George Monbiot’s 4 cast iron rules of climate change denial

Posted on June 11, 2010


Ever had a discussion on-line with a climate change denier?

I have had many such discussions, and when I have them, I usually have to remind myself that there are other people reading the discussion, some of whom live in the land of logic and evidence, some of whom might actually consider the points I make.  There will never be any kind of satisfaction in these discussions otherwise.  Not from a denier.

I have seldom been able to get a denier to take seriously anything that contradicts his or her point of view.  Everything, no matter how thoroughly researched, becomes “a matter of opinion,”  or evidence of an immense shadowy conspiracy put together by shadowy liberal scientists in–I presume–shadowy and secret underground caverns.   Which means that to a denier information from scientists is equal in their minds to information manufactured on the spot by conservative “think tank” propagandists or jester kings (and Republican Senate advisors) like Lord Monckton.

George Monbiot, who writes for the Guardian, has been reporting on the recent thorough-going debunking of Lord Monckton, a debunking calmly, politely and devastatingly carried out by Professor John Abraham.  Lord Monckton, having not a single argument or fact at his disposal, managed to resist making a reply at first.

However, egged on by the publicity generated by Monbiot’s recent columns, Lord Monckton, rather than growing a mustache, dying his hair, and wisely retiring to some obscure corner of the world where he is unknown, has now been foolish enough to reply to his debunking, and he has done so using classic denier tactics.

George Monbiot calls them the four cast iron rules of climate change denial.

  1. Falsely accuse the other person of ad hominem attacks, while making vicious ad hominem attacks of your own.
  2. Ignore or gloss over the most substantial criticisms.
  3. Never admit that you are wrong. Even when your errors are staring you in the face, do not acknowledge them. Never apologise, never concede.
  4. Project your worst characteristics onto your opponent.

Sound familiar?  I admit they do to me.  And as Monbiot sets it out in his latest (9 June 2010) article, they clearly apply to Lord Monckton.

But–not wanting to rely on one case, and on what is so far only an impression–I myself intend to give these rules a test run, pseudoscientific-like.  Keep a scorecard.  See if they work.

If nothing else, it might make arguing with deniers on-line a little more fun.

Add a little fun to a serious intention, and dial down some of the frustration level of dealing with people who refuse to be logical or address the evidence.

Denier trolls have fun.

(Being nasty, perverse, stubborn and illogical must be fun, otherwise why would they do it?)

So why shouldn’t I?


See George Monbiot’s column @

Find Professor Abraham’s original debunking of Lord Monckton @

You may follow Professor Abraham’s ongoing (and supplementary) dissection of Lord Monckton at the Skeptical Science blog.  Here is a link to his latest entry, in respect of Lord Monckton’s unsupported opinions on ocean acidification: