Monckton: Be skeptical, be very skeptical, of Skeptic magazine’s skepticism of climate skeptics


By Jim Lakely

A quarterly magazine called Skeptic published a cover story a few weeks back by Donald Prothero titled “How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.” That struck us here at The Heartland Institute as rather strange.

Our work for years has been skeptical of the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change, which is the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media. And we have two immense volumes of peer-reviewed literature and the videos of many conferences to prove it.

So if the very name of your magazine is Skeptic, shouldn’t readers expect you to carefully examine the spoon-fed doctrines of the likes of Al Gore, Michael Mann, the UN’s IPCC, etc., and be … well … skeptical of “doctrine” — especially in light of the Climategate scandal? Alas, no. 

Skeptic magazine, as the headline of the cover story makes clear, is not skeptical of the global warming Roosters of the Apocalypse who say the sky is falling and we’re unnaturally boiling the planet. It’s hysterical, and ironic, that the Skeptic article begins with a quote from Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman:

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Yet the fact is: Reality, and scientific observation of nature, tells the truth about the climate — and man is not causing a climate catastrophe. Skeptic Magazine is the one regurgitating public-relations lies disguised as a hard-boiled look at the climate debate and grounded in real science.

Feynman has posthumously become a bit of a YouTube star for his one-minute explanation of the scientific method. The video below, from a lecture at Cornell in 1964, blows up Skeptic magazine’s idea of what science is — let alone the quote the magazine uses to led legitimacy to its article.

In one minute, Feynman lays out how the scientific method works: Theories are constantly proposed, questioned and tested. Only after a theory goes through many exhaustive rounds of scientific examination — using observational data — can  a “guess” become a “law” of science. And even then, a well-founded scientific “law” laid down by the smartest people in history is temporary. Just ask Newton.

Yet we don’t seem to have a healthy scientific skepticism when it comes to Earth’s climate. Men and women who couldn’t hold Feynman’s briefcase have for years told us that the science is “settled”: Human activity is causing a catastrophic climate disaster — no matter that their computer model predictions haven’t come true, violating the scientific method and becoming the decades-later butt of Feynman’s presentation. In short, the evidence we can prove shows that the roosters’ predictions are a joke.

Yet Skeptic magazine, of all publications, dedicated a nine-page cover story to carrying water for public-relations hacks — propagandists — and not the kind of real, observable science that should be its hallmark. But let’s not completely condemn Skeptic. It still has the fact that there is no solid evidence for Bigfoot in its favor.

Christopher Monckton — Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, good friend of Heartland, advisor to Lady Thatcher, and one of the most learned “laymen” experts on climate science — gives that Skeptic article a hearty vivisection. Skeptic refused to publish it, so we share it here. There’s a short version and a long version of his reply, and they are both devastating.

Lord Monckton starts it off with his typically cheeky and refreshing in-your-face style:

By Christopher Monckton

Be skeptical, be very skeptical, of Skeptic magazine’s skepticism of climate skeptics. The latest issue has, as its cover story, a Climate Change Q&A, revealingly subtitled Climate Deniers’ Arguments & Climate Scientists’ Answers.

The article, written by Dr. Donald Prothero, a geology professor at Occidental College, opens with the bold heading How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.

Anyone who starts out by using the hate-speech term “Climate Deniers” – laden with political overtones of Holocaust denial – cannot expect to be taken seriously as an objective scientist.

Despite this promise of “Climate Scientists’ Answers”, only four peer-reviewed papers by climate scientists are cited among the 41 references at the end of the article.

And the implicit notion that “Climate Deniers” are non-scientists while true-believers are “Climate Scientists” is also unreasonable. Many eminent climate scientists are skeptical of the more extremist claims made by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC. We shall cite some of their work in this response to the Professor’s unscientific article.

Read Monckton’s full essay here



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It is a pity that Donald Prothero who has done such good paleontology, has written such a poor analysis. Unfortunately he does get carried away with a strong anti-creationist point of view (not that I think he is wrong) and with his rather poor understanding of climate science, his reputation will be damaged. A pity he didn’t stick to something he understands.

My (rough draft) offering/suggestion for a name for the anti-sceptics?
e.g. “A simple classroom experiment performed over a century ago…” “It’s simple, the science is settled….” “Simple Climate Model…” “The simple model is a nonlinear six order simplified climate model featured with chaotic dynamics, dissipation, and forcing source…” etc.
I submit;
Only an idiot would deny climate change
Only an imbecile would deny natural variability
Only a moron would deny the last 200 years of sea level rise
Only a cretin would deny the Holocene Temperature record
Only an ignoramus could believe that climate science is mature enough to base policy upon
Only a naif fails to see that corporations and lawyers have utterly usurped environmentalism for their own gain
Only a simpleton could believe that climate science is based upon simple physics, that models trump empirical research, that one may ‘average’ intrinsic properties, that belief beats experience, that the gas-of-life will broil us all, that blind agreement beats critical thinking and that CO2 is the predominant driver of climate change.
Please weigh in.

Having had a few beers with Douglas Adams, I think he would approve of your headline. He might not agree, but he would like it.

Jim Masterson

I used to subscribe to Skeptical Inquirer (CSI), but like Scientific American they drank the Kool-Aid of global warming. I guess you can’t be skeptical about everything, even if your magazine name includes it.


“Skeptic” magazine just fulfills its role in a Hegelian dialectic. Occupy all channels and all labels, offer thesis as well as antithesis, design the desired synthesis in advance. Simple dialectic trick, centuries old. A power instrument.

Alan the Brit

Ah, but the models show that……………………………….! Same ol same ol!


In Orwell’s 1984 , he brought us the idea of good or double-good , an attempt to change the language so it was not even possible to think bad thoughts of BB becasue there were no negative words to use .
There trying the same trick here , in fact what we are seeing has been done many times before by the AGW faithfully , its a attempt to define sceptic in such a way as for it to be impossible to disagree with AGW alarmist ideology , rather its defined as someone that agrees but not as fully and blindly as others . In other words the basic faith stays the same its just of question of how deeply its held . Its an idea seen amongst the AGW professionals such as Mann , they amazing adverse to one of the conner stones of science ‘critical review ‘ , much preferring instead pal review and back stroking . In words of Jones ,’why should I send you data you only want to find something wrong with it ‘
But their kidding no one with that nonsense but themselves, with that idea.


The “Here” link above takes one only to an intermediate site, where one has to click again to get to the ultimate site:

Rhys Jaggar

Feynman said famously that the only fluid you can analyse by physics is dry water.
I suspect he’d have said that the only atmosphere you can analyse by physics is one without clouds.
As a cynic, one wonders if the AGW crowd waited until Feynman died in 1988 before really ratcheting up the propaganda as they didn’t want him being called to the White House to demolish the whole thing in 30 minutes.

michael ozanne

I’m sure the usual suspects will be along to say that Viscount Brenchley hasn’t produced a valid scientific argument because he isn’t a real-live lord, and has a disability……:-)

Mindert Eiting

I have never read anything of importance in CSI or comparable journals. It’s mainly about silly subjects like faith healers, UFO watchers, astrology, etc. It does not have any intellectual weight. I would really be amazed if Feyman once belonged to this club. Did he?

Ally E.

I love to read Lord Monckton’s words. He has a rare gift for getting a message across wrapped up with a good balance of humour. Brilliantly done, as always.


I’m sure that the usual suspects will be along to point out that Viscount Brenchley’s arguments need not be discussed because he isn’t a real-live lord and he has a disability..:-)

P. Solar

They give their game away right from the start with the subtitle Climate Deniers’ Arguments & Climate Scientists’ Answers.
No one can “deny” climate and no one is trying to. This is more silly PR language like “anit-science”.


‘Skeptical Science’ has a partner in crime…

cui bono

I was a long-time subscriber, first to Zetetic and the to the Sceptical Inquirer, which presumably were the precursors of Sceptic. The forensic destruction of the claims of flying saucers, alien abductions, poltergeists, Velikovskism, and ‘psychic’ spoonbenders were superb.
The unofficial motto was “We need to be open-minded, but not so open our brains fall out”, attributed to the great physicist John Wheeler.
On this issue, they have miscalculated badly. They have confused ‘scepticism’ with ‘total agreement with soi disant establishment science’.
That leaves their brains hovering precariously in mid-air.

Feynman Chaser’s video clip says it all.
climate science is now—
Guess-model-model again-propose a law.
Observation has nothing to do with it because all observation refute the theory but would stop the gravy train if the truth were to be adopted.
i am very skeptical about human caused climate change. We may be able to slightly change local climate by deforestation or agriculture though that could be argued as local weather change. But regional change by humans is very questionable.

Rich wilcke

I, too, once took an note rest in Skeptic and Michael Shermer. But, once supposedly “skeptical” of climate change, Shermer reported that a less-than-20 minute TED talk by Al Gore was all it took to turn him completely around. Not dedicated research and analysis but merely a quick overview by a politician who has made millions as a water-carrier for the Global Warming interests totally flipped a man who has published books on the need for skepticism in all areas. Well, guess what? I’m told that the bulk of what Shermer has supposedly written in his books was written not by the professed skeptic himself but by his underlings. In a word, Shermer is a phony as Al Gore!

Tony Windsor

I think I read something recently to the effect that ‘climate scientists’ are asking for immunity from prosecution in the event of the spurious science being advanced by the warmists should prove to be false. Can anyone confirm this for me? If true it does rather suggest that the Team and others might be trying to cover their backs.


Monckton always seems to find the mot juste. “Culpably,” “artfully,” and “vapidity” stick in my mind.
“It is not worthy of the Professor; it is not worthy of science; and it is not worthy of a detailed reply.”
It’s “awesome” to watch him in action. Like the most accomplished advocates, he seems to accomplish his effects effortlessly.
I hope WUWT will ask him to post his treatment of the 97% surveys (and endorsements by scientific societies) that were the focus of a recent WUWT thread on that topic–or to start a new thread with them.
And I’m delighted to see that he has abandoned his former practice of hyphenating compound adverbial modifiers in phrases like this: “The Professor gives a highly partisan account …”
All I found to disagree with were a few punctuation marks. (E.g., a doubled comma).
I’m delighted to see that the institutions of card-carrying capital-S skepticism have nailed their colors to the mast of this sinking ship. Bon voyage!

Jean Meeus

Jim Masterson, I too had a subscription to Skeptical Inquirer, but I did not renew it at the end of 2007 because it published “warmist” texts, one reply to my comments being written by a member of the IPCC.


Here’s a quote Monckton makes from the Professor’s article that is “actionable,” in my opinion. Sic ’em, Anthony:

He cites a bogus memorandum publicized by Peter Gleick, the now-discredited head
of scientific “ethics” at the Pacific Institute, alleging that the Heartland Institute was
“trying to influence science education, suppress the work of scientists, and had paid
off many prominent climate deniers, such as Anthony Watts, all in an attempt to
circumvent the scientific consensus by doing an ‘end run’ of PR and political
pressure. Other leaks have shown 9 out of 10 major climate deniers are paid by
Exxon Mobil.”


This article will go down in history as WUWT’s “a-flying-saucer-crashed-in-Roswell-with-aliens-on board” equivalent.
Thanks for the laugh.


John Cook isn’t involved, is he ??

Do paleontologists make experiments?


No, I think they are consistent. They’re position on things is that orthodoxy is correct and those positions outside of the mainstream are the ones they are skeptical of. Hence, climate skepticism is not to be believed because it is not part of the dogma. Notice that they would really appear stupid if, given their name, they called it “climate skepticism”. It would be interesting to see if there are other issues that they have attacked that they’ve been proven wrong on.


I’m suddenly reminded of last year, after 3-11, the devastating Tohoku quake and following tsunami, when IPCC’s Pachauri came out and said that the tsunami was worsened by a 17 cm sea level rise. I think Mr Watts reported it here too.
That tsunami was, according to Keio University, 40+ meters in some areas. The devastation even to taller buildings in some areas proves this. So even if those 17 cm existed, I don’t see any difference in being hit by a 40+ meters or “merely” 39.83 meters wall of water.


