Thursday, 17 April 2014

Delingpole's insulted intelligence

I know, I know. You, like me, find it hard to believe that the intelligence of the eminence Gris of modern letters, James Delingpole, late of the increasingly science denying Daily Telegraph online blogs, can possibly be more insulted. But it is.

The cause of this insult. The current state of BBC science programmes. I guess he means the one that made him look idiotic, that famous Sir Paul Nurse (Nobel laureate) interview with English graduate and interpreter of interpretations, James Delingpole (still waiting for the Queen to recognise his talents).  But apparently he means pretty much all BBC science output, since he objects to the rather laddish Bang Goes The Theory, which is a BBC1 pop science show.

Delingpole uses his TV review column in the venerable but right wing The Spectator to open up his right wing prejudices about the BBC.  He claims that Bang Goes The Theory is a throwback to Tomorrow's World, which it isn't, and is therefore like the days when the BBC made science shows that "didn't insult your intelligence".

Perhaps Delingpole should stay in more. In the last few years, presenters like Brian Cox, Iain Stewart, Alice Roberts, Jim Al-Khalili and Michael Moseley have featured in a range of superbly filmed and superbly scripted science programmes. Did Delingpole miss the episode of Wonders Of Life which discussed energy, or the one that discussed light? Did he miss the series on chemistry, electricity, the history of medicine, the evolution of humans, plate tectonics, the atom, the cell.

Or does Delingpole sit all day watching his DVD box set of The Ascent Of Man?  I doubt it.

Delingpole isn't bothered about science really. If he were, he would educate himself better. He is interested in the politics and running down the BBC.  "...I still believe the BBC should be broken up and sold to the commercial all intents and purposes it remains just another arm of the state."  Delingpole is annoyed that Bang Goes The Theory had a programme on flooding and didn't mention the EU, did include Julia Sligo of the Met Office ("it's hardly the BBC's fault that it didn't question how politicised and unreliable a witness she might be"), blah, blah.

Was the programme any good? I don't know. I didn't see it and Delingpole doesn't really say. His interest is to make a political point. Or was it to have his intelligence insulted after all. Someone who doesn't know of the superb science programmes the BBC has put out in the last half dozen years doesn't really qualify as someone who can comment on whether they do insult your intelligence or not. But then science denying James Delingpole insults my intelligence every time he pontificates on climate change. And I think I am qualified to say that he repeats that for most people.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Booker Prize for Idiocy

I wrote about Christopher Booker a few days ago so I apologise for going back to him but, really, the man is missing something.  Today's misleading nonsense has the headline No A-level for climate change denier.  Booker aims to tell us about an injustice. What he hides is what, perhaps, he doesn't understand himself. 

Anyway, the story:
In 2012, I described an A-level general studies paper set by our leading exam board, AQA, asking for comment on 11 pages of propagandist “source materials”, riddled with basic errors. A mother wrote to tell me how her intelligent son, after getting straight As on all his science papers, used his extensive knowledge of climate science to point out all their absurd distortions.  
He was given the lowest possible mark, a fail. When his mother paid to have his paper independently assessed, the new examiner conceded that it was “articulate, well-structured” and well-informed. But because it did not parrot the party line, it was still given a fail. I fear this corruption of everything that education and science should stand for has become a much more serious scandal than Mr Gove yet realises. 
Sadly, Mr Booker has told but half the story, the half that is buried in the openly accessible past papers.  The student in question was sitting paper 4 of the June 2012 series in the General Studies syllabus.  Anyone can download the documents you need here.  I suspect Booker couldn't read them from up on his high horse.

More than half the marks are for questions relating to information on climate change given in advance, and another source included with the question paper.  I give those questions below:
01 Assess the importance of the data and other information in Source A (Figures 1 - 7) for current and future generations.     (11 marks)
02 Using evidence from Source B and Source C, consider how far the climate change summits in Copenhagen and Cancun can be considered a success.       (12 marks)
03 Using information from Source D, and your own knowledge, examine the reasons why many people do not do enough, individually, to take action which might help to ‘fight against climate change’.                                  (11 marks)
04 Using information from Sources E and F, discuss the claim made by the Prince of Wales in the two sources that the climate sceptics are ‘peddling pseudo science’. (11 marks)
Booker's student used their own knowledge, according to Booker,  to point out the absurd distortions (sic). In doing so, they failed actually to answer the questions. And that is my point. The structure of the exam is clear and the way of scoring points is straightforward and easily available. The forum to get the bee out of this student's bonnet was not in the middle of an exam. Indeed, there was opportunity to make some of the denier points in question 3.

But you know how little you can trust Booker on this issue because he claims there were 11 pages of 'propagandist' material. There were 15 and propaganda is in the eye of the beholder.

So there's no mystery here. The system required a student to analyse the sources for information, not criticise it. Had this student read the instructions, listened to their teacher and done as they were told, they might have scored a grade. But they didn't and some might argue they got the grade they deserved. And it is possible that their U (ungraded) was the result of poor scores elsewhere in their General Studies results.

 Notice that the second marker is quoted directly but also that "well informed" isn't a direct quote. Why not? Because that wasn't said. Why not? Because it is not the marker's job to decide that but also were it actually true, the first mark would have been over-ridden. That it wasn't speaks volumes.

So Booker's own propaganda doesn't stand up to scrutiny. He has form on that.

A wider point on climate change denier. They look for slights and actively pursue them. Perhaps they would be better spending their time reading up on the subject and learning why climate scientists ignore their ramblings.

Perhaps the time has come for Christopher Booker to spend more time reading up on science in general.

Parroting the party line, my ass.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Why public confidence in science is eroded? Or not.

Christopher Booker once edited Private Eye.  In a palace coup, he was ousted by Richard Ingrams and the Eye went in the direction it did, creating the magazine as it stands today. Who knows where Booker might have taken it.

Not in a pro-science one. Booker, like his chum Delingpole, is a Hums graduate with a disdainful eye for science. Booker doesn't think asbestos is particularly dangerous, stating that white asbestos is chemically identical to talcum powder. He doesn't agree on the consensus line on BSE or passive smoking.  He is in intelligent design creationist and, to complete the trinity, is wrong on climate change too. To show how wrong, he has spoken at one the the Heartland Institute's denier conventions.

So it is no big surprise that Booker is a serial denier on the subject of the IPCC. He doesn't like the,, with the same venom that he reserves for the EU. And he's done it again.

Since the IPCC published its latest report last week, all sorts of deniers have lined up to say it is alarming or actually it agrees with us on adaptation. Well, not really the latter because the report on mitigation is stilly come and not really the former because scientists and governments are quite conservative.  Things actually could be very very bad indeed.

Booker, on the other hand, peruses the report and proclaims that the scales have fallen from all our eyes in his latest pile of stinking rubbish at the Sunday Telegraph: How did the IPCC's alarmism take everyone in for so long?  (Archived). Answer: because it is using the best established scientific research to come to this conclusion. It not the result of a bunch of mates having an argument down the pub, which is presumably how Booker thinks we can arrive at these things.

That was yesterday.  Today in the Daily Telegraph, former editor Charles Moore uses his Monday book review slot to give a personal and wrong view of climate change.  The game is up for climate change believers (archived) reviews a book by Rupert Darwall that is a year old and written by a man who, let's face it, hasn't the scientific capacity to understand the scientific argument.  So the book isn't about the science but is a history of the argument, told from a not entirely denier point of view but not one that would get him invited to a Met Office Christmas party.

Moore, like Booker, hasn't had it particularly hard. Public school, Oxbridge, early success, degree in English.   Hmm, degree in English (and history in Moore's case).  Haven't we seen that sort of CV somewhere before.  What is it about English graduates in the UK that makes them so eminently qualified to comment on science?  The answer is, of course, nothing, but there seems a boil to lance and I aim to do a bit of pricking.

You know how out of his depth Moore is when he says:
The theory of global warming is a gigantic weather forecast for a century or more
Of course, it isn't, but let's not let a good sentence get in the way of the truth.  The theory of global warming is physics pure and simple, what happens to the energy of the Sun that the Earth intercepts.  It is experimentally verified that carbon dioxide and other gases interfere with the energy balance.  Not, I think, that Moore knows that:
Proper science studies what is – which is, in principle, knowable – and is consequently very cautious about the future – which isn’t.  
 Oh, dear.  The effects of climate change are knowable, not just in principle and I would hope that Moore has a better feeling for the future because science can tell you to within extremely tiny levels of uncertainty lots of things about the future.  It can, for instance, tell you how to land a car sized robot on the surface of Mars, or how much fuel you need to put in a plane to fly across the Atlantic.  Those are predictions about the future made on the basis of science.  You won't get that level of confidence reading Darwall's book.

Moore betrays something stunningly ignorant:
Like most of those on both sides of the debate, Rupert Darwall is not a scientist.
He's just plain wrong there.  Most of the people on the climate change is caused by the effect of human activity side are scientists.  There is an undisputable (at least amongst people who actually think) consensus that says approximately 97% of peer reviewed published research on climate change says humans are causing it.  And that work is done, almost entirely, by scientists.  So, guess what, Charles Moore?  You're wrong.  But of course it helps your case to state, however falsely, that actually this isn't an argument involving scientists because it makes you sound more valid.  Nope, you don't get an opinion on this.  You only get to make conclusions based on the evidence.  I don't see you, or Darwall, doing this.  Or Booker.  Or Delingpole (interpreter of others' interpretations).

This is a lengthy preamble to my main point so perhaps I ought to come to it.  There has long been a science denial industry trying to undermine the conclusions that science arrives at.  Anyone can do it.  Just question any one of a number of things: the qualifications of the scientists, the quality of the data, the affiliations of the scientists or their institutions.  You can demand that the results are ever more precise, or accurate, or whatever. 

Or you can just ignore what the science says.

We know, and it is well documented by Naomi Oreskes, that scientific doubt has been the task of a number of individuals and organisations for more than half a century.  Such activity is likely to have cost lives, possibly millions of them, by denying firstly the link between smoking and cancer and then the link between passive smoking and cancer.  Many of the same names and organisations later moved into the climate change denial industry.  Using the same methods.

Unfortunately, newspapers don't sell on good news.  They sell on bad news.  They sell on conflict and journalists are sometimes lazy.  Newspapers that were once papers of record have increasingly found themselves having to compete with the entertainment heavy tabloids.  The London Daily Telegraph is no stranger to this. Not for nothing do many call it the Daily Mailograph or the Daily Hellograph.

But it also has a serious part to play in undermining science.  The Daily Telegraph played a role that it might regret in the MMR/autism (scroll down) scare that was entirely manufactured with the aim of screwing some money out of vaccine manufacturers.  When newspapers go after politicians with demands of resign, perhaps the despicable nature of some journalists themselves might require a closer examination in their own mirror.  A mirror held up by jdc.

Scientists work very hard for what are often pretty poor returns, in short term contracts and don't always get the rewards.  Few scientists reach a high position.  Very few become famous.  Very few indeed become household names.  There is only one Stephen Hawking, a handful more Neil DeGrasse Tysons, Brian Coxs, and a bunch of others.  But not many.  And science journalism itself is a shrinking profession, with fewer and fewer science stories being covered by journalists with a scientific training.  And many stories meet with vociferous criticism because the need to sow doubt in things like vaccination and climate change is an imperative.

Would straightforward reporting of science be helpful?  I believe so.  Many science journalists can make the science a human story, or transmit the import of the discovery, and there is a desire amongst the general public to have science stories in the news.  The discovery of the Higgs Boson or the confirmation of inflation in the extremely early universe are recent headliners.  Given the chance, good science journalism should trump the denial machine.  But it requires strong editors and ones with the scientific ability to see wheat and know it is wheat, and see chaff and chuck it away. 

And therein lies a problem.  Charles Moore, English and history graduate, was an editor of a major national newspaper and yet palpably hasn't the scientific skills to understand a complex scientific story.  He gets it wrong.  The lack of a proper scientific training for newspaper editors, for news in general, means that bad stories get through.  It is a common theme on the right of centre British newspapers.  Those think tanks and policy groups can feed stories to newspapers they know will give them a warm welcome.  Let's not forget that the Sunday Telegraph gave Lord Monckton acres of space to make a scientific idiot of himself.

Why should the public lose confidence in science?  Because they are told to.  They are told by people who they reckon are educated, that there is doubt, or something is wrong, or actually this isn't anything to do with scientists....  The answer to my question is because some people want them to.  Some people who have other agendas.  Some people who are just misguided.  Some people who are too ignorant to know the difference.  The public have a right to expect better.  Perhaps they should be better served.

Sometimes, of course, there is journalism worth its name.  Andrew Wakefield was uncovered for the person he was by the efforts of Brian Deer.  Deer was interested in the truth, smelled a rat and went looking.  He did what anyone else could have done but no one else seemed interested in doing.  Instead of buying the doubt, Deer checked.  It mattered because Wakefield and his supporters can be associated, even if not directly linked, to the illness and perhaps deaths, of hundreds, thousands.  By deliberately sowing the seed of doubt, Wakefield had created a non-issue for a sorry reason.  And some wonder why public confidence in science has diminished.  Because of people like that.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

And then there's hypocrisy

I have been rather slow to catch up on this but since it seems to be going exponential, perhaps it is time for me to weigh in.  So, get ready, Willard, here's next week's quote of the week (modesty set aside for the moment).  If you've got your intelligent hat on, you might be able to find it.

A bit of background.  Lawrence Torcello, the sort of person that Willard is likely to be envious of, wrote an article at The Conversation with the title "Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?"  Since just about every climate change denier won't have read beyond the title, they won't know that the answer is "perhaps, maybe, not sure".  Torcello is far too brainy to be so dogmatic.  His key paragraph is the penultimate one:
My argument probably raises an understandable, if misguided, concern regarding free speech. We must make the critical distinction between the protected voicing of one’s unpopular beliefs, and the funding of a strategically organised campaign to undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions. Protecting the latter as a form of free speech stretches the definition of free speech to a degree that undermines the very concept.
It is not the curtailment of free speech he is asking for, but the curtailment of a deliberate misinformation campaign.  The sort of campaign run by the tobacco industry in the United States over several decades.  If you don't believe me, read Merchants Of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway.
Anyway, as expected, the denialati picked up on the article and, as ever, their reading comprehension deserted them (if they ever had it) and they got the wrong end of the stick.  Not a surprise there.  If you read Sou's take on this you can get a flavour of how wrong and how vile the deniers can be at moments like this.

Deniers, for some reason, are incredibly thin skinned.  They are thick, as in unintelligent, but that goes without saying.  But prick them and they scream.  Any slight, no matter whether it is real or not, will result in screams of agony.  And, lo, it came to pass that they went into full hysterical mode.  Given the green light (in the typical plausible deniability way that Willard uses) by Watts on his site, deniers have been going hammer and tongs at proving Lewandowsky correct - they really do see conspiracies.  I can't prove that it was the attack dogs from WattsWrongWithThat that have been responsible for the reprehensible insults hurled at Torcello but it would be a surprise if none there had tried to put the boot in.  For a bunch of people who get touchy at the word denier because they think it is exclusive to Holocaust deniers, the comment that climate change was:
just tips my hypocrisy meter over the limit.

So with wonderful hypocrisy, Watts suggested any complaints follow his instruction:
If you choose to lodge a complaint, be sure to be courteous and factual, we don’t need to surrender the moral high ground to anger. 

Of course, anything like this is like a red rag to a bull and the biggest purveyor of bull is Lord Christopher Monckton, 3rd wotsit without a seat in the Lords of Brenchley.  You know how it goes.  Write letter of complaint at great and tedious length in words that could be better deployed in a Lawrence Durrell novel and then, well usually nothing.  Old Chris is rather good at the first bit but it all sort of fizzles out after that.  Not for him a second firework.  Oh, no. 

Amusingly, of course, since this is Monckton we're talking about, he chose to ignore Watts's injunction to be "factual".  Courteous, insofar as Monckton is courteous (he has an educated slyness about him) but factual he isn't.  When confronted with the errors in his presentations, be they talks or written, Monckton does not bother about correcting his mistakes.  He merely continues making them.  I can't see a University taking their direction from this dunderhead. 

If you don't believe me, do what real skeptics do.  Check the facts.  Here is a Potholer video that does that checking for you:

Or try Climate Asylum's rap sheet on Monckton.

So I can't expect the Rochester Institute Of Technology where Torcello works will be lectured to on matters of the truth by serial dissembler Christopher Monckton.

It would appear that climate change deniers just don't understand hypocrisy.  Just don't understand the English language very well at all.  Perhaps that is why they are so impressed by Monckton's florid but vapid outbursts.  It is hypocritical that Watts has deleted comments on religion while allowing Monckton to post his Christmas message to his flock in December, or to allow countless comments along the lines of AGW is religion.  If he is doing all this for free then he sells himself too highly.  If Watts has a consistent policy then I'd love to see him outline it.  My comments are free.  I don't delete anything that isn't spam.  I don't even have a comment policy.  Say what you want.

I began thinking about this post when I read Monckton's drivel.  I firmed my decision when I read AndThenThere'sPhysics post entitled Climateball(TM).  It is further evidence of the hollow nature of climate change deniers.  Anders has tried to be as fair and as polite to all sides as possible.  I don't know the blogger but I have detected a growing weariness that, no matter how polite, how fair, how honest and how patient, arguing with a denier is the equivalent of nailing a jelly to a wall.  You end up with a mess, a stain on the wall to remind you, lots of holes and nothing achieved.  The reason is simple.  Deniers don't want to know the truth.  They are not interested in the truth.  They just want you to know that not only are they ignorant, but loudly and persistently ignorant.  After all, they, like me, could just read the truth.  It is out there.

But some people just don't get it.

Someone tweeted this to underline the hypocrisy of some:

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Claim - climate scientists are running scared of debates

I use the word claim in the ironic way that Anthony Watts uses it over at WattsUpWithThat: I don't believe it.

There's a reason I don't believe it.  But first, Watts has posted this (archived) in which he notes that climate scientists are not willing to debate the skeptics and that the BBC is keeping deniers away from scientists.  My, my, what a touchy little group the deniers are.

Some of you might be aware that Bill Nye the Science Guy debated creationist Ken Ham recently and it was generally accepted that Ken Ham became the mop with which Nye swept the floor.  But many believed Nye was wrong to take the challenge, and maintain that science lost and that creationism had the most to gain.  The thing is, as in the now oft quoted maxim, a debate looks good on the denier's CV, not so good on the scientist's.

Why?  It's simply easier to keep chucking out questions in a debate than it is to answer them.  And the scientist has the harder job because the denier only has to sow doubt in the audience's mind, not establish any truth.  That's why we get the Gish Gallop, the stream of accusations, assertions and questions that the scientist neither has the time nor the knowledge to counter. 

It might seem strange that I said knowledge there but it is no accident - the deniers can drag their assertions for doubt from anywhere in science.  The scientist, on the other hand, is there because he is an expert in something, and has less knowledge about much of science than you might think.  Why should they?  Their job is not to know all science but to be masters in their chosen field.  The denier, on the other hand, doesn't need to know anything at all about science.  They need only be able to identify a tricky question, hide it in a pile of other, breathlessly spoken sentences and then return to it when the scientist has omitted to answer it.  It is a simple rhetorical device and one hollow of the intention to uncover the truth.

Debates are a game.  Some are very good at them, but scientists are not trained in them (I bet Lord Monckton was part of the debating society at school and then at Cambridge) and don't need to take part in them.  Science is not won or lost by a rhetorical flourish or two.  It is won or lost on hard earned evidence. 

So scientists don't often debate in the formal setting that the climate deniers would love to get them in. 

And news programmes are not the vehicle for debates either.  Science is not about opinion and there really aren't two opposing sides in spite of what climate deniers would have us believe.  Or creationists or antivaxxers or ....  You get the picture.

I've heard plenty of opposing views being expressed in close proximity on the news over the years.  It is entertaining but hardly enlightening.  The BBC recognised some time ago that there was a spurious desire for balance in scientific stories where none was justified.  I am glad to say they ignored anyone wanting to claim a religious reason behind the BICEPS2 results, that inflation did occur in the extremely early Universe.  That would have been stupid.  The story was about a scientific discovery.  Climate change stories are equally about the science in the main.  If they are about the policy then there is some room for balance.

There is another challenge in the balance problem the BBC has.  A climate scientist with expertise and understanding in climate science, could find themselves up against a chemistry graduate turned accountant, for instance.  It puts the climate scientist who has spent years studying and refining their ideas on a spurious level with someone who really does their climate science as a hobby.  A good many bloggers, and I include myself amongst this group, do what they do as a hobby.  If the mighty on the Internet want to know what I think, they can read it here.  If not, well, it's their right.

I don't expect the BBC to ring me up to ask me what I think on some topic.  In fact, I've decided to have fewer opinions.  It doesn't really matter what I think about One Direction or celebrity X's marital problems.  But I reserve the right to spout off when I feel there is something I can add.  Hence this post.

If I wanted someone to debate a climate denier, I wouldn't go for a climate scientist per se but someone like Sam Harris.  He is a scientist, a neuroscientist, and he is sharp as a pin.  In some areas he is controversial, but he is the sort of person who can carry a debate because he understands that debates are not about the truth but about scoring points.

And that video has some very good point scoring.

For a long time now the pseudodebate desired by deniers in all those scientific areas that denial touches has been about raising doubt.  The truth is that ugly juggernaut.  It won't be stopped, just delayed.  A debate, in a theatre or TV studio, won't change the reality.  Monckton or one of his mates can win all the debates on climate change that they care to stage.  Truth isn't established there.  Or on this or any other blog.  When the deniers understand this, perhaps they will shut up asking for debates.  I doubt it.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Now I'm confused - the incredibly useless denier scale

Apparently unfunny cartoonist Josh (aka Tosh in my house) reckons this (I'm using it to illustrate my point) makes understanding the climate controversy easier.
But it doesn't.

Activism is not at the far left end of the scale at the top.  Otherwise most of the bunch in the middle would be in that category.

And mitigation and adaptation are policies while policy on its own is meaningless. And adaptation doesn't necessarily mean spending less.  It probably means spending more, just that our grandchildren pick up the tab.

More rubbish, I'm afraid, from WUWT which is just what you'd expect.

So let's be honest and call it propaganda.

Updated to correct some spellings and change slight wording in the second set of brackets in the first sentence. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Deniers have history

Like a broken record, climate change deniers love to get antsy about being called deniers.  There have been lengthy discussions about the use of the word because it has an inevitable association with Holocaust deniers, a usage which became prominent in the 1980s.  Climate change deniers get angry because they see themselves as being lumped into the same category of evil genocidal master race promoters. 

Perhaps they should look a bit deeper (what am I saying?).
from (I'll remove if copyright holder contacts me and asks me to but it was too good a cartoon to ignore)

Since the average climate change denier doesn't want to dig, I thought I would.  It didn't take long and it surely wasn't beyond the wit of Anthony Watts or Roy Spencer  to have done some detective work but, no, the message is more important if it is shocking rather than true. 

The strength of the denial of the word denier relies on the association.  It falls, therefore, on the reason why Holocaust denier means someone who disavows the Holocaust in the same way that someone who is labelled a climate change denier is someone who disavows climate change.  And if the word denier predates the Holocaust then the argument that the word denier is anathema is weakened further.

I think you know where this is going.

Point your browser here.  Search denier.

Here is Baden Henry Baden-Powell in his evolution denying volume, Creation And Its Records:
The denier of creation replies, that just in the same way as, by the laws of affinity, other inanimate substances came together to produce the earth—salts and other compounds we see in the world around us—so did certain elements combine to form protoplasm. This combination when perfected has the property of being alive, just as water has the property of assuming a solid form or has any other of the qualities which we speak of as its properties.
The "denier of creation" is using the word denier in exactly the same way as we use it now to describe someone who disavows something.  B H Baden-Powell, half brother of the founder of the scout movement and probably a hero of Christopher Monckton (have you read The Heretics by Will Storr?), died in 1901.  Whoops.  That's at least 113 years of the word denier in the meaning it has now. 

If you're not convinced, Project Gutenberg has the complete text.

There's more.
Among other vices ascribed to democracy, we are told that it is against science, and that "even in our day vaccination is in the utmost danger" (p. 98). The instance is for various reasons not a happy one. It is not even precisely stated. I have never understood that vaccination is in much danger. Compulsory vaccination is perhaps in danger. But compulsion, as a matter of fact, was strengthened as the franchise went lower. It is a comparative novelty in English legislation (1853), and as a piece of effectively enforced administration it is more novel still (1871). I admit, however, that it is not endured in the United States; and only two or three years ago it was rejected by an overwhelming majority on an appeal to the popular vote in the Swiss Confederation. Obligatory vaccination may therefore one day disappear from our statute book, if democracy has anything to do with it. But then the obligation to practise a medical rite may be inexpedient, in spite of the virtues of the rite itself. That is not all. Sir Henry Maine will admit that Mr. Herbert Spencer is not against science, and he expresses in the present volume his admiration for Mr. Spencer's work on Man and the State. Mr. Spencer is the resolute opponent of compulsory vaccination, and a resolute denier, moreover, of the pretension that the evidence for the advantages of vaccination takes such account of the ulterior effects in the system as to amount to a scientific demonstration. Therefore, if science demands compulsory vaccination, democracy in rejecting the demand, and even if it went further, is at least kept in countenance by some of those who are of the very household of science. The illustration is hardly impressive enough for the proposition that it supports.
This is from Studies In Literature by John Morley, published in 1891 (this book is actually a collection of earlier pieces, this one from 1886).  I quote the whole paragraph but pick out the offending word in bold because the whole paragraph illuminates what is now clearly a well established idea: deniers have history and the word has been used to describe them for more than a century.  Monckton wouldn't like Morley: he was a Liberal.
Viscount Morley of Blackburn

I think I've made my point.  The word denier in the sense used for climate change deniers is a word with a lengthy history, more than a century, and from the hands of reliably Empire building British establishment men of the kind that Christopher Monkcton would approve.  So forget the Holocaust in this matter at least (remember it and its human victims), the word denier is wholly appropriate and wholly acceptable.  After all, it was used at least 128 years ago, and by a Viscount to boot.