Who to believe? Tobis or your lying eyes?

After the recent resurfacing of the debate about using the word ‘denier’ to describe those opposing the Climate Consensus, many consensus advocates made gestures towards either abandoning the term in the future or at least agreeing on the corrosive effect the term has had on discourse.

The discussion was primarily held here and here. I posted on it here, but it didn’t generate much in the way of discussion.

However, Michael Tobis went further. He has abandoned the floundering Planet 3.0 and returned to his former blog Only In It For The Gold. He recently put up a post called ‘The D-Word and the S-Word’ where he unblushingly states that “I don’t usually call anyone a denier or a denialist by name, though I’ve been in a lot of internet arguments and may well have slipped up a time or two.”

Update: As a courtesy I thought I’d post a comment on his blog to let him know that I am criticizing him, but Tobis has blocked me from his blog.

I have a lot of history with Michael Tobis, mostly characterized by ill-feelings on both sides. Tobis had a habit of conducting sustained smear campaigns, first against scientists (Roger Pielke Sr. and Junior, Judith Curry), journalists (Andrew Revkin, Keith Kloor and myself when I was writing at Examiner.com) and of course bloggers–especially Steve McIntyre, Lucia Liljegren and Steve Mosher. Mosher was the target of one of the most profane (if unintentionally funny) posts I’ve ever seen on a blog. Tobis wrote it. He still seems proud of it, apparently not seeing the silliness of it. He’s also proud of the hatchet job he did on Judith Curry. Apparently calling her incompetent (without taking the trouble to read anything she published) is something that Tobis thinks took courage.

His favorite tactic in his smear campaigns was to make sweeping accusations (He accused me of not knowing anything about science, which stung a bit until I saw him make the same accusations of, well, scientists…) but he never would specify any point that his targets were guilty of.

For example, with Judith Curry he wrote “We have reached a point where it is impossible to judge that Curry is in touch with the science that she is supposed to be a prominent participant in. So has she lost touch, or has she never had much scientific insight to begin with? That’s the only question any of this burbling raises.”

But in the next paragraph he wrote, “On the other hand, to be honest no paper of hers has ever come across my radar in anything I’ve investigated.”


As I was a frequent commenter at his blog in its heyday, his walking away from the D-Word did not really strike me as true. I vividly recall one exchange at his blog:

Blogger Tom said…
What many of us hear: … ‘You are the scummy equivalents of skinheads who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.’

January 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM Delete
Blogger Michael Tobis said… Right, Tom, that’s, um, the point.

So I thought I’d play a little game. The rules of the game were:

Find instances of Tobis using the word ‘denier’ or one of its variants.

Time limit: One hour

Only Tobis’ writing–no quotes of others using the term.

Search limited to Only In It For The Gold–no tracking down comments on the many blogs Tobis has ranted at.

Results of a one-hour search at Only In It For The Gold follow:

Update: Don’t miss Sou’s comment #15 at the Shewonk thread on the delicate balancing act of the denier sites. I hadn’t thought of this. It argues against participating.

Blogger Tom said…
What many of us hear:

(equations, rhetoric, hysteria, etc.)… ‘You are the scummy equivalents of skinheads who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.’

January 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM Delete
Blogger Michael Tobis said…
Right, Tom, that’s, um, the point.

January 12, 2011 at 3:53 PM

I believe that climate denialism is a social, not an intellectual or philosophical, movement.

Post title: What Deniers Hear

Bell uses the key technique that denialists use in debates, dubbed by Eugenie Scott the “Gish gallop”, – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/01/forbes-rich-list-of-nonsense/#sthash.uFgMvPwW.dpuf

“Skeptic” is hardly the name for this! “Denier” or “denialist” really isn’t bad, but in addition to rubbing some people wrong, it doesn’t capture the mindboggling recklessness of their activities.

If I bend over backwards to treat the deniers with respect on the grounds that there might be a few genuine skeptics in their ranks, meanwhile looking under every rock for any point of disagreement with people who have their heads screwed on right, my site starts to look like, well, Judith Curry’s.

It is one thing to engage, carefully and consciously. It’s another to butter up the lazy denialists and bash the diligent efforts of genuine scientists.

Remember the story on here about how the denialists made a big fuss about something perfectly reasonable

Denialist websites issue headlines like
Greenpeace Leader Admits Organization Put Out False Global Warming Data

Post Title Spot the Denier Bug

Find a typical article on a typical denialist site, and spot the biggest error!

RC has been able to generate rapid responses to denier pseudoscience

One thing an anti-Morano would do would be just to monitor Morano and take advantage of his efforts as an early-warning system for new denialist nonsense.

Morano is taking his nomination as chief denier literally

Post Title: The Opposite of Denialism

OK, the new meme among the denialists is that the tide is with them,

I don;t think this is what the denialists have in mind when they ask me what would “falsify the hypothesis”.

The denialists have picked it as one of their favorite refutations but it really doesn’t refute much of anything.

The author of the denialist-celebrated point of view, by the way, has also written a brief celebration of what he calls “post-autistic economics”,

No question that a full-blooded GCM is not for amateurs, but with this much at stake you’d think the denial camp

The article is rife with the usual denialist sleight of hand and drivel, but it is not at all clear that the author is insincere.

but it’s still frequently brought up by the do-nothingists (who don’t like to be called denialists but don’t deserve to be called skeptics).

OK, we really need a name for those people that is less respectful than “skeptic” and more so than “crypto-Nazi”, even though the latter, as an interpretation of “denialist”, is a specious back-formation.

one of the most irritating aspects of denialism

15 responses to “Who to believe? Tobis or your lying eyes?

  1. Thanks for this Tom. Very funny. I mean it isn’t but then it is.

    The fact that someone can deny that he ever uses a term, then you find so many instances in just one hour … it’s really quite strange. I’d know for sure if I’d used it, because I’m so aware of the Holocaust allusion. (Never from sceptics/lukewarmers of course. That’s why “pause denier” and the like, sarcastic allusions to a pervasive usage on the other side, are quite different. Though I’ve never gone there myself.)

    I’d know I’d done it, of course, because I find it deadly serious. It means nothing to these people and that’s a big part of the tragedy.

  2. So Tobis is categorically misleading people. He fits right in with the lcimate hype promotion idustry perfectly.

  3. The claim was “I don’t usually call anyone a denier or a denialist by name.”

    You found zero counter-examples.

    • Blogger Tom said…
      What many of us hear: … ‘You are the scummy equivalents of skinheads who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.’

      January 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM Delete
      Blogger Michael Tobis said… Right, Tom, that’s, um, the point.

      • Hmm, context?

        I imagine the point was that what you heard is not what I said. NOT that I was affirming you are the scummy equivalents &c.


        I think there are climate deniers. That is, there are people who are fundamentally indifferent to honest discourse, and who are motivated to actively and maliciously distort the conversation. I don’t think there are many, but it’s crazy to pretend they don’t exist at all when plainly they do.

        I do NOT think you, Tom, fit the profile. I think you are trying to do right as you understand it.

        I do think you are somewhat misinformed, partly because there are climate deniers out there providing misinformation. I think there’s little hope of you being better informed BY ME, because of your now solidly formed ideas about my own intentions.

        I am not accusing you of being the moral equivalent of a holocaust denier because you don’t seem willing to listen to me enough to form a sympathetic view of what I and what others in a similar vein are trying to say. That’s a much more mundane failure.

        On the other hand, I AM constantly accused BY you of the most unsavory behavior. I wish you would stop accusing me every bit as much as I wish you would stop thinking I am accusing you.

        I am not a fan of flame wars. Really I hate that sort of petty indulgence. But I can give as good as I get and then some.

        I am happy to talk to anyone on these matters as long as they approach matters with generosity of spirit and a reasonable willingness to listen and reconsider. If they don’t take such an approach, they would be best advised in their own interest to leave me TF alone and please to stop attributing to me ideas I do not hold and indeed actively loathe.


        You raise interesting points sometimes. Then you bait me, personally. And then when I take you up on the possibility of discussion, you punish me for trying to engage your points. That isn’t the moral equivalent of Nazism by any stretch, but it’s pretty nasty sometimes, and this thread is an example.

        So, I missed noticing this attack for a few weeks but you succeeded in angering me after the fact.

        Great. I hope you are satisfied. I cannot imagine what this achieves for you.

      • You say you are not a fan of flame wars.

        Given what you have written about Judith Curry, both Pielkes, Steven Mosher, Lucia Liljegren as well as myself, I find that difficult to believe. You have been an enthusiastic practitioner of flaming.

        You seem very reluctant to consider what I should think is obvious. That my opinion of you is formed by your behaviour.

        When I invited you to be interviewed, you ignored me and said I didn’t know anything about science. When I asked what part of the science you thought I didn’t understand you were silent.

        When you called Judith Curry incompetent, in the very next paragraph you said that none of her papers had come across your desk. Later you admitted your hit job was political.

        When Steven Mosher repeatedly reached out to you to make common cause, to end the flame war,you responded with an expletive-laced accusation of Mosher doing the exact opposite of what he in fact has done.

        And you said it was because of the book he and I wrote.

        A book you refused to read. Even when I sent you a free copy.

        You’re a bad man, Tobis.

      • If it were not for politics, it would be unnecessary to embarrass Curry for her astonishingly ill-informed and unskilled claims about science. The normal course of events is to leave charlatans alone. Why cause trouble – nonsense is easily ignored in the scientific process. But now that her nonsense has political saliency, it is ill-advised to give her a pass.

        So in that sense, yes. Though my opinion of her is apolitical, my willingness to state it publicly is purely political.

        There are similar explanations for all your misrepresentations about me. It’s boring and pointless to take up all of them.

        “Qu’on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j’y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.” – Richelieu

        (“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”)

        If in fact I am a bad man, it is not for want of trying to be a good one.

        You fascination with the details of every damned thing I ever wrote on the internet is flattering, but I don’t think your trolling it “climategate”-style for willful misinterpretation and character assassination moves the discourse forward.

        It’s sad. If only you could get a grip on a few facts about climate that you have wrong you could be very helpful. (Mosher understands these facts well enough, but refuses to be helpful anyway. So I will stay angry at him.)

        And you raise good questions. But I regret every time I engage with you.

      • You are of course free not to engage with me. But you confuse my bringing up what you have actually done in the real world with a fascination with your every action.

        I am disgusted by what you have done, not fascinated. You trashed decent people for political gain. You did it while consciously choosing to remain ignorant of the facts of the matters you were discussing.

        I told you years ago that if you want me to leave these topics out of our conversations all you would need to do is apologize to those you slimed out of either spite or a quasi-religious need to deligitimize your policy opponents. Instead you just pretend that all the crap you wrote doesn’t still sit here on the internet.

  4. I recall in the south how the more moderate racists would not call many blacks “ni!!er” to their face, but had no problem spewing on about the “ni!!er” problem in general. Your behavior is really no different when it comes to skeptics.

    • For the zillionth time, skeptics are not deniers. These are different words meaning different things.

      The analogy between race and antisocial behavior is yours, and none of mine.

      • For the ziilionth and first time, from the time Jamses Hoggan of DeSmog Blog started the meme in 2005 to when it caught on big time with Ellen Goodman’s article in the Boston Globe in 2007 through til today, your team has made a concerted effort to associate your opponents with Holocaust Deniers.

        You are part of that team and you have played your part. Now you are trying to disassociate yourself from what you did in the past. That you were sly enough not to use specific names too often is what–an excuse?

        Funnily enough,, some on your side now complain that discussions of the ‘denier’ meme are distracting from serious consideration of the issues.

        Pity you started it, then. Pity that thugs like John Cook are perpetuating it now.

      • I am not responsible for the opinions of everyone you dislike.

      • That’s not the problem, Tobis. You’re trying very hard not to be responsible for your own past behavior.

        That is the problem

  5. OK Tom. You got me to go over to the blog In it for the Gold and I read what MT said about Judith Curry. He made no effort to understand what she was trying to say. He’s just a ***** ***. I am going to ignore everything he writes from now on. Now why don’t you?

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