I foolishly subscribed to the Sceptic magazine, the bulk of whose efforts I applaud. They have however pushed Climate Alarm for years and have stonewalled all my communication. Jo Nova told me they did the same to her.
I have realised that Michael Shermer and his Sceptic are not actually sceptic at all. They are simply defenders of the scientific establishment, stenographers for government science bodies. I have not seem them stray from the safe ramparts of scientific consensus. No dissenting comments allowed, not an original thought, no risks taken, their wagons fully circled against heresy.
There is something stale, old and musty about them; they live in the innocent times of the 19th century when science was seen as pure and for its own sake by performed by gentlemen. They have completely missed the politicisation, the moneying, advocacy and the madness of the post modern science movement.
A pity, really.


Addendum: I was just thinking about something else concerning the sea levels.
Japan, to ride that horse again for a second, was settled not only via boat (blue-water ships have been proven), but also via land. Several times in the history of this planet the sea levels were low enough to allow migration of animals, plants and humans into the Japanese islands by land.
About 500,000 years ago, Japan had a land connection to Korea. Roughly 20,000 years ago the sea levels were low enough for all Japanese main islands to be connected and, not only that, there was a dry connection into the North via the Sakhalin Islands.
Archeological evidence indicates that the people in North-eastern Japan had similarities to Siberian tribal hunters, while the people in the South-west had actual contact to the Asian mainland for several thousand years. A differentiation of several cultures on the Japanese islands doesn’t happen until about 20,000-17,000 years ago, eventually leading into the Jômon culture roughly 12,000/10,000 years ago, but that’s taking it too far now.
Another thing that crossed my mind is, when you know European history, and then have knowledge in Asian, especially East Asian history, it’s very clear to see that the Roman and Medieval Warming Periods were at least affecting the entire Northern hemisphere, if not global, and were certainly not local. Whenever we find warming in Europe, we also see cultural explosion in China, Korea and Japan as well, which I would connect to a vastly larger warming period. When the Romans developed concrete and planted wine into England, the Chinese figured out how to use chrome to protect weapons and ammunition from corrosion, practically invented kites (and probably figured out what uplift is, leading to very large kites being used like modern day hang gliders, there is some evidence suggesting exactly this -there are even ancient maps suggesting aerial view of the mapped area.) When the Danes planted wine, Murasaki Shikibu, a lady at the imperial court, wrote the first novel of mankind. In fact, in this Heian period in Japan there was another cultural explosion. It is referred to as the classical period in Japanese art. All of this is only possible under good conditions, and that means, at least to me, it had to be pretty warm back then on a very large scale. Culture only blooms when people have no other worries. It only blooms when harvests are good and people can sit back and relax and busy themselves with things not necessary for survival and that really only happens when it’s warm.
I see Lord Monckton mentions another warm era 6,000-10,000 years ago. This is when the Hassuna, Samarra and Halaf cultures begin to appear in Mesopotamia. Again, the ice age ended, the cold retreated, warming happened, culture exploded.


Dr Shermer was a supposed skeptic who was converted by Al Gore’s super heavywieight science exposition.
FIrst Dr Shermer figured “Even Creationists are believing it now”
Then he went to the ATI show and got converted by the truth-power flowing from Big Al.


I stopped my subscription to Skeptical Inquirer a few years ago they took on a political agenda, more preoccupied with policy making than printing facts.

Bill Marsh

“Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
It seems to me that this quote is more applicable to the pro-AGW crowd than the ‘skeptics’.


Our work for years has been skeptical of the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change,
Don’t believe it. It’s more accurate to say you are prejudiced against the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change.
Big difference between skepticism and justifying preconceived ideas.

It is religion, pure and simple. Prothero (mostly) correctly scolds young-earth views, and Shermer soundly trounces superstitions again and again, but this time, for CAGW, they are carrying the water. It astounds me that they make the same doctrinally based arguments for CAGW that the SBC makes for a young earth, with the words rearranged a bit to help it sound more scientific. They make the same appeals to the authority of the climate scientists that the fundamentalists makes to scripture, just tuned slightly to sound less hollow. Perhaps Shermer and company will soon recognize how they have been duped. Perhaps Shermer will turn his believing mind to the facts and shun the spin of the CAGW crowd. But, sadly, it is likely to take 20-30 years before all vestiges of the current environmentalists socialism and power grab to be abandoned and seen for what it is. When the earth is greener still, and just as unpredictable, but stable as it has been for so long, then we will simply move to some other pseudoscientific scare that the elite believe will help their cause.


Typical, now we see the money from the AGW crowd being used to create infiltrator media, so sad.


“Only an idiot would deny climate change”
It comes down to the definition of “climate change”.
Under the UN definition, which states that climate change is that change which is caused by man, then yes, that can be denied. Maybe there is a tiny amount caused by man’s activities, but certainly not of the magnitude the AGW bletheren would have people believe. Certainly man’s activities have a large effect on metrics such as the meaningless “global average land temperature”
If one means that the climate is constantly changing….. well, ….duh !!!
This is a big issue in all this lack of debate, no-one really defines exactly what they mean, so there a whole heap of useless arguement about.. whatever.. !!

Dr Mo

My encounters with the Australia Skeptics were similar – they were completely non-skeptical when it comes to CAGW.


Lord Monckton needs to keep repeating this story. It will become legend as the world wakes up from its hoax-induced slumber.

j molloy

I commented in the Al Gore post “how about climate pessimists “?. That makes us “climate optimists” 😉

Alan D McIntire

Like Jim Masterson, above, I used to occasionally read ” SKeptical Inquirer” – but gave them up as a hopeless cause after they bought into the “CAGW” nonsense.


Standard Leninist procedure. Russia used to have “satirical” magazines that were quite sharp in parodying capitalist lackeys, but never got around to parodying Soviet bureaucrats.
Now we have TheOnion, TheDailyMash, Saturday Night Live, Skeptic magazine, Seth MacFarlane’s empire, etc. All function the same way as Krokodil. Sharp parody of all unfashionable people and beliefs (eg Southerners, Christians, Muslims, facts) but somehow they always forget about high-status people and beliefs.

Didn’t read the full name of the magazine in the small print Skeptic- we are going to eliminate you all. Common error.

“the unfailing hallmark of a lesser mind”… Yes! Go for the jugular!

[Snip. This is not about Lord Monckton’s peerage. ~dbs, mod.]

Dave Dodd

This might be a good time to again state just what the Scientific Method is:
I. The scientific method has four steps
1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.
If the experiments bear out the hypothesis it may come to be regarded as a theory or law of nature (more on the concepts of hypothesis, model, theory and law below). If the experiments do not bear out the hypothesis, it must be rejected or modified. What is key in the description of the scientific method just given is the predictive power (the ability to get more out of the theory than you put in; see Barrow, 1991) of the hypothesis or theory, as tested by experiment. It is often said in science that theories can never be proved, only disproved. There is always the possibility that a new observation or a new experiment will conflict with a long-standing theory.
source here:


” “How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.” ”
“Our work for years has been skeptical of the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change, which is the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media.”
Now I haven’t read the original article, but does it claim that the Human-Caused global warming will be catastrophic? Certainly not in the title.
That one word “catastrophic” makes all the difference.

John F. Hultquist

Tony Windsor says:
July 23, 2012 at 3:09 am
I think I read something . . .

The story (with a link in 2nd paragraph) is here:


[SNIP: Snipped on your first comment. Good Show! All off-topic Monckton-bashing will be snipped. -REP]

The FIRST Step is to start with a love of honesty. Then, a student may be reachable. Maybe not.
Because of the high degree of anti-science that we see and not just in America in Western civilization and in the bureaucracies of government (agencies like the EPA), and in the media and most especially in the Government-Education Industrial Machine, it is useful to ask those who still are capable of seeing reason to step back for a moment (we call it the skeptics moment) and practice being an observer ‘of pathological science.’ as a cautionary example of why we must always, “Use Feynman-like honesty about the limits of our knowledge.”

more soylent green!

How is it all these magazine are being taken over by the warmists/leftists? The majority of the American public is decidedly cool on global warming — isn’t there a market for a popular science magazine which plays it down the middle? Why is there no demand for magazines which offer balanced views?
OTH, these magazines are written, edited and published by journalists, most of whom have no science background and who also tend to skew to the left on their politics, so we should not be surprised.
I’d like to think the financial problems with magazines and newspapers is due to their left-ward drift and lack of balance, but the same problems of declining revenues and declining subscribers is being experience all across the industry in general.