Censorship at the Conversation

On May 13th, John Cook, PhD student at the University of Queensland, published this article at the Conversation

There were 414 coments in the next few days. 257 of them have since been removed by moderators.

On 17th May 2016 the Conversation sent me eleven messages which all began as follows:

Hello Geoff,
Your comment on ‘The things people ask about the scientific consensus on climate change’ has been removed. There are several reasons why this may have occurred:
Your comment may have breached our communit standards. For example it may have been a personal attack, or you might not have used your real name.
Your comment may have been entirely blameless but part of a thread that was removed because another comment had to be removed.
It might have been removed for another editorial reason, for example to avoid repetition or keep the conversation on topic.
For practical reasons we reserve the right to remove any comment and all decisions must be final, but please don’t take it personally. If you’re playing by the rules it’s unlikely to happen again, so feel free to continue to post new comments and engage in polite and respectful discussion.

And they appended the eleven removed comments. I’ve listed them at a fuller version of this article on my own dormant blog. You can read them yourself to see if they breach community standards. They don’t.

The next day I received this:

Your account on The Conversation has been locked follow your posting comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content.
Cory Zanoni Community Manager

I have replied to Cory Zanoni as follows:

In your mail justifying your decision to prevent me from commenting at the Conversation you accuse me of posting comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content. I assume this refers to the eleven comments on this article
which were deleted by the moderator the day before your decision to ban me. For simplicity I have listed the comments at this blog article, and I refer below to the numbers used in my blog article.
I have tried to identify comments which might be considered “abusive and potentially defamatory” and have identified the following:
comment 7 “That’s not quite true, is it?” addressed to author Cook
comment 8 which links to a photo of author Cook dressed as a Nazi
comment 9 which refers to the same photo, which was one of a series in which Cook and his collaborators apparently photoshopped photos of themselves in Nazi uniforms and put them up on the private part of their site SkepticalScience where they were discovered by Brandon Schollenberger. I took this information from this site
but the Conversation has established a rule that any comment citing this site (the world’s most popular scientific site) will be removed.
I note that accusing me of posting comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content is in itself potentially defamatory. I have indeed accused your second and third most frequent contributors of articles on climate change, John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky, of being liars and charlatans on my site, but not on yours. Neither are climate scientists. Both are liars and charlatans.
I am preparing a letter of complaint to my own university and to other British universities which finance your site. Your moderation policy, as evidenced by the comments removed on this article (numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 9) and on other articles demonstrate clearly that you are practising a policy of censorship of opinions which contradict the received opinion which your blog propagates: that opposition to current policies on climate change comes from the political right. As I indicated in one of the comments removed, I support the Communist party in France, where I have lived for thirty years.
Before I write to the universities which provide your financial support, I invite you to justify your claim that I have posted comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content. I look forward to your reply.


  1. At one time these alarmsts could just ban anyone they disagreed with, but that cannot happen now. The result is that the world is slowly collapsing in on these climate alarmists as little by little they discover that they are a small and growingly irrelevant minority.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ATTP, as one of the most egregious perpetrators, have you?

    Oh sorry, I forgot! When yourside does it, that doesn’t count, isn’t that right?


  3. Sunshine is a good disinfectant. Transprent censorship doesn’t work in an era when comments can be archived and the censorship exposed and documented via other channels. Well played.


  4. You’re a naughty boy. You’ve breached the group think safe space policy of The Conversation. Hold out your wrist for a slap and Carry On Regardless. I’m on my second fake identity there now. They genuinely believe their obvious transparent political and social allegiances are “balanced impartial and objective”, hafumph. Favored commentators are permitted their outrageous slanderous curses, others aren’t. It’s always interesting seeing who has been disappeared from participation after one of those lengthy disputes about climate or genderism, and on which side of the dispute they fall.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a sub-folder in my email account – “CONVERSATION COMMENTS REMOVED” – 17 Climate Change to 1 other. I don’t bother posting to the Conversation much any more – especially on Climate Change, the place is full of extreme left ideologues who are immune to evidence. I’d rather not waste my time any more. The editorial staff and moderators are likely determined to create the false impression that this “debate” is based on rational analysis of evidence and in which the CAGW perspective is the overwhelming consensus (the magic 97%). Pointing out that Cook’s (in)famous paper itself doesn’t even say that, and that the real consensus on catastrophic or even dangerous climate change is probably somewhere between 10 and 20 % (but making up 90 % of those posting on the Conversation).

    Liked by 2 people

    No. I have never made abusive comments at the Conversation, even to the commenter who told me to “fuck off back to that rock you crawled out from”.

    Many of my comments may be considered as “potentially defamatory” in the sense that they would be defamatory if they weren’t true. For example, I point out as often as possible (but not at the Conversartion) that two of the Conversation’s most frequent contributors, Stephan Lewandowsky (who likes to be known as a jewish fascist kike) and his epigone John Cook (who likes to dress up in Nazi uniform) are serial liars. This is true, and therefore not defamatory.

    Please note that, though I refer to Professor Lewandowsky above as a jewish fascist kike, this is not my description, but that of the author of an anonymous email which he referred to in an article in Nature which attempted to create a link between antisemites and critics of his work like me. I know that he he is insinuating that I am the sort of person who might refer to him as a jewish fascist kike because he mentions me in a peer reviewed article which accuses me of paranoid tendencies and an inability to reason, as an example of the sort of climate denialist who might send him anonymous emails accusing him of being a jewish fascist kike.

    Professor Lewandowsky is not a jewish fascist kike, and John Cook is not a Nazi, whatever his crossdressing propensities. But they are both liars and charlatans. Having reviewed the evidence, don’t you agree?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think we have been over the”he’s a liar” thing before. It came down to whether someone who says something untrue or with which you disagree is a liar or is just mistaken. Paul Matthews branded me a liar when I said something he disagreed with. The word has become worthless.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Geoff,
    Let’s see. You regularly highlight a photoshopped image of John Cook in a Nazi uniform and regularly claim that he likes to dress up like this. However, you know that it is photoshopped, and the only other thing you know is that it was found on their server. You do not know who did it. You do not know if John Cook approved, or found it amusing. You do not even know how it got there. And yet, you seem to think it is acceptable to highlight this as some indication of John Cook’s character. I think that is both dishonest and abusive.

    You regularly call John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky liars, frauds, and charlatan’s. They are both professionals and your actions are clearly potentially defamatory. That you believe it to be true, does not make it true.

    You’ve become what is essentially an internet stalker; whenever John Cook or Stephan Lewandowsky write an article, you pop up in the comments, either highlighting that Stephan has had a paper retracted, or that there is a photoshopped image of John Cook in a Nazi uniform. You’ve also pubicly called them liars, frauds,….. Clearly your goal is to try to damage their reputations and, I imagine, to harm their future careers. I fail to see how this isn’t obviously abusive and potentially defamatory. That you believe what you say is true does not change that.


  9. RAFF
    The words “lie and “liar” are clear enough and need no explanation. What counts is whether they are used in a reasonable fashion to point out that some statement is deliberately false, and that the person making it is morally deficient and therefore unworthy of attention, or is being used hysterically to raise the temperature and muddy the waters of the debate. The fuss about the Brexit promise of money for the health service is a good example of the hysterical use. A slogan on the side of a bus is not the same thing as a solemn promise in a manifesto; a simple rewording could have turned it into a true and telling argument; of course the billions of our net contribution to Europe could be used otherwise.

    My accusations of lying (which I admit I make in an excessive, even hysterical, fashion) are not about some mistake or point of disagreement. Lewandowsky made a false claim in a scientific paper, possibly in good faith. When Barry Woods queried it he falsely claimed to have evidence to support it. Then Cook contacted me to repeat the lie, and under questioning retreated to a defensible position of being economical with the truth. The lie was used to fabricate a false study used in supplemental material to defend the paper; and to cover it up, a second paper (defending the first) had itself to be falsified. Finally, an email exchange between Lewandowsky and Cook suggests that Lewandowsky suspected that Cook had lied to him. But by then the second paper was finished (though the first had not yet been published) and Cook was Lewandowsky’s co-author and PhD student.

    The campaign manager who got the bus slogan wrong should be sacked, not for moral failings, but for incompetence. What should be done in the case of a Professor who makes a mistake in a scientific paper, lies to cover it up, and writes a second paper defaming the people who pointed out the mistake?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “You regularly call John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky liars, frauds, and charlatan’s…”

    “Charlatan’s” Kenny? I didn’t know you were a greengrocer.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Geoff, your story about Lew and Cook just leaves me wondering who gives a sh*t. You think they lied and they may in fact have lied – or they may not and I neither know nor care. The output of psychology research is so shaky and unreproducible that if you can’t nail the research on its own weaknesses and failures and have to resort to ad-hom attack instead then you already lost any argument about it. Cook’s work at SKS stands on its own as a valuable reference for interested parties. It is doubtless not perfect but again, that you can’t find anything wrong with it (and how could you, you know nothing about it) and instead resort to attacking the author shows the weakness of your intellectual position – if you have one.


  12. Geoff, thanks for posting all your deleted comments at your old blog. Most of them certainly don’t break their rules, which are written here.

    Another recent example of Conversation censorship is in this article by the same author, making the familiar tired claim of ‘fossil-fuel funded climate denial’, debunked here.

    Again there are streams of deleted comments.
    Here are two of my deleted comments, which are on-topic and not defamatory.

    1. For your reference, the removed comment was:

    The most prominent skeptic blogs have intrusive adverts and tip jars. Why is this the case if they are flooded with oil money?

    2. For your reference, the removed comment was:

    This is one of the most absurd of the claims promoted by climate activists. A regular joke among climate sceptics is “My Exxon check must have got lost in the post”.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The Conversation has become a useful sandpit to watch, and sometimes take part, in the current crop of weird social cults. We wonder how so many believed in witches in past centuries, or succumbed at worst to waves of genocide. Watch it happening right now with climate apocalypse funny tales, where TC is among the most firm holdouts of self-indulgent ignorance parading as rationality. Explore it as a social experiment laboratory, even while it churns your stomach.

    Liked by 2 people

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