Christopher Monckton files a questionable affidavit

Via Ed I see that Christopher Monckton, the fake expert in climate change who has been repeatedly told by Parliament to stop calling himself an Member of the House of Lords,, claims he’s the inventor of a magical disease cure of HIV, MS, flu and the common cold, and recently a birther, has now submitted an affidavit (read here) pushing his bogus birther stats argument. The only problem? I think one could argue he’s now opened his factually-questionable statements to legal scrutiny. From his affidavit:

I am over the age of 18 and am a resident of the United Kingdom. The information herein is based upon my ownpersonal knowledge. If called as a witness, I could testify competently thereto. I have a degree in Classical Architecture from Cambridge University. The course included instruction in mathematics. I am the Director of Monckton Enterprises Ltd., a consultancy corporation which, inter alia, specializes in investigating scientific frauds at government level, on which I advised Margaret Thatcher from 1982-1986 at 10 Downing Street during her time as Prime Minister. I have experience in the use of certain mathematical techniques which allow rigorous
assessment of probabilities including the probability that a document has been forged. I have published papers in the reviewed literature on climate science and economics and am an appointed expert reviewer for the forthcoming
Fifth Assessment Report (2013) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

First of all, just because you had a course or two in mathematics while getting a degree in classical architecture, doesn’t make you a mathematician. I took plenty of courses in math while getting my degree in physics, but it doesn’t make me a math expert. But that’s not the biggest problem with his claims. He has repeatedly asserted he has published papers in the peer reviewed literature and recently he’s inflated his resume with the claim he’s an appointed expert reviewer for the IPCC. His claims of scientific contributions have been challenged before, and he’s defended himself with this response at Watt’s up with that:

The editors of Physics and Society asked me to write a paper on climate sensitivity in 2008. The review editor reviewed it in the usual way and it was published in the July 2008 edition, which, like most previous editions, carried a headnote to the effect that Physics and Society published “reviewed articles”. Peer-review takes various forms. From the fact that the paper was invited, written, reviewed and then published, one supposes the journal had followed its own customary procedures. If it hadn’t, don’t blame me. Subsequent editions changed the wording of the headnote to say the journal published “non-peer-reviewed” articles, and the editors got the push. No mention of any of this by the caveman, of course.

What the editors actually wrote was:

The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review, since that is not normal procedure for American Physical Society newsletters. The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

To claim that this one article, in a newsletter, which the editors have explicitly said was not peer reviewed, constitutes “published papers” (plural) in the “reviewed literature”, is simply not correct. Even if you had thought that this had been peer-reviewed before, surely now that the editors have said “no it was not” is no reason to continue to claim that it was. After searching multiple databases including Google Scholar, Thomson Reuters web of knowledge, and Scirus, I can find little more than a book chapter in a crank textbook suggesting Monckton has ever contributed anything to any “literature”, and has not contributed to a peer-reviewed journal article. This contradicts his assertion that he has contributed multiple times to the peer reviewed literature. The one time he has defended this assertion, he was contradicted by the editors of the newsletter he claimed had peer-reviewed his piece. It makes me wonder if he understands what peer review is, because it’s very clear what it is when you’ve actually done it. Since there is no evidence he has ever has had his writing subjected to true peer review, it’s likely he has no idea what it actually involves, and his statement that it takes “various” forms is clearly based on no personal experience as he has no peer-reviewed articles in the scientific literature.

Peer review is straightforward and doesn’t take “various forms”. You submit an article to a journal, it is distributed by the editor to other scientists who publish in the relevant field who then submit critiques. These critiques are addressed or rebutted by the author, resubmitted to the reviewers, and then rinse-repeat until everyone is satisfied that the critiques have been adequately addressed. If he was indeed peer-reviewed in this piece, I’m sure he kept the reviewers critiques? Or the editions before and after review? No? Then you weren’t peer reviewed. He seems to be confusing “edited” with peer-reviewed, in that some brain-dead editor read his article and still somehow thought it was a wise idea to publish it.

Second, his claim that he’s an appointed reviewer for the IPCC? This is contradicted by the IPCC! Here’s the IPCC response:

Anyone can register as an expert reviewer on the open online registration systems set up by the working groups. All registrants that provide the information requested and confirm their scientific expertise via a self-declaration of expertise are accepted for participation in the review. They are invited to list publications, but that is not a requirement and the section can be left blank when registering. There is no appointment.

An architecture degree does not make you a mathematician or a statistician, a non-peer reviewed commentary in a physics newsletter does not make you a peer-reviewed scientist, filling out an online form does not appoint you to the IPCC, and you’re not an member of the House of Lords if Parliament repeatedly sends you letters telling you to stop calling yourself one.

I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect it might be a legal error to compound these factual mistakes by swearing to them in an affidavit. Filing a false affidavit, after all, is considered perjury.

That any of the denialists in the crankosphere think it’s a good idea to associate themselves with this guy is just another example of the Dunning-Kruger effect – the tendency of the incompetent to be unable to recognize incompetence in themselves or others. This guy is the quintessential fake expert, unless you consider him an expert in resume padding.

He gets the chimp!

14 thoughts on “Christopher Monckton files a questionable affidavit”

  1. As I recall, Peter Hadfield also went digging to determine whether his claims to have been an advisor to Thatcher held up and… came up more-or-less blank.

    I wonder what you call someone who displays a reckless disregard for facts/truth the way Monckton does… hmm… if only I could think of a word…

  2. From memory, I don’t think he’s ever claimed to be an MP… I think you’re thinking of his (bogus) claim to be a Member of the House of Lords, which is a rather different matter. That’s certainly what the letter you link to says.

    (For those unfamiliar with the Parliament of the United Kingdom, MPs are elected to the Commons, whilst the House of Lords is the unelected upper chamber.)

    1. My understanding that MP is generic, as member of Congress may also refer to either house. It’s also why his writings are accompanied by that crowned porticullis, the symbol of Parliament.

  3. Hi Mark, i wouldn’t say that MP is generic for members of both the house of commons and the house of lords. In fact, as post nominal letters they specifically denote a member of the lower house. A member of the upper house would always be “Lord X” (of the unknown), so they shouldn’t need the post nominal as their title indicates their access to the upper house (clearly become more complicated since not all Lords have access these days)

  4. My understanding that MP is generic, as member of Congress may also refer to either house. It’s also why his writings are accompanied by that crowned porticullis, the symbol of Parliament.


    No. Members of Parliament are elected.

    Peers are not. They get their position

    1. From being Bishops in the Church of England
    2. From Patronage – appointed for being the Prime Minister’s secretary.
    3. Depending on who their parents shagged. Inherited.

    Not one has been elected.

    So if you get the basic facts wrong, what hope for the rest?

    You also have to remember who the Clerk of Parliaments is. He’s in the pay of the other peers, and his very large salary depends on doing as he’s told.

  5. The UK Parliament’s site starts with the following statement:
    “MPs and Members of the Lords sit in the two Chambers of Parliament scrutinising the Government and debating legislation.”
    That statement seems to limit “MP” to members of the House of Commons, which is the normal usage in UK speech.

  6. Mark, your understanding of MP is wrong. You should change it in the blog post as it weakens an otherwise powerful piece. Just replace it with ‘member of the House of Lords’ as suggested by Dunc.

    1. I stand corrected, I’ll fix. I was confused by the UK parliament wiki entry that says:

      The parliament is bicameral, with an upper house, the House of Lords, and a lower house, the House of Commons.[2] The Queen is the third component of the legislature.[3][4] The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual (the senior bishops of the Church of England) and the Lords Temporal (members of the Peerage) whose members are not elected by the population at large, but are appointed by the Sovereign on advice of the Prime Minister.[5] Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009 the House of Lords also performed a judicial role through the Law Lords.

      One would then think that as the House of Lords is one of the houses of parliament you could use the term generically. However the wiki on “members of parliament” does say:

      A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members, such as “senators”.

      Members of the House of Lords, however their membership comes about, are members of a legislative chamber which is part of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Although technically they are part of the parliament, they are never referred to in the United Kingdom as members of parliament but as peers, or more formally as Lords of Parliament.

      Sorry I was confused on the terminology. I admit I’m not an expert on the British system of government.

  7. Another dubious claim Monckton makes that is rarely pointed out is his claim to be an architect or, occassionally, a ‘classical architect’. There are examinations to be passed and experience to be gained before you can call yourself an architect. I don’t believe Monckton has any of the qualifications, and he is about 2500 years too late to call himself a ‘classical architect’.

    On the scale of Moncktons misdemeanors this is probably trivial, but still worth a mention.

  8. Nick shows us the way of lazy reasoning:

    So if you get the basic facts wrong, what hope for the rest?

    Why, next thing you know, people will be pointing to a transposition error in AR4 regarding the final melt-away of Himalayan glacier ice and declaring in no uncertain terms that on the basis of that error alone, the whole thing is wrong.

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