Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

Discussion > Bogged down in Nomansland

I don’t think you need to apologise for anything, just understand that Corner felt he was being smeared, as you obviously feel that you’re being unfairly criticised. Since no harm’s done, perhaps we can just drop the subject, and in future try to separate different aspects of the question of social research into climate change - its funding, its findings, its interpretation, and the use to which it is put by governments and others.

Jul 16, 2012 at 10:07 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Harm is potentially done, my reputation amongst people I disagree with, not fellow 'sceptics'

at this moment, Adam apparently has claimed to you that he was smeared, this is now in the public domain, I'm concerned that this will be repeated privately. Now it is not Adam's fsult that this has been repeated publically here,and I only this hear second hand. But obvioulsy I cannot myself now contact anybody, as I percieve I risk being classified as harassing somebody.

So, what can I do. Reputation is all, if we are to talk. I completely understand why my criticisms may be uncomfortable for Cardiff and Nottingham, but I cannot tolerate them being represented as a smear. Publically or privately. Especially as I hear it second hand.

I will absolutely publically apologise for anything that could be percieved by the public as a smear.
I do not think I smeared anybody. So all I can do is to state the above publically to defend myself. I also do not wish for a story to grow legs,
Ie, scientist tries to engage with sceptics, colleagues get phonecalls that smear scientist, for example

this sort of thing is important, otherwise trust is lost

Jul 16, 2012 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.


You are far too generous with your compliments: I am no master of words - my prose is tortured at best, and more often than not the spontaneous reaction that should be the staple of a blog but the result of a long editing process. As a schoolboy I recall writing an essay that was rightly criticized as reading like an extract from a mediaeval encyclopedia, and I doubt I’ve changed.

Weasel, well. My failure then because when I am sensible I try to make friends and influence people and if that is how what I write or say appears I have not succeeded. But I still think it is the only way to go - in my experience little has been achieved by rants, except, of course, the morale of the ranter.

War. I think that’s what we are in. Intellectual arguments as well, of course and in them, of course, it is a waste of everybody’s time to cheat. But my observations about the manipulation of parliamentarians are clearly not the latter but moves intended to win the former.


Thank you. It seems you have form so I have to accept that your discussion with Adam Corner was undertaken in the spirit of pure academic research.

Jul 17, 2012 at 4:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Geoff when we started this thread I was under the impression you didn't know who had contacted the university. If you did know it was Barry why didn't you contact him and get his side of the story? He now stands accused of "smearing" an academic, on the say so of a person who believes "denialism" is some sort of mental disease that needs special techniques in when communicating with the carriers. While it's understandable that you're peeved that this might have soured your relationship with Dr. Corner, given this is all too common a practice in warmist circles, claiming some sort of slander or tort when none had taken place, it would probably have been wiser don't you think to talk it through with Barry first?

Jul 17, 2012 at 6:52 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

No, I didn’t know that it was Barry who contacted the university. I suspected it, because of a very long telephone call I’d had with him in which he recounted everything he has recounted here. The point I tried - unsuccessfully - to get over to Barry on the phone was that it’s bad tactics to bring up every single bone of contention every single time you interact with someone. “Whatever you do, don’t mention the war” is a good rule of thumb, though I realise that if I say it too often and in too reasonable a tone of voice, I’ll probably end up goose-stepping around screaming at everyone. (Are you English? If not, you may not know what I’m going on about).
It is absurd, I think, to imagine that you can learn anything about us sceptics from a survey of 200-odd Welsh psychology undergraduates. It is also absurd to make a big deal out of the use of the word “smear” used in a private email (yes, one of those) repeated in a blog comment. These are of different orders of absurdity. The former is peer reviewed social science, the latter is just someone expressing mild annoyance in a private conversation. I want to drop discussion of the latter and get back to the former. I also want to separate discussion of government funding of Green activism and university employment of Green activists from discussion of the social science. Is that so unreasonable?

Ecclesiastical Uncle
No, I’m not conducting this in the spirit of pure academic research. I’m doing it for fun because I think it’s interesting. There’s a lot of misunderstanding of social science because it’s been deformed by academics and governments alike into a tool for solving social problems. I repeat, criminology is not about solving crime; psychology is not about changing your psyche.
I’m lost in admiration about your school report. No-one ever said anything as nice about my essays.

Jul 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

if it is no big deal.. then there was no need to repeat it here - 'smear'

The fact that it was, in a very high profile public sceptical blog, means I absolutely must defend my reputation.. It is not just a few guys chatting here, anybody can read it.

As no evidence of any 'smear' has come to light, I hope that anyone can see that no 'smear' happened.

My point stands about Cardiff and Nottingham working with COIN and PIRC.

Jul 17, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.


I am not sure why you did not write: Yes, I’m conducting this in the spirit of pure academic research. I’m doing it for fun because I think it’s interesting.

Does this mean that I have the totally naïve and romantic view of science common to the man in the street? Don’t answer unless you feel very exercised about this.

Jul 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Geoff, your original posting seems to say clearly that he said he was smeared, not that he felt smeared.

Do you have some insight that tells you what he meant was different from what he actually wrote? Smoothing over problems by pretending that things are different from what they are generally does not work in the long run.

Jul 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM geoffchambers:
" However, Corner is unwilling to continue the conversation in public because of the reaction he got at Bishop Hill, which included people phoning his colleagues and criticising their association with him.
He says:

"I don't mind defending myself,(...) has left me, sadly, a bit reluctant to run that gauntlet again, if all that happens is that I am smeared to my colleagues .(...)'

Jul 16, 2012 at 10:07 PM geoffchambers:
I don’t think you need to apologise for anything, just understand that Corner felt he was being smeared, (...)

Jul 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

No, I didn't say Corner was smeared, I quoted him as saying he felt "... a bit reluctant to run that gauntlet again, if all that happens is that I am smeared to my colleagues". This was an edited quote from a private email. (I'd written to Corner asking permission to quote his email here. Not receiving a reply after 2 days, I posted an edited version anyway).
You're right, I am trying to "smooth over problems by pretending that things are different from what they are" as you put it. My pretense consisted of rewording Corner's "smear" as "criticise" in the post you quote above. Barry is right. No evidence has come to light, so no smear happened.

Jul 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

(Are you English? If not, you may not know what I’m going on about).

I don't know if I'm English, I'm a Scouse. Played for the same school football team as Wayne Rooney, a few years before him when the school was run by the De La Salle brothers. I was lucky I came just after the era when they publically hanged one of the students occasionally, "pour encourager les autre". No in my day they concentrated on gratutitous violence hoping the education would follow. It does focus the mind when an entire class can be strapped because the "average" mark for the homework was too low, but I've seen it and watched Ernie Convey a boy for whom 9/10 was a complete and utter fail, strapped with the rest of us. Happy days.

You have a point about bringing everything up, I, for one, would like to get inside the head of someone with Corner's logic. I've had private email conversations with Paul Bain, he of the "deniers" fame. He was unaware that "deniers" was offensive to most sceptics (not me, I like them to call me a denier, it is a clear indication of he paucity of their arguments). Now here's a chap trying to communicate with "deniers" whose clearly never met any, or talked to any. Is that odd to you? It is to me. Not only that he explained to me that psychologists frequently loop people into a group with one name, fully aware that the people all don't think the same. I bet him he'd never labelled a group "Dick Heads", and wondered why that would be.

I think we parted friends.

They seem appalling ill-informed and lazy. I blame it on the comprehensive and Vera Brittan's daughter Shirley whatshername.

Jul 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Barry Woods

I'm not going to try to comment on details (at this moment anyway) but I simply want to say that I (and I am sure many others unspoken) think you behaved in this and many other episodes with great honesty, intelligence, and demonstrated commitment to thoughtful dialogue and citizenry. I have enormous respect for the kinds of bridge-building and dialogue you work for, because I think it is sorely needed (though the more vehement on various sides may say what's needed is simply that "we win, they lose").

fwiw, My own circles of family and friends contain microcosms of the difficulties in moving these debates and policies forward, with a huge range of experiences, positions, and commitments: scientific, economic, political, and otherwise. That is one "personal" reason I enjoy seeing how thoughtfully you engage with various people, because I know well that it is both important and difficult if one is to communicate and live well.

Jul 18, 2012 at 1:27 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil


Great post, agree 100%

Jul 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Jul 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM Dung


Jul 16, 2012 at 8:28 PM Barry Woods

“All I have is my reputation.”

Correct, and yours is very much still intact!

Very sadly, awareness of personal reputation, especially the other person's. appears to be on the slippery slope.

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I'm with you, Skippy!
Reading through this thread, I was shocked to discover I belong to a gang - the BH gang :). Wow!!
Having worked in a university Social Sciences department half a lifetime ago, the very real social and professional isolation of Adam Corner and his associates and peer group rings loud bells for me. One of the problems that arises from working in a closed environment is that that environment can become the entire world to some who inhabit it, leading to them viewing people in other quite ordinary spheres of life as belonging to remote and unknowable cultures and belief-systems.

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I've only just discovered this depressing thread and I feel a (tiny) little bit guilty since I think I was the first person to dig up, and publish on Twitter, the pic of Corner with his placard at Copenhagen and the link to his aborted Green Party parliamentary candidacy.

Personally I think Corner and his green pals are just stereotypical hyperactive, idealistic but naive student politicians going through a phase most of us probably went through (although it gets a bit sad once they're over 35).

The idea that they should be taken seriously in matters of public policy and invited to write articles in national newspapers is depressing beyond words.

I thought (and still think) somebody as bright & articulate as Geoff was wasting rather a lot of his time on treating a narrow minded activist as a serious academic - but it's Geoff's time and he's entitled to do what he likes with it.

The distressing aspect is that Barry, who has bent over backwards and invested a huge amount of his time and emotional capital in reaching out to the climate "science" community has been maligned by Corner to the point where he seems on the brink of giving up.

I know it's never attractive to say "I told you so" - but I've followed Barry's exhaustive attempts to find middle ground with committed activists like Peter Gleick, Kate Hayhoe and Adam Corner with an increasing sense of foreboding and I think it's been justified.

I once drafted a post to Barry, and then deleted it 'cos I though it was a bit OTT - it ended "Barry have you ever noticed that the people you invite into your big tent just seem to crap on the floor and leave?".

The history of political activism has been well documented by people like Gramsci & Alinsky and its adherents have recently been pretty successful in getting their hands on the levers of power in several democracies including ours. Their principle of operation is to grasp & use every opportunity or concession to move "the project" forward - the democratic principles of debate, consensus and compromise are alien to them.

There is absolutely no point in trying to find common ground with activists - the only way they can be defeated is by exposing their machinations to the light of day and hoping that the majority of uncommitted, fair minded citizens will thwart them at the ballot box.

Jul 18, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

I've a guest post pending at WUWT that might cheer you all up.. (not about any of this, I might add)

feedback to the Doran '97% of scientists say' survey, from scientists that took part in it (in the cited paper!)

“This was a very simplistic and biased questionnaire."

('Doran Survey' participant)

“..scientific issues cannot be decided by a vote of scientists. A consensus is not, at any given time, a good predictor of where the truth actually resides..” (Doran/Zimmerman feedback)

“..The “hockey stick” graph that the IPCC so touted has, it is my understanding, been debunked as junk science..” (Doran Zimmerman feedback)

"..I'm not sure what you are trying to prove, but you will undoubtably be able to prove your pre-existing opinion with this survey! I'm sorry I even started it!..” (Doran/Zimmerman feedback)

“Climate is a very complex system with many variables including sun radiation cycles, ocean temperature, and possibly other factors that we are not even aware of.There are studies and data out there that are being overlooked by the IPCC. Ultimately, maybe we are the biggest cause or maybe we are not, but the current push of saying that human activity is the cause is interfering with an unbiased and scientific evaluation.” (Doran/Zimmerman feedback)


Over 80 pages of responses like this, IN the actual survey/paper, by the scientists that took part..

Jul 19, 2012 at 12:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods


I too am late to this thread and agree with its depressing qualities.

I have no truck with anybody that needs to "communicate" scientific data.

For the scientific literate data is all that is needed, that is all.

Spinning, communicating, is done with different markets in mind and sadly through successive governments dumbing down of education there are some barren areas available

Jul 19, 2012 at 1:29 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand


I have no truck with anybody that needs to "communicate" scientific data.
But 97% of the population has to have truck, because 97% of the population doesn’t read the science.
Ironically, Barry Woods (see post above yours) has just done a brilliant job of “communicating the science” at WUWT. He’s just ably demolished one of the warmists’ favourite memes at a highly visible blog, and ensured that it won’t be used again. Doran and Zimmerman was the science; Barry is “just” a blogger. There’ll be a lot of snooty remarks about “”why don’t you write a peer-reviewed article if you’re so clever?” - but Barry’s won.

Jul 19, 2012 at 7:09 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Jul 19, 2012 at 7:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods


Ironically, Barry Woods (see post above yours) has just done a brilliant job of “communicating the science” at WUWT.

What Barry has actually and very admirably done is counter the "spin" and "communication" of the type of misinformation produced by those I have no truck with.

If they did not feel the need to promote misinformation there would be no need to counter it and the whole of mankind would be better informed, be they scientifically literate or not.

Well done Barry!

Jul 19, 2012 at 1:10 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Ecclesiastical Uncle

Apologies for the slow response: I've been away.

You ask:

I would be extremely pleased of you would be good enough to peruse the above and let me know if you think my views are extreme.

Jul 15, 2012 at 12:03 PM

It all hinges on what you think matters. For me, what the 'soft social sciences' have to say to power, or you and I, is irrelevant. Likewise, fulmination about what the gravy train gets up to is irrelevant. Physics doesn't care. The physical theory says CO2 will cause warming. The observational evidence presented by 'proper' scientists supports the theory*. While we argue about greenies and politics, physics gets on with it.


* Public perception of climate change and the new climate dice; Hansen, Sato, Ruedy (2012)

Jul 22, 2012 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

You're absolutely right, but the reverse of the coin is that while we argue "the physics" (and don't, please, try to tell me that the extent to which CO2 affects temperature is settled science) the greenies and the politicians get on with it.
And, as we have seen from Rio+20, they plan to have their way regardless of the physics. In case you hadn't noticed "global warming" got barely a mention; the new meme is "sustainability" as I said on my blog two years ago it would be.
And as a lot of us have been saying for the last decade: the science is and always has been secondary to the eco-activists' objectives.

Jul 22, 2012 at 9:00 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Re: Jul 19, 2012 at 7:34 AM | Barry Woods

Thanks, Barry. Excellent article and a valuable future resource.

Jul 22, 2012 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Mike Jackson

You're absolutely right, but the reverse of the coin is that while we argue "the physics" (and don't, please, try to tell me that the extent to which CO2 affects temperature is settled science) the greenies and the politicians get on with it.

Naysayers do *not* argue the physics. There is no contrarian scientific argument of substance that provides support for a low climate sensitivity. Nothing stands up to scrutiny. Consequently, arguments from the physics acknowledge the ~3C equilibrium sensitivity to 2xCO2 held by scientific consensus to be the most likely value.

At least the greenies and the politicians accept scientific mainstream position on AGW. This is considerably more constructive than fervent yet scientifically groundless contrariansim.

Jul 22, 2012 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD chooses to illustrate his thesis that “it’s the physics that counts and nothing but the physics” by referring to a paper by three people called Hansen Sato and Ruedy. I don’t know who they are, but they’re clearly idiots. They say:

A new category of hot summertime outliers, more than three standard deviations (3sigma) warmer than climatology, has emerged, with the occurrence of these outliers having increased 1-2 orders of magnitude in the past three decades. Thus we can state with a high degree of confidence that extreme summers, such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, are a consequence of global warming, because global warming has dramatically increased their likelihood of occurrence.
A circular argument which they claim follows logically from the discovery of “summer outliers 3sigma warmer than climatology”.
Say what you like about Adam Corner and his “soft science” colleagues, but they are incapable of uttering anything quite so stupid.

Jul 22, 2012 at 7:35 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers