We’ll Always Have Paris, 2015

Next year’s meeting of the UNFCCC in Paris promises to put climate change back on the front pages. While serious people will be examining closely the policies of China, India, the USA, and other functioning economies, I’ll be keeping a close watch on what’s happening in France.
Election hysteria will be at fever pitch by December 2015, given that the presidential and parliamentary elections will be a mere 18 months away. The political microclimate will be in chaos, abuzz with the only question which counts in the coming French presidential election: who will be chosen to have the honour of coming second behind the ultra-right-wing Marine Le Pen? (Everyone accepts that Marine Le Pen will win the first round, with up to 30% of the vote. But with 70% of the electorate saying they would never vote for her, it’s who comes second, and therefore goes through to the second round, which counts).
On the right, it looks like being Nicolas Sarkozy again, unless one of his rivals has the courage to come out and say what everybody knows: that Sarkozy has six or seven teams of examining magistrates on his tail, for a variety of suspected crimes ranging from corrupting high court judges to taking multi-million euro bribes from Colonel Ghadaffi. He may be cleared of all suspicion, or he may find himself in a police cell on the eve of the election. No-one knows.
On the left, the possible candidates include the current left-of-centre President François Hollande, his right-of-left-of-centre Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and anybody else who thinks they could do better than the most unpopular French President in history.
Among the latter group will certainly be his minister of ecology, Segolène Royal, unsuccessful socialist candidate for the presidency in 2007, and mother of President Hollande’s four children.
The 2015 UNFCCC Paris conference will propel her into the political limelight (though France’s climate negotiations are apparently in the hands of ex-Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius). While serious people will be discussing carbon offsets and other climatey stuff, the French electors will be watching Segolène flash her eyelashes as she courts the 90% of French electors who think that nuclear is rubbish, renewables are marvellous, valiant peasants who block airport runways with their tractors are heroes, and anything would be better than another five years of Hollande.
I’m limbering up for this event by commenting on French Lefty Green blogs, which demands a certain intellectual effort, and the use of corners of my brain which haven’t been exercised since French O-level more than fifty years ago. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share with you a sample of the kind of exchange which passes for discussion of things climatic in France.
This dates from 2009. It’s an interview with Michel Rocard, who was socialist Prime Minister during François Mitterand’s second presidential term, and who was named by incoming right wing president Sarkozy to head a commission to advise on ways to tackle climate change. This is an extract from his radio interview on France Info, translated from the transcription 30th July 2009 at


Michel Rocard: The principle is that the Earth is protected from excessive solar radiation by the greenhouse effect, that’s to say a kind of cloudy protection, I mean a gaseous protection, which in the atmosphere is relatively opaque to sunlight. And when we emit carbon dioxide or methane or nitrous oxide – a thingy which is found in agricultural fertilizers – we attack these gases, it reduces the protection of the greenhouse effect and the planet is slowly turning into a frying pan.
The result would be that the great-grandchildren of our great-grandchildren will no longer be able to live. Life will come to an end in seven or eight generations. It’s completely terrifying. So to do that, we must reduce what is emitted as carbon monoxide and began by addressing the major sources of that, which are the production of electricity and the manufacture of such things as cement, concrete, steel, aluminum or plastics that consume a lot of energy in their production. And to do that, we’ve invented quotas, it’s an invention that was made by the Kyoto Protocol, whose application in the European Union, twenty-seven countries, covers all electricity producers and manufacturers of materials, which are subject to emission ceilings. If they need to produce more, and thus emit more, they need to buy. It is a cost, so a kind of tax, they must buy quotas on the quota market.
Unfortunately this only applies to producers of energy and materials. For transportation, for agriculture, for heating our apartments, for our private motoring, there is nothing. And so in the case of Germany, these quotas are aimed at 60% of the production because it makes all its coal-fired electricity from the production of carbonic gases. It makes all it’s electricity from carbon. We make most of our electricity from nuclear, so we have less, but the quotas still only concern 40% of all our production of carbonic gas. And so we need something else.
So, the other thing is an idea of a deterrent tax. It is called the climate-energy contribution. Meaning that perhaps in the future, we will have to take care of other gases, methane and nitrous oxide, but later. We begin by carbon monoxide – carbon dioxide, sorry -, in order to get used to the change, and then to push for the bigger prize. After all it is two thirds of the total greenhouse gas emissions. This tax will mean higher prices for our energy consumption, hoping we will adjust the range so that it puts, so that it weighs as much on electricity from coal, gas, fuel, and it weighs as much on petrol as on heating oil for example. This tax should be implemented fairly soon. We could have tried to tax everything we sell in supermarkets, all the things that we buy there, based on the content of carbon dioxide in their manufacture. It was too complicated, it would have meant taking questionable decisions – never very certain, so we preferred to tax upstream, that is to say the energy consumption itself, and that is what the tax will hit.
Interviewer: It will hit everyone, everyone who uses…
Rocard: It must hit everyone, otherwise people won’t feel that it’s fair. We are facing a rather strange situation. Nobody denies the need to avoid roasting our great-grandchildren like whiting in a frying pan, that we need to go ahead with this. Everyone agrees on condition that the harshness of the tax – because it is nasty, it’s going to hurt – that the pain should be shared by everyone and there should be no exceptions or exemptions.
Interviewer: So you want it to be reimbursed to the poorest households.
Rocard: So, in fact, not only the poorest, in fact the poorest, the middle income households, but above all those who, because they live far away, because they are in rural areas…
Interviewer: …so have to use their car…
Rocard: They are forced to take their car, including those who work nights or unsocial hours where there is no subway or train to get there or bus..
Interviewer: It’s the case for us journalists who work mornings.
Rocard: Absolutely, we have to find, it’s complicated to do, the tax administration is working on it. We must find ways to exempt them. There are also complete trades, agriculture, fishing, taxi drivers, in which we must find ways to make the business economically feasible despite the tax. So, the tax must play a role in changing behaviour but it mustn’t murder people.
Interviewer: So in fact, if this tax …
Rocard: We’ve been working to find ways of not killing people.
Interviewer: It will bring in eight billion euros to the state. But if it doesn’t happen, the joke will be on you.
Rocard: It will be reimbursed largely by separating profoundly what is paid by households, that must be used to compensate the extra cost to households, from what is paid by companies which must be used offset what is paid by companies. Households must in no case have the impression that they’re contributing to the proper functioning of the economy and the functioning of businesses. That would be a disaster. So it’s hard to do and our recommendations to the tax administration that will organize it all in detail and above all organize the refunds are strict.
Interviewer: You have the full support of the Greens and Daniel Cohn Bendit, who came second in the European elections. I imagine you must be pleased about that.
Rocard: Yes, it is nice that they understand that we take these things seriously. Uh! the government is strong. I think we have had no objection to the principle of the tax. There will be plenty of fighting about the details, but we have had no objection to the principle of the tax from either the Socialist or the Communist Parties. Everyone knows that it can’t be avoided. So we must do it well.
Interviewer: Very quickly Michel Rocard, what are you going to do now that your report is in? What are your projects?
Rocard: I have a permanent mission which is that I’m French ambassador in charge of of the international negotiations concerning the Poles. And that’s very difficult because the Antarctic is more or less saved. It’s because I’m the father of the protocol which protects the environment in the Antarctic that they launched me into this affair.
In the Arctic, on the other hand, until five years ago no-one talked about it. It was something that only concerned poets, scientific researchers and explorers, that’s all. No-one went there. Since global warming we realise that we can go there and practise fishing and tourism, and that for two months of the summer big ships will be able to go round the North Pole via Siberia or Canada to go from Europe to Japan or China. That cuts 5000 kilometres off the journey. Everyone will be going there, and what’s more it’s full of petrol. Now, oil exploration represents an ecological threat.
Interviewer: We’ll have the chance…
Rocard: Putting all that in order is a long business and there’ll be some real battles…

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Four Plugs and a Funeral

I note that dozens of people continue to come here, although there’s nothing new to see. Apologies. There are several reasons for this.
One: I’ve been busy.
Two: I’m waiting for the result of my representation to the Press Complaints Commission about Nuccitelli’s two articles at Guardian Environment defending Lewandowsky and Cook against us “bullies”. It’s a minor skirmish in the climate wars, but one which concerns me directly. My correspondence with the PCC has been amicable and constructive, and I’m hoping to be able to provide a full report here later this month.
Three: I’m experiencing a certain lassitude, and I note that I’m not the only one. Getting Lewandowsky and Cook’s paper “Recursive Fury” retracted counts as a significant victory in this tiny corner of the climate sceptic internet. I can claim some of the glory for getting the paper retracted with the other – far more important – bloggers who were named in the paper – Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, and Joanne Nova. We all complained (and so did others, and if they want to out themselves here, please feel free). Our complaints were heard by the publishers, and Lewandowsky has retired, licking his wounds. (And I, a socialist defender of state institutions like the BBC, am forced to reflect on the relative efficacity of pressure on state and private institutions – but that’s a discussion for another time.)
After a certain modest success, I feel like giving up. I note that something similar happened at


after Tony Newbery’s success in publicising the scandal of the BBC’s climate seminar involving 28 “scientific experts” who turned out to be 28 mates of the organiser of the seminar, none of them active scientific experts, as was revealed by Maurizio Morabito at his blog,


Both Tony and Maurizio seemed to lose interest in the subject soon after their successful revelations of the BBC’s lies. OK, the revelation that the BBC was ready to employ a posse of barristers to defend their lies would discourage the most fervent activist.
There’s a psychological effect at work here I think which would explain the failure of many revolutionary movements. It’s expressed well by Gertrude Stein, who was a revolutionary in her own way, in her writings and in her support for her artistic colleagues, when she said: “When you you get there, there’s no there there.”
That’s not an observation likely to encourage activism.
Until I start to blog again, I’d like to mention a couple of colleagues who haven’t been discouraged.
Alex Cull continues to publish transcripts of media material on climate subjects at


I’ve given him a few helping hands, and until recently I’d been disappointed that others haven’t done the same. Recently Fay Kelly Tuncay and tlitb1 (aka The Leopard in the Basement) have provided transcripts, indicating the beginning of a co-operative movement.
Alex also blogs at http://alexjc38.wordpress.com
on “more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Go there.
A more recent blog is Paul Matthew’s at


aimed at countering the Ministry of Truth which has become the IPCC. The most recent article


recounts Robin Guenier’s reply to a paper by the RSA. OK, you know nothing about Robin Guenier or the RSA. Prepare to be surprised.
At HarmlessSky I learnt of the death of one of that blog’s most faithful commenters. Farewell Max, and thanks for many a perceptive comment. This is the nature of internet interactions. No doubt we’ll one day create an adequate response. In the meantime, those who have not known Max can get to know him via


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Guardian Correspondence (2)

This is the reply I received 29 April 2014 from the Guardian Readers’ Editor:

Dear Mr Chambers,

The role of the readers’ editor is, indeed, to investigate a complaint and come to a conclusion. When we have come to a conclusion with which a complainant disagrees she or he is free to use any alternative course of action that an individual feels open to her or him. I have now reviewed your complaint with colleagues. In my view, it is unfounded.  

First, I believe that the letters and emails received by Frontiers and/or UWA, the magazine, which led to their decision to pull their link to the researcher’s article (http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/Recursive%20FOI%20complaints.pdf) and obtained in an anonymised form through an FOI request, provide clear evidence of both a bullying tone and threats of legal action.  For instance, one piece of correspondence dated 30 April 2013 from a complainant refers to a researcher whose name is redacted, suggesting (at page 12) the university must be ‘greatly relieved that this third rate academic has left UWA’ and that his research is ‘nonsense’.  The same letter complains about a previous response to the complainant from an ‘underling tame professor’.  Other letters/emails of complaint make threats to bring a ‘formal complaint’ and to contact the ethical committees of ‘universities concerned’.  Further examples of correspondence accuse one of the researchers involve of ‘falsifying data’ and the ‘alleged data fraud’.

A complainant in the FOI correspondence also alleges defamation against the researchers.  An email dated 5 April 2013 repeatedly uses the word defamation.  The reply from Frontiers of the same date makes clear that they removed their link to the article complained of because of the allegation of defamation (see page 22 of the correspondence).  A previous email dated 5 April 2013, apparently from the same complainant, says (at page 29) ‘I should also remind that, if this proceeds to legal action, any court or tribunal would take a very poor view of you attempting to impose an arbitrary and unreasonable deadline….’

On 4th April, a complainant (presumably the same one) wrote (at page 30): ‘I have sought legal advice which confirmed…I could potentially have a defamation action against the authors and publishers of this paper’. The same email says: ‘Obviously, I understand that any legal action would have to be prosecuted under my real identity.’

Moreover, you say in your email (below) to me: “I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone.” I disagree. That is a bullying tone.

You and Steve McIntyre are not mentioned in the Guardian article. You are both featured in Redfern’s blog.  Redfearn links to both your own online publications regarding this matter: your point of view and your own statements are included in the Redfearn blog that mentions them.  Your comments, Mr Chambers, also appear with that article.  You have both already ‘replied’ or had your views reflected in the same places you are named.  There is no need for a further reply in the Guardian and I don’t propose to take any further action. You are, as I said at the beginning, free to take any other action that you feel is open to you. I am unable to help you any further.

best wishes

Chris Elliott


I replied today as follows:

Dear Mr Elliott,

Thank you for your reply of 29 April. I’ve been away on holiday, which is why I haven’t replied before. In the interest of bringing this long and tedious correspondence to a close, it might be useful to summarise it. My first letter of March 30th began:

 “I’m writing to complain about this article which is factually incorrect and defamatory of myself and of Steve McIntyre”.

After a description of the defamatory nature of the article, I continued:

It is clear from the above, and from the statement by the editors of the journal themselves, that the accusation of “bullying” in Nuccitelli’s article is baseless.”

The replies by Ms Harper and yourself are entirely devoted to the question of whether the article is defamatory. They deal with this (quite ably I may say) by accusing the anonymous writers of letters of complaint of adopting “a bullying tone”. The letters of complaint referred to are a selection of those reproduced by Graham Redfearn from the FOI request which presumably he authored (my letter of complaint is not among them).

You further subsume under the heading of“adopting a bulling tone” what you describe as threats to bring a ‘formal complaint’ and to contact the ethical committees of ‘universities concerned’”.

Does the Guardian really believe that bringing formal complaints to government-funded bodies constitutes bullying?

[It's slightly off-topic, but I'd like to point out that I'm a fervent defender of the Guardian's publicising ofthe actions of the British and American secret services. It's all about getting the facts out to the public. Facts are sacred, or scarce, or scary, or something.]

See paras 14ff of


You say:

Moreover, you say in your email (below) to me: ‘I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone.’ I disagree. That is a bullying tone.”

Call it a bullying tone if you like. I’d say it’s my polite way of saying that Lewandowsky is a total arsehole (No, not totally. I’ve praised him on my blog for his courageous stand against the torture condoned and possibly practised by the US and British governments. And if ever some future British or US government tries to limit his academic freedom in any way, I’ll be the first to defend him – though he may not thank me for that).

You and Ms Harper have failed to deal with the fact that the headline to the Nuccitelli article falsely accuses the journal “Frontiers in Psychological Science” of giving in to bullying.

Those who sent letters of complaint to “Frontiers” (me, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts and others) deny the accusations of bullying. “Frontiers” deny having being bullied. Nuccitelli deals with this embarrassing situation by accusing the editors of “Frontiers” of lying. I have two simple questions for the Guardian:

1) Do you stand by the title of this article?

2) Do you stand by Nuccitelli’s statement that the editors of “Frontiers” are lying when they deny being bullied?

I await a prompt response to these two simple questions. Otherwise I shall be submitting a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.


Geoff Chambers


Posted in Guardian CommentisFree, Stephan Lewandowsky | 8 Comments

Letter to the Guardian

To Chris Elliott, Readers’ Editor,

on March 30th 2014 I wrote to you to complain about this article:


which accuses “contrarians” (i.e. climate sceptics) of bullying a scientific journal into retracting an article.

I pointed out that no bullying took place. We have the journal’s word for it. I further pointed out that the only evidence for bullying was a link to a blog article (by another Guardian contributor, as it happens) and the only evidence he gave for bullying was a link to my blog.

I pointed out that the link, and remarks about two other people, “Foxgoose” and Steve McIntyre, were potentially defamatory. But that was not the main point of my complaint, which was [that] the headline was clearly false, and that the author had provided no evidence to back up his claim, and anyway the supposed victim of the bullying, the editor of the journal, had denied it. There are other errors in the article and in the author’s comments below the line, but my complaint was focused on this one point: that the headline and the main gist of the article were false.

Three weeks later I received a reply from Barbara Harper in which she refers to links in the Readfearn blog article linked in the Nuccitelli article (she confuses an article by Lewandowsky and Cook, linked by Nuccitelli, with an article by Lewandowsky and Oberauer, linked by Readfearn, but no matter). She ends her reply: “Your point of view and your own statements are reflected in the places where you are named and I don’t believe there is any need for a further reply in the Guardian.”

There is nothing in her reply about the fact that the Guardian has published an article whose headline and contents are demonstrably false. The article accuses people unnamed (though clearly identifiable thanks to links) of bullying, while the supposed victim says that no bullying took place, a fact revealed in a comment on to the article.

I replied to Ms Harper, pointing out why her reply was unsatisfactory, and received the following reply the same day:

We’ve gone carefully through all the links, including the correspondence obtained under FOI, in the light of the issues you raised and as a result we do not feel that any further action is necessary.”

Neither of Ms Harper’s letters make the slightest mention of my principal concern: the fact that the Guardian has published an article which is demonstrably false.

I’ve highlighted a couple of phrases in her letters, which I interpret thus:

that Ms Harper (or possibly Mr Nuccitelli, or someone else) has looked at the articles by Lewandowsky and Oberauer or Cook, and discovered that McIntyre, Foxgoose and I were all frequent critical commenters on these articles, and that Ms Harper (or someone else) thinks that our frequent criticisms are sufficient to establish the fact that we are bullies.

If that is the reasoning behind Ms Harper’s replies (and it’s only my surmise, of course) it’s not enough to establish that we bullied the journal “Frontiers in Psychology”. I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone. Lewandowsky has written an article replying to anti-semitic and other racist attacks, but he has never replied to the accusation that he is a liar.

It’s your job, isn’t it, “to collect, consider, investigate, respond to, and where appropriate come to a conclusion about readers’ comments, concerns, and complaints in a prompt and timely manner, from a position of independence within the paper”?

I’ve been looking back through past articles on your site for similar situations, without success, but at:


I found this:

When a serious allegation is made to the readers’ editor about a published article, it is often not possible to come to a quick decision as to whether the complaint has merit or not.”

Here, there is no problem about coming to a decision. Your article accused (via links) named people of bullying. They deny the bullying. The journal which is the supposed victim of bullying denies being bullied. Therefore there was no bullying, and the article is false.

Will you please reply to this complaint?

Yours, Geoff Chambers


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Foxgoose, McIntyre & Me v. Nuccitelli (and the Cook that spoils the broth)

[See Update 23 April 2014 at the end] 

Here’s a correspondence I’ve been having with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian:

From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 30 March 2014:

Dear Readers’ Editor,

 I’m writing to complain about this article,


which is factually incorrect and defamatory of myself and of Steve McIntyre.

The headline: “Contrarians bully journal into retracting a climate psychology paper” is contradicted by the journal itself, as is explained by commenter TLITB1 in the second to last comment on the thread (26 March 2014 11:22am) where the journal editor is quoted as saying:

This decision had nothing to do with caving in to pressure and was driven by our own analysis of various factors and advice received”.

Author Dana Nuccitelli provides no evidence within the article itself of “contrarians bullying the journal” or that the journal “finally caved to these threats”. Instead, in the sentence:

Very soon after its publication, the journal Frontiers was receiving letters from contrarians threatening libel lawsuits (Graham Readfearn has some details)”

there is a link to an article by Readfearn at DeSmogBlog.

The evidence for “bullying” and “contrarians threatening libel lawsuits” provided in the Readfearn article comes in the final section, under the subheading: “Gagging orders hide libel threats”, the second paragraph of which reads:

One blogger, Geoff Chambers, wrote to Frontiers asking that the paper be withdrawn because it was defamatory towards him”.

and which links to an article on my blog


which reproduces my letter of complaint to the journal. In the letter I point out that the paper (now retracted) is defamatory, and I end:

I therefore respectfully suggest that the wisest course might be to withdraw this paper.”

The third and fourth paragraphs refer to a complaint made by a blog commenter called “Foxgoose” who points out that a quote had been falsely attributed to him, and that this was potentially defamatory. But this error (one of many in the paper) was rectified before publication, so can have had no part in the journal’s decision to retract the paper.

The fifth paragraph refers to two complaints made by Steve McIntyre. They are couched in legal terminology and also use the word “defamatory”, but make no mention of legal action.

It is clear from the above, and from the statement by the editors of the journal themselves, that the accusation of “bullying” in Nuccitelli’s article is baseless. Since the only evidence for bullying and threats of libel lawsuits is a link to the Readfearn article, and since that article links directly to my letter of complaint, and mentions Steve McIntyre, (who has also published his letters of complaint at his blog ClimateAudit) it is clear that the accusations in Nuccitelli’s article are aimed at me and McIntyre.

It seems fairly pointless to publish a correction on an article on which comments are closed and which is now ancient history, in internet terms. In the case of a previous article at Guardian Environment by Bob Ward which made remarks about climate blogger Andrew Montford which Montford considered defamatory, the solution found was to give Montford a right of reply in an article at Guardian Environment. I suggest that this would be a suitable solution in this case.

I shall be forwarding this letter to Steve McIntyre, but will not otherwise publicise it.

Hoping to hear from you soon

Geoff Chambers


Guardian Readers’ Editor to Geoff Chambers 22/04/14 21:09

Thank you for your email, and I’m sorry it has taken some time to reply to your request for a right of reply.

As you say neither you or Steve McIntyre are mentioned in the Guardian article.

You are, however mentioned in the blog by Graham Readfearn, to which the Guardian article links.

The Readfearn blog in turn links to

a) An article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)

b) Your own blog

c) Posts made by Steve McIntyre

c) The letters and emails received by Frontiers and/or UWA and obtained through an FOI request.

The Readfearn blog links to both yours and Steve McIntyre’s online publications regarding this matter. Your point of view and your own statements are reflected in the places where you are named and I don’t believe there is any need for a further reply in the Guardian.

Best wishes

Barbara Harper

Follow us on Twitter: @GdnReadersEd


From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 22 April 2014

Dear Ms Harper,

Thank you for your reply, three weeks late, which is no reply at all.

I wrote to complain that Dana Nuccitelli’s article accusing unnamed people of threatening and bullying the publishers of Lewandowsky’s paper “Recursive Fury” was factually incorrect, since the editors of the journal have categorically denied having received any threats. The only evidence Nuccitelli provides for his baseless accusation is a link to an article by Graham Readfearn (also a Guardian journalist) which provides as “evidence” a false statement about Foxgoose, a quote from Steve McIntyre, and a link to my blog. Anyone looking for evidence of the accusation of bullying in the headline will be naturally led to believe that these three individuals are the bullies.

Instead of dealing with this clear example of an article which is false and defamatory, your letter merely points me to some links in the Readfearn article, one of them to my own blog, and one of them, you say, to “an article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)”

But there is no link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook at Readfearn’s article (there is one to an article by Lewandowsky and Oberauer). Neither I nor Readfearn mention Cook. So where did you get Cook’s name from?

There is a link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook in Nuccitelli’s article, and there are comments there by me. But what has that to do with the false statement in the Guardian article that the journal “Frontiers in Science” gave in to bullying, and the defamatory link that implies that Foxgoose, Steve McIntyre and I were the bullies?

The fact that you bring Cook into the story in a wholly irrelevant way, and that neither I nor Readfearn, whom I cite, had mentioned him, suggests to me that your letter was written in large part by Dana Nuccitelli. Am I right?

What action will you be taking to rectify the false and defamatory claim of bullying in the article’s headline?

PS This has nothing to do with anything, but I learnt recently that I am related to C.P. Scott. When my great aunt Rebecca Scott mentioned long ago that her father had worked for the Guardian, I asked her if he was C.P. Scott, and she laughed and said no. When she died recently I found among her papers the long obituary of C.P. Scott which appeared in the Guardian on his death in 1932, and there I learned that he had two brothers who also worked on the Guardian.

Small world, isn’t it?


Geoff Chambers


PPS, which I didn’t mention to Barbara: C.P.Scott, the famous editor of the Guardian, coined the slogan which adorns the Guardian’s comments page: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. I claim to have invented the version made popular by Delingpole: “Kommentmachtfrei” – but since I did it in a long since deleted comment at the Guardian, there’s no way of proving it. __________________________________________________________


Readers’ Editor to Geoff Chambers: 23 April 2014

We’ve gone carefully through all the links, including the correspondence obtained under FOI, in the light of the issues you raised and as a result we do not feel that any further action is necessary.

Best wishes

Barbara Harper


Geoff Chambers to Readers’ Editor: 23 April 2014

Dear Ms Harper 

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Does it mean that the Guardian supports Dana Nucitelli in his accusations of bullying against Foxgoose, Steve McIntyre and me?


Geoff Chambers




Posted in Guardian CommentisFree, Stephan Lewandowsky | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

“Recursive Fury”: a Summary

[The retraction of the Lewandowsky/Cook “Recursive Fury” paper has been generally greeted as a great victory for us sceptics, and many commenters have opined that we can forget about it; it's history. I disagree, for the following reasons.

The same defence of Lewandowsky's scandalous pseudo-science is still being offered in the same quarters, with the additional message that he is the victim of an organised campaign of bullying. The message that climate sceptics are conspiracy theorists has entered the mainstream, and has been repeated by a British government minister and a website published under Barak Obama's name.

Simply pointing out that something is wrong is no guarantee that it will go away. Society has never worked that way, and the fact that the way information is transmitted, challenged and retained has been revolutionised by the internet means that the transmission of information is even more of a mystery than it has ever been. Lewandowsky understands this, and so do governments, private companies (including scientific publishers) and pressure groups, who are tentatively feeling their way round, as we all are.

Recursive Fury” is a magnificent subject for the content analysis which Lewandowsky and Cook attempted and made such a hash of. THere is material here for a book, or dozens of research papers. We have two faulty scientific papers, plus partial supplementary material. We have FOI material including correspondence between authors, blog owners, and university officials, ethical permission files, letters of complaint, letters to and from editors; we have Cook's private assessments of Lewandowsky from the leaked “treehut” files; we have hundreds of blog articles, tens of thousands of blog comments, and scores of articles by Lewandowsky on his own blog and in the mainstream media and “scientific” literature.

In order to facilitate examination of this monumental cock-up, this “slow motion train wreck” as Anthony Watts called it, I reproduce below a summary of the paper, referenced by page numbers. There's material here for dozens of papers; I'm working on “Lew's Lost Conspiracy” from the supplementary material, and hope to post it in the next couple of days. I don't expect many people will be interested in reading it all, but it's there for anyone who wants to do further research on it. Enjoy.]


Summary of “Recursive Fury”

[All direct quotes from the paper are in italics. I've added some emphasis in bold to facilitate identification of sections]

Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation” by Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer and Michael Hubble-Marriott is a long (57 pages) paper provisionally published on-line by “Frontiers in Psychology” on 2nd February 2013. It was published on 18th March 2013, revised twice following complaints, and then “removed” on 27th March 2013 pending an internal enquiry. It was finally retracted on 4th April 2014.

The paper analyses the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of a previous paper by Lewandowsky, Oberauer and Gignac (LOG 12).

The key contents of the paper are as follows:

pp3-6 [no subheading] consists of an analysis of the concept of conspiratorial ideation and its involvement in the rejection of science, with reference to the AIDS/HIV controversy, tobacco and health, vaccination and climate science.

pp6-8 Conspiracist ideation and rejection of science among climate blog visitors: summarises the results of LOG12 thus:

… endorsement of free-market ideology emerged as a strong predictor of the rejection of climate science. Free-market ideology was also found to predict the rejection of other scientific propositions. Of greater interest in the present context is the association between conspiracist ideation and the rejection of climate science and other scientific propositions, although the strength of this association was considerably less than that of free-market ideology.”

And goes on to say;

When the article by Lewandowsky et al. became available for download in July-August 2012, the climate denialist blogosphere responded with considerable intensity along several prongs: Complaints were made to the first author’s university alleging academic misconduct; several freedom-of-information requests were submitted to the first author’s university for emails and documents relating to LOG12; multiple re-analyses of the LOG12 data were posted on blogs which purported to show that the effects reported by LOG12 did not exist; and a number of hypotheses were disseminated on the internet with arguably conspiracist content. [...]

The remainder of this article reports a content analysis of the hypotheses generated by the blogosphere to counter LOG12. The extent and vehemence of contrarian activity provided a particularly informative testbed for an analysis of how conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science among web denizens. Unlike previous analyses of web content, the present project was conducted in “real time” as the response to LOG12 unfolded, thus permitting a fine-grained temporal analysis of the emerging global conversation.”

pp8-10 Method

Two searches of the internet were conducted by coauthors Cook and Marriott. The first one obtained all peer-reviewed papers on conspiracy ideation published in 2012 (up to October 12).

The second phase of the search traced the response to LOG12 in the blogosphere. An on-going web search in real time was conducted by two of the authors (J.C. and M.H.M.) during the period August-October 2012. This daily search used Google Alerts to detect newly published material matching the search term ‘Stephan Lewandowsky’.”

The data was subsequently limited to the 30 most frequently read “skeptic” websites, as identified by Alexa rankings, and to the period 28 August to 18 October 2012.

pp10-12 Conspiracist classification criteria

lists six criteria of conspiracist ideation, with references to the literature. The authors say:

Our criteria were exclusively psychological and hence did not hinge on the validity of the various hypotheses. [...] The approach [...] avoids the need to discuss or rebut the substance of any of the hypotheses.”

These are the six criteria, together with abbreviations used in the text for each one, and explanatory extracts from the paper:

NI Nefarious Intent: “..the presumed intentions behind any conspiracy are invariably nefarious.”

PV Persecution-Victimization: “… A corollary of the first criterion is the pervasive self-perception and self-presentation among conspiracy theorists as the victims of organized persecution. The theorist typically considers herself, at least tacitly, to be the brave antagonist of the nefarious intentions of the conspiracy; that is, the victim is also a potential hero.”

NS Nihilistic Skepticism: “The conspiracy theorist refuses to believe anything that does not fit into the conspiracy theory. Thus, nothing is at it seems, and all evidence points to hidden agendas or some other meaning that only the conspiracy theorist is aware of.”

MbW “Must be Wrong”: “The underlying lack of trust and exaggerated suspicion contribute to a cognitive pattern whereby specific hypotheses may be abandoned when they become unsustainable, but those corrections do not impinge on the overall abstraction that `something must be wrong’ and the `official’ account must be based on deception.”

NoA “No Accident”: “To the conspiracy theorist, nothing happens by accident … Thus, small random events are woven into a conspiracy narrative and reinterpreted as indisputable evidence for the theory.”

UCT “Unreflexive Counterfactual Thinking”: “Contrary evidence is often interpreted as evidence for a conspiracy [...] the stronger the evidence against a conspiracy, the more the conspirators must want people to believe their version of events.”

pp13-27 Results

After a brief discussion of their search for other papers on conspiracy ideation published in 2012, which revealed that only LOG12 engendered “recursive hypotheses”, (Table 2) the authors turn to a discussion of “at least ten [...] hypotheses advanced against LOG12, irrespective of whether they addressed presumed flaws in the methodology or accused the authors of deception, incompetence, or outright conspiracies. [...] We do not comment on the validity of any hypothesis other than those that can be unambiguously classified as false (namely, hypotheses 2, 6, 7, and 8).”

Each hypothesis is backed up with quotes from comments on blogs. A total of 42 links to blog comments are given, though the total number of quotes referred to may be greater.

The hypotheses are summarised in Table 3, with the appropriate conspirationist criteria in brackets:

1. Survey responses “scammed” by warmists (NI, PV, MbW, SS)

2. “Skeptic” blogs not contacted (NI NS PV)

3. Presentation of intermediate data (NI, NS, MbW, UCT)

4. “Skeptic” blogs contacted after delay (NI, NS, MbW, NoA, UCT)

5. Different versions of the survey (NI, MbW, UCT)

6. Control data suppressed (NI, NoA)

7. Duplicate responses from same IP number retained (NS, MbW)

8. Blocking access to authors’ websites (NI, PV, NoA)

9. Various Miscellaneous hypotheses (See text)

[under this heading two hypotheses were considered: 9.1 Tom Curtis’s criticisms as a false flag operation; 9.2 Moon Hoax as bait for Recursive Fury. The titles are mine, since none were given in the text.]

10. Global activism and government censorship (NI, PV, SS)

pp27-28 Freedom-of-information release

Further conspirationist hypotheses are considered under this heading. The authors say: Because the FOI release occurred about a month after the last hypothesis spontaneously emerged in response to LOG12, it is considered separately from the other hypotheses summarized in Table 3.”

The FOI release occurred on 10th October 2012.

pp29-31 Discussion: Potential limitations

This section analysed a number of potential objections, including:

1) The “generality” of the results. The authors counter this by saying:

We therefore suggest that the present analysis illuminated not just an isolated incident but the broader propensity of climate denial to involve a measure of conspiracist ideation.”

2) That the analysis: “…considered the blogosphere as if it were a single entity, analyzed within the context of psychological processes and constructs that typically characterize individuals rather than groups.”

To which they reply: Our response is twofold: First, at the level of purely descriptive discourse analysis, our work fits within established precedent involving the examination of communications from heterogeneous entities such as the U.S. Government or the Soviet Union. Second, at a psychological level, numerous psychological constructs—such as cognitive dissonance, social dominance orientation, or authoritarianism—have been extended to apply not only to individuals but also to groups or societies…”

3) That “…the evidence falls far short of “real” conspiracy theories involving events such as 9/11 or the moon landing.”

To which they reply: We suggest that conspiracist ideation, like most other psychological constructs (e.g., extraversion), represents a continuum that finds expression to varying extents in theories of varying scope.”

4) “..critics might propose an alternative explanation for the behavior of the blogosphere based on a dissonance effect. Science denial commonly involves “skeptics’” self-perception of being the only rational consumers of information in a sea of corrupt or self-serving scientists). [...] this hypothesis is not in opposition to ours: We would expect that a person’s disposition to engage in conspiratorial thinking is more likely to become manifest when triggered by factors such as cognitive dissonance.”

5) Critics might furthermore argue that our analysis of the response to LOG12 was over-extensive, and that some of the hypotheses advanced by the blogosphere in fact constituted legitimate criticism. This criticism is rendered less potent by the fact that our analysis was conducted at a psychological level, without regard to the truth value of any of the hypotheses other than those that could be unambiguously classified as false (i.e., hypotheses 2, 6, 7, and 8 in Table 3). We remain neutral with respect to the question whether the remaining hypotheses presented valid criticisms.”

and they add: Our decision not to address the validity of any of the hypotheses also helps allay one important remaining issue: Two of the present authors also contributed to LOG12, and the present analysis may therefore be biased by a potential conflict of interest. This possibility cannot be ruled out [...][B]ecause data collection (via internet search) was conducted by two authors who were not involved in analysis or report of LOG12, the resulting “raw” data—available in the online supplementary material—cannot reflect a conflict of interest involving the LOG12 authors. Moreover, the availability of these raw data enables other scholars to bring an alternative viewpoint to bear during any reanalyses.”

pp32-35 Theoretical and pragmatic implications: Implications for understanding conspiracist ideation.

The criteria “Must be Wrong” and “Self-Sealing” are examined in more detail, and the authors suggest: “… that some of the variables that predict conspiracist ideation—viz. low trust and paranoid ideation were observable in the response to LOG12.”

They mention: “…the well-established fact that the rejection of climate science is strongly associated with right-wing political leanings and the embrace of “fundamentalist” laissez-faire vision of the free market”and add: One might therefore be tempted to consider conspiracist ideation another manifestation of the “paranoid style” in American politics—mainly focused on the political Right—that was famously highlighted by Hofstadter (1966).”

However:There are several indications that acceptance of this view would be premature: LOG12 found no association between conspiracist ideation and free-market ideology [...] and in a similar study involving a representative sample, Lewandowsky, Gignac, and Oberauer (2013) found conspiracist ideation to be negatively associated with free-market ideology and conservatism.”


we uncovered a potentially novel aspect of conspiracist reasoning when some of the later hypotheses were found to involve a residual impact of earlier, discarded hypotheses. For example, whereas critics initially argued that the results of LOG12 were invalid because “skeptic” bloggers were not contacted (hypothesis 2 in Table 3), upon release of evidence to the contrary, the same conclusion of invalidity was reached by other means; either because of a preliminary report of the data during a colloquium (hypothesis 3); or because of the presumedly faulty timing of the correspondence (hypothesis 4); or because “skeptic” bloggers were emailed different versions of the survey (hypothesis 5). All of those hypotheses rely on counterfactual thinking because no “skeptic” blogger posted links to the survey, and therefore neither the dates of correspondence nor the version of the survey (nor any other event involving those bloggers) could have affected the data as reported in LOG12.”

The third and final implication for understanding conspiracist ideation is that:

There are other streams of science denial that are detectable in the response to LOG12. For example, the repeated re-analysis of data, involving the elimination of “inconvenient” subsets of data points based on fairly fluid criteria...”and a parallel is drawn with reanalysis of health statistics by scientists working for the tobacco industry.

pp35-36 Theoretical and pragmatic implications: Implications for understanding science denial.

The authors say:

The vast majority of domain experts agree that the climate is changing and that human CO2 emissions are causing this change. Given this broad agreement on the fundamentals of climate science, what cognitive mechanism would underlie people’s dissent from the consensus? [...] Rejection of the scientific consensus thus calls for an alternative explanation of the very existence of that consensus. The ideation of a secretive conspiracy among researchers can serve as such an explanation. Moreover, the ideation of a conspiracy may also serve as a fantasy theme that permits groups to develop and share a symbolic reality. [...] Fantasy themes are known to play a major role in climate denial.”

pp36-37 Theoretical and pragmatic implications: Implications for science communication.

Although suggestions exist about how to rebut conspiracist ideations [...] we argue against direct engagement for two principal reasons. First, much of science denial takes place in an epistemically closed system that is immune to falsifying evidence and counterarguments. We therefore consider it highly unlikely that outreach efforts to those groups could be met with success. Second, and more important, [...] [a]lthough LOG12 received considerable media coverage when it first appeared, the response by the blogosphere was ignored by the mainstream media. This confinement of recursive hypotheses to a small “echo chamber” reflects the wider phenomenon of radical climate denial, whose ability to generate the appearance of a widely held opinion on the internet is disproportionate to the smaller number of people who actually hold those views [...] Thus, although an understanding of science denial is essential given the importance of climate change and the demonstrable role of the blogosphere in delaying mitigative action, it is arguably best met by underscoring the breadth of consensus among scientists rather than by direct engagement.”


pp37-47 References

p48 Author Note

p49 Footnotes


pp50-53 Tables

Table 1 simply lists the ten most popular climate sceptic blogs, six of which are quoted in the paper.

Table 2 lists the twenty papers on conspiracy theories published in 2012, together withy the total number of Google hits (443 for LOG12, and 124 for all the other 19 papers) and the number of recursive theories (10 for LOG12, 0 for the other 19 papers).

Table 3 lists the ten conspiracy theories, and attributes to each one the relevant conspiracy ideation criteria, as indicated in the discussion of Results pp13-37 above. It also gives the date on which each hypothesis was first proposed, and the name of the person proposing it. Four hypotheses are attributed to Steve McIntyre, two to Joanne Nova, one each to Anthony Watts, Geoff Chambers and “ROM”, and one to “Various”.

pp54-57 Figures

Figure 1 is the latent variable model from LOG12 presenting the results of that paper in diagrammatic form.

Figure 2 is the timeline of principal recursive theories developed by the blogosphere in response to LOG12. All comments were collected between 29th August and 23rd September, except for two comments collected on the 14th and 18th of October.

Numbers of comments per day and per hypothesis are recorded in different shades of grey, which makes counting difficult, but there see to be total of 62 comments recorded.


Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material was placed on-line soon after the paper. It consists of a spreadsheet, with dates along the side and conspiracy theories along the top, with quotes from blog comments in the corresponding cells.

The conspiracy theories listed were:

Didn’t email deniers (29)

Inconsistent delivery/excluded skeptics (4)

Warmists faked data (38)

Methodology flaws (35)

Emailed warmists before deniers (4)

Intermediate Data (8)

SkS conspiracies (15)

Versiongate (8)

Hiding Data (6)

STW Censoring Comments (5)

Used multiple IPs (4)

Kevin Judd puppet master (3)

Tom Curtis faked criticism (1)

SL founded Conversation (1)

Lew gravy train (1)

Blocks IPs (2)

97% of deniers didn’t enter survey (1)

Paper isn’t going to be published (1)

Infowar`(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infowar) (1)

Unethical ethics application (3)

Gravy train (1)

Govt conspiracy theory (1)


(numbers of quotes for each conspiracy are listed in brackets)



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Sceptic Against Standers v. Anthropogenic Global Warming Helpers

In my unrelenting effort to track down the latest outbreak of Lewandowskyitis …

I’ll start again.

[Lewandowsky has already shot the last bolt (not that Bolt) in his armoury when he mentioned having received anti-semitic hate mail. I was going to start one post mentioning the lengthening of Stephan's nose, in reference to Pinocchio, and then (luckily) I thought: “Lewandowsky – anti-semitism – nose... No no no.”]

A little self-censorship is no doubt a good thing; but Lewandowsky isn’t into self-censorship. He’s into censorship <i>tout court.</i>)

In my unrelenting effort to track down references to Lewandowsky’s valiant efforts to defend himself, I came across this article


at the dagelijkse standaard, which is one of the world’s top 50,000 weblogs, according to Alexa, and has 80% of its readership in the Netherlands (not surprisingly) and 12% in the United Kingdom (surprisingly, given that the Wiki article exists only in Dutch).

[I'm a big believer in language learning. (Just as well, since I've been teaching English to foreigners for the past twenty years.) Dutch is one of the languages on the boundaries of my capabilities. I'm sure I could beat it with a little effort, but what's the point, when my faltering attempts to speak it are always met with a response in perfect English?]

[I once bought a cupboard in kit form which was on sale at a 75% reduction because the assembly instructions were in Dutch. “No problem,” I thought. “Look! Half the words are instantly recognisable!” It took me several hours to realise that the Dutch word “door” meant “through”.]

Dutch is possibly the last language of which it is possible to make racist remarks. I remember an article which claimed that it was impossible to translate Shakespeare, and supported the claim by citing the Dutch translation of “Hamlet, I am thy father’s ghost”, which came out as “Omelette, ik ben uw papaspook”.

[Why is that funny? Possibly because English is a bastard language, and, unconsciously, the English realise that this is a lucky situation for them. Lucky Bastards.]

De Dagelijkse Standaard quotes


so you get a feeling of where they’re coming from. Then

De klimaat AGW helpers zien de “skeptic” tegenstanders graag als complot”

translates easily (thanks Google translate) as “the climate agw helpers see the skeptic opponents happy as conspiracy”

Goh !! Maar had dan toch gewoon die rechtszaak afgewacht en uitgevochten als je voor je principes opkomt als flinke prof.. Of was je zaakje toch zo zwak?”


Gosh! But had then just waited for that lawsuit and fought when you stand up for your principles as big prof. Whether your thing was so weak?”

Whether your thing was so weak.” Goh! I wish I’d said that.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment