The perpetual debunking of Christopher Monckton

Posted on February 1, 2011

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If you’ve been reading S&R for a while now, you’re probably familiar with the fact that I have issues with Christopher Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, and climate disruption denier. While he came to my attention as a result of his many errors of fact regarding climate science, my issues with Monckton are largely the result of the fact that he has labeled student activists “Hitler Youth,” has threatened legal action against his critics in transparent attempts at intimidation, and accuses his critics of resorting to ad hominem attacks while describing them as looking “like an overcooked prawn.” Pot, meet kettle.

Now, thanks to the miracle of massive databases and people who know how to code them, we have available a new Monckton debunking tool. John Cook, physicist and creator/editor of the website SkepticalScience.com has put together a page devoted exclusively to debunking Monckton’s many, many, many myths.

When it comes to the science and data underlying anthropogenic climate disruption, Monckton’s favorite approach is the logical fallacy known as “proof by verbosity,” aka the “Gish Gallop” whereby Monckton throws out so many erroneous facts and figures that no-one can possibly counter them in any debate or even a timely manner. It took John Abraham (the aforementioned prawn) months to counter all of Monckton’s claims in a large set of PowerPoint slides available at Abraham’s University of St. Thomas website, for example.

What the Skeptical Science page does is collect all of Monckton’s arguments, in order from most used to least used, in a single place. For example, according to Skeptical Science, Monckton has made the claim that predictions of sea level rise are exaggerated eight times, yet the best available data shows that sea level is actually rising faster than the predictions. For every claim Monckton has made, Skeptical Science has the counterpoint immediately available on the website with a clickable link to what the science and data are actually saying. Cook has conveniently included a search feature so you can search the entire database for something Monckton has said, and you can also request a specific rebuttal on any Moncktonism that doesn’t appear to be included in the database. The page is rounded out with a bunch of links to other sites where Monckton’s misleading and false statements have also been debunked.

Monckton, a non-scientist who has claimed that he’s cured the common cold and his own Grave’s Disease and who accused NASA of intentionally crashing their carbon dioxide monitoring satellite as part of a conspiracy, has been asked to appear beside actual climatologists as if he is some kind of expert on climate. He’s not an expert, and it’s an embarrassment that climate disruption deniers in Congress keep inviting him to testify. 21 scientists felt so strongly about Monckton’s error-packed testimony that they wrote a detailed refutation of his testimony and submitted it back before the 2010 election. At least now if Congressman Fred Upton or Darrell Issa call Monckton to testify again in the US House of Representatives, the Democrats on the committees will have ready access to detailed refutations of pretty much everything Monckton says a couple of clicks away on any laptop or smartphone.

With any luck, this will represent the beginning of the end of the Monckton Gallop.

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