What’s In a Rebuttal?

Update: This is a new blog, and the tone of this entry does not necessarily reflect the tone of other entries. It is admittedly harsh – possibly a bit more agitated of a tone than appropriate.

Commenter afcjags03 over at Ricky Rood’s Climate Change Blog has tipped us off to a response published by Christopher Monckton to Gavin Schmidt’s dismantling of his paper, Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered. That paper is, of  course, the one at the heart of The APS Meme, a controversy which seems to have blown over in the minds of everyone except the most, well, denialist of us. Now, I’d love to sit down and analyze Monckton’s response point-by-point, but I’m hesitant for two reasons. The first is because I bet Gavin Schmidt will want to tear it apart anyways, and he is much more qualified to carry out that process than I am.

The second reason is because I can do something different with this paper. You see, the response is really divided up into three sections; there’s a preface (the “Context”), a middle section, and a post-script. The preface and post-script, curiously, are not a scientific engagement. Instead, they are written in the style of a hit-piece; they abound with ad hominems, strawmen, and plain egregious propaganda pandering to the denialist core (as evident by his abundant use of the “alarmist” meme). Let’s look at the “Context” section and break it down:

For the second time, the FalseClimate propaganda blog…

Right off the bat, we’ve got a ridiculous ad-hominem. If anything shows Monckton’s true colors, it’s his libeling of the RealClimate blog’s name. If he was interested in legitimate discussion, then he’d be using the blog’s real name; instead, from the get-go it’s apparent that this is about propagandizing the argument and smearing the RealClimate writers rather than standing strong by his scientific “reasoning.”

…founded by two co-authors of the now-discredited2 “hockey-stick” graph…

For starters, the founders of RC really don’t have any relationship to this discussion; weren’t we talking about Dr. Schmidt’s rebuttal to Monckton? Furthermore, having sat through a presentation by Michael Mann, one of those founders, I’d like to point out that Mann never had to resort to ad-hominem and slander against skeptics to get his points across. I don’t have to say much on the notion that the hockey-stick graph is discredited as it is an older reconstruction and there are better ones available, but if you follow Monckton’s citation, you’ll notice something… he cites another “paper” he authored in rebuttal to Dr. Schmidt’s rebuking of an older one of his papers on RealClimate! Is this man not able to take any criticism in stride? The cited source mentions “hockey-stick” no more than 6 times, and in no place does it ever “discredit” it. It doesn’t even further defend Monckton’s original, tattered assertions over it.

…by which the UN’s climate panel tried unsuccessfully to abolish the mediaeval warm period…

It did no such thing. The MWP is still a popular concept in climate science. The only thing that has changed – if anything, as I don’t actually remember the IPCC commenting on the MWP – is that new evidence indicates that the MWP might have been a regional effect more than anything as it doesn’t show up in other parts of the world. A temporary shift in the Gulf Stream is one hypothesis to explain the MWP; I wish I had sources from the primary literature handy to cite people to.

…has launched a malevolent, scientifically-illiterate, and unscientifically-ad-hominem attack on a publication by me.

Malevolent… nope. Scientifically-illiterate… only if we’re talking of Monckton’s rebuttals. Ad-hominem… not really; it’s nothing compared to the stuff Monckton writes in this response. Next paragraph:

My 8000-word paper, Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered3, was published in Physics and
Society in July 2008, after a request from the editors that I should submit a paper setting
out the methods by which the UN had overstated the likely warming in response to
doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Stop at the first sentence. Monckton’s paper was not published in Physics and Society. Monckton’s paper was presented in that Journal’s newsletter. Publication in Physics and Society implies that it is peer-reviewed research with the Journal deemed quality work adding to the scientific canon. In reality, Monckton’s paper isn’t peer-reviewed; it was peer-error-corrected – a big difference. Furthermore, it seems that he mistates the purpose the editors set out. All evidence seems to point out that it was a single editor who wanted to host a discussion of the arguments in favor of and opposed to the conclusion of the IPCC with regards to AGW theory.

One Schmidt attempted a regrettably hasty rebuttal on the FalseClimate blog. I should
not normally have considered Schmidt’s blog worthy of a response.

I doubt this is the case, as I’ve already presented one citation by Monckton’s own pen which clearly demonstrates that he seems to pathologically respond to Schmidt’s criticism over at RC.

However, a member
of the public emailed me recently to say that she had first realized that Schmidt and the
rest of the small clique of financially and politically linked scientists and politicians
driving the climate scare had no credible scientific basis for their apocalyptic claims
when she saw the ease with which I had been able compellingly to rebut Schmidt’s
earlier attempt4 to undermine the science in what I had published.

Lumping stuff together a bit more, there’s two things. The first reference to a e-mail from a “member of the public” (what the hell is he? I was under the assumption that members of the peerage such as himself were expelled from the House of Lord in 1999) forms the third part of his response which is patent lunacy and deserves its own post. Note the second thing: Monckton honestly believes he’s been successful in rebutting Dr. Schmidt each time. What a crock! If he has been so successful, then why is he continually penning new responses?

The final part of the response is a ridiculous effort to pin RealClimate and its bloggers as part of some liberal/environmentalist/green conspiracy. It also illustrates the ridiculous beliefs Monckton concocts for himself. Check out this:

It is not known whether I had been invited to submit my paper
precisely so that the APS could attempt to humiliate me publicly by
its disclaimer. If so, the attempt backfired badly: my paper gained
considerable exposure not only on the internet but also in the
mainstream news media.

Ha! Yeah, the APS was just trying to assassinate your character. Factor in the fact that the paper was so groundbreaking that the MSM publicly denounced global warming during the Evening News last and what have we got? A hack. That’s right: Monckton is nothing but a propagandist hack whose only interest is to pander to denialists.

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~ by counters on July 30, 2008.

2 Responses to “What’s In a Rebuttal?”

  1. [...] Click to read more… [...]

  2. For a pretty accurate version of how this really happened, see:
    New Scientist.

    and for more on the person who suggested Monckton to some (unsuspecting) editors, Gerald Marsh, see:

    comment at RC.

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