It’s a beautiful day.
Several months ago I wrote a post here about how Lord Christopher Monckton’s handler, Bob Ferguson, had tried to get me to do a live debate with Monckton. I declined, because I felt that live debates favor people who, well… make up whatever they want. Instead, I proposed a written online debate, in which we would have time to check each other’s sources. This proposal was flatly refused.
Well, it appears that Monckton may have been forced into a written debate by an experienced science journalist, Peter Hadfield. Or at least he’s been forced into looking very, very bad if he doesn’t accept Hadfield’s challenge.
Hadfield, who goes by the handle “Potholer54” on YouTube, produces a high quality series of videos that debunk common climate myths. Some months ago he produced five videos debunking various claims made by Monckton. (Lord Monckton Bunkum Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). Much of it was simply a matter of checking Monckton’s sources and comparing what they actually say to the claims Monckton used them to support. In other words, Hadfield did a John Abraham, but with video clips to back up his assertions about what Monckton had said. Monckton posted a “response” to the video series on the Watt’s Up With That? blog, in which he dropped a bunch of insults on Hadfield and tried to squirm out of the charges by essentially denying everything. Hadfield responded back with a two-part video series (Part 1, Part 2), which was, to be frank, devastating, because Monckton was on video saying all those things he now denies having said.
But here’s where the story gets really good. Anthony Watts, a former weatherman and proprietor of the Watt’s Up With That? blog, has now posted a written response by Hadfield right under Monckton’s post. Hadfield picks apart Monckton’s evasions handily, just like he did in the videos, and in the process lays down this challenge.
This is why he dislikes detailed examinations of his sources. While he takes every opportunity to debate on stage, where his speaking skills are essential and his assertions can’t be checked, an online debate is far tougher, because every paper and fact CAN be checked. So come on, Mr. Monckton, let’s debate this on WUWT to see which of us has correctly read your sources.
This is exactly what Monckton can’t handle, and I predict that he will either ignore the challenge or give another blustering reply in which he gratuitously insults Hadfield, drops a few Latin phrases to impress the rubes, and pretends that his words were taken out of context (all video evidence to the contrary). If he follows his usual M.O., he might even back off some of his wilder claims, all the while pretending that’s what he was saying all along.
But every time Monckton dodges challenges to debate his errors, and the more meticulous climate realists are about documenting his fabrications and general wackiness (like pretending to be a member of Parliament and claiming to be able to cure HIV, MS, herpes, Graves’ Disease, influenza, and the common cold,) the more he loses credibility, and the more those who have supported him lose credibility, too.
The fact that Anthony Watts, of all people, would post Hadfield’s response might be a sign that some Moncktonites are quietly trying to back away from His Lordship. Watts has a long history of posting Monckton’s nonsense along with some pretty sycophantic comments. See this recent post, in which I criticized Watts for his utter lack of quality control–posting Monckton’s latest claims about why he really is a member of Parliament, even though Parliament says he isn’t, as well as Joe Bastardi’s complete nonsense about how the greenhouse effect violates the Law of Energy Conservation. And those aren’t even the most nonsensical guest posts Watts has allowed. (See this classic in crackpottery, for instance.) Once, when I posted on my own blog a response to one of Monckton’s pieces that was published on WUWT, I submitted a comment on the WUWT page in which I simply announced that I had written a response and gave a link. The moderator (presumably Watts) deleted my innocuous comment and inserted something about how I could take my “personal crusade” against Monckton elsewhere. In other words, Watts has been an avid Monckton supporter in the past, to put it mildly.
Now, I don’t want to be too hard on Watts. If he’s backing away from Monckton, I certainly won’t fault him for that, but let’s not forget how easy it was for someone like Monckton to take Watts in. Why? I think everyone has a tendency to give the benefit of the doubt to those who tell us things that fit our biases, and I’m certainly no exception, but to my mind Monckton’s longevity as one of the key players in the climate change contrarian community is really telling. Nobody but a complete ideologue would hang onto Monckton this long in the face of the detailed evidence that he plays it fast and loose with the facts.