Pseudoscience at UCL

I happened upon an announcement for the London Climate Change Conference 2016, which is to be held at University College London (UCL). The announcement not only contains a temperature graph that appears to have been drawn by hand, but those involved are the creme-de-la-creme of the climate science denial movement. Keynotes from Christopher Monckton whose Clerk – James Rowlatt – once started responding to comments on his behalf. Chris will be talking about the ever popular Genocidal climate science. There’s Oliver Manuel, who seems to think the Sun is predominantly iron. There’s Peter Ward, who thinks that warming is entirely due to the depletion of ozone. Although not a keynote speaker, there will also be Piers Corbyn who will talk about something.

Personally, I feel a little sorry for UCL. It’s not difficult to organise a meeting at a university. You don’t normally need permission; you just need to find a room that is free and check that you can actually book it. I would be surprised if anyone senior was aware that this was actually going on and I imagine that many are rather disappointed to see such a meeting taking place on their campus. People might argue that we should allow the expression of alternative viewpoints and that free speech means accepting that people are allowed to promote views that many regard as ridiculous. This is all well and good, but this doesn’t mean that a major, international, research university should be expected to allow a pseudo-science meeting on its campus; especially as the organisers are highlighting the location and clearly using this to legitimise their meeting.

I don’t really know what UCL should do about this. Maybe just let it go ahead and hope it gets ignored, as it probably will be. On the other hand, it is utter nonsense and it is very embarassing for a major research university to be associated with such tripe. Of course there will be some kind of outcry if they did cancel it, but I think it’s well past time to make clear that these “anything but CO2” ideas are utter nonsense. It might also be interesting to see who protests. What they may want to look into is the supposed credentials of the host co-ordinator, who is claiming to be Professor in Astronomy, University College, London. From what I can tell, he is actually a Visiting Research Fellow at UCL Observatory. So, it’s possible that someone who is not formally a staff member has managed to organise a pseudo-science meeting at UCL, and is also claiming to be an Astronomy Professor, when they’re actually a Visiting Researcher.

On the other hand, if it does go ahead, maybe I’ll see if I can make it down to London. It might be good for a laugh and Mark Brandon says there’s a good pub across the road.

Edit: Corrected who’s to whose. See WMC’s comment 🙂

Update (24/7/16): According to this, the meeting will no longer take place at UCL.

This entry was posted in Climate change, ClimateBall, Global warming, Peter Ward, Pseudoscience, Science and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

109 Responses to Pseudoscience at UCL

  1. 0^0 says:

    Unbelievable.. Huh..

    “Organization Committee
    Hosting Co-ordinator:
    Professor Athem Alsabti, Professor in Astronomy, University College, London.

    Secretary General:
    Professor Nils-Axel Mörner (, Independent Committee on Geoethics (ICG), former head of paleogeophysics and geodynamics, Stockholm University.

    Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, UK, ICG.
    Madhav Khandekar, Canada, ICG.
    Philip Foster, UK, ICG.
    Franco Maranzana, Italy, ICG.
    Leonello Serva, Italy, ICG.
    Jan-Erik Solheim, Norway, ICG.
    Roger Tattersall, UK, ICG (webmaster)
    Geir Aaslid, Norway, ICG (webmaster)

    Event co-ordinator:
    Ross Marsh”

  2. > who’s Clerk

    “whose clerk”, surely. I think that vitiates all your arguments. “Lord” M would certainly tell you so.

  3. You know, I pondered that for a while, and forgot to check. As I think I may have mentioned before, I don’t claim to know what I’m doing 🙂

  4. jsam says:

    Me thinks UCL’s Sociology Department has set a honey trap. Perhaps Stephan Lewandowsky may do a cameo.

  5. He could just sit there and take notes. That would probably get them pretty worked up.

  6. John Mashey says:

    It’s way worse…
    There are multiple overlaps of people in:
    ICG, which sponsors this
    The canceled Pattern Recognition in Physics
    New Concepts in Plate Tectonics (they don’t like it).
    Most speakers are involved in 1 or more of these.
    Some have even risen to speaking at Heartland!

    I hope some folks attend. I would, but I’m rather far away.

  7. I hope some graduate students who know what they’re talking about go to the conference for a half-day and ask all the tough questions they can, and just generally be a scientific nuisance.

    Maybe one of them can pretend to parachute in.

  8. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I once attended a talk by the Moonies at King’s College, Cambridge. Did their presence on such hallowed academic turf make me think worse of that turf because its turf accountants had allowed the loony Moonies to be there? Er, no. Why would it? It’s a room in a building that’s available for hire.

    (Encouraged by flirty-fishers he had met on the street, my brother-in-law once went to a talk by the Children of God at Goldsmiths College and came away with a free piano. What’s not to like?)

  9. guthrie says:

    Wait, there are geology deniers? I knew about the abiotic oil weirdos, but not that there were still hold outs against tectonic plate theory.
    So I look at a paper of that organisation and see that Louis Hissink is an editor. That name is rather familiar.

    My preferred method, were I down in the big smoke, would be lots of people wandering about the building and outside with placards pointing out the absurdities of the climate change deniers, and educating passing people about them. Also that the visiting researcher was being accorded accolades they did not deserve.

  10. David,
    It might be quite a useful experience for graduate students. BTW, did you stop commenting on Ed Berry’s post, or does he just take a long time to approve comments?

    I think the issue here is partly that it is patently nonsense, and partly that they’re claiming that they’re being hosted by UCL, rather than simply using their facilities.

    I was surprised about the plate tectonic deniers, but probably shouldn’t have been, as I’m aware some of those involved dispute Relativity.

  11. Tom Curtis says:

    If there are any sort of anti false advertising laws in the UK, the claim of the ICG to be the “Bedrock of quality and ethics” should let them in for a world of hurt.

  12. John Mashey says:

    This is a standard denier tactic, whether in climate or other areas.
    Basically, rent a room, perhaps through a student group or somebody else.
    Publicity tries to it look like blessed by uni and trades on their reputation.

    Uni’s are often put in awkward place, since cries of “attack on academic freedom” arise.
    Examples: Intelligent design Michigan State.

    Climate & other stuff:
    Bottling nonsense,
    see p.17 on the “Big Footprint” conference, which was “at” UCLA, and then p.12 for Monckton with swastika. Here’s the announcement.

    The loca lRepublican student group once sponsored Monckton to talk at Texas A&M (which has an excellent atmopsheric sciences dept, with North, Dessler, Nielsen-Gammon. etc).

    I don’t know the solution, but one possibility is:
    1) The uni has aright to guard its reputation.
    2) Demand that all materials carry a disclaime, including any proceedings, else legal action.
    3) But, go ahead and have the conference.
    4) In this case, an appropriate disclaimer might be: “UCL has nothing to do with this beyond allowing a room to be used, and in fact, thinks this conference is filled with pseudoscience, but it can be useful for students to inspect such if they want.”
    Consider this like a cigarette warning label of plainpacks calibre.

  13. Ron Graf says:

    I think it’s way past time the UK set up a Ministry of Truth. Anders, would you accept the nomination as first anonymous director? All public meetings would have their topics and speakers pre-approved. The only question is how severely we need to punish violators to discourage rule breaking.

    Surely this is the only way we can protect the public from being misled.

  14. John,
    I suspect some kind of disclaimer is in order, given that they’re clearly using UCL and its reputation to legitimise their meeting.


  15. Joshua says:

    Ron makes an excellent point.

    First they criticize academic presentations and suggest maybe they should be ignored, next they’re throwing people in Gulags and executing them.


    Everybody drink!

  16. Magma says:

    Some of the names of the presenters are tiresomely familiar, although it seems few are making the trip from North America or Australia. Others are less so but by now I’m too jaded to go to the trouble of looking up their affiliations, areas of expertise, publications and ages.

    It does seem a shame that Richard Tol couldn’t be slotted in to discuss his latest idiosyncratic claim that “People rightly fear that climate change would cause a new ice age.”

  17. Magma says:

    Is the name of a certain wild-haired economist on the list of words triggering automatic moderation?? 🙂

  18. John Mashey says:

    Every uni should have a clear public policy on the use of facilities, who can use them, and how such may be advertised, and have these *before* these situations arise.
    In general, since many uni’s get public funding, it is not unreasonable that people might be able to rent rooms … but each uni should figure out what it is or is not wiling to allow, and what constraints it requires on advertising and publicity.
    A uni has every right to not be misrepresented.

    For example, some papers have a clear policy of not printing letters of climate denial.
    Others say: let the OpEds flow. Of course, yet others offer nothing but climate denial OpEds.

    Given proper disclaimers, I can certainly imagine sending over a team of grad students (climate science, psychology, sociology) to study the coinference, might even get a paper out of it.

  19. My university has rented a room several times to a faith healer. I thought of complaining, but then thought that maybe it is best when everyone can rent a room, that way the renting cannot be interpreted as endorsement.

    The way the meeting is advertised does sound like an endorsement of the UCL. I would not be happy with that if I were the UCL. It makes sense that they want to protect their brand. They’d better make sure their renting contract does not allow that.

    Whatever it is, it is not a freedom of speech issue. This group can surely rent a room at UKIP London.

    It would be best if the meeting goes through. It is such a collection of weirdos that they enormously discredit each other.

  20. Ethan Allen says:

    Is that Excalibur I see …

    I going with Monkers DNA for 666 pounds (in the category “Worst Graphics Ever”).

  21. Ethan Allen says:


    To become a member of the Independent Committee on Geoethics, please use the contact form.

    Honorary president: Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

    Steering Committee (alphabetic order):

    Philip Foster (UK)
    Madhav Kandekar (IN/CA)
    Franco Maranzana (IT)
    Christopher Monckton (UK)
    Patrick Moore (CA)
    Nils-Axel Mörner (S)
    Joanne Nova (AU)
    Niichi Nishiwaki (JP)
    Leonello Serva (IT)
    Roger Tattersall (UK)

    Web-master: Roger Tattersall

    Special Advisors (alphabetic order):

    A.D. Ahluwalia (IN), Vivian Forbes (AU), Attila Grandpierre (Hu), Giovanni Gregori (It), Jens Morten Hansen (DK), Anthony Hope (AU), Hans Jelbring (S), Pavel Kalenda (Cz), Bjarne Lembke (S), Ian Laidlaw (GB), Lidmila Nemcova (Cz), Cliff Ollier (AU), Albert Parker (AU), Ian Plimer (AU), Jan-Erik Solheim (N), Willie Soon (USA), Thomas Wysmuller (USA), Wyss Yim (CN),

    Exclusive: Darwin’s Descendant Attacks Climate Science Deniers For Appointing Great Naturalist As ‘Honorary President’

  22. Ron Graf says:

    Joshua says:

    Ron makes an excellent point.

    First they criticize academic presentations and suggest maybe they should be ignored, next they’re throwing people in Gulags and executing them.


    Everybody drink!

    1) I doubt people who live in or have memories a country that lost its free speech aren’t laughing or downing a shot with you, Joshua.

    2) Victor V brings up and excellent point speech can stand or fall on its own without needing to be silenced. If the climate conference puts forth ridiculous ideas at the podium they will be helping you discredit the healthy criticism of climate science. Remember how you attempted to make my free speech comment sound ridiculous? You can do that with them. That’s your weapon, not bans. If the conference is a sham I should be more disappointed than you. (In fact, you should be there passing out drinks.) But If the conference presents sound ideas and serious research and you ridicule it you run the risk of tarnishing your side’s brand like others you can think of. That’s the way it should work. Can we agree Joshua or do we have to go on?

  23. Steven Mosher says:

    I agree with Victor. I would hazard that everyone here thinks that the speakers will make fools of themselves. Let them.

    WRT to the universities reputation I would hope that they have every group that uses facilities sign a standard agreement. They have a brand and every right to protect that brand and they dont have to go to silly extremes to do that. Just normal business.

  24. Ethan Allen says:

    From WingNutDaily (WND),

    Exclusive: Lord Monckton joins expert team seeking to end global-warming scam

    “For the smaller and more important of the two conferences came to a unanimous conclusion that a fraud investigation team should be established to gather evidence of outright criminality on the part of the surprisingly small scientific clique that has until now got away with foisting its anti-scientific nonsense on just about all nations.

    The team, which will operate under the aegis of the distinguished professors and other experts who constitute the recently formed Independent Committee on Geoethics, will set to work immediately after the conference to gather documentary evidence, including sworn statements, to assemble the evidence into a prosecution file and then to submit the file to the professors for their consideration.

    If the professors find a particular case file compelling, they will then quietly submit the file in their names and in the name of the Independent Committee on Geoethics to the public authorities in the countries concerned, with a formal request that the case should be investigated and the offenders prosecuted.

    The members of the committee are eminent. Their combined scientific weight is considerable. It will simply not be possible for the public authorities to ignore them.”

  25. Marco says:

    Allow me a few loose comments:
    * If anyone decides to go there, please note they are ‘threatening’ to charge a daily fee if they can’t get sufficient donations. So you may travel in vain, unless you want to spend 50 euros a day on listening to nonsense just for the fun of it.

    * I don’t mind that people, including pseudoscientist groups, can rent rooms at a university. I do mind when those groups then present it as an endorsement/support, as seems to be the case here. That’s just unethical and would be sufficient reason to cancel such a meeting. Note, Ron Graf, that “freedom of speech” does not mean people are required to facilitate you in spreading that speech; even more so if you, in the process, abuse their hospitality in associating them with that speech.

    * If Alsabti is presenting himself as a professor at UCL (not quite sure he has done so – somebody else could have made a mistake based on a confusion with Alsabti’s former position as a professor in Baghad), someone better tell him that this is a major no-no in the academic world. I don’t know if Professor is a protected title in the UK, as that would make it a bit worse

  26. Lars Karlsson says:

    “New Dawn of Truth”?

    Maybe these guys would object:

  27. verytallguy says:

    I’m only disappointed that the purple sword of truth isn’t accompanied by the hairy plums of fair play.

  28. 0^0 says:

    With the “New Dawn of Truth” slogan and the use of Excalibur.. Is there a possibility that this is a prank? A bit late (or early) April Fools thing..? Then again, in that parallel world of Moncton & co that day is always.. Groundhog Day of sorts..

  29. 0^0,
    I actually considered that myself. Seems too sophisticated for them.

  30. Ethan Allen says:

    Here are two REAL groups concerned with geoethics …

    International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG)

    International Association for Geoethics (IAGETH)

    I found these via the quote taken from Dr. Geissman in the following …

    … which is sourced to (last sentence) …

    I really don’t think that Dr. Geissman is in any way-shape-form associated with this bunch of hoods. See for example …

    Spotlight on Scientific Integrity and Geoethics at the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting
    As ethics is a core attribute of science, so geoethics must be at the core of geoscience

    I have sent Dr. Geissman an email asking for any clarifications (fingers crossed).

  31. Ethan Allen says:

    ATTP, I might have a post in moderation with several links, you decide if it is worthy. Thanx

  32. It’s out now. Be interesting to see what response you get.

  33. Lars Karlsson says:

    The “New Dawn of Truth” slogan and Excalibur is very very much Monckton. As soon as I saw the slogan, I thought “Monckton”.

  34. Ethan Allen says:

    Actually, I think its called “The Sword Of Truth” see …

    It would appear to have a religious connotations, as in the Bible, you use it to strike down your enemies, or some such.

    Irony meter is spinning like crazy fast.

  35. verytallguy says:

    The sword of truth was famously used by Jonathan Aitken in his libel action against the Guardian. I’m not aware of earlier usage.

    If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it. My fight begins today. Thank you and good afternoon.

    Aitken was subsequently jailed for perjury. He escaped paying his costs by declaring himself bankrupt; I forget the exact details but I recall vaguely that it turned out that all his assets were conveniently owned by his wife.

  36. Ethan Allen says:

    This ain’t the 1st time for such a nutbar conference …
    International Conference on Geoethics

  37. Lars Karlsson says:

    The Sword of Truth is also a fantasy series by Terry Goodkind:

  38. You can’t talk about swords without posting this.

  39. Steven Mosher says: “I agree with Victor. I would hazard that everyone here thinks that the speakers will make fools of themselves. Let them.

    The speakers are making fools of themselves. A meeting organized by Christopher Monckton, where he given a key note lecture on “Genocidal climate science”. Is there anything more embarrassing for anyone who claims to have an interest in finding the truth:

  40. Joshua says:

    Ron –

    ==> 1) I doubt people who live in or have memories a country that lost its free speech aren’t laughing or downing a shot with you, Joshua.

    That’s kind of my point. Perhaps you might consider to stop drama queening and exploiting the unfortunate circumstances of such people by lamely comparing your situation to theirs?

  41. Joshua says:

    Ron –

    This isn’t a matter of free speech or people being “silenced.” I suggest that you do the caise of restricted free speech more harm than good by drawing such facile comparisons for the purpose of advancing your climate change-related agenda.

  42. Harry Twinotter says:

    Well I hope someone has the resources to “follow the money” on this one. I always like to know who is paying the bills for these clowns.

  43. Harry,
    I think that is John Mashey’s speciality.

  44. Dikran Marsupial says:

    For those who think this is a freedom of speech issue, I’d point out that many of those involved used to run a journal called Pattern Recognition in Physics, initially under the aegis of a commercial publisher, despite concerns over some of the views of the editors:

    “The journal idea was brought to Copernicus’ attention and was taken rather critically in the beginning, since the designated Editors-in-Chief were mentioned in the context of the debates of climate skeptics. However, the initiators asserted that the aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines rather than to focus on climate-research-related topics.”

    However the table of contents shows that the editors-in-chief reneged on this agreement

    “Recently, a special issue was compiled entitled “Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts”. Besides papers dealing with the observed patterns in the heliosphere, the special issue editors ultimately submitted their conclusions in which they “doubt the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” (Pattern Recogn. Phys., 1, 205–206, 2013).”

    and failed to comply with the publishers publication ethics:

    “In addition, the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors.”

    and so the publishers closed the journal (see previous ATTP article). So they had their chance to be published by a prestigeous commercial publisher, and they threw it away.

    The last point is rather ironic, given that Professor Nils-Axel Mörner, gives his affiliation as “Independent Committee on Geoethics (ICG)”!

    Pattern Recognition in Physics was then relaunched as an e-journal, apparently by Lord Monckton. However the website seems now to be defunct. So this was an activity of such importance that those involved couldn’t even be bothered to keep it running for a couple of years. Really if they can’t even be bothered to maintain their own e-journal beyond the first couple of years, then freedom of speech is not the problem.

    Lets hope the Journal of the Open Atmospheric Society learns from the mistakes of Pattern Recognition in Physics, although it seems to have made a worryingly slow start (see link at the end of the first sentence).

  45. I agree with Joshua, that appeals to free speech in circumstances like this (when it is obviously not being prevented) trivialise situations when it is indeed a real issue. There’s nothing people from presenting their crackpot ideas and noone is suggesting that they should be prevented from doing so. The issue is simply whether or not it is suitable for them to be doing so in a manner in which it appears as though their meeting is actually being hosted by a major research university in the UK.

  46. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    If you go to:

    you can download a really sciencey-cool powerpoint by the eminent Professor Mörner, complete with tilted graphs, IPCC-destroying facts, a picture of Earth with a smile on it, and a cartoon by Josh.

    My favourite bit is slide 5 – where Mörner claims that thermal expansion of the oceans will not cause any sea level rise at the shoreline – because: there is no water to expand at the shore.

    Taking that idea a bit further – Since the thermal expansion of the oceans will obviously be greatest where the depth is greatest, we can expect to see a mountain of water over the Mariana Trench someday – and then we will be able to go water-skiing downhill.

    “The members of the committee are eminent. Their combined scientific weight is considerable. It will simply not be possible for the public authorities to ignore them.”

  47. Marco says:

    Did you *have* to remind us of the OAS and its journal, Dikran?

    We’re a year onward from Watts calling for board members, and it’s been quiet ever since. I wonder what those people think who spent money on this. Apparently, they got over a 1000 dollars in donations (goal was 2000), and some people will likely have signed up as “members” with the associated fee. What did they get back for that? Even the average predatory journal manages to be more productive, and that’s a very, very low hurdle…

  48. Steven Mosher says:

    “Did you *have* to remind us of the OAS and its journal, Dikran?”

    The plans for OAS pre date the Launch of Pattern Recognition.

    This is pretty simple guys.

    If you try to keep folks out of the MSM they will turn to the web.
    try to keep them out of journals, they will create their own
    try to keep them out of the conversation because they are not published, they
    will add each others names to paper.
    whatever currency you trade in there is a way to debase it, flip it on its head.

    science needs a blockchain.


  49. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Steven, it going to be difficult for JoOAS to avoid pal-review if the intent is to set up a journal for publishing climate-skeptic papers (rather than just climate papers), they will need to recruit expert reviewers from climatology in general if they want to have the highest review standards, rather than only from other climate skeptics (although it would be hard to do a worse job in that respect than PRiP). I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but it is not going to be easy, and will require some diplomacy on the part of the Editor-in-chief (AFAICS two years on the website doesn’t specify even the E-i-C, which is not an encouraging sign). E&E, PRiP and the PSI journal is not the best of precedents, but you never know….

  50. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “try to keep them out of journals, they will create their own”

    If the work is not up to scratch, then it won’t make it into the journals (usually). Failure to get published is not evidence of bias against you, it is evidence that your work needs to improve (IIRC my last paper got rejected a few times, I took it on the chin each time, implemented the reviewers suggestions as well as was possible and sent it somewhere else. I didn’t set up my own journal ;o).

  51. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I should add that most research arguing against a strong consensus on any topic is likely to face difficulty, even if they have a point, ask Georges Lemaitre or Wegener or Darwin or Gallileo… There is a good reason for this, which is for every Gallileo there are thousands of scientists that have an idea that is simply wrong but they can’t see it. Thus if you are in that position you will need to make sure your work is watertight, that you take the reviewers comments seriously (and address the points they make) and be persistent and not be put off by every little setback. Overturning paradigms is what scientists dream of, but there is a good reason why it doens’t happen very often, and I suspect never happens to those who set up their own journals ;o)

  52. Dikran,
    Indeed, and I also got the impression that they felt that they had to send their papers to those who did the same kind of work as them (i.e., pattern recognition) rather than simply to those who worked in the same area (climate science). There were plenty of potential reviewers for their papers. Admittedly, the number that would probably recomment them for publication might have been rather small.

  53. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I don’t think Pattern Recognition meant the same thing to Morner as it does to those studying Pattern Recognition as a topic. It doesn’t mean looking at data and spotting patterns via eyecrometer. Had the work been sent out to genuine experts in pattern recognition I suspect they would have spotted the errors in the planetary cycles stuff as easily as I did (pattern recognition and machine learning are closely related fields).

  54. Dikran Marsupial says:

    But you are right, sending climate papers to e.g. ecological journals or energy journals is basically looking for easy peer-review rather than actually subjecting your work to the closest of scrutiny by experts in the particular topic.

  55. Dikran,
    I must admit that I wasn’t really aware that there was a whole field of Pattern Recognition.

  56. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Pattern Recognition in Physics was actually a really good topic for a journal as there are lots of interesting applications for machine learning/pattern recognition in physics (e.g. classifying galaxies or analysing data from the LHC). Bit of a waste really. 😦

  57. Dikran,
    Indeed, but aren’t those situations where we largely know what the pattern/s should be, and are simply trying to find efficient ways to find those patterns in large datasets?

  58. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Yes, but there are also unsupervised methods for where we don’t, starting with simple clustering but there is also manifold learning, non-linear PCA etc. Examples of supervised learning are easier for me to find as that is generally what I work on (although I am becoming more interested in unsupervised and semi-supervised methods). I also like challenges as they are a fair and unbiased method for evaluating your algorithms as everyone is trying to win, so you can never beat the competing methods by not being very good at operating them! ;o) I once ran a challenge on predictive uncertainty (uncertainty quantification) in environmental modelling.

  59. Dikran,
    Thanks, I didn’t know about that.

  60. Ethan Allen says:

    Flipping or fisking?

    “If you try to keep folks out of the MSM they will turn to the web.”

    We’re pretty sure they infested the web 1st, giving them a “balanced” playing field in the MSM (for awhile, now they are left with WingNutDaily venues).

    “try to keep them out of journals, they will create their own”

    Wait! You mean they actually have some relevant climate science to publish? Watts paper will be published in the (Chinese) Bulletin of Science in 2020. Peer reviewed by the Potty peer and tallbloke and Willie Soon even.

    try to keep them out of the conversation because they are not published, they
    will add each others names to paper.

    This already happens, in most, if not all peer reviewed publications. The main difference is do you want your name on a real climate science paper or a royally loaded POS paper (e. g. E&E).

    whatever currency you trade in there is a way to debase it, flip it on its head.

    Predatory pay-to-play journals are already doing that. People who publish in such trash can’t smell their own 5h1t. Posts like this one help establish that even more 5h1t is in the pipeline.

  61. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Why are you all so worried about what Monckton does? When has he ever had any influence on anything anywhere in any field whatsoever?

    I smell displacement activity. With a decidely tribal flavour.

  62. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Decidedly, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

  63. BBD says:


    I smell displacement activity. With a decidely tribal flavour.

    How is objecting to this group’s attempt to portray itself as affiliated with / endorsed by UCL either a displacement activity or in any way tribal?

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  65. verytallguy says:

    Vinny, give it up. I fear the leaves are coming off your deciduously written prose.

    I’ll get my coat.

  66. Steven Mosher says:

    “Pattern Recognition in Physics was actually a really good topic for a journal as there are lots of interesting applications for machine learning/pattern recognition ”

    ya it was shame that name got trashed

  67. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steven, it going to be difficult for JoOAS to avoid pal-review if the intent is to set up a journal for publishing climate-skeptic papers ”

    Agreed. I am just giving you guys some back ground. The idea of OAS was launched long ago.

    pattern recogition came along and basically fouled the water.

    It would be hard to set up OAS ( you note a key difficulty) but the general idea was to do something that was open and peer reviewed. The former is easier than the latter. But the initial goal was to set something up that avoided pal review.. difficult yes.. but that was the goal.

    But pattern came along and basically casts doubt on any efforts by skeptics to set up their own journal.. even if they did it right.

    My interest? Oh, guys are complaining open data and open code and pal review.. my view? OK
    set up your own journal and show people how to do it right. I am a firm believe in just telling critics to do a better job. dont like my temperature series? ok do a better version.. hell I will even help you do a better version. dont like Natures data policy? fine go into competetion with them.. is that too hard? meh, try harder.

  68. My opinion Donald Trump and Monckton were separated at birth, made of the same cloth, and very shoddy cloth it is.

    E&E reminded me of something, but E&E Legal Institute is not the same. However, going off topic (dammit, again!), with the excuse that none of this stuff is harmless:

    Arizona Court Reverses Protection for Climate Scientists

    On June 14, an Arizona trial court ruled that the University of Arizona must turn over more than a decade of university climate scientists’ emails to the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (“E&E”), a group that, in its own words, “pepper[s] universities around the country” with open records requests as part of a mission of “free market environmentalism.” This June 2016 decision is a complete reversal from a March 2015 decision by the same judge, as well as a serious departure from other court cases across the country protecting scientists’ research correspondence.

    E&E – formerly named the American Tradition Institute (“ATI”) – has repeatedly used open records laws in attempts to obtain years of publicly funded scientists’ correspondence. The group’s work has been described as “filing nuisance suits to disrupt important academic research” as part of its work to convince “the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud.” The group has been linked to the coal and oil industries, “major conservative players,” and “organizations opposing action on climate change.”

    Tied to the Koch billionaire network:

  69. John Mashey says:

    I actually read the whole announcement and hence noticed:

    “Art and media are represented by:
    Josh Cartoons
    Mark Windows Films”
    The latter is here.

  70. Steven wrote “My interest? Oh, guys are complaining open data and open code and pal review.. my view? OK set up your own journal and show people how to do it right.”

    Yes, that would of course be a reasonable thing to do, however if you find that you can’t do it any better, then you ought to stop complaining about it, which might be even harder to implement!

    “I am a firm believe in just telling critics to do a better job. dont like my temperature series? ok do a better version.. hell I will even help you do a better version. dont like Natures data policy? fine go into competetion with them.. is that too hard? meh, try harder.”

    Indeed, that is the right attitude especially the “I will even help you do a better version”.

    As you say the “openness” of the JoOAS will be fairly easy to implement (there are some climate journals with open review already, and requiring code and data is also doable – getting someone to routinely test it would be good as well), but avoiding pal-review would be very difficult. A key problem would be having the journal run by a group of people that regularly have a go at the very people that need to be involved in the reviewing in order to have the highest standards and avoid pal review. Generally people are reasonable with you if you are reasonable with them, but there is substantial hysteresis, so if you behave unreasonably you have to work very hard to undo the lasting effects.

    Sadly I suspect that the JoOAS will never get off the ground due to an insufficient number of people with the right academic attitude to make it a success, or that it will go the way of E&E and PRiP because those willing to do the job will not have the right academic attitude. Very happy to be proven wrong though, but if that is the intent, they have set themselves a very high bar from where they have to start.

  71. Steven wrote “But pattern came along and basically casts doubt on any efforts by skeptics to set up their own journal.. even if they did it right.”

    I think E&E demonstrated the difficulties long before PRiP came along.

  72. Marco says:

    John Mashey, that Mark Windows and his company are hi-la-ri-ous! Really, “no conspiracies”, he claims on the website. And then you get things like this: (wear protective clothing, don’t drink or eat while watching)
    where he notes, in the comments
    “Mark, my point is why has this been promoted so heavily which suggests it is an operation and we will have the word conspiracy theory replaced with flat earther . The amount of dislikes and antagonism suggest this is being pushed by the Goon Squad. Some people may have misinterpreted the point made at the beginning as to why this is being so heavily publicised and orchestrated.”

    Oh, and for good measure, that Nick Kollerstrom who appears in this movie is an, uhm, “interesting” figure, too. Apparently, he is quite certain that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were just for disinfection, and that there was a swimming pool for the inmates. I will not give you any money if you correctly guess who he believes are responsible for 9/11 and 7/7.

    Reality beats fiction everytime in terms of completely out there wackiness.

  73. Marco says:

    Dikran, don’t forget “Climate Research” and the role of Chris de Freitas, either.

  74. Marco,
    If anyone has to tell you that what they’re presenting isn’t a conspiracy theory, it probably is. Is there some kind of law that says “when you have to explicitly claim to not be doing something, you probably are doing it”.

  75. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    ATTP: “when you have to explicitly claim to not be doing something, you probably are doing it”.

    Similarly – if someone needs to say this:

    The members of the committee are eminent. Their combined scientific weight is considerable. It will simply not be possible for the public authorities to ignore them.

    – then the public authorities can safely ignore them.

  76. John Mashey says:

    Oh, E&E is even a bit of newcomer, compared say, to the Journal of Scientific Exploration, my favorite dog astrology journal, quoted by Montford as a crucial credible source.

    See also The Journal of Scientific Exploration is a Dog.

    Rearrangement of websites has broken links, and for a quick scan of the articles, I recommend an archived copy of the older format, from 2015., which lists the article titles.

  77. John Mashey says:

    See also article at ICG’s website:
    Quality in science by Jerome Revetz, a repost of something he seems to have written for Tattersall.

    Just in case, the ICG conference page is archived.. But suppose UCL cancels use of their facilities. Would anyone care to predict what Viscount Monckton would say?

  78. They’ve changed the text so that it no longer claims to be hosted by UCL.

  79. Dikran Marsupial says:

    JM the Revetz article looks like the output of one of those programs that writes nonsense papers.

    “Science is exceptional among systems of production in that its quality-assurance is largely informal. “

    So peer-review is an informal process? Faculty appointment, appraisals and promotions are informal procedures? The awarding (and review) of grants are informal procedures? REF (for the UK) is an informal procedure?

    ATTP :o)

  80. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “The conference is totally independent and has no connections to UCL where it is going to be held. All responsibility is on the Organizing Committee and the individual speakers.”

    Put that way, it almost sounds like it is a good thing it isn’t hosted by UCL ;o)

  81. Ethan Allen says:

    As JM indicated the new, (as well as the old) webpages have been archived …
    (new archived 2016-07-13)
    (old archived 2016-07-11)

    Membership …
    (archived 2016-02-05)

    TIA to whomever archived these (I didn’t).

  82. “BTW, did you stop commenting on Ed Berry’s post, or does he just take a long time to approve comments?”

    I just took some time off, convinced it was a time waste. But then I keep going back.

    So far my comments seem to go through their without moderation.

  83. Ethan Allen says:

    Well, I did find an excellent interview of Dr. John W. Geissman from Inside Climate News (considering that the updated “Sword of the Black Knight” ‘pseudoscience conference’ is still using it) …

    Q&A: This Professor Talks Climate Change in the Oil Industry’s Training Ground
    (inline text version)
    (PDF version)

    IMHO it is a very good read, highly recommended.

    It is actually kind of funny, ironic, ignorant and stupid all rolled into one, lifting a quote from Dr. Geissman, given his statements in the Inside Climate News interview. 🙂

  84. David,

    I just took some time off, convinced it was a time waste. But then I keep going back.

    Seems like you and I have the same problem.

    Ed Berry does seem to be a classic example of someone who proclaims about how science should be done and how discussions should be conducted, while simulataneously violating the very rules he regards as crucial.

  85. John Mashey says:

    As per Pal review, the de Freitas /CR situation was mostly different from ICG, PRiP, JSE, E&E.
    Those were constructed to guce outkets for poor or pseudoscience, that would never get published in anything credible, with tight-coupled efitorual biarfs who’d often write and review each others’ articles.

    On the other hand, most if the articles in CR were OK (if you read the report i linked, i actuslly looked through a decade or two of the papers) Most of the editors were quite credible, and it was a weakness of the structure (no E-I-C) that CdF exploited. When things blew up, von Storch and other editors quit.

    Of course, grtting a rogue editor into a credible journal with editorial process weakness is far better than creating a journal run by instantly-recognizable narginals and cranks.

  86. John Mashey says:

    Correction: New Concepts in Global Tectonics (NCGT) is the correct name for journal in earlier post.

  87. John Mashey says:

    Finally, in the land of pseudoscience, I offer one more:
    1) Allan Margolin tweeted this (good) cartoon:

    2) I retweeted with note:

    And here is their favorite “flat-Earth map”, via Sen Inhofe

    3) And within 2 hours I got:

    @JohnMashey #earth is flat , stopped being scammed by #scientism With link to video that proves Earth is flat by showing sun looks closer and bigger from balloon 21 miles high has 2200+ followers, and obviously watches for any mention of flat earth

    Now, it is possible this is a Poe…
    But if so, an incredibly-dedicated one. 45K tweets since April 2016, i.e., = ~400/day

  88. John Mashey says:

    By the way, people might want to check out the comments on The Geissman article.

  89. 0^0 says:

    Ref “The Geissman Article” comments

    Allowing comments for an article is tricky. When allowed, I at least would like to see the authors themselves being engaged actively in responding.

    Now it is quite sad to see nobody challenging those denialist comments there. It almost gives an impression that the publisher / authors are fine with the claims..

  90. P G Antioch says:

    To clarify,

    The ozone depletion consensus doubter is the geophysicist Peter Langdon Ward.

    The paleontologist Peter Douglas Ward is (among other things) the co-author (with Donald Brownlee) of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Rare in the Universe.

    They’re both American Earth scientists (though Peter D Ward is associated with the Univ of Adelaide), & only a few years apart in age, so it can be confusing…

  91. John Mashey says:

    P G Antioch:
    Yes, good to mention, as people have often gotten confused.
    Peter L Ward bought a booth space at last AGU, I picked up brochures, … Which was enough.

  92. jibalt says:

    Heck, that’s nothing. There’s a much bigger gathering of anti-science types coming up in Cleveland.

  93. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Apparently Pseudoscience somewhere other than UCL (h/t ATTP).

    It is somewhat ironic that a group set up to “investigate climate scientists for “fraud” and push for their prosecution.” should not be willing to change their blurb immediately on UCL’s request and apparently want to wait until they had a new venue for the “conference”. It seems mildly un(geo)ethical not to be open about the fact the conference does not currently have a venue (only mildly though, lets not make a mountain out of a molehill).

  94. John Mashey says:

    Pseudoscience relies on pseudoethics, given that the banner and other places still say UCL.

  95. Dikran Marsupial says:

    It seems that there is a reason why JoOAS has not made a great deal of progress over the last year or so. Glad to hear Anthony has reached the end of the “long, dark tunnel”.

  96. Dikran,
    Yes, I saw that too.

    Glad to hear Anthony has reached the end of the “long, dark tunnel”.


  97. John Mashey says:

    So, they have another venue …but the banner with sword and UCL is still there.

  98. Ethan Allen says:

    New venue …
    “Conway Hall at Red Lion Square (Holborn)”

    “The Conway Hall Ethical Society, formerly the South Place Ethical Society, based in London at Conway Hall, is thought to be the oldest surviving freethought organisation in the world, and is the only remaining ethical society in the United Kingdom. It now advocates secular humanism and is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.”

    “In 1935 twenty members of the Society signed a document stating that Conway Hall was their regular place of worship. It was therefore certified for marriages by the Registrar-General until 1977 when the Deputy Registrar-General ruled that the Hall could not be used for weddings under the terms of the Places of Worship Registration Act. This followed the report in the winter of 1975 of a marriage solemnised at Conway Hall. He was probably influenced by the 1970 ruling of Lord Denning, that marriages could only be solemnised in places whose principal use is for the “worship of God or [to do] reverence to a deity.[7] Until the ruling the Society had an established tradition of performing secular funerals, memorial ceremonies and namings of children at Conway Hall.”

    Secular humanism

    “The philosophy or life stance of secular humanism (alternatively known by some adherents as Humanism, specifically with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism) embraces human reason, ethics, social justice, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the bases of morality and decision making.”

    IMHO not doing so well in the pseudoscience department.

    Does this make Monkers, et. al. scientific Pagans?

    Is Monkers a sextaplegic (e. g. Black Knight minus his very tiny two heads)?

    Current version of neopost neomodernist neogeoethics conference archived at …

  99. griff,
    Yes, I just saw that. Have left a comment, but I don’t think it has appeared yet.

  100. Pingback: For the record… | Life and Physics

  101. Dikran Marsupial says:

    It is amusing to note that in the WUWT article Monckton provides selected highlights of the email that Prof. Butterworth sent to that imply that he prevented Professor Alsabti from hosting the event at UCL, but Butterworth has since posted a response containing the full text of the email that makes it very clear that he did no such thing, and was actually quite reasonable about it.

    Now the reason I mention it is that, somewhat ironically, the “conference” is organised by The Independent Committee in Geoethics (“The Bedrock of Quality and Integrity” ;o), of which Monckton is apparently a member.

    I also notice that Alsabti is no longer on the conference organisation committee and doesn’t appear any longer on the schedule of presentations. I suspect that Prof Butterworh has actually done Prof. Alsabti a favour in protecting his academic reputation from the damage it would have sustained by his involvement in the conference (I doubt being EiC of Pattern Recognition in Physics did Prof. Ouadfeul’s academic reputation any favours).

  102. According to this he is still listed as a member of the organizing committee. Also, the email address of the Event Co-ordinator, appears to also include his name.

  103. Dikran Marsupial says:

    ATTP, ah, must have missed that, mea culpa. Slightly odd that he is not presenting a paper anymore (ISTR he was going to give a presentation about supernovae) but is still on the organizing committee.

  104. It is a bit odd, but I can see maybe why one might remain listed on the organising committee even if a paper is no longer being presented. I suspect this may have been pretty hard on him; probably didn’t think what he was doing would result in such an outcry.

  105. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I agree, it is a shame as he seems like a decent chap, I suspect the same was true of Prof. Ouadfeul (EiC at PRiP). Collateral damage in the “climate war” 😦

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