It’s all so futile

Guest article
AndThenTheresPhysics (real name unknown)

Let’s face facts: for a climate blogger, I’m a damn good astrobionomer.

I don’t know what it is about me and the written word, but it seems that no matter how painstakingly I try to convey my point, everyone always manages to miss it completely. On particularly bad days I find myself wondering if semantic intercourse between human beings is even possible.

And why should today be any different? Let’s be frank: I’m probably wasting everyone’s time by even posting this.

But like a moth to a flame, I can’t seem to help myself. Science communication must be in my blood or something.

Hey: you can’t talk. Like a moth to a car accident, you just couldn’t resist reading this train wreck of an article, could you?

You might say we’re all junkies for some life-destroying product or another, be it ice, cigarettes, inept prose or women who are bad for us.

But that would be such a gross misunderstanding of my point, I’d almost have to conclude you were wilfully misinterpreting me. That’s not even what this post is about, for Christ’s sake!

So what is it about?

Well, as you may have guessed, I normally blog on one thing: physics. But for once in my online career I hope you’ll excuse a slight departure. What I want to discuss today is the phenomenon of climate deniers.

I probably shouldn’t be commenting on this because I don’t actually understand anything about them.

And I’m well aware of that—intellectually. I keep telling myself this article is a big mistake, but it just won’t sink in. As I may have mentioned, I have all the prefrontal discipline of a month-old poodle.

What the hell are “climate deniers” (or climate skeptics, cynics, infidels or whatever they call themselves this week), you may ask?

That’s simply the term for folks who claim they’re not yet fully sold on the physical evidence that proves we need economic reform to retard international climate change, and we need it yesterday. (A better name might be science haters.)

Believe it or not, such people really exist. There are whole websites catering to them—I shit you not. I think their bizarre little society even has a UK chapter.

Nobody ever talks much about climate skeptics.

That’s probably because the science is so solid. If (hypothetically!) the scientific argument for a carbon tax were dubious or tendentious in some way, its opponents might pose enough of a threat to be worth discussing. Climate skeptic might even be a household phrase.

But as it is, it isn’t. Because people who still question the science simply don’t matter. Certainly not to scientists.

Which is why I wanted to talk about them. For such an irrelevant and marginal hate group, climate deniers sure like to bang on! Have you been on the Internet lately? In case you haven’t, let’s just say the online activities of skeptics give a whole new meaning to the word disproportionately vocal.

It all smacks of bad faith. And when you’ve worked enough semesters in my corner of the scientific world, you tend to become an expert in faith. So blindly take my word for this: theirs doesn’t smack good. Not good at all.

See, if I didn’t believe in science, and I honestly thought I had the science to disprove it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t waste time blogging about it. (Blogs are for people who do believe it.)

I’d write it up as proper, peer-reviewed science and submit it to a science journal.

As you know, science works by weight of papers. So if modern science is wrong—as opponents of the climate keep telling us—then all they have to do is produce 4 million scientific articles (or thereabouts) refuting it.

Five, tops. Et voilà! The consensus in favor of science would be flipped upside-down, back-to-front and ass-forwards. Science would stand falsified, 97 to three. And trust me, nobody would be happier than the scientists themselves, who understand the horrifying implications of science better than anyone.

So what’s stopping them? (The deniers, I mean?)

After all, there’s a Nobel Prize with your name on it if you can demonstrate beyond a reasonable, 3.01% level of doubt that all of science (plus large chunks of radiative physics) is wrong.

Remember, nobody ever got a Nobel for proving man-made climate change—so there must be one available for disproving it.

(Logic, people. Hello.)

Then there’s the lucrative purse that comes with it. I did a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation—assuming it takes sixteen people to write a single paper, which seems about right in my experience—and you know what? We’re looking at $0.12 an author, minimum. That’s almost a cent per page per denier, including figures.1

Easy (prize) money.

And I’m not even mentioning the oil companies. Ah, the oil companies. Big Oil would be so grateful, none of those millions of climate deniers would have to work another day in their lives. Like any other corporation legally answerable to its shareholders, the average fossil-fuel company is always looking for an excuse to give away a few hundred billion dollars for purely sentimental reasons to a bunch of strangers to whom it doesn’t owe a cent.

So we’re talking a nice little earner, in anyone’s language.

Yet try telling a climate denier this, if you can find one, and… nothing. Pin-drop silence. Evidently these folks are afraid to put their money where their wallets are: in the hip pocket.

