To “fisk” and to “monckton”

Fisking is “the practice of savaging an argument and scattering the tattered remnants to the four corners of the internet (named after Robert Fisk of The Independent)” who was a victim. A verbal equivalent of the process was demonstrated last night by Christopher Monckton.

Perhaps the debate should move on to address the problem of extricating ourselves from the impending wave of wasteful and counterproductive regulation. And the question of how the warming lobby and Greens managed to inflate a possible temperature increase of a degree or two over the next century into the greatest moral challenge to humankind. And the way the increase in CO2 is described as pollution when it will tend to green the planet and increase our production of food. Etc.

Moderator (KP) – We do not exercise any pre-publication editorial control here at Troppo.  We trust our authors to exercise sound judgment in what they publish.  Rafe clearly has not exercised sound judgment here.  Troppo aims to publish thoughtful and even challenging articles which make a contribution to public policy debate and analysis.  In my view at least, Rafe’s post (and one or two others from him in recent times) is simply an exercise in regurgitating right wing slogans and makes no constructive contribution to public debate.  Mind you, some of the comments it has generated (e.g. JamesH at #20 and DD at #29) have been really interesting, so maybe there can be some value in occcasional blatant provocation!

I was initially minded simply to withdraw Rafe’s automatic authoring access at Troppo.  However, Rafe is a veteran blogger and almost an icon of the blogosphere.  At the very least he’s an amiable eccentric who doesn’t do any harm because no-one who reads Troppo is likely to take this sort of material remotely seriously anyway.  It may even give you an outlet for a bit of therapeutic spleen-venting!

Our current intention (although Nicholas Gruen isn’t presently in contact) is to leave this post up and continue Rafe’s authoring access but make it clear that we reserve the right to remove any future post that is as lacking in intellectual content as this one.  As Geoff Honnor observes in the comment box to this post, Troppo is an exception to the increasing tendency of the blogosphere to retreat into tribal cyber-enclosures and conduct conversations only with ideologically like-minded.  We want to publish opinion and analysis from diverse viewpoints, but it should be worth reading for its intellectual content not just its amateur shockjock qualities.

RC reply

The only hope for the future lies with civil discourse across party lines. As a centre-left blog I thought Troppo was in that business, like Catallaxy on the centre-nonleft. It this post is not regarded by the management as a reasonable contribution  to that dialogue I do not want to have posting rights on the site. I would not want to post on Lavertus for example. I may want to contribute comments however that is in the balance given the tone of rejoinders to this post.

The ALP will most likely crash and burn on the Green agenda, including the climate change strategies. People of good will of all parties will not rejoice at this spectacle

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Tim Lambert
10 years ago

What Monckton did already has a name: The Gish Gallop.

Here’s a challenge for you Rafe: pick out what you think is Monckton’s strongest argument that temperature increase could only be a degree or two and I’ll tell you what is wrong with it.

Dallas Beaufort
Dallas Beaufort
10 years ago

The Green Labor fear monger Denniss was in full swing and hopelessly lost the complete show as he could not step on to the front foot where retreating to fear and loathing at the first opportunity nearly dragged out the black can and the Children’s, children’s, children’s sob awards and motioned towards nationalism in his squirming defence of the lefts man made global warming CO2 tax scam horah cry for me weeping willow portrait.

hc
hc
10 years ago

I wonder why Club Troppo publishes this. There are sites where this nonsense is welcome. Roughly we need to cut our global per capita emissions by more than 50% on average over the next 40 years to limit temperature increase to 2 degrees c. That’s a tough target and even hitting it does not avoid damage risks.

Which climate scientist anywhere denies the role of co2 in the carbon cycle? Again why publish this? Is it more of the ‘both sides need to be heard’ media balance myth? Any claim should get an airing?

Holocaust denial? Vaccines cause autism? Secondary tobacco smoke harmless?

Paul Montgomery
10 years ago

I, too, wonder where the centrist tension of the Club was in this post.

Mr Denmore
Mr Denmore
10 years ago

When did Club Troppo become a home for nut jobs?

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

Rafe gave the game away in his answer to Tim Lambert. He’s got nothing.

hrgh
10 years ago

I’m confused as to why Club Troppo is willing to misrepresent science and publish such nonsense. Why give legitimacy to post-logic denialism?

Richard Tsukamasa Green

There is not editing on Troppo, the normal reliance is the expectation that a member has some standards of attempting to make a decent argument and that flaws can be be respectfully pointed out by comments and aknowledged in civil debate by the poster.

There was no expectation that a member would try to use the reputation of the site to legitimise material that has been extensively published on sites that have subsequently lost respectability outside a narrow and tribalistic intellectual niche.

Here we have a tragedy of the commons. Previously the common good – a high average standard on the site that drew recurring readers – was maintained though norms. A rogue operator can make a desert of the garden that everyone else has tended.

I also suspect that, like his previous nuclear power post, rafe has neither the ability nor the inclination to debate with anything except evasion, rhetoric and contextless linking. It his prerogative to do this elsewhere, but it is our responsibility to maintain basic Troppo standard.

rog
rog
10 years ago

Rafe has already admitted his ignorance on nuclear power yet claims to be able to assess scientific literacy presumably relying on the Jo Novas of the world.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
10 years ago

I agree with Richard. As Richard explained, we don’t exercise any organised editorial control in advance of post publication. We simply trust authors to act responsibly in the material we each choose to publish. I will email Nicholas and Don and discuss this question. My own view is that Rafe has so abused the hospitality of Troppo by this disgraceful post that his authoring access should be removed. Of course more thoughtless righties will probably scream censorship, but so be it.

chris dodds
chris dodds
10 years ago

I have read troppo or many years and enjoyed having my views challenged by articulate and thoughtful people. debate and differing views are important but a line must be drawn in an age of information overload. As of today I am deleting by clubtroppo bookmark on the basis that a site that allows a lead like Rafe’s is not worthy of reading I will miss many of the other s but as I said one must draw a line.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Catallaxy would be a far more appropriate venue for this nonsense than here.

Incurious and Unread
Incurious and Unread
10 years ago

Oh dear. What a pathetic post.

A more interesting topic might be why an intelligent person would want to publicly associate himself with a clown like Monckton.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

Ooh, so the line of argument now goes:

There is no warming. Even if it, it’s not because of us. Even if it’s because of us, it’s hardly any. Even if there’s a bit more, it won’t cause any problems. Even if there are problems, new taxes and regulations won’t work to fix them. And now…even they don’t work new taxes and regulations are Bad Things (TM) anyway, therefore we should go back to “There is no warming”.

Rafe do you even hear yourself?

Liam
10 years ago

IT’S A PILE ON WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE POOR ANTI-WARMENISTS

Emma in Sydney
Emma in Sydney
10 years ago

So Club Troppo finally jumps the shark. For Monckton, of all people, a liar, fantasist and fraud. Sad, really.

Paul Montgomery
10 years ago

I don’t think the choice of subject is itself egregious, as it’s very timely, but the utter laziness is. On a high quality blog with excellent recent examples of thoughtful essays like the McMansion one and the China one, 125 words of frippery is unacceptable.

Perhaps Rafe could be allowed to resubmit. This may give the impression that you’re treating him like a scruffy undergraduate, but this contribution doesn’t even meet the standards of a first-year layabout.

JamesH
JamesH
10 years ago

Rafe,
I’d have you branded, but something tells me that getting to wave your branded buttocks about in public shouting “look what the climate police did to me!” would just turn you on.

I take it “Major Industrial Powers” for you excludes China, the UK, the EU, and the US, all of whom are doing serious things about cutting emissions. The US’ efforts keep getting hamstrung by the republicans, but that is hardly the US government’s fault.

All current predictions for business-as-usual emissions are for temperature increases of 3-5 degrees over the next century. For Australia that would mean that once-in-a-hundred-year events (like the recent massive victorian bushfires, for example, which happened on a day which hit 46 degrees) would become something like once-in-ten-year events, record temperatures would top 50 degrees (current record is 47 or so), a permanent 20-30% decline in water availability in the murray darling and other agricultural areas, and irreversible bleaching of the great barrier reef.

In answer to your questions about nuclear power, anticipating you will just froth at the mouth if I don’t answer: 1) Yes, if uranium is subject to the MRRT or equivalent, the recipients have signed the non-proliferation treaty and are using generation 3 or better reactors and aren’t building them on top of a geological faultline 2) Yes, if there’s a traditional owner group that is willing to have the repository on their land and it’s a genuine deep-burial site a la sweden, as opposed to a 2 metre ditch dug with a backhoe as the last plan was 3) no, we have plenty of more cost-effective energy sources and lack the expertise and infrastructure to build reactors everywhere, export it to places which don’t have our alternatives instead.

This is a curious test of scientific literacy by the way; most tests of such a concept would ask about understanding of the laws of thermodynamics, understanding of the peer review process, and whether people offering universal panaceas, faked cvs, and munchausen-like accounts of their own ability should be trusted, all of which Monckton fails. If you want an actual analysis of his arguments, check out Skeptical Science’s “Monckton Myths” page: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Monckton_Myths.htm

If you’re really convinced that all greenies hate nuclear power I suggest you head over to Brave New Climate, your head will explode as your paradigm shifts without a clutch.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
10 years ago

I don’t think ‘banning’ anyone is warranted. As Paul points out, Rafe’s contribution is more of a daubed slogan than a blog post and I think it’s a tad hysterical to assume that Troppo’s credibility is shot forever because Rafe has decided to take up graffiti art later in life.

If Rafe doesn’t choose to expand on his thoughts, you do have the option of cleaning the art off but I’d take a chill pill and a moment to reflect before consigning Rafe to the outer Troopo darkness forever.

The best counter to views you don’t like is to offer your own as an alternative. Increasingly the Australian blogosphere seems to operate on the basis that like-minded folk huddle together excoriating views different to their own and expelling those that think differently.

It’s an affliction that this blog has never suffered from and I’d think carefully before changing that. The Rees-Mogg injunction about breaking a butterfly on a wheel comes to mind.

KB Keynes
KB Keynes
10 years ago

Rafe probably forgot this was for Troppo and thought this was just another bit for Catallaxy.

Ken I think you are being a tad harsh as this is the first time it has happened.

It is better he is put on a warning.

No Catallaxy type pieces here. Mind you after his previous fiasco on nuclear power I thought he may have realised there is a significant difference between the two sites.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

I assume by banning Ken means his posts would no longer be automatically accepted – he would have to submit via the guest posting mechanism. It may be a bit much for one offence, but if it’s the consensus of the other Troppo editors I can’t imagine too many objections.
And Geoff it’s not the view we don’t like – it’s the quality of the posting.

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
10 years ago

Note Rafe’s own demonstration of the Gish Gallop in #2

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

If this post is so far beneath you all why have you all commented on it? Where the other recent posts (on which hardly any of you have commented) too far above you?

I agree that it seems like a pointless and silly post, but so what? Ignore it if that’s what you think (which is what I was going to do until I saw the 24 comments and wondered what I was missing – answer: not much!).

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

If it were any other blog Patrick I would have ignored it. But I expect better of troppo.

hrgh
10 years ago

Patrick @25

The reading community are enforcing quality control with the best means available to them.

That needs explaining?

Tim Macknay
Tim Macknay
10 years ago

Rafe, you seem like a generally pretty smart and interesting guy. It’s a bit unfortunate you seem to have fallen into the predictable Libertarian trap of reflexive climate change denial.

Here’s a tip Rafe – why not try reading some of the actual scientific literature on global warming, rather than just the opinions of people like Monckton and Nova? You could even try starting with the IPCC AR4 report. You might be surprised at how well referenced it is. Sometimes it’s a good idea to challenge your own prejudices, rather than indulging them.

derrida derider
derrida derider
10 years ago

You know there is indeed a genuine debate to be had on the best tactics for Australia to promote global emission cuts (for a thoughtful, if IMO ultimately wrong, criticism of Australian action on carbon pricing see here). And it’s not silly, though again IMO ultimately wrong, to argue that the freeriding problems are so severe that we’ll never get effective global agreement so we should be focusing on amelioration rather than prevention (a counsel of despair).

But parroting Monckton’s crude falsehoods is just silly. Note the successive lines of retreat are palpable: “it’s not happening”, “it’s happening but nothing to do with us”, and now “it’s happening, our fault but no big deal” The next stage will be “it’s happening, our fault, a big deal but its now too late to do anything”, followed eventually by “it’s happened and it was all the fault of them stinking hippy commos”.

Note too the underlying logic:
If AGW is real, government action is a solution
Government action is never a solution
Therefore AGW is not real.
QED

Rafe and his tribe prefer to deny all evidence of the falsity of the conclusion rather than abandon the second premise. If there was a way of abandoning the first (ie some vaguely plausible mechanism by which the market miraculously takes the social cost of CO2 emissions into account without any intervention) they’d cease to be AGW deniers overnight.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

dd – thanks for expressing what I was attempting to in my first post with a good deal more clarity and proof-reading! FWIW, I actually think we could restructure our economies to better account for environmental externalities such as climate change while simultaneously reducing the overall level of government intervention/tax imposition on the economy (which is not to say I believe there’s anything like the imperative to achieve this that many right-wingers do – but I don’t want to see either increased hugely either). Further, it should be painfully obvious that if we do nothing now, FAR MORE draconian measures are likely to end being imposed in another decade or two.

Paul Montgomery
10 years ago

Patrick @25: Indeed yes, many other Troppo posts are beyond my ability to contribute useful comments. That is not to imply I have not enjoyed them, quite the contrary. You’re right to point out that respectful silence is not useful on a blog.

Thomas the Tout
Thomas the Tout
10 years ago

I must have missed something. Has the site cut out something from Rafe’s post? Or is it that Rafe puts 8 lines on the blog, and many people get their knickers in a twist? Nothing rude; nor personally offensive; nor immoral, that I can see.
I see it as Rafe asking a question; and a good one at that.What type of bureaucracy is about to be thrust upon us? It will measure CO2; it will impose a tax, and then redistribute it.
Will it do any good?
What are we doing to get ready for global warming (because our tax alone will not stop it). Sea-walls? Dykes? Coastal building control? New fodder and cereal crops? Farm adjustment? New fishing techniques? Better cooling systems for buildings? Fission reactors? Better trains? etc etc.
Seems to me that the government has split society into two waring camps; and I think those in favour of the tax are a very intolerant and myopic lot.

Nicholas Gruen
10 years ago

Next week, Rafe will fill us in on dark matter.

hrgh
10 years ago

Thomas the Tout @ 32

In fact, what the bureaucracy will do is impose a consumption/sin tax, compensate households to ameliorate the regressive nature of the consumption tax, then use the additional revenue to fund carbon reducing actions that are required because the carbon price is not / was never going to be high enough.

Quite smart really.

Fyodor
10 years ago

Hehstorm!

The Don should link to this in the tabloid edition of Missing Link.

“Almost-an-Icon-of-the-Teh-Blogosphere too Partisan for Pony Club Shock!”

Nabakov
Nabakov
10 years ago

What Geoff and M. Fyodor said.

I for one welcome any post that generates a nice long steaming comments thread, even if it is by Rafe, the reasonably well off man’s John Ray.

Actually I always thought “moncktoning” meant bullshitting about your position and achievements and then trying to pass it off as a joke when caught out.

cbp
cbp
10 years ago

@Thomas the Tout

I must have missed something.

I see it as Rafe asking a question

Yes, you must have missed something.

Rafe’s comment is simply a troll. The rhetorical question you somehow read into the post was absent, but even it was there, would be of no interest to the majority of Club Troppo’s readership.

If you or Rafe wants to have a reasonable discussion about ‘sea-walls’ and ‘coastal building control’, by all means, go ahead. But most of us have long since tired of the ‘plant food’ nonsense.

And ‘a degree or two over the next century’ is out by more factors than Rafe’s post had sentences.

Tim Lambert
10 years ago

Rafe, you invited me to choose, so I choose Monckton’s strongest argument on climate sensitivity — watch the video here. You can find my on nuclear power on my blog.

steve from brisbane
10 years ago

I, for one, do not see value in having Rafe spread the same content that he posts to much applause at Catallaxy at this blog.

Sally
Sally
10 years ago

Graeme M Bird admires Rafe. Graeme’s smarter. Rafe lacks his intellectual curiosity and is more bilious.

Fyodor
10 years ago

Rafe lacks his intellectual curiosity and is more bilious.

Oh yah, Birdy is far less bilious…

…except when it comes to the following subjects:

AGW
9/11
Martian pyramids
Barrack Obama’s birthplace and religion
Pretty much every dopey conspiracy theory going
Commies
“Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy
Laser-lke focus
Bully-boy Advocates of the Status Quo
Public servants [take them out the back and shoot ’em, then mass-sack them, or vice versa]
Liquified coal
Pinochet
Competing hypotheses in parallel
Vampires
Dobell, it polls for thee [HT Haiku Hoges]
Witches
Light speed
Homosexualists
CAPITAL LETTERS
Diamond nano-technology
Muslims
Brutal [and pulverising] ice ages
Raw milk
The love of Allah and all his whores
Genghis Khan
Peak oil
Big-titted blonde women
Joachim of Fiore
Everybody who disagrees with him [list would be too long]

AND…

Fractional reserve banking

Liam
10 years ago

At the very least he’s an amiable eccentric who doesn’t do any harm

Being serious, now, that’s what they say about Monckton. Just an interesting old bird who’s doing nobody any harm by shilling the material interests of very profitable companies who happen to pollute.

Tim Lambert
10 years ago

Rafe, “disagreement on the magnitude of the forcing” is a rather odd way to express the fact that Rachel Pinker,the author of the paper that Monckton cites for this number, says he got the magnitude wrong. What possible evidence would it take to convince you that Monckton got this wrong?

After showing how Monckton got the forcing wrong, I went on to present strong evidence that climate sensitivity is about 3 degrees for a doubling of CO2. If sensitivity was as low as you seem to think it is, how come it was so much colder at last Glacial Maximum?

If you want a paper that summarizes the evidence, see Knutti and Hegerl (2008).

Paul
Paul
10 years ago

The test of any hypothesis is its ability to make successful predictions. The hypothesis of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming doesn’t have a single successful prediction on record, not one! Lots of self-serving numbers produced by people desperate for power, funding and personal glory (and a host of usefil idiots) but not a single successful prediction.
Further, the CAGW hypothesis has consistently failed to predict the observed behaviour of the real world e.g., the total lack of any global warming since 1998.
Calling religion ‘science’ doesn’t make it so. If, like CAGW, your ‘science’ can’t predict the real world, it’s not science.
Now that we see Ken Parish clearly deminstrating his inner fascist, I’ll leave you parrots to your group armageddon fantasy. Like all bigots, your bigotry makes you stupid.

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
10 years ago

This thread illustrates the problem we face as a society. Paul #46 doesn’t understand statistical significance or the basic properties of time series and has derived his “opinions” from a bunch of stuff he read on the Intertubes. He can’t even spell.

But he’s absolutely confident he knows more about the topic than the thousands of scientists who have spent their lives first gaining the basic knowledge he so obviously lacks, then applying it to understand different aspects of the problem.

Rafe didn’t used to be a fool, but cultural loyalty has reduced him to the point where he can look at the performance of someone like Monckton and proclaim it a dazzling exercise in intellectual brilliance.

And that’s universal on the political right. With the exception of Turnbull and the occasional visiting British Tory, there hasn’t been a single rightwing polly or pundit willing to call Monckton out as the fraud he so obviously is.

In these circumstances the idea of discussion between alternative views makes no sense at all on Troppo or in society more broadly. As John Cole at Balloon Juice said a while back, it’s like discussing dinner plans from the starting point that you would like Italian and your prospective parter proposes old tyres and battery acid.

steve from brisbane
10 years ago

Rafe is demonstrating with perfect clarity the difficulty with arguing climate change policy with those who want to do nothing. Their credibility on the “why should we get ahead of other countries” is undermined by the fact that they simply do not believe there is any problem that any country should address.

When pointed to the wealth of material supportive of climate change, or to sites like Skeptical Science which specifically debunk the hundreds of skeptic arguments thrown up over the years, they revert instead to the political and ideological motivated sites such as Jonova and Monckton’s group as being the more authoritative, and ignore the dozens of scientific bodies which have endorsed the mainstream of AGW science.

They like to claim that belief in AGW is like a religion, ignoring their own ideological conspiracy mongering about socialist control of the world as the real “faith” issue that dogs the political debate.

They ignore the fact that turning around greenhouse gas production is a long term project, which does not allow the luxury of another, I don’t know – 10 to 30 years? – of temperature records to pin down precise sensitivity to doubling of CO2 to their satisfaction. In fact, most of the current prominent sceptics won’t even be alive by then to apologise for being wrong.

They would prefer to play a game of wait and see, moving the goal posts all the time to suit themselves. This has already happened, given that the earlier skeptic movement used to be big on promoting reasons why CO2 could not be a greenhouse gas at all. Now that view has largely been abandoned, and it’s all “lukewarmenism” – yes it has caused warming, but where’s the proof that it’s dangerous?

The Arctic ice extent is currently tracking for an all time summer low, beating 2007. It may not yet come to pass, but if it does, you can bet your bottom dollar that the response will be along the lines “but look at this record of what happened in the year XXXX? It’s probably just a natural cycle.”

They also steadfastly refuse to believe that ocean acidification could be a large ecological problem within 50 years, regardless of temperature increases. (Strangely, Bob Katter seems to be the only Australian politician who seems convinced of that!)

Anyway, we’ve been through all this before at Catallaxy. It is a contagion that does not deserve to spread to this blog.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

steve, except the word you want is ‘pointlessness’ rather than ‘difficulty’. Australia will join most of the developed world in implementing some form of carbon pricing soon enough, no matter what nonsense Monckton or others spout. It’s really only in the U.S. there might be some point in trying to argue sense with the naysayers. But the way things are going there economically they may well achieve greater cuts in emissions than anything we can anyway in the near future (and no, of course I don’t sincerely hope that – not least for the sake of America’s poorest who will suffer the most).

Nabakov
Nabakov
10 years ago

“Now that we see Ken Parish clearly deminstrating his inner fascist”

What? By allowing opposing viewpoints to be posted on his blog?