The good Lord, Monckton of Brenchley, has seen fit to deliver upon us this Christmas his sermon. Well, the Pope does it. The Archbishop of Canterbury does it. So why not the admirably upright citizen (though he would prefer subject) of these shores, the 3rd Viscount Monckton.
After all, he knows what he is talking about, being a Catholic and all that. And since we know precisely how upright and outstanding has been Catholic morality over the years, decades and, indeed, centuries, why should we deny the validity of the scholar's argument.
Simply put, we shouldn't, because his argument is carried aloft on debatable shoulders at best, wrong ones at worst. Lest you wonder what I am talking about, read it here yourself (archived of course). You might want a dictionary with you because Monckton's writing style is akin to that of Lawrence Durrell - thick, treacly, purple prose is his favoured method. This often means his real argument is buried within the impenetrable language. Obfuscation indeed.
To begin at the beginning:
To those of us who have dared to question on scientific and economic grounds the official story on global warming, it is a continuing surprise that there is so little concern about whether or not that story is objectively true among the many who have swallowed it hook, Party Line and sinker.Translation: climate science deniers don't question whether the official story on climate change is true or not. Not what I see happening, but there you go. There's plenty of posts over at Watts Up With That proclaiming its the Sun, insects, natural variation, oscillations of various natural processes and so on. I won't bother linking to them as anyone can go and find out for yourself. What Monckton is doing here is setting up a straw filled argument about objective truth. As we shall see, it lacks conviction.
For the true-believers, the Party Line is socially convenient, politically expedient, and financially profitable. Above all, it is the Party Line. For those who think as herds or hives, it is safe. It is a grimy security blanket. It is the dismal safety in numbers that is the hallmark of the unreasoning mob.This is a rather grubby second paragraph and I suspect Monckton knew exactly what he was saying. It pains those that accept anthropogenic global warming as driven by politics or profit and sets up another line, the consensus. Sadly, of course, it isn't true. Humans are instinctively conservative, preferring no change over change. But humans are social animals and will fit into a group. But they have to feel they belong in advance.
But is it true? The herd and the hive do not care. Or, rather, they do care. They care very much if anyone dares to ask the question “But is it true?” They are offended, shocked, outraged. They vent their venom and their spleen and their fury on those of us who ask, however politely, “But is it true?”There are plenty of websites (Skeptical Science for example) where the truth of the matter is patiently explained. Monckton has again set up a straw filled argument. Scientists have done the "is it true?" bit time and time again. There is no real need to ask the question, but that is what deniers do, often just to create some heat but rarely to create light.
They have gotten religion, but they call it science. They have gotten religion, but they do not know they have gotten religion. They have gotten religion, but they have not gotten the point of religion, which, like the point of science, is objective truth.Yippee! Two wrong things in one paragraph. Firstly, science is not religion and AGW is science. Secondly, it is highly arguable that the point of religion is objective truth. Indeed, faith is about subjective truth since it cannot be verified outside of the person's own understanding. And since Monckton is Catholic, I remember a number of instances of people trying to verify transubstantiation, the idea that the wafer of bread and the red wine of the Eucharist really do turn into the body and blood of Christ and the shock, horror of the Church when they have been found out. Doesn't sound like interest in objective truth to me. And that's before we get on to the Index, censorship and Inquisitions.
The question arises: can science function properly or at all in the absence of true religion and of its insistence upon morality? For science, in searching for the truth, is pursuing what is – or very much ought to be – a profoundly moral quest.Really? What rubbish. Science doesn't have to be a "profoundly moral quest". What was the morality behind the search for the Higgs Boson, for instance? Or understanding the inner workings of black holes, dark matter, quantum physics, the heliocentric world view? None of those things rely on morality. We can, if we wish, bring in the various unethical experiments on humans performed by the Nazis, the Japanese during WW2 or American in the first half of the 20th century. Monckton is applying wishful thinking to his argument which is resembling a sieve.
Yet what if a handful of bad scientists wilfully tamper with data, fabricate results, and demand assent to assertions for which there is no real scientific justification? And what if the vast majority of their colleagues cravenly look the other way and do nothing about their bent colleagues? What you get is the global warming scare.This paragraph is bordering on libellous. It is, of course, Monckton's opinion. You can search RetractionWatch to see which climate change papers have been withdrawn. The research Monckton is concerned about is not amongst them. The fact that Monckton states this so baldly and without evidence to support it merely shows the man up for what he is. Liar or mistaken? I know which side of that fence I land on. What you get when a handful of bad scientists tamper with data, etc, is those scientists being found out by all the other scientists who hold them to account. A few will not be able to prevent their fraud being found out unless their results are part of the noise of science, the little findings that don't really matter. In the area of climate change, which has a social and economic price to pay, the scrutiny of the science is so much greater. Monckton again knows this and has allowed personal prejudice to enter his argument. Hang on, that's all his argument is anyway.
As every theologian knows, the simplest and usually the clearest of all tests for the presence of a moral sense is whether or not the truth is being told. The true-believers in the New Superstition are not telling the truth. On any objective test, they are lying, and are profiteering by lying, and are doing so at your expense and mine, and are bidding fair to bring down the Age of Enlightenment and Reason, flinging us back into the dumb, inspissate cheerlessness of a new Dark Age.Inpissate means to thicken. It's a verb. Monckton implies that we are heading for another era of ignorance. Well, we will if we follow his lead but luckily most of the world ignores the stupidity of Monckton and his pals and lets the scientists find out the reality, however ugly that might be. Just because Monckton would like a different reality, it doesn't mean he will get it.
“The Science Is Settled! There’s A Consensus! A 97.1% Consensus! Doubters Are As Bad As Holocaust Deniers! Global Temperature Is Rising Dangerously! It Is Warmer Now Than For 1400 Years! Well, 400 Years, Anyway! Tree-Rings Reliably Tell Us So! The Rate Of Global Warming Is Getting Ever Faster! Global Warming Caused Superstorm Sandy! And Typhoon Haiyan! And 1000 Other Disasters! Arctic Sea Ice Will All Be Gone By 2013! OK, By 2015! Or Maybe 2030! Santa Claus Will Have Nowhere To Live! Cuddly Polar Bears Are Facing Extinction! Starving Polar Bears Will Start Eating Penguins! Himalayan Glaciers Will All Melt By 2035! Er, Make That 2350! Millions Of Species Will Become Extinct! Well, Dozens, Anyway! Sea Level Is Rising Dangerously! It Will Rise 3 Feet! No, 20 Feet! No, 246 Feet! There Will Be 50 Million Climate Refugees From Rising Seas By 2010! OK, Make That 2020! The Oceans Will Acidify! Corals Will Die! Global Warming Kills! There Is A One In Ten Chance Global Warming Will End The World By 2100! We Know What We’re Talking About! We Know Best! We Are The Experts! You Can Trust Us! Our Computer Models Are Correct! The Science Is Settled! There’s A Consensus!”Ah, a sort of reverse Gish Gallop. It's in quotation marks but I assume Monckton made it up.(Update As every schoolboys knows, polar bears don't eat penguins as they can't get the wrapper off.)
Every one of those exclamatory, declamatory statements about the climate is in substance untrue. Most were first uttered by scientists working for once-respected universities and government bodies. For instance, the notion that there is a 1 in 10 chance the world will end by 2100 is the fundamentally fatuous assumption in Lord Stern’s 2006 report on climate economics, written by a team at the U.K. Treasury for the then Socialist Government, which got the answer it wanted but did not get the truth, for it did not want the truth.That's what the last paragraph was for. The Stern Review didn't give a 1% chance the world will end and the Blair government was not socialist. One presumes Monckton thinks the current government is socialist. Well, he is a member of UKIP.
Previously, you could count on getting nothing but the truth from the men in white coats with leaky Biros in the front pocket. Now, particularly if the subject is global warming, you can count on getting little but profitable nonsense from your friendly local university science lab. They make the profits: you get the nonsense.Really, you could count on the truth and nothing but the truth. I am less stupid and more versed in the history of science, it would seem, than the peer. Has he not heard of Blondlot and his N Rays, the endless pointless trips down the PSI route by scientists who should know better? And then there is Michael Behe, a proper scientist, and Monckton's crony Roy Spencer, fellow denier. And notice the "profitable nonsense" becomes "profits", a change of sense.
The central reason why what Professor Niklas Mörner has called “the greatest lie ever told” is damaging to civilization arises not from the staggering cost, soon to be $1 billion a day worldwide. Not from the direct threat to the West posed by the avowedly anti-democratic, anti-libertarian policies of the UN, the IPCC, and the costly alphabet-soup of unelected busybody agencies of predatory government that live off the taxpayer’s involuntary generosity. Not from the dire environmental damage caused by windmills and other equally medieval measures intended to make non-existent global warming go away.An argument from authority. My suspicion is that the greatest lie ever told goes back significantly further than Morner would suggest. A case can be made for fictions in the Old Testament, for instance, or the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion as a much more damaging lie. But in the end it is Morner's opinion and not shared by a great many people around the world. Monckton does not like the idea that people live off taxpayer's money, by the looks of things. Let's hope he is more generous to the underpaid nurses who will give him care in his final days, or to the people who collect the rubbish from his bins.
Another short cut to ignorance from Monckton here. Al-Haytham is a favourite of Monckton, from those inpissated Dark Ages. But Monckton ought to know about Newton's quest for a spiritual truth divorced from his science and Einstein's fruitless quest for the one truth, a unified theory. But the Huxley bit is interesting. Which one? Thomas Henry, Darwin's bulldog, or Julian, the eugenicist? Julian would be more like Monckton in that his science became poisoned by a fashionable but dead end idea.
It is in the understanding of that central principle of the remarkable oneness and self-consistency of all truth that men of true religion and of true science ought to have become united. For there is an awesome beauty in the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. As Keats put it, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all.”Stephen Jay Gould struggled with the idea of how to accommodate religion and science and finally decided that there was no overlap, that they inhabited different ways of knowing. The reason why many, perhaps most, "men" [sic] of science do not feel the need for religion is quite simple: the more we understand about the universe, the less is the need to invoke supernatural explanations. Religion is not and never has been about seeking a truth that is compatible with the truths uncovered by science. In ever area where science has rubbed away the edges of what religion tells us, religion has had to give way. The seven days of creation are no longer literal days, not in the eyes and minds of sophisticated theologians, the ones that Monckton co-opts in his defence.
Now Monckton is a man who likes to think he is educated in areas where he clearly is not. The very fabric of the Universe is not distorted by anything we do. By using the proper noun, he means the actual physical universe that we can detect. Monckton has stuffed this argument so full of straw that it is poking out of the seams. If I were him, I'd put a fake face on it, mount it on a pole and place it in a field so it can scare the birds off the freshly sewn seeds. Instead, he is trying to frighten the illiterates at WUWT.
Monckton as man of science? That's a good joke. Believe what you want about Jesus but where does that put Jews or Hindus or Buddhists or other followers of other faiths? Can't they do what Monckton says he does? It's a bit exclusive, isn't it? But it doesn't follow that being religious necessarily means that science will benefit. In fact, in some cases it is a hindrance.
Science, though, is not a matter of belief (unless you belong to Greenpeace or some other Marxist front organization masquerading as an environmental group). It is a matter of disciplined observation, careful theoretical deduction, and cautious expression of results. The true scientist does not say, “I believe”: but he ought, if there is any curiosity and awe in his soul, to say “I wonder …”. Those two words are the foundation of all genuine scientific enquiry.More prejudice from Monckton. Like I said earlier, he probably thinks the current UK government is Marxist. Though he probably doesn't actually know what Marxism is. Since he describes one form of the scientific method, perhaps he ought to see if that is what climate scientists do (spoiler alert: they do).
It is a bit rich to state that the "global warming scare" is related to "science without morality". It is very much the other way around - scientists could have just kept quiet about it, published in journals and released their results without much fanfare and no one would have been too bothered. But James Hansen couldn't accept that - he knew from his careful and cautious science that a looming disaster threatened the world. He wasn't stupid, so he went public. After which, of course, the rest is history. Once again we have that nagging scientists should not be advocates, unless (like some we could name) they are contrarian and therefore totally trustworthy. Not.
The full verse is "Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment." It's ironic that Monckton idolises al-Haytham who never was Christian and never lived by Christian morality, yet seems to believe that scientists should. Weird. And the idea that scientists live by no moral yardstick is complete rubbish. But having set up a scarecrow, he is following it down the rabbit-hole of idiocy. The idea that we need pay no attention to climate scientists works also for the idea that we pay no attention to the climate science deniers. Especially since Monckton's seeking after the truth is not the same as mine.
Monckton probably took less time to type this than I did to rebut it. It certainly took less thought. Throughout it is thoughtless, ignorant and disconnected from reality. Typical of Monckton. Typically Monckton, of course, to ignore truth entirely, and although he mentions that he is not a perfect Catholic, he knows that modern Catholic thought has shown up the pliability of religious minds over the century. Gone are the ideas of Hell and purgatory, along with the realisation that the Bible is riddled with inconsistencies. What we know about the birth of Jesus comes from the contradictory stories in the New Testament. It doesn't take much to get confused as to where Jesus was born and that's just the start.
Anyway, the choir likes it, even if they didn't read it.
Bob WeberTribute to what? It's not a tribute, it's an evidence free diatribe.
Roger DewhurstA dose of reality, at last.
James AbbottI know a James Abbott. I wonder if they are one and the same. Certainly my James Abbott would agree with this James Abbott.
Enough. The comments go on and on and I have better things to do than read them all. Importantly, for one who associates himself with seeking the truth, Monckton has form. You can read about it here http://www.desmogblog.com/christopher-monckton-lies-damn-lies-or-staggering-incompetence and http://www.desmogblog.com/christopher-moncktons-lies-exposed-again-guardian and http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/monckton-lies-again-and-again-and-again-and-again-the-continuing-saga-of-a-practicer-of-fiction/ and http://fathertheo.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/seven-lies-from-lord-monckton/ and http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/monckton-will-lie-about-anything/
You get the point.
Addendum I've covered the AGW as religion thing before, here. I am not a fan of any argument that says an evidence based activity is equivalent to a faith based activity. It is a familiar argument because it makes science easier to argue against. You don't need to understand the science, only criticise the premises, assumptions and biases of the scientists. Lo, you have an argument. The fact that it all rests on a false premise is ignored by the likes of Monckton, conveniently.
Update 29 December 2013
I have taken another archive shot of this thread so you can see the comments that followed Monckton's piece. Importantly, Monckton himself gets involved, which isn't unusual, and wilfully misstates those he calls "trolls", in other words the people who question him. Most importantly, he seems to backtrack on what he has said in his main piece (my comments are in brackets and in red):
There is more.
I think that's enough. It would have been nice to see an apology for the false analogy from Monckton but I don't think the word sorry is in his vocabulary. That he is wrong is easily demonstrable. I can do it myself. That Abbott's comment about prejudice got the response it did suggests it pricked his thick hide. The stuff about his "miracle" cure is easily contradicted - Monckton even did it himself in the space of a few sentences. I think I know enough about colds and flu to know that claiming a cure is like proving you caused the Sun to rise in the morning.
My estimation of this man is still declining. I hope he has a trick to hide it.