As I’ve said on other threads far too often, I was extremely peeved to be banned for life from Comment is Free, the Guardian’s interactive website, since I think commenting there is one of the most useful things a simple footblogger in the Climate Wars can do.

The Guardian is read by Greens and the pro-green centre-left, so it’s possible to have a real debate, and perhaps influence opinion on the opposing side. Guardian readers are clearly far more numerous than those of any sceptical blog, they are more likely to be believers in global warming than readers of Delingpole or Booker, and they are therefore more in need of enlightenment. I also felt that if Guardian editors realised that a majority of readers did not accept the warmist argument, they might put pressure on the Environment Editors to be more even-handed in their treatment.

On the last point I was clearly totally wrong, as evidenced by a recent interview given by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger in “the Hindu” newspaper, in which he said:

“A year ago we decided the environment was the biggest story of our lives. So we have six reporters doing the environment … And then we built a network of … about 20 or 30 sites. A huge amount of editing and resources goes into the environment.” and by the comment by Environment Editor James Randerson that climate change is “editorial policy”.

Commenters here and elsewhere have objected that commenting on CiF is a waste of time, because of the distracting tactics of warmist trolls, and because of the apparent bias of moderators. Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) was recently prevented from commenting on the thread to his own article when he was subjected to “pre-moderation”. I’ve never been convinced that the moderators are biased, since warmist comments frequently disappear, even comments by Guardian contributors,  like Blucloud and GPWayne.

I’ve just conducted an experiment at CiF, and I’m fairly sure I know how the “censorship” works. I can state with certainty (well, let’s say, with IPCC-style 90% confidence) that:

  1. The moderators will not take the initiative in removing comments. They only act if someone presses the “report abuse” button with a justified complaint.
  2. One complaint is enough to get a comment removed.
  3. Since the rules list a large number of types of “abuse”, it is very easy for a determined troll to get an opponent removed by persistently reporting  abuse.

The debate on the infamous 10:10 “Splattergate” video is currently raging at:

At the time of writing, there were 100 comments on the above thread. Ten of them have been deleted, all of them posted by Onthefence, and all of them reported for abuse by me. They started at 15:28, when Onthefence addressed Ecocampaigner as follows:

“You laughed when Stephen Schneider died after being targetted in a hate mail campaign, and you went on to wish similar deaths on other climate scientists”.

Ecocampaigner replied, and Onthefence repeated his accusation at 15:34, 15:37, 15:45, 15:59, 16:15, 16:36, 17:27, 17:41, and 17:49. I reported abuse on two of the comments, adding that the statement was a lie. An hour later they had been deleted, but others kept popping up. I reported abuse each time, and they went, but I didn’t spot the first one until five hours later. I reported it, and forty minutes later it was gone.

The fact that the first abusive post stayed up after I’d reported and had deleted the other nine clearly demonstrates that the moderator didn’t read the other comments, even one posted six minutes before the comment he’s been invited to delete.

The fact that comments disappeared when and only when I reported them strongly suggests that I was the only one reporting abuse. It was obvious that Onthefence was being picked on, and it would  have been easy for anyone else to join in the fun and report his first abusive remark. The fact that it stayed up for five hours, until I spotted it and reported it, demonstrates that it was all my own work.

Clearly, the system is open to abuse. The fact that Ecocampaigner’s replies stay up, quoting Onthefence’s defamatory remarks, shows how ineffective the system is. If the Guardian carried out their stated policy of deleting replies to deleted posts, there would be nothing left on many threads. Clearly, the removal of polite, reasonable comments by the likes of Andrew Montford strongly suggests that dedicated warmist trolls are deliberately targeting the opponents they most fear. There is censorship at CiF, but it’s the work of commenters, not of the moderators, and it’s a result of a weakness in the Guardian’s system.

Let’s give the last word to the admirably even-tempered Ecocampaigner. Onthefence at 19:.41 complained that his comments were all deleted just after Ecocampaigner complained they were “off topic” To which Ecocampaigner replied at 19:54pm “It wasn’t me who complained, I’d have preferred it all stay up to be read. I want the world to see your viewpoint’.

Update 06/10/2010 20:40 :- The point I wanted to make is that, had I openly accused the commenter of lying on the thread, my comments would have been deleted. By secretly and anonymously accusing him of lying in my reports of abuse, I got his comments deleted. Clearly, there is something seriously wrong with the CiF moderation system.

116 Responses to “Moderation in Moderation: Comment is Free at The Guardian?”

Pages: [1] 2 3 » Show All

  1. 1
    Alex Cull Says:

    Blimey, Geoff, that’s a savage thread even by CiF standards! And I would agree about the moderation, i.e., that the mods don’t actually read the comments but just react when someone pushes the report abuse button. “Moderation” is obviously not the right word for it.

    It’s a bit like a ref who spends the match napping in a deck chair next to the pitch, and participates only when he’s woken up by someone shouting “Foul”. And then starts to dish out yellow and (in your case) red cards without bothering to find out whether an offence occurred or what it was meant to have been.

    Basically, it’s sloppy, lazy and unfair; no wonder CiF has the reputation it has. Are the people at the Guardian masochistic, I wonder? This would explain a) the farcical, abuse-prone and counter-productive “moderation”, and b) their tone-deaf carry-on-regardless attitude to the 10:10 fiasco.

    If they really wanted the commentators to behave themselves and discuss the topic at hand in a civilised way, even the cycling Sumo wrestlers and all the other 10/10/10 happy fluff (not, it seems, that anyone wants to!), they would buck up their ideas and seriously re-think the way CiF is managed.

  2. 2
    Alex Cull Says:

    Geoff, yes I get your point now about the culture the Guardian is (unwittingly?) promoting. What a sad state of affairs it is, really.

  3. 3
    tempterrain Says:


    You say “…..commenting there is one of most useful things a simple footblogger in the Climate Wars can do.”

    Well I’m not sure about that. There are far too many “simple footbloggers” out there who have too much time on their hands anyway. And as the old saying goes its the empty vessels which make most noise. So I’m sure you won’t be missed!

    If you and and your other “simple footblogger” friends really would like to make a contribution, and you do have time and energy to spare, I’d suggest making the transition to slightly more complex footbloggers. First of all, by enrolling in evening classes to study basic Physics. Then maybe do a degree in the subject, and then you can take it even further and do Climate Science at postgraduate level.

    Who knows? You may even find you’ll have changed your mind by then, or maybe you won’t have. But either way you’ll at least know what you are talking about.

  4. 4
    geoffchambers Says:

    I love your example of the napping ref. The problem arises when one team is trying to play and the other is too busy reading the rule book, trying to bend the rules to their advantage. Almost every letter from a moderator I’ve had has been along the lines of “Why don’t you study the rule book, like the other players?”
    The net result is that, now I’m banned from contributing, I could, if I wanted, have a far greater effect ripping the threads to shreds with my big red button.

    Thanks for the advice, but I’m not the least bit interested in studying climate science, though I enjoy reading contributions from those like Tonyb and Max who are knowledgeable in this field.
    Everyone should know about basic physics of course. If you find any scientific errors in my article, please let me know.

  5. 5
    JunkkMale Says:

    I make no comment on the many ‘issues’ pertaining to climate science, politics, communications, etc. Another time; another place.

    But your ‘experiment’ with in theory free-speech commentary by and with the public by the MSM is indeed interesting, if obviously uncertain. At least you have outlined the clear limitations to the methodology. But then a senior BBC political editor yesterday based a whole post on what he called ‘strongly’ (as opposed to?) circumstantial support.

    ‘Clearly, the system is open to abuse.’

    I fear so. Where there are editors there will be editorial control. And behind that is corporate agenda. Always has been, always will be.

  6. 6
    James P Says:

    “Climate Science at postgraduate level”

    Failing that, there’s always the ‘Poetry and Climate Change’ combined PhD course at Durham, as pursued by one of the University Challenge competitors recently. Sounds like he’s hedging his bets!

    You have to wonder if the editors and contributors on the Grauniad ever pay any attention to the ‘recommends’ which seem to weigh heavily in favour of the sceptics, despite the attempts of their rivals to sabotage awkward comments. And they call us deniers!

  7. 7
    geoffchambers Says:

    “Where there are editors there will be editorial control”. And there’s nothing wrong with editorial control, based on editorial policy. The policy of CiF is “comment is free, but facts are sacred”. The policy of Guardian Environment is the unproven scientific hypothesis of Global Warming (now with new added Catastrophe / Chaos / Disruption). There’s a contradiction here.
    But my complaint was not about editorial control, but rather that the editors have effectively handed over control to the trolls. I can see how the “report abuse” system might work well on a thread on Middle East politics, say, where each “side” marks the other closely, eliminating abusive comments. On climate threads, the “game” is rather between sceptics trying to make substantive points, and believers trying by any means to stop them.

  8. 8
    JunkkMale Says:

    Ok, I see your point.

    But surely ceding control in such a manner is still a tacit form of editorial control, if trying to look like it’s not by a tenuous degree of separation?

  9. 9
    tonyb Says:


    You are a brave man enetering into that one sided arena. :)

    I have posted purely factual information there several times with a historic aspect to them.

    They were all deleted, except a couple which could then be taken completely out of context, so whoever was doing the deleting knew exactly what they were doing.

    I’m not sure if George Monbiot fully knows what is going on, but its difficult to believe he doesn’t due to his extremely close involvement over a period of years.

    However, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, so maybe a personal letter to him pointing out the situation might help?

    Its not right that the forum should be hijacked and abused in the way it sometimes is, especially when several of the usual trolls turn up.


  10. 10
    tempterrain Says:


    You claim to be “… not the least bit interested in studying climate science, though I enjoy reading contributions from those like Tonyb and Max who are knowledgeable in this field.”

    That does make sense in way! If you were genuinely interested then you’d really need to study the contributions of those who were actually qualified, rather than the musings of a couple of quacks.

    I’m not sure what the difference is, if any, between quacks and charlatans. Both would be completely unqualified in their claimed field of expertise of course. I found that one etymologistal trace of the word “charlatan” is from the Italian “ciarlare” meaning to prattle !

  11. 11
    manacker Says:


    You advise geoffchambers:

    If you were genuinely interested then you’d really need to study the contributions of those who were actually qualified, rather than the musings of a couple of quacks.

    Do you include yourself as a “quack”?

    If not, why not?

    Or are you more comfortable with the designation “charlatan”?

    Geoff is fully within his right to avoid getting into detailed discussions on scientific issues related to AGW without being berated by you for doing so.

    Instead of throwing out “ad homs”, Peter, address the real issues, as I have challenged you on the other thread. Show us that you can rationally discuss the “scientific issues”, not just throw out silly “ad homs”.


  12. 12
    geoffchambers Says:

    There’s been a long discussion of moderation on the article by the new editor of CiF at
    Commenter bosbefok (4 October 2010 10:22PM) says

    Confession time, folks.
    Once (or twice), when very bored and in a very evil mood, I have wreaked merry havoc on the threads under a couple of the more controversial articles, by reporting (repeatedly when the desired result was not achieved) any post which even vaguely transgressed community standards.
    By and large my bidding was done, and outraged comments about the out-of-control mods then followed.
    You see, folks, it’s oftentimes the mods just having to deal with abuse reports, so perhaps we should give them a break.

    and RapidEddie (5 October 2010 12:42AM) says:

    One type of comment that’s particularly prone to deletion is the passionately argued demolition of an ATL article. If you invest a lot of time in such a post – marshalling facts, creating a coherent argument and fashioning it with language that is forceful but not abusive – only to find it go down the moderation plughole because it shows up the ATL contributor as an incoherent sham, then why bother? … Bad moderation kills good debate.

    Tonyb #9
    One thing that gets you deleted is posting your own e-mail address. Also, I think a determined troll could zap you as “off-topic” if, for instance, on an article about the “worst arctic ice melt in thirty years” you insisted on talking about the ice melt in the early 19th century (how unscientific, quoting the words of an unlettered sailor!)

    JamesP #6
    I googled “climate change poetry” looking for a Guardian literary competition last year. I seem to remember a poem by “one of our leading poets” which started “I weep for you, polar bear” or some such. I got 2.9 million hits and gave up.

  13. 13
    Neil craig Says:

    I understand you can get back by using a different email. I decline to do so but I’m an arrogant bastard.

  14. 14
    geoffchambers Says:

    tempterrain #10
    I don’t need a degree in climate science to understand the meaning of “delete all e-mails”. I do feel the need for some input from specialists (journalists, social scientists etc) in order to understand the current behaviour of the scientific and political establishments.
    Here’s a thought I had, which I’d like to try out on you Peter, since I believe we are on the same political wavelength.
    The Guardian and its readers have been pushing a “progressive” viewpoint from a position of moral superiority for two centuries, opposing slavery, the oppression of women, colonialism, racism, etc. It comes as a shock to discover that modern conservatives (Delingpole, Brute, and half the voters of the western world) are no longer the racist, sexist , homophobic monsters of yesteryear. If we are to defeat them politically, it is no longer sufficient to claim moral superiority; we have to demonstrate that our policies work better than theirs. This involves hard stuff like economics and statistics.
    How much easier to read Naomi Klein and rage against the nasty multinationals! How nice it would be if some authority figure, with a better grasp of this hard stuff, could provide us with a scientific theory “proving” that the redistributive policies we believe in were necessary for the survival of the human race! And then along comes global warming, providing the moral authority we feel we’ve lost.

  15. 15
    JunkkMale Says:

    I’d hardly call it an experiment, but I did wonder a bit about a comment in this thread…

    … and sought to confirm its veracity, or at least any consistency in application.

    JRanderson 4 October 2010 1:31PM Hi The comments on this article ended after the standard 3 days.

    As it’s still active after 5 days, I’ guessing there are at least two standards.

  16. 16
    geoffchambers Says:

    NeilCraig #13
    I’ve resisted the temptation to comment under a pseudonym too. I can’t bear the idea of making a good point and no-one knowing it was me.
    Junkkmale #15
    Good point. I note above your comment at 8 October 2010 6:15PM a comment by Guardian journalist Juliette Jowitt that only four countries had not signed up for “’s global work party” (no mention anywhere of 10:10) and asking for residents of the four laggards to put pressure on them. This is politics for the militant stamp collector.
    Alas, just above your comment at 7 October 2010 9:09AM is one by Tempterrain suggesting that, if children shouldn’t be blown up, maybe “that Joanna Nova woman” should.

  17. 17
    James P Says:

    Geoff (12)

    “climate change poetry”

    I think it was ‘poetry and climate change’ rather than ‘poetry with climate change’, but I take your point. Either way, I think that confirms climatology as anything but a hard science!

  18. 18
    tempterrain Says:


    So it has come as a shock, has it, to discover “that modern conservatives, Delingpole, Brute, and half the voters of the western world are no longer the racist, sexist , homophobic monsters of yesteryear.” ?

    Have these leopards really changed their spots? I haven’t heard any public contrition from these ex-monsters of just how wrong they were in the past about the Vietnam War, South Africa, Chile, Segregation in the US, their reluctance to decriminalise homosexuality etc etc etc. They’ve begrudgingly accepted that they’ve lost on these issues and that the world has moved on. Having done that they may as well do what they can to pick up the votes of ethnic and sexual minorities.

    Incidentally, they haven’t accepted they’ve lost yet in supporting the notion that Israelis and Palestinians should be divided according to race and religion but that’s another and continuing story.

    The situation in the US has been compared to that of Germany in the 20′s and 30′s. That may be pushing it a bit far but just mentally substitute the word ‘Jew’ for ‘Muslim’ every time you see or hear it in the US media and you’ll see what people are getting at.

    Any changes are superficial. But even if they weren’t, this is all quite irrelevant to the question of whether mainstream science is correct on the question of AGW. These new Rightists are bound to have a difficulty with any issue which involves collective action as part of a solution. What they say is entirely predictable and I’m surprised you can’t see that.

  19. 19
    Brute Says:

    So it has come as a shock, has it, to discover “that modern conservatives, Delingpole, Brute, and half the voters of the western world are no longer the racist, sexist , homophobic monsters of yesteryear.” ?


    You certain you don’t want to retract that statement?

  20. 20
    JunkkMale Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Alas, just above your comment at 7 October 2010 9:09AM is one… suggesting that, if children shouldn’t be blown up, maybe “that Joanna Nova woman” should.

    I have mixed feelings on the matter of ‘two wrongs…’ in a debate. I can’t honestly say I am always above it, as sometimes rampant hypocrisy in the ‘Do as I say, not as me and my mates do’ mould needs highlighting.

    It’s a dodgy line to walk.

    And, sadly, just one rather extreme counter can undo a lot of worthy argument by many others if played back.. and to the crowd.

    The whole thing is becoming like a a Graham Greene novel in many ways. Over at BBC’s Editor’s Blog, there is a move suggesting that some posters, by being so grotesque, are in fact ‘plants’ for one ‘side’ to taint the efforts of the other by association.

    This is very subtle stuff. hard to try and second guess, too. I read what I read, and proceed on that basis, Any more is head doing-in territory.

    But it does go back to the relationship between mods and some posters. Though as hard for a mod to suss a play, they can often in my view seem very indulgent of the extremes, especially those that bury personal stuff in a screed of tripe.

    If organised/deliberate, beyond asking why anyone would, beyond aforementioned discrediting of ‘a view’, or indeed the blog thread value, I do worry about the mental state if these folk are just taking stuff very personally.

    Which is why using a pseudonym can be slightly reassuring, TBH.

  21. 21
    tempterrain Says:


    You ask “You certain you don’t want to retract that statement?”

    Yes I probably should. I was quoting from GC which is why your name got in there!

  22. 22
    tonyb Says:

    Brute #19

    Don’t worry, Max and I got roundly insulted in Peters #10. Yesterday I defended Dr Hansen in the other thread, today I’m defending Peter (just this once) I think if you look at #10 it was Geoff who made the comment, but you need to see the context.

    I think it is wrong to call Peter a troll as Bob did, but certainly Peter has a ferociously closed mind further clouded by politics and his personal beliefs. He is not above ignoring information he doesn’t like, sidestepping neatly, or altering it to suit his argument. A shame because he is obviously an intelligent person who can be thoughtful and funny.

    Michael Crichton probably summed up the sort of adversary Peter has become;

    “Most of us have had some experience interacting with religious fundamentalists, and we understand that one of the problems with fundamentalists is that they have no perspective on themselves. They never recognize that their way of thinking is just one of many other possible ways of thinking, which may be equally useful or good.

    On the contrary, they believe their way is the right way, everyone else is wrong; they are in the business of salvation, and they want to help you to see things the right way.

    They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view.”

    A shame really.


  23. 23
    Alex Cull Says:

    Re the Guardian, surely the bottom line is this – either:

    a) The process is broken and the mods/site administrators/managers are incompetent and do not have a clue as to what is happening, or
    b) The mods/admins and possibly George Monbiot, James Randerson et al, are aware of what is happening and tacitly support it, i.e., are complicit.

    If a) is the case, it can be drawn to their attention and the problem can be fixed.
    If b) is the case, then it makes the idea of an honest debate on CiF into a mockery and a waste of time.

    RapidEddie, as quoted in Geoff’s #12, puts it succinctly. If b) is the case, what is the use of playing by the rules and attempting to engage in honest debate? To have a bigger impact, it might be more effective to take a leaf out of the Guardian’s book and abandon integrity, set up an army of sockpuppets and merrily wage guerrilla warfare, for instance create a plausible green persona who will one minute extol the virtues of composting and the next minute will wonder what was actually wrong with the “No Pressure” movie, or argue that Pol Pot had some surprisingly good ideas. To use Junkkmale’s excellent expression, this is indeed “head doing-in territory.”

    Re a PhD degree in poetry and climate change, I first thought James P was joking and this was a spoof, but I should have known better when it comes to all things climate change. Here’s someone actually studying this at Durham University.

    “He is interested in the way that conventional ecocriticism is unable to satisfactorily address the issue of global warming and how the phenomenon forces us to reconsider romantic or representational paradigms of nature. He is investigating how a poetic mode of fragmentation and connectivity such as that used by modernist writers is available as a powerful way of rethinking our relationship to global environmental crisis, and is looking in particular at freak weather and seasonal order/disorder in TS Eliot, Wallace Stevens and Basil Bunting.”

    You know, Britain is no longer a military, engineering or economic superpower, but when it comes to poetry and climate change, I bet that we lead the world.

    [I've contacted the PhD student concerned to ask him if he would like to contribute, in which case I will open a new thread about this. Things are seldom quite as simple as they seem. TonyN]

  24. 24
    tonyb Says:


    Durham is a world class university that was the second choice of my son to study physics. He eventually went to Cambridge.

    Hopefully the student concerned will be able to clarify the situation as I don’t want to believe that Durham would get involved in something that-on the surface- appears rather trivial.

    As I suggested earlier in the thread why doesn’t someone actually write (not email) George Monbiot and ask him if he knows what is going on in his name?

    I’m not a frequent enough contributor there to feel that bothered, but it obviously matters and those regularly affected should get to the bottom of it.


  25. 25
    manacker Says:


    Peter’s posts on this thread (as well as on the NS thread) reveal that he has a very “black and white” outlook on politics and AGW, which he extrapolates to other sciences.

    “Right-wingers” are “anti-science” (and therefore do not believe that AGW is a threat to humanity, do not accept the Darwinian theories of evolution, believe in “creationism” or “intelligent design”, do not believe that smoking causes cancer, etc, etc.). They pretend to support individual freedom and liberty, but this is simply a cover-up for their selfish, anti-social, capitalistic mindset.

    “Left-wingers”, on the other hand, embrace “mainstream science”, including the IPCC view on AGW. They support redistribution of wealth (including the higher taxes which are necessary to achieve this), large international government interventions to solve global problems, all in sort of an idealistic “kumbaya” brotherhood to save humanity from the greedy capitalists.

    These are the only two groups that exist in Peter’s mind. You are either “with us or against us”, period.

    He cannot accept a more nuanced world, where politically “left-leaning” individuals (possibly like yourself) could actually reject the dangerous AGW postulation, although he can grudgingly concede that there could be “right-wingers” who have “seen the light” on AGW (see Ed West blogs on NS thread).

    By redefining the whole DAGW debate as a “right versus left” political struggle, Peter can avoid discussing the flaws in the “science” supporting the DAGW premise.

    It becomes a convenient side-track to deflect the debate away from the scientific weaknesses in the DAGW premise.

    That’s my analysis, after having observed Peter in action for a couple of years.

    The Guardian site attracts some more virulent DAGW believers than Peter. These individuals use personal “ad hom” attacks to deflect from the real issues. I suspect that some of these individuals also push the “delete” button when a post hits too close to home, but that is just my conclusion.

    Unlike RealClimate and some of the other “pro-DAGW” sites (which ruthlessly censor out anything that goes against the “party line”), the Harmless Sky blog site (all threads) has done a marvelous job of allowing all dissenting opinion, provided it stays more or less on topic and there are no truly inappropriate ad hom attacks – hats off to TonyN for that!


  26. 26
    geoffchambers Says:

    tempterrain #18
    You say a leopard doesn’t change his shorts (sorry, that was Pratchett – I couldn’t resist) but the point is that Delingpole, Brute &co never were racist, sexist, homophobe etc, possibly due to the total victory of our way of thinking 20, 30, 50 years ago. A certain model of conservative “enemy” has disappeared, and many on the left seem to regret it.
    Franny Armstrong said she didn’t really want to kill sceptics, simply amputate them. You, in your comment on the Guardian thread, say you don’t want to blow up children, simply Joanne Nova and a number of others you name. After the enormous fuss over Splattergate, the fact that both you and Franny go and make exactly the same “mistake” seems odd, to say the least.
    I note you retract the remark about Brute. Thanks for that.

  27. 27
    geoffchambers Says:

    Junkkmale #20
    On “plants” by the other side:
    There used to be a hilarious lady on Guardian Environment threads called GreenAngelChloe, a primary school teacher who thought democracy and legal process were luxuries we could ill afford in these catastrophic times. She recounted how she made the little children cry with her song “No more snow”. Eventually, some hard-hearted warmist accused her of being a sceptic double agent and she went away.
    I used to be careful about insults, not only for fear of the moderator, but because of two commenters who admitted that the reason they posted so often was because they were in hospital and unlikely to come out. It’s a complex ecosystem, is CiF.
    Alex Cull #23
    Our musings as to what is going on behind the scenes at Guardian CiF remind me of articles by Kremlinologists about what was “really” happening in the Soviet Union.
    I don’t believe Monbiot actually intervenes personally in the moderation. How would it work? Would it be like Dick Cheney in the Air Defence Ops Room on 9/11? (“Go have a coffee young man. I’ll deal with this one”) He certainly uses the below-the-line comments to his advantage, fielding the easy ones, pointing out the more stupid comments, and ignoring the hard questions. It’s not a level playing field, but why should it be?
    When I posted this three days ago, I signalled this post, plus a similar one at Bishop Hill, to the moderator with whom I had previously been in contact, asking her to forward the link to the new CiF editor Nathalie Hanman. TonyN also invited the Guardian to participate. If there’s no reply, I think the next stage would be to contact Ms Hanman directly. Her two recent posts inviting comments on CiF have gathered about 2000 comments, though none, of course, from those of us who are banned.

  28. 28
    manacker Says:


    You raised a very interesting point. The accepted world views on race, sex, homosexuality, religious tolerance, etc. have changed fundamentally over the past 50 years, at least in the developed “western” society. Those who have always pushed for this change can be pleased that it has taken place.

    I would hope that the incredible intolerance of dissenting opinion exhibited by the 10:10 “Splattergate” fiasco and echoed by Peter (in jest, I hope) is an aberration and that most supporters of the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis are more tolerant toward those who do not share their view (I’ll agree that maybe this is naïve of me).

    However, there are still many parts of the world where these views have not changed substantially, i.e. where women are still suppressed, where homosexuality is condemned as a “sin” (or even a punishable “crime”), where women are sold into marriage, where marital infidelity (by a woman) is punishable by death, where “infidels” are fair game for murder, where a “holy war” justifies killing even those who are not “infidels”, etc. And these views are not limited to just the Islamic world. Controlling population growth may be a necessary and even a good thing, but killing female newborns to achieve it (as happens frequently in China), is not, nor is squashing or persecuting political dissent groups.

    Since WWII and the fall of the USSR, society no longer tolerates (real) “death trains”, “gulags” and “extermination camps”, but “ethnic and political cleansing” still occurs (Cambodia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Kashmir, East Timor, Darfur are some recent examples).

    But back to our “western” world. What role did the “left” play in changing the generally accepted views on race, sex, homosexuality, religious tolerance, etc. over the past 50 years?

    I would agree with you that pressure from the “left” certainly played a role, but that other factors also came into play. Arguably, these include increased affluence and education.

    For me the big question is whether or not we can defend our open world view against those who are determined to destroy us for having it.

    To me this is a far greater and more imminent threat than a few tenths of a degree warming (possibly partially) attributable to human use of energy, itself essential in order to support our modern, affluent society.

    Is the distraction presented by the “rich man’s” guilt-driven fixation on AGW causing us to ignore an even greater threat to our society?

    Leaving intolerance of dissent on AGW aside for now, will a more tolerant and “politically correct” view of the “left” toward other belief systems end up opening the door to those who want to destroy us? Can we deflect this threat by promoting education and even greater tolerance or do we need to take more defensive protective action? These are questions that many Swiss are asking themselves (and I am sure that it is not only the Swiss).


  29. 29
    Neil Craig Says:

    “Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Robert Heinlein

    I think what has happened is that the “left” has, because of “leftist” movement on various social issues, because of the rise of libertarianism as an ideal on the right & because of the collapse of a coherent idealogy (communism) on the left, become a much more congenial place for control minded people to reside. For example note that historically “conservation” was a conservative movement & yet is now accepted as far leftist.

  30. 30
    Jack Hughes Says:

    Here is my dissertation in Poetry and Climate Change:

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of bloody windmills;

  31. 31
    manacker Says:

    Jack Hughes

    A suggested second verse to your “Poetry and Climate Change” ode:

    They were so quiet – why? I pondered
    And then I saw that they were still
    I scratched my head and then I wondered
    Why are they up there on that hill?

  32. 32
    manacker Says:

    Jack Hughes

    At the risk of overdoing it, here is a suggested third (and final) verse to your “windmill” ode:

    These windmills were quite dear, I thought
    But yet they’re everywhere to see,
    “Who’s payed for this?” my question sought
    And then I realized it’s “me”.

  33. 33
    Brute Says:

    Here’s my poem:

    Windmills suck.

    (The end)

  34. 34
    tempterrain Says:

    Neil Craig,

    You say “that historically ‘conservation’ was a conservative movement & yet is now accepted as far leftist.”

    ‘Conservation’ of the type you are thinking about was perhaps the creation of fenced off hunting grounds for Royalty and other landed gentry from and from where the lower orders could be expelled and excluded. That’s still an issue to some extent, even today, in the creation of protected zones for wild animals in Asia and Africa. Tigers or Gorillas aren’t going to be able to easily co-exist alongside human settlement.

    The modern conservation movement is often described as ultra-left, even though many of its most enthusiastic supporters may come from the wealthier social classes and even may even think of themselves as Liberals or Conservatives rather than Socialist.

    So why ultra-left? The answer is simply that they get in the way of large multi-national corporations who put their profits before the environment. Anyone who crosses them must be a subversive Marxist!

  35. 35
    tempterrain Says:


    You say “Right-wingers” are ‘anti-science’ (and therefore do not believe that AGW is a threat to humanity, do not accept the Darwinian theories of evolution, believe in ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’, do not believe that smoking causes cancer, etc, etc..”

    There are a few points in there which aren’t quite right. I’ve read that conservative types like Fred Singer have actually done some good stuff in the past. Teller, one of the developers of the H bomb, and who was notoriously right wing, still needed some good science to get the bomb working regardless of the ethical considerations involved.

    Multinational companies aren’t necessarily anti-science either. There can be good profits in all kind of scientific and hi-tech enterprises. But what happens when or if science findings threaten those profits? Of course, exactly that happened in the tobacco industry. The industry fought for 30 years or more – in some parts of the world they still haven’t given up arguing the toss about the scientific evidence.

    I must say I have recently changed my opinion about the sincerity of their arguments in the 70′s and 80′s. Previously I had always assumed that they’d known full well they were in the wrong but had deliberately lied to justify their own existence.

    Now I think that it’s quite possible that it involved a much more complex process with a large measure of human psychology included. Because they wanted there to be no problem with their product they had actually convinced themselves that there wasn’t, regardless of the evidence in front of them. Many individual smokers, of course, argued along the same lines.

    It also seems to be quite possible to know one thing but actually believe the opposite. I can’t speak from personal experience, but when you look at cases like this:

    There seems to be no other explanation.

    I’m not necessarily equating creationism with AGW scepticism , though I’m sure there is a high degree of correlation in the US Bible belt, but the NY Times article does cast some light on how intelligent people like Fred Singer can take a contrarian view on both AGW and tobacco smoking regardless of the evidence.

    Are there other scientists who actually know one thing to be true but say the opposite because they are paid by big corporations to make their case? Possibly, but I think it’s not too difficult to listen to a lawyer and know he’s just presenting his case. I’d say Ian Plimer is doing just that but I doubt if he’ll ever admit it.

  36. 36
    manacker Says:


    You wrote:

    You say “Right-wingers” are ‘anti-science’ (and therefore do not believe that AGW is a threat to humanity, do not accept the Darwinian theories of evolution, believe in ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’, do not believe that smoking causes cancer, etc, etc..”

    That’s not quite correct. I wrote that you appear to have this ‘very “black and white” outlook on politics and AGW’.

    I agree with your latest statement that being a “right-winger” (or “left-winger”) has nothing whatsoever to do with one’s outlook on “science” (or specifically on the ongoing scientific debate surrounding the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis).

    Glad you cleared this up (and that you no longer regard geoffchambers, TonyB, Bob_FJ, Brute, myself and all the others here as “Bible-thumping, anti-science, ultra-right-wingers”, simply because we have not bought into your personal view on “dangerous AGW”.

    This makes it much easier to discuss the scientific issues without getting side-tracked into meaningless political discussions.

    The “tobacco industry” analogy is so far-removed from the scientific debate on DAGW, that it is totally irrelevant (even if one or the other scientist on either side of the debate may have smoked or may have felt that smoking was no problem). It is an unrelated side-track, Peter, and you’d be wise to drop it and stick with the science supporting or falsifying the DAGW hypothesis, instead.


  37. 37
    manacker Says:


    You ask in 35:

    Are there other scientists who actually know one thing to be true but say the opposite because they are paid by big corporations to make their case?

    Let me rephrase this so that it applies more generally to the ongoing AGW debate:

    Are there other scientists who actually know one thing to be true but say the opposite because they are paid by politicians to make their case for carbon taxes?

    Possibly (for both premises). But who knows what goes on in a person’s mind?


  38. 38
    tempterrain Says:


    It is not so much “black and white” as stating the obvious. Which is that none of you have actually decided your stance on AGW, by a detailed study on the merits, or otherwise, of the mainstream scientific case.

    My so-called “latest statement that being a “right-winger” (or “left-winger”) has nothing whatsoever to do with one’s outlook on ‘science’” is actually pretty much the opposite of what I’m saying. I’m saying that you’ve all prejudged the issue without considering the strength of the scientific case. How can you have? You don’t understand it.

    While there may be a few, but not many, on the political left who think the AGW issue is just another way for wicked capitalists to increase their expropriation of the surplus value created by the labour of the proletariat, it is overwhelmingly the “new right” who have the main problem. As you’ve explained very well they think “[scientists] are paid by politicians to make their case for carbon taxes”.

    So, what does this amount to? Ultra right-wing libertarians and some ultra-leftists who are essentially in agreement, although they wouldn’t like to acknowledge that, and may choose to explain themselves a little differently!

    It’s us moderate, and sensible people who reject all this political nonsense and go along with what every organisation of scientific repute are advising.

  39. 39
    manacker Says:


    You claim (38)

    that none of you have actually decided your stance on AGW, by a detailed study on the merits, or otherwise, of the mainstream scientific case

    This is pure rubbish, of course.

    You are simply making an assumption that I (and others) “have decided our stance on AGW” based on something other than “a detailed study on the merits, or otherwise, of the mainstream scientific case”.

    Can you substantiate this notion, or have you just pulled it out of thin air?

    I have shown you repeatedly why the “mainstream scientific case” is weak because it is not supported by empirical scientific observations and you have been unable to refute this by citing these empirical data.

    Sorry, Peter. All the waffling in the world plus your unsubstantiated assumptions regarding my basis for doubting the scientific validity of the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis simply won’t hack it.

    Bring the scientific evidence, Peter, as you have been asked ad nauseam to do.

    Otherwise we will all have to conclude that they do not exist, and that the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis is not supported by empirical scientific evidence.



  40. 40
    Brute Says:

    Wow Pete……For all of your proclamations describing yourself as a “good Liberal” I think that you have some work to do in the tolerance department.

    You continuously denigrate and bad mouth “religion” but I’ve noticed that it’s only Christianity that you loathe.

    You don’t disguise your deep seated hatred very well I must say!

    I’ve seen your type before……you’re the anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-establisment, anti-progress, anti-Capitalism type (Peace, Love, Dope!)…..a professional malcontent.

    A self loathing white guy wracked with guilt due to the “sins” of “your people” perpetrated on the “less fortunate” peoples of the world….you’re a crusader……(Now, a rebel without a cause).

    The “60′s” ended 40 years ago Pete…..time to put on your big girl panties and grow up.

    You really should go and see a shrink to work out all of the hatred inside of yourself.

  41. 41
    manacker Says:


    Before we break off this rather repetitive and increasingly boring exchange, let me ask you three point-blank questions.

    In comparison with other bloggers here who have not accepted the “dangerous AGW” premise,

    1. Do you think that you are inherently more intelligent? (Y/N)

    2. Do you think that you are more “open-minded”? (Y/N)

    3. Do you think that you are more “technically or scientifically qualified” to make a judgment on DAGW? (Y/N)

    If you answer “yes” to any of the above questions, please specify your reasoning.


  42. 42
    geoffchambers Says:

    Max, PeterM
    The scientific debate doesn’t belong on ths thread. Neither, strictly, does the debate about the relation between the politics and the science. Its introduction here was probably my fault, when I suggested that the moral imperatives provided by global warming tended to appeal to the Guardian and its “progressive” minded readers (including me and PeterM) who have difficulty dealing with a Right which can no longer be dismissed as morally despicable.
    Since we’re here, I think we could probably agree – couldn’t we? – that, independently of the truth of the hypothesis, a scientific theory which provides a moral imperative for helping the third world, and limiting the power of multinationals to lay waste to the environment, is going to appeal to left wing utopians and bureaucratic busybodies. And it’s going to annoy anyone who doesn’t like being told what to do, and doesn’t want to pay more taxes. That’s practically everybody, of course, but it’s those on the right who have a more sensitive nose for that sort of thing, and so they are the ones who will protest first and loudest.
    In the USA the political divisions seem to bear out this analysis. In Britain, the “natural” tendency for debate to form itself around recognisable poles of left and right, libertarians and authoritarians, seems to have broken down, and we see the normally libertarian Guardian (not only them) suppressing debate in a most authoritarian fashion, and pacifists expressing violent authoritarian fantasies, etc.

  43. 43
    manacker Says:


    Point well made (42).

    I rest my case.

    The general discussion on the “science” and “politics” behind the “dangerous AGW” premise should move to the NS thread. Agreed.


  44. 44
    Neil Craig Says:

    Tempterrain your assessment of why “Greenns” are considered far left – that they are opposed to multinational companies (excepy 02, Shell, windmill mutinationals etc which fund them) – does not expalin the important point – thjat the Greens are accepted as far left by what remains of the socialist & communist movements. As you enthusiastically showed they were not historically of the left & as opponents of scientific progress stand for preciely the opposite of what Marx stood for.

    To say that the “right” is “anti-science” because much of it doesn’t believe the current catastrophic warming scam, or the previous ice age tale, is simply yah boo debate & does not deserve an answer.

  45. 45
    geoffchambers Says:

    NeilCraig #44
    The fact that green ideas are considered “far left” and are adopted unthinkingly by trots and anarchists, as well as by orthodox centre left parties, is indeed an odd thing about modern politics. Climate Resistance are specialists in the discussion of this topic, and their latest article is both illuminating and very funny. See:

  46. 46
    Brute Says:


    I don’t pretend to know all of the idiosyncrasies of British politics; however, it is telling that a bomb throwing environmentalist radical is now representing the political left.

    Perhaps Peter should look at the other side of the coin (objectively).

    Again, as previously noted, I find it curious that Marxism is the Left’s solution to a “scientific” problem.

  47. 47
    JunkkMale Says:

    geoffchambers says:
    October 10th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    The link in turn links to another Graun piece I was not aware of until now, which was was, again, revealing, especially this piece:

    ‘It has received over 170,000 views on YouTube and postings on countless other sites.

    Lot of people hated it though.’

    This moved me to point to mutual exclusivity being attempted here between those who viewed it and those who liked it, a bit like the ‘split’ the BBC tried to set up on those pro and con on the original ‘look at what we’ve got’ teaser thread they linked at the Graun.

    Plus another opportunity to note the 3-day thread closing rule was again… ‘flexible”, more by whim than anything.

  48. 48
    tempterrain Says:


    Re your #40. It sounds like someone has rattled your cage and disturbed your slumbers. But it wasn’t me, at least not recently. Honestly. :-)

  49. 49
    Barry Woods Says:

    THere is Moderation at work…

    I have had numerous comments in pre-moderation..

    Only for them NEVER to appear..

    Thus, no commnetor would have been able to report abuse against it, becaue the moderators never allowed it inthe first place.

  50. 50
    tonyb Says:

    Barry Woods

    Did you see the reply I gave to you over at Climate etc regarding the indoctrination of school children?

    I have had a couple of comments that never appeared at the Guardian but just assumed it was one of those things and I hadn’t posted it correctly. It has happended here and that seems to be related to the number of links involved.

    I really don’t think the Guardian is a venue that I want to bother about seeing as its guarded by some very fierce trolls-One of whom has just appoeared at Climate etc.


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