Tom Fuller offers a view on RC

RC’s approach and particularly its moderation policies are being discussed quite widely across the blogosphere. The latest such missive comes from lukewarmer Tom Fuller (sorry Tom if lukewarmer doesn’t quite catch it) in his thread “Hiding the Decline at Real Climate.”

A quote from Tom’s post gives the flavour:

Real Climate is a weblog that is the defacto voice of the establishment regarding climate change issues. It is financed by an environmental media communications outfit and staffed primarily by Gavin Schmidt, who works at NASA.

They were one of the very first climate weblogs and scientists have used it as a forum to discuss relevant issues and try to educate the public. However, it also quickly became a venue for defending the policy positions of people like Al Gore and James Hansen, and they are now just the propaganda arm of the extreme end of the climate/political spectrum.

They had a brief resurrection following Climategate, where Gavin Schmidt heroically responded to over 2,000 comments in three days and became my blogger of the year. His work was more impressive because Real Climate has always been famous for the tendency to censor comments, deleting opposing views and cutting out the ‘good’ parts of what critics have written. It got so bad that there is a website devoted to comments that have been deleted by Real Climate. During the immediate aftermath of Climategate, all comments got through, and Schmidt was courteous and prompt in responding to even hostile comments. It was a bravura performance.


Real Climate has tried for years to control the flow of information about climate change, censoring commenters, ridiculing opponents, resurrecting discredited tenets of the hysteric faction of the climate crew. In doing so they have sacrificed any opportunity to serve as a forum for meaningful discussion of the issues, and they spend their time preaching to the choir–while public opinion turns away from them.

Over at Climate Audit, people are posting the comments that have not been published recently at Real Climate. If my characterization of Real Climate is correct, I can see why they would not want those comments published.

But if I am mistaken about Real Climate, the questions become, why don’t they allow critical comments? Why do they publish lame defences of a discredited Hockey Stick and a pathetic paper the only function of which is to create a blacklist to intimidate climate scientists early in their careers?

If anyone at Real Climate wants to respond, I promise they won’t be censored here.

For more, go visit Tom at


2 Responses to “Tom Fuller offers a view on RC”

  1. rcrejects Says:

    There is a lot of discussion on RC moderation policy at Keith Kloor’s Collide-A-Scape blog in the “Gavin’s Perspective” thread. Too much to attempt to copy and paste here.

    However, there is a very interesting exchange between Tom Fuller and Gavin Schmidt that is worth repeating here:

    Post 148: Tom Fuller Says: August 5th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I will try and phrase this as delicately as possible, but I’m never going to be a diplomat, so please accept this as intended without rancor.

    Gavin, I find it troubling that there is such a difference in your behaviour and demeanor here as opposed to Real Climate. You are doing very well here, and I compliment you on that.

    Simultaneously, you are engaged in the moderating behaviour that has made RC infamous over the years. As I am one of the subjects of it, let me just say that RC’s collective behaviour has been one of the reasons I do not trust what you collectively say. In the past 24 hours you have refused to post two comments, edited the sense completely out of one, and posted comments after hours of delay while approving other comments, insuring that my comments are completely out of the order of discussion.

    As this is the fifth or sixth time I have been treated in this fashion, I am not likely to be swayed by previous arguments that things get lost, caught in moderation, or that your edits are for brevity.

    My posts at RC were carefully worded not to be personal. They are in response to a defense of a scientific paper that was posted on your weblog. It has received 144 comments–that you have seen fit to publish, at least, including a good half dozen that contain personal attacks on me.

    Which method of communication do you prefer? That which you practice at RC, or that which you preach here at CaS?

    Gavin responds:

    Post 157: Gavin Says: August 5th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    #148 Tom Fuller.

    This will be my only word on this issue.
    1) You do not have the right to comment on any blog anywhere, nor do I have any responsibility to provide you with a platform.
    2) Your blog, your blog rules. Same for everyone else.
    3) You are not as interesting as you think you are (this is of course true for everyone).
    4) If you want to have comments posted at RC, don’t accuse people falsely, don’t insist that contributors are unethical or liars, don’t compare the authors of a scientific paper with homophobes and don’t whine about how you are being repressed when insults are edited out. We are simply not interested in being a platform for you jumping on your ethical high horse. It’s extremely tiresome.
    4) If you don’t like RC, then fine, never read it again. If you don’t like me, then stop demanding I pay attention to you. I am not running for office, and your personal feeling towards me or RC are not something I care about.
    5) Nonetheless, you appear to want to communicate with us and care what we say. Given choices I have to make with my time and that I generally need to have a positive reason to engage with someone particular, you might want to try harder to provide one.
    6) Your call.

    Tom replies:

    Post 158: Tom Fuller Says: August 5th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Gavin, your point number 4 is flat out untrue. The rest are obvious. My call? To go on treating RC as a biased source of propaganda that occasionally posts something interesting regarding the science.

    I thank you for your previous service, especially the climate basics on your site.

  2. rcrejects Says:

    “Against his better judgement”, Gavin responds:

    Post 165: Gavin Says: August 5th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    #158 Tom Fuller.

    Against my better judgment, here are some direct quotes from the deleted posts:
    “What would your reaction be if somebody took all those letters and petitions and published them as sodomites deserving of God’s punishment for the crime of having AIDS? Tell me how what you have done is any different?”
    “This is unethical. It also makes the authors’ claim that no repercussions will occur as a result of the paper’s publication somewhat disingenuous.”
    “The [XX]’s of this world have already called for this list to be used to deny funding, tenure and grants to scientists.”
    It is worth pointing out that “XX” made no such call. Readers can judge the whether Fuller’s comments are useful contributions to any dialog. I have no interest in communicating further with him.

    Shub weighs in:

    Shub Niggurath Says: August 5th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    gavin. None of your condescension towards Mr Fuller seems to apply to anyone who agrees with the basic ‘tenets’ of CAGW at Realclimate. Some climateers are more equal than others. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

    Since people here think (for eg Doug) that comment moderation is something totally unconnected to other aspects in climate science and debate, I have a question. Do you remember the discussion with Roger Pielke Jr, soon after climategate, where you argued that gatekeeping should be practised on enforced in the peer-reviewed literature?

    I’ve always taken that (long) discussion to be indicative of how RC moderators keep their good conscience after bumping off people comments.

    Tom replies:

    Post 168: Tom Fuller Says: August 5th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Gavin, I really don’t want to hijack this thread or take you away from good responses to other questions.

    I’ve done my best to recreate the comment you didn’t post and I put it on Readers are free to judge how accurate your characterization is. My own opinion is that you are deliberately distorting what I wrote, and my opinion of you is not enhanced by what I consider to be distortion.

    But if you want to continue, either comment at examiner (where you won’t be edited, censored or deleted–wouldn’t that be something refreshing?) or we can take it up via email.

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