I mentioned here how the Climate Change Denial Champion for the Republicans in the Utah Legislature was none other than Lord Christopher Monckton. Well, it turns out that he is also the CCDC for some of the Republicans in Congress. This morning he testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming as the sole “expert” for the minority. I was encouraged to see one congressman try to slap Monckton down by bringing up that in his last testimony to a Congressional committee, he began by saying, “I BRING fraternal greetings from the Mother of Parliaments to the Congress of your ‘athletic democracy’”. This congressman (I didn’t hear who it was) asked Monckton when he had ever been a member of the House of Lords (a house of Parliament). [UPDATE: It was Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA).]
Monckton correctly pointed out that he is a “Lord.” (The congressman apparently didn’t understand that point.) But then, predictably, he tried to wiggle out of his lie by saying,
But, by virtue of the 1999 House of Lords Act, I no longer have the right to sit or vote, that was taken away from my father, so I have never sat or voted in the House of Lords, nor have I ever pretended otherwise. And I think that really should deal with that matter.
No, Your Lordship, it doesn’t deal with the matter. The fact is that Monckton has clearly and publicly claimed to be a member of the House of Lords. In a 2006 letter to Senators John Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe, he said,
Finally, you may wonder why it is that a member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature, wholly unconnected with and unpaid by the corporation that is the victim of your lamentable letter, should take the unusual step of calling upon you as members of the Upper House of the United States legislature either to withdraw what you have written or resign your sinecures.
So, wait a second. Is he, or isn’t he, a member of the House of Lords (“the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature”)? The key to detecting Monckton’s evasion is to realize that he claims to be a member of the House of Lords who doesn’t have a seat or vote. Like a mascot, or something. In a recent article he explained,
Google me and you’ll find hundreds of enviro-loony websites, such as Wikipedia, now an international music-hall joke for inaccuracy, that call me a fraud (for writing about climate science when I’m not a climate scientist), a plagiarist (for citing learned papers rather than making up scare stories), and a liar (for saying I’m a member of the House of Lords when – er – I’m a member of the House of Lords, though, being merely hereditary, I don’t have a seat there).
However, when I e-mailed the House of Lords Information Office about whether Monckton was some sort of “honorary,” or “non-voting” member, they replied,
Christopher Monckton is not and has never been a Member of the House of Lords. There is no such thing as a “non-voting” or “honorary” member.
(Check out this page for more details and the full text of the reply from the House of Lords Information Office. Also check out this article in the Salt Lake Tribune, and this one from The Guardian, for details about my experiences with Monckton.)
The good congressman who brought the subject up didn’t really close the deal with Monckton, but he should be applauded for giving it the old college try. The important thing is that we have fun making the Monckey dance.
Here’s another short tutorial on how to make His Lordship dance and squirm. In a recent nasty e-mail exchange that involved both Lord Monckton and me, I brought up that he has publicly admitted lying about his personal circumstances to sell more units of a puzzle he invented. A reporter from The Scotsman newspaper documented the whole thing.
Lord Monckton invented the Eternity Puzzle, and offered a $1 million prize for the first person to solve it. Given the chance that someone would solve it before enough puzzles were sold to cover the prize, Monckton took out an insurance policy against such an eventuality. Two mathematicians did solve the puzzle after only 18 months, and of course, the insurance covered it. But as a publicity stunt Lord Monckton had gone around claiming that he had to sell his ancestral home to cover the prize. In fact, he did sell his home, but he didn’t need the proceeds to cover the prize. Monckton admitted the deception to The Scotsman, which reported:
Mr Monckton told The Scotsman that the story about him being forced to sell Crimonmogate, his 67-room pile near Peterhead, had been invented to boost sales. In fact, he said he had made a healthy profit from the first version of the puzzle, despite it being solved so quickly.
“[The house sale] was the story which the PR people dreamed up after we had three months of the best sales that any puzzle had ever had,” he said. “They wanted to keep the momentum going to take us through to Christmas.
“I was selling the house anyway and they asked me if I would be willing to tell people I was selling the house because I was afraid somebody might solve the puzzle too fast. I said ‘yes’. They said, ‘Don’t you mind being made to look an absolute prat’, and I said, ‘No – I’m quite used to that’. History is full of stories that aren’t actually true.
“We sold shed-loads of extra puzzles and I made an handsome profit – and I sold the house as well.”
But when I brought this incident up in our e-mail exchange as an example of Monckton’s tendency to make up facts whenever convenient, consider how he tried to evade the issue.
I did not admit to lying about selling my house because I feared someone would shortly win the £1 million prize for the ETERNITY puzzle: it is a matter of record that I sold my house, having admittedly taken full advantage of the publicity opportunity that the circumstances of the sale presented, and paid the prize in full.
Careful readers will note that his denial didn’t really deny anything he had been accused of. Not wanting to miss the chance to watch Monckton squirm, I replied:
I’m confused about the puzzle business. You say that this accusation is false because you paid the prize and sold your house. The actual accusation, however, was that you said you had to sell your house to cover the prize, but in fact the prize was covered by insurance. Therefore, the sale of your house was unrelated to the prize. The article from the Scotsman I linked said this: “The 54-year-old, who now lives in a mansion on the shores of Loch Rannoch in Perthshire, hit the headlines six years ago when he said he had been forced to sell his Aberdeenshire home to help cover the $1 million (£500,000) prize he had to pay out after Eternity, a 209-piece 3D jigsaw he had invented, was solved years sooner than he had expected by two British mathematicians.” Did you not actually claim this? Did the insurance not cover the prize? Incidentally, there was a similar story in the Sunday Herald…. Did that reporter get the facts wrong, as well?
Here was Monckton’s response to me:
I do not propose to answer any further ad-hominem points, and, as I have explained, I shall not answer any points from anyone who continues to assert ad-hominem arguments against me. No further communications from this email address will be answered, therefore. – Monckton of Brenchley
So remember, Monckton’s method is to evade owning up to his lies by answering questions that nobody asked. The key to extracting the maximum fun from making him dance is to keep the pressure on. Don’t be daunted by the fact that he’s such an accomplished liar–just relax and enjoy the challenge.