2011-03-24 09:05:37An Aussie Gish Gallop of monumentous proportions
John Cook


John Knox from ridethetalk.com.au emailed me this:

after writing to the Age to support a carbon tax I received a CD from a person associated with www.australianclimatemadness.com There are lots of links in the pps file for arguements against AGW. He sent me a url for the most up-to-date file http://www.megaupload.com/?d=LH0ELIFR but I would like to list all the urls within this so as to research and show him the error of his ways. I asked for this but his answer was: "Sorry John – there is no such thing at present. I am hopeful that in the next few weeks to be able to get this presentation reproduced on millions of mini-CDs for distribution across Australia."
This sounds scary and needs to be debunked - do you know of a way to extract url info from a pps file?

I watched through most of the PPS (I couldn't stomach any more when it went on an extended rant about how warmists are like Nazis) and added it to our database along with all the arguments used - almost every argument on our list!

Now I was thinking of doing a blog post that basically just says there's this PPS doing the rounds in Australia, it repeats all the myths we've debunked at SkS over the last few years then copy and paste all the arguments and the one-liner rebuttals into the post. Just a quick and easy way to communicate this is the same old debunked arguments repackaged in the one place. That way, if they really are planning to distribute this PPS on millions of CDs, we pre-empt the release and reduce their effectiveness.

Thoughts? Comments?

2011-03-24 09:50:59Moncktonian
Dana Nuccitelli

The correct phrase is "a Gish Gallop of Moncktonian Proportions", John :-)

I think that's a good strategy.  Just say there's supposedly yet another Gish Gallop coming out (maybe reference a couple of the other Gish Gallops we've debunked, i.e. Monckton, Christy, Motl, PreventDisease), then list all the arguments and rebuttals already in our database.  Nice and simple response.

2011-03-24 09:53:13
Rob Honeycutt


Millions of mini-CD's?  Sounds like an expensive and wasteful way to reach people.  When's the last time anyone popped a mini-CD into their computer?  He might as well say he's putting it out on VHS tape.

My take is anyone stooping so low as to equate "warmists" with Nazis is scraping the very bottom of the barrel.  They're more likely to turn people against them that to pull many people over to their side.

2011-03-24 10:05:28
Rob Honeycutt


I just downloaded the file and started watching it.  Man, when John Abraham did his PP presentation I thought it was a little rough around the edges.  John is a regular Steven Spielberg compared to this guy.  The presentation is nearly unwatchable.  

John, I don't think there's much too worry about with this guy.  If you respond you'd only be lending him a soapbox.

My suggestion is to ignore him.  He has no visible skills that would make him a viable threat.  If he does manage to get any traction then maybe respond.  Until then....  don't let him bother you.

If you want to make a little money on the side, dress up like a salesman hawking blank mini-CD's and go knock on his front door.

2011-03-24 10:13:44
Rob Honeycutt


Just looked up bulk pricing on mini-CD's.  10,000 cost US0.53 each, before burning!  The guy's talking about "millions" of them, so he's saying he's going to spend over a million dollars to do this.  

The guy is a fruitcake.

2011-03-24 10:21:41fruitcake
Dana Nuccitelli

There is always the concern that we're drawing more attention to these sorts of fruitcakes.  Then again, we also illustrate that the "skeptics" keep resorting to Gish Gallops of long-debunked myths.  Especially if we reinforce that this was the approach taken by Christy, Motl, Monckton, PreventDisease, etc.  So there could still be some value to doing a post on this.  Sort of a message - "hey skeptics, stop putting out Gish Gallops with all the same long-debunked garbage every time!".  Maybe even make that message the focus of the post, and just mention the mini CD guy as the newest example.

2011-03-24 11:00:36


No, don't discourage him! We want him to spend the money!

It's good for the economy. It's good for global warming (according to Rob's review of his counter-productive performance).

It's a win-win.

2011-03-24 11:20:45The important thing when debunking...
John Cook


...is to provide an alternate narrative - that people understand how or why skeptics are doing what they're doing. So I was thinking of doing a blog post something like this (btw, love 'Moncktonian proportions' but a little too obscure for anyone but climate wonks):

A climate Gish Gallop of epic proportions

If there's one thing climate skeptics like to do, it's recycle. Unfortunately, this form of recycling is not good for the environment. Instead, they dig up old myths that have repeatedly debunked in the past, dust them off and send them back out into cyberspace. Another form of recycling is the adoption of misinformation techniques adopted by other deniers of scientific consensus. The tobacco industry mastered the merchandising of doubt and raising of false experts - these techniques were readily adopted by climate skeptics. And another misinformation technique originating from the creation/evolution debate is the "Gish Gallop", invented by Duane Gish who in a debate spewed forth an endless torrent of talking points, rendering constructive debate impossible.

A new powerpoint originating in Australia "Reconsidering Climate Change" takes the Gish Gallop to new levels. Over the past 4 years, we here at Skeptical Science have been gradually accumulating the many skeptic arguments that propogate through the internet. Just about all of these arguments have been singlehandedly crammed into a single powerpoint. I went through the powerpoint, listing all the arguments, although I stopped when it went on an extended rant about how 'warmists' were akin to Nazis. But up to that point, the arguments covered were extensive. Here is a list as well as one-liner rebuttals (which link to much more detailed rebuttals, often featuring multiple levels of information):

Skeptic Arguments What the Science Says
"Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy" Several investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident.
"It's freaking cold!" A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.
"Record snowfall disproves global warming" Warming leads to increased evaporation and precipitation, which falls as increased snow in winter.
"There's no empirical evidence" There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming.
"CO2 limits will make little difference"

If every nation agrees to limit CO2 emissions, we can achieve significant cuts on a global scale.

"CO2 is not a pollutant" Excess CO2 emissions will lead to hotter conditions that will stress and even kill crops.
"CO2 was higher in the past" When CO2 was higher in the past, the sun was cooler.
"Breathing contributes to CO2 buildup" By breathing out, we are simply returning to the air the same CO2 that was there to begin with.
"Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas" Rising CO2 increases atmospheric water vapor, which makes global warming much worse.
"Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions" The natural cycle adds and removes CO2 to keep a balance; humans add extra CO2 without removing any.
"CO2 limits will harm the economy"

The benefits of a price on carbon outweigh the costs several times over.

"Greenhouse effect has been falsified" The greenhouse effect is standard physics and confirmed by observations.
"The IPCC consensus is phoney" Ironically, it's those who are mispresenting Hulme's paper that are the ones being misleading.
"Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project" The 'OISM petition' was signed by only a few climatologists.
"There is no consensus" 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
"There's no tropospheric hot spot" We see a clear "short-term hot spot" - there's various evidence for a "long-term hot spot".
"Peer review process was corrupted" An Independent Review concluded that CRU's actions were normal and didn't threaten the integrity of peer review.
"The science isn't settled" That human CO2 is causing global warming is known with high certainty & confirmed by observations.
"CO2 has a short residence time" Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years
"Hockey stick is broken" Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years.
"Medieval Warm Period was warmer" Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times.
"Greenland was green" Other parts of the earth got colder when Greenland got warmer.
"Climate's changed before" Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.
"It's a natural cycle" No known natural forcing fits the fingerprints of observed warming except anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
"It's the sun" In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions
"2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells" A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming.
"Record high snow cover was set in winter 2008/2009" Winter snow cover in 2008/2009 was average while the long-term trend in spring, summer, and annual snow cover is rapid decline.
"It's microsite influences" Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend.
"It's Urban Heat Island effect" Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend.
"Scientists tried to 'hide the decline' in global temperature"

Phil Jones was quoted out of context, and nothing was hidden.

