS response:

    “(Oh) Lord (not again) Monckton’s sensitivity reconsidered”.

  18. #19 Ray C.
    July 23, 2008

    Maybe some journal ought to humor Monckton and put one of his pronouncements through real peer review.

  19. #20 JB
    July 23, 2008

    Maybe some journal ought to humor Monckton and put one of his pronouncements through real peer review.

    You mean Monckton has peers?

    Like him?


  20. #21 Lee
    July 23, 2008

    So Monckton just accused the APS of “mendacity, prevarication, evasion, excuse, or delay.”

    This after Monckton refers to his screed as a “peer reviewed” paper published in a ‘scholarly journal’ of the APS, in a press release claiming that it ‘mathematically’ debunks AGW.


  21. #22 quraina
    July 23, 2008

    John Mashey:
    1) We agree that the editors screwed up.
    2) We agree that newsletters and journals have different standards of editorial care. Newsletters don’t require peer review. Peer review is hard.
    3) I overestimated the standard of editorial care for a professional society’s newsletter; I mistakenly thought that an article had to be at least “scientifically evaluated” to be posted to a scientific society’s newsletter. Now Bienenstock says it doesn’t; he’s the authority, I have to assume he’s right, and I am abashed (and surprised.)
    4) Physics is big, but I will recklessly assert that _all_ physicists know that atmospheric CO2 concentration is measured in PPM, not in watts/sq m, and that if more than _one_ physicist had read the article before it was posted, such silly errors would have been caught, and the newsletter might suffer slightly less embarassment.
    5) I am also a big fan of Randi’s; not sure how Randi would have helped here. What might have helped would have been if more of the folks (editors? contributors? proofreaders?) who care about the newsletter had just _read_ the article before posting it, then corrected or rejected it. OTOH, if folks don’t care about the newsletter’s quality (e.g., it’s just another subscription income stream for the society, but nobody reads the thing anyway,) then again I am in over my head and I should STFU.
    6) FWIW, I don’t have a dog in the AGW fight, one way or the other. I, a layman, came to Monckton’s article from a link in a political blog, skimmed it, spotted an obvious error, reported it to Monckton who quickly and cordially acknowledged it, and I followed up in this and the prior thread. That’s my story.

  22. #23 DavidONE
    July 23, 2008

    Try reading Gould’s Home page.

    The train appears to have left the tracks…..

    Thanks for the info on Monckton, who is simply carrying on the fine tradition of idiocy in the upper echelons of British fine society.

  23. #24 John Mashey
    July 23, 2008

    re: #22 quraina

    re: Randi, sorry that was an analogy.

    1) There are scientists who are accustomed to normal arguments within science, but have not dealt so often with Monckton-style approaches and PR gimmickry.

    2) Some people are accustomed (some scientists, many not) and are well-practiced at sleuthing and debunking, i.e., like Tim.

    I’d guess that Jeff Marque & Alvin Saperstein knew little or nothing about Christopher Monckton before this came up, and again, if Monckton was brought to FPS via APS-NES Newsletter co-editor Larry Gould, they may not have been sufficiently paranoid.

    The Randi point was that he is an example of 2).

  24. #25 JB
    July 23, 2008

    I’d guess that Jeff Marque & Alvin Saperstein knew little or nothing about Christopher Monckton before this came up,

    That may be so, but it is certainly no excuse.

    If you read Marque’s intro to the “debate” on the APS site, it’s pretty clear that he has thrown any real attempt at scientific skepticism to the wind on this one.

    Anyone with access to the internet could have (and most would have) searched on Christopher Monckton before giving him a forum for his views. It does not take a magician or someone else practiced in the art of sleuthing to make that minimal effort.

    Marque screwed up big time and there simply IS no excuse.

  25. #26 John Hollenberg
    July 24, 2008

    Realclimate has now weighed in with their own debunking of the Monckton article:

  26. #27 John Mashey
    July 24, 2008

    re: #2

    BigCityLib discusses Gerard Marsh, and I’ve added some more detailed information. he seems to have a close connection with FPS, with frequent articles.

    Details over there, but I’d summarize:

    Dr. Marsh is retired nuclear physicist, for last few years has been writing anti-AGW pieces for OpEds, USA Today (?), conservative thinktank newsletters, etc.

  27. #28 Philip Machanick
    July 31, 2008

    Please provide the requested apology without any further mendacity, prevarication, evasion, excuse, or delay

    Well, right. How would he tell the difference?

    In any case, this piece of drivel illustrates how weak the anti-science case has become. Monckton’s hurt claims that all attacks on him are ad-hominem and it should all be about the science may resonate with some, but I have seen no one on two threads on this site and one on RealClimate overturn the substantial errors found in his opinion piece.

    That he doesn’t understand the difference between editorial corrections for clarity in a newsletter and peer review in an academic journal is sad.

  28. #29 P. Lewis
    September 11, 2008

    Lawrence Krauss recently did a piece in the New Scientist on this Monckton contribution to APS’s newsletter. Ian Richardson replies in the New Scientist‘s Letters section this week concerning Monckton’s submission, clarifying what he wrote to “the editors about recommendations for those who could contribute to the debate on the side of those who do not see global warming as a threat”:

    …”I have had direct contact with only three people. I would recommend you contact: Willie Soon at Harvard, Christopher Monckton, and Freeman Dyson at the Institute for Advanced Study. Willie is an astronomer and Christopher has a background in science. He is a bit of a controversial figure (challenges Al Gore to debate him in ads in The New York Times and other major media) and is also known as Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. He is a serious participant in the debate and has done some good scientific critiques of the IPCC. Dyson needs no introduction.

    “A few more that I have not had any contact with who have done excellent work in the area are Sally Baliunas, H. Svensmark, E. Friis-Christensen, and Judith Lean. There are many more, and I am sure these folks can put you into contact with them.”

    I think this makes it clear that I did not suggest that Monckton is a climate scientist or holds a doctorate, nor is this relevant to the merits of his arguments.

  29. #30 Dano
    September 11, 2008

    Yyyyyes! Another indyfunded victory!

    Sallie helped write the original OISM petition and Dynamic Duoed with Willie Soon on the paleo paper that sent them on the Heritage Victory Tour – you know: the one that cherry-picked to state that the MWP was world-wide and warmer than today (except for the papers they glossed over that didn’t say this, including the multiproxy studies they included but ignored in their analysis).



  30. #31 Dano
    September 11, 2008

    wha happin’?