How to Talk Like an Oily, Dishonest Creep

by | Apr 1, 2012

This video comes via


George Marshall, who presents the video, is from the head-shrinking school of ‘climate change communication’, and a campaigning colleague of Adam Corner, whose propaganda ‘research’ was discussed in the previous post. He believes that values are transmitted socially, and thus the way to ‘speak to a sceptic’ is to effect a kind of charm… And Lo! See how they suddenly see the world through your eyes.

It’s very silly of course, because, as has been discussed here previously, even if there is an extent to which values are socially-transmitted, to imagine that somebody holds a view because of the circles they move in, presupposes that they haven’t engaged with the issue rationally. To effect a chummy demeanour, simply to convince a family member, acquaintance, or colleague with whom you don’t have a great deal in common, simply out of some kind of evangelical zeal, is to approach them dishonestly. Like so many attempts at ‘communicating climate change’, Marshall’s instructions are to make instrumental use of people, to turn them into means to an ends. Most genuine friendships are ends in themselves. Friends do not treat friends as means.

What is more, if it is true that values are socially transmitted to the extent that Marshall believes, then what is true of sceptics is true of ‘warmists’.

But the thing which most struck me about Marshall’s lecture is that he himself simply refuses to engage with sceptics. Try leaving a comment on his blog; it won’t get published, even if it’s nice and polite. He tells the world to stop calling people ‘deniers’ and to call them ‘dissenters’, but his own blog is called Doesn’t that hint at the fact that Marshall isn’t being upfront?

Hopefully, Marshall’s strategy would back fire. For if his flock of evangelical environmentalists do somehow manage to suppress the anger and hostility that seems to characterise many of them (it’s not climate sceptics who have been closing down debate all these years), maybe they will be forced to actually listen.


Here are some more of Marshall’s video lectures on ‘denial’.

I love the bit in the video, where Marshall is trying to explain how climate change denial is ‘socially constructed’ (but presumably climate change alarmism) isn’t), and uses an example of someone losing the plot at a dinner party, to accuse his friends of destroying the planet. Marshall then tries to understand the reaction to the outburst psychologically, rather than as a polite way to respond to somebody who has been a bit of a prick.

It’s interesting to see Marshall tie himself up in relativistic knots here. Political ecologists were the first to absorb scientific evidence of climate change, he says, because their ideologies were the most amenable to it. Thus, the climate story got absorbed into the broader environmental narrative of doom. It looks like honesty, but it presupposes that everything he believes in is ‘science’.


  1. Luis Dias

    Well at least he’s preaching respect, good manners, etc. Could be worse.

    Of course, the irony is that this video reads amazingly well if he was teaching evangelists… real evangelists how they could convert people in general. A manual on how to manipulate emotions and “experiences” to make people agree with your views. Perhaps his objective is to create a sort of an algorithm to make people believe him.

    But I think you are missing the bigger picture, Ben. Take notice of the video more seriously. This is a step up from the previous technique as depicted by “SkepticalScience”, of creating “undeniable rebuttals” to every skeptical “point”. They are refining the techniques, improving them.

  2. Luis Dias

    Sorry for the double post. Another thing I find curious is that this huge rationalization, the perfect depicting of these techniques that should be pretty basic and common throughout every sensible human being who isn’t a prick, is actually able to listen to the other person, with a sufficient open mind and humbleness to recognize that we don’t own all the facts and truths, is so alien to this guy that he treats it almost like a scientific quest. However, these common human traits are not established to improve yourself as a human being, but to improve your ability to get converts to the cause (your reference to what one should “do” to his own friends… exactly).

    So is this guy (and everyone like him) actually a sociopath? Or an autist in disguise?

  3. Peter S

    It looks and sounds to me like a remake of the 10:10 video – but without the ‘money shot’ at the end. The warmies will be disappointed – having to sit through all that cloying drivel and not get their final payoff. Box office flop.

  4. TinyCO2

    This guy really needs to learn the saying ‘you can fool some of the people…’. The British public has been exposed to the most full on persuasion about AGW available and the peak of belief is over. If the BBC can’t swing it, some AGW disciple hasn’t got a hope in Hades.

    Very few people can be convincing in the way he is suggesting and he’s not even one of them. Most of those people are in politics, PR or Jehovah’s Witnesses. But even if there was an army of persuaders with very attractive ‘personal journeys’ they are trying to sell the worst product ever devised.

    Religions have had hundreds of years and the freedom to execute dissenters but they still haven’t created a race of modest abstainers. Unlike religion, there are no dispensations for good intentions when cutting CO2. You either do it or you don’t. In that World, there are no rewards beyond a lower CO2 level.

  5. Shub

    He is saying that ‘social progressives, environmentalists, and campaigners’ who have taken ownership of the climate debate should talk about it a way that shorn of eco-babble so that outsiders (like conservatives) can be persuaded/ensnared to participate.

    The whole purpose of internalizing climate change, was and is, in order to create and capture an entire political issue terrain. The very debate terrain is constructed by the eco-babble that has been invented, and/or has evolved, toward this end. To strip environmentalists’ and campaigners of such eco-babble is strip them of their very identity. They would lose bearings on the terrain that is thereby held.

    What makes this person think they want to do that?

  6. geoffchambers

    Peter S:

    It looks and sounds to me like a remake of the 10:10 video – but without the ‘money shot’

    Quite. The reason being that the people in the 10:10 video gave their services for free, (and therefore went all the way) while Marshall is selling something, something you’ll have to pay for to get the final, orgasmic payoff. And note that he’s talking to himself. There’s no-one but him and the camera.
    Never has the term ‘climate porn” seemed so apt.

  7. geoffchambers

    It’s really important that you don’t go into this as an argument that you think you’re going to win or lose. Because when you have an argument with somebody, what you’re emphasising is the difference between you, not what you have in common. And many people want an argument on climate change.
    If you give them what they want, you’re not going to move their views forward anywhere.

    So, don’t give the customer what they want. No wonder these people don’t like commercialism.

  8. TIM

    I had a rather disturbing encounter recently with a chap who regurgitated the meme, eventually accusing me of being a ‘denier’. I had simply stated ‘I agree that human induced CO2 has risen rapidly in the last 25-50 years, but I’ve yet to see the corresponding ‘rapid rise’ in the Global Mean Temperature.’ It doesn’t seem such a ‘morally repugnant’ thing to point out. But the response was vitriolic. The abuse was toxic.
    This video I think is a response, I think, to the growing awareness by the alarmists that they have a problem communicating their beliefs to people with a different point of view to them. The first response is ALWAYS anger. Perhaps George Marshall and Co recognise that this is NOT the behaviour of someone with the facts on their side.
    This video, along with others like it, is a treatment of the condition common to alarmists known to most rational people as ‘ psychosis’. If you can remain calm on the outside, you can hope no one will know that inside you are a raging lunatic with a solipsistic world view.
    What makes my stomach turn is how earnest Mr Marshall seems. That’s always been my concern.

  9. cb

    What Marshall is describing is what debate IS.
    The converse is reasoning: which you may note is what he explicitly tells the hippies to AVOID engaging in.

    I cordially invite you to read Rom 1:29 for the biblical view on ‘debate’ – oh, and its context, and what goes with it. If you want to know how to identify a hippie, then look for someone who ‘debates’.

    There is a very good reason the debate-club nerds were so despised… its a natural gut-reaction to hippie-ness.

  10. cb

    Ur. The above refs would only work with the KJV version – the others read like filthy hippie apologetics (because that is what they all are.)

  11. StuartR

    Yeah that is amazing isn’t it? The story about the guy going off the handle about climate at the dinner party it could be a Terry and June scene. Even as Marshall relates it he can’t make it seem reasonable from the ranters position. The guy is treated with clear embarrassment and politness at a dinner party and Marshall dosn’t realise that the polite interpretation is perfectly reasonable and he prefers coming to a pseudo-scientifc “social strategy” answer that flatters himself and also flatters the audience that they are not wasting their time being there.

    He also makes out there is an interesting study that shows climate change is not talked about in some Norwegian town and seem to say this is pathological in some way, and then admits the same is easily observed in any dinner party. He must assume we are already constantly talking about energy or food supplies and therefore also should include climate or “the revolution” at his idea of fun dinner parties so this guy doesn’t look a nut (was it himself?).

    Totally agree with the title hard to watch this stuff and believe that people are renting lecture theatres halls for it.

    He is like most in this climate charlatan field. Repackaging some off-the-shelf common sense but then larding it with the “climate” brand turd.

    He seems enamoured with the concept that, unlike any other philosphical or moral situation, climate is unique and gives us a direct moral personal responsibility that can be measured down to the last gram. If you think about the ultimate restrictive society that thinks it can measure your behaviour to the last “gram” then you get an idea why this guy is getting a excited about this concept. Imagine him holding the scales. Total creep.

  12. Peter S

    The stuff in the video is crude behaviourism. If you go into your local Waterstones there are shelfs and shelfs of ‘self help’ books all written using this branch of ‘psychology’ – each one gives more or less the same instructions, tweaked and reapplied to every aspect of everyday life – from how to lose weight, how to be a success at work, how to go on a good date etc, and, of course, How to Win Friends and Influence People (Marshall’s queasy lecture could easily be titled ‘How not to Lose Friends Whilst Manipulating Them’).

    By its existence, the video identifies, and attempts to address, a known problem in its target audience – their tendency to destroy an exchange by flying into a rage.

    Behaviourism’s basic tenet is that it doesn’t matter what the underlying cause is for what we might call a person’s Catastrophic Mood Change (TM) – if a few clever rules are memorised instead, you can get other people to sit up and do your tricks for you. Of course, the failure to get other people to do tricks for you being the possible cause of a destructive rage in the first place, gets completely glossed over.

    Its no surprise then that Environmentalists so firmly embrace this branch of psychology – famously developed by Pavlov. Quite apart from anything else, it views humans as being little better than dogs.

  13. Barry Woods

    George Marshall (also Riding Tide)

    links to the Rising Tide – Hall of SHame on his website

    to quote:
    All of the deniers- we refuse to grace them with their chosen name, “skeptics”- are dangerous for they create a false debate around the existence of climate change and divert attention from the real debate: “What are we going to do about climate change?”.

  14. Jack Savage

    I am sorry to lower the tone of the debate but that cock has a face and demeanor I would never tire of punching.
    That is all.

  15. geoffchambers

    Jack Savage
    Now you’ve got that off your chest, can you reveal the secret of how you managed not to get banned from CiF?

  16. kevin king

    Clearly this is the only hope left for the crackpot alarmists as the science is clearly not on their side. 15 years and no warming of any significance. We should be pleased to be seeing an increasing amount of psychological mumbo-jumbo of the sort demonstrated in the talk above, since it is incontrovertible proof the alarmists are conscious of the fact the only option left open to them is to attempt flagrant brainwashing of the general population and to attempt scare tactics to win people around. Our societies have become infinitely more immune to bullshit of this kind as the levels of education have risen and access to information has increased exponentially over the last 20 to 30 years, so the chances of their success diminish in direct proportion to this increase in knowledge. On top of that calling people deniers really won’t cut it. This is the sort of irrational argumentation usually found on playgrounds frequented by 11 year olds.

  17. Kevin

    Those YouTube clips look like a pilot for a sequel to the classic film ‘Revenge of the Nerds’. Pity the poor students that have to attend his lectures. Would require much alcohol to restore balance to the [students] system. Oh, and kevin king, what he said.

  18. geoffchambers

    George Marshall runs the charity COIN (Climate Outreach and Communication Network). Adam Corner is their policy advisor.

    Corner’s article at the Guardian Environment links to Talking Climate, ”the gateway to research on climate change communication” where a blog by “Adam” links to George Marshall’s video. Talking Climate is a partnership betwen COIN and the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC). COIN is financed by DEFRA and the Tolkien Trust, among others. One of the most passionate commenters on Adam Corner’s CiF article is Tom Bombadil.
    Here is a clear link between government-funded policy research and Middle Earth.

  19. Barry Woods

    PIRC has Christian hunt on the board.
    Ex greenpeace, arrested on the roof if the houses if commons..

    And now the editor of the carbonbrief..

    PIRC also funded climate safety report.

    Hunt also a part of zero carbon Britain report..

  20. Barry Woods

    I did mention to comma expert, Marshall and policy advisor, corner.

    Best not to be associated,responsibke for Deniers, halls of shame…
    If you are trying to persuade people.!!

    My Comments on Marshall’s blog us now in third day if ‘pre-moderation’

  21. Vinny Burgoo

    PIRC is a strange little outfit. It spent 35 years slowly morphing from a Ralph-Naderish consumer advocacy group into a campaign against antidepressants then discovered global warming and all of a sudden decided it was in the wrong business. It ditched the drugs, moved to Machynlleth (Britain’s eco-capital) and started producing glossy climate change propaganda. From pharmageddon to climageddon – just like that!

    The change of direction coincided with the retirement of PIRC’s founder (and sole employee) Charles Medawar and the arrival of Aubrey ‘Contraction & Convergence TM’ Meyer’s right-hand man, Tim Helweg-Larsen. I’d be a bit miffed to see 35 years of work jettisoned in such an abrupt fashion but Medawar doesn’t seem to mind. He’s still PIRC’s secretary.

    PIRC is less well-known than COIN but has probably been more influential, if only because it is ultimately responsible for the 10:10 campaign. Franny Armstrong, who was a PIRC director and trustee for a while, came up with the idea after reading PIRC’s first report.

    Other PIRC connections: Joseph Rowntree (natch: JR trusts fund all these little activist groups); George Monbiot, who lives just down the road (or lived: his house is on the market); Adam Corner, who has recently joined PIRC’s board; Corner’s colleagues Lorraine Whitmarsh and Nick Pidgeon; and the splendidly-named Everild Vera Undine Lucas-Tooth, who, according to Burke’s Peerage, was Helweg-Larsen’s grandmother.

    (I first looked at PIRC for a bubble chart of British climactivists I tried to do a few years ago. I abandoned the chart because there isn’t enough ink in the world to draw all of the linkages between all the various groups and their aliases. It’d just be scribble. About a hundred people going by about a thousand different names – and all funded by Joseph Rowntree trusts, it seems. Perhaps I’ll put JR in the centre and give it another go. PIRC was in the centre last time because it had just leaked the Oxfam bubble chart that gave me the idea.)

    PS: Sorry about the unswitchoffable italics below the other blogpost.

  22. Alex Cull

    Vinny, just to say thanks for the background information about PIRC, which is fascinating. Re the climactivist chart, this is something that perhaps might work better on the web with hyperlinks, rather than in 2D? I started to do something like that, a while ago, but haven’t made a lot of progress – as you say, there are so many linkages that the result can be sheer confusion. It’s a cat’s cradle, really, without beginning or end.

  23. geoffchambers

    That’s amazing. And it’s all happening at Machynlleth, (pop. 2000, 60% Welsh-speaking). The rest must all be ecofreaks who’ve retired to the hills to grow their own websites. John Mason of Skeptical Science is a Machynllethian too. And all financed by Big Chocolate!
    You and Alex really should get this information out – possibly as an updated version of Under Milk Wood.
    I thought of doing it as a Thomas Love Peacock spoof. (In 1831 he was already poking fun at Mr Firedamp the meteorologist) and setting it in a North London mews – Apocalypse Close. But why not in the Welsh hills, under the shadow of Cadr Stroffyg?

  24. BArry Woods

    Tim Helweg-Larsen – Director, Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC)
    author Zero Carbon Britain report (with Tim Holmes)

    Tim Holmes – Climate Safety Blog/Report (funded by PIRC)
    tim writes for the Carbon Brief (as has Adam Corner, who published a paper recenty, with Christians mate Alex)

    Tim Helweg Larsen Is also on the Advisory board of the Campaign Against Climate Change..

    full circle – so is George Marshall

    maybe we should crowd source, and get a white board all those connections – MORE Groups than people?
    6 degrees of seperation,more like 2. it is a very small green world)

  25. Vinny Burgoo

    Barry, how about a game of Six Degrees of Kelvin Mason?

    Mason isn’t an important figure (is/was Kevin Bacon?) but his name is handy. He teaches at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth and is involved with various climate-concerned and anti-capitalist groups (a prize for anyone who can spot the difference), including Climate Camp Cymru, Peace News and the insufferably twee Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA), where he calls himself Capten Cyboli.

    You’ve got to link an environmentalist of your choosing to Kelvin Mason in as few steps as possible using activist groups (films) in which other environmentalists have an official position (appear in films).

    As an example, here’s an Al Gore path to Kelvin Mason.

    The World Resources Institute: Al Gore and Frances Beinecke.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council: Frances Beinecke and Michael McIntosh.

    Client Earth: Michael McIntosh and Julie Langevin (and Stephen Hockman).

    The International Court for the Environment Coalition: Julie Langevin (and Stephen Hockman) and Kirsty Schneeberger.

    PIRC: Kirsty Schneeberger and Richard Hawkins.

    Climate Change Cymru: Richard Hawkins and Kelvin Mason.

    (I’m sure I could have done a shorter path but the game turns out to be mind-numbingly boring.)

    Geoff, I love ‘Big Chocolate’! How about ‘Under Milk Chocolate Wood’? Or ‘Rowntreehugging: How Big Chocolate Subverted Democracy’?

    I forgot to mention last time that PIRC’s original aim was to try to ensure (‘procure’, they said) ‘that organisations of all kinds “properly and adequately serve the interests and needs of the public generally (or any section of the public for whose benefit service or assistance they exist or are supposed to exist).”‘

    Also: ‘… to ask timely questions about the organisations whose decisions and actions shape public life. What, in social terms, do these organisations give to and take from the community, and how do they explain and justify what they do?’

    Perhaps PIRC should turn that searchlight on itself and on the myriad other climactivist charities that claim to benefit the public. I can’t see how trying to scare an indifferent public into ruining their lives to achieve the impossible benefits anyone except those who are paid to do the scaring.

    Alex, I’m not sure that computerised hyperlinked graphics would help very much (except to store data: perhaps we should set up a wiki). There’s only so much info you can show on any one screen or any one sheet no matter what the medium.

  26. Doug Cotton

    The publications at Principia Scientific International show why carbon dioxide has absolutely no effect on climate, so sensitivity is zero. See, for example, my peer-reviewed paper Radiated Energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics on the site.

    I am proud to be an active member of PSI and, as such, I am in daily email contact with many of these main stream scientists, including professors and PhD’s in various disciplines such as physics, applied mathematics, chemistry, climatology and astro physics. The numbers are approaching 40, including well known new members just announced.

    What I write are not just my theories. We are all in agreement that standard physics and empirical results back us up.

  27. Ben Pile

    It would be easier to take the theories evinced at PSI seriously if they were linked to in discussions which were pertinent to them. It seems to me that they’re used as a short cut, which first seems to preclude a deeper discussion about what happened than ‘they got the science wrong’. And second, this obfuscation seems to mirror the excesses of the green argument in favour of immediate and drastic action. I find it hard to swallow the claims when the debate in which they are made is reduced to simple matters of black and white, wrong and right. There’s a much better argument about the non-equivalence of society’s sensitivity to climate and climate’s sensitivity to CO2 than the claim that climate isn’t sensitive to CO2.

    Also, I just don’t believe you. Sorry.

  28. Robert of Ottawa

    How did you find the stomach to sit through all that. The simple response is: If views are socially transmitted, then how does rebellion arise? How does denialism arise?

    This man (I did follow a few minutes of each) is an utter pillock in my view. He is convinced of the rightness of his view and deigns to explain to us mere mortals why we should not listen to his opponents. He also offers a thick layer of condescension (sp?) and …. I could go on but it is a waste of my finger-tips to do so. You have collared him already.


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