The Crusher Crew Sockpuppets

A climate discussion without skulduggery and intolerance? Please.

Andrew Montford, aka Bishop Hill was on the BBC recently (!). This is what happened:

Host: Prince Charles says sceptics are headless chicken. Any thoughts?
Scientist: I agree. We have mountains of evidence that ‘climate change is real and humans are causing it’. CO2 is going up.
Montford: Well, CO2 is going up. But so-called evidence that humans are cause comes from computer models. Models have problems. They’re running hot.
Scientist: What problems? I don’t know of any problems. …
Montford: They don’t do aerosols well. They didn’t get the pause right….
Scientist: No, they do have pauses. Just …erm…
Montford: Why recently, another scientist Hans von Storch said in Nature magazine…
Host: Thanks gentlemen. That’s all we have time for.

Talk broke out at a venue name andtherephysics. It was framed along the usual lines.

First, from the blog owner:

…if the BBC wants to interview someone about how climate models work and about the uncertainties associated with climate modelling, why do they choose to interview a blogger …


I have nothing against having climate ostriches in the media. It is an opinion that should be represented. However, it should not be in a program about science.


Something I do find a little strange is that I haven’t seen more complaints about this from the scientists themselves. … why would they be happy about Montford appearing – more than once – on the BBC …


The question here is really whether Montford is a suitable person to be interviewed about climate modeling.


Do you think that Montford is suitable? Yes or not. Simple answer.


 He has no business there, and the BBC did their listeners a disservice by bringing him on that show.


I don’t think this is a good way of informing the public.


Putting people like Montford on the a big media outlet like BBC, spouting nonsense about how the planet hasn’t warmed in 20 years and climate models are way off so there’s nothing to worry about – that’s going to give people the perception that it’s not an urgent problem.


 The point is that fringe contrarians are fringe and should not be given a platform by the MSM. There is no point in “debating” with them or listening to their rubbish.


Do you agree that if someone like Montford continuously says, “there hasn’t been any warming at all for the last two decades” he should be held accountable


the real problem is that the guy who can be expected to make wrong statements, given that he’s not a climate scientist and rejects the expert climate consensus (and is usually wrong about climate science), was brought onto BBC Radio to begin with.


But by the same token, I think that they should be asked to be accountable for what they say.


 Should the scientist … be challenged by someone who is playing a political game and either knows that what he says is not true or isn’t qualified to be pontificating on the issue?


The point is that this isn’t the best way to inform the public, and it’s about time that institutions that are supposed to be informing the public came to realise that.


Richard Tol … Maybe I should ban you here for the same reason?

and on and on ad infinitum until the end:

So, yes, there are people commenting on this thread who would rather Montford were not interviewed about climate science. I happen to have the same opinion. 

The display would prompt anyone to pause … Montford the sceptic appears on radio for 5 minutes and wailing and gnashing of teeth breaks out over hundreds and hundreds of comments. …there is something off here. This is abnormal.

Let there be no doubt: this is not media criticism or ‘concern’ for the ‘quality of discourse’ though such robes are hastily donned. This is a problem. This is a major crisis. This is sceptics and sceptical views acquiring exposure in prestige press outlets such as the BBC.

The modus operandi is standard. First, the encounter is framed as something different, in this instance as being “about how climate models work”, transferring the realm-of-argument behind lines of supposed expert judgement. This disqualifies the participant Montford. Next, the interviewer mutates from a journalist to educator whose job is “informing the public”. Suddenly, it is ‘false balance’ (i.e. pitchfork) time.

In a thread filled with loud protest, a ‘badgersouth’ stood out making nothing else but cries for ‘justice’, i.e., cleansing and complaints to the authorities.


It turns out, badgersmith is a alias for Skepticalscience writer and moderator John Hartz. Hartz is one half of ‘Crusher Crew‘, the caped climate duo of John Hartz and Rob Honeycutt, who planned to “pounce on overly vocal deniers on various comments sections of blogs and news articles” and “cruise comments sections online looking for disinformation to crush”.

Over a year back Stephen Lewandowsky was harvesting online comments from critics for his paper and an active location was ‘’. Unknown to readers the comments on the website were managed by Skepticalscience’s moderators, a team that includes Hartz. Posting under his real name, Hartz appeared to drop hints on what was going on:

John Hartz ostrich

Lew John Hartz

The moderators co-operated with the paper authors, even selectively releasing comments for the purpose of citation in the paper:stolen comments

Likewise, in this instance Hartz did not reveal himself or his Skepticalscience links. Curiously enough he didnt stop at complaints; he was offering help from Skepticalscience to run the blog:

An offer to help

I wonder how much more of the sock-puppetry and noxious dirty tricks climate activism can take before it overdoses.



  1. Brandon Shollenberger

    If John Hartz’s comment #125 is taken at face value, Recursive Fury was worse than I thought. It would mean Stephan Lewandowsky wrote a blog specifically to trigger responses for his paper, and people not involved in the paper were aware of this. Nothing in the paper indicated that, and it certainly isn’t okay. Triggered reactions do not necessarily reflect normal views as the triggers can bias the results, and there is no way to ensure data integrity when informed outside parties are participating in the experiment.

    I don’t know if Hartz knew of plans for Recursive Fury, or if he was just making jokes, but it is interesting to see. It’s also kind of immaterial at this point though as it looks like the paper is never going to be published.

    Incidentally, this reminds me of how terrible the SI for the paper was. The authors claimed to provide all relevant comments in their supporting documentation, but the reality is they cherry-picked a relatively small number. Plenty of relevant comments in that thread weren’t included.

  2. Shub Niggurath

    “I don’t know if Hartz knew of plans for Recursive Fury, or if he was just making jokes, but it is interesting to see.”

    That’s my point too. It’s not possible to say he knew or not. Lewandowsky had activated the Cook-Marriott team for comment harvesting, as per records, a week back. These sort of comments from Hartz makes one wonder. Hartz was making similar comments at Skepticalscience even after the paper was published.

    The moderators releasing comments after deletion makes it worse. It means, they were running comments by Cook and Lewandowsky who then decided to release comments convenient to their case. Which implies they deleted comments troublesome to their case.

    It -is- worse than we thought.

  3. willard (@nevaudit)

    Seems that badger is doing an awfully bad job at sockpuppetry:

    KR at 03:59 AM on 8 September, 2011

    Badgersouth – Um, no insult intended, but could you please provide some context for the links you have been posting? For example, why it might be interesting, or what it discusses?

    I have to admit that I have followed exactly none of your links, as they lack said context.

    John Hartz at 07:19 AM on 8 September, 2011
    @KR #95:

    The context for the links that I am providing is the article itself. When I see something that I blelieve provides additional/updated information, I post a link to it.

  4. Shub Niggurath

    badgersouth doesn’t say he’s John Hartz, blows steam, bashes ‘deniers’, – fine
    badgersouth doesn’t say he’s John Hartz, volunteers Skepticalscience’s Daniel Bailey as moderator – not fine

    In, Hartz posts as Hartz, but where did he warn readers the crew from Skepticalscience were moderating comments?

    Owing to these, there is duplicitousness in his actions. Maybe he didn’t intend for it happen. But he kept safe under his pseudonym while attacking critics and asking for their comments to be deleted – both Barry’s and mine.

    It is not up to other readers to go digging around people’s identities. When I see ‘willard (nevaudit)’ posting I assume it is the same person and not 5 different people. In badgersouth’s case, just as you did, I clicked on his gravatar profile to get to his website and saw nothing. I happened to go looking further after getting censored by andphysics.

  5. willard (@nevaudit)

    > I clicked on his gravatar profile to get to his website and saw nothing […]

    Me neither, hence I asked him:

    Snake oil salesmen often talk about what matters for Otters as if they could read their minds.

    Speaking of which, please comment this, badger south: [Followed by Mother Goose’s tweet that confirmed what Shub knew all along and which blackened the helicopters]

    The only persons to whom the distinction between “John Hartz” and “badger south” may matter are this who read SkS, and SkS readers know they refer to the same individual.

    The case is simple, really. Anyone who has Shub’s education level should be able to understand it. It may take courage to stop blackening helicopters, though.


    Nice weather in York, isn’t it?

  6. Shub Niggurath

    “Me neither, hence I asked him”

    There’s something hidden between the “me neither” and the “hence I asked him”.

    The ‘hence’ actually doesn’t belong there, does it? You and I both saw badgersouth’s badgering but I went looking for who this guy was, found it and dragged it out into the open on Twitter. You learned only afterward. You had no reason to suspect something was amiss.

    If badger was the honest badger you say he is, he would have declared himself to the participating audience who knew him by his real name.

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  8. willard (@nevaudit)

    You got your story all wrong, Shub, but I like it. It’s quite entertaining, really. We can almost hear the sound of big blades whirling.

    The thing is that badger identifies himself with that pseudonym. That you insist in wanting his real name “in the open” does not bode well on your understanding of identity. We might as well consider Eli a sockpuppet.

    Worse, your misunderstanding of those issues can have repercussions on your own choice of writing under a pseudonym. For instance, here’s what Barry J Woods has to say about anonymous cowards:

    Any comment on that, O Thing of the past?

  9. timg56

    So willard has taken to using a helicopter to assist in his spreading of squirrels.

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