The problem of arguing with a sceptic

I recently got into a discussion over on the Amazon website with another ex-Telegraph blogger, regarding Peter Taylor’s Chill, A Reassessment of Global Warming Theory: Does Climate Change Mean the World is Cooling, and If So What Should We Do About It? (2009). In point of fact, it is this “discussion” that actually prompted my recent “marketplace of ideas” post (because the person in question admits to being “climate-illiterate” but is happy to ridicule the consensus view of AGW as being “warmist”). However, I digress… I was asked to justify my claim that AGW is advancing faster than IPCC AR4 (2007) claimed, which I did. Unfortunately, the responses I got were either evasive, or indicative of an absolute refusal to look at the data provided to back up my claim; which is otherwise known as “blind prejudice”. Furthermore, when, frustrated by such evasion of the issues and a refusal to debate facts, I became progressively more “blunt”; I was accused of being abusive and claiming moral superiority. However, everything I said during this “discussion” was very carefully worded to avoid such an accusation, because I want people to discuss the facts; rather than debating conflicting conspiracy theories: Therefore, I suggested that, “…there is simply no evidence for your left-wing conspiracy to over-tax and over-regulate people; so as to make everyone poorer. Whereas, there is a great deal of evidence for a right-wing conspiracy to under-tax and under-regulate industry; so as to make a few people richer…” Needless to say, the response(s) I got were not rational. Or were they? Take a look at the whole exchange for yourself and, please, tell me what you think: “Welcome Return to Reality” – Discussion ———- P.S. (18 August): I turns out I got confused becasue, although it was “gadgetbadger” that asked the original question, it was “Badger O Stripey One” who then engaged in a fruitless debate (which he has now decided to end). ———- P.P.S. (21 August): See also my “discussion” with a certain Peter Freeman appended to the ‘About’ page (which is the reason for my here tagging Christopher Booker, James Delingpole, Martin Durkin, Andrew Montford, Brendan O’Neill, Melanie Philips, and Tim Worstall).


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Climate Science, Environment, James Delingpole, Maketplace of Ideas, Populism, Scepticism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The problem of arguing with a sceptic

  1. Peter Freeman says:

    Rick I am pleased you referenced me here and this page linked back to your blog containing our ‘discussion’. I do hope people actually find this and go and read it! Your refusal to read, comment and address any of the evidence from the scientists I referred you to, and you refusal to answer any of the flaws I pointed out in your argument are there for anyone to see! The very behaviour you point out here as being irrational and untenable is your precise methodology you use when it come to a true debate!


  2. Rick_Altman says:

    What is there to debate, Peter? 96% of scientists disagree with you; why should so much effort be expended refuting the 4% that do not? Furthermore, for the record, I never claimed Alexander is not a scientist; I merely suggested that he is prejudiced. However, as Greg Craven says, we should stop arguing and take action anyway. I realise I have not addressed you repeated claim that 1 trillion USD might look like a new revenue stream for unscrupulous investors but, watch out, you are coming perilously close to criticising global laissez-faire Capitalism there, buddy! It may look like people are buying and selling pollution permits but, turn it on its head, are you really trying to tell me that polluting the environment should be free? So, there, I have explained why I don’t need to look at your scientific data in detail. Can you now reciprocate by explaining why you don’t need to look at my non-scientific data [(i.e. Jacques et al (2008), etc] at all? Furthermore, with regard to the science that 96% agree on, even if there is some residual uncertainty, can you tell me what is wrong with Greg Craven’s argument (i.e. see the bottom of my “Sceptical economists are intellectually bankrupt”)? Sorry, must go now; still have clothes to iron and a suitcase to pack! Speak on or after 7 September?


  3. Peter Freeman says:

    I am familiar with Greg Craven’s argument. What he and you are not considering is just what you are proposing in terms of the real world consequences that will happen (not maybe) if you get what you want. It will cost lives, and not a few but probably millions. The world eats off of mechanised food production, this is not a theory. How sure are you of what you say? 96%. Sounds impressive. But its false. Why? You yourself don’t count Prof Alexander, just for a start. The research he has and is prepared to present before any committee in the world, all by itself will prove you wrong. And there is good reason to think this is possible, just by looking at HOW the IPCC came to its findings, the methodology involved. Why? 260+ physicists from the APS say so! There are not 260 ‘scientists’ in your 96% ‘consensus’ that you tout so often. READ this: Read what they point to in terms of HOW MUCH the warming may be, these are not idiots, these are real world intellectuals and they think the IPCC are telling lies! Then you have the ‘Science Advisory Board’ of Deutsche Bank that has a 60+ Billion dollar ‘green’ portfolio. On this board you have the chairman of the Panel on Public Affairs of the APS, along with IPPC chief Pachauri and Lord Oxburgh (the man who ‘investigated’ and cleared everyone in the climatgate scandal.) So the guy from the APS that say ‘be afraid of AGW’ and the chief of the IPCC (Be VERY afraid of AGW) and the ‘we are innocent’ man all sit together ‘advising’ a massive bank on how to make money out of ‘science’ and carbon trading….? So, its all good science and eeeeveryone says so, its NoThinG to do with MONEY and its all independent and above board and we can go ahead and starve half the world. Not risky at all, as Greg points out with his wonderful video…


  4. Rick_Altman says:

    Peter, I gave you two weeks to revise your most-recent comment (becasue it was posted while I was still editing mine). You have not done so and, therefore (upon return from my holiday), I have now approved it (in its original form). I remain totally incredulous at your ability to stand reality on its head and blame AGW mitigation for food shortages/starvation/death etc., given that such things are primarily a consequence of Limits to Growth (as is AGW). What you repeatedly refer to as “my” 96% is in fact based on collaborative research posted on Wikipeadia. If you believe this to be misleading or biased, why don’t you take it up with them?


  5. Peter Freeman says:

    As usual Rick, you do not address any of what I have said. The IPCC has less than 200 ‘scientists’ involved in making up its reports. In Harrold Lewis’ group alone there are more scientific minds than what were used to make up the entire IPCC findings since their inception! What YOU call a majority is in fact a minority. Ok let’s look at food, tax and people. Do you say there is NO carbon tax being levied on fuel in the world? Yes or No? If Yes, then how does this tax NOT drive up the price of food production, transport and delivery? HOW? If the tax exists, and fuel costs more, and food costs more, would it affect the poorest people on the earth? Yes or No?


  6. Rick_Altman says:

    Of course I do not deny the reality of things like carbon taxes. What I dispute is cause and effect. As I have said, your ability to invert reality is truly astonishing (almost criminal). Why is it that, instead of dealing with the substance of the various lines of argument advanced in the various posts on this blog, you insist on citing second-hand red-herrings sourced from various denialist websites demanding that I deconstruct them for you? Nevertheless, this nonsense about 260 members of the APS is dealt with in a new post: Conspiracy theory – History for losers.


  7. Peter Freeman says:

    Rick in order to invert reality you have to have a grasp of it first! Any real scientist, or thinker, or just someone with a medium amount of common sense can see the farce of AGW and the reality of the cost and consequences of the financial burden being forced on us. And as the winters get longer and colder, an observable reality in the world right not due to the low level of the sun’s activity, the lies of the IPCC and the governments of the world will cause greater and great anger. What will your excuse be then?


    • Rick_Altman says:

      All entirely groundless comment Peter; and you (should) know it. With regard to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events of all kinds (hot, cold, wet, and dry); you are so dangerously mistaken, it isn’t funny! Since you will not give me any information on which to determine whether or not I should have any reason to take anything you say seriously, I am inclined not to… However, for the record, I think you will find that the IPCC reports are produced by several hundred relevantly-qualified experts (whereas your 0.5% of APS members are from all sorts of disciplines – many with a vested interest in the continuance of BAU). More to the point (again I find myself repeating myself) the IPCC review process is so thorough, that the reports they produce are usually not alarming enough!… But I am forgetting, once again, that you are in favour of James Delingploe’s non-peer review process, so please excuse me while I go outside to urinate into a headwind…


  8. Peter Freeman says:

    Rick your claims about the IPCC are not even remotely true! And the 0,5% of the APS was just a sample of the spontaneous outburst of indignation from the members who actually read the climategate emails. When they proposed to the APS to put the subject into an open forum to see who was in favour of reviewing the IPCC ‘scientific’ findings, the APS turned them down… Now why miss an opportunity to verify the IPCC findings in a time of doubt from a group of independent scientists? It is not possible to claim their actions are honest and open!


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