JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Richard Black — the fastest apologist for misbehaving scientists

Black thinks the BBC reported on ClimateGate, instead they rushed to report a “hacking” that may not even have been a hack…

Richard Black thinks the BBC was the first to “report” Climategate in the mainstream press.

@BBCRBlackvia TwitterTired old meme that BBC was slow to report “ClimateGate” is circulating again – for record we were 1st main news org http://t.co/c4sU6puy

But the BBC didn’t report ClimateGate in that story at all. What they reported was a hypothetical hacking of a university in the UK, one which (two years later) still remains a claim that has no evidence in support of. Was it was illegally hacked or legally leaked? Don’t tune in to the BBC for the answer. They don’t even ask the question.

If the BBC had reported on Climategate, we could tell, because they would have reported what the emails actually said, not just the opinions that said “they don’t matter”.

Let’s compare Black’s reporting of Climategate and FakeGate

On ClimateGate, Black waited until after he had a spokesman from the CRU to comment, and having confirmed the emails were from the CRU, Black quoted exactly none of them. On FakeGate, Black posted so quickly that he [...]

ClimateGate II: Handy Guide to spot whitewash journalism – The top 10 excuses for scientists behaving badly

Sorting real journalists from sock puppets is not too tricky: real investigators tell you what the story is about; PR writers tell you what to think.

Do they “discuss” ClimateGate emails … without quoting the emails?

Who digs for details, and who hides the evidence?

The PR writers for Big-Government were quick to come up with excuses for ClimateGate II. Which is all very well, but it’s blindingly obvious where their own personal prejudices lie if they won’t print the emails that they are supposedly discussing. It’s not so much cherry-picking, but cherry-denial. “Don’t mention the radioactive cherries, but lets discuss how cherry farmers have been victimized, talk about the history of cherry tree farming, and hear their excuses and assertions that the cherries are an essential part of our diets. Don’t mention the Geiger counter. OK?”

The top 10 excuses for PR writers  who pose as “journalists” to ignore ClimateGate emails

This is standard issue damage control for ClimateGate — protect the cheats and liars, attack the whistleblower, and  use excuses and padding-fillers to cover a story without actually giving the public any information on the [...]

The BBC left leaning bias — it’s in their DNA

This is a a BBC insider abandoning ship. It’s a spectacular case study in why big government can bollocks up any noble proposition, or honest profession. It’s how leadership dissolves into uninspired management as people spend other people’s money. How teams of people who no longer believe, all go through the motions. There’s no competition for the best scoop, for mass ratings, for ideas that push the bounds. The bounds are fixed. Sissons speaks his mind without holding back. — JN

Left-wing bias? It’s written through the BBC’s very DNA, says Peter Sissons Edited snippets of the Daily Mail’s extract of Peter Sissons new book .

For 20 years I was a front man at the BBC, anchoring news and current ­affairs programmes, so I reckon nobody is better placed than me to ­answer the question that nags at many of its viewers — is the BBC biased?

In my view, ‘bias’ is too blunt a word to describe the subtleties of the ­pervading culture. The better word is a ‘mindset’. At the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.

I lost count of the number of times [...]

Sceptics ask: Is the UK government’s climate propaganda machine finally falling apart?

Just when you think things are as inanely silly as they can be, they raise the stakes. It’s a game of double or nothing in the race to the bottom. The close common interests of three big government agencies is fragmenting and instead of skeptics launching the FOI’s, this time, the BBC is.

Just in case there is anyone who doesn’t know, the UK Met predicted a winter a couple of degrees above the usual. Then supertankers of snow turned up and dumped on the nation, surprising people, and making life difficult for everyone who hadn’t made arrangements for the return of the British Blizzard and the coldest December on record. The UK Met, having got it completely wrong, decided the best course of action was to announce post hoc that actually they did get it right, really, they predicted cold weather, but they didn’t tell the public, they just told the politicians. The politicians apparently asked them not to let on to the public, or so the story goes, and the plot thickens.

One way or another someone is using tactics with all the forward thinking you’d expect from a five year old. If the Met office is not [...]

How the BBC became a propaganda arm of the UK government (and WWF)

Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) and Tony Newbery (Harmless Sky) have put in a submission to the review of the BBC’s impartiality on science. It’s the anatomy of how government and activist groups take over an arm of a public broadcaster. There is no sneaking in the back door here.

The main problem facing government and policymakers was convincing the public that concern about anthropogenic global warming was well founded, and not just another scare story that would soon be forgotten. The Climate Change Communications Working Group (DEFRA, EST, UKCIP, Env. Agency, DTI, Carbon Trust) was set up, and in February 2005 received a Short List of Recommendations from Futerra, an environmental PR consultancy, on the means of conveying the required message to the media and the public . In August 2006, the IPPR produced a thirty-page report entitled Warm Words: How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better? which developed Futerra’s recommendations. This concluded that:

Many of the existing approaches to climate change communications clearly  seem unproductive. And it is not enough simply to produce yet more messages, based on rational argument and top-down persuasion, aimed at convincing people of the reality of [...]

