Brian Angliss takes on Tom Harris

Regular readers of this blog will know Tom Harris, as he is an occasional commenter here. Tom is a climate science denier who wears an Invisibility Cloak of Concern. However, this particular Invisibilty Cloak was never worn by Ignotus Peverell; you can see right though it.

Isaac Asomov "Demanding and unreasonable and absurd level of proof from scientists is not Harris’ only dishonest expectation ... Harris is trying to make science appear to be mere opinion, presumably no better or worse than any other opinion. [But] some opinions matter more than others, and opinions based on knowledge matter more than those based on ignorance. Isaac Asimov noted this point, writing ... “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge” represented a “cult of ignorance” that was fundamentally anti-intellectual."

Brian Angliss, a journalist and engineer, is the science editor and climate and energy writer for the blog Scholars and Rogues. Brian has written an epic six part (five parts done so far, the sixth part will be an epilog) expose of Tom Harris's previous commentary on climate science, prompted by a recent spate of Op Eds by Harris. I recommend visiting Brian's posts not just to find out about Tom Harris, but to get a sense of how this particular brand of denialism works. You won't be disappointed.

Here are links to the posts:

Tom Harris – hypocritical peddler of deceitful climate change editorials: Eight related commentaries written by Tom Harris of the International Climate Science Coalition since mid-December are packed them with distortions, errors, hypocrisy, and more.

Tom Harris’ recent commentaries rife with errors and illogic: If you’re going to attack climate realists for making supposedly illogical arguments, you’d best be sure that your own arguments are logically flawless.

Tom Harris places absurd limits on scientific truths and elevates ignorance to equal knowledge: Tom Harris asks his readers to put aside their common sense and reject knowledge and expertise in favor of ignorance and inexperience.

Tom Harris distorts the maturity of global warming science and imagines expertise where little exists: The science supporting global warming theory has a history going back almost 200 years, but readers of Tom Harris commentaries might come away thinking that it’s all brand new science.

Tom Harris’ commentaries intended to impede, not advance, public understanding of climate science: Tom Harris’ stated goal in his commentaries is to advance the public discussion on industrial climate disruption, yet his language and arguments say exactly the opposite.

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That was a good read. I love to see climate change deniers ripped apart. Brian Angliss absolutely shredded Tom Harris. A thrashing he so rightly deserved.

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink

I stopped reading the above piece when I got to "Tom is a climate science denier" since that is merely a stupid insult that means nothing at all.

Angliss' piece was largely juvenile nonsense as well. At least he demonstrates that I am on the right track that he would spend so much time trying to discredit me.
Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.)
Executive Director,
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)
P.O. Box 23013
Ottawa, Ontario
K2A 4E2

By Tom Harris (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink

Thanks for chipping in, Tom. I'm very impressed with the quality of your commentary here (zero factual content), and assume it is of a piece with the rest of your writings on climate science.

By climatehawk1 (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink

Despite the loud baloney alarm sounded by his opening lines, I couldn't stop listening to Tom Harris last Heartland Conference rant because he wouldn't stop talking.

He's about as candid as Tony Blair at Question Time .

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Unfortunately for Harris, experts in logic would not say this for a very simple reason – very few people who use the term “denier” are actually committing an ad hominem fallacy. Calling someone a denier may well be considered insulting, but an insult is not a logical fallacy"

It is later implied that Tom simply does not understand what an ad hominem is. I doubt that - I think he does, but that he simply doesn't like the fact that the term denier adequately describes him.

You really have to wonder how big the anti-science pot must be for folks like him to dive in with both hands and work so hard to distort science for a paycheck.

@ 2. Tom Harris :

I stopped reading the above piece when I got to “Tom is a climate science denier” since that is merely a stupid insult that means nothing at all.

Wrong again. Climate science denier is a descriptive term that has a very definite and well known meaning namely a person who denies the validity of the work of tens of thousands of climatologists over well over a century of expert scientific studies in that field.

There is an overwhelming consensus of these experts that Human-Induced Rapid Global Overheating is reality and climate science deniers are people who reject that consensus of ninety-eight out of a hundred experts in the field generally by resorting to long disproven but often repeated canards.

Please note it isn't skepticism because you are still denying reality even after it has been clearly and unequivocally demonstrated with multiple lines of valid evidence why the consensus is as it is. Skeptics are convinced by evidence, deniers ,well, deny the evidence is there and saying what it says.

At least he demonstrates that I am on the right track that he would spend so much time trying to discredit me.

To quote Obi-Wan Kenobi, "Oh I don't think so!" I don't think it took him that long and I don't think it shows you are on the right track and, oh yeah, is that an actual admission there that you have indeed been discredited too?

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink

PS. The piece itself defines the term :…

Under notes beneath the sources section :

"B. Climate disruption denier: someone who denies that industrial climate disruption is supported by multiple independent lines of evidence and is derived from well established physical laws.

Plus there is a whole section in part two of the series that explictly tackles the whole "denier' issue including defining what is meant by that word :

However, some people are aware that the scientific case for industrial climate disruption is overwhelming and yet still deny that it is real. These people are regularly identified in the media, and here at S&R, as being “deniers” of industrial climate disruption.

It also links back to a much earlier post written three years from the same blogger which notes :

<“Denier” means nothing more than a person who refuses to accept the existence, truth, or validity of something. The definition of a denier is completely neutral. The definition doesn’t include any guidance about the values, ethics, morals, psychology, beliefs, or experiences of anyone who qualifies as a denier, only that the person is denying something. The definition also doesn’t define whether the thing being denied actually exists, is true, or has validity, only that it’s existence, truth, or validity is being denied. What’s being denied can be literally anything – evolution, that Han shot first, the existence of God, vaccine safety, that Picard was the best Star Trek captain, HIV as the cause of AIDS, that Shakespeare authored his plays, or even 2 + 2 = 4.

In addition it notes :

Since the definition of “denier” offers no guidance as to motivations or moral equivalencies, any good or bad properties associated with the term are necessarily a function of the term’s context, not of the term itself.

Excellent series and blog there Greg Laden - it applies to a lot more of the other deniers works too as well as Tom Harris'es. Thanks for sharing this. Bookmarked.

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink

Perhaps Mr. Harris would like to respond. Oh I forgot, he didn't read the piece.

Um, 'denier' is "merely a stupid insult"?

I'd like to point out that right here at scienceblogs, 'denialism' has been given an excellent definition with robust criteria. If the shoe fits, wear it:

Simply responding with a knee-jerk evasion, Tom, is unseemly for a educated adult. But since you've painted yourself into a corner, I guess that's about the only recourse you have if you're determined to double down on the sophistry.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink


Is the software eating my comments, or have I been banned from your site?

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

I will look for your comments. I don't see anything in moderation now. Maybe in the spam folder.

There was one in spam, I have no idea why. Thanks for letting me know. Are there more missing?

Of course you stopped reading the piece Tom. I don't think you are even capable of reading the entire piece. You could not bear to see your work in the light of day. To see all your dirty little secrets exposed is too much for you. I suggest you tough it out and read it anyway. Why? Because you may just realize how absurd you come across as. How ridiculous your thinking is. I'm not sure if you are fooling yourself or if you think you are fooling us. You are certainly fooling a lot of people but not everyone. Many of see you for what you are. I see you for what you are. I will stop typing now.

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

Thanks, Greg!

There were a couple comments from awhile back (on different threads) which didn't make it through. But honestly, in retrospect they weren't very good. Whatever happened to them probably saved me some embarrassment.


By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

Tom Harris distracting the discussion with a little tone-trolling.

By Harry Twinotter (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

I had almost feared that Angliss had stopped posting. His last post before the Harris series was from March 2014. Coincidentally, a few days ago I linked to another fine series by Angliss:……- disruption-denial-part-1-libertarians/
and Angliss himself participated in the little discussion that followed.

It's good to see that he's still active, and I'm looking forward to reading the new series. Thanks to Greg for writing about it.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

I've been posting, just not much. Got burned out and my day job took a ton of my life for nearly two years. But I got a Nissan Leaf and solar panels and work calmed down and suddenly I felt like writing about climate again.

By Brian Angliss (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

Denial is connected to life- style . Being moral creatures we have to make a case for our actions. Those who are overwhelmed by evidence plant trees before they fly abroad, or salve their conscience by inticate carbon- footprint manuovers.
Much of mankind is too poor to worry about tomorrow they are happy to get through today, but the amoral climate cares not for the living or the dead.

By magnocrat (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

magnocrat, some truth to that, but hardly any of us fund think tanks dedicated to obfuscating the consequences of that lifestyle. To suggest otherwise just gives those lowlifes aid and comfort.

By climatehawk1 (not verified) on 22 Feb 2015 #permalink

In reply to by magnocrat (not verified)

I've followed this blog off and on for years, and I guess I'm happy to say I'd never noticed Tom Harris, or at least I don't remember him. Maybe it's the generic name (even moreso than mine). Maybe it's because he sounds just like the rest of the interchangeable deniers, judging from his one sad, irrelevant little remark above.

By Michael Wells (not verified) on 22 Feb 2015 #permalink

Despite all the hand-wringing about harmless carbon dioxide, the Earth and the rest of us who enjoy our daily lives will be fine without you. Consensus isn't science. It was once a "consensus" among doctors that bloodletting cured illness.

By John Barksdale (not verified) on 02 Jun 2015 #permalink

Tom Harris recently had an article in The Washington Times that was evaluated here:…

Harris is writing for his home crowd, and his peroration is especially touching:

"Future generations are bound to ask why America closed its coal-fueled generating stations, its cheapest, most plentiful source of electric power, and wasted billions of dollars trying to stop insignificant changes in imaginary phenomena.

The sad answer will be that it had nothing to do with the realities of science, technology or economics. The tragic blunder is based on satisfying political expedience for a privileged few, egged on by vested financial interests, and supported by largely uninformed activists granted the media platforms needed to sway public opinion. As Jay Lehr, science director of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute said, 'It is a scam that dwarfs all others that have come before.' ”

Coal, Heartland – our assurance that Harris is objective and has no financial motives. The imaginary phenomena are measurements showing global warming.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 30 Aug 2015 #permalink

Mr. Tom Harris' multiple ties with oil and gas industries make all his statements against anthropogenic climate change worthless.

I can't *entirely* agree with you there, Terry. It's the quality of the arguments that's paramount. Someone with a conflict of interest, or the appearance of one, can still be sincere and even maybe right (remember that some scientists employed by the fossil fuel industry made important contributions to climate change science in the '70s and '80s, even while their bosses were denying, denying, denying).

But it's very fair to say that Harris's ties make his statements worthy of severely heightened scrutiny or suspicion. Ultimately, those ties are of less importance than the fact that his claims are so manifestly false and his logic and arguments so puerile.

By Michael Wells (not verified) on 06 Sep 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Terry (not verified)

John Barksdale - Right, "harmless carbon dioxide." You obviously won't mind recycling your own if you accidentally get locked in an airtight room one day.

It could scarcely damage your reasoning faculties any further.

By Michael Wells (not verified) on 06 Sep 2016 #permalink