Lord Christopher Monckton Guest Post: “Ignoratio elenchi and global warming”

Besides detailing myriad instances of how Ross Gelbspan’s ‘big coal & oil funding’ accusation of skeptic scientists unravels, it is also my goal to have guest blogs here about how enviro-activists are enslaved to character assassination as a first-resort tactic for avoiding genuine debate on the science of global warming. This short excerpt from Lord Monckton’s encounter with an accuser encapsulates the problem (mild profanity warning in the main essay, typifying what’s heard from some global warming promoters):

Why had he been so reluctant to talk about climate science or economics? The answer is that he knew – knew with a dreadful, raging certainty – that he would lose the argument.

Ignoratio elenchi and global warming


I was strolling in the sun just across the water from the Sydney Opera House. A passing cyclist, fury on his face, hollered at me out of the blue.

“Sir, are you addressing me?” I replied. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced. Or perhaps you were talking to yourself.”

“Dickhead! DICKHEAD! D I C K H E A D !”

“Why this leaden, inelegant and surely misconceived epithet?”

It was becoming clear what my enraged interlocutor was going to die of. Apoplexy. After struggling with his red-faced fury for a few moments, he gasped, “You’re not entitled to call yourself a Lord.”

“But I wasn’t calling myself a Lord. I was walking blamelessly in the sun. Besides, I am a Lord. You are in the presence of greatness – but, in my case, only inherited.”

“You’re not a Lord. The House of Lords says so.”

“On the contrary: the House has recognized my right and title to succeed to my late beloved father’s peerage, and the fact is recorded in Hansard.”

“You’re a liar! LIAR! L I A R !”

“Well, here’s my passport. Look: it says, “The holder is The Right Honourable Christopher Walter, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.” A Viscount is a kind of Lord, you know. A very rare one. There are only 29 of us on the planet. The rest have been killed by global warming. I’m going to apply to the U.N. for an endangered-species grant.”


“Well, OK, I’m not going to ask the U.N. for a grant. But when I found out that people like you would rather holler ‘not a real Lord’ than discuss the science and economics of global warming (warming that has now been embarrassingly absent for a couple of decades), I asked a leading barrister who specializes in peerage law to tell me whether I was a member of the House of Lords. His 11-page Opinion ends with these words: ‘Therefore, the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is a member of the House of Lords, albeit without the right to sit and vote, and he was and remains fully entitled to say so.’ But it may be that you are a still greater expert.”

“No, but the Clerk of the House of Lords is.”

“Actually, he isn’t an expert in peerage law at all. He’s a prize ass. And he wasn’t acting with the authority of the House either. You can check Hansard for yourself. Between you and me, he has allowed his political prejudices – which are similar to yours – to get in the way of his job. But he has provided some amusement for lesser minds.”


“Well, perhaps, like Queen Victoria, You Are Not Amused. But why are you so interested in an obscure and not terribly important point of arcane peerage law?”

After a little gentle coaxing, I discovered that Mr. Hate-Speech was an economic analyst (with the emphasis on the first four letters of the word) working for the State Treasurer of New South Wales.

“Ah,” I said, “so you have a financial vested interest in global warming.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yes, you do. Everyone in the public service has a vested interest in global warming. It’s a major revenue-earner.”

“The New South Wales Treasury gets nothing at all out of global warming.”

“Yes, it does.”

“No, it doesn’t. I ought to know – I work there.”

“So tell me this,” I said. “Does the Government of New South Wales get any money – any money at all – from the Federal Government in Canberra? Last time I looked it got plenty. But perhaps times have changed.”

“Well, er, yes, it does, but what’s that got to do with it?”

“Simple: the Federal Government gets a lot of money out of the carbon tax – or it would if it were not so incompetent. And the Federal Government passes a lot of that money to New South Wales. So you profit from that. You have a vested interest, and it must be a very large one, or you would be thinking more and shouting less. As Confucius very nearly said in the Analects – worth a read if you can spare time from shouting ‘Dickhead’ – those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know.”


Mr. Vicious pedalled off.

Why had he been so reluctant to talk about climate science or economics? The answer is that he knew – knew with a dreadful, raging certainty – that he would lose the argument.

He also knew the Party Line. And the Party Line is that the science doesn’t matter, the economics doesn’t matter, the truth doesn’t matter, the planet doesn’t matter. The only thing that does matter is the Party Line.

And once the Party Line has been handed down to the likes of him, they know they can safely switch off their brains and just parrot it. No one will deduct any Brownie-points for failure to think or reason or check. If you want advancement, you can’t go wrong with the Party Line.

Except. Except that there are people like thee and me who are not interested in advancement because we are advanced enough already. We do not bother with the Party Line. We do not need to. We think for ourselves. We do the math, sweat the numbers, check, check, and check again, just as Alhazen, the founder of the scientific method, said we should when, in 11th-century Iraq, he said that the seeker after truth does not place his faith in any mere consensus, however venerable.

Aristotle, 2350 years ago, listed the attack on the person rather than on his argument – “Dickhead! Denier! Exxon Mobil pays you to lie!” – as one of the dozen commonest logical fallacies in human discourse.

The medieval schoolmen gave this particular fallacy its name: the argumentum ad hominem. They categorized it as a sub-species of the fundamental fallacy they called ignoratio elenchi: ignorance of the manner of conducting a debate – or, rather, an enquiry, for in that civilized age debate was not as venomously adversarial as it is today: instead, it was recognized and used as a method of investigating, testing and finding the truth.

George Orwell, in 1984 and again in Animal Farm, describes the savage, seething fury of those who adhere to the Party Line when someone still capable of thinking for himself dares to question it.

But do not think for an instant that the vicious attacks on those of us who ask questions about global warming are random and uncoordinated.

On my recent visit to New Zealand, a nasty clique of overpaid pseudo-academics had been organized to get themselves in front of every reporter they could, so that they could call me names. It was difficult to tell which was more shocking: the malice or the mendacity. The evidence of prior organization was undeniable.

Fortunately, I stayed with a High Court judge who had seen – and seen through – the attacks on me. He told me what to do. Write a short, simple, straightforward letter itemizing the errors of fact in the article or broadcast, and insist on a letter of correction or a broadcast so that you can give your side of the story. They will nearly always agree to this if you handle it that way.

I tried this technique. It very nearly always works. The New Zealand Herald, which had seldom given any climate skeptic the right to be heard, was compelled to print a humiliating letter of correction from me, showing that it had failed by every objective standard to be truthful or fair.

Other newspapers and TV stations went down like ninepins. The word eventually got around that Monckton was not taking any more nonsense, and the nonsense largely stopped.

There are still one or two with whom I have been gentle because they have been useful. For instance, there is the absurd, pompous figure of John Abraham, an associate professor of not a lot in a fourteenth-rate bible college in Nowheresville, Minnesota.

He knows less than nothing about climate science, but he discovered that he could earn fame by launching a personal attack on me. His technique was characteristic of hard Left Party-Liners everywhere. He contacted several scientists whom I had cited in my talks on the climate, deliberately misrepresented to them what I had said, carefully noted their justifiably outraged responses, and then published a laughable, 90-minute commentary on a lecture I had given in Minnesota (though not at his fifteenth-rate college – I wouldn’t stoop that low).

It took him eight months. It was such nonsense that within a week I had sent him an 80-page letter asking him almost 500 questions about his dodgy science and his still dodgier technique of misstating what I had said and getting hostile comments back from understandably outraged scientists.

Since he persists in his libels despite my plain and repeated warnings, I am now going to have to find the time to contact all the scientists, check my record of what he said to them, demonstrate to them that he had misrepresented what I had said, and invite them to distance themselves from him. Once I have gathered the evidence, the matter will be put before the libel court. And he will go down. Big time. Creepery on the scale practiced by Abraham is not something the courts will tolerate, though his hopeless Bible college is thrilled with the publicity he has attracted.

With him will go a number of news media – notably Britain’s Marxist rag, The Guardian – which have enthusiastically repeated his libels without having bothered to check them with me. The courts take a dim view of that, too.

Next on the list will be that silly clerk. The barrister who wrote the Opinion said the clerk had plainly committed a serious libel and that, because he had done so without having had the sense to get the backing of Their Lordships in the chamber (for that would have been recorded in Hansard, and it is not there), he will not be able to cower behind parliamentary privilege. As F.E. Smith said in the Unilever case, “The libel is grave. Damages will be extensive.”

There is also a group of self-appointed busybodies – Abraham, inevitably, is one of them – who write secret emails to universities where climate skeptics are invited to speak, in the hope of getting them disinvited. This is the tactic that the Nazis and the Communists used against academics who did not adhere to the Party Line. Extremists spit upon the very freedom without which academe cannot thrive.

The trouble is that dealing with these worms takes time. And even when one wins they lie about that too. The BBC managed to get past my lovely wife and gatekeeper, and she recommended that I should allow myself to take part in a “fly-on-the-wall” documentary which, I was told, was going to be about climate skeptics.

In fact, it turned out to be a hatchet job on me. However, the reptile who made the program had written to me at the outset giving me the right to take out anything I did not want from the broadcast before it was aired.

I used that email against him and sued. The BBC ran for cover and cut the program from 90 minutes to under an hour (ensuring that he made a huge loss on it), and removed 16 of the 21 items I had flagged as inaccurate and malicious.

We went to court about the other five. The judge let them away with those five, on the ground that the BBC was not bound to honor any promises it had made in writing because they were not explicit terms in the contract. However, he said, I had substantially won the action. He made the BBC pay the thick end of the costs. The BBC promptly put out a statement denying he had said I had substantially won the action. But there it is, in the court record.

Then there’s Wikipedia, the “encyclopedia” that any idiot can edit but only a cretin would credit. It has a team of paid hacks who tamper with the biographical entries of anyone who questions the Party Line on global warming. Fortunately, no one now believes anything in Wikipedia. It has destroyed its own reputation by being altogether too keen to destroy the reputations of its biographees. Most serious universities now forbid students to use it or cite it. It has become a sad and cranky Leftist in-joke. A shame, because its founder’s intentions were honorable. But he was not strong enough to stop the usual suspects from taking it over and wrecking it.

What is intriguing is how desperately unwilling the usual suspects are to debate. When they do, they make a mess of it every time – but the Party Line is that they must be right, so they must have won, even when they lost big-time.

A couple of years ago I was invited to take part in an hour-long debate on global warming, on live, prime-time television in Australia. My opponent was the director of the Australia Institute. He knew nothing whatever about the climate. But he knew the Party Line.

Trouble is, the Party Line is no use when you have to defend it against someone who knows why it is wrong. Roy Morgan Polls put 350 scientifically-randomized people into a room and got them to vote before and after the debate. The swing towards skepticism was 9% in one hour – unprecedented in the history of polling.

And why? The reason is interesting. So dismal has been the media coverage of the skeptics’ serious scientific arguments that most of those questioned had never realized that there was another side to the climate story. As soon as they heard it, they liked it and voted for it.

In the end, all the lies about how we are paid by Big Oil or Big Coal are not really believed any more. After all, Big Government is a whole lot Bigger than Big Fossil Fuels, and Big Government has been backing only one side of the argument – the Party Line.

And the Party Line is wrong. A single graph shows this. So do not worry too much about the clowns who cannot do science and instead try to do peerage law. They are noisily wrong, and their viciousness in attacking those of us who were quietly right will not be forgotten when it becomes apparent to all what scientific and economic illiterates they are.

Here is the graph (click to enlarge). It compares the computer models’ predictions since 2005 with the real-world, measured temperatures worldwide, compiled by the Hadley Centre for Forecasting and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The Party Line is in red. The truth is in blue. The scare is over. All that hate-speech for nothing. The word “dickheads” comes to mind, but not for long, for we are not unmerciful. We shall just continue to laugh our heads off at the nonsense these rabbits peddle as they pedal.