2011-08-07 17:36:57How can SkS better provide answers to questions?
John Cook


I got an email earlier this week from someone asking if I could help them with this climate denial email they had received. Apparently, climate denial emails are going gangbusters at the moment, getting emailed all over and many are emailing me for advice. In this case, I asked him to forward me the email and a source URL if possible. He emailed back the following response:

This is the email I have received with large numbers of graphs and charts supposedly denying Climate Warming and/or Change. There is so much data here that I, as a non-scientist, am unable to critically examine to see what they are proving or not as the case may be. Please can you help? I would like to present a credible argument against it. Thank you.

I googled the email text and found it came from this webpage (someone seems to have copied and pasted the webpage into an email and sent it around to people). So I added the webpage to the SkS database using the Firefox Add-on so that SkS generated a page of its climate myths alongside our one-liner rebuttals. Then I sent this email to the person:

Had a look at that page which seems to originate from http://www.thelivingmoon.com/41pegasus/02files/Global_Warming_003.html

It unfortunately is pretty light on facts and merely rehashes very old climate myths that have been well debunked in the past. Here is a summary of where Skeptical Science has already examined its arguments:


Skeptic Arguments

What the Science Says

"Climate's changed before"

Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.

"Hockey stick is broken"

Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years.

"It's the sun"

In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions

"Temp record is unreliable"

The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.

"It's microsite influences"

Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend.

In case this email doesn’t display right, go to:



My question: a big element of SkS is providing answers to people's questions. A lot of people are receiving misinformation by email or on the web and come to SkS for answers. Can anyone think of ways we can make our answers more user-friendly and accessible for this kind of situation?

2011-08-07 23:53:56Some may be reluctant to post questions on threads, so how about this?
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

How about a "Questions to the Editor Section"? 

It would work better as an email function, but you would need to have that capability (email) as part of SkS so others could help you with the workload.

Similar to thread moderation, but via email.

You would have one dedicated email bin for incoming emails, then give individuals access to it so they could respond to them for you.

2011-08-09 19:22:01
Doug Mackie
Doug Mackie

Despite lurking at SkS for ages I have been an infrequent commenter. This is because my feeling (and I am working on an essay/post about this) is that many questions and comments at SkS are purely time wasters.

The time wasters don't want to know the answers they just want to waste your time – like FOI attacks. My curmudgeonly advice for the emails is:

1) Link to Royal Society or similar statement.

2) Say either the Royal Society, every world scientific body and every world government are deliberately lying and telling the *same* lie OR the source of the email is mistaken/lying.

3) Link to SkS and say: Here are some examples of common lies told about climate change. See if you can find one, some or all of the claims made in the email here.

Do not answer each claim in detail. That will take forever.