Watt about the Trolls?

There is a regular commentator on Watts Up With That (WUWT) who posts under the name richardscourtney. I assume that this is actually Richard S Courtney, who is discussed at a number of other sites such as DeSmogBlog and Watching The Deniers – although I can’t claim for certain that it is. Given that I post anonymously, I don’t really want to particularly attack an individual who appears to be posting under their own name. I do, however, regularly find what he says quite offensive and he has a particular habit of calling others Trolls. Just as an experiment, I thought I would try to keep track of how regularly richardscourtney refers to someone else as a Troll. I can’t claim to be able to catch all such comments, but will do my best. So far, it seems that it is a daily occurrence and is aimed at numerous different people. What I thought I would do below is link to the post on which richardscourtney is commenting and then link to his comment. I also make no judgement here as to whether or not he is justified in accusing others of being Trolls (although it does seem to be people who – in my opinion – make sensible comments questioning the interpretations of climate science presented on WUWT). We’ll see how long I can keep this up. It could be quite a lot of work.

Addendum – 5 May 2013
I’m going to stop this now, as it is getting a little depressing. I started tracking richardscourtney’s comments on 29 May 2013 and it is now 5 May 2013 – so about a week. In that time he has accused 10 different commentators of being trolls. It seems reasonable to conclude that the statement the person posting as richardscourtney often accuses others of being trolls, is a reasonable statement to make. I don’t know if he is justified in making such claims. Having read what those who he accuses of being trolls have said, it’s my opinion that he isn’t. Having said that, even if he is, resorting to such accusations does rather undermine the strength of his arguments and suggests that he isn’t really able to debate issues relating to AGW in a manner that is consistent with decent scientific discourse.

Australian sea-level data highly exaggerated, only 5 inches by 2010, comment by richardscourtney at 4.49am, April 29 2013 refers – I think – to someone called Nick as being a Troll.

Lysenkosim and global warming theory, comment by richardscourtney 5.07am, April 29 2013 accuses commieBob and BCBill of trolling.

The paradox of consensus, comment by richardscourtney 11.23pm, April 30 2013 calls StanW a troll.

USA Today’s breathless CO2 announcement – not quite there yet, richardscourtney will no longer talk with Phil (apparently a chemist) about the carbon cycle because Phil is now a troll.

USA Today’s breathless CO2 announcement – not quite there yet, richardscourtney accuses jc of trolling – although to be fair, in this comment he was defending StanW and Phil, who he had previously accused of being trolls.

USA Today’s breathless CO2 announcement – not quite there yet, richardscourtney is still calling Phil a troll.

An open letter to the World Meteorological Organization – WMO – I know this was meant to be tracking richardscourtney’s accusations of trolling, but it seems that Bob Tisdale is getting in on the action as he is now accusing Reich.Eschhaus of being a troll.

An open letter to the World Meteorological Organization – WMO – not to be outdone, richardscourtney is now accusing Alex – who was supporting Rich.Eschhaus – of being an anonymous troll. Presumably, using your first name isn’t enough for richardscourtney.

An open letter to the World Meteorological Organizations – WMO. richardscourtney points out that this post is attracting lots of trolls and proves the point by calling Sam Yates a troll, while – at the same time – acknowledging that by using his full name, Sam Yates, is presumably not posting anonymously.

An open letter to the World Meteorological Organizations – WMO. There appear to be lots of trolls commenting on this poast as, according to richardscourtney, Plain Richard is also a troll.

Help launch climate skeptic film. A comment by richardscourtney accuses indigo of being an anonymous troll and implies that he is being paid to disseminate disinfomartion about AGW.

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11 Responses to Watt about the Trolls?

  1. Sou says:

    Richard’s come out and admitted to being a paranoid conspiracy theorist of the first order, writing:
    “For decades some, including me, have been proclaiming that AGW is Lysenkoist.”

    So it’s not surprising he sees trolls hiding behind every scientific comment. In fact he seems to see trolls hiding behind comments whether they are about science or not. (He also shouts rather a lot.)

  2. Martin Lack says:

    If it is Richard S Courtney, he would appear to be being very unprofessional. However, this is something for which he has an extensive track-record (as does fellow (amateur) meteorologist – and doyen of deniosphere – Stephen Wilde). Both Courtney and Wilde are people whose writing I studied in my MA dissertation – ‘A Discourse Analysis of Climate Change Scepticism in the UK’. Here is what I said about Courtney:

    In the aftermath of ‘Climategate‘, Meteorologist Richard Courtney submitted written evidence to the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry (one of 3 Inquiries undertaken), regarding an email of his (that was amongst those illegally obtained and published on the Internet), which he suggested: “…demonstrates that 6 years ago the [CRU] knew the estimates of [mean global temperature – MGT] were worthless and they [CRU] acted to prevent publication of proof of this”… He then went on to argue that attribution studies based on questionable MGT (where cause is assumed and correlation sought) is an argument from ignorance, as follows:

    For example, in the Middle Ages experts said, “We don’t know what causes crops to fail: it must be witches: we must eliminate them.” Now, experts say, “We don’t know what causes global climate change: it must be emissions from human activity: we must eliminate them.” Of course, they phrase it differently saying they can’t match historical climate change with known climate mechanisms unless an anthropogenic effect is included. But evidence for this “anthropogenic effect” is no more than the evidence for witches.

    However, given that there is clear scientific evidence for the warming effect of excess CO2 in the atmosphere, this is yet another emotive reductio ad absurdum argument. Moreover, Courtney does not offer an alternative cause; he seeks only to question the integrity of those with whom he disagrees… it may be pertinent to note that, despite the fact that Courtney‘s submission was cited as being amongst the majority “…from those who stated that the disclosed e-mails confirmed their worries that the climate change orthodoxy has serious flaws and the actions of CRU seriously impugned the integrity of climate change research”, the Committee did not uphold any such concerns.
    (See ‘The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (Eighth Report of Session 2009–10)’, which is available online at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/387/387i.pdf

  3. Yes, some of what he says is amazingly inconsistent and contradictory. It is so outrageous and odd at times that I’ve worried a little that writing a post like this could push him over the edge if he ever found out. Of course, he doesn’t seem too bothered about the impact what he says might have on others. Also, I suspect this is a classic example of someone behaving online in a manner completely different to how they would behave in person. I’ve never me him, though, so could well be wrong.

  4. Fascinating, thanks. I first encountered richardscourtney on WUWT quite recently and have since discovered that he has had quite a big role in the climate skeptic debate. I find what he says (and how he says it) quite remarkable. It seems so completely black and white. In fact one of the comments I linked to above was a response to a couple of people who were trying to point out the the Lysenko case was more complex than sometimes indicated. Even this fairly benign set of comments resulted in him referring to them as trolls.

    What I think I find fascinating is the idea that someone can have so little ability to comprehend the complexities of something like climate science and can have such an absolute conviction that their ideas are completely correct and that those of others are completely wrong. This is so strange to me that I find it quite amazing. There is, of course, an alternative possibility; that he benefits in some way from behaving like this but I have no evidence to suggest that this might be the case.

  5. Martin Lack says:

    Thanks. As I said, in his use of unscientific arguments and emotive language, Courtney is like Stephen Wilde. This is all too common on the internet and in the blogosphere, but it does not normally come from scientists.

  6. pendantry says:

    “I assume that this is actually Richard S Courtney”

    So if I were to create a pseudonym of richarttcourtney, you would then assume that my RealName(tm) was Richard T Courtney?

    When, in the past, I’ve assumed things, I’ve too often made an Ass of U and Me.

    “Also, I suspect this is a classic example of someone behaving online in a manner completely different to how they would behave in person.”

    I suspect that this is in fact quite common. As a trivial f’rinstance, IRL I would be speaking with you, not typing at you.

    IME cyberspace can be a very odd place.

  7. pendantry says:

    “the idea that someone can have so little ability to comprehend the complexities of something like climate science and can have such an absolute conviction that their ideas are completely correct and that those of others are completely wrong”

    IME this distinguishes climate change deniers from climate change, err, non-deniers. The former feature the absolute conviction of which you speak. The latter (me included) would be all too happy to admit to being wrong, because that would allow us to return to our RealLives(tm). Show me the evidence… I’ve seen none yet that the science assessment (*cough*consensus*cough*) is mistaken.

  8. My reason for saying “I assume that this is actually Richard S Courtney” is because there really is a person called Richard S Courtney. I don’t wish to accuse Richard S Courtney of being unpleasant online if the person posting as richardscourtney isn’t actually Richard S Courtney. In fact, having started this comment, I’ve just reread what I wrote and I realise that my intent in saying what I did isn’t that clear. I’ve added something to clarify that I can’t claim that it is indeed Richard S Courtney.

    I agree that cyberspace can be odd and can bring out the worst in people. I don’t really see that as a particularly good excuse though.

  9. Yes, I think I agree with you here. I certainly can’t think of any way in which I benefit from the claims of climate change being correct. It’s just that, according to my understanding of science, I find the claims quite convincing and have yet to be convinced otherwise.

  10. Martin Lack says:

    Hey, Pendantry, fancy seeing you here! Actually, it is me that does not get out much so, it is you that should be surprised to see me here! 🙂

  11. Pingback: Watt about Roger Pielke Jr? | Wotts Up With That Blog

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