Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Anthony Watts refuses to eat quiche and continues his boorish behaviour

Sou | 4:50 PM Go to the first of 21 comments. Add a comment
Update - I've added below a video of a talk given yesterday at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference by Yeb SaƱo, the Philippines delegate (h/t greenman3610) - together with the reaction to it by Anthony Watts' hangers on.

I don't know how WUWT readers can put up with this.  Today Anthony Watts has posted yet another article trying to justify his atrocious behaviour following Typhoon Haiyan / Typhoon Yolanda (archived here and updated here). This latest one follows a series of appalling articles which I've summarised here.

Anthony Watts refuses quiche

Anthony starts off singling out Greg Laden again.  Then Greenpeace.  He cannot abide anyone who knows that global warming is harmful.  And I expect he's wanting to prove that he doesn't "eat quiche" and he won't give in to social pressure to behave as a responsible human being in modern society is expected to behave.

Typhoon Haiyan was no big deal, blurts Anthony Watts

Anthony is arguing that the recent few dozen typhoons to hit the region don't count for anything because the trend (as at 2005 or 2009) didn't go up.  He is arguing that because Typhoon Haiyan might have "only" killed 10,000 and more people, it's not the worst ever.  The fact that it flattened a city of 200,000 and killed maybe one in every twenty of its residents is no big deal.

And anyway, Anthony argues, it's only in the top ten worst cyclone/typhoon disasters in terms of fatalities since the 1960s.  And that's despite the stupendous improvements in tracking cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons. And despite the huge advances in advance warnings, communication, transport and shelter over the past few decades.  And despite the fact that thousands evacuated to safer territory before the typhoon hit.  I doubt the people in the Philippines and Vietnam are consoled.

I thought I'd run out of words last time.  I was sure with all the flack he's been getting both at WUWT and elsewhere (including admonition from his some among his band of fake sceptics, but not on this particular thread), Anthony would realise just how awful he appears.

What can motivate someone to behave so badly - and repeat that behaviour over and over again?  Even when he's been told by so many people how bad it makes him look.  Is he oblivious to what he's doing?  Is Anthony Watts unaware that he comes across as a thug, an insensitive oaf, a person totally devoid of ethics, a person insensitive to human suffering, a person who will do anything, no matter how vile, to reject the science of climate change?

Anthony's behaviour is extreme, even for climate blog wars.  It is about as far removed from common decency as it could be.  And the really awful part is that Anthony is arguing a phantom of his own creation.  He's making up stuff just to shoot it down.  Which makes his behaviour all the worse.  (I've not read of any climate scientist, nor anyone in the media arguing that Typhoon Haiyan was "caused by" global warming.  The closest is people reporting what the latest science shows, that while tropical storms may not increase, they will probably get fiercer in coming decades as the world warms.  And even if we don't get more super storms, then rising sea levels will create worse storm surges than we see today.)

I don't normally delve too far into psychology to try to fathom people's behaviour.  In this case I'm starting to think there something fundamentally wrong.  Is this too strong a description?

From the WUWT comments

Here are some of the worst comments, following the lead that Anthony Watts set (archived here).

The WUWT comments are aimed at the Philippines delegate at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, who is shown speaking below.  Watch the video and then see if you can bear to read the comments.

Richard Sharpe says:
November 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm
Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines climate chief Yeb Sano makes emotional plea for climate change action
The last desperate stand of ratbags

hunter says:
November 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm
The frustrating thing when a high level insider like Yeb Sano makes a plea like this is that he is diverting attention from his failure to help prepare his nation for the inevitability of storms. This is not the worst storm to have ever hit the Philippines. It will not be the last.
If he is as educated as he claims, he should know this.
Why did he not help prepare people in vulnerable areas better?
Why is he pursuing this course instead of actually helping his nation?
Why is he making statements that are not supported by history or fact?

Jquip says:
November 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm
Tad: “In the meantime, the “Climate Change Commissioner” for the Philippines is saying things like, “To climate change doubters, visit PH”, and “We refuse to accept typhoons as way of life”.”
Frankly, I’d rather they dissemble in the face of cruelty than that they turned their incompetence loose on relief efforts.

nevket240 says (excerpt):
November 12, 2013 at 3:09 am
What this venal jerk is posturing for is $$$$$$. and big bundles at that.
Without a doubt the biggest cause of the number of deaths is the 3rd world infrastucture of the area and the topography. With decent construction standards and a competent Government many deaths could have been avoided. But, I can virtually guarantee that any funds spent on redeveloping the area will be rorted by corrupt officials and the same thing will happen again in time.
Sad but true.


