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That dinner

The dinner at Nic Lewis's house the other day, at which sceptics and mainstream scientists got together to chew the fat, has already been reported by Anthony Watts. (I was invited, but unable to attend). There's now a fuller report at the Responding to Climate Change site here:

It was one of science’s strangest social events to date.

Some of the best known names in the climate debate – including Mail on Sunday journalist David Rose, blogger Anthony Watts, and Met Office scientist Richard Betts – shared salmon and civilities at a dinner party last month.

Hosted by the sceptical scientist Nicholas Lewis at his house in Bath in September, the group discussed their similarities, differences, and how they might calm the debate that rages across the pathologically provocative medium of Twitter.

“Both sides are really fed up with the outrageous alarmists who are not representing science properly. Both don’t like those who shout about it and call people names and take a polarised point of view,” says David Whitehouse from the sceptic think-tank The Global Warming Policy Foundation.

I gather that Tamsin's account will appear shortly.

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Reader Comments (138)

Geoff Chambers,

Most of us have been censored, moderated and attacked and it is tiresome and unrewarding slog. Moreover, once you've read the rejoinder's there is little or no variation, they never talk about real science either - that must be taboo over at Macht frei. Automatons and mechanical responses - as that eejit [above] ably demonstrates, ex Devon, contributor to skeptical science and sometime model fixer has reiterated - same old, same old s&47. Indeed, they may ever so slightly vary the wording but the song remains stubbornly the same.

In the end, whether it be Richard Tol, eminent and regaled Professor Dr. Richard Lindzen or, maybe the almighty himself - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make the b499ers drink it.

Oct 5, 2014 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

geoffchambers -
"The IPCC, guardian of the settled science, can't estimate climate sensitivity to within three degrees." But Rose was talking about TCR, not ECS. TCR is the more relevant metric for medium-term (say, 50 to 100 years) prediction.

AR5 WG1 gave a "likely" range for TCR as 1.0 - 2.5 K. The mean TCR of 30 CMIP5 models [Table 9.5] is 1.83 K, with the 5-95% range of 1.2-2.4K. By contrast, Lewis&Curry give a best estimate for TCR as 1.33 K, with a 5-95% range of 0.9 to 2.5 K.

So I'd make the difference closer to 0.5 K (rather than 0.4 K).

Oct 5, 2014 at 4:53 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

He and I struck up a friendly acquaintanceship at CIF after he accused me of having destroyed his theory that sceptics have no sense of humour. The friendship came to a sorry end after he accused me of having a small penis (what is it with warmists and their obsession with measurement?) and asked if I was able to satisfy my wife. I asked the moderators not to to censor our exchange, and it was still up the last time I looked (the exchange I mean).

He followed up with a comment saying he'd like to roger me over a table, a request that I politely declined, since we haven't been introduced.
Geoff Chambers, what a rich and varied palette of experience CiF can offer! Perhaps it is the modern substitute for riotous dinner parties in the days before "responsible drinking" turned most of them into snorefests.

Your quite correct remark that you could not possibly consent to being rogered across the dinner table when you had not been introduced reminded me of William Schwenck Gilbert's apposite poem, "Etiquette":

These passengers, by reason of their clinging to a mast,
Upon a desert island were eventually cast.
They hunted for their meals, as ALEXANDER SELKIRK used,
But they couldn't chat together - they had not been introduced.

For PETER GRAY, and SOMERS too, though certainly in trade,
Were properly particular about the friends they made;
And somehow thus they settled it without a word of mouth -
That GRAY should take the northern half, while SOMERS took the south.

Read the whole thing here:

Oct 5, 2014 at 5:51 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

geoffchambers -
Well, I'm getting quite a lesson in British slang. I have to say you kept your end up in the conversation.

And johanna, thanks for Gilbert's poem, which brought a smile to me.

Oct 5, 2014 at 7:32 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Which all goes to show how ineffably silly some of the commenters at CiF can be when they really try. I felt sorry for Tamsin and others who had presumed that most on CiF would be rational and even pleasant. Perhaps the banning of fox-hunting was a terrible mistake, as some of the regulars at CiF are certainly blood-sports enthusiasts.
I gave up commenting on CiF some four years ago as I found that arguing with that group of zealots with utterly fixed mindsets was not worth the effort or the aggravation.
I read CiF rarely as attitudes their are so entrenched that all the regulars do is shout with some venom at anyone they don't agree with.

Oct 5, 2014 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

For the first time in seven years the Guardian, arguably the most influential journal in the UK, has deigned to give a space for sceptics to express their views. Where are you?

Oct 4, 2014 at 11:13 PM geoffchambers

I did battle there for years.

I didn't much mind being called a mentally deficient, planet-killing, child-murdering moron - although having all my responses regularly disappear without trace was a bit dispiriting.

I got a bit nervous though when I was denounced as a paedophile for not agreeing with someone about Julian Assange being a saint.

I was also once revealed by a CIF regular as being a known police provocateur working on black-ops from the basement of Hendon Police College.

They can be very imaginative sometimes.

What really freaked me out was, during the London riots, when a post headed "let London burn" got 800 recommends and the moderators left it up for over 48 hours.

The editorials may be influential in certain quarters - but I'd be surprised if rational people take any notice of CIF.

Anyway - after getting repeatedly banned and working my way through seven different email addresses the sheer effort of keeping up with CIF moderation wore me down.


Oct 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

"the Graun may only be 2% of the population or whatever, but it includes the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition"

Oh! So reading CiF and counting the recommends is how those two guys keep in touch with the nation. Thanks for that Geoff.

Oct 5, 2014 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

The Graun's small, and decreasing circulation, should render the rag totally irrelevant. That it isn't is due to the unholy alliance it enjoys with the BBC. Listen to Radio 4 for a few days and list the guests it has on and which paper they represent. I guarantee you won't find the ratio coming anywhere close to the ratio of national circulation. Before anyone says it, I am referring to what used to be known as the broadsheets not the red tops.

Otherwise, the Graun really should be the media equivalent of a freak show visited by normal people for a good laugh.

Oct 5, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones


What really freaked me out was, during the London riots, when a post headed "let London burn" got 800 recommends and the moderators left it up for over 48 hours.

Thanks for telling the story. Appalling but hardly unexpected. It reminds me of a debate on Geert Wilders and Muslim extremism on the Newsnight blog in February 2009 when the thread was invaded by Holocaust deniers (real ones, using nyms) whose noxious views I tried to repel, with the moderators doing nothing. I then pointed this aspect out in an email to Michael Gove. He replied saying "V Interesting." Not long afterwards the Newsnight blog was closed. Gove has BBC and Newsnight connections of course.

But closing what was often an excellent forum - better than CiF now, from what I have seen - was I thought far from the best answer. (See for example David Miliband responds, as Foreign Secretary, including on climate change, in May 2008 - a thread I greatly enjoyed, thanks to Nigel Lawson's book, which Miliband had just read.) A better answer would have been to reform the culture. Meantime, back to Geoff, I strongly appreciate his words of encouragement. I may not give time to it now but I accept the premise: we must engage.

Oct 5, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

if you read the graun you think there re 20% lgbt in society and its subscribers
are all young beautiful dynamic women having lots of nighttime youknowwhat ,in charge of something important, thanks
to fending for themselves and lots of achievements.

alas we all know none of that is remotely true
and we know that for the past 15y now

Oct 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterptw

This kind of thing worries me. It's the old story about what the purpose of compromise and agreement is. Does it make sense to compromise with evil, just to reach a compromise of some sort? Look for example what happens with most two-party political systems. They all eventually make common cause with each other in order to fleece the taxpayer, their differences exist mostly on paper after that. Is that what we are witnessing here, the beginning of the anti-AGW "nobility" joining the ranks of the esteemed climate scientists, agreeing that some fraud can be ignored and some bad data pushed out the door if it means everyone can be friends and attend the same cocktail parties?

There have been countless articles exposing what can ONLY be fraud or gross disregard for truth on the many anti-alarmist websites, we are not battling against good people who just need to be shown the right path, but against malicious political activists who will lie, cheat and misrepresent in order to keep the money coming. Anyone on our side of the debate that makes common cause with such people has betrayed the ideas of free and open enquiry and should be shunned from our "team".

Oct 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMr Black

Mr Black:

Anyone on our side of the debate that makes common cause with such people has betrayed the ideas of free and open enquiry and should be shunned from our "team".

Wow, strong words. Exactly what kind of people should Nic Lewis be shunned for fraternising with?

malicious political activists who will lie, cheat and misrepresent in order to keep the money coming

Serious stuff. Nic arranged a dinner with Paul Valdes, Ed Hawkins, Ted Shepherd, Tamsin Edwards and Richard Betts. All we need now is to know which of these scientists lies, cheats and misrepresents. I'll get the papers banishing Nic from our Team ready.

Oct 5, 2014 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Steve Jones its little ironic that the Guardians 'impact ' is due not to its circulation but to the fact its one of the papers of the very establishment they claim to be against. In reality its the coffee tables of the North London chatter classes that are likely to have a Guardian on them . While the front doors of the very people they claim to care so much about , who have little involvement with the establishment, will see the type paper pass through them such as the Mirror that the Guardian hate for their failure to blindly support the in the practice 'illiberal values ' the Guardian supports.

There a few things that can get you post deleted or 'disappeared' on CIF very quickly , oddly repeating GM own views on people who fly is one , another one of them is posting 'the list ' which shows how the majority of Guardian journalists were privately education and went to Oxbridge and are very much part of the 'establishment' these facts it would seem not being scared at all.

Oct 5, 2014 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

I was banned hundreds maybe thousands of times,, now permanent. Apparently being a continuously negative, obnoxious, sarcastic and abusive troll is against the rules. They make them up to suit themselves !!!

In all seriousness, what will get you banned is taking the piss out of their journalist drones and climate fraud deniers.. I was permanently banned for noticing the creeping re-introduction of New Labour as the good guys.

Oct 5, 2014 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

The Guardian has transformed itself into a hostile, divide and rule, politically correct, liberal, tabloid rag chasing the Yankee $$$$$.

Oct 5, 2014 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

My word, a lot of "Pause Denial" going off there. Perhaps someone who's registered there,may like to point out James Annan's comments on it.
"Clearly, the longer the relatively slow warming continues, the lower the estimates will go. And despite what some people might like to think, the slow warming has certainly been a surprise, as anyone who was paying attention at the time of the AR4 writing can attest. I remain deeply unimpressed by the way in which this embarrassment has been handled by the climate science insiders, and IPCC authors in particular. Their seemingly desperate attempts to denigrate anything that undermines their storyline (even though a few years ago the same people were using markedly inferior analyses of this very type to bolster it!) do them no credit."

Oct 5, 2014 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

If there were enough newspaper articles, tweets and dinner parties about the various sub species of unicorn as there are about climate sensitivity, it might be forgotten that like human created warming, there is no such thing as a unicorn.

Oct 5, 2014 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff


The Guardian has transformed itself into a hostile, divide and rule, politically correct, liberal, tabloid rag chasing the Yankee $$$$$.

Using the same technique reported by Andrews Sisters: 'Rum and Coca Cola'

Oct 5, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterjferguson

The circle is completed by the government local and national and the BBC helping to keep the Guardian afloat by paying to advertise all their jobs there, which also serves to ensure that applications come from the right sort of people.

Oct 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

This 0.4 degrees difference, is it real, or one of those "upper bounds meet lower bounds" things the UKMO is so keen on for "proving" that the model matched the forecast?

Climate sensitivity is usually quoted as a range, what was the difference between the lowest extreme of the sceptic figure and the upper extreme of the warmist?

Or is the 0.4 degrees the difference between the averages of the two ranges?

As someone mentioned above, the whole thing is snake oil anyway as the source data is shit.

Oct 5, 2014 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

The current main challenge for climate scientists is whether to be properly honest about the fact they have no clue as to the real extent of natural variation in the 20th century warming prior to the plateau, knowing that if they do own up to the truth then most will likely be de-funded. A dilemma indeed!

Oct 5, 2014 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Geoff Chambers, thank you for the kind comment regarding my words at the Guardian.

I feel it is good to comment there. Even though it will not sway the permitted debate or convert the fixed viewpoints of the fellow commenters. It can't affect that because only the most extreme bother to do anything more than lurk (yes, that includes me).

It is still good because most lurkers will be influenced by the vehemence of the passions and the uniformity of viewpoints. Just being a witness crying in the desert may help prepare the way forward.

(My self-image is a cross between an inferiority complex and a Messiah complex).

BTW: I have been banned and pre-moderated by the Guardian repeatedly. Usually for quoting the IPCC to contradict SkS.

Oct 5, 2014 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

Thanks for the correction about Transient Climate Response, which has replaced climate sensitivity as the thing to worry about, as ocean heat content has replaced surface temperatures, arctic melting has replaced the tropical tropospheric hotspot, and climate chaos has replaced global warming. If Professor Betts replaces Sir Paul Nurse and Dr Pachauri as the official spokesman for the 97%, this can only be to the good.
M Courtney
I agree entirely with your reasoning as to why the Guardian matters. I'm always amazed at the commenters here who understand that the climate is a chaotic system whose causal mechanisms are little understood, but who can't understand that human society and all its components, including the British media, is just another such system.
It's pointless railing about how unfair it is that the loss-making losers at the Guardian have the influence they have. You could write whole libraries of history and social science to explain why this is so, but it won't change the fact. We simple bloggers have the choice between chatting pleasantly among ourselves here, or getting out into the big wide world. Top comments on Guardian blogs get hundreds of recommends, which means thousands of readers.
To Martyn's sarcastic comment above about Cameron and Miliband keeping in touch with popular opinion via CiF, actually that's probably not so far off the mark. If they don't read it, some student on work experience at some think tank reads it, and sticks it in a report for some phoney NGO which ends up on the desk of some bright spark at Conservative Central Office. How do you think Cook's 97% got quoted on Obama's Twitter page?

Oct 6, 2014 at 9:38 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The moderator at the RTCC article linked above is back on the job.

Oct 6, 2014 at 9:46 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers


I'm always amazed at the commenters here who understand that the climate is a chaotic system whose causal mechanisms are little understood, but who can't understand that human society and all its components, including the British media, is just another such system.

That was worth the price of admission to BH this week on its own. And I agree that top-rated comments at CiF, or at least the views they represent, will soon become known to our elected bigwigs. That's how democracy functions by now. However:

We simple bloggers have the choice between chatting pleasantly among ourselves here, or getting out into the big wide world.

First, it isn't always pleasant here, as Ross McKitrick would testify. In fact, speaking personally, it is seldom pleasant here. But I continue to think Bishop Hill is important. For one thing Andrew gets a solid platform for his views - as long as the debate underneath isn't so stupid as to completely undermine what he's saying. But it's more than that.

There's an analogy here with the evangelistic and pastoral/pedagogical concerns of a group of Christians. You probably haven't heard this analogy for that analogy: the hunter who attracts a wild bear back to camp, enticing it towards the hut where the rest of the tribe are gathered, women and children included. It rages through the open door which the hunter triumphantly slams shut from the outside. "I've done the evangelism, the pastoral care is your concern" he shouts.

There is a need for teaching and pastoral care in the weird, weird world of climate, policy and science. We have too many nutcases on the loose in our own camp to make this place ideal for that but it's still important. The kind of instruction we regularly get from someone like Nullius in Verba, even on a somewhat bad-tempered thread like the recent Keenan - McKitrick smackdown, is not to be dismissed lightly. We need that - and we also desperately need to do outreach.

Sorry to ardent naturalists about the nature of the analogy but it's often been in my mind the last five years. Remember, it's only an analogy. The point is that there may be more reasons for BH than meet the eye. It's both-and.

Oct 6, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


Perhaps Cook's 97% got quoted on Obama's Twitter page because someone at central office highlighted it with a red felt pen as it fitted the political agenda.

Oct 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

I'm sure you're right. But you can't understand how that happened without knowing who Cook is, and how a part-time student with no relevant qualifications published a fraudulent peer reviewed paper that got quoted by Obama, right after his first fraudulent peer-reviewed paper was retracted. And you'd have to do the same explaining for Doran, Zimmerman, Anderegg and Oreskes.
Some people here do this, like the tireless Barry Woods, but nobody is interested outside our tiny circle. And why should they be?
I didn't mean to disparage His Grace or the rest of the BH boys. The Bish works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, and we're all very appreciative.

Oct 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Some people here do this, like the tireless Barry Woods, but nobody is interested outside our tiny circle. And why should they be?

I'm not quite sure what you're saying here Geoff. Are you aware by the way of how Cook talked about the Obama tweet in his Bristol presentation? After everything else settled down in my mind it was the most important and shoddy piece of the whole affair. I'm not sure I've talked about that here - or that anyone else has. Barry was there of course but didn't ask about this (or anything else). Though the questions from sceptics were magnificent, this aspect wasn't touched upon and deeply needed to be. I'll say more if you're not careful!

But Barry's not just preaching to the choir, surely? And the way I see it there are subtle interactions between what is said here, said in the more active parts of CiF and said in the privacy of Downing Street and even the White House.

Oct 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Gpwayne on Anthony Watts:

"how long would your shabby site be so popular with the mob were you to adopt a fair, balanced and credible editorial policy?"

That's a bit rich from CIF! Motes and beams, Mr Wayne. (A reference he will understand if he's friends with Cook, even though brotherly love doesn't seem to be his guiding principle.)

Oct 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


As you know very well, Cook publishes the sceptical science website which is comically biased. However the real reason he gets away with it is the climate modellers blithely accept the temperature record as given by their colleagues. That is big lie manufactured by Mann, Hansen, NASA GISS and Hadley Centre etc.

Oct 6, 2014 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

esmiff: As you know very well the temperature record is one of the least significant of the problems with policy-ready climate science. I assume the nonsense and misdirection, including on sensitivity, is deliberate. It's tiresome as well.

Oct 6, 2014 at 2:25 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake

Being polite in a serious situation will get you one thing and that is ignored.

Here is another apocryphal story. Please think back to the loss of Phil Jones emails.

About a year ago, I was bizarrely followed on twitter by then ITN social affairs editor Penny Marshall. When I tried to check her out, I discovered she had blocked me. What ???

This had to do with the fact that I had hinted I knew a few things about the completely innocent Bonnie and Clyde McCann. I wouldn't tell anyone because I don't want Mr Plod or worse Mr Plod (security) at my door. Everything I know was 100% publicly available at the time. Every journalist would know at least as much as me.

Now we discover that a respectable middle class woman has been hounded to death or worse, having been accused of being a troll by the biggest trolls in the galaxy, tabloid journalists. There is a connection to global warming, particularly the future of British energy generation..

The McCanns don't have an internet presence as far as I know and couldn't be harassed by anyone.

Oct 6, 2014 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

I didn't mention impoliteness but I did mention misdirection. You couldn't have produced a finer example. Others have given up trying to engage with you, as far as I can tell, I just wanted to make sure a casual reader would be aware some of us think you regularly spout nonsense, in case they get the idea that sceptics like Nic Lewis - whose hospitality and bridge-building this thread was originally meant to be about - are as crazy as you or so soft in the head that we happily indulge such irrationality from our 'own side'. Whatever our faults we're not crazy as that and it matters.

Oct 6, 2014 at 3:15 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake

As far as I am concerned, you are a troll. Bridge building is a piece of ridiculous nonsense and exactly what the 5th column GWPF was founded to do. To lend credibility to the fraud deniers by providing phony opposition as a bunch of completely irrelevant right wing nuts. Delingpole vs Nurse anyone ?

The reason for the McCann post is what I wrote at the start. The mysterious disappearance without a single trace of Phil Jones emails. Dr McCann had a crucial connection to the future of British nuclear energy production. No one cares what anyone says here, so there you are.

Oct 6, 2014 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Mr Drake

Almost half the time I have no idea what you're talking about. No doubt that will be because you are much cleverer than me.

Oct 6, 2014 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

If anyone thinks that David Rose of the the Nuremberg Beano lends credibility to the cause, then I strongly disagree.

I am deliberately tearing down any sense of decorum, respectability, reasonableness or respect between honoured protagonists connected with this ridiculous football match between the trenches, because it is phony.

Oct 6, 2014 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

esmiff, I'm very happy with what you say as it shows how far we are apart. That's what I wanted to make clear. Job done, bridges burnt!

Oct 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

For completion's sake

Dr McCann was a member of this committee that found nuclear power was safe while admitting leukaemia clusters. At the same time, colleagues in Germany came to the exact opposite conclusion. He was crucially a close friend and former colleague of the chairman, Professor Alex Elliott, Chair (University of Glasgow).

Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE)

Oct 7, 2014 at 1:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

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