A Climateball Bingo Card

The idea of a Climateball Bingo always seemed conceptual to me, as a nifty way to refer to common contrarian talking points. But last week I found an online generator, and after a bit of work I got a real bingo card. Here is version 0.3:

Feel free to download the image and use it for your own Climateball episodes. You can also generate your own card by following this link and tweaking its variables. The squares are filled randomly, so make sure you save cards you like.

Ideally the Bingo Card should be intuitive enough for Climateball veterans to dig each square. All the squares are listed in the Bingo section of the Climateball dot net website. Each of them has its dedicated page, with examples, objections and replies, notes, and sometimes further readings. Many of these pages are still under construction.

The card displays 49 squares; 25 is too small and 81 too big. Choices have been made, yet I contend that the Bingo Card exhausts all ordinary contrarian talking points, by subsuming tropes under themes, like an equivalence class would do in algebra. For example, But Science refers to any epistemological point about the scientific method, e.g. falsification, causation, Rajendra’s “science is settled,” etc.

This abstraction gives me space to allocate squares to specific claptraps. For instance, But Galileo helps illustrate that there are no heroes in science anymore. The But My Guru square can contain all the other big names contrarians invoke.

One can then suspect that the bingo card extends beyond Climateball. That hypothesis would deserve due diligence in a more formal settings. For now the Bingo pages need some love, and after that my Climateball Manual.

As always, suggestions, questions, and comments are welcome and appreciated.


About Willard

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42 Responses to A Climateball Bingo Card

  1. Joshua says:

    Fwiw, not all of the descriptors are intuitive to me.

    For example, “politics.” I don’t know in what way politics is being referenced – would it mean something like: “Climate scientists are advocating to destroy capitalism!!! 1!11!!!”? How would that be different from “advocacy” Does that not matter? What does “Some Place” refer to? Etc.

    And for me, the matrix is too big. I mean at some level it could infinite, in which case any argument made by any “skeptic” could get a chip.

    I would suggest fewer, and more circumscribed and context-obvious references such as “But Realclimate moderation.”

    And shouldn’t it be “contrarian climateball bingo?” Otherwise you’d have to have references made during climateball made on the other side of the playing field.

  2. Willard says:


    Thanks for the comments. Short replies:

    1. There’s no way to know in what way politics is being referenced. It’s the fact that it’s referenced that matters. Unless you have access to complete arguments or intentional stances, that’s all we can do.

    2. I would put “advocating” into “but advocacy,” but your example underlines two properties that are worth mentioning. First, one claim can trigger many talking points. Second, squares are not disjoint, e.g. politics and advocacy are connected. In a way, all the squares are connected to the central square.

    3. “But RC moderation” goes into “but censorship.” Also, few knows about “RC moderation” nowadays. It had currency circa 2010.

    4. At first I offered AT and other guinea pigs the choice between “Contrarian Bingo” and “Climateball Bingo.” They all preferred “Climateball,” so I went with it. If you look at some examples, you’ll see that there are examples of people using the tropes without being skeptical or realist or whatever regarding AGW. For instance, Lawrence considers himself an alarmist. What may seem to you like a bug is actually a feature: I could not care less who use the talking points. If Ben See wishes to promote CAGW and other contrarian talking points, so be it.

  3. Willard says:

    > “But RC moderation” goes into “but censorship.”

    Forgot to add that “but censorship” would fit into “but debate me,” which should encompass the whole range of whining about being silenced, cancelled, the target of an omertà or what not.

    When starting to work on the card last week I had more than 70 squares. I stopped when it looked good. I suppose it might be possible to get a 25-square bingo card. That would require more work than I could afford until now. Besides, less squares mean more general squares, and with it loss of information. At some point I suspect we’ll hit the level of generality of fallacy fluff, which in my experience is worse than useless.

  4. Clearly, Willard has spent much more time than most of us analysing the talking points used to try to deny AGW, or its impacts, or indeed any solutions to limit its impacts, and I expect to learn a lot. I do find some the coding a little opaque – and even more so for anyone new to this – so glad that ABC has been expanded out in this version. I have a few points:

    1. To what extent is this an evolving matrix? 10 years ago the great majority of ClimateBall action was centred on climate science related talking points (one could argue that to the extent that this limited ‘moving on’ to talk about solutions was the single greatest success of the contrarians). Anyway, these days the contrarians seem to be spending more time trying to diss solutions and maybe have grown tired of trying to counter the science of warming. But it amazing how some oldie talking points refuse to die.

    2. How does this differ from myth-busting approach of SkepticalScience? They list 198 myths. Most are of the form ‘misleading statement => scientific explanation’. Whereas the matrix is doing a different job: ‘a dishonest or misguided argument technique => expose of the technique’, usually not requiring any specific science. The two approaches are complementary, but largely distinct.

    3. Which takes me to the final point. To what extent is the matrix simply showing specific examples of logical fallacies? In UK Grammar schools they used to use Thouless’s ‘Straight and Crooked Thinking’ first published in 1930, which tries to codify the dishonest arguments, and how to counter them. If more people were ‘innoculated’ against the same old, same old rhetorical devices used, then maybe they’d find it easier to spot them.

    Source: https://neglectedbooks.com/Straight_and_Crooked_Thinking.pdf

    In any case, the matrix is very useful, especially given the supporting links and examples. So even if sometimes the labels are a little opaque, an explanation is only a click away.

  5. WordPress seems to have shown the linked book as 127 pages rather than simply the link itself. Ed. you can fix this, no doubt.

  6. Willard says:

    > What does “Some Place” refer to?

    Good point. Some odd place: Antarctica, Greenland, CET (which is a very small triangle in England), etc.

    I’ll try “but this odd place”:



  7. Willard says:

    I added a “source:” in front of your link, Richard. That way the pdf isn’t interpreted as an include, like WP does with images.

    * * *

    The main difference between John’s list and the Climateball Bingo is that the Bingo favors themes over claims:


    For instance, invoking freedom does not require any specific claim. Same with mentioning CAGW. Increasing the level of generality also reduces the number of pages. It’s easy to get lost in a database of 200 myths, and harder to maintain for a lone guy like me. But the biggest advantage is not to fall for the obvious head fake. Allow me to explain.

    Most of the times contrarians simply operate by word placement. Take this recent tweet:

    There is a lot going on, but nothing very clear. How to respond to something that is not being said? Certainly not by citing an SkS page!

    But once one can recognize a mix of “but data” (satellites), “but bias” (money), and perhaps a whiff of “but ABC” (ozone), there’s a lot to respond. It won’t address what Anthony is suggesting, but there’s no real point to fall for his head fakes. Better to tackle where he’s heading.

    I’ll let you work out on the example. Will try to respond to his tweet in one hour or two.

  8. Willard says:

    So here’s the move I played:

    The point might look tengential, but it nevertheless counters the idea that we’d need to build an universe to understand the universe.

    The example I picked is kinda cool too, so this might prompt Anthony to appreciate science at least for a few minutes in his Climateball day.

  9. Dave_Geologist says:

    Judging by those examples, I rather think it would take another 4.5 By for Anthony to appreciate science…

    And I realise that’s unlikely to persuade Anthony, and would probably get his back up, but then I’ve read The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science.

    The Monckton chapter is a hoot. For his own sake I hope Monckton realised he was being Boratted and took the Michael, and that it is not a true insight into his mind.

  10. Willard says:

    My Climateball experience led me to discount persuasion. Sometimes opponents will go so far as to reach out in direct messages (DMs), but that takes a while. Respect needs be gained first.

    In my estimate, contempt has a near 0% conversion rate. Considering how contrarians respond, it’s a natural reaction. These exchanges are powered by conflicting sentiments. To respond in kind is fair as long as kindness remains present.

    Anthony responded elsewhere today. I reminded him that the last time CO2 was that high, humans weren’t here:

    We’ll see how it goes.

  11. Dave_Geologist says:

    Well I suppose I could have tried with two billion years of oxygen free atmosphere, several Snowball Earths where it froze to the equator, the extinction of 97% of species, a collision which vaporised or melted both Earth and the collider and made the Moon, a Late Heavy Bombardment which sterilised and probably melted the surface, and a time when CO2 was so high and the tropics so warm they were uninhabitable by fish or reptiles*. And not long ago, when CO2 was about a third of today’s level, New York was under thousands of feet of ice.

    Life and the planet carried on (except for the astronomical ones, and there’s a possibility that life after the LHB was re-seeded from cysts in rocks blasted into space which didn’t fall back to Earth until it was habitable). Usually without the previously dominant species though.

    * No mammals back then but they’d have been even more restricted. There have been suggestions that at least some of the “mammal-like reptiles” (synapsids) were warm-blooded, so maybe they could be used as proxies. But proxy is probably a trigger-word.

  12. Willard says:

    It was a slow morning until Ned commented:

    Got to love Ned.

  13. Willard says:

    Well, things escalated quickly. Anthony’s clowning ended after a few jabs. But two more interesting contrarians chimed in, FCM and Spurgly. FCM’s stint alternates between asking for sammich and variants on #ButTraceGas:

    Spurgly has led the charge with the idea that a feedback can induce without being a cause, and that proxies from geological times were more reliable than contemporary datasets. Coherence isn’t a contrarian hallmark. It’d be hard to maintain a resource of myths for such peculiar forms of reasoning.

    In any event we have now reached the #ButFreedom point of the exchange, and with it a semi-automatic salvo of Climateball squares:

    I don’t think there’s any need to respond to that kind of salvo.


    All in all, we can notice how the exchange proceeds:

    – But Life
    – But Geological Times
    – But ABC
    – But Science
    – But Data
    – But Trace Gas

    That seems to belong to one kind of concern, whereas

    – But Government
    – But Politics
    – But Ism Word
    – But Freedom

    appear later on, after the first loop has reached diminishing returns for the day. This tells me that the levels of the Contrarian Matrix is quite robust:


  14. Willard says:

    > this has sort of been done

    Bingos are venerable memes. Most of the times they’re being made in jest. Rational’s one is of that kind. I suspect it’s based on Tim’s:


  15. Willard says:

    Looking back, I found this old list at our Stoatness’ by clicking on “Scientists only say that global warming exists so they can get grants”:


    This resource is still good enough:


  16. Since global climate modulz are nowadays all as animated as Marvel movies, Climateball Bingo cards should be too.

    Willard should summon his YouTube superpowers and stick an illustrative video under each of the 49 items

    Starting , of course with one definitively showing that Hockey Sticks are the real problem:


  17. Willard says:

    Will respond tomorrow, Russell.

    For now, King Arthur tells a story of an honey pot inside the Climateball death thread that acts like an honey pot:

    Click on the timestamp to read the thread.

    Time for some game theory.

  18. Mal Adapted says:

    Nice work, Willard. Once again I’m reminded of John Mashey’s 2010 taxonomy of public AGW-denialists, in Crescendo to Climate Cacophony. Figs. 2.4 – 2.6 are about right, IMHO. Whereas Climateball Bingo is a matrix of cells filled by randomly sampling Willard’s database of themes and memes, Dr. Mashey’s model is a directed graph for tracing the apparent motives of individuals. Along with John Cook’s hierarchically organized list of claims, they are creditable attempts to systematize the cultural phenomenon of AGW-denial.

    I suppose their significance is to show that vocal climate-science denialism is well understood by science-respecting climate realists, and provide ammunition for blogs and the NYTimes online. You seem to be getting good mileage with CB Bingo on Twitter. Would you say you’re an influencer 8^)? Seriously, it’s not immediately clear to me how systematizing AGW-denialism, as gratifying as it is for you and me, helps to raise a plurality of US voters for effective climate policy. But that’s a parochial concern 8^}!

  19. Willard says:


    Thank you for the kind words. You’re not alone in sharing that kind of concerns:

    Ideally, the Bingo will be generalized. Instead of imposing an overarching a priori structure, I’m trying to find it from the bottom up. A clearer image should emerge at some point. I’ve been told that the Bingo already looked a lot like what we can find about Covid-19.

    Some may argue that this kind of conceptual scheme can inoculate against propaganda campaigns, but I doubt it. I think the Manual will be better for that, but even then nothing replaces perfecting one’s art on the field.



    Videos would indeed be great. Here are the problems I have with implementing the idea:

    Many YT videos have a shorter shelf life than my projects’ horizons. I had to delete many videos on my Neverending Audit site. Many of my old comments here contain videos that are now deleted. This implies I need to produce them or at least own their rights.

    Producing videos is time consuming, and building the website should take me one or two years already. The Bingo alone has more than 50 pages. At the pace of one page per week, that’s a year. And there’s the Manual. Perhaps a monograph or a thesis afterwards if I want to get into real theorical work.

    If I had a dream, it’d be to build a Willard bot. But I honestly have no idea how he plays Climateball. It’s still too intuitive a process to hope for a faithful program of it.

    Also, videos would need to be more modular than pages. They’d need to fit under the Objections and Replies section. Otherwise the pages would evolve while the videos would remain at the stage of previous iterations.

    Nevertheless, to find short videos that express scientific points simply and clearly is a Very Good thing. Here’s one that made me end a Climateball exchange yesterday:

    This was in response to what vernacular Internet calls a sammich request:

    [SAMMICH REQUEST] Can you cite any verifiable cause effect evidence for AGW?

    Source: https://twitter.com/fcmfcs2019/status/1335366594218905604

    The trick behind the request is that FCM has the liberty to reject any response as not being the kind of “verifiable cause effect evidence for AGW.” The very idea of cause effect evidence is unclear, as causality may not be directly observable. Unless and until a contrarians tell you what would convince them, there’s no need to make them a sammich.


    That being said, I’m trying to collect artful visual demonstrations. That’ll be the topic of a future post.

  20. Mal Adapted says:


    beating [a Twitter antagonist’s] sorry ass sure has limits, but a climateball player got to do what he got to do

    Heh. Your grasp of the mediocrity principle is superlative.

  21. David B Benson says:

    But #butter:
    particularly the most recent linkage…

  22. I am reminded of the joke about jokes. Several comedian friends – tired of having to repeat the same jokes, time after time – decided on a labour saving device; to codify all possible jokes and give each a number. So one would say #7, and the others would laugh. Another would say #32, and they’d all fall apart; “that’s a cracker!”.

    Then, out of the blue, one comedian said “#68” … “ha ha ha” another responded, “I haven’t heard that one before!”

    For the matrix, the implication is … have you covered all denialist funny business?

    When do we stop laughing?

  23. Willard says:

    > When do we stop laughing?

    Perhaps then:

    It’s hard to underline pragmatic incoherence with lists of contrarian myths.

  24. Willard says:

    > It’s hard to underline pragmatic incoherence with lists of contrarian myths.

    To clarify, it’s important to realize what is being *done* when talking points are being *said*.

    The main motif I’ve encountered this week-end is the Make Me a Sammich move, e.g.:

    The Sammich Requester could be one Climateball Character, along with the Auditor, the Broker, Chewbacca, the Shirt Ripper, the Shadowboxer, Whipping Boy, Freedom Fighters, the Otter, and the Ninja.

    Climateball is in part a study on the loneliness of bad mannered reply guys.

  25. Chubbs says:

    You got me thinking. The $64 question. Why the myths are so attractive and our own bingo card so ineffective?

  26. Mal Adapted says:

    So where would “Many of the world’s most eminent scientists have yet to find [verifiable evidence of the CO2 greenhouse effect]” fit? It seems like a bald declaration of willful ignorance. Clearly, no evidence will convince him. Is it just “make me a sammich” with different words?

  27. Willard says:

    > Why the myths are so attractive and our own bingo card so ineffective?

    For the same reasons mudslinging campaigns seem easier to produce and promote than scientific theories. Almost anyone can copy-paste a meme or copypasta a talking point. Who in their right mind would dedicate any time to analyze or counter memes and talking points?

    Me, that’s who. But then I come with a very specific set of interests and skills, which the scientifically-minded more often than not lacks. I like arguments, games, including transaction games, and mental models, including obviously mistaken ones, enough to take all of them very srsly, perhaps too much for my own good.

    In my experience, scientists don’t have the time or the incentives to correct unobvious mistakes. Their refusal to even engage with what could be fruitful arguments barely hides their impatience or their own lack of understanding. When I started to play Climateball, pedagogical resources were sorely lacking. Things are getting better, but even then there’s still a very big gap between scientific explanations meant for kids or for professionals. Most contrarians are stuck in between.

    A Bingo card is at best a mnemonic model that signals the commonality of a trope. We should not expect it to stop contrarians from spinning into the windmills of their minds and into the Internetz. There is no reason to expect that science is a way to get the last word, as if it was some kind of truth machine.

    Negative campaigning often helps one coalition more than the other. Slug fests favor those who have nothing else. We are all in it together, and we need better contrarians. How to tap into that resource is the open problem I’d like to solve.

  28. “We should not expect it to stop contrarians from spinning into the windmills of their minds and into the Internetz. ”

    Also making turns for flank speed are the propeller beanie productions written in various dialects of Woke Anthropocenese that have begun to displace climate science in the pages of journals like Climatic Change. , e.g.

    Some rival Sokal’s Transgressing The Boundaries. These used to be confined to deservedly obscure journals of critical theory, but lately some of those in their orbit have colonized the CC review board, and been given fairly free rein in inserting works too hermeneutic for scientists to review into the recieved wisdom of climate science .

    Call it ClimateBall 2.0

  29. Willard says:

    > These used to be confined to deservedly obscure journals

    Don’t forget patent registries.

  30. W:Many YT videos have a shorter shelf life than my projects’ horizons. I had to delete many videos on my Neverending Audit site. Many of my old comments here contain videos that are now deleted. This implies I need to produce them or at least own their rights.

    Producing videos is time consuming, and building the website should take me one or two years already. The Bingo alone has more than 50 pages. At the pace of one page per week, that’s a year. And there’s the Manual. Perhaps a monograph or a thesis afterwards if I want to get into real theorical work.

    If I had a dream, it’d be to build a Willard bot. But I honestly still have no idea how he plays Climateball. It’s still too intuitive a process to hope for a faithful program of it.

    Might John Mashey appeal on our behalf to Jeff Bezos Depurty Assistant Almoner for Climateball, for a few parts per million of his warchest to hire some Bangalore IP Permissions backroom to set animated ClimateBall rolling ?

    Meanwhile , you are welcome to quarry the 2,000 or so images and videos thus far curated on the Climate Wars website.

  31. Chubbs says:


    That improves my perspective. I find the human response to climate change much more difficult to parse than the science. If we are in this together, its hard to explain the intensity of the slugfests around scientific evidence. Could be interesting to discuss our degree of “togetherness” and who we are together with. Suspect that our mental model of individual and group helps determine which tropes are attractive and how they are played.

  32. Willard says:

    Jonathan, whom I interviewed a while ago, has a good tweet today. Lots of discussion and resources. That should keep me busy tying things up today.

    Here’s a relevant response from him:

    I saw Jonathan’s tweet this morning because Cedric pinged me with a shout out in response to Jonathan’s tweet:

    Jonathan also asked me a question that goes beyond the Bingo:

    Climateball is too dynamic for its main parts to sit properly in a list. It’s like thinking that one can speak a language with a dictionary. Like language, Climateball is a social art.

  33. Susan Anderson says:

    I love this, thanks. I have a soft spot for Russell as well. I wonder where this fits in?

    but falsifiability

    There is also Schopenhauer (38 ways to win an argument), and it’s not too much of a stretch to mention Socrates. Humanity likes to “prove” its desires over its needs.

    By the way, I see that the CO2 experiment is fake debunked by people who don’t know how cameras work, and wish the guy had reversed the bottles to avoid this prejudicial and I suspect dishonest claim.

  34. Willard says:

    Thanks, Susan.

    I would put “but falsifiability into “but science,” otherwise I’d get lost in a thousand buts only about epistemology. It also helps me show that “but infalsifiable” and “but falsified” are not quite consistent.

  35. The climate agnotology pandemic will likely continue until Molecular Climatologists develop a vaccine containing antisense-RNA sequences to inactivate the DNA of all the factoids on the bingo card, or Popper’s Little Falsifiabilty Pills become available over the counter, like America’s drug of choice for climate denial and Presidential debates, Unabletoaddatall

    It may be too late , however, as some already theorize the denial epidemic may be of cosmic origin rather than anthropogenic, witness the meme switch from ‘Cosmic rays, not CO2, cause climate change ‘ to ‘Climate and epidemiology are not related because Covid-19 comes from outer space” :


    In either case it’s high time Nature revived its Daedalus column , as a weekly arbiter of distaste for the latest developments and metastases of ClimateBall.

  36. Joshua says:

    Off topic, but not really:

    So Nic Lewis finally got out of the witness defense program.

    Weeks after I asked him to account for his apparently falsified assertions about “herd immunity” in Stockholm/Sweden he responded. And this is the best he could do!

    Nicholas Lewis 06 Dec 2020 at 10:33 – Reply
    … As Sweden is at high latitude, seasonality of transmissibility may well be more pronounced there than at lower latitudes.
    In any event, the resurgence in reported Covid cases in Sweden has not led to excess deaths. Deaths have remained close to the expected level:

    On top of throwing out a red herring AND moving the goalposts, he’s also just wrong about excess deaths in Sweden because as is his habit, he keeps forgetting about the lags that are always there.

    Damn. We sure do need a better brand of “skeptic.” Isn’t Nic supposed to be one of the best they can offer?

  37. Willard says:

    You might like:

  38. Pingback: 2020: A year in review | …and Then There's Physics

  39. Willard says:

    Version 0.5:

    “But Anonymous” and “But Freedom” are out; “But MWP” and “But Hurricanes” are back in.

    I should make a post on my recent progress if y’all are interested.

  40. Pingback: The Bingo Core | …and Then There's Physics

  41. Pingback: The Bingo Core | …and Then There's Physics

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