Posted by: Barry Bickmore | February 13, 2013

The Monckton Files: Bickmore’s First and Second Laws of Monckton

A few years ago, a biologist at my university became enamored with Lord Christopher Monckton’s special brand of climate pseudoscience, and tried to drum up support for some department on campus to host him as a speaker.  The response was… ahem… less than enthusiastic.  But during the exchange among interested parties, the biologist said this:

This man stands out, unique, because he knows the field, possibly more broadly and deeply than anyone.I wrote to Prof. Richard Lindzen, Atmospheric Sciences, MIT, asking if I was overestimating Lord Monckton’s expertise. He replied immediately “Not at all. Monckton is knowledgeable”.

I almost choked.  It was one thing for the biologist to fall for Monckton’s nonsense–he’s very convincing, or at least, he sounds very sure of himself.  Rather, I was shocked that Dick Lindzen thought so highly of him.  After all, it didn’t take me long to figure out that His Lordship has a tendency to make up data, among other things.  But Dick Lindzen?  Lindzen is a contrarian, to be sure, but the fact is that he is a very accomplished climate scientist.  He’s made significant contributions to the field, and even though the climatologists I know think he has an unhealthy obsession with proving low climate sensitivity, they generally consider his objections to mainstream science to be worth considering, at least.  In other words, Lindzen’s serial attempts to prove low climate sensitivity have been wrong, but not mere crack-pottery.

Like I said, that was a few years ago, and I wonder whether Lindzen has been fazed at all by Monckton’s downward spiral–making up fake data, falsely claiming to be a member of Parliament, claiming to have invented a miracle cure for almost all diseases, going about promoting various ultra-right conspiracy theories, including the birther conspiracy, etc.  What, exactly, will it take to persuade Monckton fans it’s time to start slowly backing away?

It’s started happening here and there.  For instance, last year a spokesman from the UK Independence Party (for which Monckton had been a top official) publicly bad-mouthed His Lordship, calling him “a loose cannon” and a “17th century pamphleteer”.  Now Andrew Bolt, an Australian blow-hard newspaper columnist who has, in the past, praised His Lordship’s great genius regarding climate-related matters, has publicly given a “Deep Sigh” about Monckton’s recent endorsement of the fringe “Rise Up Australia Party”, whose platform’s main planks are apparently  cracking down on Muslims and gays.  Oh, and “religious freedom.”  (How could I forget?)  Here’s what Bolt said:

Why on earth was Christopher Monckton endorsing the nationalist Rise Up Australia Party? Great chance for warmists to paint climate sceptics as fringe dwellers.

More details and analysis on the Watching the Deniers blog.

Based on this trend, I am going to go out on a limb and add a two new Laws to the Bickmore’s Laws page (see below).  We shall see how well these laws hold up to empirical testing over the coming months and years.

Bickmore’s First Law of Monckton:  For every person who publicly endorses Lord Monckton’s climate pronouncements for merely irrational reasons, there exists a threshold in Monckton’s behavior which, if crossed, will cause said person to regret their association.

Bickmore’s Second Law of Monckton:  Any behavioral threshold posited by Bickmore’s First Law of Monckton will eventually be crossed by Lord Monckton.

[UPDATE:  More analysis by Graham Readfearn at DeSmog Blog.]



  1. “Great chance for warmists to paint climate sceptics as fringe dwellers.”

    Except these self-professed “climate sceptics” ARE fringe-dwellers.

    It’s just that Monkfish here is fringe dwelling even to OTHER fringe-dwellers.

  2. I tried to leave this comment on Andrew Bolt’s blog, but the comments weren’t working.

    Fascinating. What does it take for Andrew Bolt to start wondering what Lord Monckton is thinking? Was it when several scientists showed that Monckton made up data to discredit the IPCC? Nope. Was it when he went about falsely claiming to be a member of Parliament and a Nobel laureate? Nope. Was it when Monckton started claiming to have cured almost all diseases by some mysterious treatment, or when he went about claiming to prove that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is fake? Nope. It was when Monckton endorsed some fringe party in Australia. What does this say about Andrew Bolt? 😉

  3. I like the laws.

    Andrew Bolt treads a fine line. He’s a bit like Watts but has a bigger audience (even though it’s mainly only in Australia). They both want to appear to be ‘reasonable’ (rather than educated) – but their masks keep slipping.

    (Watts is still publishing articles by Monckton so I guess he hasn’t hit the threshold yet. Says a lot.)

  4. It appears the Australian Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson isn’t a big fan of that blowhard Bolt either.

  5. […] 2013/02/13: BBickmore: The Monckton Files: Bickmore’s First and Second Laws of Monckton […]

  6. I would really like to see the actual emails to and from Lindzen regarding Monckton because I find it hard to believe that he really meant what he is quoted as staying…

    Though having gone to a talk of his in 2008, it appeared to me that Lindzen had already taken a number of steps down the conspiracist rat-hole. Some specifics: he claimed that 2008 showed that 2007 was an outlier, and Arctic sea ice was recovering. He claimed that the attempts to attribute climate warming to anthropogenic influence had as poor logical support as intelligent design… at the same time as he was stating that the warming could definitively be explained by natural variability. He falsely claimed (and reiterated in response to a direct question) that Lee et al. 2008 showed that the tropospheric hot-spot was a fingerprint of GHG warming and not non-GHG warming. He claimed no statistical change in global temperature since the late 80s. He misquoted Pachauri regarding forcing everyone to be vegetarian, the end of the world, and the India National Action Plan on Climate. And he put up this chain of logic: how confident are we that emissions cause concentration increases? That concentration increases cause warming? That warming causes sea level rise? That warming causes precip changes? And then said because each step in the chain was about 50% true, that the probability of the whole chain was “infinitesimal” (ignoring that the chain shouldn’t even have been linear, because warming actually causes a whole bunch of things simultaneously).

    • Well, every minimum (or maximum) is by definition an outlier.

      But, besides that, why isn’t he wondering if this “record recovery” is merely an outlier? Yes, ignore the idiocy in the claim itself (+infinity% increase from 0 to 1 square foot!), but there’s none of this caveat-ing for the denialist claims from the deniers.

      It’s entirely why their self-professed “skepticism” is a load of horse-chips…

  7. Monckton is in Oz trying to beat up publicity for his thinly-attended speaking tour. He has opportunistically taken exception to a Tasmanian academic’s comments [only generally directed at Monckton] reported in the local media,and issued a demented spray accusing said academic of scientific misconduct and fraud…you know,the usual ugly pompous Moncktonian bluster as he tried on John Abraham. This may be your Second Law moment.

    • To follow up on this comment from Nick, here’s the letter Monckton sent:

      Click to access utas-fraud-3.pdf

      I think UTAS is going to be rather unimpressed with said letter.

      I also predict Monckton will not file any complaint with the police. I know, I know, that’s an easy prediction.

  8. If that is true then he would certainly taken exception to the comments made by Dr Helen Caldicott recently on ABC radio over here. Mind you skeptics have been called worse on that network.

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