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Crushing of dissent

I was having a little Twitter tiff with Leo Hickman over the Guardian's attacks on the editor of the Spectator for publishing an article by Nils Axel Morner - an expert on sea level rises who has been fiercely critical of the IPCC's predictions. As I explained to Leo, I have no particular horse in this race - I know little about the science of sea levels - but I do have libertarian concerns over attempts to silence dissenting voices by attacking anyone who publishes them or other by other underhand methods. 

I listed a few examples for Leo's benefit:

To which Jonathan Jones added

Can readers here think of other examples of attempts to silence dissent?

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  • Response
    Response: Dowsing does work!
    Leo Hickman of the Guardian is apparently angry (as Bishop Hill mentions here) that the Spectator published an article by sea level expert Nils-Axel M�rner, an article I recycled the concluding paragraphs of as a(n) SQotD here on Thursday, and Leo Hickman isn't the only one. The general mood in the ...

Reader Comments (151)

Landsea v Trenberth
Watts v Peterson (unattributed PDF widely circulated)
Pielke Sr v Karl

Less clearcut Wegman v Bradley and various bloggers Wegman does have a case to answer.

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterclivere

Can't wait for the usual suspects to come up with the humongous list of climate believers censored by hostile media and skeptics...

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been directed to enforce accurate business promotions with a $1.1m dollar fine, and team of 23 “carbon cops”, to stop Australian businesses from posting any signs telling the public how much extra they are paying due to the Carbon Tax

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

McIntyre v Schmidt - Harry in Antarctica

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterclivere

Luis Dias (Dec 3, 2011 at 12:06 PM) See Dec 3, 2011 at 9:12 AM comment by Mac, who raised it.

More information is available here:

And some vigorous commentary on it here:

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Trenberth v Landsea
Wigley v Michaels

Even if apologists may say that these episodes did not lead to "actual" harms to the dissenters, the record is clear that vicious, ugly attacks were made behind the scenes in order to try to destroy the credibility and professional standing of dissenters:

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

Mike Hulme (Tyndall) complaining about Prof Stott, and trying to get him (and others off the BBC...
.... and funding and using BBC's Roger Harrabinb to do it (whilst Harrabin also on board of Tyndall)

Mike Hulme:

“Did anyone hear Stott vs. Houghton on Today, radio 4 this morning? Woeful stuff really. This is one reason why Tyndall is sponsoring the Cambridge Media/Environment Programme to starve this type of reporting at source.” (email 2496)

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

That Professor of Geography from Hull sounds an interesting chap, no???

Phil Jones quoted the Professor thus:

after Keith's web page went up. I have had a couple of exchanges with the Head Of
Geography. I just got this back:

I know, I feel for you being in that position. If its any consolation we've had it here for years, very pointed commentary at all external seminars and elsewhere, always coming back to the same theme. Since Sonja retired I am a lot more free to push my environmental interests without ongoing critique of my motives and supposed misguidedness - I've signed my department up to 10:10 campaign and have a taskforce of staff and students involved in it.... Every now and then people say to me sotto voce with some bemusement, 'and when Sonja finds out, how will you explain it to her..

How "inconvenient for said Professor, that he was hampered in pursuing his "environmental interest" through his taxpayer funded position at the University. But all's well that ends well, he eventually got taxpayers money working for the crass 10:10 campaign and goodness knows what else.

I imagine this is the guy here (his areas of interest in "sustainability" and eco this and that tend to give him away beyond Phil Jones helpful referral):

David Gibbs

More taxpayers' money at work for "the cause".

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

There is an interesting example of Mann's bullying I'm unawere being discussed before. See #1335 (29 Nov 2005) and related discussion before and after (search for PAGES/CLIVAR or Christoph Kull) .

Mann is first trying to decide who is going to be invited to a workshop (not organized by him), and especially trying to prevent Eduardo Zorita (who had dared to oppose Mann) being invited. Due to Mann's own careless reading of his e-mails (see #2677), Zorita gets invitation and Mann is furious (#1335). When he realizes that the "mistake" is at least partly his fault, his reaction is funny: he tries to bargain an invitation to his buddy Eugene Wahl! Those e-mails make the same time entertaining and sad reading: I thought that kind of behavior is something encountered mostly in kindergarden. It would be interesting to know if Eduardo ever participated to that workshop, and what was "mike's" treatment.

If Zorita is in, I am out!

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJean S

Dr Gibbs: Background
I completed my BA degree at the University of Manchester and then returned to Manchester after working for a year, to undertake my PhD, which dealt with spatial restructuring in the British clothing industry.

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

While I am not a scientist, I do like to think I have a scientific mind (if a little woolly). I have no axe to grind for or against climate change - though I have worked out that a five-metre rise in sea level will bring the beach to within half a mile of my house, so that's a good thing. What I do get suspicious of is the "scientists" warning of imminent collapse refusing to allow their data to be scrutinised, while those who argue against proudly display their full workings for all to inspect.

As for: "It must be right, as it is 'The Consensus'..." - for 200 years, the consensus was that Newton was right, as his openly-submitted theories could not be proven wrong. There was not the witch-hunt that is now in progress for the "sceptics" (surely a title ALL scientists should be proud of?) of AGW when his work was eventually proved faulty.

Why has Corporal Jones changed his cry from, "Don't panic! Don't panic!" to, "Panic! Panic!"?

Perhaps they don't like it up 'em, you know...


Dec 3, 2011 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Bjorn Lomborg's treatment by SciAm and by the weird Danish Committee oin Scientific Misconduct was awful (mentioned upthread already, I know, but worth repeating).

Fred Pearce got denounced on RealClimate (?) For his book, I think.

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Via Maggie's Farm (, I just came across one chap's 'non-exclusive list of eight signs of junk science'. I reproduce the titles of them below. See the original for commentary on each:

Science by press release. .

Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of eschatological panic.

Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic.

Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole.

Over-reliance on computer models replete with bugger factors that aren’t causally justified.

If a ‘scientific’ theory seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations, it probably has been.

Past purveyers of junk science do not change their spots.

Refusal to make primary data sets available for inspection. '

To which I think we might add:

Frantic attempts to crush dissent

Dec 3, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Phil Jones v dissent, cheerfully working with a national US panel review to exclude dissenting views

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

Maybe it is too easy but it should get aggregated here too - if you look at Joe Romm he seems to think he wields power and this below is a nice example of the charming backroom gentile dialog that goes on in the climate science world:

Romm adds that “my blog is read by everyone in this area, including the media” and tells Caldeira that “I’d like a quote like ‘The authors of SuperFreakonomics have utterly misrepresented my work,’ plus whatever else you want to say.”
I understand that blogging, especially advocacy blogging, doesn’t operate under the rules of journalism (where you don’t feed quotes to people), but still: that’s quite a quote to feed to someone.

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

The link to the Superfreakonomics/Romm article came out wrong in the last post

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Silencing the climate skeptics once and for all: they really can't help it, can they?

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Attempt by John Mashey and Robert Coleman to censor debate in the Chronicle of Higher Education

"We both take academic misconduct seriously and have filed formal, detailed misconduct complaints."
And the activities of one of Mashey and Mann's main supporters

"For example, one of Mashey and Mann’s supporters has made it her business to contact by telephone and e-mail NAS trustees, members, employees, and others with leading questions about my views on climate change and sustainability. Her questions have insinuated that two former employees of NAS who died in 1995 were murdered, perhaps at the behest of Richard Mellon Scaife! (As it happened both died of heart attacks; and both had suffered previous heart attacks.) This woman has similarly attacked other people and organizations that express views on climate change that she disagrees with."

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

"Silencing the climate skeptics once and for all: they really can't help it, can they?"

No, and the lengths they go to is astonishing too. After M&M's paper started the pot boiling, Connelly and chums actually went to the trouble of setting up a Wikipedia page about Energy & Environment, deliberately ridiculing it. Presumably the thinking being that if M&Ms paper was published in such a 'tainted' journal, well, can't be any good can it.

Its taken the good blokes a long long time to get that page somewhere within the realms of 'neutrality' - still hopelessly half-truthish, but not as bad as it was - all the time having to fight the efforts of Connelly, Stefan, Dable Petersen and all the others who devotedly patrol any pages related to warming, to thwart them.

Curiously, the warmists suddenly gave up the struggle in August this year. I wonder if a whisper had gone round that another load of emails were on the way.

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

I wouldn't give Hickman the time of day, this is a polite blog, which precludes me stating what I really think of any and most of the gruan' hacks and of the rag itself.

I admire your patience Bish'.

I think back to the Himalayan, IPCC AGW will hence cause, "glacier's will melt in 24.... years [2035] BS - a headline which reverberated around the World and that was sole the intention [who cares about the truth??] - whoppers don't come much bigger do they? [apart from; Greenland, Arctic sea ice etc........ Antarctic HO HO......?]

I recall and muse, on the panic at the IPCC as they first defended and then washed their hands of the whole affair - how Pachauri is still in a job is quite beyond me, he is a liar and a charlatan and not an accomplished one at that, he doesn't need to be, he's surrounded by fellows who are very much like minded.

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Seemingly we've all forgotten Monbiot's supreme act of sublime censoring stupidity...the "Top 10 Deniers" cards

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Goodbye Zed

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The attempt by Peter Gleick to undermine Donna Laframboise new book on the IPCC

Dec 3, 2011 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Refusal of PNAS to publish Lindzen's paper

Dec 3, 2011 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa

What's "goodbye zed" about?

Dec 3, 2011 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

I just realized I was searching for "skeptic" rather than "denier" ;-)

LinkedIn group kicks out climate denier

Dec 3, 2011 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Does the refusal by Caspar Amman of Steve Mc's offer to write a joint paper on where they differ, as being "Bad for his career" fit in here?

Dec 3, 2011 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

There was one about a month ago in the Washington Post. Fred Singer posted a letter to the Washington Post about the BEST temperature reconstructions. They allowed the letter but would not publish his credentials which are both relevant and show expertise. In Washington DC, credentials are very important. I was not censorship per se but there WaPo's childish way to keep their readers from taking him seriously.

Dec 3, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

These are Torquemadas at work, a whole new Inquisition and the opposite of what science should be.

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

Ah... David Bellamy and Johnny Ball.... As exemplified nicely by James Delingpole here:

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustin Ert

Well, historically we shouldn't forget

Pope Urban VIII vs Galileo

Lysenko vs everybody

This stuff is nothing new. Ever since Socrates was given the cup of hemlock this has been going on.

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra
Dec 3, 2011 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

"By far the best qualified science correspondent working for the BBC was Dr David Whitehouse - who has a doctorate in astrophysics and a string of other degrees and top awards. He really knew the science and the philosophy of science better than anyone else at the BBC.
But I guess that the BBC found that a tad inconvienient as they decided they had enough science correspondents and made David compulsorily redundant in 2006."

comment here by Science Observer 18 Oct 2007.

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa

Well, another recent attempt to silence dissent would be the recent revelation that Trenberth opined that Chris Landsea should be fired from his job at NOAA because he stuck to science, rather that show Trenberthian concern about potential adverse effects of CO2 on hurricanes. Now, of course, with the very recent IPCC report on the subject, we see that Landsea was right.

Also, silencing critics isn't just overt acts like trying to get journal editors fired. It is creating a climate where you don't dare criticize the big dogs even when you are pretty sure they are wrong.

That climate, without doubt, has been established. It works not just via public criticism of the "skeptic," but also via denial of research grant applications if you aren't sufficiently and publicly obesient to "the cause."

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Two recent examples of trying crush descent are directed at Lord Lawson and the GWPF.

By Bob Ward in the Guardian
Bob Ward's argument will fail if when he claims Lord Lawson is "wrong" it can be shown that either the facts are opinions, or he is wrong.

By Chris Huhne - Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

The GWPF replied to Chris Huhne

The Guardian made a big thing of Huhne's comments, but a search of the website finds no mention of the reply.

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

What about the campaign to get rid off Chris de Freitas from his job?

What about Michael Mann setting an 'investigative journalist' behind McIntyre?

What about moves getting someone at Harvard to 'take care of' Willie Soon?

What about the moves to get the editorial board of Climate Research to resign?

What about getting "rid of von Storch"?

Each of these things has specific support in the emails.

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Mann and a few of his mates ganging up on Anne Jolis of the Wall Street Journal.


Ms. Jolis,
I've taken the liberty of copying this exchange to a few others who might be interested in it, within the broader context of issues related to the history of biased reporting on climate change at the Wall Street Journal Europe,
Mike Mann
On Oct 23, 2009

The Few: Joe Romm; Erikka Knuti; Dan Vergano; Bud Ward; George Monbiot; AJ Walzer; Paul D. Thacker; Chris Mooney: Stephen Schneider; Gavin Schmidt; Stefan Rahmstorf; Phil Jones; Tim Osborn; Andy Revkin; Henry Pollack; Gabi Hegerl; Benjamin Santer; Richard Littlemore

Anne Jolis replies;

Dear Dr. Mann,

I realize you've taken that liberty. I've just sent them all an email as well inviting them to weigh in (though I've already spoken with Dr. Schneider) - great minds think a like!

Ms Jolis is undeterred: "Revenge of the Climate Laymen" - Nov 18, 2009

Dec 3, 2011 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Once again I have removed Zed's comments and all responses.

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:06 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Why remove mine?

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterjones

It works both ways:

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnM


I am tired of trying to keep order when Zed comes onto the site. Zed continually diverts the subject of threads onto personal criticism of other commenters.

I have blocked Zed's IP address, but without success. I now have no alternative but to delete Zed's comments. If people respond I will delete those comments too. I really have better things to do with my time.

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:11 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Oke doke......I've watched her for quite a while and have tried genuine debate....sorry for disrupting..

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterjones


Don't worry about it. I try hard to bring people with dissenting views onto the site (Richard B and Tamsin E for example) but it is a constant struggle to deal with everyone's anger.

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Often, or mostly, all I read/hear is just the label "skeptic(s)" -- or even "climate skeptic(s)" -- or something like: "they" "don’t stand up to scrutiny" (cf. for example C. Schrader's (Süddeutsche Zeitung) response released at EIKE).

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSeptember 2011

[Sorry, can we please get the thread back on topic]

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

All the more the reason for the Bishop's actions, Jimmy Haigh

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I guess in the interests of balance we should note that James Hansen said he was being silenced by NASA officials:

Has anyone mentioned the treatment of EPA employee Alan Carlin in 2009 for daring to disagree with the climate science in the EPA's endangerment report?

Dec 3, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDR

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