Dr Roy Spencer becomes a voice-over

If the still picture on the video window below looks startlingly similar to the one on my previous post there’s a good reason. It’s the same video. A rare and welcome climate debate was held by The Heartland Institute on 7 July, 2011. Previously we looked at the opening speech from Dr Scott Denning: today the floor is given over to his opponent, Dr Roy Spencer. If you want to grasp the significance of Spencer’s opening statement, you want to watch from 15:50.

One minute into this speech Spencer looks at his watch, thus answering a question I have previously raised. There is apparently no clock visible from the lectern. He looks at his watch again a couple of times in the speech, before over-running by just over 3 minutes. (He finishes at 29:15: all the rest of the video is devoted to questions, I think – I didn’t stay to watch.)

Calling all conference organisers! Come on, Guys! Installing a clock for the guidance of the speakers costs effectively no more than a little thought. It might even save consequential costs when they over-run less often.

There’s another error here, and Denning had it too. There’s no ‘slave screen’, a small monitor in front of the speaker in order that they might see the slide on display without looking up at the big screen. There merely needs to be a vga feed for the speaker’s own laptop.

Every slide on the big screen robs the speaker of some of the audience’s focus (which is a very strong reason for a speaker minimising the number of slides used). Every time a speaker looks up at the big screen he compounds the felony by actively redirecting the audience’s focus away from himself and in the direction of the screen (look at the picture of Spencer above). The more he does it, the more he devalues his speech towards the role of voice-over for a picture show. Always use a slave screen!

At 23:30 Spencer puts up his umpteenth slide.  It is a graph, and he apologises for showing a graph. I gape in disbelief! A graph can save huge amounts of convoluted description and explanation, and therefore is an excusable slide. He should instead be apologising for all those slides of his that are covered in redundant writing. Without them he would have saved a great deal of tedious slide-changing and not over-run his time.

Can anyone explain to me why so many speakers stick up slides covered in words, and then proceed to read them out? Is there a research facility somewhere that claims to have established that it adds something to the impact of the words? If so, I’d like to have a hard look at their data, because all my study indicates the reverse. People have said that if the audience are given hard-copy of a deck of slides that tell a story the deck in its entirety needs to be included in the presentation.


Hasn’t it gone quiet.

Dr Roy Spencer is interesting and personable. His knowledge and understanding of his subject matter is a byword. This speech of his could very easily have been hugely absorbing. It wasn’t. What a pity!

Dr Scott Denning – an excellent speaker.

We have recently looked at speeches from International Conferences on Climate Change as staged by the Heartland Institute. I had read that Heartland, although being essentially sceptical on the subject, nevertheless issued speaking invitations to scientists espoused to the warming orthodoxy. This in contrast to warmist organisations that routinely exclude sceptics on the grounds that ‘the debate is over’. Speaking personally it was precisely the ‘Science is Settled’ approach, and the debate suppression thus implied, that alerted my suspicions several years ago. If it’s science it’s not settled: if it’s settled it’s not science. (That, by the way, is a chiasmus.)

I was delighted to find that on 7 July, 2011, Heartland had staged a Debate at their Sixth International Conference. Scott Denning had debated with Roy Spencer. We shall look at Spencer in a future posting. Today let’s watch Denning.

On the YouTube posting we are not told who creates the civilised decorum for this debate with his well measured introduction, but after some ferreting I believe it to be James Taylor. If I am wrong I hope both he and whoever it was will forgive my error. By the way, he announces that he will be a stickler for time limits. I wonder whether this means that since the 2009 Conference the Institute has installed a clock. If you read my critique on the speech by Christopher Booker you will know what I mean.

Denning speaks from 3:40 till 14:40, and immediately declares himself a skeptic (I have to spell it the transatlantic way because that is how the word appears on his slide). He explains that everyone, scientist or lay, should question all scientific assertions. This is music to my ears, and is clearly intended to resonate well with his audience.

He speaks in simple, clear, uncomplicated sentences without overtly speaking down to his audience. He shoots it from the hip. Already I am enjoying this.

I enjoy it even more when he shows he is prepared to make a fool of himself. He wants to show how molecules vibrate, so he moves his body and makes silly noises to demonstrate. He first does it at 9:07, just as the camera frustratingly cuts away; but be patient. The camera cuts back to him at 9:32 just in time for us to witness the best bit of foolery. How much does he add to the wisdom of ages by such behaviour? Not a lot, but rest assured that everyone in that audience will remember the speaker who did that. If you are due to be one of several speakers at a conference I invite you to bear the thought in mind.

Anyone who has looked beyond sensational tabloidesque headlines on this subject knows that the greenhouse properties of CO2 are commonplace in the climate issue. Where the argument actually rages is in the amount and direction of feedback from consequent water vapour. Therefore Denning’s histrionic clowning to illustrate the way carbon dioxide captures warmth, and indeed most of his talk, is pushing against an open door and ignoring the big question. No matter: be assured that question is raised during the next section of this debate – during the majority of this video that is beyond the brief of this posting.

Meanwhile, within my brief is the conclusion that Dr Scott Denning is an excellent speaker.