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Discussion > Sceptics United?

I don't know how many BH visitors, whether regular posters or casual readers, have been following the discussion on my previous thread titled 'Is the climate skeptic [non-UK spelling, I know] community too fragmented to be effective?' Half a dozen of us have been discussing whether the time is now right to establish a named UK sceptic lobby group with BH at its core, with the aim of providing a focal point for media requests for comment and representations to government.

At the suggestion of Geoff Chambers (thanks Geoff!) this new thread is specifically to ask for a show of hands on whether this proposal has any merit and could be developed further.

Basically the proposed organisation would have a formal structure and catchy name, with elected spokespeople who are comfortable with the limelight, supported by the wider membership. It would not have any party political affiliation.

The elected spokespeople would concentrate on getting the message out in the media, responding to requests for comment, giving interviews and generally representing the sceptic group's views. The message would be refined to a few core principles, concisely and eloquently expressed. Those core beliefs would be ones that almost everyone on our side can agree on, like the lack of evidence for CAGW, fuel poverty harming the vulnerable, wind turbines blighting the environment, state-subsidised renewables development benefitting the very few at the expense of everyone else (with no significant CO2 mitigation), distortions of the economy and so on.

Despite the inevitable differences of opinion, it should still be possible to establish an organisation in which the entire membership supports the same goal, i.e. an end to climate and energy irrationality. Because the goal is quite specific, I anticipate that overall group harmony shouldn't be too difficult to achieve.

**Again at Geoff's suggestion, I would humbly ask our gracious host to flag a pointer to this thread on the main page, so that as many people as possible participate in the plebiscite.**

As a non-UK resident I am more-or-less an impartial bystander as to the outcome, but any such organisation would of course have my wholehearted support. A simple statement of being for or against the proposal is fine, although more detailed comments are also welcome.

Nov 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

I can not think of a better name for the proposed organisation than


I put my hand up and say this idea has merit.

Nov 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I'm up for it but don't think it should be linked by name to the Bish. I hoped it would be grass roots and local groups would get together and elect reps. This in order to avoid as long as possible the inevitable accusation of sinister funding. But I suppose that is no good for those who are unable to participate for reasons of isolation or whatever. Therefore there must be an internet entity first. So we need a name, a website, membership, local branches who meet in person and then a strategy to get a public profile. Oh, and an aim.

Nov 29, 2012 at 1:14 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

to be honest I think the sceptics strength is their individuality.. and is not a great idea (in pragmatic terms)

as soon as one identifiable group, easy to ignore.. and ridicule (ie the most disreputable/or 'out there' member would be held representing the whole)

Very many different and opposing opinions about how to proceed

plus it would be like herding cats.

Nov 29, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I too don't think it should be linked by name to BH for several reasons. Just one of which is that (so far as I know) no one has asked AM what he thinks of that.

What is it that you would be setting up? A pressure group? A political party? The resources needed, not forgetting some people with the time, energy, experience and personality to provide the leadership, would be substantial.

My suggestion to anyone enthusiastic about contributing to such a group would be to contact the SKIP first. I could imagine they would welcome some knowledgeable new members able to contribute to the UKIP's stance on energy and climate change.

Nov 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I vote for, obviously. Though reasoned objections like Barry’s must be listened to. I’d hesitate if there was a majority here against. If we can’t carry the majority of BH regulars, there’d be little point I think.
I recommend objectors to read ChrisM’s original thread, where a lot of objections were discussed.
There’s an assumption that it would be aimed at the British situation, since in other countries scepticism is associated with particular political parties. Like Chris, I live abroad, but I agree with Rhoda that local groups should be a key feature.
And, if it is British-based - scepticism with a c?
A final point: the reason for basing it at or round Bishop Hill is not just to be nice to our host. I know how effective a word from His Grace can be in bringing traffic. If he's too busy to take part, There'd surely be a position of Honorary President he could be elected to?

Nov 29, 2012 at 4:48 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

regular meets down the pub, regionally might be more fun AND actually more productive.

Nov 29, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The cynical side of me (around 80% by volume) is reminded that to the media, the press release IS the pressure group. An address, a website, headed notepaper and a good angle are all that is required. You don't need anything more. The appearance of a membership would be good, the semblance of authority and credibility would be better.

Of course I would never condone a sceptical climate group using such tactics.

Nov 29, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda


to the media, the press release IS the pressure group. An address, a website, headed notepaper and a good angle are all that is required.
Your cynicism is amply justified. But we would need a membership of more than three.
Barry Woods
regular meets down the pub, regionally might be more fun AND actually more productive.
Agreed. But the pubs down here in the South of France are rubbish (especially the Irish pubs). So it would have to be wine on the terrace of a bistro overlooking the Mediterranean, I’m afraid.

Nov 29, 2012 at 9:10 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff, you stay there, we'll come to you.

Nov 29, 2012 at 9:51 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

You’re welcome, but there’s only room for so many. Will a communiqué from a dozen wine-soaked ex-prats be enough to overturn the policy of her Majesty’s government?

Nov 29, 2012 at 10:08 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Who would be accepted as a member? BB? BDD? Russel? Zebedee? If not, why not?

Nov 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Big Olive
Anyone, as long as their contributions corresponded to the purposes of the association. That's how associations work.

Nov 29, 2012 at 10:41 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

more thoughts percolating through. If you want to have an influence and a voice, do the website/press release tactic, a herd of cats will just slow you down. If you want a grass roots movement, go the local route, accepting the fact that you may never get a national or international profile.

Personally, I'd go the local route, and I'd give it a neutral title and accept all shades of opinion provided the aim was to find the truth. I cannot see how to deal with entryism though, the group could be hijacked by a faction. Perhaps it would be better to deal with that by adaption rather than have a rigid policy to deal with what might just be one of a number of possible outcomes?

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

I am in favour, at least of exploring the idea further. But there are many issues, including
* At least one person with excellent organisational skills and plenty of time would be needed (I'm out on both counts)
* At least one person with excellent tech skills would be needed to run web site etc (ditto)
* How to deal with the 'broad church' problem

I suggest that those who are seriously interested discuss this further by email to avoid the irrelevant distractions and sniping trolls.

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I have severe near-religious objections to being associated with any group containing 'United' in their title.
'Town' is okay as is 'City or 'County''. 'Forest', 'Wanderers' or 'Academicals' cause me no grief. I am cool with 'Rovers', 'Argyle' 'Alexandra' or 'Villa'. But I could never bring myself to join BH United.

On the topic proposed by Barry Woods of regular pub meets, a reminder that the current plan is for a social do in the Anglesea Arms, South Kensington on Tuesday 12th December from 19:00.

The main attraction is that wonderful cartoonist Josh will be there to distribute his brilliant calendar. But I hope we can make it a bit of a convivial evening as well. The AA is a pleasant pub, but if anyone knows of a better one in the area, please suggest it.

Contact me if needed at alderDOTlatimerATbtinternetDOTcom

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Typo alert in previous remark

I mean of course WEDNESDAY 12th December, not Tuesday 12th.

Stupid boy!

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder


The title of this thread was of course meant to be tongue in cheek, although I suspect you twigged to that. ;-) There is nothing more famously or quintessentially British than Man United, although not being a follower of football I don't know if it the sort of team that rival fans 'love to hate'. Certainly their financial resources are way out of our league.

I do have a suggestion for a name that I think would be effective, but thought I should keep it under wraps in case it is actually needed, as it would likely be stolen by alarmists if not trademarked.

In regard to the 'broad church' complication, that could actually work in our favour if enjoyable social aspects like pub meets are combined with serious academic gravitas, as exemplified by Paul Matthews, Jonathan Jones and Don Keiller. A sense of being part of an historic popular movement would be an important factor in the success of a well-supported association, I imagine. It would be preferable for the association to garner broad-ranging support from people with a wide variety of backgrounds, or at least develop a favorable public image as going into bat 'for the (ordinary) people'.

Nov 30, 2012 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

I still think it would be a waste of an opportunity not to use the name of Bishop Hill. We have no idea how many people read this blog but certain people in places that matter do know it already. However greater minds than mine will vote on it.

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I got my head chewed off awhile back when I said that I had no truck with any scientist that had a need to “communicate” their science.

Either the science/data withstands scrutiny or it doesn’t. “Communication” I see as spin practiced by politicians and not a scientific element.

This issue will not be resolved by organised “messages” it can only ever be resolved by data. Either the theory/hypothesis is falsified or it is proved true. We, as homo sapiens have a problem, the same problem as always, we do not yet have enough data.

Our system of “democracy” dictates that politicos will always be pressured to legislate too early rather than carry out due diligence. Sadly this pressure combined with an inherent lack of intellect of our politicos has lead to numerous ill thought through acts of legislation. IMHO it will take at least 2 generations to change this illogical nonsense, one of awareness, followed by one of instigating change.

I therefore see this generation’s main task is to put in place systems that preserve raw observational data in order to ensure that those who follow have at least a sound database upon which to base their own decisions.

Nov 30, 2012 at 11:10 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Green Sand

I can not imagine anyone chewing your head off without themselves being disemboweled!

I fear your prediction of 2 generations will turn out to be way too optimiistic. Humans never learn the lessons of history, each person has to work things out for themselves (accepting all sorts of dumb ideas in the process). Eventually some people do in later life learn the lessons but they are in the minority and their voices are drowned ^.^

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:08 AM | Registered CommenterDung

I propose a simple solution to our present malaise:-

If from now the GAT measured against the WMO global 1961-90 base anomaly increases then we, the whole of mankind, pay a tax directly related to the increase in the temperature.

The quid pro quo being, if the GAT decreases, the whole of mankind then becomes subject to the biggest tax rebate that even PWC can’t deal with.

PS.. PWC and their ilk are at the root of our problem!

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:39 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Green Sand

I have not tried to look it up but from memory your suggestion sounds like something Ross McKitrick proposed in a letter to a US politician? However I have to adopt my normal stance of not agreeing with even the most reasonable people hehe.
Until I see proof that man is responsible for any warming then I object to any tax. In addition; should the temperature rise and we paid more tax then I have zero confidence that if the temperature fell, a government would reduce the tax. :)

Dec 1, 2012 at 3:03 AM | Registered CommenterDung

As an active lurker on this thread (and its predecessor) - albeit from the colony across the pond - first I'd like to indulge in a few <sniffles>.

From what I've read, the "vision" appears to limit potential membership to those who reside in the U.K. (and/or those who are a mere channel-hop away). So what about the rest of us, eh? What are we, chopped liver?!
- end <sniffles> -

May I respectfully point out that (excluding those across the channel) the inhabitants of your green and (prior to the charge of the wind turbine blight brigade) pleasant land share approx. 244,820 of terrain. By contrast, those who reside in (my long ago home province) Ontario, with a much smaller population, share approx. 917,741 of "dry land".

So the "real life" geographical challenges to organizational formation and coherence in Ontario far exceed those in the U.K. But in Ontario, there's an example of a model (you should pardon my use of this word) that might be worth considering [Full disclosure: because I believe such a model could easily bring the rest of us into the virtual tent]:

Wind Concerns Ontario

And .. moving right along ...while not wishing to be a Cassandra, one of the first things that occurred to me is that - assuming there will be a virtual presence of this organization - the fast fingers and smoggiebloggers of the virtual world can almost be counted on to pounce 'n spin it into "Aha ... we told you so ... the big oil-funded yada yada yada..."

The suggestion has been made that all that ls required is a name, a website, and a snail-mail address. But in this day and age, it is far too easy to determine that this is a mere "front" which, IMHO, does not enhance the credibility of any such organization.

One of the components of the "vision" as articulated is that such an organization would facilitate the provision of "spokespersons" who would be available to respond to media requests. So, first of all, I have to ask ... how often do any members of the media actively and sincerely solicit the views of those on the skeptical side of the climate change fence?

But even if (by some miracle or other) there was a return to balance and impartiality on the part of the MSM, I have to say that the view from here, so to speak, is that while we have many excellent, articulate writers in our midst, a good - or even excellent - writer does not necessarily make for a good presenter nor for an on-the-spot-on-screen/on-air responder.

Notwithstanding any and/or all of the above, my vote for the concept? At this point, "undecided" :-)

Dec 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Bishop Hill Not So Hotspur?

Dec 1, 2012 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder