Meet Dr Phil Williamson: climate ‘scientist’; Breitbart-hater; sorely in need of a family size tube of Anusol to soothe the pain after his second failed attempt to close down free speech by trying to use press regulation laws to silence your humble correspondent.
Williamson – who is attached to the University of East Anglia, home of the Climategate emails – got very upset about some articles I’d written for Breitbart and the Spectator pouring scorn on his junk-scientific field, Ocean Acidification.
In my view Ocean Acidification is little more than a money-making scam for grant-troughing scientists who couldn’t find anything more productive to do with their semi-worthless environmental science degrees. The evidence that Ocean Acidification represents any kind of threat is threadbare – and getting flimsier by the day.
But if, like Williamson, you are being paid large sums of money to conduct a research programme into Ocean Acidification, you’ll obviously want to defend your mink-lined, gold-plated carriage on the climate change gravy train. So first he wrote a long, earnest defence of his income stream in Marine Biologist.
Then, when no one cared, he made a formal complaint about one of my articles to the UK press regulatory body IPSO. And to judge by the punchy tone of this piece he published in Nature before Christmas, he fully expected to win.
Tragically, though, he just lost.
After a long deliberation, IPSO has released its verdict and found that I had no case to answer. Williamson’s complaint was not upheld.
I’m trying hard to be modest here; I’m trying not to gloat. But I’m afraid the facts of the case just won’t allow me.
IPSO’s verdict represents a crushing defeat for the cause of climate alarmism. In this particular scenario, you need to picture me as Julius Caesar in my chariot, wearing purple with a laurel crown around my head; Williamson (and his alarmist cronies) meanwhile, are Vercingetorix and his defeated Gauls (though without the romantic charm and heroism, obviously) being dragged behind me in chains through the streets of Rome prior to being taken to the city’s prison to be ritually strangled.
Seriously, it could hardly be worse for the eco-loons. Just relish the misery in the comments below this report in the Guardian.
Here are some of the comments:
It’s just a passing comment, but Dingopile is an arsehole that knows less than bugger all about climate change! [Do you see what he did with my name there? Comedy genius!]
Nothing written by Delingpole is proper science. The man has a degree in English literature.
So it’s okay to publish outright falsehoods meant to mislead the public, as long as you are of the right?
Delingpole is like a 4 year old child who purposefully defecates in his pants for attention.
Delingpole is not a scientist, certainly not an oceanographer, so why print his ramblings on things he knows nothing about?
James Delingpole is a total arse. He has sunk below the level of Michael Gove or Nigel Farage. He does not deserve this publicity by Damian Carrington. He thrives on the oxygen, and he must not be given any oxygen at all.
Note how very personal it all is. And that’s because, as the last commenter rightly noticed, the Guardian’s Environment editor, the Hon. Damian Carrington, (Winchester and Balliol), decided to make it personal.
His headline read:
The article was full of snarky little asides, like:
Delingpole, who writes for controversial rightwing news site Breitbart, was censured by the Australian Press Council in 2012 after he quoted an anonymous source who compared the windfarm industry to a paedophile ring. He has dubbed greens “eco-nazis” and in another article he ended a long list of people and groups supporting action on climate change by writing: “Truly there just aren’t enough bullets!”
[I would like to make it clear if I haven’t already that I apologise profusely to any paedophiles who may have been offended at being linked to the wind turbine industry]
This is because in the eyes of the climate alarmist establishment I am one of the most dangerous people on earth. And I say this not to brag. It is merely an observable fact that there are certain figures – in the field of climate science they include people like Willie Soon, Pat Michaels and Tim Ball; in journalism they include me, Christopher Booker, David Rose and, perhaps notably, Mark Steyn; in politics they include Lord Lawson, Aussie Senator Malcolm Roberts and now Donald Trump – who drive the Greenies apopleptic with rage. And because the Greenies see us as significant and influential, they seek at every turn to claim our scalps.
Which, of course, was the whole point of this complaint by Phil Williamson to the press regulator IPSO.
Had Williamson been successful it would have been a major blow to the cause of scientific rationalism, honest scepticism and freedom of speech. It would have been cited and crowed about ad nauseam by the usual suspects in the mainstream media – from the BBC to the New York Times – and in the house journals of the alarmist science establishment, such as Nature and Scientific American.
We know that this was the plan because of how closely the case was being followed by the Guardian‘s environment editor Damian Carrington. The first I heard of the IPSO ruling was when Carrington sent an email to my editor at the Spectator Fraser Nelson asking for a comment on the verdict. (The reason Williamson brought his case against the article I wrote in the Spectator, by the way, and not against any of the ones I’d written in Breitbart is because Breitbart doesn’t subscribe to the press regulator IPSO, so he would have been whistling into the wind). You might think this odd: why would a journalist with absolutely no connection with the case get to hear the result before either the journalist named in the complaint or the publication responsible for running the offending article? The answer, one can only presume, is that Carrington was in close touch with the complainant, Phil Williamson – and was waiting to strike the moment the good news came that the Delingpole monster had been slain by Britain’s press regulator.
The knock-on effects, had IPSO found against my article, would have been dire: the publications for which I write (both the Spectator and Breitbart) would have been made to look like sloppy purveyors of what the left loves to call these days “fake news”; my credibility as a reporter on climate science and the environment would have been diminished (not in the eyes of my regular readers, perhaps, but definitely in the eyes of all those undecideds who can’t make up their mind whether they agree with me on climate science or whether I’m talking bollocks); and, perhaps worst of all, the junk science concept of Ocean Acidification would have been given a reprieve it simply doesn’t deserve.
