Ranter Santer

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) appears to be a contagious disease spreading through academia and the media and becoming more virulent.

Thus we have Stephen Hawking, a man I used to have a lot of respect for, saying

“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.”

This completely ridiculous claim was presented without question by BBC’s science correspondent Pallab Ghosh, and by the Independent and other media sources. A few climate scientists have criticised Hawking for this.

CNN has got itself into a hole and continued digging, by somehow identifying the individual who made the silly video of Trump defeating CNN, and threatening to reveal his name if he does anything that CNN deems to be “ugly behavior”. The inevitable result is hundreds of similar videos being produced on the #CNNBlackmail twitter tag.

The latest climate scientist to exhibit the symptoms of TDS is anti-Trump ranter Ben Santer, in an article at the Washington Post, where he begins by saying that he feels he’s in “the darkness of the Trump administration’s scientific ignorance”, in the middle repeats that “The ignorance starts at the top, with President Trump”, and at the end accuses Trump of having a “self-created cloud of willful ignorance on the science of climate change”.

Santer starts off with a lot of heroic virtue-signalling, saying that he nearly died in a crevasse in a climbing accident and that Trump is just as terrifying, and describing his long and arduous journey up the greasy pole of climate science.

But let’s move beyond the vacuous rhetoric – which makes up most of the article – and canter through Santer’s claims.

  • “The consequences of this ignorance affect every person on the planet.”  Really? Everyone? Trump’s climate ignorance affects 78-year-old Mrs MacGregor in her Edinburgh care home? Towards the end, he repeats this in even stronger form, saying that Trump’s “cloud of willful ignorance” is a “clear and present threat to the lives, livelihoods and health of every person on the planet”. I can say with confidence that Trump’s ignorance does not threaten my life, livelihood or health.
  • “They find human-caused climate fingerprints everywhere they look.” Really? You see a permanent drought flood in California, and it has a human-caused fingerprint?
  • “Your peers are your fiercest critics.” Really? Remember ‘By the way, I have got the paper – review will be friendly though!‘  and ‘It is of course comforting to know that I will be able to give it the rich praise that I know it will deserve.‘ Of course it is simple to think of several other people who are fiercer critics of Santer than his peers.
  • The leveling off of warming is an “alternative fact” – which is odd since the IPCC and dozens of scientific papers have talked about the hiatus.
  • The Trump administration has access to “media megaphones” – says the guy in his article in the Washington Post.
  • “we can’t ignore the reality of … changes in the severity and frequency of droughts and floods”. As I’m sure Santer is aware, the IPCC WG1 SPM says that there is low confidence in any global change in droughts and low confidence in any human contribution to changes, while on floods they say “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.”  But Santer claims there is a “human fingerprint”.

Trump may well be ignorant of much of the science of climate change. But that’s better than being knowledgeable about the subject and deliberately trying to mislead people about it.

How do people like Santer get away with this bullshit? The answer may be that it goes unchallenged by his peers, showing again the falsehood of his claim that they are his fiercest critics. In any normal science, this sort of rhetorical nonsense would be called out by his peers, and he would have to correct it or lose credibility in the field. But in postnormal, non-functional climate science, this doesn’t happen. Or it may be simply that Santer is so angry with Trump that he responds irrationally – in other words he’s suffering from TDS.

William M Briggs has also written a response to Santer, in his usual entertaing style: “Santer is far from the first, and certainly won’t be the last, public intellectual triggered into a foamy-mouthed spasm by one of Trump’s tweets.”

On July 20, Roger Pielke Jr is giving a talk in London on ‘Manichean paranoia’, meaning the view that ‘your opponent is considered to be malign and willfully ignorant, whereas your own side is noble and uniquely enlightened’. Santer’s article fits this description perfectly, even using the exact term ‘willful ignorance’.

But apparently, Santer is “the nicest guy in the world”:

Readers of CliScep may be familiar with Santer’s banter from the Climategate emails:
“I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him.” and “I’d really like to talk to a few of these “Auditors” in a dark alley”. If he is a nice climate scientist, what are the nasty ones like?


  1. Trump’s climate ignorance affects 78-year-old Mrs MacGregor in her Edinburgh care home?

    Why the question mark, Dr Matthews?

    I didn’t know the sordid depths of denial until I read this.

    It’s peer-reviewed science, my friend. I’d love to explain but I have a unicorn to catch.


  2. My sad bet is it will eventually turn out that Hawking stopped being able to communicate years ago and is instead a tele-operated meat prop with someone typing in things for the synthesizer to vocalize.
    As to Santer, he is sadly not a Tele-operated meat prop. He really says and writes those cowardly punkish not so veiled calls to violence while ignoring the science. Not to mention civility and rational behavior. Hawking has an excuse. Santee has none.


  3. I’d bet big money that Barrack Obama is completely and utterly ignorant of any actual climate science. He doesn’t have any science background and won’t have had the time or interest to start learning it.

    But Barrack Obama’s ignorance won’t be a problem for Santer though. He doesn’t actually care if people are actually ignorant of climate science.

    What he wants is for Trump to believe him and his mates, not some other people, no matter how well knowledgeable those others might be in climate.

    The “ignorant” label is just name calling. I wonder if people who do believe in AGW are “knowledgeable” about it?


  4. Santer’s emotional make up comes into question. He famously exposed a thread of violence in his character in the Climategate emails expressing his wish to physically harm another scientist who he saw as the “enemy”. Fellow a academicians may be too intimidated to challenge Santer. The other possibility is that his fellow academicians as a group have become more politically tribal and secretly support Santer’s behavior of painting those that disagree with him, as the “enemy”.


  5. Nicely speared.

    I had noticed before this latest Venus rubbish that Stephen Hawking had become very chatty. The issues he talks about are unrelated to his life’s work and have no more content than any social comentator down the pub. There is some suggestion that his words are no longer his own. The alternative is that natural deterioration has brought his intellect well into the realms of the general public. Potentially it could have been very rapid and no one, not even he would have noticed. Either way, like the most arrogant actor his fame, gained elsewhere, is being used to do a bit of social engineering. It really is a sign of the poor honour amongst climate fanatics that only a few of the scientists have tweeted corrections. The BBC doubled down on its deception at the weekend by airing a complaint from a viewer that Hawking’s warning should be wider spread because it was so important. No attempt was made to deny the claim. The presenter gave her very best ‘the BBC is doing its best’ look.

    I don’t know why the Ben Santers of this world think that their underhanded approach will help their cause. It’s typical tribalism, which is ok if you want to appeal to your own tribe but last time I looked, the public are pretty divided along political lines. By making climate change a political thing, they guarantee they will fail.


  6. Why respect him..
    Stephen Hawking has been talking BS about climate change and Venus, since at least 2000..!

    quick Google shows Hawkings has been saying variations of this for years.

    And while other scientists have drawn back from spelling out the worst possible consequences of climate change – fearing being accused of sensationalism – he has been prepared to do so, repeatedly warning that global warming could run out of control so that “Earth might one day soon resemble the planet Venus”, with temperatures of 250C and sulphuric-acid rain.

    “very worried about global warming.” and Stephen Hawking’ said he was afraid that Earth “might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid.”

    Stephen Hawking’s Quote from 2006 International Conference on String Theory in Beijing

    “In September 2000, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was widely quoted in the press as being very worried about “runaway global warming.” (See story below) “I am afraid the atmosphere might get hotter and hotter until it will be like Venus with boiling sulfuric acid,” said Hawking. “I am worried about the greenhouse effect.”


    And then in 2001, he wrote to George Bush, about how urgent Kyoto was, George Soros and Harrison Ford also signed, presumably because – Stephen (‘like Venus’) Hawking said so.


    Hawking (along with best mate Matrin Rees, Royal society) also moved the Doomsday Clock a bit closer to midnight, because (venus like?) climate change


    how much influence has he had!!


  7. Hansen got away with promoting the Venus scam for years with barely a murmur. And why not? Thugs like Santer are out threatening those who stray from the apocalyptic b.s.. Mann’s criticism of Hawking is laughable when one considers the is a profit of climate doom who has profited greatly from his own dubious alarmism.


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