Watt about sticking it to the Mann?

Watts Up With That (WUWT) has a new post by Lord Christopher Monckton called Sticking it to the Mann. In this post, Christopher Monckton responds to Michael Mann’s recent Richmond Time’s Dispatch article.

I would explain why what Christopher says is largely nonsense, but I’ve commented on his claims before and really can’t be bothered doing so again. If you’re uncertain as to why what he say is nonsense, feel free to leave a comment and myself, or one of the regular commentators, will be happy to explain. Collin Maessen, who regularly comments here, has a number of very good YouTube videos explaining the errors in Christopher’s thinking.

What I did find interesting is that the WUWT post finished with a brief summary of Christopher’s credentials. It starts with

Lord Monckton is an expert reviewer for the IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report.

Well, as far as I’m aware, one can register to become a reviewer, as explained in this WUWT post from 2011. Doesn’t sound like it is necessarily something for which one is selected. Rather, it can be something one volunteers to do. Commendable, maybe, but doesn’t necessarily imply anything particularly exclusive. The fourth assessment report seems to have had something like 2400 individual experts.

The WUWT post goes on to say

He has lectured worldwide in climate science and economics and has published several papers in the learned literature.

I notice it doesn’t say peer-reviewed literature. By the time most of my students have finished their PhDs, they’ve normally got a few peer-reviewed papers and a number of presentations at international conferences, and they wouldn’t think that gave them the credibility to stick it to one of the leading experts in their field.

Finally, we discover that

his passport says he is The Right Honourable Christopher Walter, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.

So, just because his grandfather was made a Viscount after being a government minister we’re meant to take Christopher seriously when he criticises one of today’s leading climate scientists. Don’t make me laugh. Do Americans think those living in the UK still bow and scrape to the nobility?

To be fair, I’m always a little careful about judging someone by their credentials. Someone commented on Twitter recently (I forget who, but it might have been Marshall Shepherd) that if you need to use your credentials to win an argument, your argument probably isn’t particularly strong in the first place (or something to that effect). As an aside, anyone willing to guess who immediately sprang to mind when I read that tweet? So, just because you have the credentials (which Christopher really doesn’t) doesn’t mean that you necessarily know what you’re talking about. On the other hand, not having the credentials would normally mean that you probably don’t know what you’re talking about (or, rather, that you should be a little careful about what you say). That’s not to say that you don’t have the ability, just that you have not had the opportunity to become sufficiently experienced. However, if those at WUWT really think that credentials matter, why don’t they have a quick read through Michael Mann’s cv. Apart from the fact that he didn’t inherit a title from his father, I think most would agree that his credentials are somewhat more impressive (to put it mildly) than those of the Right Honourable Christopher Walter, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.

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21 Responses to Watt about sticking it to the Mann?

  1. I’m positively flattered, I get a mention. 😉

    For anyone interested the main video, individual segments, transcripts and source listings are also available on my website. Might be a bit more easy to navigate than YouTube.

    Also, this:

    if you need to use you [sic] credentials to win an argument, your argument probably isn’t particularly strong in the first place

    Is something I’ve been saying for a long time. Credentials only mean you have the expertise to talk about a subject, but it also doesn’t guarantee you’re correct in what you’re saying. Neither does not having any credentials mean you aren’t correct by what you say.

    Although credentials can indicate the likelihood of being correct. It just shouldn’t be the only thing you look at for determining if what someone is saying is correct.

  2. I should do a better job of giving credit to those who’ve done more than me 🙂

    How you describe the relevance of credentials is very good, especially what you say in your last paragraph. It’s an indicator but having the credentials doesn’t necessarily mean what you’re saying is correct, and not having the credentials doesn’t mean you’re talking nonsense. Of course, it would be quite remarkable – and probably unwise – if we were to regularly take the views of those without credentials over those with credentials.

  3. Rachel says:

    I find Christopher Monckton extremely obnoxious. And the article he wrote on WUWT is truly appalling. I don’t know how you can write about it in such a calm manner. I read it and I’m sure it accelerated my heart rate and sent my blood pressure soaring. Then I made the mistake of reading the comments. It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that some of those commentators have been brain-washed. Good on Margaret Hardman for setting the record straight. Not that anyone really took any notice.

  4. It is difficult to remain calm. Could quite easily simply write, and probably quite enjoy writing, a rant. If you want a good laugh, I would recommend the YouTube clip that Sou has included in her post about the same subject.

  5. BBD says:

    PAGES 2k rather scuppers all this nonsense about the MBH99 hockey stick being flawed.

    Unless they are all in it together!

    😉

  6. bratisla says:

    Nobility does not seem to have much effect on Britain citizens, but it certainly is important for WUWT commentors – everytime Mr Monckton makes a blog entry, you can be sure to find “Lord” placated all over the comments.
    I should make a troll experiment one day.

  7. Indeed, the PAGES 2k really should probably pretty much settle this, but I’m willing to be that it won’t.

  8. It does seem to have more traction with WUWT commentors than I would have expected. It would seem that they would have been reluctant to base their view of what someone says on their credentials.

  9. bratisla says:

    to be fair, it may be a local dialect effect (you do not comment the same way in, say, realclimate and rabbett) : I noticed that commentors in WUWT tend to go a bit beyond the usual “thanks, clear presentation”. For example, I remember vividly a commentor defending Willis Eschenbach when he criticized Scafetta against other commentors : he compared him to a “extremely sharp sword cutting right through the difficulties” (or something like that, sorry).
    It may be not limited only to Mr Monckton. A linguistic approach of comments may be interesting. I did not bother looking in other so-called skeptic blogs, so maybe it is also not limited to WUWT.

  10. BBD says:

    And I’m willing to bet that you are correct. I’m also willing to bet that the main authors of the manufactured controversy over the HS will not admit that their nonsense has been shown up for exactly what it was: a smear campaign. FUD. Tactical misrepresentation to the US Senate. A deliberate attempt to subvert democracy and distort public policy.

    I will stop now, before I escalate into a full-bore, foam-flecked desk-thumper.

    🙂

  11. toby52 says:

    I had thought Viscount Monckton had departed global warming for the wilder shores of “birtherism”. He made a special visit to Hawaii for the TV conspriacy theorist Alex Jones. Like his extravagant claims of cures for various diseases, Monckton claims to have proof of a forgery.

    My feeling was that this flirtation (more than a flirtation, more like straight into the birther sack) might be because his climate-related speaking engagements were drying up, but maybe not. He still seems to be able to get a gig with Anthony Watts.

  12. When I first started writing this blog, I had the impression that Monckton had become even too extreme for Anthony Watts. Either I was wrong, or Anthony is now starting to get a little desperate.

  13. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    When I see something by Monckton I too tend to use the word “Lord”, but it is more often in the context of “good lord, did he really say that?” 🙂

  14. I typically also use a four-letter word when I read what Monckton has said. 🙂

  15. Don’t forget the Monckton Myths!
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Monckton_Myths_blog.htm

    And of course there was John Abraham’s presentation, showing that Monckton had misrepresented every paper he cited, one-by-one. And Barry Bickmore’s done a lot on Monckton’s nuttery too.

    He’s just a wealth of softballs for climate bloggers.

  16. No, Wattsy worships Moncky. I once had the displeasure of being in the same room with the two of them. Monckton was speaking to the California state assembly (or at least the 4 assemblypersons who felt it worthwhile to show up and hear him). I went to see what he had to say and wrote a couple blog posts debunking his Gish Gallop.
    http://skepticalscience.com/monckton-misleads-CA-lawmakers-now-its-personal-part2.html

    Prior to his presentation, Monckton went around the room shaking everyone’s hand (including mine – I was too polite to decline). When he came to Watts, Anthony bellowed out a hearty “Moncky!”. I think they even hugged. It was clear that Watts absolutely adores the man.

  17. Tim says:

    Monckton also calls himself a ‘classical architect’ on his ‘Foundation’ website. He is not. He appears to have a degree in architecture from Cambridge but this does not allow him to use the term ‘architect’ (there is no such term as a ‘classical architect’), which can only be used by someone on the ARB register http://architects-register.org.uk/ – for this you need two degrees (Pt.1 & Pt.2), plus a term of working & then passing further (Pt. 3) training & exams. A formal complaint has been made to the ARB.

  18. Marco says:

    Watts has now given Tim Ball a forum again. In his piece he denies the GHE. Are you watching, Warren Pearce? Your idea of Watts as a genuine skeptic because he did an attempt to show the slayers wrong smashed down by Watts allowing one of those slayers to repeat his debunked claim.

    Monckton and Ball, I’m not sure which of the two is most extreme.

  19. Interesting, thanks. I’m truly amazed that those at WUWT are willing to take people like Monckton and Murry Salby seriously when the evidence suggests that they really can’t be trusted to be honest.

  20. TonyLurker says:

    I’ve noticed a great deal up credential pufferey by the go to spokesmen of the contrarian crowd. I’ve seen Soon claim to be an expert in at least three different unrelated fields. John Droz claims to be an “energy expert” and his backers tend to emphasize his masters in physics, despite his lack of any real work in the field for over 30 years. McKitrick is often mislabeled as a “statistician” or claims are made that the handful of graduate school stats classes he took studying economics make him practically a statistician. (a few math courses does not a mathematician make) The list goes on.

  21. That's MR BALL to you. says:

    Isn’t Tim Ball the defining case of credential inflation?

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