Abraham v. Monckton

John Abraham, college professor, squares off against Lord Monckton, crank and poseur, in this lecture on the science of climate change. It’s very good and fillets the silly old goose quite well.

(Also on Sb)


  1. Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht says

    Well, he’s a member of the H. of L. in pretense, so to speak. Which is to say he would have been a member, had they not gotten rid of most of the hereditary peers some years back. Sort of like a certain Spaniard, Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, is actually Louis XX, King of France, in a sort of alternate universe where there are still Kings of France.

    And clearly, the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley lives in an alternate universe where there’s no global warming, so why can’t he be in the House of Lords there?

  2. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Monckton is notable for having a grandfather who helped Edward VIII abdicate and for having an uniformed opinion on a scientific matter.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Picky pedantic point: doesn’t standard English usage generally limit the “v.” abbreviation to lawsuits and employ “vs.” in every other case of two parties in opposition?

  4. Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht says

    @Pierce R. Butler

    I love me a good pedantic point, but, no, I think “v” or “vs” are interchangeable, though I concede that “v” is more common in legal usage. My 6th Ed. of Black’s Law Dictionary allows both usages, and Webster’s 3rd New Int. makes no distinction either.

  5. Adam says

    Monckton made a massive arse of himself during the general election. His interview with the Telegraph (IIRC) was a perfect storm of stupid. I reckon anyone who was scientifically minded and was waivering towards UKIP would have run a mile when they read his drivel. Even to a layman it was drivel.

  6. Rich Woods says

    And just to pile in further on Monckton (I omit his title because I tend to spell it T-W-A-T), in the 1980s he was also the government advisor who masterminded the selling of council homes to tenants. At first sight that’s not a bad thing, but when the majority of the money raised was siphoned off to central government for various uses rather than staying in local government where it could be used to build more housing for the homeless and chronically underpaid, alarm bells began to ring. Monckton is one of the people responsible (though only partially, I’ll give him that) for our current property bubble and housing crisis.

    Monckton hasn’t just lied about being a member of the House of Lords, but also has at times claimed to be a Nobel Prize Laureate. When challenged, he retracted his claim and said it was only a joke.

    The man is a grade-A self-aggrandising liar and a scientific ignoramus. He makes Jeffery Archer look like a comedy sidekick.

  7. Kieran says

    I think it’s interesting that Monckton(I don’t use the honourific unless the person has earned it themselves rather than inheriting it due to accident of birth)suffers from graves disease as can be seen in the bulging eyes a consequence of the disease. He has claimed to have cured himself, it should be noted that graves can go into spondaneous remission. One of the mental characterisitcs of this disease is mental disorders http://www.gravesdiseasecure.com/Mental_Aspects_Hyperthyroidism.html read part 3 histrionic personality and tell me that doesn’t fit him like a glove.

  8. Kieran says

    I just read the rest of that site and it seems to be woo tastic. Further reading still suggests some mental problem that seem to match his personality. However most sites i found seem to be heavy on the woo and low on data the Wiki is pretty good at least for me a non medical type.

  9. Rich Woods says

    Bloody hell, Kieran, I think you’re right. Not that I imagine it would matter much to the sort of people who want to pay him to speak in their support.

  10. lucretius says

    I just watched the videos on Youtube, and then watched Monckton’s response. Abraham won’t be losing any sleep worrying about it I don’t think. Monckton clearly comes from the diction-and-parenthetical-clause school of sounding like he knows what he’s talking about, but it’s content free. Underneath the gilding he simply asserts that Abraham is wrong, with no evidence or even argument to back it up.

    It did make me realize one thing, though, that seems to be a common thread amongst the vac/evo/gw deniers — they never have a system of their own. They’ll randomly present any argument that supports their position, or more accurately any argument that they perceive as damaging the position they’re denying. It’s not as if Monckton’s got some coherent hypothesis of climatology that he’s developed and is presenting as a scientific alternative to the dominant model; one that more elegantly, or powerfully, or accurately described observed phenomena.

    On the contrary, he randomly grabs anything; an out of context quote from here, study result from over there, whatever, completely making a hash of the contexts of these various factoids (when not misrepresenting them outright). The only required criteria of course is can it be made to sound like it undermines the dominant understanding of climatology.

    I wonder Monckton and people like him, or at least those who find them convincing, actually understand that that’s not the way science is actually done. Do they really believe that simply by putting out fancy sounding journals, but skipping the peer review, and funding various “institutes” and “think-tanks” to write editorials and submit amicus briefs, but not actually do any research, or even engage with the community of people who have been studying the same material for generations, will make them on par with real scientists?

  11. Das Boese says

    Apparently His Highness has posted a “refutation” on youtube. Needless to say, he goes into full denialist mode on afterburner, claiming that Prof. Abraham is personally attacking him (because Abraham never contacted him, lol), “climate change religion” “it’s a conspiracy” etc., you know the usual.


    I haven’t made it past the introductory video because even though I’m well used to droning, monotonous lectures (as any student is), I find His Lordiness’s speaking style to positively unbearable.
    How do people sit through an entire presentation of his without clawing their eyes out and stabbing a pencil through the eye socket to make the bad man’s voice go away?

    At least his claim about what’s “common courtesy in academia” is worth a chuckle, or rather, the fact that he considers himself to be a part of it is.

  12. It'spiningforthefyords says

    Wait, this Lord Monckton is the real name of a real person????

    I thought it was a Rowan Atkinsen or Monty Python character, like the so-called “Prince Charles”!

  13. tim Rowledge says

    anyone who was scientifically minded and was waivering towards UKIP

    Well, you’re kind of building an empty set there…

  14. jheartney says

    I got only partway through the Monckton response to Abraham. The contention that you have to get permission before responding to somebody’s presentation is bizarre enough, but then, as some commenters noted, Mockton himself doesn’t seem to have bothered contacting any of the people he calls liars in his own presentation.

    Maybe I’ll sample some other part of his 16+ part response and see if he makes any more sense there, but first I need to do something more pleasant, like getting a root canal with no anesthesia.

  15. jheartney says

    I will say Monckton has the “I’m from crazytown!” style of Powerpoint slide down pretty well. Even if you didn’t know anything about the subject, you could pretty much get that it was crankery from the look of the presentation.

  16. says

    Awesome. Adam Spencer (Australian TV/radio presenter, comedian & science geek) recently gave Monkton a run for his money in a radio interview:


    The tension began when Spencer asked Lord Monckton about his claims that he is a Nobel Laureate.
    “I’m trying to establish your credentials … because there seems to be a consistent pattern, sir, when you speak publicly and analyse climate science,” he said.

    “It’s my understanding you’ve never held any academic position at any university or any research institute attached to any science connected with climate science.”

    After later hanging up on Spencer, then calling back:

    Lord Monckton told him not to conduct interviews like that again.

    “It wasn’t very pleasant … don’t do that to anyone again.”

    Spencer said it wasn’t very pleasant for him or the listeners either.

    Love your work, Adam.

    (Incidentally, he’s also an atheist, but that’s not especially relevant.)

  17. Gareth says

    Brilliant!!! Monckton says that he’s not here to preach or proselytize right after saying that most climate science is mendacious and superstitious and that climate scientists are extremists while he is just skeptical. He also says that Abraham is angry, very angry. The guy couldn’t have been more softly spoken or reasonable. The funny part is that Monckton doesn’t realize what a prick he is!

  18. Mikko says

    Why is this reposted now? Abraham’s presentation is over a year old and it was featured on Pharyngula at the time.

    Personally I’m not too impressed with the academic rigor of his presentation. Sure, Monckton is peddling a false picture of things, and people should point out where he lies and picks and chooses his data. Abraham seems to get stuck at things like the handful of polar bears mentioned in some paper, which seems to be completely beside the point (the paper didn’t prove Monckton’s point either).

  19. KG says

    I wonder Monckton and people like him, or at least those who find them convincing, actually understand that that’s not the way science is actually done. Do they really believe that simply by putting out fancy sounding journals, but skipping the peer review, and funding various “institutes” and “think-tanks” to write editorials and submit amicus briefs, but not actually do any research, or even engage with the community of people who have been studying the same material for generations, will make them on par with real scientists? – lucretius

    I’m pretty sure the answers are “No, they don’t understand.”, and “Yes, they really do think that.”. They closely resemble creationists, in that they don’t think in terms of testable theories at all, but of rival authorities. Creationists typically think that if they can undermine Darwin’s reputation, even in matters unrelated to science, evolutionary theory will collapse – becaause they think it rests on the authority of The Origin of Species. In fact, as I’ve remarked before, if Darwin was proved to be both a complete scientific fraud and a serial killer, it would make not the slightest difference to the standing of modern evolutionary theory. To creationists, as to Monckton, the authority of science derives from the external trappings of journals, papers, conferences, institutes, etc. If they can reproduce those, or better still trump them – in the case of creationists, by attributing their claims to God, in that of Monckton, by pretending to be a member of the House of Lords, or a Nobel Laureate, then they think they can win the “debate”.

  20. Adam says

    Well, you’re kind of building an empty set there…

    3% of the UK voted for this party of cranks, bigots, extremists and eccentrics. Not enough to win a seat (thanks to FPTP voting) but it’s still a worrying amount. I expect science has it’s fair share of cranks, bigots, extremists and eccentrics who might be attracted to UKIP. One can only hope that when they saw Monckton’s frankly insane performance as science spokesman that it gave them pause for thought. I thought erroneously this article was in the Telegraph but it’s the Guardian.


    I also found this amusing article. The House of Lords has ordered him to cease and desist claiming he is a non-voting member of the Lords and to stop using the portcullis logo which is shown so prominently in his presentation slides.


    He has always been a crank but recently he seems to be going into full meltdown mode.

  21. Lotharsson says

    Deltoid has many articles on Monckton, and Tim Lambert, the host of the site debated him in Australia a year or so ago to quite reasonable effect (if you’re interested in the validity of claims) and little effect (if you’re interested in hearing someone validate your existing beliefs).

    My live and rough debate summary appears in this post, which also covers an amusing moment in the debate. I seem to recall there is also debate video somewhere…

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