Monckton and probabilistic combinatorics

Monckton has written to the New Scientist in response to Lawrence Krauss’ article:

I have not been a “journalist” for 15 years. Until I retired two years ago I directed a leading technical consultancy. I have made a fortune from probabilistic combinatorics.

I think that means he made money from his jigsaw puzzle.

My paper contained much unpublished material, including several new equations, each of which the editor asked me to justify before publication. My conclusions have not been “debunked”.

They most definitely have.

I have never said my paper “had been accepted by a peer-reviewed scientific journal”. However, a professor of physics on the editorial board edited it and asked for many clarifications.

The SPPI press release (which Monckton was obviously behind) states:

Mathematical proof that there is no “climate crisis” appears today in a major, peer-reviewed paper in Physics and Society, a learned journal of the 4,600-strong American Physical Society

See! He put out that it was a “peer-reviewed paper” in a “learned journal” of the “American Physical Society”. Which is apparently different from a “peer-reviewed scientific journal”.

This “litigious viscount” has issued two libel writs in 56 years. I won both.

So all those legal threats he makes are empty? Cool.

(Hat tip: P.Lewis.)


  1. #1 bi -- IJI
    September 26, 2008

    > I have never said my paper “had been accepted by a peer-reviewed scientific journal”.

    But of course. Monckton didn’t say that in person. Someone else said it, and he just went along with it. But no, he has absolutely nothing to do with this stupid claim — no sir!

  2. #2 DavidONE
    September 26, 2008

    Monckton’s pompous stupidity never gets old. He’s doing an outstanding job of maintaining the age-old tradition of half-witted British aristocracy.

    And no article about Lord Monckton of Brenchley is complete without reference to this charming interview of the Lord –

    Toodle pip, what, what!

  3. #3 Lance
    September 26, 2008


    When I read Monckton’s reply in New Scientist I knew the words “probabilistic combinatorics” would draw your attention.

    I thought it must be something he made up, but no apparently it is an actual subject.

    Even so he did sound pompous using it to justify his qualification to refute scientists that have studied climate for a career.

    Upper crust Brits do have a talent for sounding pompous, hence the term “pom”.

  4. #4 dhogaza
    September 26, 2008

    Lanc has a nose for wrongness, no matter which subject he tackles.

    The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) supports the theory that pommy originated as a contraction of the word “pomegranate”.

    Break open a pomegranate and you’ll notice the resemblance to a sunburnt englishman.

    There are other theories, too, (“Prisoner Of Mother England”, etc), but I’ve never heard of the “pompous” contraction, though.

    So, Lance, once you’ve finished setting climate science on the right path, you might have a word or two with the OED at set them straight, too…

  5. #5 TrueSceptic
    September 26, 2008

    Who is this “Monckton”? Do you by any chance mean Lord Munchkin? I’m aware of him. 😀

  6. #6 P. Lewis
    September 26, 2008

    pommie immigrant =? pomegranate

    The best bit (IMHO) about Lard Monckton’s letter was the pointer by the editor to RealClimate (sorry Arthur).

  7. #7 bi -- IJI
    September 26, 2008

    Hey guys, don’t be so hard on Lance. He’s criticizing Monckton after all. 🙂

    > Lawrence Krauss says [[…] I had written “what appeared to be” but by implication was not “a highly technical piece refuting the notion that global warming is occurring”; […]

    > […] I asked how much technical detail they wanted. They wanted a great deal. I obliged. The paper was indeed technical.

    Did not! Did too!

    This schtick can go on ad infinitum. The debate isn’t over, and never will be… my friends.

  8. #8 z
    September 26, 2008

    “My conclusions have not been ‘debunked'”.

    Given the source, it’s possible he means his conclusions are still entirely bunk.

  9. #9 Dano
    September 27, 2008



    Pee-pulll. Pee-pull. People.

    The Lord Pope Viscount Coolness Badass Monckton has used the polysyllabic phrase probabilistic combinatorics. You. Are. Pwned. Admit defeat. Because he has used this phrase, global warming is a sham. Just admit defeat and move on to your next alarmist chicken little campaign.

    That is all. Carry on now, peasants.



  10. #10 Bernard J.
    September 27, 2008

    I have not been a “journalist” for 15 years.

    No, he was a journalist and tabloid editor for 15 years.

    What a thin line the viscount treads between pedantry and outright lying.

  11. #11 Bernard J.
    September 27, 2008

    Oh, and “have not” as opposed to “was”?

    The viscount splits hairs to atom thinness. How anyone can give credence to a person whose tactics are so heavily dependent upon such dissembling is beyond me.

    He also lied about having to sell his home to pay the prize for his first puzzle.

    And as to his comment in the New Scientist letter:

    I asked how much technical detail they wanted. They wanted a great deal. I obliged. The paper was indeed technical. So is the subject.

    The subject is indeed technical, but his paper has been thoroughly demonstrated to be pseudo-scientific twaddle. So yet another untruth on Monckton’s part.

    I am pleased to see that New Scientist editor links the the RealClimate dissections of Monckton’s tripe immediately after the letter.

  12. #12 Marion Delgado
    September 27, 2008

    Wait, what? What is probabilistic ABOUT his combinatorics? Is putting one of his puzzle pieces next to another part of a piecewise non-determinative Markov chain? Or is it simply putting one of his pieces next to another?

    maybe by probabilistic combinatorics he means he made £500 in the stock market.

  13. #13 Barton Paul Levenson
    September 27, 2008

    Monckton for Upper-Class Twit of the Year!

  14. #14 TrueSceptic
    September 27, 2008

    Munchkin is not only the epitome of pompous buffoonery, he is also a devious liar, as you can see from

    His prominence in the GWSceptic world tells us just how low the bar is set.

  15. #15 El Cid
    September 27, 2008

    The Fourth and Final Discount Monk of Earl Peter Benchley expects your apologies forthwith.

  16. #17 Bobclip
    September 27, 2008

    Hi there folks, my first post here but I’ve read & enjoyed your ‘sceptic bashing’ for years.

    Well, you can’t keep a good twerp like Monckton down – apparently he’s complained to ‘Ofcom’ (UK’s TV watchdog) that he and his sceptic mates were misrepresented in the BBC programs, ” Climate Wars”.

    Best laugh I had for years.

  17. #18 TrueSceptic
    September 27, 2008

    17 Bobclip,

    Yes, the “sceptics” are getting really worked up about ‘Earth: the Climate Wars’ (for those who don’t know, it was presented on BBC2 by geologist Iain Stewart). It made McIntyre puke, for instance. Shame they weren’t equally sceptical about TGGWS…

    Anyway, the series is now available via Bit Torrent if anyone is interested.

  18. #19 Bobclip
    September 27, 2008

    The 3 programmes can also be viewed on the BBC i-player here :-

    I guess Monckton is complaining about the 2nd one – the ‘Fightback’. (It also contains most of your favourite sceptics like Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Roy Spencer and others that I didn’t recognise.)

    PS. I didn’t realise the 3 programmes weren’t shown worldwide – otherwise I would have given the link before.

  19. #20 TrueSceptic
    September 27, 2008

    19 Bobclip,

    People outside the UK can’t use iPlayer. To get torrents of the 3 programmes, try
    (I’ll let others decide on the legality of sharing copyrighted material. 😉 )

  20. #21 Ken
    September 27, 2008

    David One – I had a read of the Guardian article you linked to. Just curious – Monckton says he advised Thatcher to have the SAS introduce disease inducing bacteria into drinking water supplies to make people sick during the Faulklands war and this advice was followed. Isn’t that a use of Germ Warfare? Isn’t the use of biological weapons a war crime? It may not be illegal to propose such a thing but it surely would be a War Crime to actually do it.

    Does anyone know if this actually occurred? I’m inclined to doubt it – even if Monckton saw nothing wrong with it I’m sure the UK military are aware that biological weapons, even ‘not usually lethal but you never know if you’re an infant or old or ill or unlucky’ types are a big no-no.

    Does Monckton even consider the consequences for the world of the ban on biological weapons being overturned? I’m inclined to think he doesn’t consider unintended consequences at all – not in this matter nor in the matter of energy supply and production. Or the consequences of his side winning the phony climate change debate and all impetus to reduce GHG’s stops. If he didn’t think it, it can’t happen?

    His advocating the use of biological weapons (I presume by the good guys only) has my complete contempt and derision. This is not someone who’s opinions should be taken seriously on any matter of importance.

  21. #22 Marion Delgado
    September 27, 2008

    To be more explicit, a puzzle like “Eternity” is combinatorial, but it’s not probabilistic, it’s entirely deterministic, which is the antonym of probabilistic.

    So Monckton doesn’t even understand the big words he’s chosen himself to puff himself up with. Assuming always he means the puzzle stuff.

  22. #23 TomG
    September 27, 2008

    Monkdork again?
    I would have thought his 15 minutes were used up long ago.

  23. #24 P. Lewis
    September 28, 2008
  24. #25 Bernard J.
    September 28, 2008

    Has anyone ever tried to test Monckton on the depth of his understanding of probabilistic combinatorics?

    He should be happy to demonstrate his expertise.

  25. #26 DavidONE
    September 28, 2008


    I’ve not read anything that suggests anyone took up Monckton on his suggestion of poisoning the Argentinians, but it’s terrifying to think someone like him manages to get to a position where he can potentially influence government policy.

    Even if that is not true, his views on AIDS were at least as scary:,_3rd_Viscount_Monckton_of_Brenchley#Views_on_AIDS

    Monckton appears to suffer an extreme case of Dunning-Kruger effect, supported by mind-boggling arrogance which is derived from his self sense of ‘good breeding’. It would be difficult to parody him.

    If you want to see him in action, this video gives a taster – be warned you *will* lose IQ points by watching it:

  26. #27 Hugh
    September 28, 2008

    An interesting quote from General Sir Peter de la Billiere (Director SAS during the Falklands Conflict):

    Working at or near the hub of events, I quickly appreciated the colossal contribution to the campaign made by the Prime Minister. Once Margaret Thatcher had taken the decision to recover the islands, she let nothing stand in its way: once she had committed her forces, she made certain that they had the best of everything the country could provide. Equally important, she herself stood back and let her Service commanders take the necessary military decisions, delegating authority in a way that gave her commanders the highest confidence

    And we’re supposed to believe that anyone really took whatever it was that the munchkin ‘advised’ seriously??


    *P. de la Billiere (1994) Looking for Trouble Harper Collins, p.344

  27. #28 Bobclip
    September 28, 2008

    20, TrueSceptic

    Many thanks for that info – I didn’t realise that. I will now tell my Oz & US relations.

  28. #29 Marion Delgado
    September 30, 2008

    Thanks, P Lewis. The example in Wikipedia says it concerns problems “like” the the number of triangles in a random graph – graphs are nice relatively concrete structures but combinatorics is mostly sets and subsets.

    So to give Monckton the stretchy benefit of the flimsy doubt, he made money in a field where you show mathematically that the probability of a given property for a random graph, say, of class C and magnitude >= N is greater than 0? or at least for a set and a combinatorial function of a certain class.

    I suppose it’s just possible that you could use “probabilistic combinatorics” to solve something to do with the graph of possible solutions? it would be a digraph produced by a graph grammar. but it looks from wiki like probabilistic combinatorics is principly used in determining aspects of abstract theory.

  29. #30 bi -- IJI
    September 30, 2008

    (Is there an existing name for the above kind of spam? Echospam? Dittospam?)

  30. #31 Lance
    September 30, 2008


    From an online etymology discussion forum.


    The term Pommy for a British person is commonly used in Australian English and New Zealand English, and is often shortened to Pom. The origin of this term is not confirmed.

    One etymology of the term is thought to be that, as the majority of early immigrants to Australia were British, it is rhyming slang for “immigrant” from a contraction of the word “pomegranate”, or possibly more directly related to the appearance of the fruit, as it bears a more than passing resemblance to the typical pale complexioned Briton’s skin after his or her first few days living under the hot Australian sun.

    Another etymology, is such that POM is a shortened acronym of Prisoner of His/Her Majesty (POHM). This refers to the fact that most of Australian’s first settlers were convicts, sentenced to transportation. Upon arrival in the country they would sport a “uniform”, with the four initials emblazoned on the back. Convicts with an extended stay on Australian soil would no longer have to wear the shirt, and would often refer to newer entrants into the country as “Pohmmys”. The modern term excludes the H. Such actions could have presumed the Australian trait of self-joking. But though this may be commonly believed, it is believed to be false, as the term was coined long before acronyms were believed to be used in common parlance.

    Another etymology suggests it is short for “pompous”, which Australians often consider the British to be.

    Other suggestions are mostly along the lines that POM is a different acronym, such as “Prisoner of Mother England” or “Port of Melbourne”, referring to the fact that the earliest Australian settlers were convicts.

    Perhaps you are privy to the “truth” on the matter and can also tell us the correct lineage of the chicken and the egg as well.

  31. #32 Bernard J.
    September 30, 2008

    Ick. I feel sullied and used, and pliagarised and copywronged.

    I’m not even going to try to see where the link at #30 might take me, but if it’s a working address can it be disabled Tim?

  32. #33 TrueSceptic
    October 1, 2008

    32 Bernard,

    What did I miss? There’s no link in 30 and I can’t tell what it refers to.

  33. #34 Barton Paul Levenson
    October 1, 2008

    Lance — there were eggs long before there were chickens.

  34. #35 Bernard J.
    October 1, 2008


    The last sentence in my post at #11 was repeated verbatim as a post at the original #30, apparently by a spammer, because the name was linked to a url.

    It seems that Tim has kindly removed the entire post, for which I am grateful, as I don’t like the idea of being conflated with spammers!

  35. #36 Lance
    October 1, 2008


    My favorite Chicken – Egg reference was a cartoon that showed a chicken and egg in bed smoking cigarettes post coitus.

    The chicken was wearing a bra and she tells the egg, “Of course you came first. You always come first. That’s why I never come at all!”

  36. #37 Marion Delgado
    October 1, 2008

    Bernard J, the likelihood of any thread spawned on Deltoid with greater than 20 comments having a comment repeated and quoted by a spammer is provably greater than zero.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.