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Discussion > Everyone on this blog

This Saturday, on the Delingpole on shale thread, I noticed Dung had written this:


You are a one trick pony and everyone on this blog has seen the trick far too many times.

I knew at once this statement to be false because as I read it I couldn't for the life of me remember anything Vangel had said on this blog.

There may be some rather deep points that arise. What it means to be on this blog. How trolls are identified. And, rather more concretely, how the shale gas debate is changing the ground rules of the national debate. I intend if I have the chance to come to all that.

Aug 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

You need to pay a bit more attention Richard, Vangel comes onto the blog every week or so and makes the same claims that shale gas even in the USA is not viable and that we should not pursue it in the UK. When I disprove his point he disappears and returns later with the same claims, never addressing the fact that he has been debunked.

Aug 20, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Registered CommenterDung

My interest is in the phrase "everyone on this blog". Would you have included David Coe before the 30th July? Would you include Tim Osborn, who came on to comment on David's second brilliant contribution two days later? And a plethora of other such questions. Just who is "everyone on this blog"? Whatever you think about Vangel and about my lack of attentiveness in that particular case, wasn't it a mistake to use this phrase?

Aug 20, 2013 at 2:25 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

This thread seems like arguing for argument's sake.

Aug 20, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

TBYJ: I repeat, I'd like to look here at what it means to be on this blog, the interesting process whereby the most vocal (not everyone by any means) calls out trolls and the importance of these issues in the context of the current debate about shale in the UK. If that's arguing for argument's sake, so be it. But it might be wise to wait and see what I have to offer on each of the three subjects.

Aug 20, 2013 at 2:34 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Perhaps it wasn't a mistake on Dung's part to say "everyone on this blog" but deliberately manipulative. This would fit with his latest offering, triggering creation of this thread a few moments ago:

Stephen Richards

Sorry I seem to have misled you; everybody on this blog judges people on the basis of what they write except Richard Drake. Fear not for you appear to use your own name so you are safe (even if it is a made up name).

Here's the old exclusion order shtick that I became so fond of in times past. On the one hand there's "everybody on this blog", on the other there's Richard Drake. Because I dare to disagree with Dung. Crude but so often an effective play.

For the record, I also judge people on this blog on the basis of what they write. That's why I've suggested we take a look at this highly suggestive phrase. For who can possiblty be the final arbiter of what everyone thinks here? Despite the logistic and logical difficulties I think it's clear who aspires to the role.

Aug 20, 2013 at 3:24 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

If Dung had been a bit more specific about Vangel’s trolling, (“you already said that on x day on the y thread”) this question wouldn’t arise, or wouldn’t risk turning into a stale debate about “why did you say that?”
The second part of Richard’s opener is too interesting to lose - “how the shale gas debate is changing the ground rules of the national debate” is a key subject that needs monitoring closely. This is the first time that a part of the climate debate has got running front page coverage. Already there are signs of the confusion of commenters who seem to be completely unaware of the reasoned sceptic position. For example, Douglas Carswell at
sees CO2 obsession as a fault limited to eco-loons, not understanding apparently that the eco-loons are carrying out rational actions which flow logically from the belief of 97% of scientists, 100% of scientific bodies etc. In other words, he’s not a BH reader, and nor are any other mainstream eco-doubters, probably.
It would be interesting to have some feedback on public opinion, reaction to the Lucas arrest, the quality of information on fracking in the media, and what they’re saying down the pub - particularly for those of us who can’t get down the pub for reasons of geography.

Aug 20, 2013 at 3:24 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff thanks. I couldn't agree more about the shift in the public debate caused by shale, which changes everything, not least the context for this blog. Exciting, enthralling times.

Aug 20, 2013 at 3:28 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Geoff, the interesting point in Carswell's article is the same point Matt Ridley has been making for years:

When the economy is doing well, people have spare money to plough into environmental concerns. The way to get more environmental conservation is to make everybody richer as fast as possible.

Surely the current recession and the subsequent dip in public care about "the cause" demonstrates that even to those who don't want to see.

Aug 20, 2013 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

TBYJ: I think Geoff's point is that sceptics are now multiplying way beyond the 3% allowed by consensus fiends like Dr Lew and those that bankroll him at the Royal Society. This completely changes the game. It's policy sceptics of course - but that is surely what unites us, not the details of the hotspot. We've escaped the shackles of the 3%. But paradoxically I'm going to argue that we need the maximum liberalism at this point with dissenters on Bishop Hill. So Vangel can make his point as often as he likes as far as I'm concerned - and I see no sign that the host disagrees with this. Or maybe Andrew's just tired! But troll-hunting is mostly for the birds. Why should we be afraid?

Aug 20, 2013 at 3:56 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The fact that the greens are HAVING to protest fracking is a sign of the times. Five years ago the idea wouldn't have been entertained, never mind happening and being enforced by the police.

They are already on their downward arc from the absolute power they wielded.

Your argument about should we be more or less tolerant of stragglers now we have something of an upper hand is interesting but probably irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. People aren't changing because of us, so how a handful get treated here won't affect it.

Aug 20, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


People aren't changing because of us, so how a handful get treated here won't affect it.
True, and a possible source of problems once the Balcombe protest is over. (What possessed Cuadrilla to start a controversial multi-megamillion pound project within a bike ride of Brighton?)
The good news (so far) in the coverage, as far as I can see, is that the public is made aware of the existence of eco-loons, and is put off by their extremism. The way public opinion works, there’ll be a confused non-debate from which climate sceptics will be excluded, and we’ll all settle for a happy medium between the extreme positions, with - say - 40% of our energy coming from windfarms, instead of the 100% the eco-loons want, and anyone disagreeing with that on grounds of climate scepticism will be considered a flat earther.
That will not be a success.

Aug 20, 2013 at 4:29 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I'm agnostic on how much blogs can change in the wider world but I think ideas are powerful. I think David Coe might change the scientific debate deeply - and David chose to publish here. I think Andrew Neil and others probably look in here from time to time. Better they pick up really good stuff when they do. It's all conjecture but if this is the small corner of the blogosphere that I frequent then I see so harm in arguing for the best possible results here. And of course accepting that others will have a different view to mine. That's why I've never claimed to speak for everyone on this blog.

On shale specifically I do have other things to say but I wasn't expecting to get to that right away. Over the next week certainly. For now I'm in the pub doing the research Geoff so urgently requested. :)

Aug 20, 2013 at 4:33 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Sometimes God seems to help. When I wandered up to the bar there wasn't anyone conveniently at hand to ask about Balcombe specifically or fracking generally. But as I walked home I espied my old Guardian-reading friend mentioned once before on Bishop Hill moving slowly in the same direction. I easily caught up and quite quickly he asked how it was going with the global warming stuff. I think to be honest he views me with some affection as a rare and strange species that he has seldom if ever come across before. Although he thinks I'm a mixture of weird and wrong he is genuinely intrigued.

But the other strange thing learned today is that Geoff Chambers had an almost identical experience the same day. I hope I may be forgiven for lifting this valuable piece from a mainstream thread last night:

Turning Tide: "Do these people REALLY not know that the government is subsidising renewables like crazy?!"

I was talking to a couple of friends - green-tinged Guardian reading Labour Party activists - yesterday, both with PhDs. One said: “Why doesn’t the government stop subsidising fracking and subsidise wind power instead? We don’t want any more nasty carbon”. They’d view this Balcombe lot as fruitcakes too; so would Lucas. If it was only the druids we had to counter we might have a chance.

My friend expressed exactly this view. I said at once and with emphasis that I disagreed with the subsidy George Osborne had announced for fracking. I'm like that:

1) I like to agree with my opponents wherever possible

2) I want to be consistent. All subsidies are bad.

I went on to say that no green energy - apart from some hydro, and mostly we don't have the necessary mountain to hand - would exist without massive subsidies. His own point having been conceded he was hard put to disagree, though he did try. What he certainly did sympathise with was how hard it was to tell what a free market in energy would look like, given all the manifold regulations and highly complex kickbacks in the current can of worms we call energy policy, every piece of complexity, as always, benefiting the insiders and their lawyers at the expense of the poorest.

This last point was a theme I wanted to tackle in this thread. Why was it that I hadn't even bothered to notice Vangel, let alone the excellent arguments of those who had most firmly put him in his place? Or even perhaps not - those who could only use the ultimate ad hom of 'troll' because his arguments were too strong for them?

I don't say I have arrived at that conclusion by the way. I'm saying that I didn't even bother to evaluate, so much so that Vangel's name registered a resounding 'nul points' on my sturdy recognition-ometer. How could that be? Thereby hangs a tale for another day.

But note that in my modesty about what I didn't understand about the energy market (and, heaven knows, I have much to be modest about) I made a connection with someone who would otherwise view me with suspicion. That's enough to be going on with for now.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

" I'm saying that I didn't even bother to evaluate, so much so that Vangel's name registered a resounding 'nul points' on my sturdy recognition-ometer. How could that be? "

Old age? :-)

Vangel's been on here at least six or seven times in the last six months repeating the same argument at length.

In one recent thread our host even snipped a post of his and told him to take it to discussion if he was going to continue to post the same thing continuously.

Aug 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

I think Dung does have a point; having crossed words with Vangel, s/he does seem rather hide-bound to one idea – the false economics of hydraulic fracturing of shale for gas. My own counter-arguments are along the lines of, “If they did not think it would be profitable, they would not explore; and if, after exploration, they did find it was not profitable, they are the only ones losing the money. Either way, you will not lose any money; so, what’s your beef?” Whether her/his rather exasperating, contortionate replies could be referred to as trolling, I have no idea, though s/he does often come over as being annoyed that only s/he is right, and we are not listening to him/her.

Aug 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Dung was always more likely to have a point about Vangel than I was, because six days ago when he wrote what he did I didn't even recognise the name. Of course I do now. One reason for this thread was to see if they became more or less annyoing as a result of me doing it. The answer this morning seems clear:


Next time you try to divert a thread onto discussion onto your theories about shale gas economics I will block you. This has been done to death and my patience is at an end. You are welcome to start a thread on the discussion forum.

That was after voluminous close-to-or-off-topic posting in the last couple of days, at a level I don't think this nym was operating before. One part of the experiment got a result. I'll come back to that if I may.

I was also genuinely intrigued by the phrase 'everyone on this blog'. It strikes me as a very changeable set. I'd like to know if Jeremy Harvey is still on this blog. What about Steven Mosher? Or Ross McKitrick? Or Sarah Mukherjee? What about Vangel him or herself? Or Entropic Man? Or Bit Bucket? What about someone who has never contributed but reads Bishop Hill every day? Or every week? What about every month? Or once a blue moon?

It's a very easy phrase to come out with but when one thinks about it it's a very nebuous concept indeed. I wonder if the friend I've twice discussed the global warming issue with, in the pub or on the way back from it, has ever googled for global warming sceptics in the UK and arrived here. Would he count if so?

One point of the questions is to break false consensus on Bishop Hill. We differ on a vast number of things and we're much the better for it. I do however accept that, when they start to disrupt threads where they have no business to be, certain nyms have to be dealt with, whether that's ZBD, AlecM or Vangel. It's seldom someone using their real name for some reason.

The advent of a very public debate about fracking seemed a good moment to think again about some of these things, because, whether we realise it or not, we have gained new allies in the past few weeks. How can we cater for their needs and if possible hear their views expressed, learn from them and perchance further enlighten them? And, even more important, be persuasive to those who have not yet made up their minds.

Aug 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Do you guys think that the recent write-downs of shale assets and the huge negative free cash flows in gas-cos are a sign of health?

Aug 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered Commenter1001

Was 1001's question on or off topic for this thread? Another exercise for the interested reader. If any.

But Vangel's apparent monomania on the profitability of shale raises another question about what we might mean by 'everyone of this blog'. Am I considered to be on Bishop Hill if I only take an interest in some areas covered, not all?

Note Dung's admonition of me in the second post:

You need to pay a bit more attention Richard, Vangel comes onto the blog every week or so and makes the same claims that shale gas even in the USA is not viable and that we should not pursue it in the UK.

But why should I pay more attention? What if my interests were such that I skimmed over a lot of the detailed debate of shale? Did that automatically make me 'not on this blog'? Surely not.

That was partly why I asked about Tim Osborn, who took the trouble to read David Coe's first two pdfs and write a critique of them. I'd hazard a guess that Tim doesn't read all BH posts with the same diligence. Like me he might not have recognised Vangel's name when Dung took the relatively newly-arrived nym to task. Is that grounds for saying that Tim Osborn is not on this blog?

