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« Costs exceed benefits | Main | Lindzen vs Hasan »

Organised astroturfing

Barry Woods alerts us to Al Gore's organised astroturfing organisation, in which people are encouraged to copy text from the Reality Drop website and paste it into climate-related comments threads.



George Monbiot has been very vocal against this sort of thing. It will be interesting to see how he responds, particularly since the Guardian's own pages are being targeted.

Incidentally, the Met Office are thanked on Reality Drop's "About" page. I wonder what their involvement is?

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Reader Comments (119)

Off topic- A while ago there was a link to a long list of quotes that included something like 'giving man free limitless energy is like giving the lunatics the keys to the asylum". Anyone remember where it was?

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpillinger

"Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun."- Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

Paul Erhlich was following me on twitter, but blocked me yesterday. I asked about the ethics of M Mann, not showing 7 years of observed temp data to the AGU in his presentation

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Barry, that is too funny (and sad) that Ehrlich would block you as soon as you point out the issue with Mann and the chart.... Activists are like the Wicked Witch of the West in fear of water ("I'm melting, I'm melting!") when it comes to exposure to any critical ideas.

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:55 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Maybe a new term is needed for this kind of activity. It is shallow, spammy, and detrimental to reasoned discussion, but "astroturfing" may not be the correct term.

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:58 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

If the Thermageddonists require a website to provide sound-bites to the illiterate, the intellectually challenged and those unable to think for themselves it simply makes then look pathetic.

God help the Met Office if they are involved with this nonsense, because nobody else will.

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

"You even get a cute on-screen retro rank badge - it's all a bit nostalgic if you were ever a Thunderbirds fan. Mar 5, 2013 at 6:03 PM | Foxgoose

Sorry, Foxgoose, but when I read that I couldn't help thinking of Woy Jenkins saying it - and it worked so well!!

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Mike Jackson, re: "Gorbling"

Good one!

I thought about regurgitating.... How about REGORGITATING

P.s. Where is Josh? Reality Droppings needs a cartoon.....

This evokes images of bird droppings (Reality Droppings in a foul way) or I also like the image of reGORgitated undigested messes.....

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:06 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Snotrocket - very funny!

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:24 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

"my climate and me"?

Surely "one's climate and one"?

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield

That is just a really worrying site. We tell you what is 'hot', you cut and paste our response.

OK - tried it. Worked my way through and found "Czech lawmakers charging president with treason". OK - know a little about the story but let's hit "Spread Truth". Some explanation of how I (as a free thinking individual) cut and paste "the truth" into the "consciousness stream".

I must cut and paste (for some points) "2005 was hotter than 1998, and the ten hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years."

OK - I cut and paste. Czech internal politics aside. Goal achieved and twenty points to me.

Democracy in action then? Pretty much time we launched an 'app' - one that recognises the 'standard quotes' fed from 'Reality Drop' and marks them as such so that newcomers to the dark side recognise just how this c**p works.

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2


Maybe a new term is needed for this kind of activity. .."Thread bombing" is already a venerable web term..
The only couple of times I ever tried to (politely) engage over there I was crudely snipped
The only time I engaged at SkS John Cook contacted me personally and told me how much he liked France. It’s all about charm.

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:36 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Modern-day book burners. What were those rank insignia again?

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:39 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

>"The worst thing we can do for our economy is sit back and do nothing about climate change."

Thought that mitigation i.e. wait and see was by far the most cost effective, and thus economically best, especially with time value effects.

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

The only time I engaged at SkS John Cook contacted me personally and told me how much he liked France. It’s all about charm.

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:36 PM geoffchambers

You've been in France too long - you old devil.

Using that ancient, twinkly, gallic charm to seduce innocent little tree house kids.

"Zank 'eaven for leetle Climate Patrolmen....................."

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:39 PM | Andy scrase

Even John Cook acknowledges the repetition issue, and encourages personalized debunking, not to be confused with thinking.

Yes, but if Cook really knew what "thinking" involves, he would have exercised some himself before emabarking on this UnReal enterprise to begin with, wouldn't he?!

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:59 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I have always thought something like this had been occuring ( by another means) for years. If you look at most websites , not just skeptic climate sites, but political , business, newspapers etc there is usuallly one ,two or three people ( depending on the size or importance of the site) who regularly pop up when climate change is raised in a thread. They are the same people who often don't participate in other discussions ( or if they do, it is not very often) but as soon as AGW comes along they are there with the "prepared" answers or points. You can go from one site to another ( especially non climate sites) and see the same argument and sometimes the same phrases being used , as if it has come down from Head Office.
So Gore's new toy is not new, in my view. For someone who thinks he "invented' the Internet he obviously doesn't understand it --this little toy will become the laughing stock of others within days. The lunacy of it will spread like wild fire.

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

The gullible individuals who answer the rallying cry of Reality Drop will not be able to figure out what the real motive is. What Al Gore and his ilk detest is their followers having their own opinions. That is why, up until now, the warmist minions have always been told what to think, not how to think. Now it is even a crime to express your own warmist opinion, you must post that which has been approved. This all sounds very familiar doesn't it?
This is an own goal by Gore and illustrates perfectly how desparate he is. It would be best if Gore just allowed himself to become an irrelevant footnote in history. The ridicule of future generations, and the smouldering resentment of today's generation, awaits him not adulation as the inventor of the internet.

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Yoda says
Sit back and do nothing about climate change, the worst thing we can do for a sustainable economy is.

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

I'm sure the Met Office reference is just general praise for so efficiently taking UK taxpayer money to defraud er..... UK taxpayers.

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

... encourages personalized debunking, not to be confused with thinking.

Lol, too true. Just found myself spending too long looking around that site wondering if it was for real- and still kinda speechless. I often thought some way of communicating with alarmists would be to appeal to what I thought is a common desire for independence of thinking - but that site... Lord!

Is it for real?

People literally just cut and paste the comments and "drop" them on sites - I've had a look round the web - they do! Wow. Still not sure whether to call poe on this. ;)

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:36 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement


If you look at most websites.. there is usually one, two or three people who regularly pop up when climate change is raised in a thread. They are the same people who often don't participate in other discussions (or if they do, it is not very often) but as soon as AGW comes along they are there with the "prepared" answers or points...
I confess I’m one of those. it’s a case of concentrating your fire to be effective. I tried commenting at the Guardian about Italian politics and modern dance, two subjects which are far more interesting than the weather, but i got moderated or bawled out.


Using that ancient, twinkly, gallic charm..
I’ve been in France for 30 years and that’s the first time I’ve been accused of being gallic. To “ancient”, I plead guilty, but “twinkly”? Isn’t that a contradiction?

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:37 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"former life as a cartoonist"

Just not a very good one...


The (apparent) fact that he's got religion may explain a lot, though.

A time to laugh indeed.

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:53 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Over at The Blackboard, Lucia's making a bid to get on the 'Reality Drop' leaderboard and is asking for our help. However, she's adding some commentary to her 'reality drops' which I'm not sure the organisers would approve of :)

Mar 5, 2013 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

Oops, looks like I was a bit late with that news, according to her Twitter feed they have now blocked her.

Mar 5, 2013 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

I wondered earlier about "gaming" this, er, "facilty" ?

"Major fail"

Oh dear, oh dear dear...

Mar 5, 2013 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

I want to know why warmists always end up doing exactly what they've accused sceptics of. Taking money off oil companies, stealing information and now unthinking spam drones sent out from the hive to leave Reality Droppings all over the net.

Mar 5, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I was looking forward to taking the leader board for the day. But alas, I was banned. I think the secret to winning is to tell people it's a game when you leave the comment and ask people to click the links. Otherwise, the bot generated comments are so trite that few will click. The poor unfortunates who do click are presented with a video advertising the purpose of reality drops and the game itself. You have to scroll down to find the "science" tales written by Skeptical Science.

I really don't know who could have dreamed up the idea or who could think that encouraging people to create human generated comment spam was a good thing. But... well... [snark]there are some geniuses in this world. [/snark]

Mar 5, 2013 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterlucia

I've signed up, got my "Rookie" badge and my first 30 points!

This is soooo exciting - I'm on my way to being a "Climate Commander".

I think we should all sign up - nothing would improve the climate more than thousands of comedians cross posting the same trite rubbish over and over and over......

One thing puzzles me though - the high achievers on the score board are all people we've never heard of. Where are the really high profile climate warriors like Cookie, Nutticelli & Loopy Lew? - surely they should be climate Admirals or Emperors by now.

I think they're slacking!

Mar 5, 2013 at 10:39 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

I nominate Lucia as the third winner of the 'Ace Spotter of Al Gore's Droppings' award. Even though she made most of them herself...

Mar 5, 2013 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

"my climate and me"

My climate and I, surely..? :-)
Mar 5, 2013 at 4:28 PM jamesp

Depends on whether you and your climate are the subject or the object of the sentence:

"My brother and I laughed at him"
"He laughed at my brother and me"

Mar 5, 2013 at 11:36 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Foxgoose, we can't help you gain points unless you expose your drops..

Mar 6, 2013 at 3:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank

My dystopian vision of the future sees dueling twitter and blog-bots furiously debunking each other while humans huddle around candles wondering what happened to their civilisation

Mar 6, 2013 at 3:51 AM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase


Where are the really high profile climate warriors like Cookie, Nutticelli & Loopy Lew?
Far behind the front line at GSHQ supping on champagne, while the poor bloody footbloggers are in the trenches, up to their necks in spam, dodging the bots.


I really don't know who could have dreamed up the idea or who could think that encouraging people to create human generated comment spam was a good thing.
Once you get away from the main theatre at the Guardian or the NYT, the enemy troops are nowhere to be seen. I’ve been patrolling the Deep Green pastures of the British left in mufti lately, wandering for miles from site to site, stopping at dozens of eco-articles and sometimes never coming across a single comment. Occasonally I leave a trace of my passage at sites like the New Statesman, NewLeftProject, Prospect and ClimatePsychologyAlliance. Sometimes the occasional troll will wake, mutter “where’s your peer reviewed papers?” and go back to sleep. Otherwise the enemy lines are unmanned.
Cook’s Droppings are obviously an attempt to disguise the fact that they have an army of generals busy fighting the last war, and no trained troops capable of fighting this one.

Mar 6, 2013 at 3:55 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Doesn't the existence of Reality Drop indicate that there might be a shortage of well-informed, intelligent people out there who are capable of expressing the consensus line with out resorting to cribs?

Mar 6, 2013 at 6:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Maybe a new term is needed for this kind of activity. It is shallow, spammy, and detrimental to reasoned discussion, but "astroturfing" may not be the correct term.

"Thread bombing" is already a venerable web term, although it usually is applied to one person making many (often tedious or repetitive) comments. However, one might say the operators of RealityDrop are in effect doing a kind of "thread bombing" each time that multiple repetitive comments appear somewhere.
<end quote>

Combine them: astrobombing

Mar 6, 2013 at 7:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Carter

In homage to Mao, I think we can call the users of the site

Green Guards

It is basically an attempt to create a mob mentality. And you cannot argue with a mob. The fact that is destroys everything it comes into contact with is irrelevant.

The power of ignorance is very strong, and every dictator has used it.

Mar 6, 2013 at 7:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

' and in todays media echo chamber, where the loudest voice can drown out even the most definitive truth'

Says it all really.

Mar 6, 2013 at 8:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

I hope someone can mirror this reality drop website if it disappears as this is the most badly judged campaign since the explosive video.

It's incredibly easy for people with no interest in the subject as whole, to instantly see that something is very wrong.

Mar 6, 2013 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterChu

Another site that is linked to the MET Office:

Most here will score quite well in the quiz but maybe not for the reasons that they think. Check out the extended answers given.

Mar 6, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Just to finish my point.

A large portion of the intellectual elite were always strong supporters of the "radical" movements.

Be careful what you wish for. Giving the ignorant a voice in the debate always has consequences.

These elites were always eaten by there own children.

Mar 6, 2013 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

- KnR "Climate Patrolman", a "Climate Captain"
that's GREEN POLICE then

Mar 6, 2013 at 9:11 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Mar 6, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Lord Beaverbrook

Another site that is linked to the MET Office:

Yes, the Met Office was involved in this. I'd be interested in your views and those of other readers.

Mar 6, 2013 at 9:17 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

New terminology for this?

I suggest 'plopping' for the general activity, reflecting the idea of leaving other people's droppings all over the place.

Particular instances could be called Goreplops, or Cookplops, etc

Mar 6, 2013 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

The more I browse My Climate and Me the more shocked I get.

a. Why should the Met Offiec be involved in a pure propoganda site?

b. Why should tax payer money have anything to do with this rubbish?

c. What utter moron came up with the name? Seriously, "My Climate" ?????

d. Why would an "expert" some of us had come to beleive was serious in wanting to communicate with sceptics have anything to do with this trivia? (I think you know who I'm asking).
Mar 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM steveta

Steveta - if you are surprised that the Met Office is involved in propaganda, you have not been paying attention for the last decade or so.

It has been one of its principal reasons for existing for years and years now. Do you think the Climate Change Act would have been proposed, let alone passed, if the Met Office had not been successful in its propaganda generating role?

In its latest posting My Climate and Me asks Dr Peter Stott "the Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution here at the Met Office" about the Ludlow Castle walls being damaged by recent climate change. Poor Dr Stott sounds a bit embarrassed and finishes up saying:

"At the Met Office Hadley Centre we are carrying out research to better understand how manmade and natural influences on climate have changed the risk of weather extremes like floods and droughts. This should enable societies to better adapt to climate variability and change in future. And as the research matures maybe we’ll be able to shed some more light on whether the collapse of the ancient walls of Ludlow, parts of which have stood since 1233, can be attributed to man made climate change.’

That sounds to me to be Civil Servantspeak for "Ludlow Castle, having endured 800 years of British weather collapsing because the global temperature has risen a fraction of a degree? A load of bollocks if you ask me".

I posted one comment on My Climate and Me - I think it recognised that I was already signed up on another Wordpress site so I didn't have to register, so far as I remember. But now it tells me that my email and the ID I used are not recognised and I can't see any way to register on the site itself. Has anyone else recently managed to sign in there to post a comment?

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:06 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

This article by Rupert Darwall on the DT site is worth a look — not for itself but for evidence of gorbling (or have we plumped for 'plopping'?). It's actually quite hilarious in a macabre sort of way!!

PS Just noticed that Andrew has a link up to this article. Apologies for not paying attention!

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:08 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Martin A - I have made several comments. at my climate and me

One or 2 elesewhere have vanished though ;( _ I will ask.

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

My climate and I, surely..? :-)
Mar 5, 2013 at 4:28 PM jamesp

Or, to use the current fashion popular amongst those who are not sure whether to use "me" or "I":

My Climate and Myself

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:14 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

RB: "I'd be interested in your views and those of other readers."

The score was 10 out of 11 - you got question 3 wrong. Not bad, but must try harder.

But always, in the explanation, there was some reference to certainty, or the predictions of models, which were out of place in a "fact or fiction" climate change quiz.

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

looks like my climate and me is either broken, or not accepting comments, can't login, as a previously registered user, I am now not recognised, also I can't register..

It looks like they are self hosting Wordpress, so my money currently on 'broken' ;-) ;-)

Ie i self hosted for a bit, got locked out of my own blog.. I moved it to instead.

Annoyed that a comment has been removed though, complaining about a graph.
which did get this response on twitter..

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Another site that is linked to the MET Office:

Yes, the Met Office was involved in this. I'd be interested in your views and those of other readers.
Mar 6, 2013 at 9:17 AM Richard Betts

Well, I am proud to say that answered what I imagined were the "correct" responses and scored 10 out of 11.

My big headedness was slightly deflated at being told: "Your final score is 10 out of 11. That's a good score but your knowledge on (sic) climate change could do with a top up".

My views?

I think the Met Office is trying to damp down the hype and exaggeration whilst maintaining the line that human caused climate change is a proven fact and needs to be dealt with. Plus targetting young people in particular. An efficient propaganda machine, running like clockwork and popping up everywhere.

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Propaganda? Or propaganda?

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

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