Answering Ben Santer’s Trickle-Down Ignorance on Climate — Santer Responds Update!

Stream: Answering Ben Santer’s Trickle-Down Ignorance on Climate

Climatologist Ben Santer says living in the “darkness of the Trump administration’s scientific ignorance” is like the time he nearly killed himself by ineptly slipping on some ice.

Well, he ought to know.

Santer’s lack of surefootedness (and political lightheadedness) would be of no interest to man nor beast, except that Santer was able to convince the Washington Post to print his pitiful tale. Which makes it “worthy” of discussion. I guess.

So let’s discuss.

Santer spends most of his article—seven paragraphs!—telling us how important, noble, selfless, smart, and humble he is: “long apprenticeship”, “rigorous”, “years of your life” (he speaks of himself as “you”), “you are first author”, “you jump through hoops”, “You enter the public arena, and make yourself accountable.”

Somebody give this man a lollipop.

Now, the reason old Ben bares his tortured soul is that he is concerned that there might exist people who do not believe this proposition: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”


Our Ben—smart, gifted, diligent, dedicated, and most humble man that he assures us he is—doesn’t appear to understand this simple logical point. He is therefore angry at President Trump because Trump once tweeted “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Santer is far from the first, and certainly won’t be the last, public intellectual triggered into a foamy-mouthed spasm by one of Trump’s tweets. These fellows are like the pussy cat who chases the red light of a laser pointer: the pussy cat knows the phantasm is not a mouse, but it can’t help itself, so it attacks. It’s the nature of pussy cats to attack unthinkingly.

Same thing here. It must be obvious to Santer that Trump did not mean this tweet, or any other of his off-the-cuff utterances on the subject, to be a replacement for a complete scientific theory of fluid flow on a rotating sphere radiated by an external heat source. But Santer, like the pussy cat, can’t help himself and pretends to believe Trump meant precisely that.

This is why Santer is worried that Trump’s “ignorance” will “[trickle] down from the president to members of his administration, eventually filtering into the public’s consciousness.”

Wow! The public consciousness! That’s a lot to expect from a tweet.

Ben, if you want some advice from a colleague, or even if you don’t, I must tell you that you’re in danger of becoming CNN.


You know what to do.

Update I sent Santer a link to the article. He sent this (see if you can spot the fallacy):

Mr. Briggs,

Please do not write to me. I have no interest in communicating with you.

Ben Santer


  1. Sheri

    Wonder if he has ever considered how living in the age of darkness where politics has completely usurped science and endangers all lives can be. He assumes he knows the answer, cannot be wrong and we all need to BELIEVE what he believes. Insecurity is such a burden to carry through life. Poor Ben—he might not know everything. Meanwhile, the rational people are trying to deal with the destruction of science via sloppy methods and manufactured results. It’s a dark age for science. That’s something Ben should really worry about—except he’d have to admit he has been duped.

  2. Gary in Erko

    You northern hemispherians probably don’t know this Australian bit of doggeral –

    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan
    In accents most forlorn
    Outside the church ere Mass began
    One frosty Sunday morn.

    Here’s the rest of it –

  3. brian (bulaoren)

    Is that glacier still there?…or has it melted away…?

  4. Rich

    I’m not convinced that aardvarks have a discernible influence on global climate. But humans, definitely.

  5. If you look at Santer’s bio, he was a former researcher at the East Anglia Climactic…sorry … Climate Research Unit. That explains a lot!

  6. Climate, being a statistical summary statement or statements about a particular point or area on the surface of the planet called Earth, is influenced by everything that acts. Every thing that lives on this rock alters its local environment to enhance its own survival. Every thing that lives influences the local weather, to a lesser or greater extent. The living things with the most influence are among the smallest, examined individually. These living things are so ubiquitous and have a mass that far dwarfs humans. Still, just as an ant mound or bee hive is warmer that its surroundings, a human city is also. Compared to the planet, these things are small, but the local influences all sum and do have an effect. Unlike carbon dioxide, which is swamped by dihydrogen monoxide, which has very little impact at current, arguably too low, concentrations to be an actual ‘forcing’; but said molecule does happen to be useful for those who would like to enslave free people.

    Tell me, how many tons of volatile organic compounds are released by green plants, fungi and bacteria. It is a number greater than zero.

  7. Ken

    RE: “…see if you can spot the fallacy…”

    1. BRIGGS: Climatologist Ben Santer … the time he nearly killed himself by ineptly slipping on some ice.

    VS: ‘fell into a crevasse 120 feet deep’

    2. Briggs: “Santer …speaks of himself as “you” ”

    VS: ‘Imagine, if you will, that you spend your entire professional life trying to … You put in a long apprenticeship. You spend years … You start… You are taught how …’

    There’s two fallacies, both by Briggs. Both are misleading distortions of fact that would fail in any U.S. court under the blatant violation of the “whole truth” principle.

  8. Briggs


    We’re going to have to do something to bulk up your sense of humor.

    1. Ice crevasse; he slipped into an ice crevasse.

    2. Santer indeed speaks of himself as “you”.

  9. brian (bulaoren)

    July 10th, 2017 is a numeric, or calendric, palindrome. Perhaps, on such a day, the roles of cause and effect may be reversed

  10. NicainHouston

    I never knew Mr. Santer was a Jungian, a follower of the collective unconscious… and consciousness… and yes, archetypes even.

  11. Joy

    Every time I WRITE CHOOOOOOOSE it comes out with only one owe.
    Sort it out Briggs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *