Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« The Arctic gap | Main | Climate cuttings 41 »

Best sceptic books

Reader Pat writes from Australia, wondering what sceptic books he should be recommending to his local library. He suggests that they will take as many as five different titles, so tick as many suggestions as you like in the poll below.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (69)

HSI in top place so far.

Nov 27, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

HSI in top place so far.

Nov 27, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

I know it's a bit OT but I have come across this brilliant quote from Mark Twain, whose relevance will not be lost on the Bish's commentariat:

During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.

Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch - the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. At Salem, the parson clung pathetically to his witch text after the laity had abandoned it in remorse and tears for the crimes and cruelties it has persuaded them to do. The parson wanted more blood, more shame, more brutalities; it was the unconsecrated laity that stayed his hand.

Can we put MT down as essential sceptical reading?

Nov 27, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

You're missing a few...
The Prince of Precaution, and
We're not scared anymore Mr Gore.

Nov 27, 2010 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarcH

Well, Carter and Plimer are two of the Aussies that I recognize. One would think Aussie authors should get the nod for an Aussie library, don't you think?

Nov 27, 2010 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrkneygal

Ummmm, you do realise that a lot of the content in these books contradicts content in the other books? Perhaps the poll should be "Which one is right".

Nov 27, 2010 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrooklynHomer


That's how it is with the scientific method. Infallibility is the preserve of some branches of religion and has no place at all in the furtherance of human knowledge.

Nov 27, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

bjoern lomborg's "cool it" is worth a look as well

I like his more holistic approach and priority to eg pollution: suggestion to cool the cities with more and better landscaping, painting roads and roofs white etc.

Nov 27, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo

can one contribute books to libraries? i might buy a copy for my local library.

Nov 27, 2010 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermark


That's the beauty of being a climate skeptic, you can believe two mutually contradictory ideas at once and call it science.

Nov 27, 2010 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrooklynHomer

New book:

Seems interesting.

Nov 27, 2010 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Obviously a rigged internet poll ;-)

But seriously - Taylor is significantly underrated and Plimer very over-rated.

I struggled with H&E and there are far too many errors for any kind of comfort. If there was ever a book which needed a proper, scientifically literate editor, H&E is it.

Nov 27, 2010 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

@ BrooklynHomer

More snide.

If you realised how worthless your comment was in moving the debate along, you would not have made it.

Nov 27, 2010 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


No. Scientific progress works through scientists being able to change their stance in the face of new evidence.

For my own part, prior to the leaking of the UEA emails I was actively involved in developing and promoting radical action to mitigate the alleged effects of greenhouse gas emissions in my industry. However, having seen with my own eyes entirely compelling evidence of the utter dishonesty and disgraceful behaviour at the heart of the IPCC process, I was shocked into investigating the scientific issues further and also making my own assessment of the characters and practices involved in fearmongering with respect to CAGW.

Having allowed myself to be deceived in the first place, it's fair to say that it's unlikely to happen again in this arena. There is no such thing as 'settled science' and no validity whatsoever in an oxymoronic 'scientific consensus' - facts do not conform to plebiscites.

Nov 27, 2010 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

Chrichton is important because he places the science in the context of the dogma and ideology of contemporary environmentalism. Add that to HSI and you see that truth can be stranger than fiction. From the rest it is any 3 from 5 or 6 that offer counter arguments to the science, Lawson for the paucity of economic credibility underpinning AGW theory and Booker for the political implications of the dogma for continued prosperity. That's 7, which is really 5 when you normalize the data, correct for the standardized skepticism factor (SSF), adjust for the difference in continents and then amend the base data. (Either that, or get a discount for purchasing all 7 at the same retailer!).

Nov 27, 2010 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterL Graham Smith

More Mark Twain on AGW:
Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer decide to rescue the escaped slave Jim, who has been recaptured and wll be returned to captivity. Practical-minded, uneducated Huck proposes stealing the keys of the cabin where he’s being held one night and escaping on the raft. Tom, who has been to school and knows how things should be done from his extensive reading, proposes digging a tunnel with penknives, and delivering a rope ladder made of knotted sheets in a pie to Jim, who has to write messages in his own blood on the prison wall ...

A perfect allegory of what the “educated” developed countries are proposing to the third world in Cancun in order to rescue them from the fate of global warming - let us pay you billions to do it the hard way

Nov 27, 2010 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I would also include Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist (I haven't read Cool It so don't know if it covers some of the same topics).

Nov 27, 2010 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterScotty

From Twain's "Life on the Mississippi" (might not be exact): There's something wonderful about science. Such a large return in speculation for a small investment in fact.

Nov 27, 2010 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Darby

Clearly, not enough people are aware of Paltridge's book 'The Climate Caper'. This very small, understated, but excellently written book is a great introduction to those who have basically been exposed only to media articles and now wish to start on the journey that leads to a balanced view.

Nov 27, 2010 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterkatio1505

I voted for HSI for its importance, accuracy, clarity, compelling readability and for its outstanding exposure of the fraternity prepared to flirt with mischievous statistical methodology to promote a proscriptive dogma.

For Plimer - I'm a geologist. Carter is prolific on the internet anyway, without his book .

For Lawson and Klaus - I have these and consider them essential reading.

Last but certainly not least, Svensmark and Calder. They seem to be on the final push for the summit. Will it be Hillory and Tenzing or Leigh-Mallory and Irvine?

Nov 27, 2010 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

You're missing Lawrence Solomon's "The Deniers". This is a great and eminently readable book and it takes you through a lot of honest U-turns. It was also Solomon's own moment of truth, with what he discovered, to his surprise.

And yes, The Prince of Precaution is a delightful childrens fantasy picture book, with another Aussie author, another intrepid geologist.

Nov 28, 2010 at 1:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

I agree about Lawrence Solomon's "The Deniers" as essential. It's now bedside reading for overnight guests. It's easy to dip into and raises people's curiosity by taking each world class scientist's area of interest, examining IPCC standpoints in turn without any dogma. A perfect first book before moving on to Lomborg or HSI. Afterwards Plimer or Counter consensus. Crichton to be slipped to teenagers without comment.

Nov 28, 2010 at 1:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterLaura Hills

Spencer's new book 'Blunder' might have even more votes if it were placed side by side on the list with his older book that is toward the top. I only picked on of his so as to have more voices.

Agreed, Solomon is first rate. I have not read the book, but have read many of his columns.

Nov 28, 2010 at 2:13 AM | Unregistered Commentersdcougar

typo....I only picked one of Spencer's books....

Nov 28, 2010 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered Commentersdcougar

I'd like to add my vote for Solomon's "The Deniers" as an easy introduction to what was going wrong with climate science. It gives neophytes a good sense of the problems with the conventional climate change story from the perspective several different scientific disciplines, and is well written. Also, its not too long.

Nov 28, 2010 at 4:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterVigilantfish

One not listed is "The Resilient Earth" by Doug L. Hoffman and Allen Simmons.

Nov 28, 2010 at 5:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert in Calgary

I know this is only just launched and you may only just be starting to hear about it, but Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory is THE gamechanging skeptic science book. Authored by 24 of the world's leading experts over two volumes this is the world's first in depth debunk of the greenhouse gas theory. Nothing comes close to touching this. Read it and be amazed.

Nov 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

Re: Slaying the Sky Dragon

From the blurb:

By deft statistical analysis the cornerstones of climate equations - incorrectly calculated by an incredible factor of three - are exposed then shattered.

It sounds like they are going after the 'all feedbacks are positive' hypothesis that elevates CO2 forcing alone (+1K) to the claimed +3K for a doubling of pre-industrial levels of CO2.

Claes Johnson has some interesting things to say (his blog is here: but not all the authors inspire confidence.

Handle with care, I'd say.

Nov 28, 2010 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

There is a book of which the U(nctious) E(dward) A(cton) can be proud that has been written by one of his institution’s alumni. It is about how a venal and corrupt, Nobel prize-winning physicist sets about making money out of global warming. The book is a novel called ‘Solar’ by Ian McEwan. An hilarious page-turner. One for the Christmas list.

Nov 28, 2010 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

BDD: "Claes Johnson has some interesting things to say but not all the authors inspire confidence. Handle with care, I'd say."
I smell another know-nothing who gabs off ad homs without bothering to read the evidence first.
So why would Professor Johnson add his name alongside 23 other authors who, in your expert opinion, don't "inspire confidence?" Precisely who in the book needs to "handled with care" ?

Why, I bet you haven't even read it. Shame on you.

Nov 28, 2010 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

The Deniars is good - I've given it to a green press officer - as solomon is an environmentalist at heart

Nov 28, 2010 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

John O' Sullivan says:

I smell another know-nothing who gabs off ad homs without bothering to read the evidence first.

John, do us both a favour and shelve the aggression.

Go to the Arctic temperature thread above and read my comments there. Note also Steve McIntyre's comment later on in the thread.

Then research Oliver K Manuel.



Nov 28, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod.

And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

-Mark Twain
Life On The Mississippi
Boston, Massachusetts 1883.

Nov 28, 2010 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Dominic, why so vague in your response? Just spit it out - are you having at pop at Dr. Oliver K. Manuel? I take it as an insult that you'd think I'd not know the work of a fellow co-author, particularly as I am the coordinator of this book project. So if you want to malign us do it properly and peruse the list below and see if there's more among my fellow contributors that need to be "handled with care." But be warned, we are most eager to 'slay' fools and faux science in this debate. That's the only "aggression" I'm peddling here-so bring it on!

Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory (VOLUME 1)
Tim Ball
Hans Schreuder
Claes Johnson
Martin Hertzberg
Joseph A Olson
Charles Anderson
Oliver K Manuel
Alan Siddons
John O’Sullivan

'Sky Dragon Slayers' VOLUME 2
(free to first 20,000 buyers of ebook version of Volume 1)

Nils-Axel Morner
Vincent Gray
Paul Driessen
Geraldo Luís Lino
Joe D’Aleo
Alan Siddons
Hans Schreuder
Joseph A. Olson
Mišo Alkalaj
Tim Ball
Charles R. Anderson
John Broadbent
Malcolm Roberts
John Droz Jr
John Rosenthal
John O’Sullivan

Nov 28, 2010 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

Goodness me. I didn't realise you were using the Bish's blog comments to promote your own book John.

So, what exactly is it about the iron sun theory that convinces you?

Nov 28, 2010 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

And the insults are piling up: know-nothing and now fool.

Simply for pointing out that you have a large - and rather mixed - list of contributors. Hammer away at me if you want, but it won't change the facts.


Nov 28, 2010 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Dominic, why so snide? I'm not here to "promote" my own book. [Snip] I merely added a 'heads up' comment that this important new work has been omitted from the list of the best skeptic books simply because it has only just been published.
Don't you want everyone to have the opportunity to judge for themselves this epic publications rather then be swayed by your ignorance? Go read it, make constructive criticism and then you'll find me less "aggressive," as you say.

Nov 28, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

My response to being called a know-nothing and a fool (and now ignorant, in your penultimate sentence) is irritation.

Everyone here has the opportunity, as you say, to read the books now that they are in print. Fair enough.

But, everyone here has - or should have - the right to make fair comment as they see fit. From the tone of your comments, you disagree with this, which is unfortunate.

What exactly is it about the iron sun theory that convinces you?

Nov 28, 2010 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Dominic, [snip] you make your case- mine is in the book-go read it and then pontificate!

Nov 28, 2010 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

Okay, don't answer a direct question. Bye

Nov 28, 2010 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Good riddance, "bye" to you, too!

Nov 28, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

Greenhouse delusion - vincent gray
climate change - a natural phenomenon - william kininmonth
Global warming - unravelling a dogma - hans labohm

Nov 28, 2010 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterbillh

many thanx for all the suggestions. the library, which covers a good-size population and region, will hopefully now acquire those that are available. they do have crichton's "state of fear" and lomborg's "skeptical environmentalist", plus christian gerondeau's excellent "climate: the great delusion" which is perfect for non-scientists like myself, but any additions from your list will make a huge impact on the catalogue.
definitely some great ideas for christmas presents among your choices.

Nov 28, 2010 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

While I follow the issue relatively closely, I was surprised at how many books there were on the list.

Pat (and other readers) might be interested in my own modest effort, Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science. It deals with the politics and philosophy of science, including the hockey stick controversy, the SRES scenarios, the species-area rule, etc. Published in 2007, it deals with the preference for computer modelling over observational data and the corrupting influence of modern communications such as e-mail on peer review and other quality assurance processes. (I can claim to have anticipated Climategate - though I underestimated its extent).

I suggested recently to my publisher that most who read it seem to like it, but that they balk at the price charged for a hardcover academic book. He has responded by discounting it by around 60% (slightly more in the US thanks to the exchange rate). Details follwo for ordering from the publisher's website:

Science and Public Policy by Aynsley Kellow
Web link:

Normally £59.95/$110.00 Special price $40/£25 + postage and packing

To order this book please email (with full credit card details and address):, or on our website enter 'Kellowoffer' in the special discount code box after entering your credit card details and the discount will be taken off when the order is processed.

Nov 28, 2010 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow


I was one of those put off by the price. I might go for £25!

Nov 28, 2010 at 8:40 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

John Sullivan, I'm definitely intrigued by your book announcement, but don't have a Kindle e-reader. Or will it be published in paper form? Now since Amazon have, as yet, no reviews, it would be nice if any Kindle-owning readers here could read the book like you suggest, and then, good or bad, post reviews at Amazon US and/or UK. I read both. I've got a lot of respect for Tim Ball and others in your author list. [Snip]

Nov 29, 2010 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

Mr Montford,
I would very much like to see your excellent book list enhance its credibility. However, right now it is sadly incomplete because it omits the fastest selling and arguably most important skeptic book of all. As of this morning, 'Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory' is currently # 8 in the Amazon best-seller list- a mere 3 days since publication. This is a truly astonishing achievement.
It would be an enormous injustice if this game changer in climate science was not immediately added to your collection.
Word of mouth recommendation is so important. Frankly, until I read, ''The Hockey Stick Illusion' I had no idea what a fabulous read it was and a 'must buy' for anyone shopping for a good read this XMas. Therefore, I do urge you to contact me to receive your review copy of the 'Slayers' book so as you can judge for yourself why 'Slaying the Sky Dragon' will very soon be the #1.
John O'Sullivan

Nov 29, 2010 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

I would very much like to see your excellent book list enhance its credibility. However, right now it is sadly incomplete because it omits the fastest selling and arguably most important skeptic book of all. As of this morning, 'Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory' is currently # 8 in the Amazon best-seller list- a mere 3 days since publication. This is a truly astonishing achievement.

But as John said earlier, he is in no way using the comments here as a way of plugging his book. So this rather cheeky bit of trumpet blowing is perfectly okay.

Of course, in order to critique this book and decide if it is worth recommending to others, which is what the poll in the headpost is actually all about, you will have to buy it first...

Nov 29, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Oh boy! Perhaps after his inane 'bye' comment BBD ought to have started reflecting right there upon his own bias.I'm baflfed as to the deeply flawed logic he presents. He forgets I merely am pointing out that the above excellent list of books ( for sale) does not include what today has become the #1 best selling skeptic science book on Amazon - written not just by me- but by 24 acknowledged international experts.
Perhaps BBD could advise us all where we might obtain the other books without paying for them? Clearly he resents the fact we have the audacity to seek payment for the hard work we've put into our 2 volume publication being sold at a rock bottom price.

Nov 29, 2010 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

John, you are priceless. I am willing to bet that you are the only one here who cannot see the funny side of this:

Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory is THE gamechanging skeptic science book. Authored by 24 of the world's leading experts over two volumes this is the world's first in depth debunk of the greenhouse gas theory. Nothing comes close to touching this. Read it and be amazed.

Followed by this:

I'm not here to "promote" my own book.

And the puff I quoted in my last comment above.

The next thing we know you have the brass neck to try and get the Bish to review the damn thing.

The only bias I have is against your blatant use of this blog to peddle your book. I can't speak for the Bish, but from where I stand you are taking the p***.

And you are so utterly shameless you cannot even see it.

Nov 29, 2010 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>