Tim may also disagree with many who post here more often - on proxy reconstructions, say. Is that also a reason he cannot included in 'everyone on this blog'?

Everyone on this blog, including lurkers, taken over the last five years, say, is a really interesting set of people. But uniform in their opinions they ain't. Or in their interests.

Aug 25, 2013 at 12:16 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

OK, time for some definitions:

1. The Current Vocalists (CVs) have contributed to Bishop Hill in the last week.

2. The One-time Vocalists (OVs) have contributed at some point.

3. The One-time Readers (ORs) have read at least one page at some point.

The main purpose being that I want to draw attention to the thoughts of three men who as far as I know have never been BH OVs, namely Thomas Sowell, Michael Burleigh and Roger Scruton. Combined with three CVs, Julian Flood, Richard Verney and Mike Fowle.

I first watched Thomas Sowell commenting on the part of Barack Obama's 2012 State of the Union address dealing with green issues on 5th April of this year. How do I remember that so clearly? Because it was on that date that I realised that I was never going to be an expert on energy. This came as a blinding flash of what has since become the blindingly obvious, having just read three separate BH threads on energy issues. A few minutes later I happened, for reasons that I cannot now remember, to stumble upon the YouTube video of Sowell. For maximum convenience I've given the link to exactly the point that really matters, meaning you have just 1min 45secs to take in, but, if possible, I recommend watching the whole thing.

Can you imagine how struck I was that I had just emerged from the mistake Sowell shows the President of the United States is still making? Hence, to cut a long story short, my lack of interest in the details of Vangel. But I recommend some earnest thinking on this issue across the board. Our expertise is of necessity very limited. Though we do well to listen to those who really have it, knowing who they are is not always trivial. It's certainly not 'everyone on this blog' anyway.

I also commend Sowell's thoughts last week on Reality Versus Mirages in Egypt. How is this relevant to shale and fracking? Julian Flood, Richard Verney and Mike Fowle have made the connection. So does Michael Burleigh in The Times this morning. This area is important enough to warrant a separate discussion thread. We're not all going to agree on such foreign policy issues I'm sure. All the more reason to discuss them. And to avoid the conceptual straightjacket of what 'everyone on this blog' has to think as we do.

And Scruton? That has more to do with my concerns in Green and pleasant land. I'll pick it up there. But, again, these are areas in which the simplistic idea of what 'everyone on this blog' thinks - apart of course from a few gormless trolls - is completely irrelevant. In other words, interesting and worthwhile areas.

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:16 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

You are a strange person Richard. You advertise your epiphany on energy policy and yet seem oblivious to the parallel with climate science. You will never be an expert in climate science, yet you seem a keen supporter of a blog who's main preoccupation opposes the considered opinion of those who are (none of whom are supporters of this blog). Time for another epiphany...

Aug 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered Commenter1001

The answer is simple 1001. There are logical problems with the advocacy of climate policy, particularly the prosecutor’s fallacy, as Richard Lindzen has long pointed out. You don't have to be an expert in climate science to realise that this expert is right about that. You just have to think straight. But a clarifying difference, thanks.

Aug 26, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The link doesn't absolve you. There are many experts in climate science who would dispute Lindzen, but you choose to accept the one over the many. Yet you probably lack the expertise to judge between them - to judge whether what RL presented is the truth or just a selection or interpretation of the truth that fits his objective.

Aug 26, 2013 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered Commenter1001

I have to count that comment off topic 1001. I want to return to the themes I began with here. Steve McIntyre has often said on Climate Audit that unless he insists on some kind of focus every thread becomes the same. There are many other places you can discuss the arguments of Lindzen and every other expert you believe there to be in climate science.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:19 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The topic of the thread was "Everyone on this blog", but you departed from that once you started discussing your energy policy epiphany. You then introduced Lindzen to justify your intellectual 'epiphanic' inconsistency and now you say discussion of this is off topic. Since you are a lonely figure on this thread (having posted more than the rest put together) I would have thought you might like some company. Probably not from me though. And it is your thread...

So back to everyone on this blog. Over to you.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered Commenter1001