In case I haven’t made my position sufficiently clear on Ocean Acidification – always a danger with me: I’m forever holding back for fear that someone somewhere might be offended – this seems a good moment to restate it:
Ocean Acidification is a scam – the second biggest one in science right now. I’m not saying that it’s impossible or even unlikely that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide may be causing parts of our ocean to become marginally less alkaline. What I’m definitely saying is that it doesn’t matter a toss, to whit:
Ocean acidification – the evidence increasingly suggests – is a trivial, misleadingly named, and not remotely worrying phenomenon which has been hyped up beyond all measure for political, ideological and financial reasons.
It’s much more a political invention than a scientific one. I call it the climate alarmists’ Siegfried Line because that’s what it really is: it’s their fallback position for when man-made climate change theory finally collapses and they need to find some other half-arsed excuse for justifying their global war on the beneficial trace gas carbon dioxide.
Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace, has written a paper debunking it.
As has Craig Idso.
So, much as the climate alarmists might pretend otherwise, my scepticism about Ocean Acidification isn’t some weird, lonely, contrarian position I’ve adopted just because I can’t help being an idiot or because I’m instinctively anti-science or because I’m not familiar with the material or because I’m funded by sinister vested interests which want the Ocean Acidification industry to fail or because – if you believe professional greenie Mark Lynas – I’m a “liar” and part of the “alt-right”.
— Mark Lynas (@mark_lynas) January 9, 2017
Nope. I’m against Ocean Acidification theory because I’ve done loads and loads of background reading both about the way this marginal phenomenon has been overhyped and about the lack of credible scientific evidence that it represents any kind of problem worth addressing. And the conclusion I’ve reached is that it’s both a money-making scam for some of the many second-rate scientists the grotesquely overbought climate alarmism sector seems to attract and also a slily dangerous propaganda campaign on behalf of all those anti-free-market greenies who are forever in search of another cod-scientific excuse to impose more tax and regulation on us in their endless war against economic growth.
Needless to say, the Ocean Acidification experts with their snouts in the Ocean Acidification don’t like hearing this point of view, which is why they are so livid about the IPSO decision.
The complainant, Phil Williamson, has written a stroppy piece for the Conversation (a website in which mostly left-wing academics are given space to vent about their pet gripes), denouncing IPSO with a piece titled “Science loses out to uninformed opinion on climate change – yet again.”
But this misrepresents IPSO’s decision.
It’s not “Science” – as Williamson grandly terms it – that was under attack in my various articles on Ocean Acidification. I’m not questioning the achingly trivial points that Williamson and his pals may or may not have alighted upon in the course of their navel-gazing research. What I’m questioning is whether it’s right that taxpayers should have to stump up for this research – and whether its findings are in any way significant or useful.
This, as IPSO rightly decided in its ruling, is a matter of opinion.
Findings of the Complaints Committee
19. The article was written in the first person, and sought to challenge what it made clear was the consensus view on ocean acidification. Before the article set out its criticisms, it referred to there being an extensive academic literature on the subject, and made clear that the theory had been endorsed by scientists from a number of institutions. The article referred to the author as being one of a group of “sceptics”, and a “denier”, and the final sentence of the article suggested it was “time our supposed ‘conspiracy theories’ were taken more seriously”. The article was clearly a comment piece, in which the author was expressing sceptical views on ocean acidification, and describing sceptical views expressed by others, that were contrary to the academic consensus. The Committee’s role is not to make findings of fact or to resolve conflicting evidence in relation to matters under debate. Rather, it assesses the care taken not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, and establishes whether a distinction is clearly made between comment, conjecture and fact, in determining whether the Code has been breached.
At Watts Up With That, Eric Worrall puts his finger on the fatal flaw of Williamson’s case:
In my opinion this entire sorry episode goes straight to the heart of the difference between the way alarmists like Williamson see the world, and the way normal people view the world.
Alarmists seem to want their models, theories and opinions to be accepted as established fact. But the reality is their shaky theories are full of poorly supported conjecture and extrapolation.
Indeed. And it’s by no means the first time Williamson and his crew have tried it on. In 2011 they made a very similar complaint – to what was then known as the Press Complaints Commission – about a piece I’d written on the Climategate scandal.
They objected especially to my description of Phil Jones, the then-head (recently retired) of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”.
What rather scuppered this particular complaint was when I provided the Press Complaints Commission with more than enough evidence to back up the claim.
But the thing that needs to be understood about these complaints is that they are not really designed to sift right from wrong, truth from untruth. Rather, as Mark Steyn says, the process is the punishment. That is, if you’re a publicly funded scientist on a generous grant with plenty of time on your hands in your cosy academic sinecure, then it’s no problem at all to while away a few days preparing your vexatious complaint to IPSO or the Press Complaints Commission. But if you’re the hapless journalist who has to prepare your defence, it’s a different story: you’re very busy, time is money, and the whole process is so grindingly tedious you’d almost rather lose then have to go through each pettifogging criticism, crossing every T and dotting every I. (That’s why I would have probably lost had it not been for the efforts of the brilliant and indefatigable Ben Pile who has much more of an appetite for kicking irritating, querulous, nitpicking academics into touch by beating them at their own game).
Thank goodness I did win, though – not so much for my own sake but for the far more important causes of freedom of speech, honest and open scientific enquiry and responsible use of taxpayers’ money.
Oh, and also, for the sheer joy of causing some really dreadful, low-grade people endless amounts of teeth-gnashing misery.
Williamson, consider yourself pwned. Now, back into your box, where you belong, you lank-haired pillock.