It’s Time to Play “Refute a Denier,” with Dr. Roy Spencer

I’m Tony Heller, aka Steve Goddard, a climate denier blowing the whistle on myself. If you’re not familiar with me, see here.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for the several dozen climate deniers who gather together to reinforce their stupidity and swap boner pill tips at the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change. This year’s conference was held at the Trump International Hotel, because there’s no better place to signal that you’re science has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

One of today’s speakers at the conference was Dr. Roy Spencer, who helps lead the satellite temperature measurement project at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Spencer has spent a large part of his career desperately trying to prove his peers couldn’t possibly be right about climate change because God. We could rattle off bunches of other links showing your what a fraud he is but you can Google that just as well as we can.

Our main purpose today is to introduce a new feature, “Refute a Denier,” where we crowd source the collective intelligence of people who know what they’re talking about to refute the claims of climate deniers. In the hot seat is, of course, Dr. Roy Spencer, and the presentation he gave today at Heartland’s conference. During his talk, he claimed that most climate models ran much hotter for the troposphere (which is not the same as surface temperature data) than the satellite record.

To make it super convenient, we created a video of his presentation along with the entire transcript and screenshots of the slides he showed during his talk. Feel free to post your comments on Twitter, in the comments below, on YouTube, or on your own blog post. We’ll collect them all when we do a roundup.

Please have at it!

Good morning. Isn’t this a great venue? Several of us were talking that this is
the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, ever. Which is probably out of the
people I talked to, that’s a cumulative 1000 people years of traveling.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.04.52

Um, you’re gonna hear some differences of opinion on the details here. I’ve
noticed already based on the talks during breakfast, but I think we’re the
people here that will be speaking or unified in one basic message. And that is
there is no climate crisis. There is no climate emergency. Okay, that we’re in
agreement on that, but we can argue about the details.

Um, sometimes it’s hard to get your hands around the climate subject. You know,
global warming, climate change, what we should do about energy policy. There’s
a lot of weeds you can get into. Okay? And so a lot of people just threw up
their hands and they go along with whatever the scientific consensus is or with
the policy consensus is or whatever Al Gore says.

So I’d like to give you some advice to help hopefully make things a little
easier. Try to think of all of the talks that are given today, as something
that’s in one of three categories. There’s sort of three categories of issues
that that we’re gonna be speaking on.

The first category I’m going to briefly address is “Is climate changing?” Okay?
Is there a changing climate, whether it’s warming or increasing storminess? And
related to that, you know, you could have changed that’s positive as well as
negative. For instance, a lot of people don’t know that damaging tornadoes are
down 50% since we started monitoring them in the 1950s. Okay, that’s the long
term trend, down 50%. You wouldn’t know that from listening to the media every
time a tornado hits a town. Right? Okay, so this is number one. How much is
climate changing? And is it good or bad?

Uh, number two. To the extent that climate is changing, how much is due to
humans? That’s something that, uh, Nir Shaviv will talk in the second talk.
He’ll talk about alternative explanations other than CO2, okay, for causing
climate change.

And then number three is the policy issue which will be addressed a lot today.
Uh, how much can we affect climate by changing energy policy? And if we do
that, what is the cost for his benefit? You know, a lot of people say, well,
you know, we just shouldn’t be affecting the climate system at all and so just
as a matter of insurance policy, you know, we need to invest the extra money
into into not producing CO2 emissions, right? Well, the trouble is, it’s so
expensive and impractical that the insurance policy…you wouldn’t have an
insurance policy on $100,000 house, let’s say a house that cost $100,000. You
wouldn’t pay $200,000 a year on an insurance policy in case your house burns
down, right? I mean, the costs outweigh the benefits.

So those are the three categories. Is the climate…how much is the climate
changing? Okay, number two: How much of that changes due to humans? Number
three: What can we do about it? And what of the costs versus the benefits of
doing something about it? So now I get into my talk.

I have relatively few slides, they asked me, Heartland asked me to cover
global temperature monitoring with satellites. We don’t monitor surface
temperatures, which is where people live. We monitor the troposphere. The
troposphere is the lowest part of the atmosphere. If you look at that little
red bracket there, it’s down…it’s where all of the weather occurs. It’s where
80% of the atmospheric mass resides outside of the tropics. 90% of the mass in
the tropics is in the troposphere.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.05.10

And why do we monitor that? Well, for one thing, it’s easy to do from
satellites. Surface temperatures are much harder, okay. But also there’s a good
reason for understanding how the climate system works and whether CO2 is
causing warming. And that’s because the whole CO2 two theory of global warming
involves infrared radiation. Okay, that’s the energy given off by the Earth to
outer space. It’s how the earth naturally cools itself. Okay, and as we add CO2,
the theory says, we’ve reduced the ability of the Earth to cool itself by
about 1%. That’s according to theory, not measurements. None of our satellite
measurements of any kind are good enough to measure that. It’s a theoretical

So anyway, that infrared radiation, it mostly comes from the troposphere so it
makes sense that we monitor the temperature of the troposphere. Also, it’s a
more robust signal. The climate models that they run all around the world
claim that warming should be greater up in the troposphere. Uh, then down here
at the surface. So it’s a more robust signature that we should be able to see.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.05.25

So let’s get to what we do with the satellites. For over 25 years now, John
Christie and I have been producing a temperature data set–we update it every
month–of the lower tropospheric temperature and basically the whole tropospheric
temperature. They’re two different products. And this is a plot. Since 1979
it’s ah, now over 40 year satellite record that shows how temperatures have
changed over that 40 years. There has been basically a linear trend upward with
a lot of year to your variability. But the trend is only 0.13C per decade.
Okay, that’s pretty small, you know, that’s 1/100th of a degree per year,
average warming. Okay.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.05.37

Now, this is the money slide. That spaghetti plot shows yearly temperatures
from 102 different climate model runs which represent about two dozen different
climate models because you can do different runs, different experiments, in the
same climate model and get a different answer. This has a total of 102 on it.
That black line is the average of all the 102 model runs, and this is again,
this is the global average, lower tropospheric temperature. This is what we
monitor, and which I showed previously here. Okay, this is the monthly stuff
from the satellites, global average, lower tropospheric temperature variations.
Here it’s now average to yearly. Okay? And so that previous slide that’s the
blue line, our UAH satellite data, shows the least amount of warming. At least
it looks like it on this plot. There’s another group called Remote Sensing
Systems, RSS, that has there now revised estimate from the satellites, which
shows somewhat more warming than we do. That black line is the average of all
102 model runs. That black line represents what energy policy is based on,
energy policy changes. It’s based on those climate models being correct. Okay?

Now also showed on here is the average of four reanalyses. Reanalyses are
global data sets where they’ve thrown in all the observations they can find.
Surface temperatures, weather balloons, commercial aircraft, ships, buoys, a
variety of satellites, measuring all different kinds of things and then using
physics to sort of estimate based on all that information, their best guess of
what’s going on in the climate system. And you can see that those reanalysis
data sets agree with the satellites: that the climate models are producing too
much warming. Compared to our data set, the UAH satellite data set, it’s about
twice as much warming of the lower troposphere in the climate models compared
to the observations. And again, those climate models is what proposed energy
policy changes are based upon.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.05.51

Now, if we look at the trends for each one of those curves, there’s a linear
trend that each one of those curves will have in terms of a warming rate per
decade. And I rank them, if I rank them from the warmest on the left to the
coolest on the right, this is what we see. Um, the model with the most warming
is the NOAA GFDL model. That’s the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory of
NOAA. It’s got about 4/10 of a degree see warming per decade. That’s at the far
left. Then there’s four Canadian models having lived on the border of Canada
for many years, I would say that’s probably wishful thinking on their part. Um,
the rest of the great bars or all the other 102 models. That black bar
in the middle. That’s the average of all the models. And then over
there on the right, you see this rapid fall off in warming trends all the way
over at the right. The one model that has the least amount of warming and is
actually closest to UAH, to our data set, is the Russian model, uh, and then
comes up the Japanese model, the MRI. The four reanalyses there next in the
green remote sensing systems has the red there. But you see that the reanalyses again agrees more with satellites than with all of these models. You
know, it makes you wonder, what are these modelers thinking?

And since I will be accused of this anyway, since I’m accused of everything
else, I want to point out how well our collusion between Vladimir Putin and UAH
worked out here. Notice that we got very close to the Russian model as

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.06.03

Okay, now we can do this whole thing again just for the tropics. It turns out
the tropics is where you really see the supposed effect of global warming.
Okay, you might have heard of the tropical hot spot. The tropical upper
troposphere is supposed to warm more than just about anywhere based on the
climate models. And we see even a bigger discrepancy between the observations
and the climate models in the tropics. In our case, 2.4 times as fast. That’s
how much faster the average climate model is warming compared to the UAH
satellite. And you see the reanalyses, that’s a another observational data set,
the analyses, agree with the satellites. It’s not warming as much as the
climate models say it should be.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.06.20

And we can do this same ranking the warming trends from all of those curves.
Here we see UAH all the way at the right there. The least amount of warming is
our data set, and the four reanalyses and the Russian model all basically agree
on tropical warming on being about half or even less than half of the average
climate model.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.06.29

This is what our satellite data set looks like for the regional trends. This is
sort of, at least qualitatively, if not quantitatively, agrees with the surface
data that there’s virtually no warming at the South Pole. And as you proceed
northward, you get more and more warming with the greatest warming at the
highest northern latitudes. And this is what you’d expect for any kind of
warming whether it’s human caused or natural. Because as you proceed north from
the South Pole to the North Pole, generally, you have more and more land. You
know, the Southern Hemisphere is mostly ocean, the Northern Hemisphere is
mostly land, land warms faster than ocean. So no matter no matter what’s
causing warming, you expect this kind of pattern. You also expect there to be
somewhat more warming over the land masses than the ocean masses, um, for the
same reason.

So I’m actually going to finish early, give near Nir some extra time on his
talk, um, because he needs it. I saw all how many slides he had.

Screenshot 2019-07-25 14.06.43

So, um, okay, conclusions. Satellite monitoring of tropospheric temperatures
provides an essential check on climate model forecast. I could tell you a lot
more about the reasons why there’s a disagreement. We’re funded, UAH is funded,
by the Department of Energy to examine the reasons between for the discrepancy
between models and observations in the tropics. And we have some answers on
that but that’s not what I was asked to talk about today. Uh, clearly, the
main conclusion here, it’s really important for policy, is that these models
that policy is based on have problems. Okay. Uh, they’re warming too much. Not
as much at the surface, that wasn’t part of what I was asked, and I hope
somebody else will discuss that today. There’s more agreement at the surface
between models and observations, but if you look closely a data sets, you’ll
find that there’s an increasing divergence now between the models and the
observations in the last 10 or 15 years. Plus, there’s some questions about
service data sets and that will be addressed by someone today. Whether we can
even believe the surface temperature data sets. Every time they do new
adjustments to them, they come up with more and more warming, as if they’re all
competing with each other to see who can get the most warming out of their
surface data set.

Okay. Now, just because the observations show half as much warming as the
models doesn’t mean the models were half right. Okay? Because the models only
produce warming from increasing CO2 and that’s the way they were designed. The
temperature change in anything–whether it’s the climate system, a pot of water
on a stove, your body, your car engine, anything–a temperature change is a
result of an imbalance between energy coming in and energy going out. All
right. Well, for the Earth, we don’t know the energy flows in and out of the
climate system to the accuracy needed to know whether the climate system is
naturally in energy balance. So what the climate modelers do is they program
the models with the assumption that there’s a balance in other words, the
assumption of no natural climate change. Then they add CO2 and the model warms
and they see, say, “See, we proved so two causes warming.” Well, duh. It’s what
you assumed to begin with. Okay.

Alright. Early indications they’re now doing, CMIP6 climate models what I
showed you was everything was from CMIP5 climate model runs earlier,
Indications are that the semen six models are have even more warming, then the
CMIP5 models. I don’t know why they’re just ignoring the observations.

And finally, what I started out with there is no climate crisis. There is no
climate emergency. Even if all of the warming we’ve seen in any observational
data set, is due to see increasing CO2, which I don’t believe it is, uh, it’s
probably too small for any person to feel in their lifetime, and I’ll leave it
at that. Thank you.

It’s Time to Boot Climate Deniers Off Social Media

Fighting for my right to get canned, too.
Fighting for my right to get canned, too.

It’s me again, climate denier Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard), checking in with my loyal followers. If you’re new here, you can read my intro.

So the ice floes have started to crack and buckle. By that I mean Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the Big Three social media networks, are finally shouldering more responsibility for feeding demonstrably toxic ideas to audiences [UPDATE 02/2020: Though Facebook has, more recently, taken a big turn for the worse by allowing political leaders to lie without consequence.]. With the recent spate of high-profile accounts that have been deplatformed, they essentially concede the notion that exposing people to false, nonsensical and manipulative information can have negative, real-world effects and undermines the foundational currency of advanced civilizations: trust.

It was a responsibility they shirked for as long as possible. Who can blame them? Policing content written by all the kooks, crooks, and other malignant forces on the internet is a huge task. Unlike bundling detailed psychographic and biographic data about all the world’s citizens for the benefit of influence peddlers, making sure the content you deliver doesn’t destabilize society is neither fun or profitable. It’s much easier and cheaper to pretend you’re doing the world a favor with fairly tales about how an invisible, all-knowing force called the “Wisdom of the Crowd”–coupled with mystical, rudderless algorithms–exist to make us all OK.

But the recent high-profile blow back from their self-justified aloofness was too much to bear as it became a real threat to their reputations. And so their insulting charade that it was impossible for them to thwart harmful content is coming to a merciful close. The Big Three have all taken reactive and some minimal proactive measures to assuage advertisers and a concerned public. One of the more promising developments was Facebook’s announcement that they would crack down on anti-vaccination content. A more tepid response by Twitter was to integrate links to reputable information sources about vaccines into search results. YouTube did something similar and also demonetized anti-vaccination accounts (which probably doesn’t amount to much).

Of course, executives overseeing these platforms know the buck hasn’t been completely stopped. Now that the floodgates have been opened a crack, it’s only a matter of time before public pressure forces them wide open. But for now, they will take a wait and see approach, hoping against all hope that it blows over.

This is financially smart but again, ethically speaking, it’s another dick move in a very long string of them. Through continued inaction, the privileged few calling the shots at these companies essentially tell us: “The public be damned, our profits and headache-free operation matter more.”

But these companies are only hurting themselves with this approach.

That’s because they have a vested business interest in ensuring a strong economy for their market of seven billion plus inhabitants looking to buy goods and services. A healthy global economy requires a relatively peaceful, stable community of nations. Wars, disasters, depressions and disruptions that slow the consumption of goods are bad for business.

Given this, I have a simple question for them:


For their own good, it’s past high time for social media platforms to cut off the oxygen fueling my efforts to stop or delay action on climate change. The debate over climate change is over. Uncredentialed jack offs like me sitting in my one bedroom apartment contribute absolutely zero to the public conversation and we directly undermine society’s ability to have a reasonable debate about the most urgent matter facing the entire planet. In addition to limiting the number of minds I can poison, the Big Three could also send an extremely strong message to political and business leaders across the planet that climate change is an urgent issue that deserves more than lip service; that supplying the communication infrastructure to help crackpots undermining well-established scientific facts on climate change is morally and ethically wrong.

If banning climate deniers sounds like a crazy idea to you, it shouldn’t. It’s actually the only sane reaction to the urgent need for action on climate change.

Let’s give this idea a little perspective by comparing the threat of climate change to threat posed by some of the recently de-platformed cretins. Alex Jones will traumatize far fewer parents than climate change. And climate change will annoy far more people than Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson combined. Climate change will cause far more lost work time than Laura Loomer chaining herself to the entrances of corporate headquarters. And unlike Louis Farrakhan, uncontrolled climate change will result in millions of deaths and catastrophic financial collapse. All these kooks got the boot for spreading messages with far less social consequence than mine. So by this measure, I easily qualify for deplatforming.

No sane person misses these deplatformed crackpots and most people are happy they’re gone. Similarly, nobody is going to miss a handful of mentally unstable climate cranks like me. There would be little, if any, backlash from the public with the added incentive it would be a huge public relations score for the Big Three looking to demonstrate a commitment to the public’s welfare. Banning me will be good for the Big Three’s public image, their long-term financial health, and, most importantly, for all of humankind (which I hope they give some shred of a shit about).

And let’s again remind everyone for the umpteenth time that these are private platform run by private companies. They have no more obligations to put climate deniers on their platforms than they do al-Qaeda.

So if it’s in their own best interest to get rid of us and there’s nothing stopping them, why do social media platforms give tacit approval for us to continue?

The answer, of course, is it’s less risky for them to do nothing. They won’t see any perceptible impact to their profits from climate change for at least a decade. Meanwhile, their quarterly reports are always just around the corner. It’s the same old story of corporate short-sightedness.

Hand-in-hand with that is they haven’t felt any public pressure to shut climate deniers down. And so that’s gotta change. It must start here. It must start now. We must start making a very public demand that any account with a significantly large audience that doesn’t have the adequate scientific credentials to weigh in intelligently or that purposefully distorts the body of scientific evidence on climate change should be deplatformed.

I’m sure the smart executives at these social media companies would welcome a public pressure campaign to give them cover for pulling the plug on us. I’m also sure a few die-hard libertarians among their ranks will wring their hands about disrupting the “free marketplace of ideas” and how this will set us down a slippery slope of bad precedents. Yeah, well, fuck those ideologues. The world has practical shit to take care of and that’s removing hindrances to genuine debate over measures that will reduce CO2 emissions. Science has told us what the truth is. The world needs me like you need shit on your shoe. Climate deniers aren’t helping us have constructive debates, they are destroying out ability to have them. The libertarians can get back to worrying about theoretical slippery slopes after we’ve safely kept emissions below 450 ppm and have saved the planet from catastrophe. Until then, they can just shut the fuck up and get out of the way of progress. Finally, if they’re worried about Congress’ reaction, they shouldn’t be. They’ll get some blow back from phonies like Ted Cruz who like to grandstand, but no retaliatory legislation can get past the House.

If you think it would be a great service to human kind to deplatform deniers and help improve the odds of combating climate change, spread this message. Urge Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and whoever the titular head of Google is (or Alphabet, or whatever you’re calling yourself these days) and tell them to modify their policies to disallow people like me from spreading blatant climate disinformation.

Time is running short. Get hot!

Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard) Hits Series of Potholes, Gets Flattened by Science Journalist

Hello? AAA? Yeah, I need a tow.

Hey! It’s me, your old friend, the climate change denying crackpot you love to hate, Tony Heller. It’s been a while since I’ve written, I know. Maniacally rehashing the same bogus climate change talking points on social media is all-consuming. But I’m pleased to report everything is going swimmingly despite hitting a few bumps in the road from time to time. More on this in a bit.

So people always come up to me and ask, “Hey Tony, what’s it’s like fighting in the trenches against the evil liberal scientists seeking to destroy our way of life?” If I’m honest (just pretend), I tell them that while my lifestyle may look glamorous, it isn’t without its hazards. People are always trying to expose me for the intellectual fraud that I am. Usually it’s not a problem. When adversaries start embarrassing me with solid science, I call them a moron and immediately block their Twitter account. And even if they land a few hard blows, it doesn’t matter. Like Trump, my loyal followers are blind to my sociopathy because they share my hatred for progressives and liberals. Always remember that irrational thinking beats logic every time with the morons. It’s been one of the keys to my success.

Recently, however, I screwed up. It started late last year when a once-famous cartoonist issued a challenge to his Twitter followers and asked them to provide a link to the most persuasive links “arguing that CO2 is raising temperatures at a dangerous pace.” One of the responses linked to a video called “Climate Change — the scientific debate,” by a YouTuber named “potholer54” (aka Peter Hadfield).

Always looking for opportunities to expand my audience and get exposure, I produced a rebuttal video to potholer54 entitled, “Debunking the Debunker” (so clever!). True to form, I acted like an asshole, saying stuff like, “He speaks very quickly and sounds very convincing like he knows what he’s talking about. Now I’m going to show you, that he doesn’t.” I also lied about what was in his video by saying he made claims that he didn’t and that he didn’t say things he actually did. As you’ll see, making the rebuttal video is a decision I would soon come to regret.

It turns out potholer54 has over 176,000 subscribers on YouTube alone, which is 3.5x more than my Twitter and YouTube followers combined. And, just like me, he has a science degree in geology. He also has decades of experience as a science journalist and does work for the BBC which means he knows how to research and cite legitimate scientific papers. And so unfortunately for me, some of his followers saw my video and encouraged him to respond to my “Debunkers” video. Dammit!

Now usually, a knowledgeable person with better things to do would take a look at my body of work and immediately write me off as someone not worth his or her time. But no, not potholer54. The guy makes science explainer videos as a hobby. He’s almost as maniacal as me except he actually knows climate science and isn’t a dishonest schmuck. Plus he’s on YouTube, so there’s no way for me to block him. Godammit!

Sure enough, potholer54 eviscerated me with a video response. My whiny, annoying nasal tone was no match for his polished, British accent that made it possible for him to sound condescending without actually being condescending. Even worse, he was polite in the face of my obvious misrepresentations of his video. I couldn’t just yell at him and call him a moron or I’d look like a total dick. Shit!

Unfortunately, I had to respond or else I’d lose serious face. I immediately released a second video, “Potholer Vs. Real Science”. At this point, my strategy was to basically ignore the lies of mine he uncovered and distract everyone by starting with a basic lesson on Milankovitch Cycles. This makes me look like a good guy for teaching people what they might not know (even though it’s climate science 101) and it reinforces the idea I’m a knowledgeable person, even though I’m not. After that segment, I attack potholer54 as a charlatan by claiming he uses “appeals to authority” to deceive viewers. I know my audience hates authority figures so this is my ace in the hole. No matter what potholer54 comes back with, painting him as a liberal sheep blindly eating up whatever scientists tell him to believe will discredit him with my followers. In the video, I lay it on thick by saying the phrase “professional researcher” with dripping sarcasm. I also get super condescending, saying things like, “I’m going to explain this again very simply and hopefully this time even potholer will be able to understand.” Finally, I do lots of hand waving and dismiss his claims as “junk science.” These kinds of techniques work with my followers because they are not interested in a legitimate scientific debate. They are looking for a political boxing match. They want to see me smash this smug Brit in the face.

I knew potholer54 probably wasn’t going away and I was right. He came back with another strong point-by-point rebuttal to my attacks. Once again, he was impeccably British and thorough while I came across as a dismissive, American asshat. Even worse, he didn’t take my suggestion that we should stop making videos. So I was stuck making another video. Fuck!

Not being able to defeat him with facts, I repeated my bogus claim that potholer54 relied on appeals to authority by naming my video “Science Vs. Appeal To Authority.” I then ate up some time with a useless lesson about amplifier feedback and related it back to Milankovitch Cycles. It was total bullshit, but my audience wouldn’t know any better. I wrapped things up with another attack on his “appeals to authority” and threw in some quotes from Feynman and Galileo to sound like I was in the rational thinking camp. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Finally, I told my viewers that he wimped out of a real-time debate with me. I knew that would make me look like the fearless one even though I desperately wanted the YouTube debate to a close. A careful, thoughtful exchange was clearly not giving me an advantage over someone who actually had their shit together as one of the commenters rightly pointed out:

“You believe you can point out potholers fallacies in real time in a live debate but you’ve repeatedly demonstrated you are unable to effectively counter his arguments when you have all the time in the world to research your videos. You want a live debate because you are more interested in winning a rhetoric battle than a genuinely intellectual one.”


Ouch! Unfortunately, it didn’t end there.

As I expected, potholer54 finished me off with a knockout blow that punched a gaping hole in my “appeals to authority” attack by carefully pointing out that citing research papers isn’t an appeal to authority but is, in fact, the very basis for conducting modern science. He also shot my feedback analogy in an audio amplification system full of holes and explained why it was relevant. And so there I was, completely, utterly flattened by potholer.

The YouTube stats give the blow-by-blow account:

Heller Rebuttal Video #1 stats:
45,122 Views, 2.2K Likes, 901 Dislikes

potholer54 Rebuttal Video #1 stats
69,397 View, 4.9K Likes, 177 Dislikes

Heller Rebuttal Video #2 stats:
34,033 Views, 1.7K Likes, 755 Dislikes

potholer54 Rebuttal Video #2 stats:
49,859 Views, 3.8K Likes, 72 Dislikes

Heller Rebuttal Video #3 stats:
15,718 Views, 1K Likes, 407 Dislikes

potholer54 Rebuttal Video #3 stats:
44,278 Views, 3.1K Likes, 91 Dislikes

As you can see, his videos enjoyed more viewers and his like/dislike ratio is far better than mine.

And so I learned by my lesson. It was dumb mistake to challenge someone who is a clearer thinker, a better researcher, and far more knowledgeable. But that’s OK. I have lived to fight another day.

The Dilution of Symbolic Meaning and Its Consequences

Truckin’ Toward Trouble

Humans are bags of meat. Atop this bag sits a gelatinous electrochemical information processor the bag needs to help find nourishment to sustain itself, protect it from danger, and reproduce. The processor, what we call the “brain,” recognizes patterns which we refer to as “ideas.” Ideas can have profound effects on the brain by stirring emotions such as joy, fear, anxiety, love, excitement, boredom, lust, hate, curiosity and so forth. We have little scientific understanding about the underpinnings of emotions, but we can easily observe physical responses in the bodies experiencing them. In turn, these physical responses influence the state of the brain and create a tightly bound feedback loop, colloquially referred to as “body, mind and soul.”

Generally speaking, the better our brains are at identifying patterns and generating the proper emotional response for motivating our bodies to take action, the more successful the biological entity will be. For example, a body connected to a brain afflicted with acrophobia won’t be very successful at foraging for food found in trees. Or, if your feelings of awkwardness cause you to express inappropriate thoughts in social settings, you will have fewer friends. Or if your mind is stimulated by the artificial pleasure of addictive drugs too frequently, the body may fail to experience other important emotions that are either masked or nonexistent as a result of the excessive drug use. And so the quality of our emotions, coupled with the quality of the ideas that drive them, are critical phenomena to our physical well-being.

If that isn’t amazing enough to think about, consider the fact that complex brains like ours have a special ability to associate different brain patterns with one another if they occur simultaneously in the brain. This allows the brain to not only think abstractly, but to also transfer its ideas to other brains.

For example, when the brain is exposed frequently enough to the same aural stimuli while experiencing the same visual stimuli, the aural and visual brain patterns will become associated with one another. If the same oral grunt is heard enough times whenever a clear, odorless liquid is seen on the ground, the grunt will start to mean “water.” The grunt stimulates the corresponding electrochemical visual pattern, representing water, inside other brains that hear it even when no water is in sight.  Over untold millennia, we can imagine crude grunts slowly evolving into sophisticated oral language as the pre-human brain grew in capacity. Thus it can be understood that language is vehicle for transmitting the brain patterns in our heads, our ideas, to other brains.

More recently, humans learned how to purposefully manipulate and use objects to transmit ideas. Cave drawings, totem poles, pictographs and written language are the physical manifestations of the electrochemical patterns stored inside of our brains. Anything can become a symbol and, just like aural symbols, these external symbols can generate very specific patterns inside of our brains, which, in turn, provoke emotions which then, as mentioned earlier, cause reactions in our bodies. And so, through this almost mystical process, inanimate objects have the power to elicit physical responses in our bodies and coordinate our actions with other bodies. And because inanimate, physical symbols are much longer lasting, reproducible and external to us, they greatly enhance our ability to coordinate with many others across both space and time.

In general, the more efficiently a group of separate brains share patterns, the better they are at collectively ensuring the mutual survival of their associated meat bags. This is what we call “society.” Without the phenomena of idea transference (i.e. communication) you cannot have complex society. Animal brains aren’t equipped to produce very complex pattern associations. They also have very limited methods for communicating and so they cannot cooperate with anywhere near the level of sophistication humans can. We have the capacity to recognize very complex patterns, associate them with one another easily and share them efficiently using technologically advanced methods of symbol transference. Our brain’s enhanced ability to recognize and associate subtly different, sophisticated patterns, coupled with our ability to transmit these patterns with extreme efficiency, make highly complex societies possible.

Today, we have a seemingly infinite number of ways for sharing symbols in the physical world: sculpture, painting, books, magazines, television, movies, radio, blogs, social media platforms, virtual reality, websites, memes, etc. The symbols delivered to us are often an amalgam of other symbols that we can deconstruct to find meaningful patterns in that may resonate with existing patterns in our brains. Sometimes the symbolism is easy to determine while other times it happens at a wholly unconscious level either on the side of the author, audience or both. Symbols transmitted for commercial purposes are often intended to delight us or induce some strong emotion to entice us into paying for other symbols for sale. For example, advertisements employ highly crafted symbols to get us to exchange the money symbols we possess for the products they have infused with emotional motivators such as comfort, status, happiness, well-being/fear, and enjoyment (beds, cars, soda, health pills, movies).

Symbols have many practical applications, but the generation and deconstruction of symbols is the very fabric of our social beings. Symbols are so fundamental to our survival that we are wired to create and seek them out. Everything from engaging in idle chit chat to creating high art can be a source of great pleasure and satisfaction. We look for meaning in just about everything, even when there is none. Even the way we dress, move, and talk are symbolic. Generated consciously or not, these cues elicit patterns inside our brain to try to help us determine if there is reason to coordinate with the people we encounter. You have gotten this far in my essay because the symbols contained herein are affecting your brain patterns, creating an emotion inside of you that your brain thinks is worthwhile.

People who have the ability to create symbols that resonate with many brains—or even just the brains of other influential people—can become powerful actors in a society. Gifted thespians, musicians and other artists can amass fame and fortune for their ability to arouse great emotions with the compelling symbols they generate for our pleasure or edification. Meta symbols—symbols which represent other powerful symbols that stir very strong emotions and desires—are the most powerful kinds of symbols. Money and religious texts are good examples of meta symbols. A person in control of meta symbols can more easily direct the physical actions of other humans. When the Catholic Church was more or less hegemonic in Europe and the sole arbiter of what was good and evil according to the meta symbol of the The Bible, the Pope was at the peak of his power. A key ingredient to Hitler’s ability to start World War II was his skill for attaching iconic symbols to feelings of tribalism and ethnic pride.

Political power emanates from the accumulation of many different symbols representing physical force and coercion. Kings, dictators, presidents, legislators, judges, armies, weaponry, jails, courts, police, and legislative bodies are all symbols that work together to compel members of a society to behave as desired by those in power. Political symbols are also often reinforced with money and religious texts to aid in the persuasion or control of individuals.

So symbols are of extreme importance to a well functioning human society. In fact, they are the foundation for it. However, symbols only facilitate coordination so long as they create similar patterns inside the brains of the members within a society. If, for example, a flag representing a society provokes profound pride and cooperation in one half of a society but arouses deep-seated hatred and hostility when flown by the other half, that society is probably in the midst of a civil war or on the verge of starting one.

And so if too many people cannot agree upon a common meaning for the symbols shared within a society, the society does not fire on all cylinders. Coordination becomes more difficult and strife more likely especially when resources are scarce and survival becomes more precarious. That’s not to say the healthiest societies are those where symbols have fixed, permanent meanings and stimulate the exact same brain patterns in all individuals. In fact, static, homogenized symbolic meaning is a very unhealthy state because such societies are extremely brittle. They cannot adapt very well to new problems encountered. A society such as North Korea is a prime example. Their culture lacks adequate symbolic diversity.

Diversity in the symbolic representation of the world within a population helps it adapt by allowing good, fresh ideas to form and spread if they resonate with enough other brains or if they resonate with the brains that have power and influence within the society. Diversity of thought and openness to new symbolic representations are characteristics of a society that can overcome new challenges as they arise.

In early 21st century America, we are witnessing a vigorous outbreak of skirmishes around symbols and what they mean. We argue about flying the confederate flag, we argue about what the meaning of “Black Lives Matter” is, and we argue about the burning of the American flag or even what the recently iconic “Pepe the Frog” avatar means. Without understanding the power of symbols, it’s easy to be dismissive about these debates and wonder “What does it matter, they are only symbols, these debates are nothing but tempests in a teapot.” But as we have seen, symbols do matter a great deal. Certain symbols can arouse great passions within us which influence behaviors of individuals in the physical world. If there is enough disagreement over these symbols, it can lead to conflict and even death, as we have recently witnessed by the tragic events in Charlottesville, VA.

Of course, disagreements over symbolic meaning are not new and have been with us since the United States was founded. As an ethnically and politically diverse society where competing symbols often clash, conflict and violence is a defining feature of American culture. Fortunately, the symbolic foundation of our democracy, the Constitution, has flexibility built into it that allows our society to both change the document’s symbolic meaning and enforce new meanings with political power. It is this very ability that has allowed the United States to not only survive but thrive despite the vast symbolic diversity of its people. We will return to this thought in a moment.

First, I want to point out that not so long ago, the ability to imbue symbols with power was something reserved only for a select few members of society. In the earliest civilizations, only kings and priests (often one and the same) controlled the political symbols and religious texts giving them enormous sway in societies they ruled. As monetary symbols came into existence, individuals successful at accumulating money gained wider levels of influence. As technology advanced, more and more control over symbols was delivered into the hands of less elite individuals. Gutenberg single-handedly broke the Catholic Church’s monopoly over religious texts with the printing press. The printing press also ushered in an age of literacy, allowing commoners to share symbols more easily making it possible for them to coordinate and break King George’s grip over the Americas. America’s Founding Fathers recognized that the sharing of symbols was key to their victory over the monarchy and so they protected the free exchange of symbols in the form of the First Amendment. Later, in the 19th century, the telegraph coordinated the schedules of trains across great distances which opened the door to the accumulation massive amounts of wealth by railroad titans who also became very influential political actors in society. Newspapers, along with the development of radio and television, provided powerful new ways to disseminate symbols to a mass audience. These mass symbolic transference technologies gave rise to the advertising industry to promote the consumption of other symbols. Anyone who gained control over a significant share of these mass communication technologies had a much easier time acquiring considerable influence over society by controlling the symbols consumed by the broader population.

Although these technologies that spread the symbols far and wide enabled vast amounts of disruption and spread the balances of power within society, they are nothing compared to what is coming.

In the past past twenty-five years, two new technologies have arrived that will profoundly change society in ways we cannot yet imagine: the personal computer (including mobile devices) and the internet. Together, these two advancements give just about anyone the ability to generate and disseminate new symbols to anyone, anywhere. Not only that, these symbols can be generated by groups or individuals lacking any serious authority. As a result, our psyches are now bombarded with an explosion of powerful symbols that have made it extraordinarily difficult for us to recognize any particular pattern in the symbols we are exposed to while also inhibiting our ability to determine which patterns deserve serious attention. Navigating this new symbolic space is like the difference between sailing a boat in a well-marked channel with a steady breeze and plowing a vessel through the open seas during a violent maelstrom. Our symbols are losing their reference points making it increasingly difficult for individuals to maintain their psychic bearings. And perhaps more significantly, the ability of symbols to provide social cohesion is getting diluted, making it more likely our society will become unglued and fall apart. As our collective semiotic library gets more and more balkanized along many different fault lines, our ability to comprehend and “speak to” others who don’t share or agree upon the meaning of our symbols becomes much more unlikely.

Though only roughly twenty-five years deep into the introduction of these two new technologies, we are witnessing their profound impacts on society. First, we see increasing disagreement about which symbols are significant. For example, leaders at the highest level of the current US government tell us that we should ignore the symbols in scientific research papers that say we are headed for near certain global catastrophe as a result of CO2 emissions. Second, we see a huge rise in the challenge of authorities that used to be able to generate very potent symbols that audiences accepted with little serious push back. Now, the authority of news organizations, politicians, government agencies, businesses, unions and other established institutions is under constant assault, undermining their ability to create unifying symbols that help us coordinate. Third, and perhaps most alarmingly, it is increasingly difficult for us to agree on the meaning of symbols. One example can be seen in the contrast between our current and former presidents, Donald Trump and Barack Obama. The striking differences between the two leaders highlight the very polarized nature of one of our most powerful symbols, the presidency.

So when we cannot agree on the significance of the symbols, and when we are unwilling to trust many of the authorities creating the symbols, and when we can’t even agree on what the symbols we do share should represent, what hope is there for us of ever coordinating on a large scale again? Not much, I’m afraid. And I predict we will soon see our founding symbolic document, the Constitution, come under great strain. Its importance, meaning, and the authority to imbue it with power will come under increasing attack which will eventually lead to chaos. A society that cannot agree on the fundamental meaning of one of its most fundamental symbols will not function well.

Some societies de-emphasize or suppress the free creation and exchange of symbols in an effort to maintain social cohesion. China controls its communication channels tightly to prevent the introduction of disruptive symbols that might undermine existing political power structures. I don’t argue the United States should follow this path. As I’ve pointed out, the promulgation and curation of symbols from a single authority leads to a very brittle and unhealthy society and usually only to the benefit of the few who control the meaning of those symbols. But it’s ironic to point out that the free flow of symbolic ideas that once gave the United States its strength is now working to directly undermine it.

We are only at the beginning of our epistemological journey into an open sea littered with symbolic flotsam and jetsam. We still see a shoreline behind us and will still be guided by the beacon of the Enlightenment for some time to come. But before too long those will disappear. Time will place increasing amounts of distance between an age when symbols had potency and the coming age when most symbols become mere noise. And even though we have not yet traveled very far from safe harbor, we are already experiencing major strains on our vessel and are taking on water. Symbols are the glue holding our vessel, our shared reality, together. As these symbols become weaker through dilution, the problem will likely only to get worse.

Perhaps a rescue craft arrives to restores the power of our symbols. And hopefully it’s benevolent. Or, perhaps the death of shared symbols will open the door for some new extraordinary, unknowable method of coordinating our actions. Whatever the fix, we better hope it comes soon. The open sea does not look very inviting and, with the strong gales of climate change picking up, our time appears to be very short.

Climate Change Journalist and Activist Pours Heart Out About Concerns Over Climate Change, Unleashes Asshole Feeding Frenzy

My name is Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard). I’m a professional climate change denier and I use this blog to blow the whistle on myself and others, too.

If you are searching for evidence about how sick, twisted and dysfunctional segments of our society are, look no further than the replies to a series of tweets by journalist/meteorologist and climate change activist Eric Holthaus.

In the tweets, Holtahaus talks about his deep despair and anxiety over the threat of climate change. Then, in typical bully fashion, his tweets were featured on the front page of a right-wing propaganda site, mrcNewsBusters, which flies “Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias” on its masthead. While the NewsBuster piece, written by Tom Blumer, ostensibly suggests its readers “pity” Mr. Holthaus, I’m sure Mr. Blumer was well aware of the psychopathic mob that would rush to Mr. Holthaus’ Twitter feed in a gushing, orgiastic display of the very worst aspects of human nature. And that, of course, is precisely what happened. Here’s a small sample from some of the assholes who demonstrate precisely how deplorable they are:

There’s only one thing to do in the face of such extreme assholes: Don’t remain silent about assholes like me and keep calling us out for who we are.

And you can also show your solidarity for Mr. Holthaus on his new fundraising project to help him make a living blogging about climate change.

Tamino Melts Tony Heller’s Snow Job, Blizzard Now Brewing

My name is Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard). I’m a professional climate change denier and I use this blog to blow the whistle on myself and others, too.

As we all know, deniers like me love to cherry pick data to bolster our argument. For example, if Arctic sea ice cover is way down we emphasize Antarctic sea ice cover. If ice coverage at both poles is at record lows, as they are now, we talk about something else entirely, like this recent blog post about snow coverage.  It’s an endless shell game for us.

That’s why it was good to see a well known climate change statistician, Tamino, call me out on my cherry picking about snow coverage.

But stand by for some humiliation that I have vowed to send Tamino’s way:



How to Turn a Nice, Jewish, Climate-Change-Denying Dentist Into An Active Fascist with Just a Few Emails (Part 3)

This post is the third in a series chronicling my email exchanges with a climate-change-denying, retired dentist who has mistaken me for Tony Heller, a climate denier, and how I am able to lead him down a path toward fascism using the twisted logic of climate change denial as my entry point. If you haven’t read Part 1, or part 2, please do.

In part 2, “Bill,” our unwitting target, had assented to me helping him get his thoughts published to help defend Western Civilization against climate change scientists, progressives and Muslims. Part 3 goes far deeper into the rabbit hole with Bill showing no reluctance accepting my egregiously fascist positions and continues to show eagerness to team up with me.

We pick up Part 3 with this email from Bill which recounts his progression from a Gore voter to a climate change denier and right-wing ideologue and the influences which moved him there:

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How to Turn a Nice, Jewish, Climate-Change-Denying Dentist Into An Active Fascist with Just a Few Emails (Part 2)

This post is the second in a series chronicling my engagement with a climate-change-denying, retired dentist who has mistaken me for Tony Heller, a climate denier, and how I am able to lead him down a path toward fascism using the twisted logic of climate change denial as my entry point. If you haven’t read Part I, please do.

So we last left off with our anti-hero, “Bill,” agreeing to fund my fictional scheme by the Trump administration to smear climate scientists. Early this morning, I exchanged more emails with Bill in which I entice him into writing a piece for Tony Heller’s blog (who he thinks he’s talking to). I suggested he should give his account from a Gore supporter in 2000 to where he is today, a willing participant in fascist activities. Bill also reveals how quickly his fascist tendencies are progressing.

Here is the first email I received from Bill (again, the emails have been redacted and lightly edited to hide the original author’s identity):

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How to Turn a Nice, Jewish, Climate-Change-Denying Dentist Into An Active Fascist with Just a Few Emails, (Part 1)


Is it safe?

This blog is a parody of Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard), a climate change denier who has managed to make a name for himself equipped only with a blog and a Twitter account.

This is the first in a series of posts (read Part 2 and Part 3) that tell the story of how a fan of the real Tony Heller mistook me for the real Tony Heller and how I was subsequently able to get him to agree with and cheer on ridiculously fascist statements in emails I sent to him. I also persuaded him to actively contribute financially to support a fictional covert persecution of climate scientists by the Trump administration. This is not a parody post and the account I give below actually transpired. As this post is not meant to out the person I corresponded with, I have redacted information in the emails that might be used to identify this person. His first name has also been changed.

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BREAKING: CIA White House Spy Ring Plan Uncovered

This story isn’t being reported by the New York Times, Wasthington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC or even FoxNews so you know this shit is for real.

The mainstream media is suppressing a covert CIA operation it is setting up to spy on future White House operations and President-Elect Donald Trump. “High-level operatives within the CIA have declared Donald Trump the nation’s highest threat to national security,” said a source with intimate details of the operation.

The source said documents outlining the plans will be forthcoming and is currently in discussions with WikiLeaks to “blow the lid off this act of treason.”

More details to follow. Please post this far and wide on Facebook and Twitter to help uncover the threat to our Great and Wondrous Leader, Donald Trump.