Blog Warfare — Warmist attacks their own

Then today Richard Black of the BBC finds out how ugly it can be when you make the mistake (the travesty!) of missing a chance to tell everyone that the Earth’s falling apart due to Man-made Global Warming.

It’s the first time Richard Black has been on the receiving end. He’s a bit put out.

It seems that something new, and not altogether welcome, may be happening in the politicking over climate change.

I have written before of the orchestrated villification that comes the way of climate scientists from some people and organisations who are unconvinced of the case for human-induced climate change – “sceptics”, “deniers”, as you wish.

This week, for the first time, I am seeing the same pattern from their opponents.

Joe Romm, the physicist-cum-government-advisor-cum-polemicist, posted a blog entry highly critical of the Arctic ice article I wrote last week.

Joe Romm took him to task for doing a story on the hottest year without “mentioning the primary cause of global warming” (according to climate models which are known to be wrong). Romm set lots of emailers onto Black. The original “dreadful” story is just reporting how arctic ice melted fast, but didn’t shrink as much as 2007.

Then [...]

Friday night reading: the eloquent take-downs

Today, while I work on something else, I thought I’d just share a few of the more entertaining pieces of writing I’ve come across lately.

How many mistakes can you pack in one phrase?

Remember how all defenders of the Man-Made-Catastrophe were trained to say that skeptics are funded by big oil, and Big Oil had that insidious agreement… that internal memo that said they were aiming to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” (which has all the meaning of “repositioning McDonalds as a fast food chain”, it being tritely obvious and all). Well, Russell Cook points out that this popular bumper-sticker line that’s quoted ad lib across the ether, is full of mistakes, misattributions and misinformation. It seems it’s not only not a smoking gun, but it’s not a weapon, and wasn’t fired by the prize winner shooter they attributed it too, and the guy that didn’t fire the dud shot, didn’t win a prize either.

With fanfare according to Gore it was “discovered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ross Gelbspan”, but the Pulitzer site doesn’t know about Gelbspans “prize”, and you can read all the sordid details at the Climate Gate Country Club, or a [...]

Save the world — whitewash the Andes

Painting rocks on Chalon Sombrero (Image: BBC)

File this in unrealized parody. The BBC beats the Onion.

The World Bank has awarded a Peruvian inventor $200,000 to paint rocks white. They hope if they make them the right colour the glacier will come back…

Can painting a mountain restore a glacier?

It is the first experimental step in an innovative plan to recuperate Peru’s disappearing Andean glaciers. The World Bank clearly believes the idea – the brainchild of 55-year-old Peruvian inventor, Eduardo Gold – has merit as it was one of the 26 winners from around 1,700 submissions in the “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” competition at the end of 2009.

Although he is yet to receive the $200,000 (£135,000) awarded by the World Bank, his pilot project is already underway on the Chalon Sombrero peak, 4,756 metres above sea level, in an area some 100km west of the regional capital of Ayacucho.

There are no paint brushes, the workers use jugs to splash the whitewash onto the loose rocks around the summit.

It is a laborious process but they have whitewashed two hectares in two weeks.

“Cold generates more cold, just as heat generates more heat,” says [...]

Shock: Phil Jones says the obvious. BBC asks real questions.

Here’s the short version of that BBC interview. (Wow? Was it really the BBC?) This major re-framing of the story and admission of facts are part of the ClimateGate Virus epidemic. Journalists are starting to ask better questions, and researchers are starting to give better answers. OK, it’s not exactly a grilling, but neither is Roger Harrabin allowing the UN to promote its scare campaign without a few seriously-pointed questions. This represents almost as big a turnaround for Harrabin as for Jones (which I’ll expand on below). Only two years ago, he claimed skeptics were funded to spread uncertainty, and likened them to tobacco industry lobbyists. How must he feel to suddenly discover they actually had a case worth considering?

Cutting to the chase: paraphrasing Phil Jones

Stripped of the extras, Jones’ answers boil down to the following (I’ve added a few things he didn’t say [in square brackets], and skipped some questions ):

A) This recent warming trend was no different from others we have measured. The world warmed at the same rate in 1860-1880, 1919-1940, and 1975-1998. [Kinda cyclical really, every 55-60 years or so, we start another round.]

Hadley Global Temperature Graph with Phil Jones trends annotated [...]

Why don’t women want to face global bullies? I can’t imagine…

… Richard Black from the BBC won’t name me or link to me. Is he scared of sending people my way? Afraid my arguments are too compelling? He claims the evidence for man-made global warming is overwhelming, and he’s wondering why more women aren’t skeptics, so surely he would help his readers if he directed them to the two Australian bloggers he specifically refers to: Jennifer Marohasy and myself.

In fact, across the entire sceptical landscape, as far as I can see, the female contingent numbers one UK columnist, a couple of Australian bloggers, UK academic Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and US counterpart Sallie Baliunas…

But thanks for the backhanded endorsement, Richard, I’m delighted to find out you read my blog and I can tell you exactly why women don’t leap to announce they are skeptics. All you had to do was email me to ask…

[...]