It's not enough to bash in heads, you have to bash in minds

Irregular Climate Episode 6

This week: Money minds its own business, Oh No! It’s Monckton again!, Where do the deniers keep their skepticism?, My blacklist is longer than yours, Godwin’s law, Blacklist paper wrap up, The word is authority, but who has it (and where did they get it?), The skeptic debunk of the week

14 Responses to Irregular Climate Episode 6

    • Yes I think we made that clear when we said that Watts had signed it. So why is this list not a blacklist. Why was Morano’s list not a black list? Why is the PNAS paper (which didn’t name names, and whose data comes from PUBLIC statements) is called a blacklist by the same people who signed the Climate Science Register.

      BTW don’t you think it is dishonest to have something called a climate scientists register, but only include scientist who’s views are outside of the mainstream?

    • Because it’s a white list. The people signed themselves and they’re not supposed to be criticized or harmed in any way. They are the people who understand the climate more than others and who study it impartially. So it’s a white list and there’s nothing wrong about it. You must misunderstand what the term “black list” means.

    • So taking names from these white lists (remember the data from the PNAS study all comes from PUBLIC declarations), not naming names and doing aggregate analysis on their publication record somehow turns this into a black list?

      Ok got it.

  1. Have you guys considered breaking the podcast up into chapters? Could be handy for linking to particular topics when arguing with deniers.

    • We have, but it complicates things. There are a few ways of doing it but none of them are particularly good.

      One can put several audio files into a single RSS article, but at least on iPods/iPhones the order becomes random. Since those are the most popular portable platform that is not really acceptable to me.

      Another option is to use aac files, which have chapter built right in (one audio files with several chapters). But there exists comparability (and possibly licencing) issues. aac is not nearly as widely compatible as MP3 which works just about everywhere, So that option is out.

      The last option is to essentially release several shows instead of one each week. Each show would be essentially a chapter. This requires a lot of extra work, and complicates things on the back end enormously. I just don’t have enough time to devote to this to make that happen (damn you real job!).

      I am looking for a workaround, but the leading candidate (the audio tag in HTML5) isn’t yet as widely supported as I would like. And even that would be more work than I would like.

      I know this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear; it isn’t the answer I wanted to give.

    • And I should mention that if you desire you can yourself cut out the relevant sections of the podcast and point those you who are are arguing to that. The Creative commons licence I use allows this as long as you attribute Irregular Climate (a link will do just fine) and don;t use it for commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes we can talk).

      Also you can host it for free at Again I know this is not ideal.

  2. Hi Dan,

    I have been listening, and really appreciate the effort and the intent of these podcasts.

    Overall though, it seems as though you are “preaching to the choir”. I can’t imagine that any skeptic is really listening. The reason the deniers do what they do is that there is a political battle to be won in this debate, and the deniers are exploiting the fact that it is much easier to manufacture doubt than to manufacture certainty. It does not matter to them if their tactics are dishonest, because the end justifies the means in their thinking. So volleying back with honest facts about the science does not really counter what they are doing. Polls show that doubt about climate change is increasing, so they are winning at their game even if they are losing badly on the facts.

    What could be done with your podcast to make it more appealing to mainstream listeners, to the “uncertain but too busy and too scientifically uninclined to do my own checking” kind of folks who are influenced by the deniers and their dishonest tactics? Maybe a cliff notes version of each podcast, kind of like a movie trailer that shows all of the funniest scenes from a two hour movie in 30 seconds? You could score about as many points in something like that, quicker, livelier, and you would probably reach a much wider audience.

    How about getting some deniers to come on the show for a debate? (OK, they would never agree to it, but it would be great to hear some back and forth with Monkton, or Watts, or one of those guys.) Or how about going out to talk to some regular folks, man-on-the-street style, so see what kind of attitudes you encounter about climate change, what sources of information people are finding that influence their beliefs.

    I hope you will find this constructive!


    • The Cliff Notes version is certainly interesting, but I am already time stressed (notice how behind I am in producing the show notes). Perhaps something to think about in the future… BUT it is worth noting that there is value in ‘preaching to the choir’.


      As for the the idea of debating deniers, I do not think that is worthwhile. People arguing in bad faith (as people like Monckton and other deniers most certainly are) have an advantage. They can say anything as long as it is even remotely plausible. People like me are limited by what is true and known. See here for more.

      In short I think real time debates are useless for establishing truth in complex issues. Take a look at the Monckton-Abraham debate. It took months for Abraham to analyse and evaluate all the claims made in one presentation by Monckton. Monckton then replied with over 400 questions to Abraham, that were nearly 100 pages in length. That will take a very long time to go through, and evaluate. Real time debates more often than not end up not dealing with the points being presented because neither side has the information then need at their fingertips, so for the most part they end up talking past each other.

      A notable exception was the Lamber Monckton debate, but only because Tim Lamber researched and guessed correctly come of the points Monckton was going to make, so he prepared a proper rebuttal beforehand:



  3. Enjoyed the show again. I thought the discussion on authority was very helpful.

    As you know, I tend to agree with the thrust of Jim’s comment. I’m not sure what the answer is. The sort of dialogue he suggests would a completely different kind of show (actually, though, it would be interesting if it could be done without everyone getting heated).

    On John Cook’s debunk, I wonder if it would be worth expanding a bit, as it is pretty brief. I would have appreciated it if John could have gone through things in more detail.

  4. My debunk is very brief, intentionally so. The temptation is always to cram as much science as possible but I’ve opted to keep it simple, short and hopefully easy to understand. A lot more details are available on my website. Eg, on the CO2 lag:

    Thanks for the comment. I think for future debunks, I may post a more detailed accompanying article on for those thirsting for more details.

    • Dan, John,
      Thanks for the replies. To try to link them together, even the converted probably are trying to learn more of the science, so more details on would be handy, or a reference to a page that does the job. Cheers.

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