[See our one-page version of this whole issue.]
Finally two hours of entertainment unlike any you’ve seen on TV
The Media IS the Problem – Part I
When the Smith and Nasht came to our house (on behalf of the ABC) to take footage for the “I can change your mind” documentary, David and I asked fellow skeptic and camera-man Barry Corke if he could film them filming us, so we have our own copy of what happened. He agreed — it was obvious to all of us that we needed some insurance against biased edits. We all knew that petty chicanery was possible. James Delingpole had recently given the BBC three good hours of his time, only to find they trimmed all of his clever answers down, waited for him to have a hypoglycemic vague moment and then crowed about how the great James Delingpole was, can you believe, tongue tied (the failure!)
In the final version that went to air, not only did three of the four key sets of evidence that fuel our skepticism vanish, the editors split and diced sentences to make it appear that David said a sentence he never actually said. He doesn’t think the poorly sited thermometers show the “models were wrong” (we have much better evidence than that); that’s illogical and absurd. Everything I said of any substance was edited out (which I’m kinda proud of). They came all that way to watch me try to convince Anna Rose, then left me with 18 bland words. Perhaps what I discussed (and Anna’s weak replies) was too dangerous, not easy to mock, and they couldn’t ambush Nick Minchin with any experts that could debunk what I said?
Obviously Smith &Nasht were on a fishing trip here (funded by you and me). They were fishing for ways to discredit skeptics. In the end they had to resort to deleting 75% of the evidence, and 100% of my points. Blind commentators later claimed that the bloggers had no credibility. Easy for them to say when they didn’t see most of what we said or the data we presented.
We were called paranoid for setting up our own recording, but it took one phone call, cost us nothing, and we have a copy, so now (ok, belatedly) the world can decide. Did the ABC fairly represent our views? Were Smith and Nasht serving the public?
There were two independent cameras there on the day:
* UPDATE: For the moment, both these videos have only about 26 minutes of sound. We’re working on an alternative. But it may take a while. (Darn).
View 1 was the main better camera, shot from close up and behind. View 2 is the secondary camera, shot from in front, but more distant. View one is better quality, but you may get tired of looking at my back. All footage thanks to the helpful, talented, Barry Corke.
Wise adults are aware that if the editors are not on your side, then all your best moments become invisible, but if you goof it up it’ll be a feature story in Fairfax or the Guardian by the day after tomorrow (as per James). The journalists and editors of taxpayer funded organizations are not even pretending to be impartial anymore. Presumably they justify tossing their journalistic principles to the wind because government-funded-documentary-makers (who are friends of the ABC) “know” the answers to Life, The Universe and Everything, so lies by omission are OK, because the dumb punters might get confused. Alas, once upon a time, a good journalist kept their opinion invisible; now, instead, it’s everything else that’s invisible.
Apologies that this has taken so long to arrange — that Exxon cheque is still missing — but I’m sure people will find this interesting nonetheless. It’s a rare moment when skeptics and believers are in the same room and it’s all caught on camera. Plus, for skeptics who do media work, it’s good practice. (Lesson #1: Bring your own camera).
Anna Rose and Nick Minchin travelled all over the world (some 65,000 km) with hours of footage, and Jo and David’s kitchen ended up being 4 minutes and 20 seconds of a 60 minute documentary. It’s tough editing hours of footage, but therein lies the skill — the point of the doco was “to change people’s minds”. So the essence of each interview should have been to capture the strongest and weakest points of both sides — to help the audience understand why Anna is so worried about the climate, and why the skeptics are every bit as worried but about corruption, freedom, and the scientific method (not to mention, our National economy).
Where was the Evidence?
David and I made it absolutely clear that we held our positions because of the evidence (between us we mentioned the word “evidence” nearly 100 times). But this wouldn’t have fitted with the theme later in the show where Smith and Nasht get psychologists to explain that it’s really all about “ideology”, and skeptics are skeptics because they’re old white males. (Like Jo right?) An honest doco would have taken care to at least let David and I explain our position. David showed four pieces of evidence that showed the models are wrong, yet the editors completely removed any reference to three of the four key pieces of evidence. This is despite the graphs being filmed twice, and referred to repeatedly by both David and myself in preps and in the filming. Indeed, I mentioned “28 million radiosondes” five times (a reference to the missing hot spot). Later, David pointed out that ignoring the poor siting of thermometers is one way the modelers conceal the failure of their models. The editors jumbled these two aspects together with tricky snipping to suggest that the photos of thermometers were one of our “two” key points of evidence for the failure of the models.
That number is important: we clearly presented four pieces of evidence (1. models overestimated air temperatures from 1990, 2. models overestimated ocean warming since when we started measuring it properly in 2003, 3. models predict a pattern of atmospheric warming — responsible for most of the warming in the models — that is entirely missing from copious weather balloon measurements, and 4. models predict outgoing radiation increases with surface rising surface temperature when satellite measurements show the opposite). But they moved David’s words around (by cutting and pasting) to make it appear he said he presented two pieces (which he never said), and to make it appear as if the dodgy land thermometers were one of those two pieces of evidence. Net result: they actively concealed from the audience, by trickery, the evidence that mattered and that we presented four independent sets of data in support of our position.
Those photos of thermometers show the scientists are being unscientific, and that the media are not reporting banal and obvious problems that no one needs a PhD to understand (which both David and I explained). No sane person would use them as evidence of model failure.
Does it matter? Absolutely. The documentary was funded by the people of Australia so they could understand the debate better, and was advertised as an effort to understand both points of view. The producers can argue they had to entertain people, this was a reality TV show — yet the entertaining points of high conflict were edited out (the times Anna Rose laid out her best ad hom’s and we sliced the points in seconds). The editors went to great trouble to rearrange sentences and images to create the impression that skeptics couldn’t make a decent argument and had little thought behind their case. It would have taken hours to find and splice up separate audio and visual snippets to “create” a false argument. It allowed commentators to declare the bloggers had nothing much of value — just kitchen “science”.
Before the event David and I agreed to divvy up the points. He would do the models, and I would do the money, the fake insurance arguments, the dire effect on the poor etc etc.
From the two hours of footage this is all that’s left of what I said:
Jo: Carbon dioxide.
Jo: There’s some small immeasurable amount.
Jo: The data says –
Jo: The planet is not going to be destroyed.
This is what they could have used
Jo on models:
They have … assumptions about things like water vapor. This two thirds [she says -- while pointing at a top section of a graph of warming projections] is due to feedbacks and the biggest feedback is water vapor…. the real debate here, the $2 trillion guess, is whether humidity rises up and turns into clouds and rains out or whether it goes up to 10 kilometers and sticks around and acts to thicken the blanket and make the planet even warmer still. That’s where the 28 million radiosondes, the weather balloons that have been recording since 1959 are really important. They show no increase in humidity.
Jo on the consensus:
“…people have put in $79 billion, … to pay scientists to find a crisis. So those scientists have done what they’re paid to do, they’ve looked at every possible angle and every possible cause to put out a paper on the question they’ve been asked to study. No-one’s been asked to study the other side, no-one’s been paid to audit the IPCC, to find holes in the theory, there are no grants for skeptics to come out and say hey, we’d like to look at these climate models and we’d like to produce a climate model based on say solar magnetic factors. So it’s totally monopolistic science…”
Jo on the money:
“Let’s just put some perspective on this. Climate trading last year was $144 billion turned over worldwide. Investment in renewable energy was $243 billion. None of this has anything to do with the science, the science comes back to the evidence, always the empirical evidence. “
Jo on her funding:
“David and I have spent thousands on this, it’s cost us thousands of dollars to run my blog, to work for three years nearly full time to do this and the fact that I did this one [The Skeptics Handbook] for nothing pretty much shows that any intent I have in this is not about earning the money.”
Jo and vested interests:
“…one of the things that quite scares me is that if we get, a global scheme, they were talking about $2 trillion turning over each year, the largest commodity market, bearing in mind it’s not a commodity, it’s just paper certificates for air over China, …the people who are really going to win are the big bankers who have been pushing for this, the giant financial houses like Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan are going to make money on every trade, no matter who buys or who sells, no matter whether the cost is high or low. They’re going to make money because they’re the brokers in a massive trading scheme. No wonder those guys are keen to push it and Deutsche Bank are putting out information booklets on the climate.
Jo on the precautionary principle:
It’s a bogus law of science. … if you were to spend, as Obama is planning to, $3.4 billion on carbon sequestration, to pump carbon underground and store it underground, that’s $3.4 billion which could be used to provide 46 million people with operations to cure their vision,… 46 million people who could be cured of blindness, 100 million could be given clean water and you’re choosing to say: “well we better stuff that carbon underground and let the 46 million go blind”. What do you say to the mother in Tanzania who loses three kids to dysentery because they haven’t got clean water? You say “I’m sorry about your kids, it was worth it though because we’ve changed world temperatures by 0.00001 degree in over 50 years.”
Obviously, the ABC did not think the public ought know that David and I are volunteers, that the Big Money is not from Big-Oil, but from Big Government and Big Banks. They also did not think it worth mentioning that skeptics are skeptics because we have the data, while alarmists rely solely on the models — and why that is a huge problem with roots in the Enlightenment and the meaning of science.
Look out for the point where Anna Rose suddenly realizes that skeptics agree that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. This was news to her. Otherwise, she’s come prepared with “research” from DeSmog, Deltoid, and if John Cook tried to prime her with some science, he’d have to admit he failed.
Hide the other volunteer too:
In the final doco, the ABC told the world we “hired a camera man.” But they were wrong. They assumed we had, but Barry did it all unpaid. The Smith & Nasht team turned up with legal releases we were to sign, then noticed we had our own cameras, and were a bit flummoxed. We wrote up our legal releases on the spot which said essentially: “Ditto. What-they-wrote”, but it took calls to Sydney, and retreats outside, and much discussion before anyone would sign our form. The irony being that since Barry owns this footage completely, and no one asked him to sign anything, he can do what he likes with it. All the argy bargy over the “releases” was pretty much irrelevant.
If anyone else wants to edit the long footage (which would make it so much more accessible)… please leave a comment below, email us at supportATjoannenova.com.au or talk to Barry.
Transcript of the broadcast (with the dialog that made it to the finished documentary that was broadcast is highlighted in blue.
Transcript of the interview (with a few thoughts from David annotated).
PS: Why has it taken so long to get this out?
Mostly it’s a question of priorities and finances. We couldn’t get the full video immediately, Barry lives on a farm without broadband. Then David and I went on a two week, long-awaited, family holiday, and my site was moved (to trial a cheaper option). Alas the site wasn’t stable and was attacked over the next four months. An editor of a mainstream publication was interested but went away for 5 weeks. By the time the planets aligned the carbon tax was in, Professors were calling us nutters, our free speech was threatened, and frankly, this expensive ABC effort was just one of a constant stream of attacks. Plus, without a paid researcher, or finances to host this on a high bandwidth site, there was also the problem of figuring out where to put the giant 1.3 Gb files. In the end, it’s a message that if we take our freedom seriously, we have to admit that there is a tiny thin layer of people working to counteract thousands of paid workers with billions of dollars. This doco had government money, a government TV channel, a government sponsored advertising campaign, and a government sponsored live panel hour. Skeptics have wit, evidence, and whatever funds they earned themselves from other jobs (and a few donations –thanks!). It’s time we think about better ways to support the watchers. I’m sorry I didn’t ask for funding from the crowd to help get this out faster. In hindsight, I should have. (Speaking of which, perhaps I could set something up for those who want to make regular monthly contributions? If half the readers here gave just a tiny $1 per month I’d be set. More to the point, there would be a hot career path option for independent writers, critics, and other people working to keep government accountable. In the long run, we need professionals to defend this tiny pinnacle of freedom and science that others have strived for thousands of years to achieve.)