Piers Akerman’s response to being busted for fabricating a quote is simply dishonest. For instance:

The little Crikey website had a defamatory reference to The Independent and me, clearly unsupported by any research.

If you read the story in The Independent, you will see that The Independent verified that the bogus quote did not appear in Houghton’s book as Akerman claimed. They also contacted Houghton who emphatically denied saying anything like it. They also searched for all mentions of the bogus quote on the Internet and found that the very first one was by Akerman. They also contacted Akerman who told them that he could not remember where the quote came from. That’s plenty of research.

Akerman continues:

The ABC’s MediaWatch was next with a piece in which The Independent’s claim it had received no response from me was repeated.

This is exactly the opposite of the truth. MediaWatch actually published Akerman’s response to The Independent:

He said that he cannot remember where he got the quote from but was going to check through some material he has. Not heard from him since.

— Response from Steve Connor (reporter, The Independent) to Media Watch, 11th February, 2010


Akerman continues:

That was patently false but then The Independent was not interested in accuracy.

Who to believe, Akerman, or your lying eyes?

Yesterday I was forwarded an article published in The Sunday Telegraph (UK) on September 10, 1995, in which Houghton told writer Frances Welch: “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”

Even taken out of context, the meaning is completely different from the quote Akerman fabricated. Here’s the full quote:

“If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.”

Compare with the fabricated quote:

“Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.”

The meaning of what Houghton actually said is that we won’t get action until there is a disaster, while the fabricated quote has him advocating exaggeration.

Akerman continues:

How that remark came to be slightly paraphrased in the quotation sent to me we shall probably never know. It’s possible that someone, somewhere in cyberspace tidied up Houghton’s original remark before including it in the material which was sent to me. That sort of thing occurs in the blogosphere.

Except that the bogus quote is not any kind of paraphrase. And it didn’t appear on nay blog until after Akerman had printed it. And notice the crackerjack fact-checking process that goes into Akerman’s work. If someone, somewhere in cyberspace, emails him something, then bang! it’s straight into one of columns as long as it appeals to his prejudices. He is so asking to be punked here. Not that I’m suggesting that any of my readers do anything like that.

Akerman continues:

He also blamed a series of US tornados on AGW – another furphy from the former head of the IPCC. And he stated: “Global warming is already upon us. The World Meteorological Organisation warned this month that extreme weather events seem to be becoming more frequent as a result.”

In fact there has been no scientific evidence produced which links any extreme weather event to AGW

In fact, Houghton doesn’t operate like Akerman and base his material on random emails from “someone, somewhere in cyberspace”. Houghton was referring to this WMO press release. It’s possible that the WMO is wrong, but it is not correct to claim that there is no scientific evidence for their position.

And inevitably Akerman gets to this:

even the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit head Phil Jones (currently stood down and under investigation) has now admitted there has been no “statistically significant” warming in the past 15 years – the period in which Houghton was warning of AGW being akin to WMD.

Yes, Akerman doesn’t know what “statistically significant” means. Tamino has a good explanation for people who don’t get it.

And Akerman is deservedly getting roasted in the comments to his post. The blustering responses from Akerman are priceless.

Update: See also The Policy Lass, Eli Rabbett and Dave Gaukroger.


  1. #1 John
    February 17, 2010

    Here’s a brilliant comment from Piers’ site in response to the full quote:

    Piers quote is correct and your extension is highly misleading, Eli, if you are asserting it means something different.

    Hear that? Giving a quote proper context is wrong.

  2. #2 John
    February 17, 2010

    And Akerman’s response to the full in-context quote?

    Stuff and nonsense Eli Rabett, stuff and nonsense.

    Surely this is the very definition of being in denial.

  3. #3 Hank Roberts
    February 17, 2010

    So does he get paid per eyeballs clicking on his web page?

  4. #4 jakerman
    February 17, 2010

    I see cohnite shows himself up as the denialist in ‘skeptics’ clothing that he is:

    >cohenite replied to Eli Rabett
    Thu 18 Feb 10 (12:56pm)

    >*Oh eli, you are branching out, browbeating poor old Piers; actually eli, as usual, you are being devious; what Houghton said was this;


    Devious hey cohnite? You mean by citing the quote in its context is devious; and pretending that Eli has misquoted him is not devious?

    How do you think you contradicted Eli as you imply you have?

    Or are you suggesting that Piers was not decietful?

  5. #5 Eli Rabett
    February 17, 2010

    Come on over and enjoy the Akerman. The harumphing is clearing the air and the wingnuts are in full flight. Visit your favorite Denial Bar (a few links here), and deposit some love.

  6. #6 Lotharsson
    February 17, 2010

    You mean by citing the quote in its context is devious…

    Of course it is – don’t you know that facts have a well-known pro-AGW bias? The more facts you provide, the more devious you become!


  7. #7 MapleLeaf
    February 17, 2010

    The Policy Lass also has some good/damning information.


  8. #8 Mike
    February 17, 2010

    Well, Piers backed himself into a corner by producing some of the shoddiest journalism ever seen in this country.

    The photo is brilliant. You could also have taken a leaf out of Andrew Bolt’s recent confession, and the speech bubble could have said “Well, most of this stuff is over my head anyway.”

  9. #9 MikeH
    February 18, 2010

    Meanwhile over at the Hun, Andrew Bolt – [not dead yet]( http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/not_dead_yet/) appears to be running a competition to see how many of his blog readers know less about climate change than he does. Surprisingly he has found someone.

    Well, we’re not dead yet, notes relieved reader Gaz:
    I started feeling sorry for myself: not enough water – we will have to drink beer. Tough. But then I confirmed that rainfall
    in Australia is on an upwards trend:

    Gaz provided a link to a [Annual Rainfall Australia Time Series graph](http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/timeseries.cgi?graph=rain&area=aus&season=0112&ave_yr=T)
    on the BOM web site. Indeed it does show increasing rainfall.

    But all Gazza and Bolter needed to do was click on the “[Trend Map](http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/trendmaps.cgi?map=rain&area=aus&season=0112&period=1970)” link on exactly the same graph to confirm what the CSIRO says on its climate change web site. “Since 1900, precipitation has increased significantly over … north-west Australia. Since 1950, eastern and south-western Australia have become significantly drier.”

    My advice to Bolter and Gazza is head to the pub for more beer. As they say “[stupidity is its own reward](http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Stupidity)”.

  10. #10 Tim Lambert
    February 18, 2010

    Now Pies is trying to blame Peiser:

    >Andrew – apparently Peiser used the quote almost a decade before it was sent to me, you might ask the IPCC to do some more research for you before you ipso yourself again in this fashion.
    >Piers Akerman
    >Thu 18 Feb 10 (04:24pm)

  11. #11 jakerman
    February 18, 2010

    I don’t know if “Pies” was intentional, but I like it!

  12. #12 jody001
    February 18, 2010

    I referred to Ackerman as a lousy reporter in a post on his site. I’m utterly amazed that he let it through moderation.

  13. #13 Tim Lambert
    February 18, 2010

    Best comment so far:

    >Unless we misquote Houghton no one will listen.

    >Cthulhu (Reply) Thu 18 Feb 10 (05:27pm)

  14. #14 Chris O'Neill
    February 18, 2010

    Here’s another priceless comment from Akerman’s commenters:

    I am so sick of the smug journalists” who think that it is beneath them to check their information before running off at the mouth. We have seen so much of this in recent years that smart people don’t believe a word they say.

    You wouldn’t believe who she is referring to, no, no, no. Not Akerman, Mediawatch:

    I usually love to see Mediawatch take a poke at the media but I must admit I found my hackels rising when you were criticised on Monday night.

    Their job is to report the news, not create it. Still, you have to feel sorry for some of them. This is the only way they’ll get the little bit of fame. Pity it isn’t in a positive way/

    Keep up the good work, Piers, and do as that old reprobate Don Chipp used to say “ Keep the B’s honest”

    You wouldn’t believe unless you read it.

  15. #15 Mike
    February 18, 2010

    @14: Soooo, she wants Mediawatch to criticise the media, but doesn’t want it to criticise the media?

    Isn’t it so ironic? Piers being asked by an adoring fan to “keep the bastards honest”?

    It’s just Monty Python-esque! The rationality of these people reminds me of the wonderful “witch” scene in Holy Grail.

  16. #16 Mulga Mumblebrain
    February 18, 2010

    The presence of so many Rightist propagandists, from Devine (the not-yet-dead one) Devine (the still dead one) Bolt, Sheehan,Piers the Hutt, Tim Bliar etc shows how vital denialism is to Rightwing powermongering,politicking and popular brainwashing.Even the previously relatively sane and sensible segments of the Rightwing media are falling in along ideological lines. The Guardian has joined the ranks, impelled by the likes of Simon Jenkins, who masquerades as a ‘sceptic’ but spouts pure denialism. Recently on the BBC Radio 4 Media Show Mr Jenkins came up with a quaint comment. He spoke of climate scientists and their ‘cooling conferences’ that he attended as a young journalist.Now I know that the denialists concocted a New Ice Age story out of a few quotes, taken out of context, from the 1970s, to spread confusion, but I was unaware that the ever deceptive Communists of the climatological conspiracy ever held fully fledged conferences to plot their evil actions. I wonder if Mr Jenkins is simply confabulating, embroidering an old denialist canard to impress his denialists confreres? I’d be grateful if anyonecan enlighten me as to where and when these ‘cooling conferences’ were held.

  17. #17 Michael
    February 18, 2010

    Highly entertaining stuff over at Piers’.

    Fabricating quotes is OK because “they were in keeping with Houghton’s other works”, says the great man of journalism.

  18. #18 Bud
    February 18, 2010

    Mulga – Jenkins has long paraded his scepticism about all sorts of scientific matters. See [here](http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/14/swine-flu-elusive-as-wmd) on swine flu, and [here](http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/07/nuclear-power-weapons-radiation-defence) on nuclear energy. He has one or points on the nuclear issue, but equivocates between mobile phone (microwave) radiation and gamma radiation, and makes the bizarre claim that no-one makes money by downplaying risk.

  19. #19 Marred
    February 18, 2010

    Don’t you think its sad, that you are clinging to misquotes like the last tree standing in a hurricane of information that is discrediting the CRU, IPCC and now NASA. Why are so many people holding on to this warming alarmism. It’s like they want to be idiots.

    OMG! he misquoted Houghton… but when the IPCC says that the himalayas will melt but 2035, using a magazine as its source, whic wasn’t strickly peer reviewed its a mistake. It was a big report.

    Or when scientist lose or dont keep their data. Oops! that just happens. Now, who is being pathetic and delusional?


  20. #20 DavidCOG
    February 18, 2010

    I rather liked this one:

    > Lewis of The Hills replied to Eli Rabett
    > Thu 18 Feb 10 (10:30am)
    > Different words but the same meaning. The message is the same. The intent behind the words is the same.

    Cool. This is going to be fun to try out:

    * I’d like to buy a goat.
    * I’d like to punch you in the throat.

    Different words. Same meaning.

    * It would be madness to invade Poland.
    * Invade Poland.


  21. #21 Marred
    February 18, 2010

    i think the key phrase is “same meaning”, not opposite. But maybe that’s a little too logical.

    adjective 1. identical with what is about to be or has just been


    I’d like to buy a goat

    I am interested in purchasing a goat.

    See how the meanings are the “same” but the wording is different.


  22. #22 JasonW
    February 18, 2010

    Marred, what you describe is not what Akerman has done:

    Houghton: Unless there’s there will be a shortage of cows, no-one will buy goats.

    Akerman version: We have to announce there will be a shortage of cows, so people will start buying goats.

    The difference is subtle, but significant.

  23. #23 JasonW
    February 18, 2010

    Preview is your friend. The above should read: “Unless there will be a shortage of cows, no-one will buy goats.”

  24. #24 Deen
    February 18, 2010

    That thread was painful to read, I quickly gave up… Don’t know how you guys did it.

  25. #25 Dave
    February 18, 2010


    > Now, who is being pathetic and delusional?

    One answer springs to mind immediately, but I have a feeling you’re not going to like it.

  26. #26 Michael
    February 18, 2010


    Don’t you think its sad, that you are clinging to misquotes like the last tree standing in a hurricane of information that is discrediting the CRU, IPCC and now NASA.

    There is a major difference. When IPCC et al are alerted to errors – they correct them.

    Piers may have made an error in the first instance, but now that this error has been brought to his attention – all we get are a bunch of lame excuses, bluff and bluster and said denialist refusing to apologise or issue a correction.

    Nice friends you got.

  27. #27 Mike
    February 18, 2010

    So, Marred, let me get this straight:

    The raw NASA data has been publically available, with source code etc, since about the year it was collected (your link is about FOI for emails, not raw data). Yet no-one has been able to show the conclusions drawn from it are wrong.

    So, because you haven’t, in all these intervening years, been clever enough to analyse it yourself and find some gaping hole in the data analysis, the only way you can show a conspiracy is by selecting single sentences from a few emails requested by – who else – the Competitive Enterprise Institute? I mean, these “excerpts” are so small it’s impossible to even begin to figure out exactly what they were referring to and what action resulted.

    My golly. You denialists are very clever lads, aren’t you? Never let it be said that you don’t have vivid imaginations.

  28. #28 jakerman
    February 18, 2010

    >*There is a major difference. When IPCC et al are alerted to errors – they correct them.*

    Can you imagine the errata volumes required if dinialists were to correct the source of information they depend on (blogs!)?

    No need for denial errata though, becasue denialst by definition are only interested in factiods that appear to support the finding they want. Hence errata on their supporting material are superfluous to their goals.

    Chinese whispers and dog whistles on the otherhand, they are core methodologies.

    Hence the acute observation about this misrepresentation of John Houghton:

    >Unless we misquote Houghton no one will listen.
    >>*Cthulhu (Reply) Thu 18 Feb 10 (05:27pm)*

  29. #29 Lotharsson
    February 18, 2010

    Marred, try this analogy to what Piers did:

    Two statements regarding an intersection that is an accident blackspot:

    “Sadly, we won’t get action to fix it until a fatality occurs.”


    “We have to make up a report of a fatality to get people to notice.”

    Are they equivalent?

  30. #30 gallopingcamel
    February 19, 2010

    No matter what spin your opponents imply, your statements make perfect sense to me.

    I am still trying to find issues that Deniers and Alarmists can both support so your comments would be appreciated on:


  31. #31 Michael
    February 19, 2010


    Good point.

    Pointing out fabricated quotes that Piers uses is “spin”, while his fabricated quotes “make perfect sense”.

    Well, yes, lying does make perfect sense to the denialists.

  32. #32 Carmen S
    February 19, 2010

    Does this now mean that the glaciers will all be gone by 2035 after all?

  33. #33 dhogaza
    February 19, 2010

    Carmen S … no, it does not mean they’ll all be gone by 2035.

    On the other hand, India is going to be dealing with change, in part due to glaciers that aren’t *gone*, but are shrinking …

  34. #34 jakerman
    February 19, 2010

    [Smack down](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/02/akermangate_piers_akerman_caug.php#comment-2286997)!

    Boy did you walk into that one cammel!

    Though how could you not, such displays with such [regularity](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/02/shorter_andrew_bolt.php#comment-2280238) are surely the inevitable result of the [corrupt approach](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/02/akermangate_piers_akerman_caug.php#comment-2286268) that defines denialism.

  35. #35 Pinar
    February 19, 2010

    which will be larded up with amoebas and bacteria and so forth which is unlikely to be particularly flavorful and will by then likely have sufficiently evolved to become microscopic alcoholic life-forms. Why should us mammals have all the fun. Anyhow it’s worth noting the incredibly shoddy — and loathsome quality of the attacks on the science, and the scientists doing it. These attacks have lately originated in the British gutter press, from whence they get picked up in the American gutter …

  36. #36 Richard Ryan
    February 20, 2010

    Piers Akerman the voice of the nation. Don’t you love how his bloggers all sing from the same hymn book. JJ and that other fruit-cake Grant T. COOK seem to be madly in love with each-other, but then again could be the same blogger,with a split personality.

  37. #37 gallopingcamel
    February 21, 2010

    I just wanted to find out what you folks think about Obama’s nuclear power initiative and the demise of the Yucca mountain project.

    A ritual flagellation from you Alarmists is all I have got so far.

  38. #38 Chris O'Neill
    February 21, 2010

    galloping camel:

    I just wanted to find out what you folks think about Obama’s nuclear power initiative and the demise of the Yucca mountain project.

    And what, pray tell, does this have to do with Akerman’s fabrications? Don’t you know what open threads are for?

  39. #39 Anders M
    February 21, 2010

    I think Akermans “quote” was from Fred Singer 1970. Exibit A

  40. #40 Dirk Hartog
    February 21, 2010

    [Here is an interesting article by Jonathan Holmes](http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/22/2826604.htm?site=thedrum) on the developing Akermangate story.

    Holmes explains the differences between the two quotes under question, in a simple enough fashion that even Akerman should be able to understand it.

  41. #41 Richard Ryan
    March 17, 2010

    Piers Akerman speaking ill of the living, just ask Mr. Habib

  42. #42 Richard Ryan
    March 17, 2010

    IMAGINE! He gets paid for this load of garbage also.

  43. #43 Chris
    October 25, 2012

    Professor Tim Flannery spoke as a Departmental spokesman for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) on 26 March 2011 and he spoke the truth when he said words to the effect ” if all human CO2 emissions ceased then it would take centuries to return to pre industrialization levels.

    Since that date, the DCCEE with its budget of hundreds of millions of dollars supposedly to communicate the science of climate change to Australian citizens has failed to answer any direct questions other than by suggestion that the enquirer read the ICC publications list

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