Isn’t It Time for True Skeptics to Publicly Disavow the Climate Crackpots?

Tony Heller, aka Steve Goddard, aka the
Tony Heller, aka Steve Goddard, aka the “Uncle Fester of climate denialism.”

My name is Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard) and I’m a professional climate change denier. I use this blog to expose my true nature. In this post, I’m going to talk about the responsibility I think other, more level-headed challengers to anthropogenic climate change have to publicly disavow my “science.”

First, a little background is in order.

On the description of myself on my blog, I openly acknowledge that I’m “considered a heretic by the orthodoxy on both sides of the climate debate.” In other words, not only do believers of anthropogenic climate change reject my nonsense, the so-called skeptics do, too. Like a deranged uncle kept in the attic, my own family doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge my existence. As I’ll explain shortly, that hasn’t stopped me from breaking loose and running wild through the streets.

I used to run with the in-crowd, I used to be respected by other deniers. I was a frequently featured blogger on Anthony Watts“Watts Up With That” (WUWT) blog, the hub for climate skeptics on the Internet. But that came to a stop in 2010 when Anthony gave me a polite, public send-off. However, in a forum comment Watts betrayed the true reason he cut ties with me: he thought I was a crackpot, even worse than one of the denier’s most despised climatologist Michael Mann. Basically, Watts was afraid I was sullying his reputation with the mainstream scientific community (not that he had much of a reputation with it to begin with) and probably within his own community, too, so he let me go.

But the Internet has no gatekeepers. Through prolific use of my free WordPress blog and Twitter account, I parlayed the following I built on WUWT and built upon it to carve out my own little denier empire. I’m now receiving close to 200,000 visitors per month and have amassed close to 9,000 Twitter followers. I’m frequently cited by right-wing news outlets and Google drives lots of unsuspecting dupes to my domain. And if you check the comment sections of an article about climate change, there’s a good chance you’ll see my work referenced, especially my wild, repeated claim that scientists are purposefully falsifying data. There’s no question that I am influencing the public in the climate change debate.

I do a lot more than just make crazy, unsubstantiated claims about data fraud. I go out of my way to to undermine trust in scientists and the scientific process. My schtick includes hurling venomous, unhinged attacks against climates scientists, often referring to them as “clueless,” “criminals” and “scum.” Clearly, my objective is not to add a rational voice to the debate over climate change. In fact, I make it abundantly clear that my intention is to poison the debate with a highly partisan angle.

So, my question is this: when I post my unhinged screeds and bald-faced deceptions and my crackpot theories gain traction in the right-wing echo chamber, where do the skeptics who claim to yearn for rigorous debate over the data disappear to? If they value healthy science-based conversations over climate change, why don’t they make a peep when I spew my garbage?

For example, why don’t self-proclaimed skeptics like Anthony Watts Judith Curry, who even made my nutty claims about NOAA temperature tampering a subject of one of her blog posts last year, make it a point to call out my behavior on their blogs? While they’re quick to pick apart the work of established scientists, I somehow earn a free pass no matter how outrageous my statements or how questionable my science. They both claim to want amateur bloggers to have a legitimate voice in the debate and yet they don’t subject me and others like me to the same level of scrutiny as the peer-reviewed scientists. And if James Hansen or Michael Mann went around calling deniers “scumbag criminals” all the time, would Watts and Curry be so reticent? Why the double standard?

If I were feeling conspiratorial, I might claim that Tony and Judy secretly agree with me and that climate scientists are nothing but criminals, purposefully and maliciously funding temperature records and are only too happy to see my ad hominem attacks poison public discourse over climate change. But I’m willing to give them and other leaders in the “skeptic” community the the benefit of the doubt. Because although they’ve questioned scientists professional judgement on data adjustments, they have never accused them of scientific fraud.

So maybe they’re silent because they think I’m harmless and are unaware of the outsized impact I’m having on the climate debate. But even if that were true, I’m not the only crazy denier out there. There are dozens more like me—and now major candidates for president—making accusations purposefully designed to undermine the public’s trust in the scientific process in order to win the debate.

And so I think it’s high-time for the those leading the challenge to anthropogenic climate change science to perform a public service and set the record straight on my brand of conspiratorial thinking. If they want act like true skeptics, they should step up and help restore a little faith in science and help the public vet which of us challenging anthropogenic climate change have any shred of credibility. And clearly, a guy like me flying a Confederate flag on my website is not one of them.

Folks, it’s time to rein this crazy uncle in.

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