  1. There is a recent book called "Narcissism: Behind the Mask" by Thomas which has an excellent list of character traits. Of the 15 or so traits described, I am confident we can tick off at least 10 for Willard. NPD is a type of psycopathy.

    1. I am thinking (out loud) that maybe Anthony is unable to feel shame. His social meter doesn't work. He has learnt that society doesn't tolerate certain very obvious forms of behaviour, so he can function to a point. But the subtleties of decency, manners and ethics are beyond him. It would explain not just this episode but his erratic and otherwise inexplicable behaviour at other times, too.

      It must make life very difficult for him, but he's probably not aware that it does.

      Don't get me wrong. I don't excuse his behaviour, nor do I feel sorry for him. Just attempting to find an explanation I suppose. It's not often that you comes across someone who behaves in this manner and when you do you know there's got to be something wrong.

    2. Sounds a bit like sociopathy...

      Bernard J.

    3. Yes, that's what I figure might explain it (see link in the article).

      According to this specialist, it's not as uncommon as you might think.

    4. I was thinking sociopath as well. He's clearly mentally disturbed, and so are his followers.

  2. If I was currently teaching a statistics course to undergrads, I would set this essay question:

    "If it's not the [biggest, highest, longest... mostest] ever, there is no trend over time toward [bigger, higher, longer... moster] occurences.


    Oh, and use statistics.

    If I was currently teaching a logical thinking/philosophy course to undergrads, I would set this essay question:

    "If it's not the [biggest, highest, longest... mostest] ever, there is no trend over time toward [bigger, higher, longer... moster] occurences.


    Oh, and use logic.

    If I was currently teaching an ethics course to undergrads, I would set this essay question:

    "If it's not the [biggest, highest, longest... mostest] ever, there is no trend over time toward [bigger, higher, longer... moster] occurences. Therefore we do not need to change our behaviour.


    Oh, and bonus points for using statistics and logic.

    In each case I would ask that they refer to the current response of denialists to the trend in climate extremes.

    Bernard J.

  3. "Anthony argues, it's only in the top ten worst cyclone/typhoon disasters in terms of fatalities since the 1960s"

    Only the 1960s. At The Conversation I have had "the Calcutta cyclone in 1737 where over 300,000 people died" twice from two different climate cranks. Once for super cyclone Phailin in early October and again today as evidence as to why Haiyan is nothing special.

    It is unlikely to be true. The urban population in Kolkata in 1737 was < 20000. It appears to be a tall tale from a Gentleman's magazine of the time that morphed from rumour to fact.

    Actually I just noticed that it was no. 2 on Watt's list as well. It is debunked here.

    1. Yes, I was being generous there. In Anthony's long list it was in the top ten since the 1960s.

      However Anthony was true to form - thinking he was "denying" but actually showing just how extreme this storm was. For his list of 35 deadly storms he had to traipse all the way back in time to 1281 would you believe! Which shows that all those storms can be called extreme. It doesn't mean this one wasn't.

    2. MikeH
      You should reread what you linked to. He didn’t say that many people didn’t die from a Calcutta cyclone; he said they didn’t die from an earthquake.

      “Although official reports discuss only the damage in Calcutta, and it is possible that the 300,000 estimated fatalities include those in coastal villages in what is now East Bengal and Bangladesh, it is evident that this large number of fatalities could be caused by widespread flooding induced by a severe cyclone, but not by earthquake shaking of dwellings consisting largely of thatch.
      The silence in official reports about an earthquake or earthquake damage, and the absence of evidence for soil liquefaction suggests that perhaps no substantial earthquake occurred.
      Minor seismicity is not unknown near Calcutta, and small to moderate earthquakes could indeed have occurred that night. There is little doubt, however, that the number of fatalities resulting from the 1737 event attributable to seismic shaking has been vastly overstated. The listing of this event in catalogs of the world's most disastrous earthquakes is thus indefensible.”

      Note India still lists it as 300,000 too.


    3. Keep reading, Brian. It was a massive storm but the death toll was likely 3,000 not 300,000. (pop. 20,000)

    4. It is also on the list at Jeff Master's Weather Underground site - that is where Watts gets it from. But they add the disclaimer "Death counts from large killer cyclones are highly uncertain, particulary (sic) for those before 1900. The above rankings are somewhat speculative."

  4. Watts hasn't picked a very good hill to defend. Whatever the case concerning the connection of any particular storm to larger trends, the optics are not good.

    "This is the third time in the past 12 months the Philippines have set a new record for their most expensive natural disaster in history. The record was initially set by Typhoon Bopha of December 2012, with $1.7 billion in damage; that record was beaten by the $2.2 billion in damage done by the August 2013 floods on Luzon caused by moisture associated with Typhoon Trami."

    Jeff Masters

  5. 10.000 would be near double the worst natural(?) disaster the Filippines ever went through (that disaster being an earthquake).

    "I don't normally delve too far into psychology to try to fathom people's behaviour."
    Nah, sometimes have to: know ur enemy.

  6. There's been more than a little commentary both from the extreme climate change denialists and from some apparently temperate centrists who say that the death and devastation in the Philippines is the fault of the people and especially of the government for not being sufficiently prepared.

    Anyone who has seen the utter devastation would recognise that nothing can stop this force of nature, just as nothing will stop the raging wildfires which I've encountered myself too many times for comfort. And all the more so given that the Philippines doesn't have the Western level of economic wealth as a buffer.

    And it's this extreme manifestation of climate as a norm that Australia's neo-fascist government is happy to bring to fruitition for the sake of their ideology.

    This type of self-deluding magical thinking, where the best of rational human understanding is completely discarded for the sake of individual fantasy, should be a bar from working in positions of responsibility.

    I hope that someone decides at some point in the near future to sue the pants off these criminally negligent bastards.

    Bernard J.

    1. "I hope that someone decides at some point in the near future to sue the pants off these criminally negligent bastards."

      May we speak out this hope - knowing it can be realized by one condition only?

    2. ...it's this extreme manifestation of climate as a norm that Australia's neo-fascist government is happy to bring to fruitition for the sake of their ideology.

      And all that money. Money makes the magic go, for some.

      What's really sad is seeing people such as Watts' followers volunteer to make complete fools of themselves, for no pay.

    3. Blaming the victim is a standby of Western commentary, I'm afraid. The Centre is as prone to it as the Right.

      And, again, what price Lomborg's Pollyannaisms?

      One grows rich (inevitably!) by specifically refusing to act on the root cause of increasing global temperatures, and then somewhere down the track you're (also inevitably!) so wealthy you can just toss up magical buildings that can withstand 300+kmh wind gusts and 6+m storm surges? Because the gains of inaction will always be higher than the costs of cleaning up after such disasters along the way?

  7. Sou
    The Nation has this headline.
    Yes, Typhoon Haiyan Was Caused by Climate Change


  8. "Is Anthony Watts unaware that he comes across as a thug?"

    His wacko followers are just as bad. I've got one constantly circulating his junk, over and over again, no matter how many times it's refuted. He then tries to insult me into accepting his guru's holy words.

    Naturally, I'M the problem.

    Are these people suffering from some sort of definable mental illness? I don't care whether or not they believe in global warming or climate change, but I mean their aggression and hostility in forcing others through insults and snippy remarks. I've told this looney tunes I don't care, but he keeps attacking and making snide comments.

    1. Anthony used to announce the weather on a television station before he started his blog. I think his blog is his biggest success in life.

      Anthony doesn't say too many words himself. When he does he gets into strife because he almost always gets it wrong, sometimes hilariously so.

      His blog is mostly comprised of guest articles from anyone from rabid conspiracy theorists to the very occasional contrarian scientist. The fillers are contributions from pseudo-science commenters, some of whom have their own blog but get a bigger audience at Anthony's blog. And he tries to post a press release from a proper scientific publication once every couple of days so his readers can scoff at science.

      He publishes around three articles a day, which is one reason why his blog attracts attention.

      The result is that people have a smorgasbord of nutty ideas to choose from. Often they'll choose all of them at once, even though one will contradict another one.

      It's very much like creationists I believe. (I've not entered creationist discussions). Not that they are religious in that sense. But they do go for aggro and gish gallops.

      Many of the WUWT followers, and Anthony himself, have very limited vocabulary. If you challenge them on a factual basis using the slightest amount of sarcasm they revert to accusations using words like "hate" and "mendacious", which they use a lot. The misuse of "ad hom" is another favourite of theirs. (I don't think they know what the words mean.)

    2. Thanks for the insights. I noticed that their snide comments are rote, repeated without concern for context. Even if I've said NOTHING, just passing along an article, the insults and red herrings come out, based on nothing I've said personally.

      Very weird people. And what is their problem? They don't want to pay extra taxes? It's all a huge conspiracy by some sort of agency or another trying to scam us all, for whatever reason?

      I've reminded this Wattsian fanatic that the destruction of the environment used to be DENIED strenuously by the same type of powers, including various corporations. It was only because of efforts by scientists and the public that the gov't and Big Business have even begun to acknowledge there's a problem.

      These fanatics seem to be clueless about that fact, behaving as if the gov't one day just decided to pull environment degradation out of its ass.


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.