John Brignell: How we know they know they are lying

Posted: February 24, 2015 by tallbloke in Accountability, alarmism, climate

H/T to tweeter ‘ILuvCO2’ for reminding me about this essay from the excellent ‘numberwatch’ website, written by its owner John Brignell back in 2009. Still fresh and relevant.

That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright,
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
Tennyson – The Grandmother.

It is to some extent forgivable when people adopt extreme positions out of misapprehension or delusion. It is quite another matter if they mislead others by deliberate falsehood. Politicians, of course, treat the lie as part of their professional equipment. Indeed, in some circumstances they are obliged to use it (when, for example, telling the truth about the economy would cause a run on the currency). In science, up to recent times, there is no circumstance in which a deliberate falsehood is justifiable. It requires at a minimum being drummed out of one’s learned society.

All that has changed with the rise of authoritarian government. In Britain this took the form of nationalisation of the universities, begun under Thatcher and completed under Blair.  In the USA it took the form of new state-funded bureaucracies, such as the EPA, who maintained control by the monopoly of funding. The global warming religion changed everything.

There is a contrast in the behaviour of people who speak from conviction and those who speak from convenience. This enables us to uncover those who are lying deliberately and distinguish them from the merely deluded. As M. Maigret once remarked “It is always the clever ones who leave a clue.”


There is a long and respectable history of patronage in science as well as art, literature, lexicography etc. The patrons (other than the church) used their own money. The modern patrons, however, are bureaucrats who use the money of others; to wit, taxpayers. Their science is not the science of recent tradition, but a whole new ball game.

There are major differences between real science and bureaucratic science (BS). Real science involves living with the prospect of failure. In BS, failure is not allowed. The whole project is mapped out beforehand in forms such as Gantt charts. There are deliverables that have to be delivered on the due date. With the exception of really big physics, real science is carried out by small groups. It is the same with BS, except that there are about five managers for every researcher. Above all the expected result must be delivered on time. Those who desire further patronage never report a negative result or, indeed, a result at variance with the expectations of the sponsors.

We can identify the “scientists” who habitually lie by the fact that they produce, on time, results that are never unexpected and always conform to the establishment-sponsored theory. Real science is never that predictable.

Powerful patronage makes people over-confident. They come to believe that they are untouchable. Like the royal favourites of mediaeval times, they soar in the air on a zephyr of preferment, only to get too close to the sun and plunge to earth.

Which brings us to:


In the security of powerful patronage some of the new brigade began to think that they were above not only the procedures of science, but of all other academic disciplines as well. In the case of the notorious Hockey Stick, for example, they claimed that knowledge from history, art, literature, archaeology etc. was all wrong and that their computer manipulation of such tenuous data as tree rings established that the Little Ice Age and the Mediaeval Warm Period never happened. The most powerful patrons of all, the UN, seized on the results and made them the main feature of one of their apocalyptic IPCC reports on the coming climate disaster. One of the first tests of any scientific work is to pose the question “Can the results be reproduced?” The Hockey team and the other computer nerds behind the doom-laden predictions were outraged at the suggestion that they should make public their computations and results, which had in fact been obtained with generous public funding. This stance was supported by the political establishment and, though it might work in a secretive society like the UK , this did not go down well in the more open USA. Anyway, to cut a long story short, thanks largely to the untiring persistence of two Canadians, the Hockey Stick was broken. The critics were subjected to a torrent of vilification and derision, but eventually after a review by the highest statistical authority in the USA , they were vindicated. The UN simply dropped the Hockey Stick as though it had never happened and carried on with other forms of propaganda.

British “researchers” into global warming refused to yield up their calculations to scrutiny on the grounds that “You only want to criticise it.” Contrast this with a real scientist, Albert Einstein, who passed all his calculations onto Eddington, so that they latter could devise a critical test, that might have damned the theory, but in the end spectacularly did not.

What have they got to hide?

Which brings us to:

Rewriting the past

Critics of the apocalyptic global warming theory began to be disturbed at what was happening to experimental data under the cloak of secrecy surrounding the claims. One signal was assertion that the US results were based on a high quality sensor network. When that claim was made twice in one paragraph, it began to sound more like the patter of a second-hand car salesman than a statement by scientists. As a result, a small band of unpaid volunteers began a systematic review of the weather stations on which the claims were based. What they found was even more appalling than anyone had anticipated. Ramshackle is barely adequate to describe the system they found. The siting of many of the sensors broke all the rules. Many were on black tarmac and others were even adjacent to the outlets of air conditioning units. The High Quality Network was, to say the least, a mirage. But it was worse than this. Astute observers began to notice that the historical records of temperatures were changing and almost always in such a way as to increase the illusion of global warming. NASA, of all institutions, was involved in this dubious practice and it was all done without explanation.

All of this was widely reported on the internet, but the general public had no idea that it had happened.

Which brings us to:

Ratchet reporting

In the past the more respectable end of the media has been fairly assiduous in presenting both sides of arguments, but that has now come to an end. Since the spread of the global warming religion this has all changed. All occurrences of unseasonably hot weather, for example, were extensively reported, while cold weather was played down. They have now got over this dilemma by changing the vocabulary. Pronouncements by warming activists within the scientific community are given full coverage, while those from the large and growing sceptical sector are totally ignored. Most ordinary readers who do not inhabit the internet have no idea that such views exist: yet, when talking to ordinary people in pubs, it is gratifying how much spontaneous scepticism exists.

Why would anyone sure of their position be unwilling to let any alternative be heard? What have they got to hide?

Which brings us to:


Ratchet reporting is a passive way of misleading the public by telling the truth but not the whole truth. The active form is direct censorship, which is now rife among once respectable scientific journals, as well as powerful media institutions such as the BBC. The self-styled environmental editors are the biggest threat to science since the arraignment of Galileo. The editors of Nature, once the prime journal of science, jumped through hoops to prevent the publication of a short article that challenged the orthodoxy, offering one lame excuse after another.

Read the rest here

  1. […] to Tallbloke and @ILuvCO2 for bringing this article by Dr. John Brignell to my […]

  2. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on CraigM350 and commented:
    “Unseasonal weather is occurring somewhere around the globe all the time. According to the principle of selectivity, a thousand occurrences of “normal” weather are ignored and the abnormal case is broadcast around the world.”

  3. oldbrew says:

    ‘How we know they know they are lying’

    When their lips are moving😉

  4. hunter says:

    Excellent essay. It should be widely read.

  5. Bob Greene says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    It’s good to (re)read the whole John Brignell article.

  6. Doug Proctor says:

    There is a third science I call “Derivative Science”, which has the interesting quality of being 100% true and 100% potentially false at the same time. DS is scientific reasoning based on quequestionable assumptions or axioms. IPCC science is Derivative Science.

    I’ve written of the varieties of truth before. Computational truth is the basis of Derivative Science. CAGW is a most difficult story to dispute because the mmath is fine – the argument is with the premises of the math. The derivation flows from a badly supported framework that is behind the conclusions shouted from the pulpit.

    You cannot defend the old lady charged with raising a plague upon the village chickens is you are prevented from denying witchcraft is real. Her “guilt” here is derivative, deriving from the assumption she is a witch or can draw on the powers of witches. CO2 is the witch or witchcraft power of our time; CAGW is the derivative “chicken plague”.

    The denier of witchcraft could be burned by edict during James 1st reign. Willie Soon is the victim of the edict during the current moral reign of Charles the Third. 97% do not agree with the science of CO2-induced changes , they agree with the derivative CAGW studies.

    The public doesn’t understand the difference.

  7. M Simon says:

    What is not widely known among the anti-CAGW crowd is that the method used as documented by Brignell has a template. The same method was used to suppress the medicinal properties of cannabis. Reagan went so far as to forbid any further studies of its anti-cancer properties.

    Due to study and pressure from the Left and the libertarian Right that is breaking down.

    What is astounding is that just as the CAGW folks are immune to evidence so is the Prohibitionist Right.

    So who (generally speaking) goes by the evidence in both cases? The libertarians.

    Our enemy is not the Left. Our enemy is not the Right. Our enemy is the State. And it uses Left/Right as convenient to take our liberties.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Jo Nova exposes the strong-arm tactics of the friends of Big Climate Science.