Category Archives: Cranks

The Law of Denial and Prime Godwins; in the climate debate, the probability of conspiracy theories being invoked is one

Between work and study, I’ve taken the time to jump into a recent debate on The Conversation. The article itself is worth reading, as it discusses science education and climate change in the classroom.

Of course the moment climate change is discussed in any context sceptics begin peppering the discussion with misinformation. Like a swarm of irritating and persistent gnats, they arrive to disrupt the conversation and seed disinformation.

However it was fascinating to see one troll jump into the conversation and instantly invoke Godwin’s Law:

A good argument for home schooling! And opposing any federal ideological rubbish on climate change. The science is still undecided, fast fading from view due to a number of factors, and highly controversial. Climate change is possibly the most compromised perversion of science ever perpetrated. A parallel is the indoctrination under Nazi Germany. Almost a form of child abuse!

For those who don’t know Godwin’s Law:

Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies) is an assertion made by Mike Godwin in 1990 that has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, Godwin said that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.

Very shortly this same troll invoked not only Godwin’s Law for a second time but explicitly linked the Nazi’s with the “Green Agenda”, the IPCC and Agenda 21:

There is a lot of ignorance of the history of philosophy here. Heidegger (prominent Nazi philosopher) was one of the forerunners of the deep ecology movement and the desire to return to a romantic past. It was essentially a philosophy that longed for a return to a mythical pre-technological past, very much like that desired by the IPCC and their Agenda 21. So I’m not that far off the mark!

I think we’ve seen a variation of Godwin’s Law emerge.

And with more than a hint of self-indulgence I’m going to call it WTD’s Law (or The Deniers Law; or The Law of Denial):

In any online conversation related to climate change the probability of conspiracy theories, political/religious orthodoxy and totalitarian regimes being invoked is 1.

Sceptics will jump in and make conspiracy claims at the beginning, middle and end of the conversation. Whereas under Godwin’s Law online conversations inevitably produce a comparison to Hitler, in the climate debate one expects such claims to be made immediately and throughout the conversation.

Go have a look at any conversation on the internet regarding climate change.

I think I’m correct in this assertion.

A Prime Godwin

In discussions with some others in the same thread we decided we’d witnessed a variation of Godwin’s Law. The troll/poster instantly jumped to Hitler and the Nazi’s.

“Instant Godwin” was suggested, however I think a better term is Prime Godwin:

When your first and last argument is HITLER you are engaged in invoking a Prime Godwin.

Let me know your thoughts.

[Hat tip Felix MacNiell for helping me refine The Law of Denial. ]

News Ltd kicking more sand in the public’s face: just why are Murdoch’s papers recycling the old “CFCs not CO2″ zombie climate myth?

The state of the climate debate in Australia under News Ltd

The state of the climate debate in Australia under News Ltd

Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, which controls 70% of the Australian print media, are without doubt doing the Australian public a great disservice with their constant stream of climate disinformation.

It is not enough for News Limited to shape the narrative as “believers versus sceptics”, thus creating a sense of false balance. They take it a step further by willfully distorting the public’s perception about the causes of climate change while simultaneously undermining their trust in the scientific community.

Recent evidence of this can be seen across News Limited publications and websites these past two days.

Nearly every organ of Murdoch’s Australian media empire has been actively pushing the discredited theory that CFCs are to blame for warming (not CO2). Here is the audit trail:

  • The story first appeared in The Australian by Graham Lloyd on Monday 3 June (see here)
  • It then made it onto Andrew Bolt’s blog on 7:27pm the same day (see here)
  • A reference was made on Piers Ackerman’s blog on 4 June at 12:45 am (see at the end of the article)
  • Reference to it was published in the Cut and Paste section of The Australian today.

Note how the same message is weaved into different articles across multiple platforms?

Clearly the intent is to hit the broadest number of readers across all demographics: from the tabloid pages of the Herald Sun to the faux-paper-of-note pretensions of The Australian aimed at a more “elite” audience. Note they all appear within a day of each other.

Note also that in last night’s Q&A program, Senator Cory Bernardi referenced this News Limited generated fiction.

Cause and effect clearly demonstrated on national television.

Based on the uniformity of the message, tone and content it is clear the voice of the independent journalist is irrelevant at News Limited.

What matters is the message and broadcasting it on all frequencies to a mass audience. The resurrection of the “CFCs not CO2″ myth is but a single example of propagating misinformation over a broad spectrum (News Limited papers and web platforms).

And the message is simple.

Climate change isn’t happening, don’t trust the scientists.

I’m not going to address the science, but simply direct readers to the refutation at Climate Science Watch. I also note Crikey have picked up on the errors contained in Graham Lloyd’s article as well (pay wall sorry).

However, upon reflection something has been missing in both my comments and Crikey’s analysis.

And it is not about focussing on the minutia of the debate, which this whole episode is merely another tedious example.

It’s time to consider the bigger picture.

The desperate last phases of the climate debate: throwing sand in our faces

When somebody is losing a fight, and they feel the tide of victory flowing against them they’ll resort to increasingly desperate tactics.

Consider the final moment of many films where the hero and villain square off to fight. Shots, punches and kicks are exchanged as the fortunes of both protagonists ebb and flow.

But there comes a moment when both protagonists and the audience recognise the villain is in the throes of their final and inevitable defeat.

What does the villain do?

They grab a handful of sand or dirt and throw it into the face of their opponent.

It’s a sign of desperation, a feint intended to stem defeat by distracting and irritating their opponent. Sometimes it works, but generally it signals they have nothing left to fight with but dirty tricks. The message to the audience is clear: “They are deceitful, even in their last moments”.

It’s a trope used countless times. In fact, my daughter’s favourite film The Lion King contains it. In the final confrontation between Scar, who has usurped the throne and Simba (the rightful heir to the title of Lion King) the villain scatters burning ash in latter’s eyes in a final act of defiance.

Which is exactly what News Limited is doing, they are throwing sand in the face of the public and scientists in desperation.

Welcome to this new phase in the climate debate.

In raising long discredited “zombie” climate myths News Limited is reaching for sand to throw in all our eyes.

One can see why this would be the case. Public acceptance of the science is overwhelming; most accept humanity has changed the planet. Did we forget to mention 97% of climate scientists accept the science?

Everyone but the climate sceptics recognise their increasing irrelevance and what is clearly the death throes of their movement.

But they have one more trick to play, one last desperate gamble…

They’re clutching for a handful of sand to cast into the faces of their opponents.

Lose the debate and lose the kingdom: for Murdoch the climate debate is about one thing, can you guess?

For the owner of News Limited and his army of minions the trajectory of public opinion must be troubling. So they are throwing everything at it.

Misinformation and zombie climate myths are their sand. But why? That is a question worth asking.

Murdoch is desperate to continue setting the political and social agenda within Australia and the English-speaking world. News Corporation is the agency of his will; they are his legions of flying monkeys.

Here is something we may not have considered in speculating over News Limited’s role in the climate debate.

Why is it that Fox News, The Australian, The Wall Street Journal and all other organs of the Murdoch empire are unanimous in their contempt for the science? Consider this…

The climate debate, from Murdoch’s perspective, is as much about forestalling action as it is about Rupert Murdoch.

It is about Murdoch’s king making and opinion making abilities. It’s about his power. It is about how much he has, and how effectively he can wield it.

It is about how media power shapes the conversations we have in political debates, around the proverbial water cooler and over the BBQ on a Sunday afternoon.

How much does it say about the power of Murdoch and News Limited (which fervently believes it can shape the tone of all political conversation within our nation) that it can no longer control the debate or public perception on climate?

What does it mean when public opinion slips from the control of the opinion makers?

Lose the ability to shape the debate, and you lose the kingdom.

All empires are fictions and all power is perceived.

This is especially the case today with the internet reshaping the media, rendering the traditional gatekeepers less relevant than they once were.

A king-maker who has built his empire on public perception, mass entertainment and sports broadcasting understands this intuitively.

From the Tampa Affair, the denial of the Stolen Generations and the climate debate, Murdoch has sought to shape our nation and values for decades.

Does it come as a surprise that public respect for the media in Australia is at all-time low? This is not a coincidence, nor some chance correlation.

News Limited’s reporting on climate change is at odds with people’s everyday experiences of a changing planet. Should you believe Andrew Bolt or the evidence of your home burning to the ground over Australia’s “Angry Summer”?

Remember how the Carbon Tax was going to be the ruin of us all?

The disconnect between what News Limited wants the public to believe, and what the public experiences is growing further apart. A crisis of credibility is engulfing News Limited, and they’ve failed to recognise it.

And their response to this growing disconnect?

The recycling of this old zombie climate myth (CFCs not CO2), a desperate attempt to throw sand in our faces. The whole CFC meme of the past few days is merely to distract the public with an irrelevant fact, while also enraging activists and scientists with its stupidity.

It is as if Murdoch has thrown sand in our eyes and is screaming in our faces: “See, see! I still set the agenda!”

How much time and energy will we expand on countering the “CFC not CO2″ zombie myth one more time?

Stop focussing on the sand in your eyes, irritating as that may be.

Look at who is throwing the sand.

Advice to the scientific community: well, not that “you” asked

At the heart of scientific practice is error reduction: detecting, and correcting errors. Both your own and that of your peers. It is a valid means to ensure research results support theories; that theories reflect the actual state of the world.

However, in the climate debate a focus on error reduction – for example correcting people or journalists on the “CFCs not CO2″ issue – is counter productive.

We will forever be chasing down errors, and attempting to correct people’s misconceptions. It is a rabbit hole we have spent too much time dwelling  in – chasing down a misconception here and another piece of disinformation there.

We are Red Queens, forever running as fast as we can in a vain attempt to merely stay in the same place.

Yes, we can catch one error and force a correction printed in the pages of The Australian. We can get the Australian Press Council to issue a statement against the likes of Andrew Bolt. But in that time, ten thousand errors have flown from the pages and blogs of News Limited.

We catch an error and declare it victory. Time to consider the bigger picture.

Think of the climate debate like this…

Until recently we thought the universe was the solar system with the Earth at its centre. Then we thought the universe was no more than our home galaxy, The Milky Way.

Our perception was stunted, limited to the local.

Then Hubble took his famous images of red shifted objects…

… and the Universe exploded into view, revealing its immensity and majesty. Our view of the universe and ourselves was profoundly changed.

We need to think about the climate debate in this manner: broader, deeper and more sophisticated.

No more error correction please: turn your big brains to more profound questions.

Back to Murdoch, the King Lear of the Anthropocene.

The King Lear of our time: Murdoch

To return to the film The Lion King (no really!) you may be surprised to learn it is loosely based upon Hamlet. Shakespeare’s tale is a cautionary one about those who usurp thrones and marriage beds, and the tragic consequences of those actions.

But I’m reminded of another of Shakespeare’s plays when I consider Murdoch and his need to control the climate debate in our politics and in our private conversations.

King Lear, the dying king who divides his kingdom among his ambitious children. It is a decision that begins a chain reaction of events ending in ruin.

Murdoch is that monarch whose time is coming to an end; he is the king who divides the state among his children. Like Lear, it is his selfish, ego driven decisions that precipitates the ruin of all.

King Murdoch – the Lear of the early twenty-first century – would rather let our planet burn then admit he no longer sets the agenda on the climate debate, nor countenance being wrong.

Rub the sand from your eyes, ask why it has been thrown.

—————-

[A few errors in first draft got through, fixed]

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Graham Lloyd you’ve done it again! Every article requires a mandatory correction

Pretty much anything written by Lloyd on climate needs a correction

As I’ve noted recently, The Australian’s Environment Editor Graham Lloyd has a habit of misrepresenting the work of scientists. He has also shown a fondness for citing the work of cranks.

A few months back he cited  material from  Principa Scientific International. This crank outfit is so extreme that even Christopher Monckton has distanced himself from them. And yet Lloyd believes they are a source of information worthy of a national daily.

Earlier this year The Australian was forced to issue an embarrassing correction after claiming sea level rise was not linked to warming - which it is.

Lloyd shamelessly cherry picks quotes, as this example clearly shows.

So desperate is Lloyd’s attempts to cast doubt on the science, he is now scraping the bottom of the barrel by citing junk “research” in his latest article:

The peer-reviewed research by Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy, biology and chemistry at Waterloo University, was published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B.

The findings of Professor Lu’s paper – Cosmic-Ray-Driven Reaction and Greenhouse Effect of Halogenated Molecules: Culprits for Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Global Climate Change – are at odds with the consensus view that climate change is driven by increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. Waterloo University said Professor Lu’s research provided “new fundamental understanding of the ozone hole and global climate change”. Critics said it might be “nothing more than coincidental correlation”, but it warranted further study. 

Chlorofluorocarbons are known to deplete ozone, but conventional thinking is the emission of human-made non-CFC gases such as carbon dioxide had mainly contributed to global warming.

The claim that CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are the real culprit behind global warming is a tired, old debunked sceptic myth

The journal, International Journal of Modern Physics B is pretty fringe. Climate Science Watch has already addressed Lu’s paper and notes how he recycles discredited claims.

Still, let’s ponder the implication’s of Lu’s claims. If Lu is correct he has just overturned the scientific paradigm and worthy of a Nobel Prize.

That, or he is a crank with an obsession to prove a discredited theory.

How sad and tawdry.

The Australian has become so partisan on the issue they’re willing to give voice to even the silliest claims.

It seems Lloyd has decided facts and journalistic ethics are for those with a sentimental attachment to reality. 

How sad.

How tawdry.

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Debunking the myths of the anti-Fluoridation movement: spread the word

Tim over at New Anthropocene has put together a list of the more common myths pushed by the anti-fluoridation movement.

Like me, Tim is a keen advocate for good science. If you don’t know his blog, check it out. He has been doing some remarkable work on the anti-fluoridation movement in Australia.

It is a terrific resource that needs to be shared more widely. It is stunning just how familiar all these arguments are.

From creationists, to climate sceptics and those that doubt the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine, there is a common thread linking them - the use of cherry picked facts, anecdotal evidence and confusion over basic science.

This one is my favorite as it is very familiar: Anecdotal evidence is UNSUBSTANTIATED evidence against fluoridated water

Typically the individual states that they (or someone who they know) experienced some symptoms when they were exposed to fluoride and were able to test this but eliminating fluoride exposure to “prove” the case. 

Merilyn Haines, President of the Queenslanders for Safe Water, Food and Air inc. provides anecdotal evidence to support her claims regarding fluoridation of drinking water with the case of her sister moving to Townsville. Her claim hinges on a complete disregard for potential co-founders that could arise from the 800 km move to a different city and the fact that her sister had clearly been exposed to fluoride over her entire life through toothpaste and foods without experiencing symptoms. 

Anecdotal evidence is the crux of the claims for many positions, such as anti-vaccination, whereby the MMR vaccine is supposed to cause autism, anti-wind farm, whereby exposure to wind farms has supposedly caused everything from irritability and low libido, to herpes, cataracts and accelerated aging! 

With fluoridated drinking water, Lamberg et al (1997) looked at the symptoms people stated they experienced due to exposure while they were exposed to fluoridated water and after fluoridation stopped (with the subjects unaware of this). The rates of symptoms did not significantly change until after the expected end of fluoridation, not with the actual event itself, leading the researchers to conclude that the supposed symptoms were psychologically based and not related to actual exposure to fluoridated water. 

Anecdotal evidence for this reason is not sufficient and when others rely on it as evidence, the alarm bells should ring.

 

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Crank alert! Organisers of the Oregon petition also have a cure for cancer

TinFoilHatArea

The recent paper by Cook et.al demonstrating the 97% consensus among the climate scientists has generated considerable angst among climate sceptic movement.

However, rather than accepting the research they’ve resorted to denial – see here for Anthony Watt’s particularly amusing response.

Perth sceptic and conspiracy theorist Jo Nova has pulled out the old Oregon Petition Project arguing that 31,000 scientists don’t agree with the consensus:

You want authority? Skeptics can name 31,500 scientists who agree, including 9,000 PhDs, 45 NASA experts (including two astronauts who walked on the moon) and two Nobel Prize winners in physics.

I won’t bore you with yet another dissection of this deeply flawed petition, but simply direct you to DeSmogBlog.

However, what I find curious is the credentials of originators of the petition project: the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM).

Firstly, this grandly named organisation operates out of what can only be described charitably as a shed:

 OISM_Faculty

Ok – perhaps it is not fair to judge a book by its cover.

They could be doing some amazing, cutting edge research in their shed in rural Oregon (not to disparage what is most likely a charming part of the world).

So let’s be fair and evaluate the bona fides of the OISM by the quality of the research they conduct. After all they claim to conduct research into the following:

Current projects include work on the deamidation of peptides and proteins as it relates to fundamental biochemistry and to protein aggregation diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease; research on improved techniques for medical diagnosis; improvement in precollege education curricula, especially in the sciences; and improved civilian emergency preparedness.

In other words they sell kits to survive a nuclear war.

More interestingly they claim to have found a cure for cancer. No really they do.

Let me step you through this discovery of mine.

First, let’s start at the OISM homepage:

OISM_Home 

Note the left hand navigation menu and the option “Nutrition and Cancer”? This is what you get after clicking on the link:

Nut_Canc

Note the text:

This website presents a paper on Nutrition and Cancer that may well be the most important information a cancer patient can find to help him fight this dread disease.

Clicking the link takes you to yet another page:

Still_more_clicks 

Let me say for the record, this is really bad web design: three-click-rule be damned.

They’ve buried the “most important information a cancer patient can find” in a thicket of interlinked pages lacking a consistent design or user experience. It’s like they don’t want you to find it!

Eventually you get to the following essay subtitled “Beating cancer with a diet of raw fruits and vegetables.”

Let me quote:

A surgeon telephoned me to ask some questions about this diet. During the conversation, he told me why he had become interested in it (to the great displeasure of his colleagues).

A patient had come to him in whose throat was growing a completely inoperable and soon-to-be-fatal cancer. He told the patient that there was nothing he could do for him and that he would soon die.

The patient, however, went to Ann Wigmore’s establishment and started eating their initial diet of strictly raw fruits and vegetables. He pursued this fanatically, however, and never switched to Wigmore and Hunsberger’s phase-two diet including additional staples.

Many months later, the patient returned to the surgeon. The surgeon told me that there were three things that were unusual about this patient.

1. He was back. He should already have been long dead.

2. There was not a trace of cancer in his throat.

3. He looked like he had just stepped out of a Nazi or Communist concentration camp. The patient was almost dead of malnutrition. He was a walking skeleton.

The surgeon nursed him back to good nutritional health – but the cancer never returned.

Note the anecdotal and highly suspect nature of this claim: neither the surgeon nor patient is named. As far as personal testimonials go, that’s pretty p*ss weak.

Oh and the cancer – like totally gone.

Like it was never there…

Wooooooooooh waaaah woooh!

Amazing right?

Just so you know, the “raw fruit and vegetable” diet is pure alternative-medicine crapola.

What they are suggesting is a version of a macrobiotic diet: as far as science is concerned, it is totally implausible as a cure. Actually, it may be dangerous to cancer patients who elect to follow it.

It is one of the many alternative cures to cancer sold by hucksters who prey on those dealing with a life threatening disease.

This is yet another variation of the “extreme diet” cure, which the Cancer Council of Victoria (CCV) notes:

There are hundreds of alternative cancer therapies. You may hear about them from friends and family, or come across them in books, on the Internet or on radio, TV, etc. There is no science-based evidence to prove they can treat, control or cure any type of cancer.

There is some evidence a balanced diet – that includes raw fruit and vegetables – can help reduce the risk of some cancers.

But what our friends at the OISM claim is what experts in the field call “woo”.

To quote the CCV, promoters of such therapies are acting unethically:

Unfortunately, there are people who falsely promote treatments which don’t work or are even dangerous as ‘cancer cures.’ There are also people who wrongly claim that mainstream or conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapies don’t work. These people are acting unethically.

Whose opinion do you trust?

The peer-reviewed work of John and his team, or the “We have a cure for cancer!” woo from the cranks at OISM?

——

[Note: I will not be sanctioning a discussion on the merits alternative treatments: the evidence against them is compelling. Nor will I allow this bog to be hijacked by promoters of therapies known to be dangerous to people undergoing treatment for cancer and/or other serious illnesses.] 

 

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Of ice ages, the view from nowhere and the value of one’s soul: Graham Lloyd, The Australian and the repackaging of fringe science

Not long ago Hollywood rediscovered the disaster genre, delivering to the movie viewers a spate of gloriously visualised, but implausible apocalyptic visions. As examples of the zeitgeist they’re fascinating examples of our existential fears made real.  

In what lovers of the genre call “disaster porn” the CGI wizards of Hollywood treated us to a variety of end time scenarios: from giant meteorites in the execrable Armageddon (1998); global pandemics in Outbreak (1995) and I am Legend (2007); the Godzilla inspired monster of Cloverfield (2008); the New Age eschatology implied by ending of the Mayan Long Count calendar in the film 2012 (made in 2009); to the current most-favoured harbingers of the apocalypse, the zombies of The Walking Dead.

My favourite of this genre has to be The Day After Tomorrow (2004), a film which imagines the globe caught in the grip of a sudden ice age which descends over a series of days rather than the millennia it normally takes. The film chronicles a series of extreme weather events, precursors to the Northern Hemisphere being blanketed in ice.

The film treats us to a touching father-son reconciliation, a trite love story and lots of ice.

Pure bunk of course – however scientists have long resigned themselves to the fact that Hollywood will choose spectacle over fact. Most of us can discern fact from film fantasy. But sadly, not all of us can make such distinctions.

Point in case The Australian’s Environment Editor, Graham Lloyd, who recently published an article containing “facts” about as plausible as the script as The Day After Tomorrow.

According to Graham there is serious scientific debate about a coming ice age. No really, he argues such.

An ice age cometh: we’re about to enter a 30 year cooling period?

In an article titled Emissions debate heats up while experts warn of a coming ice age (May 4 2013), Lloyd rips his facts straight from the big screen and pages of fringe science blogs to suggest there is some debate over an imminent ice age:

In Russia, one of the world’s leading solar physicists, Habibullo Abdussamatov, says the planet is well on the way to another deep freeze. Abdussamatov is the head of space research at the Russian Academy of Sciences Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St Petersburg, and director of the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

In an interview with Principia Scientific International, Abdussamatov said results of research from the ISS had indicated a decline in total solar irradiance, which was having a dramatic effect on the global climate.

Data indicated the onset of a mini ice age.

If true, then all this fuss over global warming is actually distracting us from the actual (and in Graham’s view equally plausible) threat of an imminent ice age.

The impressively credentialed Habibullo Abdussamatov seems uniquely qualified to put forward such an argument. That is until one starts digging as Abdussamatov seems to hold some very strange views.

Abdussamatov: does not believe in any greenhouse effect

Abdussamatov is a vocal sceptic of global warming within the parallel universe the deniers inhabit, but as far as the science community is concerned he is relatively obscure.

He is not a leading solar physicist: this is merely another example of the old sceptic tactic of inflating the reputation and achievements of “experts” such as Abdussamatov. In fact, a quick search of the internet will find he has been making the same claims for several years.

His most unusual claim is that the greenhouse effect does not exist at all. In a 2007 article published on Canada.com (website of Canadian newspaper publisher Postmedia Network) Abdussamatov is quoted as saying:

Dr. Abdussamatov goes further, debunking the very notion of a greenhouse effect. “Ascribing ‘greenhouse’ effect properties to the Earth’s atmosphere is not scientifically substantiated,” he maintains. “Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away.”

Such a claim would be news to the scientific community to say the least.

Actually, it is almost impossible to convey just how absurd his proposition is – it is the scientific equivalent of arguing the sun still goes around the Earth. His view of the behaviour of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere is pure fantasy without a shred of evidence.

Even the most extreme sceptics – Jo Nova, Lord Monckton and Anthony Watts – don’t subscribe to this view.

They acknowledge the greenhouse effect: they argue a doubling of CO2 will have a negligible impact on global temperatures. According to them, the heat trapping potential of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been overstated by the scientific community.

Thus Abdussamatov would be considered fringe even by their standards – which is saying a lot. If that is not bad enough, things go from bad to worse in Lloyd’s article.

Graham Lloyd plagiarizing content: word for word his article mimics a 2007 article from Canada Free Press

The practice of using material word-for-word without attribution or acknowledging the source is generally frowned upon by journalists. 

The more cynical call it plagiarism. Sadly, Lloyd appears to be engaged in this very activity.

Lloyd attributes the following quotes to Abdussamatov (italics mine):

Abdussamatov said there had been five deep cold periods in the past 1000 years – in 1030, 1315, 1500, 1680 and 1805.

 He said another cool period was due and would come about regardless of whether industrialised countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions.

“Mars has global warming – but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians,” Abdussamatov said.

“These parallel global warmings – observed simultaneously on Mars and on the Earth – can only be a consequence of the effect of the same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance.”

 Abdussamatov said a new “little ice age” would start this or next year and hit a low around 2040, with a deep freeze that would last for the rest of the century.

The quotes Lloyd use mimic word-for-word quotes in the aforementioned 2007 article (italics):

Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians,” he told me. “These parallel global warmings — observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth — can only be a straightline consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance.”

Lloyd has merely broken the later paragraph up and substituted some words.

Perhaps Lloyd was sloppy, or merely forgot to correctly attribute his sources. We all make mistakes.

The more cynical of us would call it plagiarism.   

False balance: Lloyd’s view from nowhere is really the view from the fringes

Lloyd is a practitioner of the journalistic style of “the view from nowhere”.

He tries to eschew any editorialising in order to present “both sides of the debate” so that the informed reader can make up their own mind.

In reality, Lloyd’s view from nowhere is the view from the fringes of the scientific community: more specifically the view of a crank, Abdussamatov.

Lloyd elevates Abdussamatov to the level of one the world’s “leading solar physicists” and a voice we should be paying attention too. Lloyd frames the article in such a way to imply there is some debate amongst the scientific community that an ice age may very well be immanent.

Let’s be clear: there’s no debate: there are no concerns about a mini-ice age.

What we have is the spectacle of The Australian plucking fringe beliefs from the sceptic blogosphere and given them credibility.

The real story that needs to be told is not that of scientists debating about scenarios reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow.

The real story that needs to be told is just how partisan The Australian has become on the issue of climate change.

Lloyd’s article smells of desperation: it is the feeble clutching for facts in order to deny reality.

The planet is warming; climate change is real; humanity is the architect of this warming.

We all have a choice: one can accept reality or live in denial. Lloyd seems to have made his choice: he is a nowhere man living in an alternative reality of facts made to suit the opinions of Editor Chris Mitchell and owner Rupert Murdoch.

But what is cost of this?

Not only to Lloyd and the reputation of The Australian as a news source – but to us, the general public who needs to be informed? We may shake our heads at the antics of Lloyd, but ultimately it is a grossly misinformed public who suffers most.

At least Lloyd gets paid for his efforts: I guess I gain some satisfaction in correcting his falsehoods.

But again – at what cost?

All the wealth and power one might gain is not worth the price of one’s soul.

Graham Lloyd and The Australian: rapidly fading credibility

It says a lot about the quality of a newspaper when their Environment Editor is either a) unable to distinguish fringe beliefs from actual science or b) happy to publish such tripe if it undermines the scientific consensus on global warming.

Over the years we’ve witnessed The Australian publish some appalling misinformation on climate change: this without doubt is the nadir of their reporting on climate change.

For a paper which likes to think of itself as the “voice of the nation” this is an appalling lapse in journalistic standards.

We – the reading public – have a right to expect better than this. This is the very impulse that motivated me to start this blog. We are all ill-served by the mainstream media if this is the best they have to offer.

Perhaps there is a circle in Hell for once good journalists who have turned away from the ethics of the profession: if so it must be full of News Limited journalists who felt compelled – or were coerced – to publish pieces such as Lloyd’s.

For good reason many of us are exhausted auditing the self-proclaimed auditors of science. We’ve been engaged in this activity for over thirty years when the “debate” first emerged.

I believe there is a more important question to address: the question of why. Of why elements of the media – who have the power to shape public opinion and debate – have granted themselves permission to distort the truth and mislead the public.

All the wealth and power one might gain is not worth the price of one’s soul.

[Note: see also Graham Readfearn's piece on the same topic - what can I say? Great minds think alike. Readfearn does some great detective work on finding all the sources Lloyd uses.]

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[Disclaimer: This article contains both original research and some elements of satire. Every effort is made to ensure the validity of the claims made by the blog's author. ]

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Sea sick Andrew Bolt: now just making stuff up about sea surface temperatures

With the evidence of climate change becoming even more overwhelming, and the majority of public opinion indicating acceptance of its reality (watching one half of Australia burn while the other drowns will have that effect), Andrew Bolt is getting desperate. 

What’s a poor denier boy to do?

Well, you could accept the overwhelming evidence that climate change is real.

Or you can stick your head in bucket and scream “La-la-la-la! Not happening!”

Andrew of course accepts the later course of action.

In his most recent cut-and-paste attack on Tim Flannery, Bolt makes the startling claim that sea surface temperatures have not risen.

How does Andrew prove this startling scientific truth?

Bolt cites his favorite denier of both climate change and evolution - Dr. Roy Spencer – to argue the globe is not warming.

Spencer produces the following graph on his blog:

By golly no warming claims Andrew!

Gosh dang it, I mean even the graphs from the Bureau of Meteorology show no warming!

BOM_SST

SST data from BOM

Well look at that – no warming trend!

Take that warmists!

Huzzah! Global warming is falsified!

Oh wait…

What’s that.

You want some more SST data Andrew?

You want the whole BOM graph?

You want SST data since 1950 huh?

Zing Andrew – a warming trend.

Scientists do science. They go into the real world and, collect data. Form a hypothesis. Test it. Publish their research.

Climate change scep… I mean deniers, fiddle with the X-Y axis of Excel generated graphs.

Andrew: liar, liar, the sea is on fire.

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Climate sceptic, retiring Czech president, Vaclav Klaus charged with “high treason”

While Vaclav Klaus may not be a name familiar to most Australians, amongst the denial crowd he is a superstar.

Klaus, currently the President of the Czech Republic, is frequently touted as a world leader doubting climate change. Klaus has been a frequent guest on Andrew Bolt’s program and a regular speaker at functions hosted by the Institute of Public Affairs.

His term as President expires shortly, however Klaus has already planned out a busy retirement by joining forces with the Cato Institute, the notorious libertarian think tank and one of the principal agents in denying climate change. He is both a Eurosceptic (against the European Union) and climate change sceptic.

Klaus, a trained economist with a strongly libertarian bent, was President between 1993 and 1997. It is worth noting that he didn’t retire gracefully from the Presidency in 1997: his resignation came to an end when colleagues forced his resignation over claims of funding irregularities.

A controversial figure to say the least, Klaus claims that climate science and socialism are not merely similar, but the same thing and a vehicle for the New World Order:

“Environmentalism is indeed a vehicle for bringing us socialist government at the global level. Again, my life in communism makes me oversensitive in this respect. The argumentation of various environmentalists is very similar to what we used to know in the past.”

Now it seems Klaus is being charged with high treason. The Financial Times reports:  

“Prague – Václav Klaus, the Czech Republic’s conservative president, is facing high treason charges over his amnesty of thousands of prison inmates and others, an unprecedented case that is tainting his final days in the post after a rocky decade.  

Lawmakers in parliament’s upper house, which is dominated by the left-wing opposition, voted on Monday to file charges at the Constitutional Court…

Mr Klaus had already polarised opinion during his two terms in the normally ceremonial post with his strident views questioning the EU, gay rights and global warming, but frustration with him has since ballooned. About 73,000 Czechs have signed a petition backing the charges, while Mr Klaus’ portrait has been torn down in schools and offices across the country.

The anger his marred his legacy as a finance minister and prime minister who oversaw the Czech Republic’s post-communist transition to free markets in the 1990s.” 

How the mighty do fall.  

Imagine the outcry if Al Gore was subject to similar charges – the climate sceptic movement would be in uproar.  

Here we have one of the more “reputable” names in climate scepticism, transformed into nothing more than a disgraced politician facing charges of high treason in his home country.

I’m looking forward to sceptics and deniers claiming the charges against Klaus are merely one more example of the grand conspiracy.

 Hat tip: Dr No

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Even Andrew Bolt has had enough of Monckton: yes Andrew, climate sceptics are cranks

Even for the most hard-core climate sceptics, the penny can sometimes drop. In this case a discus-sized-penny has dropped on the head of conservative News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt (aka “The Bolta”).

Over the years Bolt has championed both Lord Christopher Monckton and his brand of conspiracy infused climate scepticism – indeed he once referred to him as a mathematician, when he is no such thing.

Now even Bolt thinks Monckton has gone to far:

Why on earth was Christopher Monckton endorsing the nationalist Rise Up Australia Party? Great chance for warmists to paint climate sceptics as fringe dwellers.

Why on earth indeed?

Does Andrew really need to ask himself why Monckton is associating himself with a radical, right-wing, homophobic, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, fundamentalist Christian sect with aspirations to create a Taliban-style theocracy down under? 

Andrew – climate sceptics are fringe dwellers.

The core narrative of the climate sceptic movement is conspiratorial: “climate change is not real, it is a hoax  created by scientists and their NWO puppet masters”. 

Recall Perth sceptics Jo Nova and David Evans who believe in a centuries long conspiracy involving international bankers and climate scientists. According to this dynamic duo, said bankers may - or may not – have been behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, you read that correctly: they’ve actually made that argument.

I’d also remind readers to take a look at the recent paper Recursive Fury (Lewandowsky et.al) which further demonstrates how conspiracy ideation permeates the climate sceptic movement.

I’m not sure why Andrew is surprised – the evidence has been overwhelming and in the public domain for years.

All you need to do is look. I’ve been writing about climate sceptics and their conspiratorial world view for three years. The amount of evidence supporting this assertion is overwhelming. 

Where to begin?

Well, in this 2010 video we see Alan Jones and Ian Plimer sharing the stage with Monckton as he explains what the New World Order is, suggesting it goes all the way back to the FreemasonsMonckton states the New World Order “was one of the things the Freemasons used to advocate three or four centuries ago…”

There is this 2012 video in which Monckton explains how Obama’s birth certificate was most likely faked.

Monckton has also been a regular guest on the Alex Jones show:

If further evidence is needed to support to the contention that many climate sceptics have embraced a cluster of conspiracy theories, look no further than Lord Christopher Monckton. 

The prominent climate sceptic – who has been feted by figures such as Gina Rinehart, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Australia’s climate change “sceptics” – now claims the birth certificate on the White House is a forgery (which many of us know, he has been for some time). 

Monckton has been spending time in Hawaii “investigating” Obama’s birth certificate and detailing the results of his investigation in a series of ongoing interviews with Alex Jones, host of InfoWars. 

Jones is known for his support for New World Order conspiracy theories and that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks… 

Alex Jones is a 9/11 Truther and is one of the most high-profile conspiracy theory peddlers in the United States. Monckton and Jones have been pushing the “Birther narrative” for some time now…

“Why on earth is Monckton associating…”

Does Bolt really have to ask that question?

Now Andrew – if you’d care to stop by the WtD blog I’ll happily share the vast amount of material clearly indicating the link between conspiracy culture and climate scepticism.

Get ready for the lumps if you do: the pennies will fall hard, and fast.

See also Loon Pond for an amusing take.

[Hat tip reader EoR]

Monckton Enjoys Lunch and Sings a Pretty Song for the Australian Financial Review (Reprint)

Lord Monckton, the climate denier who believes Obama’s birth certificate was faked and likes to associate with the wilder fringes of conspiracy culture (he is a regular on a  show hosted by 9/11 Truther, Alex Jones) recently scored an interview with The Australian Financial Review.

Tim at New Anthropocene takes the article apart in a great post: Monckton Enjoys Lunch and Sings a Pretty Song for the AFR.

“It’s of no surprise to learn that the Australian Financial Review interviewed Chris Monckton, for his message is surely the sweetest lullaby to many of its readers. In the interview, titled, Lunch with the AFR | Christopher Monckton, Chris Short recorded an illuminating interview.

At least in this interview, Monckton made it clear; his is purely a political fight. Thank you very much for that.

It’s of course interesting that Monckton has taken a fondness to Chinese philosophy – a country overrun by his worst nightmare, Communists… I must actually look up on these philosophical principles to learn if this topic, unlike so many others he waxes lyrical upon, is represented correctly.

On that, Monckton makes the point that his was the last generation taught not to be credulous… Please, dear Lord, muse through my offerings on New Anthro. As a bloke half your age, I’m certain you will find many examples of a young man with a nasty habit for fact checking.”

Enjoy.

via Monckton Enjoys Lunch and Sings a Pretty Song for the Australian Financial Review (Reprint).

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