Dear Chris. Potholer’s Open Letter to Lord Bonckton
March 23, 2012
His Serene Excellency (not a) Lord Monckton has reluctantly cornered into a debate by climate video blogger Potholer (Peter Hadfield), playing out on the pages of Monckton’s own turf, the WattsUpWithThat anti-science blog.
Let me say upfront that I’m cheering Monckton on. I definitely think the anti-science movement deserves a figurehead that accurately represents its full, surreal and unfathomable nuttiness. The same truth-in-advertising impulse that has me rooting for Rick Santorum/Michelle Bachman ticket as the true face of the Tea Party Taliban.
Hopelessly outclassed, and cornered in an internet debate where sources and data can be readily checked, Monckton is trying to run for the hills. Potholer is calling him out. Get popcorn and, if you haven’t been keeping up, check the Potholer broadsides below.
Transcript of Potholers video open-letter:
Dear Mr. Monckton,
A couple of months ago you entered into a debate with me on wattsupwiththat.com (See “Update on the Monckton-Hadfield debate” – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/07/update-on-the-monckton-hadfield-debate/) about alleged errors in your public lectures — allegations that I made in a series of videos on my YouTube channel “Potholer54”. But as soon as I presented documentary evidence to back up my claims, you suddenly fell silent. Despite promising Anthony Watts that you would respond when you returned from Australia mid-February, you have not done so, and now you have written to tell me that you are, in effect, running away. Sorry, I don’t know how else to phrase your abrupt retreat from our debate as soon as I showed evidence that supports my allegations and starkly contradicts your claims.
I am referring to your e-mail to me dated March 22nd:
= I am on a very busy tour and will be still more busy when I return to the UK, so I do not know when I shall have further time to respond. Many people like to engage in debates on inconsequentialities and, while I try to accommodate them, other priorities must sometimes come first.=
Let me address the first excuse first. I understand you are currently on a busy tour, but you promised Anthony Watts you would respond when you returned from your last tour, and you did not. Meanwhile I note that you have had plenty of time to respond to a university newsletter that criticized you, and you spent two hours talking on skype to a small classroom of students. I fail to see why these are “priorities”, while my 57,000 subscribers and the hundreds of thousands of subscribers to wattsupwiththat are not deserving of an answer from you concerning clear evidence that you seriously misled your audiences over a period of several years. The people watching this debate have watched you vacate your chair, and are still expecting to see you to re-appear from backstage at any moment with some incisive rebuttal after checking my evidence. I am sure they will be as shocked as I am to hear the squealing of car tyres as you make good your escape.
You have, after all, been given every advantage in this debate. It is taking place on wattsupwiththat, a regular forum for you and one that YOU chose, so there can be no suggestion that the umpire is biased against you. In fact, even though he and I disagree on the climate issue, Anthony Watts has been good enough to give us equal space for our responses. You were given not just one but two to rebut my videos, responding first to a summary of my videos that was made by someone in a WUWT comments forum, and then directly to something that was, as you put it: “not word what [Peter Hadfield] said, but I hope that they fairly convey his meaning.” (“Monckton responds to Peter Hadfield aka “potholer54″ — plus Hadfield’s response” – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/11/monckton-responds-to-potholer54/)
With respect, no, the points you wrote did not fairly convey my meaning — in fact they ignored the substance of the allegations altogether and a lot of your response focused on ad hominem attacks questioning my integrity, honesty and intelligence.
So when I responded with the actual allegations, along with supporting documentary evidence –17 video clips of your speeches, 13 scientific papers and studies and one newspaper article that you yourself cited — and showed that you had clearly misquoted or misrepresented your own sources, you inexplicably fell silent, and then failed to deliver your promised response.
Your other excuse: “Many people like to engage in debates on inconsequentialities”
If you think these issues are “inconsequentialities” then why did you bring them up time and again during your many public speeches? The sun is largely responsible for recent warming — there is no correlation between CO2 and temperature over the last 500 million years — only one Himalayan glacier is retreating — the Earth has been cooling — Greenland isn’t melting — there is no long-term decline of Arctic ice…. etc. etc. It was you, not I, who decided these should be the bedrock of your case against anthropogenic climate change. I simply asked you for the sources of your assertions and when you gave them to me I checked them — and it turned out that you either misrepresented or misquoted these sources, or your source does not have the authority you claim it does.
And if you think they are inconsequentialities, why have you decide to expend several thousand words on wattsupwiththat trying to rebut them? You were quite happy to do so when you thought the debate would be easy, and when you addressed your own rather crude summary of what you thought I was alleging. It was only when I came back with details and a wealth of supporting evidence that you apparently decided it was better to beat a hasty retreat than try to answer such prima facie evidence.
I appreciate that you would much prefer this kind of debate to take place on stage, where oratory is paramount. It is much harder to engage in this kind of debate online, where everything is written down and can be quoted back, where sources are demanded for any facts you give, and where these sources can be checked and verified. But this is the nub of our debate — whether you have chosen reliable sources and quoted and represented them correctly.
Nowhere in my videos or in the WUWT debate have I suggested that you are making these errors deliberately, or that you are being dishonest ( a courtesy you did not extend to me), and neither have I descended to ad hominem attacks or name calling (also a courtesy you did not extend to me.) Errors are simply errors in my book, and if you unintentionally misled your audiences over several years then I accept that it was unintentional.
After all, the truth alone is worthy of our entire devotion… as you yourself said at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy last year.
In the same speech you said: “Before we subjucate the truth to mere expediency, convenience or profit it is first desirable to discern the truth.”
And again: “What matters here are the facts; what matters here is the truth.”
For a man so dedicated to the truth I am surprised that you did not jump at the opportunity to either rebut my allegations by showing that it is I, not you, who misread these sources and quotes, or check your sources again and acknowledge that you made these errors. In that spirit, I urge you to rejoin the debate that Anthony Watts has so kindly agreed to host.
This may be the triumph of hope over experience. My experience tells me that you won’t be too busy to issue a long response addressing the issue of the debate itself and why you shouldn’t have to continue it, or an attempt to deflect the debate onto some other subject or forum, combined with another ad hominem attack on me — instead of what everyone would LIKE to see, which is a clear rebuttal or acceptance of the evidence I provided.