2010-11-23 10:39:06David Evans goes Global
Glenn Tamblyn


David seems to be taking his own advice


This was released about 2 weeks ago. It is full of the usual stuff but it is a far more substantive document than Jo's comic book. Open proposition to authors here, while John is tied up with the SG. Lets start a project to produce a rebuttal document specifically targetting Evans's paper. Aimed less at putting the alternative science, but rather specifically demonstrating the mendaciousness and deception of his document. Then release it to the press, Congress etc.

Such a response, specifically targetting how the denialist machine works, might give the press some of what they want to report a climate change story - a good bit of biffo!


2010-11-23 14:29:14Responding to Evans
John Cook


I'd like to talk to a few people about this - both Scott Mandia and John Abraham with their Climate Rapid Response Team and also some of the folk here at UWA. There's a few things to consider. Firstly, do we want to attract attention to Evans? I still have mixed feelings about my rebuttal of Jo Nova's handbook because of the attention it brought her (but on the positive side, it led to the Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism). Evan's document is really complete rubbish - should it even be given attention?

On the other hand, Evan's techniques do shine a light on skeptic tactics. Not just the document itself. There is a blog post festering away somewhere where Evans explains the rationale behind his document - not to talk facts at all but purely to cast doubt on the climate science establishment. Joe Romm also got hold of an email that Evans sent to a private skeptic mailing list (it was forwarded to him from one of the members of the list, for reasons we can't fathom) where Evans promotes his document, boasting that if it gets widely distributed, the "global warming movement" would die within a year.

There is a good blog post about Evans at:


The "Merchants of Doubt" narrative needs to be continually stressed. There is an active, deliberate campaign to cast doubt on climate science and smear climate scientists. It's not about science or truth, it's a political campaign. Evan's actions, surprisingly public and candid, reinforce this narrative.

If this is to be done via SkS, the emphasis needs to be on evidence. Eg - drive home the narrative that skeptics are trying to distract people from what's happening in the real world by all these diversionary smear campaigns. Naomi Oreskes said a great thing at this communication panel yesterday. We were looking at how to respond to a skeptic newspaper article. Naomi said you don't want your response to be a "he said, she said" tussle where the reader doesn't know who to believe. Instead, it's "he said versus what's happening in nature". Contrast their argument with what's happening in the real world. Evans says global warming is an artifact of thermometers near air conditioners and car parks. Meanwhile, Greenland is losing billions of tonnes of ice every year, Arctic ice is vanishing, sea levels are rising, yadda yadda yadda. The rate of Greenland ice loss hasn't doubled over the last decade because someone put a thermometer near a barbecue. Use the rebuttal to both point out the intellectual bankruptcy of Evans' arguments but also to point people to the physical evidence and the realities of global warming.

So do we highlight this tactic, hence drawing much attention to Evans? Thoughts, comments?

2010-11-23 18:05:40
Glenn Tamblyn


One way of framing this would be to make it be targetted more at SPPI through whom the US English version has been released, rather than at Evans himself. One of the 'think tanks' in the 'axis of evil'.

Also its purpose would be as a case study in how the denial machine works, with this document as the example. Unlike "Merchants of Doubt" which has looked at the big picture, this would focus on a specific case and 'how they do it'. Looking not just at the errors and misrepresentations of the science, particularly through ommission, but also at the use of language to manipulate peoples reactions, how this comes from a narrow circle of players - highlighting the links between them such as that the 'Jo Nova' he cites is his business partner. It's a piece of tawdry work, but the SPPI was still happy to put their name to it.

Unlike many Denialists output, this is bringing a lot of their deceptions together in one place, one document, making it potentially a good target for a counter attack.

All this would be done in a quite dispassionate, clinical disection style, not targetting Evans, but the methods used. Consider showing his strategy document in conjunction with this, then a series of photo's of points in the ocean with captions like 'Nope, no parking lot here', 'No Airconditioner here'

The target audience for this is not the general public or the naive sceptic. The target is opinion makers, particularly the press. 'The next chapter in the Great Climate Wars, why we should Doubt the Doubters'. And I'm sure enough members of the media would be more than happy to turn on the hand that has been feeding it if they can juicier stories out of it.

Unlike the SG which is a push piece presenting a positive perspective and targetted at a general audience, this tries to clearly show what the black hats are willing to do.

In an election campaign, there are positive messages but also attack ads against your opponents. A good election campaign gets the balance right.

2010-11-23 21:25:49

We cannot always run behind trying to rebut any skeptic document/blog post. Sometimes it might be necessary but we need to better focus our effort. I agree with Glenn that in this case could be worth to taget SPPI and their method more than theis fake science. Evans says it twice in the NZCSC post:
"To win the political aspect of the climate debate, we have to lower the western climate establishment's credibility with the lay person."
"The strategy of the paper is to undermine the credibility of the establishment climate scientists. That's all."
As easy as this, to win the political debate they need to undermine scientists credibility because they, the scientists, got the science right. As Gareth puts it "In other words, it’s a straightforward smear campaign. No science involved. No reasoned argument". This is the only thing we should eventualy highlight.
We should focus on "should we believe in what they say?". Then explain their method and end with a couple of the more blatant error/misleading claims to show that they may say whatever it takes to reach their goals. It is politically unacceptable, let alone scientifically.
2010-11-23 23:35:38Comment
Robert Way

I think there's so much rubbish in that document that we would never be able to respond adequately. I mean it would take a month to prepare something that deals with the amount of literally BS that he employs.

BTW the first shot at evans

2010-11-24 02:00:42David evan's business partner
John Cook

Btw, Jo Nova isn't just Evan's business partner, she's his wife
2010-11-24 03:19:30wife?
Dana Nuccitelli

His wife?  Bum bum buuuuuuuuum (that was diabolical music).

Good article linked by Robert.  Personally I don't see any point in wasting time on Evans' "report" unless it becomes popular and widely-cited.  It's so obviously incredibly stupid that I don't even think most 'skeptics' will pick up on it.  I think it will be largely ignored, and I think as long as that's the case, we should also ignore it.

If it becomes widely-cited, then it's worthwhile to point out (i) how incredibly scientifically stupid the report is and (ii) all of these 'skeptics' are latching on to a report which Evans specifically stated is little more than a smear campaign against climate scientists designed to fool stupid people.  But I think we should give 'skeptics' the opportunity to hang themselves with their own rope first.  There's no point in debunking a report that nobody reads or references.