I think they know, deep down, that they don’t have the 58 million pages of evidence (or 3.31 km if stacked vertically) it takes to disprove what the world’s scientists believe, and have been trying to believe to no apparent avail for the last 28 years, all the way back to Arrhenius.

But instead of admitting it, they indulge in prolix and dilatory rhetoric like a bunch of complete and utter cunctators.

So I know they’re just going to ignore my challenge. Not that I’m accusing them of being the kind of people who would do so. It just seems, sadly, that in my experience, certain folks might well be.

Ironically, I used to think of climate rejectors as basically decent, sportspersonlike people. Not evil, just wrong. But the minute I started reaching out as a science communicator I was disabused of my naïveté pretty much immediately. It only took me three blogs to figure it out: they’re nothing like I thought. Which is probably my fault for expecting certain standards of behaviour from certain folks.

I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say here, and I regret writing this post.

About the author


Scientists say they have no idea who AndThenTheresPhysics (pictured) is, what he looks like or what function, if any, he serves.

What is clear, though, is that Anders—or Wotty, as he prefers to be known—was an astrobiologist and part-time bioastrologist for some years. But in 2015 he or she left the world of science forever to study his or her real passion: consensus, and the increasingly-strengthening consensus on it. It’s said that ATTP’s ambition in life is to one day be the 14th-or-lower author on a major study of either consensus on consensus or (if things go well) consensus on consensus on consensus on consensus.

Best of luck, Ken!


1 Unfortunately I don’t have mathblogging privileges at CliScep (and considering the kind of person who’s apparently happy to associate with this site, I’m not entirely sure I’d really want them). So you’ll just have to trust me on the equation. Pity. It looks great in LaTeX.

Or if that’s asking too much you could always, I don’t know, maybe buy your own [redacted—Mod]ing envelope and verify it for yourselves! According to a calculation I did on the back of an envelope, an envelope costs the princely sum of 1.72 Euro cents. You’ll obviously need to splash out on the 200-pack to get those kind of savings, but it’s an investment that pays for itself tenfold.

Heck, you know what? I’ll even mail you an envelope if you’re that skint. Just leave your home address in comments.

I get the feeling I probably shouldn’t have made that offer. Live and learn. I can’t do much about it now, can I? If there’s one thing that’s become clear from my plural years as a science communicator, it’s that nobody can stop people like me being taken advantage of by [redacted—Mod]s like you.

Keeping it civil,


17 thoughts on “It’s all so futile

  1. And what if there’s just not enough data? What if it doesn’t matter how much anyone mas… I was going to write ‘massage’ but masturbate might be more appropriate. Rub the data hard enough and it rises like you want it to but if you take your eye off it, it wilts into something much less impressive.

    And what about all the cost of the super computer? Where are sceptics going to get that from, not to mention the salaries for the hive of little scientists working on the problem? How can we come up with an answer that all the consensus money has failed to arrive at – a hard figure for CO2 sensitivity? But even without them, all the latest papers are giving a lower value than the hysterical early attempts. Or are you expecting us to prove that CO2 has no effect at all? It’s you guys that say it’s all or nothing.

    Is it not enough to break the cast iron link between hurricanes and CO2? (OK, the data did that but we made sure people noticed). Is it not enough to alert the public to the back to front relationship of CO2 and temperature in Al’s famous lock step graph? Wasn’t it enough to point out the dodgy nature of Mann’s hockey stick? Don’t we get any kudos for alerting the world to Jones’ sloppy data archiving? Jesus, do you expect sceptics to do it all for you?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. By us I actually mean other people like Steve M, but I like to think that the cheering section is important too.


  3. To those who protest that this post is unfair to a Professor of Astrology Astrophysics should first consider this post at the highly esteemed BishopHill blog here aTTP featured as resident house troll before (following eviction) switched residency to cliscep.
    Some of the comments

    Our House troll makes an appearance.

    I assume you mean me. I think I could deal with your commentors calling me a Troll, but the host? I guess name calling is only bad when you object to who is being labelled? It’s fine when you want to do so and feel somehow justified in doing so? To be fair, I’m not really complaining, nor all that surprised, but just assumed you might at least try to stay above all this. Plausible deniability and all that. Probably preferable this way, to be honest.

    Apr 17, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered Commenter…and Then There’s Physics

    Poor Ttloc/Wotts/ATTP/He who shall not be named Ken Rice

    Abusing people on your own blog is fine because you can disappear those who object.

    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Richard Tol


    I don’t think it’s unreasonable of Josh to refer to you as a troll, given the number of my threads you have diverted away from the topic at hand. I have been very patient, a courtesy you do not extend to those who disagree with you.

    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:14 PM | Registered Commenter Bishop Hill

    When the Physics Troll tries to divert there is the legitimate snipping by a fair-minded Britain who has a sense of fair play.

    [Take it to the discussion forum]

    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commenter…and Then There’s Physics

    The troll does not give up.

    [Take it to the discussion forum]

    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered Commenter…and Then There’s Physics

    Liked by 2 people

  4. To put his Grace’s post in context, the artist-in-residence JOSH had generously portrayed aTTP in one of his masterpieces, immortalizing Ken. Such ingratitude, when the publicity is far greater than a 100 Google citations, or 1000 trolling comments.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s all so futile

    That is the motto of this website, isn’t it? It is just a bunch of third-raters who don’t have enough to say to fill their own blogs and so join forces so as to seem less insignificant. And while they like to think of themselves as “skeptics” they can’t even manage to write a coherent discussion of what they are “skeptical” about once a week between them. What am I saying – an article written between them would be doubly impossible when individually they don’t have the smarts to understand the science they think they are skeptical of and they more than likely don’t agree what they are skeptical about. All that is left them is silly articles like this and the last dozen.


  6. So what did you write this week to save the planet Raff? That is the difference isn’t it. You think that it’s the end of the world and we think it’s a massive waste of money along with a load of other things that waste a load of money. Which of us should be sitting around grumbling on the internet and which of us should be making erudite, impassioned messages to the wider public?


  7. (Self-confessed) Troll Alert!

    “CLOUD has also found that ions from galactic cosmic rays strongly enhance the production rate of pure biogenic particles – by a factor 10-100 compared with particles without ions. This suggests that cosmic rays may have played a more important role in aerosol and cloud formation in pre-industrial times than in today’s polluted atmosphere.”

    *collective warmist sharp intake of breath*


  8. Jaime, I suspect the effect of the sun on cloud formation will turn out to be very complicated, not just affecting how much cloud but where they build, what type and even when (changes at different times of year). At the same time there will be all sorts of other things affecting clouds and global temperature and so making signals difficult to see without enough data.


  9. I’m sure it is all very complicated Tiny, but the upshot is, nails keep being driven into the coffin of high climate sensitivity and Svensmark’s Theory That Wouldn’t Die (much to the annoyance of warmists) keeps drawing new breaths – as do ‘sceptics’ of the settled science of global warming.


  10. To be honest, I probably shouldn’t be commenting here, but here goes anyway.
    I haven’t read the post, but I think it’s appalling.
    If this is the calibre of climate “scepticism”, then I think you should own it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think Raff really needs to own this sentence he wrote above:

    And while they like to think of themselves as “skeptics” they can’t even manage to write a coherent discussion of what they are “skeptical” about once a week between them

    It is almost as if he is saying that we don’t know what we are thinking – the epistemological implications of this are mindblowing and are surely worth a definitive philosophical treatise. Why bother with Hume nd Wittgenstein when you can read Raff? Or is it just the tired old statement that there is only one way to be sceptical of AGW and the political beliefs that are bolstered by it, and that is the way that is approved by Steffie? If so, it is just worth yet another howl of derisive laughter in Raff’s direction.

    So which is it: pioneering philosopher or moron?


  12. Past evidence shows this really is the quality of climate skepticism and as you are on the author list, Paul, you also, in a way, own it.


  13. ATTP ought to consider taking science communication lessons from Chris Mooney. He needs to brush up on his integrative complexity — that is his ability to see the world as others see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I agree with Paul that this post is appalling but that doesn’t mean that I have changed my mind about my view that Paul is appalling. If this were my blog, I would ask my moderator, Lord Russell’s squirrel, to remove the comments which are also appalling and irrelevant to my goal of acting as an apologist for climate science. There may be some minor problems with science, but they are irrelevant to the political mission to obfuscate those problems and convince the pubic that I as a scientist am above reproach. The best strategy to accomplish this is to just keep repeating the same thing no matter how wrong it may be. This is just really physics and I know physics, in fact that’s my online handle.

    Liked by 1 person

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