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Discussion > Bogged down in Nomansland

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.


Nailed in one.

Jul 16, 2012 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Ecclesiastical Uncle

it seems unlikely that anybody would wish to investigate public perceptions, etc, as pure science without conceivable use.
Well, that’s what sociologists are supposed to do. Of course, they may have an ulterior motive, but it’s not in the job description. Criminologists don’t have to sign a kind of Hippocratic oath promising to bring down crime rates.

I didn’t think about motivation when the conversation started. During a discussion at Climate Resistance about his research I discovered some esssential information was missing from Corner’s paper, so I wrote to him at Talking Climate and asked him for it. He replied offering to answer any questions I might have if I was polite, so I was. There was a lot of stuff being discovered at CR by Alex Cull and Barry Woods about the social science around climate change and the network of which Corner is a part. I have serious problems with this kind of research (from my experience working on government surveys of public opinion half a lifetime ago). Rather than simply nitpick Corner’s paper, I thought it might be interesting to look further into the whole area of social research into environmental questions. Hence the idea of a wideranging discussion. The form and content of the first part, which is the only part to have been completed, was entirely fortuitous. He started asking me some questions, I answered, and in a couple of hours we had an article.

It was understood that subsequent articles would have me asking questions, and would range much more widely. This now won’t happen, due to Barry’s intervention. I must admit I’m seriously peeved about that, though I appreciate it was decent of Barry to comment here, and I agree with Dung’s comment.
Barry’s research and comments are perfectly legitimate. I just don’t see why he had to alert Corner’s colleagues, who were probably aware of his activism anyway. The Green Social Science network is a perfectly legitimate subject for
study. But why spread your findings around without reflecting on possible consequences?
I’m no games player, but I believe in chess or Go, even noughts and crosses, you plan ahead, weigh up the effect of your moves. Nobody here seems to want to play anything more complicated than Snap.

Jul 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

So it seems...

1. Corner says in public "I am not a campaigner", yet clearly he is an activist campaigner.

2. Someone phones somebody at his university and says "Did you know Corner is an activist campaigner?"

3. Corner refers to this as "smearing" him and says he has to "run around mending bridges with people I work with".

I thought that something did not pass the smell test.


"This now won't happen, due to Barry's intervention. I must admit I'm seriously peeved about that"

So somebody, having no connection with you, phones someone and the whole thing falls apart?

To me, it's the equivalent of a public debate in the town hall where someone from the floor shouts an impertinent question at one of the debaters, who promptly flounces off in a huff. It's a pattern we have seen several times when CAGW proponents engage in debate with sceptics.

Jul 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

After seeing Barry's comments ... I'm having even more difficulty reconciling the impression conveyed by Corner's "smeared to my colleagues" claim ...
Well yes, Hilary, in normal circumstances. But all becomes clear if you look at the whole Climate Science/Eco-Puritan (as I have started calling them) Community as a religion.
Or more accurately as a sect. Barry's description of the convoluted linkage which involves Corner and around a dozen others (I didn't do a precise count) in a web of activist organisations would be familiar to anyone who has dealt with Green activists though this particular grouping spreads wider, is better educated, and probably has tentacles that run deeper than anything I have personally encountered before.
I would correct Barry on one thing. It's not the science that's settled — the science is irrelevant. What's settled is the philosophy and the creed. Also the group is convinced of the rightness of this creed and philosophy and the need to protect it from the attacks which it sees as coming from anyone who does not accept the creed.
In fact it needs those attacks as a form of cement to maintain and strengthen the belief (think the persecution of the early Christian church) and will be open to believing that any questioning of individual members which implies a sceptical attitude towards the group is an attack.
Seen from that perspective Corner's response makes perfect sense.
(As also does the idea that sceptics need to be "persuaded" that their views on climate - still the vehicle of choice for the sect - are wrong. The more cannon-fodder that can be enlisted the more the 'true believers' at the heart of the cult have a place to hide.)

Jul 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Geoff, your experience would tend to confirm the conjecture that 'they' always go off in a huff, and it is not about what happens here but some reported thing which has made it impossible for them to continue. I am not ready to tiptoe around their sensibilities. The Bish cannot guaranteed the manners of every commenter. Nobody can, it is a public forum. The only solution is for Mr Corner and his ilk to toughen up. Look at the flak Richard Betts gets here. Does he go off in a huff? No, he stands up for his views. Fights his corner, so to speak.

Jul 16, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda


The tale told does not have to be correct, relevant, or anything else but persuasive. After all, government’s espousal of the warmist cause must have come about from the promotion of some extremely distorted interpretations of climate science. There seems to be no reason why equally fallacious arguments should not persuade governments to reverse course.

An old smoothie just became a slippery serpent. In my opinion the answer to big lies is the exposure of the truth, not bigger and better lies, colour me disappointed.

Jul 16, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"I’m no games player, but I believe in chess or Go, even noughts and crosses, you plan ahead, weigh up the effect of your moves. Nobody here seems to want to play anything more complicated than Snap."

Jul 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM geoffchambers

I can see that Corner/Allen/Wilson/.../Jones/Briffa/Mann play games (a.k.a engaging in manipulative behaviour).

I'm with Dung. Let's stick to simply exposing the truth.

Jul 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

If nobody ever says to these universities, why are you working with activist and lobbying organisations, what happens?

We end up where we are now.

My contacting Nottingham, and I did it politley and civilly, whatever Adam says.
I have every right to express my concerns, I offered constructive advice, I also tried to explain this exactly to Adam Corner, who seem very keen to interpet at an attack, or a threat...

So many see criticism as personal attacks (common amongst climate science)

As I have said, I could have very easily done a sensationilst WUWT essay.

Which would have ended up with a LOT of negativity, nothing positive, so I asked Adam can he not see that working with PIRC and COIN, compromises HIM,and the universities credibility, he either can not or will not see that.

Adam Corners says to the public: "I'm NOT a campaigner", public perception would have seen this as LYING to the public, and LYING to an MP Peter Lilley, and Lord Lawson and everybody at a public debate.

That is why I contacted the UNI. as I was due to attend that debate, and I to would have been 'lied' to.

Cut it whatever way you like. if somebody stands up as says - I'm a researcher, I'm not a campigner,

Yet has just become a director of an activist lobbying group the PIRC, is policy advisor to COIN (another actvists lobbyinggroup) then they are ethier delusional, in thinking that I and the public would think they have just been lied to, incredibly naive, or maybe a phsycologist can explain it to me..
(let alone the 'personal' activities placard carrying green, FOE march Houses of Commons, Climate Camps, etc)

As I said, I did it privately, as a member of the public expressing concern. and Adam has a public profile and pulpit (Guardian, New Statesman, ecologist, Public debates, etc) so need to deal with the public criticism and all.

These guys need to grow up, greens have been treated with kid gloves for decades.

I have told Peter Lilley Office (who took him at face value) I also told Benny Pesiser (who also took him at face value) Benny laughed...

I had previoulsy (privately) written to George Marshall (and Adam) about Deniers - Halls of Shame, and that it might be a good idea to loose them... George deleted me out of hand. NOT somebody any university should be working with in trying to communicate anything.

My personal opinion, nothing to do with Bishop Hill,,etc

if the want to use it as an excuse to not engage, then I'm proved right, they are not interested.

every time he speaks now, will he be saying he is not a campaigner?

Dr Adam Corner is just one individual, who perhaps is symptomatic of 'climate change' consensus thinking. Unfair to single him out, perhaps. So my main issue is COIN and PIRC working with Uni's

Jul 16, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

That’s right. Corner once said something in public which contradicted other things he’d done and said, at another time and place. It’s something people do quite often.

I’ve often said that I’m not particularly interested in the climate change question. I suppose it might be possible to ferret around the internet and find evidence to the contrary. Please don’t anyone phone up anyone I know to tell them though. It’s not that the information might be damaging to my career. I just don’t want my friends to think that I spend my time associating with a bunch of obsessive tiddly w*nkers.

Mike Jackson thinks that Corner needs to feel attacked. Rhoda is not willing to tiptoe around his sensibilities. Splitpin thinks that you can turn round an international scientific / political / media consensus by the simple expedient of telling the truth.

Judaean Liberation Front anyone?

And now Barry seems to believe universities shoudn’t employ people who engage in political activity. This is getting very silly.

Jul 16, 2012 at 4:10 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I just had a mail from Corner. Looks like our discussion on the New Ecological Paradigm may be going up sometime soon on a sceptical blog near you. There’ll be moderation to keep out ad hominem and off-topic comments. (Not that we’ve had the discussion yet. We’ve both been distracted by other things).

B*gger. Ad there was I thinking I’d got the perfect excuse to drop all this nonsense and go back to my study of erotic Greek vase painting.

Jul 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Personally - I'm getting pretty annoyed, as I percieve I'm being 'smeared' third hand.

I was very willing to talk, I suggested privately might be better, I gave out my personal details (to someone whose colleagues and mates all seem to be direct action greenpeace activists)

I approached Briggett with a concern, as she had provided funding to Talking Climate (public funded blog) Brigette told me that she had been introduced to Geoirge Marshall by AdamCorner, and that she was unaware of any of the issues that I raised. (and I took her at face value, and had a civil conversation, suggesting she had a chat with Paul Mathews, also at Nottingham, as I was just some randomn member of the public)

Folowing that Adam Corner rang me!. and I tired very patiently to explain my concerns about how to any memenber of the public (and the MP~s he was debating with) would have percieved things..

he was (in my opinion) very much trying to make out I was personally attacking him, etc trying to damage his credibility, etc. As I explained in deatil above (I've gone out of my way to be civil) even writing with concern toHeartland and CLimate Depot about the treatement of Peter Gleick.

If you remember I would NOT back down when publically Peter Gleick accused me of being' incredibly offensive' to him is directly via twitter and or emails/comments. This happened in full public view of all my followers, very many journalists, climate scienctists, etc. I will not tolerate being smeared. It took THREE climate scientists (including Dr Katie hayhoe, who has had extremely UGLY abuse form so called USA sceptics, courtesy of Climate Depot) to persuade Peter to clarify/apologise..

this only happened because of mutual goodwill and respect and civil behaviour on mine and the scientists concerned part.

So I will not accept my actions reported third hand as 'attacks', threats' or 'smears' from some junior scientist, who want his cake and to eat it. Being a 'researcher' and hiding behind that when it suits, yet having a bully pit in the NATIONAL (40% Guardian web traffic is US) media in the Guardian and writing for many other publications and th epriveledge at being on public debates at The Royal Institution, etc.

I've spent THREE years trying to be civil, and putting up with lots of criticism by my own side (for talking to people like Katie Hayhoe, Mark Lynas, HArrabin, Leo, etc, asking for the sceptic rhetoric to be toned down, asking for language like 'watermelons' 'scam' 'hoax' alarmist, etc to be dropped so that we can all have a civil debate.

So.I'm annoyed, that according to Geof, I'm being represented as smearing... somebody (how do you smear with facts anyway)

Think of all the things I COULD have done.... (but I choose to try and talk, and engage)

I COULD have writen an article on WUWT (as a Guest Author)
I COULD have rung Delingpole, Morano, Heartland, copied every single Tory MP, concerns about organisations like COIN/PIRC working with universities. Or written lots of Carbon Brief style profiles (Christian editor of Carbon Brief being Adam's PIRC co-director)

All I would have done, is lay out the facts, and explain my concerns... (and let them deal with consequences)

And of course anybody could do this, as I tried to explain to Adam, about why he was very unwise to stand up in public and say 'I'm not a campaigner' to the public.

But this is not about Adam, it is about the endemic problem in our universities, which say Adam's Proffesor, Nick Pidegeon work previoulsy with PIRC and COIN, as part of a Climate Change Communication Advisory group, advscing DECC, DEFRA etc, alongside the WWF, (FFS.) and (Richard Hawkins -also Talking Climate - (greenpeace) arrested for Kingsnorth protests alongside George Monbiot).

WHY on earth is Prof Nick Pidegeon (Cardiff Uni) working with (and long relationship with) policy lobbyists and activists!!?

A former PIRC director Franny Armstrong got the idea for the 10:10 campaign,
and other board members support the Campaign Against Climate Change's - deniers - Hall of Shame, that also troll with Sceptic Alerts, Delingpole and Booker and Bishop Hill. So does George Marshall (COIN) and also part of Talking Climate, who also workd with Cardiff Uni)

PIRC Board (three people - at least - activist and arrested taking direct action - inc Tim Helweg Larsen)

Facts are not smears. Sunlight..

(next time I might just dump everything on Climate Depot or Delingpole or WUWT - and say so be it )

I'm fed up with being treated as beneath contempt by those with so much priveledge

On that note can someone pray for sunshine (or do dance or something) school holidays have started and we are holidaying in the UK..

I'm signing off for a while.. I may be some time, family comes first, I've wasted far too much time.

Jul 16, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

No Geof - I'm saying Universities should not WORK with activist/lobbying organisations like COIN/PIRC and the WWF when they are communicating climate change to policymakers and cibvil serrvants.....

ie like this..

see item 7 of their recommendations!! (and see who took part - Marshall was the lead!!)

especailly one whose founder (COIN - MArshall) has done so much to poison/polarise any rational debate, with rhetoric of deniers and Halls of Shame, hopefully phsycologist could realise that this is not really helping.!!

If Geroge Marshall and PIRC board members support organisations (as BOARD members, not just personal) that lobby on climate change, that put politicians, scientists and journalists they disagree with into - Photo Halls of Shame and write negatively agaisnt them and their politics. then I say, those unversities have lost any credibility they migth have had.. and serious concerns about their work nand funding should be raised.

They are WORKING with organisations that every real climate scientist I know would run a mile from, even being perceived as being associate professionally with. Groupthink has taken a hold at these universities, to not see this as being a problem.

Jul 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Jul 16, 2012 at 4:10 PM geoffchambers

Please don’t anyone phone up anyone I know to tell them though. It’s not that the information might be damaging to my career. I just don’t want my friends to think that I spend my time associating with a bunch of obsessive tiddly w*nkers.

Don't worry Geoff. Your secret is safe with me.

Good to know what you think of your fellow BH posters, too.

Jul 16, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I was defending Tamsin and Richard from high profile climates depot supporters wanting to get Real Nasty with climate scientists a little while ago.
(A private email conversation we were party to, when concerned about Peter Gleick's welfare)

But bcos of third hand reports of a conversation, via Adam Corner ( not exactly neutral)I now seem to to have my motivations smeared, third hand accusations of acting badly and implied to be a w*nker, (however casually it was intended.)

It really is time I stopped bothering.

Jul 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.


Yes yes, it’s an imperfect world and I am tempted to urge you to grow up. But I won’t as you have the moral high ground..
However, I am, and all of us are, but dross soon to be forgotten with the passage of time and our personal views on morality but genetically influenced minutae.. In the confusion that life exposes us to, in the present context the best we can hope to leave behind is the victory that energy will be properly priced and he old will not unnecessarily be exposed to privation. If that has to be achieved using weapons the enemy improperly used against us, so be it. Anything goes

Best to be truthful though, I admit - it provides security against valid attacks of cheating.

Colour me old and tolerant. . .

Jul 16, 2012 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

So, is there anything wrong with publicly--funded activism? To me there is. No matter whether I am for or against the cause in question. To others it seems it is more nuanced. Whatever the answer it is endemic.

I agree with Barry calling attention to it whenever he can.

Jul 16, 2012 at 6:16 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Barry Woods

I do not think you need to defend yourself on this blog, You are believed to be kosher mate.

Geoff Chambers

Mike Jackson thinks that Corner needs to feel attacked. Rhoda is not willing to tiptoe around his sensibilities. Splitpin thinks that you can turn round an international scientific / political / media consensus by the simple expedient of telling the truth.

I think that Corner needs to feel attacked, I am not prepared to tiptoe around his sensibilities and more important to Splitpin and I is not just telling the truth but NOT lying to acheive an objective (hope I am right speaking for you Splitpin).

Jul 16, 2012 at 7:06 PM | Registered CommenterDung


You are a master of weasel words.

I am unlikely to be remembered after I am gone but if anyone did remember me I would rather be remembered for honesty than victory bought with lies.
However this statement only holds true for intelectual arguments, war is something else.

Jul 16, 2012 at 7:13 PM | Registered CommenterDung


Jul 16, 2012 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Sorry MartinA and Barry if you think I was being rude. Well, I was. I was peeved at the fact that it looked as though a couple of phone calls had derailed something I’d been working on.
As I’ve said many times, I share Barry’s concerns about the government-subsidised Green network. So write an article about it and put the information out. But you don’t have to mention it every time one of the people involved turns up. Rhoda thinks you should call attention to it whenever you can. This is not the way rational people behave. It really does make us look like tiddley winkers, obsessively placing our counters on top of the opposition’s, oblivious of any long term goals.
Barry, I didn’t accuse you of smearing. Corner used the word, but it’s odd to defend our right to spirited criticism and deny it to Corner. I would (politely) suggest that mentioning every person who’s been associated with the Cardiff / Nottingham network who’s also been associated with someone who supported the Deniers Hall of Shame is just not leading anywhere. It’s the mirror image of the warmist “Big Oil” argument.
The question I had in mind when I started this thread was something like this: How do you balance the right of free speech, including the right of people to make forceful and possibly tactless remarks, with the need for a certain discretion wha you’re negotiating with a debating opponent from a position of weakness? The answer I’m getting here is: You don’t. Truth and the right to speak your mind are paramount.
We’ve all made the comparison between CAGW and religion. The point is that it’s an established religion, with divine right and infallibility built in. People here seem to me to be reacting like the kind of extreme protestants during the wars of religion who thought that the possession of the truth and the ability to express it via the printing word would be sufficient to overpower the forces of darkness, and that any discussion of tactics or diplomacy was a form of treason. I’m discouraged.

Jul 16, 2012 at 7:49 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Well, yes Geoff, see your point, but we are not even a definable 'we'. We are not even a group, much less a party or anything where discipline could be imposed. We don't have meetings about tactics (or if we do, I am not invited). We are not the polar opposite of them. My own ill-formed opinion of climate change is 'nothing much is happening'. Not a great slogan to run up the flagpole and inspire a revolution, is it? That is why my schtick is to ask questions. About the science, I hope.

About Adam Corner? He makes me uncomfortable with his apparent agenda that any opposition must be nuts (no, he probably would not characterise it that way). I would gladly challenge him on it. But it might be a firm challenge if only to elicit a relevant response. Post it here, see how it goes. I'll shut up if you want, but nobody here has to shut up or be polite, and that problem might be insoluble.

Jul 16, 2012 at 8:08 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Geoff - I'm peeved. you chose to publically report secondhand claims.. not I.

All I have is my reputation.

If Adam want to say something, say it to my face or comment here, not third hand smears through you.

You did not speak to his colleague and I have said what and why, you were not party to my conversation with Adam either, and again I went to great pains to try and have a rational sensible, productive and PRIVATE chat about it. But I now find, that it is being talked about third hand, with accusations of smears..

I spoke the about the facts as I saw them and my concerns, they are critical.. BUT not smears, not attacks, facts...

my concern is not mere association, Geoff - Cardiff University work with COIN and PIRC WWF on a regular basis...

this is not about individuals. it is about publically funded universities that should know better. Marshall founded COIN, he founded Rising Tide, he is at the heart of the poison about rhetoric, he is listed as a researcher at University's. He leads reports that Nottingham sign up to. and works closely with Corne, pursuing as I see it an activist agenda.

This is not just little details. they are working with organisations and activists that for a decade or more have made it virtually impossible to have anydebate..

the fact that Corner is a policy advisor to COIN and A DIRECTOR of PIRC should raise multiple conflict of interest concerns at those universities, as well as some refelection why they are working with those organisations..

Have your little chats with Adam, do what you will

Please ask Adam to explain to you exactly what he thinks I said that was a 'smear'?

BUT both Corner and Marsahll and their organisations COIN and PIRC have a public face, they lobby publically and the individuals get the priveledge of prouncing publically in the national media (Guardian amongst others) and if they can't cope with a few inconvenient facts and criticism, they should get out of the kitchen. Cristicism is not an attack, or a smear.. BUT the tactic of claiming is is. is straight out of the activsits handbook...

Now we can keep argueing about this publically if you like, but I will continue to defned my self and my actions publically. unlike some, not hididng away, spreading accusations of smears privately.

And again, ask Adam exactly what I said that was a 'smear' ??

I'm defending my reputation, perhaps that sounds petty. I don't think so.

Jul 16, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Rhoda, I agree with everthing you say. I also agree with Barry, possibly on everything, certainly on the vast majority of his concerns.
We are not a counter-movement to the CAGW. What are we? Corner asks the question, and gets the wrong answer. Let’s help him to get the right answer, and to generalise the question to cover attitudes or belief systems on both sides.
As you say, any challenge to Corner’s research must be a firm challenge, i.e. one based on knowing what it’s about. It is NOT about funding sources, or waving placards at Copenhagen, or supporting strange groups, or a dozen other things which may irritate us, but which are strictly irrelevant to his research.

Jul 16, 2012 at 9:20 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I don't want there to be any climate war stories, of sceptics smearing physcologists to their colleagues. As this was said to Geoff and I' hearing about it second hand.

Perhaps geoff can ask Adam to tell him, so that it can be reproduced in public here.
The exact and specific words of the alleged smear that was alkegedly made please.

And I. (assuming nobody else contacted nottingham or cardiff) will publically apologise.
I can recall nothing that could be labelled as a 'smear'

Factual criticisms are not smears by the way
please note, i also raised these concerns with Adam on the publically funded tslking climate blog and via twitter, before contacting any institution.

So please let us hear the exact alleged smear?
If i have said anything that could be considered a smear, I will absolutely publicalky apologise.

Either way that should draw an end to it.

Jul 16, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods


You do not need to defend your reputation any more than the UK needs to defend itself against Anglesey!

Jul 16, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Registered CommenterDung