Monckton Myths

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Christopher Monckton is notable for the way he gets the science wrong over and over again. So the folks at Skeptical Science have created a handy resource listing the arguments he commonly uses and the refutations.

Monckton is in the news again, going to court to try to get prevent a documentary about him from being shown. As usual with Monckton. he lost:

Jo Abbess was (perhaps accidently) CC’d on an email from Monckton where he wrote:

Actually it’s a boorish hatchet job of the traditional BBC kind, but I sued them and made them cut it by half an hour and alter or remove some 16 downright errors and unfairnesses in the programme. Pleasingly, they’re going to have to pay quite a large chunk of the court costs (though I’m going to have to pay some too, because although the Beeb had promised me a right of reply their promise meant nothing either to them or to the High Court). – M of B

Obviously, since this is Monckton, he could be making stuff up again.

Comments

  1. #1 jakerman
    February 3, 2011

    Bernard J, I thought about that loss of reference to “per doubling” in the climate sensitivity. I wonder though, for the audience, most will be lost by this technical nuance (i.e. the A1 CO2 emissions scenarios are on track for 2 x doubling) . The scale of the issue at least comes across clearly with the Lindzen quote: “I can cope with 5 degrees”.

    What does come across clearly is that Monckton is making radical claims counter to the current science, makes mistakes and misleading errors, miss-interprets data(Pinker), hasn’t publish his work, and it falls over when reviewed by competent people in the field.

    Perhaps that is enough to communicate to the un-immersed audience, rather than the technical nature of the science involved?

  2. #2 jakerman
    February 3, 2011

    >*But using political claims (whether justified or not) to deny the science… well, that’s just bogus.*

    Yep, and I suppose we can expect Alex Jones, David Ick’s Lizard people, Glen Beck, Rush L, and Monckton fans to keep using then.

  3. #3 Mike
    February 3, 2011

    @97 – Monckton is a “birther” too?

    Oh just when I thought it couldn’t get any better!

  4. #4 Stu N
    February 3, 2011

    Mike,

    Alas yes. He was onstage at some Tea Party rally-type event and said (exact quote):

    >You can be born in Kenya and end up as president of the United States

    He also called Fox News the ‘freedom channel’.

    Eugh, I just did a little sick in my mouth.

  5. #5 John
    February 3, 2011

    Peter, it’s about 250 megabytes.

  6. #6 John
    February 4, 2011

    Stu, Mike, a Monckton classic:

    >“I’m planning on running for President. Apparently all I need is a freshly-minted Hawaiian birth certificate.”

    I personally doubt he believes this, but he knows how to work an audience. Watch the way he plumps up his peerage credentials when touring Australia for the benefit of his aging, monarchist audience, but speaks at anti-government movements in the US (the majority of whom are supposed to be appalled by hereditary peerages as their ancestors fought to be free of such antiquated notions).

    It’s an act. He knows his audience and he morphs his personality accordingly.

  7. #7 MapleLeaf
    February 4, 2011

    P. Lewis @94,

    Thanks for that. FWIW, why don’t you just send NewScientist what you wrote here…you have done all the work already. It really could not hurt.

    Bernard J @100,

    Something odd is going on with their comments page…I posted a comment and it is displayed under “recent comments”, but it has not (yet) been added to the list of comments. Same problem with other recent comments.

  8. #8 Bernard J.
    February 4, 2011

    For the sake of the continuity of this thread, and because the “Recent comments” link doesn’t actually seem to be producing the message, this is what I posted at New Scientist:

    Bernard J. on February 4, 2011 2:19 AM

    Fred Pierce has, like the organisers of the “conference”, employed the logical fallacy of argumentum ad temperantiam as the premise for this whole tawdry exercise.

    The example of evolution has been raised previously, but I will mention it again. There is no middle ground between the science underpinning biological evolution on the one hand, and the myth of literal biblical creationism on the other. Bringing biologists and Christian fundamentalists together in an attempt to hash out a middle ground would be ludicrous and futile for reasons that anyone who isn’t relying upon faith as a scientific tool should understand.

    Similarly, there is a huge body of science that describes the cause/effect relationship between HIV and AIDS, and yet there are those who claim that there is no relationship. Issues of receptor-based resistance aside, are we to decide on a model of partial infectivity only, simply to appease those who don’t accept the evidence of science?

    There are millions of people who believe that Santa Claus delivers billions of presents each 25 December, and then there are those who have evidence to the contrary. What should we do – meet halfway and accept that Santa Claus delivers some of the presents?

    It['s] extraordinary to see a magazine that was one a reputable reporter to the lay community of the latest advances in – and understand of – science, descending into tabloid nonsense. Where is the editorial integrity that used to characterise the magazine in days past?

    It is sad indeed to see that New Scientist has become a haven, even if it is just on the blogosphere, of the like[s] of people who say “here come the AGW trolls” when scientifically qualified people attempt to correct the record.

    And before anyone protests that there are “sceptical” (read denialist) ‘scientists’ here such as Sherwood Thoele, who dispute AGW, it is interesting to note that Thoele (a vocal and publishing denialist) has elsewhere come up with pearlers of scientific distortion such as “CO2 is heavier than air, so without air currents it won’t rise above the ground (stage fog, silos, caves, mines)”. If one is not able to detect the misrepresentation of gas physics in this quote, one is probably not in a position to support Thoele’s pretence to credibility.

    New Scientist has been notable over the last few years in its dabbling in non-science, and indeed I ceased my decades-long subscription solely because of Fred Pierce and his conversion of the magazine to Non Scientist. I found my way here through a link, and I am glad that I did so, because I was toying with the idea of perhaps putting my toe back into the water. This sad piece has cemented my resolution to eschew any further purchase of New Scientist for any reference to the cutting edge of science.

    And yes, I realised afterward that I mis-spelled ‘Pearse’ and left a few typos, but I was too livid to even bother with a preview…

  9. #9 Mike
    February 4, 2011

    Stu, I guess I shoudn’t be surprised that neither Monckton nor any of the other “he’s a Keynan citizen” birthers can be bothered looking up section 97 of the Kenyan Constitution which automatically terminates Kenyan citizenship for dual citizens on their 21st birthday unless they renounce their other citizenship.

    Or perhaps, I guess, the other possibility is that Monckton and the others know full well the truth of the matter, but just lie about it anyway. That would be more in line with his writings and talks on global warming.

  10. #10 peterd
    February 4, 2011

    #105. Thanks John. It looks as though I’d exceed my modest monthly allowance at home. The part I viewed from my work looked like fun, though. I especially liked the bit where the “three P’s” (Plimer + Potty Peer) went into the outback to pour acid (marked “Acid”, for the benefit of viewers, I guess) onto limestone. The resulting fizzing presumably disproves the entire corpus of AGW evidence. And what about PP’s Gilbert & Sullivan rendition? Clowns.

  11. #11 peterd
    February 4, 2011

    Another question, open this time. Somewhere, in the pages I’ve viewed in the last couple of days connected to Monckton’s copying to Jo Abbess of his e-mail, I saw one in which the address of Sir Martin Rees was also listed. I can’t find the page now, and it doesn’t seem to be listed at #57 above. Not that I wish to write to Sir Martin himself, no, I just wondered if anyone can hypothesize why Monckton would bother copying Sir Martin on his messages, when Sir Martin’s views seem to be so different from Monckton’s own.

  12. #12 John
    February 4, 2011

    Peter, in that case if you’re in Australia I’d happily burn a DVD of it for you.

    Mike, it’s *all part of the conspiracy*!

  13. #13 J Bowers
    February 4, 2011

    Re 94 P Lewis

    I didn’t bother renewing my NS subscription last year. I’d pick it up at a station for something to read on the train if I had nothing else to hand, but I won’t even bother with that now.

  14. #14 J Bowers
    February 4, 2011

    Re 93 MarkB

    Gavin Schmidt points that out in this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krXF9Icfa6k

  15. #15 calum
    February 4, 2011

    thanks for all you kind comments and the notes on accuracy.

    the scene where monckton reads the report from the climate scientists is a good one as i think Lord Monckton expresses a range of emotions and I think it’s something we can also project onto and i like the ambiguity of that. i make no judgement on what is going through his head at that point.

    the suspending democracy point from mayer hillman (echoed in reality by james lovelock) is an interesting one as it challenges people on a lot of levels, and Lord Monckton was glad we included it because from his perspective it vindicated some of his thoughts about those who promote AGW. I do not think Mayer is representative of the whole spectrum of AGW thought but his point is one worth documenting, especially as it ties into an idea of liberty that roots many sceptics in the sceptic camp.

    for many, i think like Ben and Rita in the film, liberty is at the heart of their resistance to accepting AGW, and i think that’s a legitimate concern to pose and a challenge for those who seek solutions to AGW to consider. however it’s also a separate idea to the truth of the science.

  16. #16 Birger Johansson
    February 4, 2011

    MarkB @92 “the simple drive for personal attention one gets from being contrarian”

    You have just described Glen Beck!

  17. #17 Wow
    February 4, 2011

    > the suspending democracy point from mayer hillman (echoed in reality by james lovelock) is an interesting one as it challenges people on a lot of levels

    Isn’t this just basically like Christianity?

    God doesn’t put His works to a vote, does he.

  18. #18 Wow
    February 4, 2011

    > for many, i think like Ben and Rita in the film, liberty is at the heart of their resistance to accepting AGW, and i think that’s a legitimate concern

    But as you say, this has nothing to do with the science, so why do they continue to attack the science, saying it’s wrong?

    It may be worthwhile if you do a followup piece to look into why people’s problems with the proposed *solutions* to AGW drive them to attack the SCIENCE not the SOLUTIONS?

    Me? I think it’s investment. These people don’t like greens or government action or infringement on business deals or lefties or just people who say they’ve done something wrong. They then invest in the idea that they’ve lied about the facts. They then DO NOT WANT to admit that the facts (or not all of them) were not lied about.

    Because that would be admitting a mistake and they don’t want to lose any position.

    You see it often in the PHB types in businesses.

  19. #19 J Bowers
    February 4, 2011

    Wow — “Isn’t this just basically like Christianity?
    God doesn’t put His works to a vote, does he.”

    Isn’t that basically an example of how opening one’s mind to straw men too much can make the brains fall out?

  20. #20 Wow
    February 4, 2011

    Just found it odd that so many deniers are also devout christians who follow what is basically a dictator when placed along Calum’s observation regarding dictatorships.

    Even senators tell us that God wouldn’t let a flood happen. But that’s only possible if God rules absolute. Which is totalitarian government.

  21. #21 calum
    February 4, 2011

    for them i think it’s liberty under god’s law. by which i mean their interpretation of god’s law.

    in terms of attacking the science i think that comes from choosing aspects they think support their interpretation of the science as we all do to greater or lesser degrees. my take on it is that underneath that lies an interpetation of AGW as an attack on personal liberty.

  22. #22 Wow
    February 4, 2011

    But why do we have to infer this?

    When they state that the temperature record is falling because it snowed outside, this has NOTHING to do with personal liberty.

    It may have started that way, but now I reckon it’s invested ego in a position and, for far more people than I think you realise, that they have done all this polluting and they want to dodge blame (disregarding that no blame is thrown at people who did not know any better). That is why largely old men are staying denialist.

    1) Ego. Being Right is far more important
    2) Persecution complex. Oh, right, it’s *me* killing all the baby seals. Again.
    3) Guilt.

    Which also covers why these people aren’t actually reading anything.

    Pop over to the Guardian’s Comment Is Free section and have a look at how many times someone is shown something merely to ignore it.

    Wilful ignorance is not explained by your interpretation nor is the false complaining.

    Not, at least, to any great degree that you can attribute that way. There’s another factor running through their feelings that is pretty much as big as any fear of dictatorship.

    I’ve got my sense of it.

    But what is it in reality?

  23. #23 John
    February 4, 2011

    A rational person can can infer these things for themselves, Wow. I felt they covered quite a wide territory for only an hour, much more than I frankly expected.

  24. #24 J Bowers
    February 4, 2011

    calum — “my take on it is that underneath that lies an interpetation of AGW as an attack on personal liberty.”

    It’s no big secret that a great deal of AGW denialists (they’re not sceptics by any stretch of the imagination) and WUWT fans are (often extremist) neoliberals/libertarians and Tea Partiers. You see it everywhere in the debate, and their endemic distrust of envirnonmentalism as a socialist plot. You should read up on Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, David Koch, George C Marshall Institute, Fred Seitz, William Nierenberg, Robert Jastrow, Ken Cuccinelli, Glenn Beck.

    A must read book is Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Conway, which tracks the current anti-environmental (it’s a socialist conspiracy) movement all the way back to the tobacco industry’s attack on science using PR firm created fronts, and its Cold War roots in defending the West against Communism; well referenced and in-depth. Another is Climate Cover-up by James Hoggan with Richard Littlemore.

    You could also look into the International Policy Network, the LM Network (I’m sure you know of them), Foresight Communications and its co-founder Mark Adams, the New Party, the Scientific Alliance, and Benny Peiser (of Buckingham University and the Global Warming Policy Foundation). You’ll find the Austrian School of political ideology (neoliberalist) crops up regularly, and the same names keep cropping up, especially when the subject is environmental.

    That’s if you haven’t already ;)

    For example: http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/Foresight_Communications
    Check out the advisory board, Sallie Baliunas in particular. Also go to: http://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/stormy-times-climate-research

    The same names and organisations just keep cropping up. John Mashey has more: http://www.desmogblog.com/crescendo-climategate-cacophony

  25. #25 J Bowers
    February 4, 2011

    And me using “cropping up” just kept cropping up. Sorry all. Bad form.

  26. #26 Wow
    February 4, 2011

    > A rational person can can infer these things for themselves, Wow.

    Yes, rather not the question asked, however. Why do we have to infer is the question. It’s not like “Well, I don’t think that an overarching government is a good thing” is going to be hugely unpopular a statement, is it?

    So why do we have to infer this is the base problem?

    > I felt they covered quite a wide territory for only an hour, much more than I frankly expected.

    A complaint not made by me.

    I was suggesting a follow up might be investigation into whether Calum’s insight is correct and why they don’t come out and say what their problem really is and instead attack the science.

    I’m not a programme director for a television company, though, so it is merely a thought for future consideration.

  27. #27 David Horton
    February 4, 2011

    When the two deniers pour acid on to the limestone and chuckle about “damaging the environment” (what a rip snorter eh?) do they happen to discuss, at all, how old that limestone is and how many millions of years it took to accumulate? Does the producer ask the obvious question as to how limestone formation is going to come to the rescue of a planet about to show rapid CO2 build up and heating in the space of, say, 100 years? Rhetorical questions, of course, but I am so sick of these clever little “stunts”, these outrageous claims that are never challenged.

  28. #28 adelady
    February 4, 2011

    Mike, I don’t think Monckton is a “birther” at all.

    I saw that rally performance as the quintessential snake-oil salesman manouevre. Pick up on the preferences and prejudices of your marks and exploit them. Monckton is intelligent and a very capable public speaker. He could have had those people eating up his gw nonsense without any adornments. He’s very adroit at sidestepping anything he doesn’t want to talk about.

    He *chose*, cynically and consciously, to play on a vile prejudice, all for the sake of a few extra minutes applause.

    I rather think that his personal charm, what snake-oil salesman can succeed without being charming, and constant companionship eventually got to Rupert (and Calum apparently.) Another few weeks reflection, and some less charming interaction with Monckton in the meantime, may lead them to modify their views a little.

  29. #29 Jeremy C
    February 5, 2011

    Calum,

    *the suspending democracy point from mayer hillman (echoed in reality by james lovelock) is an interesting one as it challenges people on a lot of levels, and Lord Monckton was glad we included it because from his perspective it vindicated some of his thoughts about those who promote AGW. I do not think Mayer is representative of the whole spectrum of AGW thought but his point is one worth documenting, especially as it ties into an idea of liberty that roots many sceptics in the sceptic camp.*

    I think when people talk about suspending democracy wrt it may stem from a personal conclusion that climate change may get so bad that democracy will get suspended anyway for the sake of survival.

    BTW the problem I have with putting Mockton et al up beside the science is its done under a false equivalence i.e. ideology is being presented as equal to science on a complex scientific topic.

    BTW Wow, I’m not so sure a lot of christians are denialists as evidence I present John Houghton.

  30. #30 Nick Barnes
    February 5, 2011

    Regarding the High Court hearing, a lawyer friend says that “It was an ex tempore judgment and so may never have been transcribed or written down.” There is a record of it on lawtel, which I have seen but am reluctant to post for copyright reasons. The upshot as I understand it is this:

    - Monckton was shown a near-final edit and given a 30-second right of reply;
    - At that point the documentary-maker accepted and agreed to correct some inaccuracies;
    - Monckton complained to the Director General of the BBC;
    - The judge refused the application for an injunction because it wasn’t likely that Monckton would be able to show a breach of contract, and because Monckton would have “a remedy in damages”, i.e. would be free to sue for damages after broadcast.

    Monckton’s basic complaint is that his 30-second right-of-reply isn’t nearly long enough to make the programme fair. Knowing some people who have been royally stitched up by journalists, I have some sympathy for this. But given that it is Monckton, with his long history of mendacity, misinformation, and empty legal threats, and considering that the programme actually showed him in quite a positive light, I’m very glad the injunction was denied. I think if anyone should be suing now, it is John Abraham, for the outrageous slander Monckton delivers in the film.

  31. #31 Philip Machanick
    February 6, 2011

    There’s a Senate enquiry on in Australia, closing soon, on [The Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms](http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/impact_rural_wind_farms/info.htm), a good-bye present from Steve Fielding. You shouldn’t have, Steve, your departure is present enough.

    Monckton has [made a submission](http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/impact_rural_wind_farms/submissions.htm). This would be a great opportunity for anyone in the rebutting game to do so protected by parliamentary privilege.

  32. #32 Wow
    February 7, 2011

    > BTW Wow, I’m not so sure a lot of christians are denialists as evidence I present John Houghton.

    A is a subset of B, not the identical set, Jeremy.

    A big part of some denialist screed is based in Christianity. E.g. “Climate change won’t happen because God promised no more floods”.

  33. #33 Kevin C
    February 7, 2011

    I suspect that the link between Christianity and climate change denial is non-causal, but rather a secondary effect of the political leanings of some Christian groups. In the US, there are a lot of conservative-leaning churches, and these will commonly also be deniers. However that attitude is not universal: see for example Evangelical Climate Initiative, this, this (find ‘climate’), this and so on.

    In Europe Evangelicals have traditionally been more spread politically, with a significant left-leaning social action strand. I suspect that here also attitudes on climate are more likely to be politically determined.

  34. #34 Stu N
    February 8, 2011

    Kevin your links don’t seem to be working.

    BTW I agree with your assessment of the differences between attitudes in Europe and the USA.

  35. #35 calum
    February 15, 2011

    I’m very conscious of the spectrum of beliefs within Christianity – about 5 years ago i worked on a film for Channel 4 in the UK called ‘God is Green’ which looked at that. S i would emphatically agree that the link between some aspects of Christianity and climate change beliefs is non-causal. however, within that i think there are correlations, not least in those who felt the green movement had links in pagan earth worshipping roots.

  36. #36 Wow
    February 15, 2011

    Another big one is that God is All Powerful. Therefore it’s NOT POSSIBLE for us to affect the climate, since that’s the sole perview of God’s Domain.

    There are probably others who are “rapturists” thinking this presages the end of the world where all those sinners get their come-uppance.

    A larger section that have a similar end result would take the idea that if the climate changes, then that must be what God wants.

    And you have that US Senator (?) who said that God promised there’d be no more floods and, since AGW predicts global flooding, this must be wrong.

    There are multitudes of reasonings.

    I’d not thought of pagan worshipping (except inasmuch as all science is pagan) being a problem.

    You also have a strong Randian contingent where their success in making pots of money is indication of the love God has for them and therefore whatever they say MUST be right. Therefore (in an extreme case of God Is Capitalism) since rich people say AGW is a scam, it MUST be right. Else God wouldn’t have made them rich… Very much in the vein of the Holy Writ of the Monarchy, the King being God’s choice for our leader.

    These are problems because telling them that AGW is wrong is not an attack on their beliefs, but an attack on *God*.

    There would also be large contingents who take the Biblical teaching of human STEWARDSHIP of the earth as the role of humanity who would support changing our lifestyle to avoid damage to the planet and the ecosystem we live in.

    These however don’t have the problem that saying they’re wrong and that we aren’t doing anything wrong isn’t an attack against God, so they’re a lot less vocal and nuts, so don’t get noticed. As Minsc says: “the squeaky wheel gets the kick”.

  37. #37 calum
    February 15, 2011

    good point about the end time theologians Wow, and i didn’t know that about the Randian style thoughts.

    it’s not that science is pagan obviously, rather the environmental (as opposed to science) movement had roots in ‘hippy/pagan’ type ideas in the eyes of some christians. some think the scientists have gotten into bed with the environmentalists in effect.

    you are right to point out to the stewardship (the key word for many as you know) ideals which seek to foster a sense of responsibility towards the climate though.

  38. #38 Wow
    February 15, 2011

    Unfortunately, they don’t get much attention because the ones really passionate about it get the screen time.

    And the nuttier you are, the more screen time you’ll get. See: Monckton.

    And that ensures that despite most people thinking climate change is a big problem and humans are a big factor in it in the UK, the denial machine STILL insists they are the silent (hah!) majority, quashed under the boot of, well, pick your poison.

    Because by volume (loudness) they are a huge faction. By volume (count), no, they’re not.

  39. #39 Bernard J.
    February 15, 2011

    Thanks, Wow.

    You [reminded](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/monckton_myths.php#comment-3302108) me of [Hillsong](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsong_Church), and I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

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