I’m Sick of All These Climate Skeptic Deniers

There are a lot of people out there—unqualified, un-degreed, un-peer-reviewed people—who actively reject the consensus among climate skeptics. These people are rank deniers.

These bold casuistry mongers should cause us grave concern. If they can refuse to admit something so obvious as the inaccuracy of climate models, who knows what else this temerarious rabble would deny? You know which historical incidents I mean.

Deniers! How they vex me!

Listen: I and my fellow skeptics have taken great pains to present a coherent, logical picture of the vast uncertainties inherent in predictions of the future. We have written article after article, blog posts by the thousands, appeared on interviews too numerous to count, published books, lectured across the globe.

And every time we look, it’s better than we thought! Yet the simple facts we preach won’t sink into the skulls of deniers. Our words just bounce off their ears and fall to ground where they are gleefully trampled.

Who knows what mischief this unschooled mob is capable of? Should we allow their dangerous, unpatriotic—even treasonous!—follies to taint the views of ordinary folk? Should we do nothing as their paranoid ravings run roughshod over peer-reviewed research? Perhaps arresting and jailing the most obstinate of the denialists will give them pause.

One candidate and serial abuser of reason is reporter John Gibbons. You won’t have heard of him unless your unrewarding occupation is compiling a nosology of climate skeptic denialism.

Unlike me, for instance, Gibbons does not have a PhD from an Ivy League university; neither has he submitted his ravings to the scrutiny of peer-review; nor is he a scientist of any kind. Apparently his main qualification to opine on matters climatic is his willingness to believe the worst.

Like all big-name deniers, Gibbons is probably deep in the pocket of Big Green (Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, etc.). In one way, we can understand the Gibbonses of the world, can we not? All that money—the walls of the offices of Big Green are practically papered with greenbacks—would tempt all but the most stalwart. Money bends minds, billions blinds them.

As an example of how badly public discourse has degraded, Gibbons somehow managed to insert a piece of propaganda into the Irish Times. (Follow the money here: I smell a payoff. The IT has known ties to Big Green; their ads have appeared in the paper, for example.)

Gibbons also posted a modified version of his screed on his website Think or Swim.

Our man is upset at Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, whom Gibbons accuses of being a “statistician or economist.” Actually, Lomberg is a political scientist, or applied economist, who uses statistics to show that mankind is likely to be able to handle any calamity the climate might throw our way.

Lomborg’s sensibility does not satisfy Gibbons, who raves that Lomborg is not an official climatologist. He frets that Lomborg is “hip” and “articulate”, that Lomborg is “telegenic” with a nice smile. Somehow Gibbons has convinced himself that these are damning words.

What angers Gibbons most is that Lomborg presents the view of the skeptical consensus with such clarity and verve. Gibbons says that listening to Lomborg “makes about as much sense as consulting a neurosurgeon or a hairdresser for advice on investing in derivatives.”

But I think it’s obvious what really worries Gibbons. If Lomborg is heeded, Gibbons and other denialists will be out of a job. If the public listens to actual scientists and not to deniers, then contributions to Big Green will dry up: Greenpeace will become an endangered philanthropical species.

If you have the stomach for it, it is worth your time scrutinizing Gibbon’s article, for his methods are typical.

Note the employment of a classic logical fallacy. To whit: in no place does Gibbons refute any of Lomberg’s skeptical consensus arguments. Instead, Gibbons, in a long passage of histrionic rants and raves, shakes his fist at Lomberg’s hair and teeth, while simultaneously claiming that Lomberg’s specialty is theatrics!

Notice, too, that Mr Gibbons is not a climate scientist, nor a statistician, nor an economist. Yet he feels qualified to weigh in on these topics. Contradictions this blatant never faze the denier. He has his beliefs—he cherishes them, gazes upon them with the eyes of a lover. Mere words will never convince him that his darling is ugly.

But because I am always willing to help out troubled souls, I pointed out these facts to Mr Gibbons in a comment on his blog. I asked why anybody should listen to him since he isn’t a scientist. I explained how impugning skeptical arguments about the climate made him a denier.

“Denier!” I wrote. “Nyah nyah nyah!”

Not surprisingly, Mr Gibbons did not have the guts to post my comment.


  1. Denver

    AGW denialists

    Jerry Pournelle, PhD, http://www.jerrypournelle.com, for the best climate denialist on the planet. And he’s smarter than you.

    Freeman Dyson, smartest man never to win a Nobel Prize. And he’s smarter than you too as well as having been a “climate scientist”, physicist, mathematician and codeveloper of Quantum Electrodynamics. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/magazine/29Dyson-t.html

    I only know facts.

    Fact 1. 1000 years ago there were dairy farms in Greenland and Vineyards in Scotland. The planet was warmer then.

    Fact 2. Christmas 1776 it was cold enough that the Hudson River froze solid enough that General Washington ordered cannon be dragged across. The planet was cooler then.

    Fact 3. The climate changes.

  2. Sean Peake

    “in the pocket of Big Green.” Nice! Mind if I use it?

  3. Briggs


    Bah. My intellect towers over Pournelle’s. It looms mightily over Dyson’s. I’m so smart that they’re going to have to invent a new category of Nobels: the Super Genius Level Award. But since there hasn’t been, in all of history, anybody even approaching my raw brain power, they’ll only hand out the award once. To me.

    After that, they’ll retire all Nobels in reverent recognition that any other recipient could never amount to more than a shadow of me.

    Sean Peake,

    It’s all yours.

  4. j ferguson

    Is it still snowing in Denver?

  5. Also Denver

    “Big Green?” If you’re making fun of people, don’t adopt their own euphemism for their beliefs!!! “Big Red” or “Big Collectivism” would do. “Big Watermelon” carries the key additional idea that their true core objectives are camouflaged.

  6. any calamity the climate might through our way.
    might read better as:
    any calamity the climate might throw our way

  7. Briggs


    Dammit! Thank you! And thanks to Charlie Martin, too, for finding another error (undoubtedly inserted by my enemies).

    Also Denver,

    No, “Big Green” is better. I looked it up. On page 37 of the Official Satirizers Handbook it says, “The would-be humorist should use language as close as possible to that used by the object which is being satirized.”

  8. j ferguson

    Big watermelon is really good. Watermelon Man(n), Your choice.

  9. Ray

    Dr. Briggs,

    There is no Nobel for math, however you might get a Fields medal.

    BTW, I love it when the AGW true believers start talking about scientific consensus evidently not realizing that consensus is about politics and not science. It’s politics masquerading as science, pseudoscience. Do these people truly believe that science is determined by taking a poll and if enough people believe it then it is true? At the trial of Galileo the scientific consensus was that the earth was the center of the universe, but that didn’t make it true.

  10. Briggs


    For the Fields you have to demonstrate a lack of gray hair; plus, you have to be good at mathematics. The best that will ever be said of me, mathematically, is that “he was proficient.”

  11. Perusal of a few of his other web sites shows Gibbons validates anew the Peter Principle, and suggests the corollary – may we call it the Matt Maxim? – a self-proclaimed climate journalist tends to write to the level of his incomprehension.

  12. Ari

    Lomborg is interesting to me because little of what he says strikes me as particularly controversial, though he does go after a lot of the most sacred beliefs. I don’t agree with many of his arguments, and I think he falls prey to many of the same mistakes that his so-called foes do, but he’s a great example of how the critics can bring more attention to someone than even the original author intended.

    I find the Pielkes more interesting, however. Especially Junior. Roger Jr., though I disagree with him often as well, makes extremely cogent points on policy. And he’s pretty clear that he believes in warming. Yet, he’s been made into a bad guy because his policy prescriptions differ from the orthodoxy.



    “BTW, I love it when the AGW true believers start talking about scientific consensus evidently not realizing that consensus is about politics and not science. It’s politics masquerading as science, pseudoscience. Do these people truly believe that science is determined by taking a poll and if enough people believe it then it is true?”

    While “the consensus” is a poor argument, there is something to be said about a body of evidence establishing a paradigm in science. We believe plate tectonics theory because the evidence we have collected thus far points to it being the best possible explanation. There is a consensus.

    The problem that AGW poses is that unlike plate tectonics, “the consensus” is used as a political tool to browbeat people into submission. However, consensus in science, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing.

  13. Robert of Ottawa

    Ahem, um, sorry to cavel but Greenpeace is a MISANTHROPICAL organisation

  14. Katie

    Last refuge of scoundrels?

  15. Ari

    Seems to me at least that there’s some pretty nasty behavior going on:

    “James Inhofe, a US senator and long-standing climate sceptic, has called for a criminal investigation of climate scientists. Professor Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit at the UEA, said he considered suicide after receiving hate mail and death threats.”

    Inhofe calling for criminal investigations is just being silly, and strikes me as a waste of time. And if Jones is indeed getting threats, then it’s absolutely repugnant behavior on the part of those doing it.

    This issue really brings out the worst in people.

  16. Briggs


    Yes, we of the Fellowship (for I am now a member) have tremendous powers. True, none of us are in the government, but our reach is all-encompassing. We see into more dark corners than the Trilateral Commission, we have more secrets than the Vatican.

    Fear us!

  17. Raven

    I find this constant comparison between climate scientists’ advice and doctors’ advice to be nonsense because doctors are trained to diagnosis and treat illnesses so giving advice is part of their training. Climate scientists are the medial equivalent of the biochemists and statisticians that spend their time analyzing data and running simulations on lab rats so they really have no business giving advice on how to treat the diagnosis.

    This difference is most apparent when you look ethical training that doctors receive. Specifically, the “first, do no harm” imperative. The wikipedia article describes this as almost a reverse of the ‘precautionary principle’ where doctors are told that doing nothing is better if the outcomes are uncertain and the treatments are harmful.

    What this all means is when 9 out 10 doctors recommend a treatment I know they have considered the potential harms of the treatment before giving advice. That makes their advice more trustworthy than a climate scientists who tend to create an eloborate fanatsy world that allows them to believe their no negative consequences of following their advice.

  18. The puerile concoctions of the gibbonish alarmos are indeed mindless denial of the robust and rigorous findings of the Peers of the Fellowship. The warmanoids, or “hot earthers,” are trapped in tarpits of Medieval superstition, enthralled by millernarianist prophesies of the Ecopalypse and Thermageddon, whilst ever denying the down-to-earth, scientific realities.

    It is not their denialism which troubles, though. Rather it is their rabid acceptance and promotion of reverse jacqueries, their fawning servitude to the new nobility, their Aztecan religious fever, and their haste to sacrifice the entire human race on a bloody altar.

    We’ve seen worldwide hemoclysm, and it’s no fun. The gibbonish hot earther fraud smells like more of the same. I fear we shall always have berserkers in our midst, but we must not let them drive the car. People could get hurt.

  19. intrepid_wanders

    My favorite is this hot air comment picking on Tol as well and in sheep-speak :

    “Tol is no more qualified than this writer to challenge the powerful scientific consensus, as articulated via the IPCC Assessment Reports…”

    This “powerful scientific concensus” to which Tol was part of, but obviously not qualified… maybe Johnnie can try to get on with AR5 for some credibility.

  20. john

    “Unlike me, for instance, Gibbons does not have a PhD from an Ivy League university; neither has he submitted his ravings to the scrutiny of peer-review; nor is he a scientist of any kind.”


  21. Briggs

    You got it, john boyo. All my ravings are pure gold, worthy of appearing in only the highest class publications.

  22. Ari:

    Inhofe calling for criminal investigations is just being silly, and strikes me as a waste of time.”

    “In the long run wouldn’t it be better for us if our senate critters had other things to do besides of working on “cap and trade”? Most legislature-led criminal investigations begin with long-winded public hearings and testimony. I say lets encourage them to open up all sorts of “investigations”. At least between now and November.

  23. AnnoyMaus

    Wow. I found your site on reddit, academic philosophy, I think, and liked the previous article on probability. I’m not sure what your intent was with the satire about, but combined with the comments, it makes you look rather like a wacko. Sorry to be so blunt.

    I’m not an eco-warrior, and I assume the human race is doomed to destroy itself one way or another within a few hundred years, but I think it’s hard to consider the facts (as a skeptic) without retaining some modesty about conclusions. The bare facts, as I see them are: over hundreds of millions of years, a bunch of carbon was stored in the ground. Over a span of hundreds of years we will extract it and put it in the atmosphere and ocean.

    What kinds of processes can you reverse at 10^6 times speed and expect nothing odd to happen? In geological time it looks like an explosion. My assumption is: we have no f*cking idea what’s going to happen.

    I’m not trying to convince you of anything, either; I don’t think you likely can be. And I don’t care, because humans aren’t designed to live in large groups, and will blow themselves up one way or another (my opinion–tragedy of the commons and all that). Have fun basking in the adulation of The Certain…

  24. james wilson

    The guts of leftism’s method in remaking society to its liking is in the perversion of language. When people preach flat earth theory you do not suddenly become a skeptic by refusing to give it credence. To say you are a skeptic is to allow that they are legitimate people and legitimate theories. You volunteer their credibility by accepting a term for yourselves deliberately designed to trap you into legitimizing them and diminishing yourselves.
    There is no reason to be skeptical about the motives and character of the left other than ignorance, or a weariness with malice.

  25. john

    I read on the internet that water is the leading cause of drowning in the US. Combined with melting ice caps and increased hurricanes from global warming, we’re all doomed.

  26. Briggs

    Mr Maus,

    You do realize that this post was a joke, do you not? But we agree that none of us “have no f*cking idea what’s going to happen.” That makes us The Non-Certain. And I would get some pretty good basking in if I could convince more people to be less certain.

  27. Rich

    I hope, Mr Briggs, that you are baking that stuff into cakes and eating it and not smoking it as the products of combustion can be bad for your health.

  28. gerald allen

    Why did someone have to mention plate tectonics? Now the government will want to tax and control us to stop the movement of the Earth’s crust, because we like their positions just as they are now, ditto with the climate. Thanks for giving the duffuses a new cause to rally ’round.

  29. Ari


    I think your most cogent point is and always has been the lack of absolute certainty in arguments.

    However, how about some more discussion of where certainty actually plays a role? Or, where in the face of uncertainty, how we should make decisions anyway?

    I was recently fortunate enough to have an extended conversation with a professor of economics at NYU who said that the biggest lesson of the recent economy should be that we aren’t led by superhumans with prescience, but people with all the failings we have– in other words limited, small, human beings. Yet, we expect them to be the former. Somewhat similarly, we have built up scientists as a sort of priest class whose word is canon. Yet, we know that scientists, and the work that they produce, are fallible.

    But how do we move forward in light of that? In other words, how can decision makers make decisions in a world where we value certainty in the face of uncertainty? I agree that scientists should value uncertainty’s role in their work much more, but few people outside of the university have the liberty of controlling variables and qualifying their arguments so well.

  30. Ari


    Cute, are you saying that voters wouldn’t jump on the chance to have fewer earthquakes? I bet about 30 million or so people living in the Kanto region of Japan would be willing to be taxed if they could have fewer tremors.

    It occurs to me that one thing missing in this conversation about taxation is that the biggest problem the government faces with regards to CO2/GHG taxation/regulation is not that many people don’t favor it in some way (I bet at least a plurality of Americans would be for it, for better or for worse), but that years, maybe decades from now little will noticeably change.

    People have short memories and are quick to see trends in everything. Every flood, every storm, every disaster has to have a REASON. If not for the gods, or G-D, then it must be something else. We love to believe that we, through our sciences and technologies, can now find ways to keep climate optimal. To stop the rising of the seas, the direction of the winds, the severity of the rain. And we will gladly pay for it.

    Interestingly, as trust in government has fallen, I think Americans have come to trust the halls of science even more. Look what it brought us this past century! Science = internet, vaccines (for most of us…), computers, the automobile, and even the magical and revolutionary iPad. We love science because we see it as our conquering of the universe. And when scientists, those kings among men, say that we must do something, we believe them. After all, they brought us Viagra.

    I don’t see politicians as looking for reasons to steal our money, those evil bastards. They’re too busy getting money from corporate interests to care anyway. I see them as wanting to just stay in office, dammit. And the best way to stay in office is to give your district what it wants. And believe it or not, I think at least a plurality of Americans WANT the carbon restrictions they’ve come to believe is necessary– and enough of the rest don’t care. That’s politics.

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