Prat Watch #4: Foundation and Empire

by Gareth on March 20, 2012

While the noble Lord, Viscount Christopher “I’m no potty peer” Monckton tours the USA and Canada at the behest of his friends at the Heartland-lite Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (aka the Billionaire Liberation Front), his Australian admirers, led by former Climate Sceptic Party candidate Chris Dawson, have announced the creation of… wait for it… The Monckton Foundation. This remarkable institution is set to “open its doors” this month, and has, as you might expect, some laudable, if long-winded goals:

The Lord Monckton Foundation shall conduct research, publish papers, educate students and the public and take every measure that may be necessary to restore the primacy and use of reason in science and public policy worldwide, especially insofar as they may bear upon the rights of the people fairly and fully to be informed, openly and freely to debate, and secretly by ballot to decide who shall govern them, what laws they shall live by and what imposts they shall endure.

It has a vision too — it may be having them still — issued by the charter of Monckton himself:

The Lord Monckton Foundation stands as the wall of the West, the redoubt of reason, the sentinel of science, the fortress of freedom, and the defender of democracy.

Or perhaps a pied-à-terre for a pompous peer? For an organisation spawned in a former colony, the Foundation has a high opinion of Australia’s former rulers:

With the British Empire, governance became truly global for the first time. The world, said the philosopher Santayana, never had sweeter masters.

The Foundation has questions. Lots of them:

Is science dead? Must reason fail? Shall objectivity be slaughtered again on the pagan altar of mere ideology? Is life now objectionable, liberty deplorable, the pursuit of happiness a crime? Has the nation had its day? Is the globalization of governance really a public good? Can democracy survive it? Should not the use of the ballot-box be extended? Should not every supranational and global institution of governance be elected?

Meanwhile, back in the USA, the good Lord demonstrates the full extent of his grasp of reason, objectivity, ideology and the primacy of the ballot box by publicly endorsing “birther” claims that President Obama was not born in the USA and therefore not entitled to be President:

I have watched Sheriff Arpaio’s press conference in AZ and have examined some of the evidence directly. It is clear – as Alex Jones rightly said on the day when Obama first put up his faked “long-form birth certificate” on the White House website – that a fraud has been committed, and that, absent a valid official record of Obama’s birth or a very good explanation of the anomalies in the published version, he is not qualified to stand for re-election as President.[…] This is beginning to look like a widespread, high-level fraud.

These frauds are everywhere: hockey sticks, birth certificates, hidden declines. Whatever next, one wonders? A conspiracy to put Monckton in front of any legislature daft enough to have him? Funnily enough

At the invitation of Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, Monckton is coming to Sacramento March 21 to speak to the Legislature, but said that he expects a “stormy session.”

Not surprising, given his opinion of the sunshine state:

“But flaky la-la-land California will go on pursuing this senseless [climate] policy right into insolvency and bankruptcy,” Monckton said. “State expansion will stop. Cap and trade will collapse. And Democrats will be forced out of office, hopefully not to be replaced by the soggy Republicans which have dominated the party for some years.”

And finally: John Abraham, the engineering professor at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, who famously attracted the ire of the potty peer by having the temerity to tenaciously, and devastatingly debunk a Moncktonian peroration, is profiled in a recent St Thomas Magazine. All the 1,000 plus people who signed the Hot Topic post supporting John against threats of legal action by Monckton should read the article. It shows just how much support he received from his university, and what real academic freedom is all about. Perhaps a new campaign? John Abraham for head of the Monckton Foundation! Who better to defend science, objectivity and reason against ideology?

[Build Me Up Buttercup]

{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

bill March 21, 2012 at 12:18 am

It has a vision too — it may be having them still

is rather good!

Surely that bizarre ‘Stop the ACLU’ site cannot be for real? “Beating them with their own Sickle and Hammer”? Seriously?

And it’s all over the mixed-nuts’ web. Lord M and Sheriff Arpaio – now, there’s a pairing!

If there’s anything more idiotic – and more literally pathetic – than Birtherism in this world I’m unaware of it.

P.S. Doesn’t Isaac Asimov merit a Tip of the Hat? Maybe he should have formed a band…

Gareth March 21, 2012 at 7:03 am

I prefer Asimov’s much less well known sporting series: Foundation and Umpire.

Rob Taylor March 21, 2012 at 1:18 am

Does anyone know who is funding this Alice in Wonderland claque?

Gina Reinhart, perhaps?

Gareth March 21, 2012 at 7:07 am

As we know from the Heartland papers, it doesn’t cost much to create a web site for a windbag. If the foundation does more than waste electrons then that question may be worth asking. For the time being, it’s probably better to think of it as a kind of odd hagiography, or the first stirrings of a strange cult.

AndrewH March 21, 2012 at 7:45 am

I can’t bring myself to look at the “Foundation” website but from your synopsis Gareth it almost sounds as if it could be in the Denial Depot genre,

That is, if it weren’t for the previous of the leader!

Thomas March 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

I had to take a peak at Monckton’s site…

Immediately the choice of his prominent logo, a Pentagon with mythical appearance irks the eire…

Is Monckton telling us something about his inner self we perhaps suspected to be so all along: “Like most of Discordianism, the Law of Fives appears on the surface to be either some sort of weird joke, or bizarre supernaturalism…..” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discordianism)

Or is Monckton perhaps creating a new occult pagan society? Perhaps then he will fall out with the religious right wingers of his support base…

http://www.paganspath.com/magik/pentacle1.htm

;-)

andyS March 21, 2012 at 9:57 am

It is not actually Monckton’s site. He has just lent his name to it (the domain is registered with Chris Dawson of the Aussie Sceptics Party).

Maybe he is going to franchise his name and brand.
( I see that there is a shappoing cart, so maybe some branded products are in the pipeline).

I must admit I found the pentagon logo a little occultish, and I am not sure about all that Greek lettering either. It has to be better than that pink portcullis though.

Thomas March 21, 2012 at 10:14 am

No AndyS, Chris Dawson is not the candidate for the Aussie Sceptics Party, no no: Chris Dawson, is the managing director of Desaln8, and simulataneously was a Victorian Senate candidate for…drumroll…The Climate Sceptics Party. !!

Thomas March 21, 2012 at 10:00 am

Another interesting matter was figured out by a poster on this site
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2012/03/march_2012_open_thread.php
(comment 234 by Mike) who muses about the Potty Lordhsips PO Box details on his new website in “Balwyn North”, Melbourne:

Interestingly, that PO Box is already registered to Olaris and Associates, an accounting firm specialising in tax accounting. Since most “charitable” foundations perform their best work in minimising the tax liabilities of their donors, one can hardly be shocked that their correspondence goes to their accountants as a point-of-contact.

In other news-that-isn’t-news, the contact phone number on the Bunkum Foundation website belongs to Chris Dawson, managing director of Desaln8, and simulataneously was a Victorian Senate candidate for…drumroll…The Climate Sceptics Party. Which seems to be a remarkable bit of unwitting cognative dissonance, when you think about it…

The LordBunkumFoundation domain name is also worth checking…

Will this mean that the Loardships travel cost and other such expenses in the pursuit of his “charitable work” will now be part-paid by the taxpayers… ?

Thomas March 21, 2012 at 10:08 am

… and Chris Dawson, managing director of Desaln8 who seems to be linked to the Lords new website via the phone number runs this business http://www.desaln8.com/ and therefore would seem to be rather well positioned economically speaking in a world that is rapidly warming and stressed for fresh water resources….

andyS March 21, 2012 at 10:10 am

Yes, those Australian desal plants have been so useful recently, haven’t they?

All that drought flooding that Tim Flannery predicted

.

Thomas March 21, 2012 at 10:24 am

Try to use the flood waters for drinking Andy or farming for that matter! Rain falling in buckets at times when its not needed is useless as it rushes off sea taking good top soil and the hopes for another growing season with it… while the real problem of rising systemic drought gets worse and worse.
It is another of these fallacies peddled by the deniers that a horrendous flood somewhere somehow makes good for the drought elsewhere!

andyS March 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

Of course, but we were told that drought was the new norm, and the Australians built desal plants costing millions based on this junk science.

Thomas March 21, 2012 at 11:01 am

Junk Science?
http://www.csiro.au/news/Four-degrees-scenarios-for-Australia-future-climate
The Ostrich pose may convey temporary relief from the inconvenient aspects of realty to you, briefly…..

andyS March 21, 2012 at 11:05 am

My point exactly. This is another alarmist article that is looking into a set of circumstances (a four degree rise in temps) that might occur, as the article states.

There is no evidence that this will actually happen, other than the outputs of GIGO computer models.

Look at the probability distributions of climate sensitivities that were published here recently to get an idea of the IPCC’s view of the likelihood of this scenario.

Macro March 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm

You been to Perth recently?

andyS March 23, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I have never been to Perth.

Have you been to Delhi recently?

Macro March 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Well if you had been to Perth or to Chenai you would know that both of those cities are in deep trouble with drought. Australia just isn’t the eastern sea board. And even the climate prognosis for the eastern States wasn’t just for sustained drought as you imply. Extreme weather comes in many forms, drought is one, and flooding another. Last year new york state had record snow falls – this year march is like summer. The new normal is to flip from one climatic state to another. Hey, it’s been the wettest March here I can ever recall, but the last few years its been very dry and 2 years ago we had drought. Now don’t you think that with all this weird weather about, there might be some reason for these changes?

bill March 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm
andyS March 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm

bill March 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm
Perth
Adelaide

it’s really great to see this rational science-based reasoning in action

Macro March 23, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Actually andy you really need to see the graph for inflows into the Perth Catchment areas over the past 100 years to really appreciate just how significantly the rainfall in WA has declined over the past century – especially over the past 30 to 40 years. There have been several recent step changes in average annual rainfall – all downwards. (Unfortunately there is not a link that I can find on the web – maybe bill may know of a link – it’s been used in the scientific literature several times, and in a fascinating book that I read last year but can’t for the life of me remember the title). It really is a serious matter. You only have to step on a bus into town and the first thing a complete stranger will ask you is “when do you think it is going to rain?” It is the main introductory topic of conversation. Day after day of blue sky’s – nice place to visit – but I’d sure hate to live there. The city has the largest desalination plant in the southern hemisphere and is in the process of building a second one even bigger. It survives on a massive aquifer, but this is essentially uncontrolled. The aquifer is all fossil water and not being replenished. Water recycling is also far more evident, which is of course practically non-existent in NZ.

Macro March 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm
bill March 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Did you really just type that? Who was it who said? -

Australians built desal plants costing millions based on this junk science.

Macro has outlined the situation in Perth. Here’s some additional relevant recent material relating to what he said.

Rainfall in south-west WA has already reduced by around 15 per cent since the mid-1970s. From 1911 to 1974 the average stream flow into Perth Dams was 338 gigalitres (GL). From 1975 to 2000 average stream flow was almost half this value at 177 GL. From 2001 to 2010 inflows again halved to approximately 75 GL. There is evidence that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are responsible for half the decline in rainfall in south-west WA.

And here’s a 2009 report from WA’s Department of Water, which discusses whether there has been a second step-change decline in rainfall since the universally accepted 1975 step-change. In some areas yes, the remainder all declined, but no definite step change could be determined at the time; time will tell, and WA’s situation has scarcely improved since then. (Interestingly peak flows have definitely shifted.) Read the paper; it’s a litany of page after page with arrays of graph after graph, almost all showing depressing downward curves, statistically significant or otherwise.

People are not abstractions, Andy, and some of us actually live in SA and WA. The public has a right to expect that their governments will plan their infrastructure requirements based on the best scientific advice available to them (i.e. not Monckton, Plimer, Carter, Bolt, Nova, or Bishop-bloody-Hill!) Get it?

And this is why, Petal, all these silly governments are building their ‘junk science’ taxpayer-funded desal plants. I’d like to hope you were intelligent enough to actually feel at least a little shame here. I suspect I’ll be disappointed.

I have had several fantastic holidays in the stunning southwest of WA,and the idea that the spectacular forests of the region may wither along with the rainfall is immensely disturbing to me.

Incidentally, we recycle water too, here in SA. Our one major sewage works – for a city of 1Million+ – irrigates our major market gardens (I happen to work for the relevant council.)

And before anyone gets too excited about our storage levels here in SA not being ‘so bad’ as WA’s – Murray water is pumped to 7 of our major storages for Adelaide, so the figures – poor as they are – still belie the really rather dire local runoff situation. Even most South Australians remain blithely unaware of this…

bill March 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Here’s Macro’s link (it was missing the http prefix) again.

Please delete this, Gareth or Bryan, when the original is corrected.

RW March 24, 2012 at 7:20 am

This abstract sums up matters concerning the poleward shift of the mid-latitude jetstreams, more marked in the southern hemisphere than in the northern. Several factors are considered as contributing causes – guess which one is the major player? An antidote to the ignorant ramblings of a certain troll, who clearly has no understanding of rainfall issues in Australia (or anywhere else, I suspect).

http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/11/31067/2011/acpd-11-31067-2011.html

bill March 21, 2012 at 11:27 am

Andy, you really, really should learn to shut up when you haven’t the slightest idea of what you’re talking about. Make your smartarse remark here in SA or over in WA and see how you go…

andyS March 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm

What I was specifically referring to in my comments about “junk science” and desalination plants was Tim Flannery’s predictions in 2007 that

rainfall across eastern Australia will reduce until a semi-permanent El Nino-like (drought) state is induced

and he urged desalination plants to be built urgently within 18 months.

bill March 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Australians built desal plants costing millions based on this junk science.

In your fantasy world governments spend millions on Desal plants based whimsically on remarks made by their mate Tim Flannery, eh? And the populace just sits back and watches and there’s no general debate about it all?

Did you, um, read those very-detailed reports from WA? See Flannery’s name mentioned at all? Check those storage figures I linked to?

Here’s a couple of questions for you, Mr. Cambridge Graduate – do you think it is possible there will be a prolonged period of drought in Australia again? In which direction is Australia’s population heading? How about its irrigation demand?

You see, Andy, we actually live here, and some of us rather feel that doing without water is rather a large price to pay for steadfastly refusing to succumb to Climate Alarmism generated by the likes of the BoM and CSIRO.

I have lots of misgivings about Desal, but I do find this Pollyanna-ish ‘there’s not really a problem’ crap, particularly when coming from someone living in a country well supplied with lashings of beautiful, clean, fresh water – as opposed to the grey-green or brown goo we generally have to skim the chunks out of and then swallow – a bit, um, irritating.

andyS March 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm

The comment I made, Bill, was referring to the Australian “climate change advisor” Tim Flannery, who gets paid around $180 grand a year for 3 days a week work AFAIK, to “advise” the Aussie government that they need to urgently build desal plants because they are entering a permanent El Nino state.

This is not to say that there are no issues with water shortages in Australia that need to be dealt with (particularly WA), I acknowledge that.

This kind of junk “science” that leads into public policy results in stuff like this happening, where an eighty year old couple are being forced out of their beach-side property because of some hypothetical sea level risk 100+ years out.

bill March 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Bog rot.

Anyone reading this exchange will have little doubt as to why you cannot answer the questions I asked. You know nothing about the situation in Australia other than tripe you’ve scooped from contrarian blogs, and, boy, does it show.

Rob Taylor March 21, 2012 at 11:16 am

Andy, have you never driven a car, popped a pharmaceutical, used a phone, entered a building, ridden in a lift, caught a flight or taken a sh*t?

All modern system, almost without exception, are based on computer models. Hell, my child is studying “Statistics and Modelling” for NCEA!

Which century, exactly, do you think we are living in??

andyS March 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

The climate models are based on the Navier-Stokes equations, which are unsolvable without simplifications.

This is why we still use wind tunnels to test airfoil designs, because the models are incapable of being accurate enough.

Trying to extrapolate climate using a set of pre-determined conclusions that may or may not be correct are basically worthless.

Building cars etc uses computer aided design. We don’t model a car’s lifetime over decades or centuries based on statistical outcomes.

bill March 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

The climate models are based on the Navier-Stokes equations, which are unsolvable without simplifications.

You pretentious tosser! Like all fabulists – as in, say, the subject of discussion here – you just cannot resist the inadequate’s urge to cloak yourself in the mantle of someone else’s borrowed ‘knowledge’, can you?

andyS March 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

You pretentious tosser!

I have an MA in mathematics from Cambridge University,
Even though it’s a while ago, there is the faintest possibility I might actually know what I am talking about

Thomas March 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Yep, that possibility exists hypothetically but we know is rather faint indeed as you kindly suggested yourself.
Obviously you are not employed here: http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/ or at a similar institution and therefore not working on the matter of climate modelling and CDF in the age of supercomputers…. so yes, you probably are a bit out of your depth there…..

andyS March 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I always appreciate your patronising comments Thomas.

bill March 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I suppose there might be, but, what, like you proved yourself so magnificently here with the Tiljander Proxy?

Turns out you were just playing the dummy for Montford after all IIRC (his lips always move!)

Please do go back and tackle the issues Caerbannog (Bunny of Doom) raised; I’m sure we all look forward to it!

George March 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Too much flaming on this site at the moment — not good for anyone’s mental health, on either side. I think AndyS does know something about Navier-Stokes and he finds the wind tunnel point to carry a lot of explanatory value.

cyclone March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Too much value I think. Flow of airfoils is relatively compex and I bet a good recent CFD model would yield reasonable comparisons with experimental results, perhaps even useful. Besides, we can’t build another earth and experiment with the climate, climate models are the only tool we have to do such experiments and they are tested (a non-trivial task BTW) against their reproduction of modern and (in most cases) paleo climates. It is hopeless to argue with Andy S, he demands rigorous mathematical and full-scale model proof, knowing full well that it isn’t possible.

andyS March 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm

“Hopeless to argue with”

Actually I try to keep up on this, and follow the various threads on Bishop Hill and Climate Etc where working climate modellers turn up and offer their views, and are usually treated with good grace.

The verification aspect of models was well covered on Climate Etc, and the fact is that they cannot be readily verified without waiting decades to see if they are correct.

Anyway, what has this to do with the Monckton Institute?

bill March 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Bishop Hill again, eh? I’m claiming another QED, then.

For people who think I’m being too abrasive, I remember our Cambridge graduate’s gloating performance here only too well at the moment. This really really irritated me, as I intensely dislike manipulative behaviour.

I do not believe those who consistently refuse to cooperate (derailing threads, gloating, spamming, making overstated claims of competence, flaming etc. all to be followed by weeping crocodile tears over their harsh treatment when other folks finally get sick of it all) should be cooperated with – in fact, I think this is a major ethical error.

After all, who was it who once said? -

This is climate politics. It’s a dirty game, Get used to it.

You get a lot more toleration around here than your behaviour actually merits a lot of the time, Andy. Don’t assume other people won’t reciprocate. Bear that in mind when you’re posting.

George March 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I agree, cyclone. We are obliged to act in the face of uncertainty. AndyS’s Navier-Stokes point is an example of John Mashey’s Meme-05: Models are unreliable from his Fake Science report. Rather than engaging in increasingly acrimonious slanging matches, we should simply weed out and expunge these memes from the conversation.

Thomas March 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I agree with George. Models are the only way we can predict our influence on the climate and at present day modelling has come a very long way to express with quite some accuracy the last decades of our climate as the result of parameters from our observations. Attacking models out of principle is a silly rhetorical exercise. And the uncertainty that remains is going both ways: Things might be less severe than we think but they also might be much worse and the critique of models is unhelpful in taking the burden of responsibility to act from our shoulders.

Rob Taylor March 21, 2012 at 11:37 am

Andy, you know we model traffic and pedestrian flows, consumer demand, drug design and efficacy, etc, etc.

Are you suggesting that, rather than model climate to the best of our ability, we should just wait and see what happens?

If so, then I think I can see your problem… AGW denialism affects the brain!

mustakissa March 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Eh, the reason we use wind tunnel testing is because we can. Numerical air flow modelling is saving thousands of expensive wind tunnel hours as we speak. But there is merit in obtaining the same result in different, independent ways, especially for critical results. And that’s why they also always send up a prototype with a test pilot — contrary to what you seem to think, also wind tunnel testing is assumption based, dimensional analysis showing that, as long as you get, e.g., the Reynolds number the same as in real life, the wind tunnel flow should resemble the real one.

I would love to put the Earth in the moral equivalent of a wind tunnel. If only the passengers would agree…

Richard Christie March 22, 2012 at 11:15 pm

andyS The climate models are based on the Navier-Stokes equations, which are unsolvable without simplifications.

A typically disingenuous remark lfrom Andy Scrace who specialises in laying eggs of innuendo and letting them hang.

So what if an equation is unsolvable without simplification? Scientists, engineers and mathematicians routinely use results from simplified equations.

The salient point, as I suspect Mr Scrace realises full well, is whether the simplifications are mathematically and or scientifically justified.

Richard Christie March 23, 2012 at 12:04 am

Sorry if I’ve spelled your name incorrectly Andy, Scrase in correct rather than Scrace.

andyS March 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm

bill March 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm

This really really irritated me, as I intensely dislike manipulative behaviour.

Pardon? The comment you linked to was me empathizing with Cindy on being woken up at 4am. Do you take some kind of personal offense to this?

If so, why?

bill March 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Disingenuous. Read the rest of your material in that exchange. Including that quote of yours I included above.

Your tone was gloating and offensive – no-one thought you were being in any way sympathetic to Cindy, including Cindy herself.

“Aw shucks, caught out again” “I’m just enjoying the show” “This ‘scandal’ happened four and a half years ago. Can someone tip off the press?” “this is climate politics… get used to it”.

Oh, and finding helpful precedents – in Germany – for why it’s just fine to record people without their consent. Directed at the persion this had happened to. Yep, you’re one sweet and caring guy.

And I also don’t appreciate being called an ‘ecotard’ or a ‘climate skinhead’ merely because you’re annoyed by Rob – who, I’d suggest, is merely rather more closely mirroring your own behaviour back at you.

Better pray that despite all the evidence to the contrary – and the recent bad news for Denial (like Hadcrut4) – that there really is no serious warming in the future. Because on your current behaviour you really won’t want to find yourself in a situation where any of us might have to vouch that you’re not such a bad guy after all, Andy.

Rob Taylor March 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Rob – who, I’d suggest, is merely rather more closely mirroring your own behaviour back at you.

Damn, am I really so transparent? Oh well, it was fun while it lasted….

andyS March 21, 2012 at 6:58 pm

[Snipped. Let's not go there. GR]

John Mashey March 23, 2012 at 5:33 am

Sigh.
Navier-Stokes is a TOTAL red herring.
So is the discussion of wind tunnels.

Wind tunnels still exist because micro-scale turbulence effects really, really matter in designing aerospace vehicles, both for safety and for optimizing performance. No climate model needs to predict that a tornado will appear on a specific date at a specific place, but the equivalent is extremely important for aerospace design, if you don’t want Bad Things to happen, For auto and boat design [remember Black Magic?] it’s mostly a performance/efficiency issue.]

If someone wants to learn about climate models, a good place to start RC FAQ #1 and RC FAQ #2.

George March 23, 2012 at 7:41 am

Yes, very sigh. Every posting on climate should be checked against a big list of defunct memes and “zombie arguments”. If it fails, snip it out with an appropriate redirect to Sceptical Science or Real Climate. It’s a waste of time to relitigate and get angry about this old stuff. It poses a serious distraction. Can the Administrators turn on a Report this Post functionality? That would allow some more vigorous moderation.

andyS March 23, 2012 at 8:54 am

Tamsin Edwards who is a climate modeller at Bristol University, has started a promising looking blog (promising by the large number of comments anyway)

Given the slightly cheeky title of her blog, maybe George can “redirect” her to Skeptical Science too, or perhaps expunge her memes (sounds painful).

andyS March 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

Judith Curry also writes quite a bit on models.

George March 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm

No, AndyS, “All Models are Wrong” is old news and doesn’t score a redirect. It just means that all models have some uncertainty. It does not mean that all models are unreliable. We are obliged to act in the face of uncertainty.
Tamsin seems to be pretty much on the right track, judging by her succinct slideshow on Climate Change Denial.
Expunge thy faulty memes, AndyS, no-one here is going to mind. Yes, it might sting a little.

andyS March 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Yes i agrée George. We nées to tale action in thé face or uncertainty

Based on your advice, I have decided to subject my entire family to a dose of chemotherapy, just in case they might have cancer. Do you agree that this is a sensible course of action?

bill March 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm

See why people end up being rude to him? I wouldn’t dignify this with an answer, frankly…

George March 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Re GDP: Mashey-meme 175 and see The economic impacts of carbon pricing.

George March 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Yes, thanks Bill, goodness knows I’ve tried. For the record, the best models we have support action now to mitigate climate change. I note AndyS’s rhetoric, but I’m sure he will understand I can’t comment on individuals’ healthcare in a public forum.

andyS March 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm

My point, since my analogy seemed to fall flat, is that “mitigating climate change” boils down to risk management

There never seems to be any discussion of the potential downsides of any mitigation, which in the most part seems to be an attempt to reduce GDP.

Macro March 25, 2012 at 8:36 pm

“There never seems to be any discussion of the potential downsides of any mitigation, which in the most part seems to be an attempt to reduce GDP.”

Again a completely false assertion from you andy. But this, of course, is primarily where you are coming from if I’m not mistaken.
Your real concern is not anything to do with the uncertainties of climate science, real or imagined (mostly imagined on your part). No; your primary concern, is that you might have to give up an entrenched lifestyle to which you have become rather accustomed.
There have been numerous investigations into the economic costs and benefits of climate mitigation The Stern report to name but one. Or if you prefer, the work of Prof William Nordhaus of Yale for a more neo-liberal perspective. Insurance companies get it as well – if we keep on with BAU insurance will become too expensive.They all conclude that the costs of inaction far out-weigh the costs of mitigation. Yet even with all this advice from the high priests, our rulers still prefer to follow BAU. And you andy are part of the problem – because it is people such as yourself – who continue to whimper that they don’t want to see another way forward. It’s all too difficult.

andyS March 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Which part of my entreated lifestyle do I need to give up Macro? I work from home. My son walks to school. My wife works from home. The shops are walking distance. Our leisure activities are mostly local. Do I need to stop eating maybe?

Macro March 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm

So what are you worried about then?

John Mashey March 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

George:
1) Give credit where due to SkS. In mid-2010, John Cook kindly generated a fixed-numbered list of memes, so that I could reference them in Strange Scholarship… without having the numbers get reordered by current popularity.

2) Back when I started with online forums ~1985, USENET newsreaders acquired KILLFILES, where with a simple command one could never be bothered with a given poster’s comments again and it worked across newsgroups! Firefox+Greasemonkey+KILLFILE does that for some blogs (Scienceblogs, such as Deltoid), but no here, sadly. Thus, one needs a mental KILLFILE, in which one decides that reading or responding to a specific person is a waste of time and one NEVER does it again.

3) For example, in my experience, once a person establishes himself (and it is almost always him) as a severe Dunning-Kruger afflictee, they really don’t recover.

4) Likewise, my management training at Bell Labs encouraged identifying complexifiers who simply wasted everybody’s time, and getting rid of them one way or another. This can be either on purpose or not, but doesn’t matter.

5) Finally, Bell Labs was very bad place for someone to try to B.S. people by acting like one knew a lot more than they did … because quite possibly real experts were around who knew better and if they were in the right mood, would tear pretensions into shreds. Silicon Valley is that way also.

For me, any of 3, 4, or 5 is enough for KILLFILE, although it may take longer to establish 4), since it can be confusion. The combination of all 3 (which happens) = very quick KILLFILE. A good exercise is to return to past blog threads and decide if the time spent was worth it.

George March 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Thanks John. Indeed, credit is due to Skeptical Science. Albeit not quite the same alliterative appeal, I’ll aver.

andyS March 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm

George March 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Re GDP: Mashey-meme 175 and see The economic impacts of carbon pricing.

Great! so we can all carry on living as we do currently. Just put a little price on “carbon”, we will have a few more bills to pay, and the planet will be saved.

I had no idea it was going to be so easy.

George March 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm

No, we can’t carry on living as we do presently, because that would be “business as usual”, and it’s killing us. AndyS, how about devoting some of those considerable mathematical talents of yours to construction of the new Green economy, instead of squandering them by trolling around this forum?

andyS March 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm

George March 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm
As it happens, George, I am quite keen on Thorium Energy as a practical solution to providing us virtually endless, low-carbon energy.

The problem that I encounter, however, is that whenever I propose a potential solution like this, I get pushed back. I can’t see any hope that renewables will solve any of our energy needs on a big enough scale.

So when I see the green agenda, it appears to be one that wants to push us back to a less prosperous time (read: less healthy, higher mortality rates, and less or no leisure time.).

I get mixed messages. Your skeptical science link tells me that we can make small sacrifices, yet elsewhere you tell us we need to make big sacrifices.

I don’t think that my understanding is exactly unusual here, which is maybe why you are finding it hard to get the message across to the greater public.

George March 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I also hope they can make the thorium technology work. I also have been following this — the 5-year “Manhattan Project” proposal for accelerated development, the 10x abundance compared to uranium, the potential to incinerate long-lived uranium waste. We still have to bear in mind it’s not working yet.

From my reading of the Skeptical Science post it’s mainly the Heritage Foundation and their like who claim a green agenda must mean bigger sacrifices. The messages are mixed because, as you know, there is a massive opposing force to perpetuate fossil fuel usage. If you could see that, I’m sure you could help counter public misunderstanding.

andyS March 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

John Mashey March 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

You must have a lot of time on your hands if you are going to
(a) go through every thread and figure out if it was worth your time
(b) Rank each users contributions by various criteria
(c) Create a “mental killfile” based on this information
(d) Then “mentally apply” your kill file (presumably a bit of web scripting through a proxy could achieve the same affect)
(e) ignore all responses to the “killed” person.

By the way, remember that this thread is about “prats” so don’t expect a high signal to noise ratio.

bill March 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Is it just me that finds the idea of the man who just has to devote hours to offering his (contrary) opinion on everything – to people who have no desire to hear it – accusing others of having a lot of time on their hands a little, um, ironic?

Watch out for the pots, kettles and low-flying motes and beams in your glass house there, Andy.

Love the bit where you give John M scripting advice, too. ;-) I certainly laughed…

bill March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

One of the things that struck me as notable is Monckton apparently abandoning his previous caution with regard to all the Birther BS.

‘Via email’ is not the world’s most convincing – certainly not the most intentionally public – provenance, and I rather wonder if this whole thing was really intended to ‘go viral’ on the web. While trying to research if he really had thrown caution to the winds and nailed the nutters’ colours squarely to his mast I came upon this gem of an interview from last year.

From about 1 hour 36 minutes in (yes, this stuff is endless!) this reveals Monckton cagily explaining his previous tilts at the Birther market, even going so far as to suggest that a passing reference to Kenyan origins at a public lecture had been ‘what We on the Right call “A Joke” ‘. But he must surely play a careful game and not entirely disown what is a much-beloved fatuity of the listeners, and so we are duly given -

Obama’s Lawyers have spent $millions over the last few years shutting down inquiries into his past

Now, this is Monckton talking to the Alex Jones, one of the most remarkable and brazen fools on the internet – surely even our Lord must be aware of this? – but one who commands an audience which represents a sizeable – and desirable – chunk of Monckton’s own chosen flock.

Previous exchanges with Jones have yielded fruit such as the egregious claim that the Green Hitler Youth is killing more people than the Holocaust, the kind of grotesque and offensive imbecility that would see anyone who was involved in a genuine cause hastily relegated to the sidelines, with much embarrassment.

In Denial, however, it matters not a jot. Denial is, like much of talkback radio, a manifestation of the barbarism that still lurks, like inflamed sebum, just below the skin of our apparent civilization.

Remember how when Monckton was caught out making his contemptible ‘Nazi’ accusations against Ross Garnaut his not-really-an-apology suggested that he was actually annoyed that comments tailored to his very specific flock had been taken out of context via this corrosive exposure to more general reality?

…even the slightest suggestion that one of his [Garnaut's] opinions was a fascist opinion is, these days, regarded as intolerable in circles other than the particular circle to which I addressed it. And it shouldn’t have gone out from there, but somehow it did

My guess is he feels much the same about the Birther blather. It is, simply, what The Rubes want to hear. Now, should he feel much responsibility for this? Deny them their pleasures?

The audience for this guff, despite their constant mewling about ‘Libuuurty’, have the souls of the most feudal of peons*. There’s nothing that impresses them more than the aristocracy, unless it be Royalty itself. Hence, at about 1 hour 56, how they must have slavered at this exchange (be warned, you are about to enter Looking Glass World!)

JONES: I know you know the top folks at the house of Windsor – do you ever talk to them about their Soc!alistic activity?

MONCKTON: Yes, I did have a quiet word with Prince Charles the other day at his birthday party and said ‘look, you know, this Climate Thing, you can go on about deforestation by all means… but get off the climate’, I said. ‘First off it’s a political football, you shouldn’t be intervening in politics, you’re supposed to be above politics, but, secondly, for Heaven’s Sake, the science is collapsing!’

And he looked very upset, he doesn’t like to be told that this new religion that he’s adopted is hollow underneath, he gets very upset, because he’s surrounded by people from, y’know, what we would call The Usual Suspects, the Marxist Left**, who are doing their best trying to capture the Monarchy, as they’re trying to capture everything else in life.

What are the odds, would you say, reader, that anything resembling the described exchange occurred in what We on The Left refer to as ‘Real Life’?

He goes on to wind the frothing doofuses up into to a pleasurable frenzy with harrowing tales of the UN’s intentional ‘transparent impenetrability’ strategy in establishing their World Government, and how it has modelled itself on the EU’s ‘dictactorial tyranny’, where dissidents are, as we speak, being disappeared ‘to Hungarian prisons’ to be ‘tortured’ by being fed ‘pork fat 3 times a day’!

You could not make it up, (though clearly someone can!) But, as we know, this species of appalling, queasy, paranoiac drivel is all bread-and-butter to some of our own visiting residents of the Inversiverse. They really, really believe it – in fact, they cherish it.

If you bravely persist with the interview, you can even get to see Lord Mitty at his finest, having now assumed the mantle of Economics to add to the already almost overwhelming burden of his various Masteries and Accomlishments. From 2 hours 16 -

what is happening is that Economists the world over, from President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic to Bjorn Lomborg to me in the United Kingdom, to Nigel Lawson…

All such sages fiscal know Doing Anything About Carbon – certainly unlike Carbon itself – will bring about The End of the World as We Know It, and Tears Before Bedtime, or course!

Benjamin Franklin said that ‘Quacks are the greatest liars in the world except for the patients who extol their medicines.’ I’d suggest that anyone who enthusiastically embraces the nostrums of Doctor (and why not!?) Monckton is unwell indeed!

*To quote The Simpson’s Sideshow Bob ‘deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king.’

** Princess Anne?

andyS March 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Bill, I know that Monckton does rave on a bit and this “World Government” thing is a bit of a hobby horse for him, but don’t you think this recent post from Scientific American offers up some confirmation to his views?

For example, from the article

Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers

This article has been doing the rounds in the usual quarters, of course.

bill March 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm

‘Rave on a bit‘? Yeah, sure.

Let’s consider what you’re actually asking us to accept.

Here’s an opinion piece from last week in a popular science magazine that is actually asking all the questions that I’m sure many of the more thoughtful among us already have contemplated -

In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere. Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

(nice cherrypicking, BTW)

And you want us to believe that this is not only a credible and potentially effective endorsement of, what, the ‘malevolent dictatorship’, but is in itself a kind of retrospective justification for all the risible claims that Monckton has been making for years?

I think not.

In fact, Andy – you’re the problem. Because of the ‘Give me Convenience or Give me Death’ philosophy and the routine discounting of the future that you and your cronies undertake it is virtually impossible for the existing liberal democratic institutions – institutions that I believe everyone here really does want to preserve – to tackle the climate crisis meaningfully.

And the longer the steps are deferred the more draconian they’ll have to be, as has been pointed out repeatedly to you all – but this is all ignored with the characteristic snide insouciance.

andyS March 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I am the problem.
Wow, a few days ago I was the “denial machine”, and also the anonymous donor to Heartland.

That’s quite a lot of responsibility to shoulder for a Friday afternoon.

As it happens, the point I was trying to make was that everyone screeches around in hoots of laughter whenever Monckton mentions “world government”, yet the SA (or at least an opinion piece) is saying that this is what is needed

So when Monckton says it, he is a prat.
When the SA says it, it is to be taken seriously

bill March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I’ve already responded to that. Your selective, idiosyncratic and highly-convenient reading comprehension skills are not my problem.

And a prat you say? Reckon so.

(That’s the bit that earned him the tag ‘swivel-eyed maniac’ in The Spectator, fer Chrissakes.)

For the logically challenged, His Lordship is arguing, in 2009, that the thing is, in all its Stalinist horror, whereas the opiner in the Scientific American is arguing what may have to be, and the implications of that and the obstacles to its ever coming about in the first place. Geddit?

Now, do us all a favour, please don’t revert to simply repeating the same ridiculous point again with the words reshuffled a bit.

andyS March 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm

In terms of what might be, or what we have now, we can say that we already have some fairly cumbersome bureaucratic institutions, particularly the awful EU, for which the UN seems very keen to emulate.

Presumably the 3000+ NGOs recognised by the UN want a piece of the pie in our post-democratic world.
So what kind of world might this be? My concern is not loss of “liberty”, which is a fairly fuzzy concept, but more that we will be ruled by idiots.

The latest offering from the Spiegel offers up some insights into this glorious world we are heading towards, with some examples from current German policy.
For example

Because of the mercury, throwing broken energy-saving light bulbs into the ordinary trash is of course prohibited. A waste disposal company from Nuremberg in southern Germany has invented a machine that carefully cuts apart each light bulb and sucks out the fluorescent material and mercury. The mixture is then packed into airtight bags and filled into blue, 300-kilogram barrels. The barrels are loaded onto a truck and taken to a former salt mine in the Harz Mountains of central Germany. Thus, the energy-saving light bulb ends up in an underground waste depot, where it will remain forever as contaminated waste.

Hat-tip to Bishop Hill for the link

bill March 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Squirrel!

andyS March 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm

bill March 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm
Squirrel!

Wombat!

Richard Christie March 24, 2012 at 9:34 am

Peter Hadfield, youtube’s potholer54 has just published a clip admonishing Chris Monckton for running away from a debate hosted by WUWT.

Open letter to Christopher Monckton — Please return to the debate :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCoi94n0aJg&feature=plcp&context=C490c809VDvjVQa1PpcFPPzELNV9vUp_Ai2Os862lkPkLqjps2mOk%3D

bill March 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Monckton / Plot part company permanently.

Particularly love his claims about what you can do with the Certificate in Adobe Illustrator – ‘It appears in layers on the screen in such a way you can remove quite separately each of the individual dates.’ Um, no, My Lord, it doesn’t, I just downloaded it from the Whitehouse, opened it in Photoshop (I’ve only got AI at work) and it’s, um, a single layer PDF!

I just inspected it minutely and it sure looks kosher to me!

(I suspect Monckton’s claim to Illustrator expertise is at least as well-founded as his claims to being a ‘scientific advisor’, ‘scientist’, and ‘economist. ;-) )

So, when are those of you who’ve put stock in what this funny little man says going to throw him under the bus? Because you’re really starting to look a bit daft now!

But hey, in Denial you don’t have to have functional, logically-coherent evidence, you just have to say things some bunch of Muppets wants to hear with sufficient conviction and blithely ignore all corrections…

bill March 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Hmmm.

Hard as this is for me to say, that Birth Certificate PDF does indeed break up in a very strange way – I just downloaded a trial version of Illustrator to open it in, and it has the just the one layer there just as it does in Photoshop, sure, but this opens up into several sub-groups with individual clipping paths which can be disassembled into separate components with the individual selection tool (‘A’ rather than ‘V’).

Now, this happens with any PDF that’s been ‘printed’ or simply saved (as a PDF) straight from the software that created it.

However, I’ve tried scanning a couple of documents that feature a mixture of words and basic graphics, or words and a more complex graphic background, and can only ever get one layer, one group, and one clipping path in each case. This happens whether I scan straight to PDF, or scan as a Tiff and then convert it to PDF.

The Birth Certificate background still has white ‘halo’ artifacts that appear to perfectly match the ‘printed’ text and handwriting etc. that sits on layers above, but it’s still strange, and, as I said, I couldn’t replicate it with my own scans.

All I can think is it may be some artifact of using a different scanning process to mine (I’m using an Epson V350), or perhaps even OCR software (I’m downloading a trial as we ‘speak’! But why would you use such software to scan a birth certificate?)

Anyway, Adobe would have people who could fully explain whether this can happen in the normal process of scanning a document or why a PDF might do this.

What is certain is that at this stage, with my fair proficiency in such matters, I can’t. I’ll be more-than-happy to hear a reasonable explanation!

Never let it be said I don’t look for disconfirming evidence…

bill March 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Ho ho ho – that’s rather made my day!

Guess what happened when I scanned to document straight to ‘Searchable PDF’ using ABBYY Fine-Reader OCR software (utilising the same Epson scanner as a TWAIN device)?

The technology really is amazing – I got a beautiful copy of a map that I used (because it has a mixture of text and background graphics, like the certificate does) and while this exists on only the one layer when opened in Illustrator, as does the certificate, it comes complete with all sorts of interesting sub-groups to switch on and off, as does the certificate, and unlike the scans I took straight from Epson’s own software described in the comment above!

So, scanning software does make a difference and can produce such artifacts!

If you read the article his Lordship says straight out:

But I do know that birth certificate isn’t genuine… It appears in layers on the screen in such a way you can remove quite separately each of the individual dates…

So, do Monckton and Arpaio have conclusive proof the Certificate is a fake because the PDF breaks into such sub-groups in Illustrator?

I think not.

George April 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm
bill March 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

Thought I’d just share this gem I encountered via SkS. From Wikipedia:

20th-century American social critic and humorist H. L. Mencken, defined a demagogue as “one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”

Rob Taylor March 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Unfortunately, Bill, Mencken also said:

“No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. “

bill March 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Since we’re doing Mencken quotes -

As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Why do Bush and the current GOP candidates race leap immediately to mind?

And just to show how little has changed since the 1920s

It is not often, in these later days of the democratic enlightenment, that positive merit lands a man in elective office in the United States; much more often it is a negative merit that gets him there. That negative merit is simply disvulnerability. Of the two candidates, that one wins who least arouses the suspicions and distrusts of the great masses of simple men. Well, what are more likely to arouse those suspicions and distrusts than ideas, convictions, principles? The plain people are not hostile to shysterism, save it be gross and unsuccessful.

Rob Taylor March 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm

“In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. “

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

H. L. Mencken

bill March 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm

His Lordship has been keeping himself busy while he’s on the run from the debate with Peter Hadfield.

Apart from positively identifying scanning artifacts as being proof that Obama’s birth certificate is a fabrication (but not becoming a ‘Birther’, of course, good heavens no! Everyone knows how crazy they are…) he’s toddled off to California to lend Assemblywoman Shannon Grove similar expertise in explaining the realities of climate to the handful of legislators who were neither too embarrassed, nor insufficiently morbidly curious, to show up.

Previous post:

Next post: