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Delusionists demolished

July 12th, 2007

The presentation of The Great Global Warming Swindle on ABC TV was a huge success, but not of course for the delusionists who pushed for it, notably including Michael Duffy. Tony Jones comprehensively demolished Martin Durkin, doing an excellent job of covering the critique from all angles including
* Durkin’s past history of fraud
* The fraudulent history and Big Tobacco links of people like Singer and Seitz (Lindzen got a passing hit on this later on)
* The bodgy qualifications of many of the so-called experts on the show
* Dodgy and doctored graphs dating back 20 years or more
* The Wunsch misrepresentation
* The absurdity of the conspiracy theory central to the show
* The drastic shortening of the version we saw, reflecting the deletion of the most outrageous lies

Of course, he only covered a fraction of the lies, and while the panel discussion pointed to even more (the ice core stuff) a film like this takes longer to refute than to watch. I’ve already linked to some replies and I understand that the Federation of Australian Science and Technology Societies will have more.

After all this, Michael Duffy got the first chance to respond and Jones asked him straight out whether he backed the film. Of course, Duffy couldn’t defend it, so he dodged into a tu quoque about the Stern Review. His only subsequent contribution was to flash some props meant to back the conspiracy theory he was unwilling to endorse out loud. Bob Carter was similarly evasive, launching into a rambling postmodernist thought experiment that apparently showed that there is no such thing as truth so it doesn’t matter if Durkin lied. Later he dragged out his 1998 cherrypicking line. By contrast with these two, Ray Evans was refreshingly straightforward in his wrongness, making even more explicit claims of fraud and repeating all the old stuff (satellite data, the hockey stick and even urban heat islands).

Overall, a good night for science and the environment and a bad night for delusionists, including those in government ranks, such as Nick Minchin, who will doubtless be regretting his endorsement.

UpdateI didn’t bother watching the audience discussion section, but the comments I’ve seen (and the cheers when silly things were said by Carter and Evans) indicate the presence of a strong contingent of obviously unhinged delusionists. So much the better, I’d say.

Further update There’s video here “Unhinged” doesn’t begin to describe it. Even Ray Evans, representing the lunar right Lavoisier Group, has his head in his hands as Tony Jones fields a string of increasingly bizarre questions/statements from LaRouchites, several of them cunningly disguised as ordinary people. Carbon-14, Kepler, Plato, and of course the Royal Family’s plot to wipe out most of humanity all get a run.

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  1. jquiggin
    July 17th, 2007 at 20:46 | #1

    Ian, could you try to keep your comments short and to the point. A comments thread is not the place for editorial corrections on reports published elsewhere.

  2. jquiggin
    July 17th, 2007 at 20:49 | #2

    Stephen L, do you have a link for Jensen citing LaRouche?

  3. Ian Castles
    July 17th, 2007 at 22:04 | #3

    John, My apologies.

  4. Ken Miles
    July 18th, 2007 at 14:01 | #4

    Wilful, I agree that it’s a mistake to “teach the controversy� but I have a soft spot for mugwump (and his previous incarnations such as dogz).

    I keep changing my mind over this. On one hand, most delusionists have closed their mind down to the point where no new evidence or point will change their mind. When you start with the weird conspiracy theories you’ve lost it.

    However, many delusionist arguments sound convincing on face value. Prior to TGGWS playing in Australia, the Australian’s science journalist Leigh Dayton made the point that you need advanced knowledge of climatology to see through the garbage which TGGWS throws out. However, because the ABC and David Karoly attacked the scientific content head on, TGGWS and its supporters came out looking like a absolute joke. While the hardcore skeptics won’t change their mind, it should have (hopefully) a strong effect on the undecided.

  5. Ken Miles
    July 18th, 2007 at 15:08 | #5

    I forgot to include the Dayton quote in my above comment, so here it is:

    Given that Aunty put Swindle to air, after previously telling The Australian that it wasn’t even for sale, I’d normally say: watch and make up your own mind. But that’s impossible. Without detailed knowledge of advances in climate change research it’s impossible to sort facts from distortions, outmoded findings, spurious graphics and outright falsehoods.

  6. Chris O’Neill
    July 19th, 2007 at 01:38 | #6

    This is an old argument, but..

    mugwump: “The problem is, Mann’s hockeystick is not robust to removal of the Bristlecone series..”

    Actually, it is robust to the removal of the Bristlecone series as far back as 1450 (to 1428 if you want to do some more calculations). Indeed MBH99 freely admits that the hockeystick is not robust to removing this series before 1400.

    “and it turns out the Bristlecones are actually lousy temperature proxies.”

    According to Steve McIntyre. But somehow, in spite of being a “lousy proxy”, the Bristlecone-dependent proxy network (i.e. the “1400″ network) gives very good agreement with more extensive networks that don’t go back as far into the past. McIntyre tried to argue at one point that the Bristlecone series is no good because there is a well-understood CO2-growth bias in the last 200 years but gave up and jumped to another argument. Whenever pursued, his arguments get dropped and a new one is thrown up.

    “As for McIntyre’s credibility: call me old-fashioned, but for me it stands on the quality of his work.”

    Good joke. Love the irony.

    “Read his papers.”


    “Read his blog.”


    “He is very good at what he does.”

    Sure, if you say so.

  7. jquiggin
    July 19th, 2007 at 11:56 | #7

    Unfortunately, Chris, at about this point in the debate, mugwump/proust always seems to disappear. But your point about McIntyre “Whenever pursued, his arguments get dropped and a new one is thrown up” is exactly my experience, and is true of delusionists more generally.

    Urban heat islands, satellite data, the Medieval Warm Period and so forth have all failed them, but they don’t revise their conclusions, just make the minimal possible concession and move on to something new like cosmic rays. And if you leave anything alone long enough, they start again (for example, McIntyre now seems to be reviving UHIs).

  8. mugwump
    July 24th, 2007 at 00:50 | #8

    Unfortunately, Chris, at about this point in the debate, mugwump/proust always seems to disappear.

    I went on vacation. Laptop was left behind.

    Accept for the sake of argument, everything claimed by M&M. The result is that we don’t know about the MWP one way or the other. So, an argument based on the premise that the MWP was as warm as today is built on sand.

    Indeed. But McIntyre never claims the MWP was as warm as today, just that the current research does not show it wasn’t.

    An argument based on the premise that the MWP wasn’t as warm as today is built on the same sand. Gore, IPCC TAR, and many “intelligent laypeople” I have spoken to all claim/believe the hockeystick is definitive proof of AGW.

  9. jquiggin
    July 24th, 2007 at 06:45 | #9

    Overstatement of the importance of the hockey stick is no doubt prevalent on both sides of the debate -a long stretch of Durkin’s film was based on the claim that the MWP was warmer than today . Hockey stick obsesssion is more prevalent on the delusionist side, since the other major claims (UHI, satellite data and so on) have failed so comprehensively, and we’re reduced to pathetic spectacles like Carter and others saying GW ended in 1998.

    But we both know that the case for AGW does not depend on the MWP , and that the IPCC makes no such claim.

  10. mugwump
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