"Satellite error inflated Great Lakes temperatures" Temperature errors in the Great Lakes region are not used in any global temperature records.
"Dropped stations introduce warming bias" If the dropped stations had been kept, the temperature would actually be slightly higher.
"Trenberth can't account for the lack of warming" Trenberth is talking about the details of energy flow, not whether global warming is happening.
"2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory" The 2nd law of thermodynamics is consistent with the greenhouse effect which is directly observed.
"Models are unreliable" Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.
"Temp record is unreliable" The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.
"They changed the name from global warming to climate change" 'Global warming' and 'climate change' mean different things and have both been used for decades.
"It hasn't warmed since 1998" For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005.
"CO2 lags temperature" CO2 didn't initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming.
"It's cooling" The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.
"Mauna Loa is a volcano" The global trend is calculated from hundreds of CO2 measuring stations and confirmed by satellites.
"CO2 effect is saturated" Direct measurements find that rising CO2 is trapping more heat.
"CO2 effect is weak" The strong CO2 effect has been observed by many different measurements.
"There's no correlation between CO2 and temperature" There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term.
"Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995" Phil Jones was misquoted.
"Solar Cycle Length proves its the sun" The sun has not warmed since 1970 and so cannot be driving global warming.
"Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity" Lindzen and Choi’s paper is viewed as unacceptably flawed by other climate scientists.
"We're heading into an ice age" Worry about global warming impacts in the next 100 years, not an ice age in over 10,000 years.
"Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans" Humans emit 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes.
"Sea level rise is exaggerated" A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century.
"Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated" Sea level rise is now increasing faster than predicted due to unexpectedly rapid ice melting.
"Ocean acidification isn't serious"

Past history shows that when CO2 rises quickly, there was mass extinctions of coral reefs.

"Extreme weather isn't caused by global warming" Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming.
"Oceans are cooling" The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming.
"Arctic sea ice has recovered" Thick arctic sea ice is in rapid retreat.
"Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle" Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat.
"Antarctica is gaining ice" Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate.
"Glaciers are growing" Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water.
"Hurricanes aren't linked to global warming" There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming.
"Renewables can't provide baseload power"

A combination of renewables supplemented with natural gas can provide baseload power.

One last note: the powerpoint mentions Skeptical Science in the middle of the presentation but unfortunately links to the wrong URL, skepticalscience.com.au. However, as there are so many other errors in the powerpoint to correct, I've registered the domain skepticalscience.com.au and set it to redirect to skepticalscience.com - one less error to correct!

2011-03-24 11:49:54



I believe that an interesting point is that many skeptical arguments are not merely recycled, but dragged off the scrapheap of scientific history. They began their existence as ideas proposed by legitimate scientists trying to discover the truth. They were found wanting and tossed out; but have been recycled by skeptics to make their points, even though they are dead on arrival.

In fact, maybe a better term than "recycled" would be "re-animated", like a zombie or Frankenstein's monster. These arguments have no real life in them, they just keep moving because of external power.

2011-03-24 12:16:15Gishes
Dana Nuccitelli
Looks good John. I think it's worth giving some more GG examples. Christy can be an example that even skeptic scientists GG.
2011-03-24 12:25:55Time to update the bingo board?


The Global Warming Skeptic Bingo board at http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/04/gwsbingo.php only has a few of the arguments.  Update the board, & we can rate compendia like the mini-CD by how far into it you can get before scoring.

IMO ignoring is a bad strategy; countering is good.  If nothing else, it lets a googler find the counterinfo.


2011-03-24 12:58:46Good points
John Cook

Will add some more GGs and adopt some of Neal's thoughts. I wasn't planning to turn my comment into a blog post, I was just jotting down some thoughts, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I had a blog post!
2011-03-24 16:07:01All the links in the PPS
John Cook


Daniel, who is fast approaching cyborg status, went through the entire PPS and bookmarked all the links. Sorry to blow out this thread but I'll copy and paste them here for reference:

2011-03-24 16:27:23
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Any duplicates may have arisen from multiple cites of the same link in differing places in the presentation.

Apologies for the bad QC; I was just trying to get it done & get out.

3 hours combing through that sewer; I need a shower & de-lousing.

2011-03-24 19:17:13


What is important is to not take super-Gish Gallop like this one seriously. A short ironic post like the one John wrote is good enough.

Daniel, impressive work!  We'll call you Daniel Cyborg Bailey :)

2011-03-24 20:44:22Laughable
James Wight


I’ve just looked at a few of the slides, and from my sampling it is absurd and laughable. I wouldn’t worry too much about it being widely distributed – nobody who’s undecided is going to bother to sift through all 238 slides. I got a laugh out of it though.

I loved the anecdote about the unattributed CSIRO scientist who made a non-peer-reviewed statement that CO2’s effect is like throwing sand around on a beach. The funniest part is this is presented as a compelling source despite spelling out the reasons why it isn’t!

I thought this line was a suspiciously specific denial: “All links are bona fide sites and safe to view.” It’s a sharp contrast to reputable organizations like NOAA, who say they don’t necessarily endorse all content on the sites they link to. This presentation presents every link as definitive disproof of the AGW hoax!

I didn’t see anything about Nazis though. Is there an audio track as well?

I noticed the presentation is near-identical to a 223-slide PowerPoint Gish Gallop produced by The Climate Sceptics political party, only some extra slides have been added and the affiliation with The Climate Sceptics has disappeared. I suspect the party has folded – their website hasn’t been updated for months. At last year’s election they got a smaller proportion of votes than the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere, so by their own logic the party is harmless.

2011-03-24 21:07:14LOL, James, re skeptics party % of votes
John Cook

Classic insight!

the skeptics party were at that Abbott rally this week so they're still kicking around. If they're behind the PowerPoint, that would explain the backing making CD printing possible.

2011-03-24 23:25:06Written an updated blog post
John Cook


Here's the final blog post, due for Friday night. Feedback welcome:


2011-03-24 23:33:03


"Instead, they dig up old climate myths that have thoroughly debunked in the past, often decades ago in the peer-reviewed literature. They dust them off and send them back out into cyberspace."


I still think you should work in the expression, "taken from the scrapheap of scientific history", somewhere. It was MADE for this situation.

2011-03-24 23:36:13scrapheap
John Cook


That is a great phrase, I've re-edited the text:

Instead, they dig up old climate myths taken from the scrapheap of scientific history, sometimes debunked decades ago in the peer-reviewed literature.

2011-03-25 02:26:27comments
Dana Nuccitelli

Looks good John.  Hope you don't mind, I went in and made a few editorial changes.  Just adding a few commas and such.  I think it might be good to add a concluding statement suggesting that if "skeptics" want to be taken seriously, they should stop writing, propagating, and endorsing these sort of Gish Gallops.  We have better things to do with our time than constantly debunking them!

As an editorial note, personally I prefer it when the text is "justified".  That's the button between 'align right' and the 'Paragraph' pull-down bar, which makes the text all line up on both the left and right sides of the page (like this paragraph, as opposed to the paragraph above, which is the default "align left").  It just looks more professional that way, but nobody seems to make use of it.  Just a suggestion for future posts, and I hope people don't mind that sometimes I'll go in and justify their text before publishing it :-)

2011-03-25 02:47:32
Rob Honeycutt


Consider this little simile....

"Instead, like a musty old 8-track tape they dig up old climate myths taken from the scrapheap of scientific history, sometimes debunked decades ago in the peer-reviewed literature."

I don't know if you guys ever had 8-tracks down under, so this may be too American.

2011-03-25 02:53:08



I don't really care for the 8-track tape analogy:

- 8-track was a viable technology at one time; these ideas were reasonable for initial discussion, but found not valid

- the specific syntactical construction you propose puts the skeptics, not the myths, into a role similar to the tapes

2011-03-25 03:04:05
Rob Honeycutt


That's fine.  It's just struck me as an analogy for an old and discarded idea, one that went well with the scrap heap.

2011-03-25 03:36:59
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

The Piltdown Man might be OK for an anology. 

As un-physical as any of the "skeptic" ideas we hear all the time.


2011-03-25 03:43:23



Too clever by half.

2011-03-25 03:49:48
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

I can hear the meme echoing right now:

"It was warmer in the days of the Piltdown Man!"

2011-03-25 03:50:42
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

(sobering up) I shouldn't give them more material to work with...

2011-03-25 05:56:19
Rob Painting

John - Thumbs up for the post. Very good.

Yooper - yes, you shouldn't. I'm thankful that many "skeptics" lack originality, I've thought of dozens of ideas that could be thrown up to underline doubt but it just never occurs to them (phew!).  

2011-03-25 05:56:48
Rob Painting

Errr, thumbs up here.

2011-03-25 09:01:00
Julian Brimelow

Holy crow Daniel, well done!!