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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What the heck are science journalists for?

From The Skeptics Handbook II

Last week a science journalist at The Guardian wrote the best summary I have ever seen of the state of the profession known as “science communication”. Only, he thought it was a spoof. Well, it is — and it’s satirically funny at the same time as being an unwittingly cutting commentary. (We laugh at the formulaic approach because we know it’s so true, and then we bang our heads on the wall…).

Science journalists who churn out mindless ritual productions are effectively being PR and marketing writers. Dangerously, though, they are dressed as “investigative” journalists. The public assumes they are checking that their stories don’t break laws of logic and reason, that they are supported by evidence, and that they are providing the whole story. Their PR is the most powerful advertising there is, it’s not just free, it’s a third party endorsement.

Ironically, the same journalists probably don’t realize how important they are. They think they’re there for a fluffy feelgood reasons: to help promote science, raise public awareness, and attract school leavers into careers in science. They don’t realize that their most important role is to protect science itself and be guardians [...]

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 [...]

The Climate Spectator joins the gravy train

Here we go again. I like Alan Kohler, the economic reporter on the nightly ABC news. He likes numbers, graphs and hard data. Yet here he is, setting up a new project which looks like it ‘s another climate clone site analyzing everything carbon-related in the harsh light of day except the assumption about climate “feedbacks” that the whole error cascade is based on. (This is the same assumption that the empirical evidence has shown was too high by a factor of six.) [See here for my latest demolition and  here where a Dr of Paleoclimate comes unstuck.]

The Business Spectator wrote so sagely and incisively about the Super Profits Tax, I’d love to think they would apply the same sharp brainpower to the issue of climate. But Kohler writes:

“We were initially despondent when the CPRS was kicked into the long grass by Kevin Rudd,…”

Despondent? Imagine them saying “Interest rates were raised and we were despondent?”

But Kohler and the other economic commentators have been caught watching the money instead of the reasoning (they’re watching the wrong money too, here’s the money that speaks volumes). If upper tropospheric water vapor doesn’t increase as the world warms, the reason [...]

Green-socialist-autocrats generate bluster, media copies it

I realize non-Australian readers are only so interested in the mining tax debate down-under, but the techniques for an unfair fight are the same everywhere. Instead of answering green-socialist-autocrats on their own ground, we need to raise the debate and expose the way they add confounding fog.

There are rhetorical tricks that friends-of-Big-Government use to promote their own political aims. They reframe debates entirely, and are expert at pouring confusion. Watch how these coalition of Green-Unionified groups appoint themselves as speakers for the people, then ignore the people, they create a false conflict, and turn groups of productive entrepreneurs and hard working employees  into an inanimate entity (the enemy). Read between the lines, the voters are turning away from the option these advocates prefer, therefore the public are easily misled (code for not-too-bright, you know, easily fooled by adverts from billionaires).

“Fairness” is apparently what the anointed decide it is, not what voters actually vote for. These groups believe in a fake democracy. The will of the people only counts if it’s also the will of the anointed.

SMH: Tax debate must return to average Aussie.

Which comes from AAP, which took most of it and rephrased bits [...]

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 [...]

The great collapse of the global warming myth

Photo adapted from Ron Neibrugge’s beautifully crisp original at Wild Nature Images

This is it: The dam wall is breached.

There are defining moments in any era, and we are right now in the midst of the Great Collapse.

Jan 30, 2010: the hottest hoax

Open Magazine's "Hottest Hoax in the World" Cover Issue

The weekend before last, a magazine cover called it Fraud.  This could have been New Scientist, Scientific American, Discover, or any of the other popular science magazines, but it wasn’t.  They were all scooped by an Indian publication, Open Magazine, that had only been running for a year.

The climate change fraud that is now unraveling is unprecedented in its deceit, unmatched in scope—and for the liberal elite, akin to 9 on the Richter scale.  Never have so few fooled so many for so long, ever.

The entire world was being asked to change the way it lives on the basis of pure hyperbole. Propriety, probity and transparency were routinely sacrificed.

Feb 2, 2010: the Australian abandons the IPCC and the ETS [...]

Media ownership and the Rupert Murdoch tipping point?

Rupert Murdoch, 2009

Three years ago Rupert Murdoch was promising to make News Corporation carbon neutral. He implored his staff to personally reduce their footprint, and to be more creative in convincing the world to act too. He created websites specifically to help spread the message about the need to reduce carbon emissions. And he even bought a hybrid car for himself.

Today Quadrant magazine reports what many of us have been speculating behind the scenes: Murdoch has realized the IPCC and the “consensus” are fake.

The Australian has performed best in giving space to sceptics and dissenters but has stuck to the save the planet line in its editorials, some say because Murdoch said so publicly. Yet in a personal communication with Murdoch he indicated his scepticism to me. Last Friday’s editorial moved in the right direction when it called on politicians to question the science used by the IPCC but it has yet to endorse the call for an independent inquiry by a number of Australian scientists.

http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/01/des-moore

Rupert Murdoch is unarguably one of the most powerful men on the planet. This is an edited extract of what he said in May 2007 in the first ever [...]

Droughts might not be due to carbon-dioxide, says CSIRO

Still in the theme of Shock!-The-Media-IS-Reporting-The-News: The Canberra Times announced on it’s front page that CSIRO is not so sure that droughts are due to increased carbon dioxide. Only a few months ago, they announced the exact opposite.

September 2009: A three-year collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO has confirmed what many scientists long suspected: that the 13-year drought is not just a natural dry stretch but a shift related to climate change.

Jan 2010: One of the report’s co-authors, hydrologist David Post, told The Canberra Times there was ”no evidence” linking drought to climate change in eastern Australia, including the Murray-Darling Basin.

Back in September, this long study was based on the old trick of using climate models and “subtracting” the natural causes to see what’s left. It’s also known as “Argument from Ignorance”. Since we can’t predict the climate five years in advance, obviously there are factors or weightings in those climate models that aren’t right. Ruling out “what we know” doesn’t prove anything at all, except that there is a lot we don’t know.

When David Stockwell analysed climate models and Australian droughts, he found that random numbers were more likely to predict droughts successfully. [...]

Is the media awakening? GlacierGate gets traction.

The Sunday Times and The Australian both picked up the scandal of the IPCC claims that the Himalayan glaciers might melt by 2035.  The claim turned out to be based only on a WWF report, which in turn was based on a New Scientist article from 1999. The Australian story today was headline front page news: UN’s Blunder on Glaciers Exposed.

The rigorous IPCC methodology amounts to this:

Here’s the IPCC Quote from Chapter 10 of the Fourth Assessment Report:

Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).

[...]

What does an Australian farmer have to do to make the news?

What has The Australian got against a destitute farmer? Compare their coverage of one farmers protest with other hunger strikers:

When a sex offender protesting his innocence went on a hunger strike, it only took 6 days for The Australian to write about it. Taiwan’s former president went on a hunger strike which was reported as it ended after 5 days. Serial killer Ivan Milat only had to wait a couple of days to make the Australian with a hunger strike that only lasted for five days all up, and its conclusion was noteworthy too.* When three Australian Tamils went on a hunger strike they made headlines after 3 days, and also here. Some Sri Lankan asylum seekers agreed to end their hunger strike after 2 days and the story was covered sympathetically.

This is not to detract from the seriousness of some of the above claimants. But compare the reportage about Peter Spencer who started his hunger strike on November 23, 2009. For 25 days there was not even a short note to alert other farmers or landholders that there was a hunger strike underway by an Australian citizen, on Australian soil.

It was Day 26, before [...]