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Discussion > Is this what winning is like?

Much respect for your attempts Roger.

Might I say to everyone, only continue to do this while it suits you. Please don’t let fighting against AGW hysteria blight your life. I worry about Mr Watts in that respect. It will resolve itself and/or a larger movement will arise. It might be a tragic waste of money but if it wasn’t AGW that governments were wasting it on, it would be something else.

Let me reiterate. You are helping. Just by writing about the truth on blogs and comment sections, you slowly give people ammunition to dig their heels in. The wider we get those little digs the better. Doing something more ambitious would be nice but not at the cost of creating despondancy.

Feb 23, 2013 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

TinyCO2, again you touch on things which I will hopefully expand a little in the coming days, about still managing to live your life and stay happy in the face of apparent lunacy. I think some people on the skeptic have actually become cranks (or perhaps they started out that way) and I think if we ever hope to come through this madness, cranks are actually counter-productive.

Whilst scientific arguments are illuminating, it's not what convinces ordinary people. That's why their side has to lie about the science to produce scary scenarios - they DO scare people.

Our biggest tool and ally is common-sense. If you can show things are just not working or counter-productive, you effectively avoid all the scientific bickering. Instead of shouting that the science is wrong - a fight we're never going to win because ordinary people believe scientists - we have to start our arguments with 'ok, say we need to reduce our emissions....' and then highlight the ways the current policies are not managing that.

Without wishing to pre-empt what I'll say later, in some ways we' need to become more green and zealous than they are, and by doing that, highlight why they are failing to do what they are purporting to do. We need to climb higher ont he high ground than them.

Feb 23, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

As someone once said....

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Feb 23, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Instead of shouting that the science is wrong - a fight we're never going to win because ordinary people believe scientists

Dunno. I tend to think the opposite - it's science in general that may ultimately be discredited. I can foresee a time when "Believe me, I'm a climate scientist" goes down as well as "Believe me, I'm a _______*"

* Insert according to choice:
- double glazing salesman
- estate agent
- car salesman
- politician
- etc

Feb 23, 2013 at 1:51 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

What a thread! I want to hear more about TBYJ’s self-analysis, and Roger Longstaff’s dialogue with the BBC about Horizon. Awareness of how we appear to others may be the key to discussing strategy.
TBYJ and Robin Guenier argue for leaving aside discussion of the science and arguing about efficiency. But why should the ordinary bloke believe our assertions about the inefficacity of our carbon reductions, any more than they believe our criticisms of IPCC estimates of climate sensitivity? They’re both Greek to the man in the street.
There’s a lot to think about in geronimo’s comment, though I disagree strongly with his analysis of the Greens’ secret motivations. Granted, there’s a streak of “nanny knows best” authoritarianism in there, but what’s the point of trying to persuade someone they’ve got motivations which they know the haven’t? Grant them at least the genuineness of their desire to make a better world, and show them where theyre mistaken in their aims and their means.

I’m busy following the Italian elections for the next few days. There’s a lot we could learn about politics from the Italians. They even have a party of revolutionary centrists! Our system with the same three parties for centuries leaves us Brits ill-prepared for thinking strategically in novel situations. Omnologos knows a thing or two about that.

Feb 23, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff, I'm not sure I spoke about secret motivations, I think they are overt. They, the greens, believe in protecting the environment, they have shown no love of humanity at all, at least in the pronouncements of their leaders, and witnessed by the fact that they are still, covertly this time, opposing the use of DDT to protect African children from malaria. Everything I said about them is based on the activities of previous bien pensants, like the communists, or christians, or muslims, who having attained power and are ruthless in pursuit of their goals. Everyone of the previous/current tyrannies has a perfectly, "what's not to like" set of principles, and every one has, having gained power, been ruthless with, and jolly unkind to, dissenters. I expect no more from the greens. You can see the seeds of what I'm talking about in the fact that they have everything their way now, but it's still not enough because they can't suppress dissension.

Go back to the beginning and ask yourself what winning would look like to the greens.

BTW, I'm sharing my views with you, I don't believe that I could persuade anyone to listen to me, or any of us, by starting out telling them they're "an evil bunch of bastards", obviously that might be a hindrance to me getting any point across. My post was to try to explain what I think we're up against.

Feb 23, 2013 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo


"I want to hear more about...... Roger Longstaff’s dialogue with the BBC about Horizon".

I spent a whole year, with literally dozens of emails, arguing about Paul Nurse's "Science Under Attack" Horizon programme. In this programme a NASA scientist made some outrageous claims about the amount of CO2 that humanity was pumping into the atmosphere. I reported the whole, sorry story here on BH, mostly on unthreaded. I talked to the people who had made the programme - all the way up to Lord Patten - and I got exactly nowhere. I do not even want to revisit it, as it was so dispiriting. The BBC won, I lost.

But I don't like to lose!

Feb 23, 2013 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff


I would like to add a final comment on the infamous "Horizon" saga.

By 2011 Sir Paul Nurse, a brilliant biochemist and President of the Royal Society, was as untouchable as Sir Jimmy Saville in the groupthink of the BBC. In saying this I am NOT suggesting any improprietry on the part of Sir Paul, who I am sure is a decent man, and brilliant in his specialised field.

But the BBC were wrong.

Feb 23, 2013 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I think that a well organised meeting, at a university, would be a good idea, rather than a pub meeting.

Now that's an interesting idea. I could arrange that. An advantage of holding it here would be that there are several people in social sciences at Nottingham (Reiner Grundmann, Brigitte Nerlich, Warren Pearce) interested in climate scepticism.

It would also have the advantage of getting us at least to some extent noticed, which is something of an elephant-in-the-room in this discussion. [By which I mean, there is discussion of what we would say on the Today programme, but the Today programme editors (a) have no idea we exist, (b) even if they did, would have no intention of allowing us any airtime].

Feb 23, 2013 at 6:01 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I know the Horizon film well. I transcribed it for Alex Cull’s Mytranscriptbox. It’s at
It was when I posted an excerpt from the transcript in a comment at BH that people more scientifically savvy than me picked up the howler by the NASA scientist. It was then I realised that my attitude differs from that of many here. That a scientist makes an honest mistake which wasn’t picked up by the editors of the BBC’s flagship science programme is serious enough. But I thought what Nurse was doing was something far more serious. Everything about his conduct was cheap and mendacious, from the choice of “sceptics” (the elderly Fred Singer interviewed in a diner; the trapping and editing of Delingpole) to the absurd conflation of climate sceptics with anti-OGM demonstrators.
I’m not sure what more one could do. The “fault” the BBC was guilty of boils down to putting out a poorly argued one-sided thesis - a bad documentary, in other words. What made it so serious was the fact that the presenter was the president of the Royal Society, and his apparent motivation - to slur sceptics. It was bad journalism and bad science. It’s the job of journalists and critics to point that out, but they won’t because of th untouchable nature of “the consensus”. Maybe if more of us had protested it might have had more effect. If we don’t do any more to organise ourselves, we can at least alert each other to things worth protesting about here on unthreaded.

Feb 23, 2013 at 6:13 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Thanks Geoff - you understand my point exactly.

Paul - If you can orgamise a venue at Nottinghan University I will definitely attend, and give a presentation if appropriate. Is anybody else up for it?

All we need is seven good men who can shoot straight (including rhoda). And lots of bullets...

Feb 23, 2013 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Paul Matthews
That sounds like a brilliant idea. Reiner Grundmann is a sociologist who was quoted at as saying

“At this point I probably ought to explain a principle at the heart of science studies, the methodological rule of studying knowledge claims symmetrically. This means not to assume a priori that one side is right and the other wrong and that we only need to find explanations for the “wrong” position (because the truth will out in the end and is in no need for explanation). Instead, we should analyze both sides (or more sides, if there are more) without committing to one of them on the level of cognitive validity or authority.”

Feb 23, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Hi Paul

I'd go... if 'lukewarmers' are welcome of course.. I've met Warren and he seems a sensible chap.

Reiner I felt had a bit of a superior academic attitude, but that might just have been twitter. Expenses would be nice, as we would be helping in the 'research'

Feb 23, 2013 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I agree about Horizon.. Nurse standing shoulder to shoulder with Prof Phil Jones, was far worse than the CO2 howler. There defense of 'hide the decline' was appallingly bad science..

the whole program was thinly disguised attack on climate sceptics, with the GM/aids bit thrown in to make a link (nutter) and not to make it so obvious (two thirds was about climate science)

the BBC also set Delingpole up (see the producers letter) reproduced here:

I've had my disagreements with James, but I interviewed him in the above url

Feb 23, 2013 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I’ve just emerged from a busy Saturday and have time for a comment. This is an excellent thread. But I suggest that – at least from my perspective – it’s may be drifting away from the real point:

1. The objective of my proposed pub meeting was to continue this discussion face-to-face, but to do so in a more structured way. It’s objective would not be to debate the scientific issues, but to see if we (an informal but well-informed group) could determine a fresh approach: one that might get some traction, one that might make a difference in the practical world and one to which we can all subscribe. (My personal view is that we can – by inter alia keeping clear of scientific issues and no longer even trying to demonstrate that CAGW is nonsense.) BTW, Paul, I really don’t think people in social sciences at Nottingham would help at this stage – perhaps later.

2. Roger: your “well organised” meeting sounds as if it might turn out to be another conference with formal presentations etc. – and perhaps even invitations to the press. If so, I would be very dubious about it. To my mind, the meeting’s structure should be on the lines I suggested at 9:50PM yesterday – no more than that. Note: I’m proposing only a first step, not an end result.

3. The problem (Roger) with the GWPF is that it’s so closely associated with criticism of the CAGW hypothesis. Nothing wrong with that of course – but it’s just not getting anywhere, not least because their approach and alleged right-wing sympathy prompts constant, almost standard ad hominem attack.

4. geronimo’s interesting but depressing post at 9:36 this morning made some challenging points. I think he goes a long way towards explaining what we’re up against. But I don’t accept his assertion that the greens have won: yes, they may appear to have done so (even if they don’t think they have) but I don’t think it’s too late to knock them off their perch – and to do so quite soon. It’s true many of them (not all) don’t really care about global warming – all the more reason for us to stop debating it (at least in public) and attack on a new front. “People who hate human beings” should not be difficult to defeat – if we’re cunning. TBYJ got it exactly: “find very specific areas which resonate with the public and attack only on those fronts”. As he also said, “Our biggest tool and ally is common sense”.

5. Geoff: you misunderstand me. I’m not interested in arguing about the efficacy of renewables in reducing emissions – see below. And your reference to a “killer quote” suggests another misunderstanding. I have a lot of experience of the media (radio, TV and print) as a result of my Y2K involvement (see posts elsewhere on BH) and of dealing with Ministers, the National Audit Office, various select committees etc. as a result of my (covert) campaign to get people to see sense about what turned out to be the NHS computer debacle. What I found was the considerable advantage of having a simple, easily remembered, repeatable “soundbite” that summarised and informed a complex underlying argument.

My soundbite would be this: current climate policies are damaging, potentially disastrous and, in any case, pointless. Plainly that would need a good deal of supporting evidence and detailed argument. But, in my view, the beauty of it is that the evidence is there and it’s not such a difficult case to make. (And geronimo, the greens are not ready for it.)

6. Some have referred to the difficulty of accessing ministers, getting on to the Today programme etc. Well, yes, but it’s not impossible – especially if you’re not attacking an established consensus, have not been demonised and have something new to say. I suppose I’m lucky: my MP is Peter Lilley who not only fully understands these issues but is now a member of the parliamentary energy and climate change select committee. I know him well – and, incidentally, via his good offices, had a meeting last week with Baroness Wheatcroft whom I knew when she was City Editor of the Times and who is now a senior Tory peer. All this (and more – e.g. I hope to meet Owen Paterson in April) may help.

7. A final comment. This is a deadly serious matter: the UK is heading for real difficulty in the near term as a result of our absurd climate change policies. Those of us who believe, as I do, that we may be able to change that have a duty to try. My proposal here is that we take the first step.

Feb 23, 2013 at 9:02 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier


I think that we are talking about two different things here - call them a pub meet and a university conference. You have explained your objectives for a pub meet, and they seem valuable and sensible to me.

However, a university conference would be a very different thing, as the university would set the terms of reference. And the CAGW hypothesis rests upon the scientific argument, which in the view of most here is based upon a flawed application of the scientific method. If a reputable university were to host a conference that at least identified serious concerns about the science underpinning CAGW then perhaps the establishment would take notice.

Perhaps even the BBC would come.

Feb 23, 2013 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

So a pub meet to chew over ideas and the University thing to aim for?

Feb 23, 2013 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Indeed, this interesting discussion is talking about two quite different things, if not more, and perhaps ought to split into 3 or more sub-threads!

If I did organise a meeting (which is a big if) it would have to be done in a professional way and I'm afraid that any talk of 'bullets' would not be acceptable. Also it's most unlikely that there would be any expenses, since (a) I can't think where any funding would come from and (b) Any funding would be subject to relentless distracting attacks from the usual suspects, as with GWPF funding (see Rhoda's initial post).

Feb 23, 2013 at 10:59 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Robin, I'm not the greatest communicator, and have spent a lifetime of people misunderstanding what I really meant to say. It is not unusual for me to have to expand my arguments. The greens have won, but not the war, that's for sure. My point was that what they see as victory is significantly different from what we see as victory, because for them the victory has to be total. Where some of us would should we be on their side of the argument would accept that the vanquished don't really believe in CAGW, and would be content with the fact that the legislators are doing our bidding, the greens won't see victory until we all of us accept all the tenets of their faith. That will be their undoing. At least I hope so.

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:20 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo


was my little joke. ;-)

From the social scientists perspective. Whst would be in it for them, as many might duspect just another exercise in trying to analyse the sceptics, to counter them. Ie Adam Corner and Geirge Marshall arr resesrchers in this field, according to the Nottingham website

I don't want to be a subject of an experiment, but have other parties reflecying on thrir own field as well. Ie the activism of Lewandowsky, Marshall and Corner and others. Additionally the science dhoukd not be off the table.

Could be worthwhile, depending on mutual expectations.

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Bullets were my little joke too ;-)

If Paul decides to approach his University to host a conference it will be up to them to set the terms of reference, decide who attends, who gives presentations, etc. Of course, this should not stop us approaching other universtites as well. I think that it would need a unique theme in order that it did not morph into just another climate conference, with all of the usual suspects. How about "The Scientific Case Against CAGW"? That would stir things up!

Feb 24, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

How about 'come and find out if deniers are as mad as you think they are?' or 'help sceptics understand global warming.'

I know, they'd be too inflammatory.

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Well, the view from here, so to speak - out in one of the far-flung colonies - is that, for the most part, Rhoda nailed it in her first post:

We are winning because the CAGW cause is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. Coming off worst in the collision with reality. It's taking too long, of course, but we all have not much to do with it. [emphasis added -hro]

Where I disagree with Rhoda is her claim that "we all have not much to do with it". I think we do. And I believe we do because - unlike the Big-Green tainted CAGW crowd - we provide diverse views with reason and nuances.

Robin suggests that we need a "sound-bite" - and the one he suggests is good and valid. But the problem with sound-bites, IMHO, is their genesis, which - if I'm not mistaken - is advertising/PR. As a consequence, they have their own inherent disadvantages from a credibility perspective. Not to mention the danger of becoming a "mantra" that is ripe for (undeserved) mockery.

In one of my previous incarnations, I was very much involved in the development of community-based (as opposed to institutionally-based) services to children and adults with developmental handicaps (people who were formerly know as "mentally retarded"). This was a provincial (and to some extent federally funded) government supported initiative.

One of the issues we perpetually grappled with was - in effect - how do we gain public acceptance of community-based programs. IOW, how do we overcome the NIMBY syndrome. The auto-response was, well, we need some effective PR.

But a lone voice disagreed. She said, "No, the best PR is a well-run program". And she was right on the mark - as eventually was proven many times over in many communities across Canada, by people who decided to think for themselves.

I mention this because I believe there is a parallel to our current dilemma. I believe that our diverse voices represent the views of the "silent majority" - who prefer to think for themselves rather than parrot that which is fed to them by any number of advocacy groups and/or activist-tainted-journalists and/or advocacy-tainted scientists.

IMHO until the civilized Western world obtains a "divorce" from the United Nations (and in particular the new improved UNEP) and until you in the U.K. can rid yourselves of the pernicious affiliation with the EU, the best we can do is continue to offer our diverse views via the "new media".

Feb 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Something's made me return to the fray, for a little while, as I'll explain in a moment. But this is becoming a truly great thread - perhaps surprising given how different our ideas of winning are. Hilary's given one of the bigger definitions: divorce from the UN and the EU. That's bold. That's good. But it may not happen overnight, IMHO :)

In other words, what's happening now isn't what winning is like for everyone, including I assume Hilary. Some of us have a long way to go but, as I think she also implies, every step in the right direction counts. And that is where what Martin A quoted comes in:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

A prayer. Sceptics (in that other sense) have often mocked an idea called 'the God of the gaps'. But, whatever they say, I am acutely aware of how big the gaps are in my knowledge and, even more, in my wisdom. Without God, that is - or without Jesus, as I would equally say.

I know people get scared by such talk - for instance the idea that George W Bush prayed and felt that God told him to invade Iraq. Scary stuff, huh? He never actually said it but it's scary even to think about or so many seem to find. I find it scary to think of leaders who never pray, who think they have all the knowledge and wisdom they need already.

I don't have a country-invasion level of influence but I do try to ask what I can change - or, rather more practical and important, what we can change, working together, in this generation. On 3rd October last year I felt in reply that changes were now going to be possible because of three areas in which the truth was being uncovered: Hillsborough, the Vatican and the BBC.

Yesterday I picked up for the first time that the Pope's resignation might be intimately connected with the Paolo Gabriele story I'd read about in October. I won't spell out the gory details. Some within the Vatican are bound to try and discredit the story now being told. Who knows, Benedict himself may have different ideas.

The precise state of the Vatican, good or bad, is not the point here. It is that we need tremendous wisdom to know what we may be able to change. And not just bundles of courage but much patience in seeing it through to a conclusion.

Feb 24, 2013 at 5:43 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Hilary: I agree that we (i.e. the multitude of "contrarians" with their diverse views) have had and are having a lot to do with the beginnings of the collapse of the CAGW cause. Therefore it’s essential that we maintain the pressure – even if it seems, as it so often does, that we’re getting nowhere. But one thing we should understand: it’s going to take a very long time before the huge, well-entrenched CAGW edifice actually collapses. For example, how soon are we likely to see a Western divorce from the UN?

But the UK cannot afford to wait: it faces a real and serious crisis now. Our absurd climate change policies have brought us to the brink of experiencing power outages and, as I said on Friday, in a modern society it’s electricity that prevents disaster – especially in periods of extreme cold. Many thousands could suffer and thousands, especially the most vulnerable, could die. And then it would be too late to realise that support for renewables, especially wind energy, is little more than impractical, sanctimonious piety.

More must be done to communicate that reality – and it has to be quickly and effectively. Hence my call for a campaign built around a simple, easily understood soundbite, summarising and informing a complex underlying argument. OK, it’s an advertising/PR concept. But advertising and PR can be very effective.

Here again is my proposed message:

current climate policies are damaging, potentially disastrous and, in any case, pointless

The day when that’s so well known that it’s mocked, would be the day that we’ve won. I understand your liking for a “well-run” programme. But that’s not an option available to us: we cannot run an alternative national energy system.

Feb 24, 2013 at 5:52 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier