Return to Website

Number Watch Web Forum

This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

Number Watch Web Forum
Start a New Topic 
View Entire Thread
Re: Big Oil funds a blog

Tim Lambert's blog is one of the "ScienceBlogs".

Re: Big Oil funds a blog

I'm puzzled about why a number of people in the north American blog world have become hung up about Mr. Connolley.

He certainly seems to have digital fingers in a lot of pies and to be ultra committed to some views that are clearly deep green - though every now and again such deep greenness seems to fade a little in the light of realities.

Sometimes he backs away from the herd, not necessarily for reasons of contrariness alone. For example I recall from his blog and from a BBC program in which he was interviewed that he had trouble accepting the numbers and proposed outcomes of the Stern report.

Unlike many others who pronounce on environmental matters from a 'me to' political grouping standpoint, I think Mr. Connolley is espousing his personally held beliefs and doing so in the style of and with the independence of a typically British marginal eccentric. Not a full blown eccentric you understand, but someone with enough mental ability and agility to absorb a lot of information on particularly diverse subjects, not all of which are covered by the Seed based blogs. He seems to have more than merely theoretical involvement with the subject matters. I have met a few senior academics with the same breadth of interests (though not necessarily the same subjects of course) and in most cases have gained the impression that one could have a very interesting evening chatting over a couple beers in a local pub even if one disagreed with their views.

Not so some of the other blog pundits, including a number of regular correspondents to Mr. Connolley's blog, who come across as narcissistic hustlers grinding political and personal axes.

As for 'Big Oil' funding - I would imagine that one way or another the Energy companies and their subsidiaries provide much greater funding for warmists than the warmists would care to admit and almost certainly more funding to warmist related causes than to alternative groups.

Bear in mind that Greenpeace, to take a highly visible example, may be vociferously anti nuclear power but that did not stop it forming an investment partnership with nPower/RWE (if memory serves) to build the North Hoyle wind farm. That the partner owned and operated a number of nuclear facilities in Germany could be ignored for the UK. The local plebs were very unlikely to take any notice even if they found out.

But I digress ...


Re: Re: Big Oil funds a blog

I don't really follow what's going on in the 'North American blog world' too much, but I would guess what you're talking about relates to Connolley's activities as a Wikipedia administrator. A Canadian journalist and author of a book called 'The Deniers', Lawrence Solomon, has written a few articles attacking Connolley in the past few months, including making what sounds like an over-the-top claim that Connolley is the world's second most powerful promoter of AGW after Al Gore. I think Wikipedia may be taken more seriously in the US and Canada than it is in the UK - I was watching a TV comedy show on Friday night where Angus Deayton cracked a joke about the accuracy of Wikipedia.

From occasional reading of Connolley's blog, 'Stoat', I would agree that he's more open-minded and reasonable than most Greenies and even Greeenie scientists on many topics. But when he writes blog posts every now and again about fairly prominent AGW sceptics, people that might affect his own livelihood or reputation, then the open-mindedness tends to go out of the window. The intolerance towards AGW sceptics also tends to manifest itself in his Wikipedia administrator role.

To give you an idea of what Connolley gets up to as a Wikipedia administrator and what may raise peoples' hackles, this is an incident from a few months ago where he inserted an edit into the entry for the prominent AGW sceptic Fred Singer:


The edit that Connolley put in is: "In 1960 Singer supported the suggestion of Russian astrophysicist Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky that the Martian moon Phobos was of artificial origin[10]."

Now it's fairly obvious that in the above factoid he's trying to hint that Singer could be a bit of a nutcase, that he has held Erich Von Daniken type beliefs. I was a small boy in the 1960s and I can remember before space probes visited Mars, people talking about the 'Canals of Mars' and dark patches on Mars being interpreted as vegetation areas, so the above doesn't sound all that bad to someone in my agegroup. But to a 'badscience zealot' in his twenties or thirties, one of their rallying points is to ridicule people for believing in the 'face of mars' (some rock outcrop on Mars that looks a bit like a face) and it sounds like Singer has believed in a similar sort of thing and may still do.

After checking the latest version of the Wikipedia entry, this factoid is still in but it's been moved to a more relevant position in the article and diluted a bit.

Re: Re: Re: Big Oil funds a blog


The American views, as expressed by bloggers at least, seem to be very confrontational. I guess it is in the nature of a two party state.

In my experience most people, and I include myself in that group, have what one might consider weaknesses related to blind faith spots in their world views. Once embedded (often founded on one's views held at around the age of 25 or so) the beliefs are usually unshakable. Or at least very difficult to influence significantly.

This is particularly true for subjects relating to how one makes a living or that relate to one's reputation. The latter is perhaps the more important angle in academia and within the hierarchy of pressure groups.

It's rather like the way that parents of wayward children will rarely admit to their kids being what they obviously are.

It's understandable but not usually very helpful.