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BBC Staff to be giving less air time to fringe science such as climate change deniers Watch

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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    I wonder what this will mean in practise. What will be classed as 'fringe'? I will believe it when I see it, but I suspect we will still be getting endless appearances from the likes of Nigel Lawson and James Delingpole, because even though they have no scientific credentials whatsoever, they are considered 'representative' of organisations holding 'other viewpoints' (eg, propaganda organisations ultimately funded by Big Coal and Big Oil) or because they are establishment figures with right wing views which therefore 'balance' what is wrongly seen as a 'leftwing' issue, eg, climate change.

    The real clever trick of those big corporations and financial interests opposed to the widespread implementation of climate change policies is to make it seem as though it is a left wing issue, supported only by Marxists, general haters of capitalism and nutjob Extreme Greens. Whereas in fact the climate change agenda is also supported by nearly every large institution on the planet that has a scientific view and by large numbers of right wing and centrist people in most countries. It did not emerge from the left or even from Greens - it emerged from scientists working in the field. It isn't a political agenda, but the heavily-funded denial industry has made it look like it is.
    This highlights well my point. Neither Lawson nor Delingpole have ever claimed to be scientists. They do not debate the science of climate change – which they both accept is settled – but they argue from an economic perspective against many of the prescriptions of the climate-change lobby on how to deal with the problem. That is a perfectly reasonable political debate in which the science is merely context. It is a question of public policy and it would be a travesty if they were silenced.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    This highlights well my point. Neither Lawson nor Delingpole have ever claimed to be scientists. They do not debate the science of climate change – which they both accept is settled – but they argue from an economic perspective against many of the prescriptions of the climate-change lobby on how to deal with the problem. That is a perfectly reasonable political debate in which the science is merely context. It is a question of public policy and it would be a travesty if they were silenced.
    Delingpole definitely doesn't confine himself in public media to public policy impacts, he tries to argue on the credibility of the evidence for warming. Lawson does that too in a more round-about way - he says things like "even if was worth changing the energy production base of the country" to make it sound as if it's still contentious.

    The bigger picture though is that there has been a reduction in the amount of airtime that climate change gets generally, partly because of all the coverage given to the Middle East and other crisis points and partly because broadcasters suspect their audiences are bored of hearing about it. However, I think as the current economic uptick takes a stronger hold, there will be more attention to it again.
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    There is overwhelming scientific consensus that man made climate change is real and a major threat, and media coverage needs to reflect that. Organisations like the BBC often fall victim to the balance fallacy, and present more of a controversy than actually exists.

    Too often they present discussion as 50:50 - assuming that both sides have equal merit when one may simply be right and the other wrong. It shows both sides and suggests that the truth lies somewhere in between. But halfway between the truth and a lie is still a lie.

    Nigel Lawson, whose appearance on the BBC seems to have started this, is head of a global warming organisation which keeps almost all of its funding anonymous, and has links to fossil fuel companies. That he was given airtime on national TV at all is disgraceful.

    The BBC is absolutely right to restrict the amount of coverage that climate change deniers get. They should simply report what experts agree, and interview scientists.
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    The problem with the journalistic idea of balance as practiced by the BBC in the area of science (and I believe other specialist areas) is that it fails due to lakc of understanding of the subject matter by the journalist and production team.

    I think we all agree that it is likely that many of the production teams and reporters doing such reporting are almost entirely composed of people with arts degrees and experience only working the media (with the notable exception of a few noted journalists). As such they are essentially functionally scientifically illiterate and so they don't understand that true balance in science is formed by the weight of evidence of a particular theory or hypothesis. This means that debates are created between positions with very different levels of evidential support that appear to be placed on an equal footing (as the listener can only judge the truth of the position by the amount of air time and apparent confidence of the spokesperson under question (i.e. 'truthiness').

    I believe this mistake is repeated over and over because journalists are desperate for a scoop about hot science topics that people can actually understand so they hunt for apparent controversy and ignore the real debates in science as they appear to esoteric. This can only be changed if we get a greater number of scientifically literate people into the media beyond the science outreach and science reporting roles that they currently occupy.

    Another big problem I have with science reporting is the failure to acknowledge specialism within science. For example, climatology or climate science is a specialist field and so the key debates must held between specialists, not any old dingbat with a vaguely sounding scientific degree and a strongly held opinion. I'm not saying that people from outside a field can't have a useful input into that field, but that they should seek to do that through scholarly research first, not the media.

    And finally, my last big issue is how the media encourage researchers (and the institution's press offices) to publically announce and discuss pre-peer reviewed research. Too often have I seen bold claims made in press releases (and reported across media outlets) that are significantly watered-down in the actual paper, or don't actualy get published at all! This is not acceptable in my view as it bypasses an important part of the scientific process - expert criticism. Links to source articles should be provided much more often on science related media stories.

    I'm glad the BBC has made this decision, but in order for it to be properly implemented they need people in their organisation that know how to distinguish a dingbat from a visionary - that is really hard, especially if you don't have an post-GCSE science.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Delingpole definitely doesn't confine himself in public media to public policy impacts, he tries to argue on the credibility of the evidence for warming. Lawson does that too in a more round-about way - he says things like "even if was worth changing the energy production base of the country" to make it sound as if it's still contentious.

    The bigger picture though is that there has been a reduction in the amount of airtime that climate change gets generally, partly because of all the coverage given to the Middle East and other crisis points and partly because broadcasters suspect their audiences are bored of hearing about it. However, I think as the current economic uptick takes a stronger hold, there will be more attention to it again.
    To take your example, whether or not it is worth changing the energy production base of the country is not a scientific question. That the world is warming does not automatically imply that we must shift to renewables. Science tells us what is happening and what will or will not happen if we do x and so on. How we should respond to this evidence, and assessing whether or not a particular policy would result in a net benefit is very much the domain of economics and public policy, things Nigel Lawson is more than qualified to speak on.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    Neither Lawson nor Delingpole have ever claimed to be scientists. They do not debate the science of climate change – which they both accept is settled
    Simply not true. They do talk about the science and try to claim that there has been no warming. They stick to a claim that "there has been no warming since 1998", which has been proven to be false by numerous studies. Nigel Lawson is in charge of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organisation which often attacks the science.

    Here are just 2 examples of their serial bull****ery:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/env...mbo-jumbo.html - Nigel Lawson

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/ja...nge-read-this/ - James Delingpole
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    (Original post by RFowler)
    Nigel Lawson, whose appearance on the BBC seems to have started this, is head of a global warming organisation which keeps almost all of its funding anonymous, and has links to fossil fuel companies. That he was given airtime on national TV at all is disgraceful.

    The BBC is absolutely right to restrict the amount of coverage that climate change deniers get. They should simply report what experts agree, and interview scientists.
    Nigel Lawson does not deny the science. He questions the way we are responding to the scientific evidence. Specifically, he believes it would make more economic sense to adapt to change rather than try (and probably fail) to prevent it. That is a political, not a scientific, debate. To silence a legitimate political debate because the green lobby think we should do what they say without question is what would really be disgraceful.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    This highlights well my point. Neither Lawson nor Delingpole have ever claimed to be scientists. They do not debate the science of climate change – which they both accept is settled – but they argue from an economic perspective against many of the prescriptions of the climate-change lobby on how to deal with the problem. That is a perfectly reasonable political debate in which the science is merely context. It is a question of public policy and it would be a travesty if they were silenced.
    That is a very generous interpretation of how Lawson and Delingpole brief against senior climate scientists and how public they are in expressing their opinion that climate change is not supported by science. Both are on record numerous times directly denying the science behind climate change very recently.

    One only has to listen to the ridiculous Radio 4 'debate' between Lawson and Sir Brian Hoskins (a world reknowned scientist and Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College) to have direct evidence of Lawson refuting the scientific evidence and opinion on the topic. He wasn't confining his debate to policy or economic factors, he was talking about science, an area where he knows nothing.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    Nigel Lawson does not deny the science. He questions the way we are responding to the scientific evidence. Specifically, he believes it would make more economic sense to adapt to change rather than try (and probably fail) to prevent it. That is a political, not a scientific, debate. To silence a legitimate political debate because the green lobby think we should do what they say without question is what would really be disgraceful.
    Poppycock. He has savaged the most recent IPCC report, providing a critique of the science behind it accusing that science of not following 'the true scientific method' and being 'mumbo-jumbo' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/env...mbo-jumbo.html)

    He has no expertise to evaluate the IPCC report in this way and he provides no references to any of these claims (to show that he might be repeating expert opinion). Sure, he might mix this up with the social, political and economic aspects, but the scientific criticism is there for all to see.
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    (Original post by RFowler)
    Simply not true. They do talk about the science and try to claim that there has been no warming. They stick to a claim that "there has been no warming since 1998", which has been proven to be false by numerous studies. Nigel Lawson is in charge of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organisation which often attacks the science.

    Here are just 2 examples of their serial bull****ery:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/env...mbo-jumbo.html - Nigel Lawson

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/ja...nge-read-this/ - James Delingpole
    You fail to differentiate between the settled and unsettled science, and economics. People generally accept the world is warming and mankind has affected that. Fair enough. What effect we expect this will have in our future is much more contentious.

    Above are not examples of them questioning the settled science. It is questioning the way the scientific community has conducted itself which has not, in all honest, been exemplary. East Anglia is the pre-eminent example of that, but there are others. Certain scientists have viewed it as their jobs to convince the public, and as such their advice to politicians has contained a bias where only the most supportive evidence is shown, and the worst-case scenarios predicted. Hence why we had reputable scientists who believe in climate change denouncing the intergovernmental report as fantastic.

    They do not in either article deny anthropogenic global warming. They do criticise specific economic predictive models, which are far more contentious than the question of whether or not the world is warming, and where they have more understanding of at least parts of the methodology. But this is fair enough to my mind. That part of the science is certainly still open for debate.
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    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    That is a very generous interpretation of how Lawson and Delingpole brief against senior climate scientists and how public they are in expressing their opinion that climate change is not supported by science. Both are on record numerous times directly denying the science behind climate change very recently.

    One only has to listen to the ridiculous Radio 4 'debate' between Lawson and Sir Brian Hoskins (a world reknowned scientist and Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College) to have direct evidence of Lawson refuting the scientific evidence and opinion on the topic. He wasn't confining his debate to policy or economic factors, he was talking about science, an area where he knows nothing.
    As I just posted, there are two things at play here.

    There is a scientific consensus that the world is warming and that we are causing it. Never have I seen either man question that.

    The effect this will all have on our future remains contentious. This is at least in part an economic debate, though inextricably linked to the scientific evidence. If certain scientists seek to claim that their predictions of the future are not up for debate then they are not behaving in a scientific manner. The problem is that in many ways the scientific community has closed ranks when faced with scrutiny from politicians and the public which they are unused to. At no point is Nigel Lawson ever looking into the detail of a scientist's work and saying 'nya that's wrong!' (admittedly he does sometimes do this for economic assumptions), he highlights conflicting evidence to show how the 'consensus' is in many ways a farce, when it comes to how it will affect our lives in the future. There were reputable scientists who had contributed to the IPCC report who ended up denouncing it as fantastic, so this is not I think unreasonable.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    Nigel Lawson does not deny the science. He questions the way we are responding to the scientific evidence. Specifically, he believes it would make more economic sense to adapt to change rather than try (and probably fail) to prevent it. That is a political, not a scientific, debate. To silence a legitimate political debate because the green lobby think we should do what they say without question is what would really be disgraceful.
    He does deny the science though.

    There was a radio 4 "debate" a while back and the scientist (can't remember who) responding said that a lot of global warming is in the oceans.

    Lawson replied saying it was "speculation". The scientist responded saying (accurately) it was a measurement. Lawson repeated his claim that it was speculation and that is isn't a measurement. One word sums it up well - denial.
    It is a measurement by the way - global warming has been measured in the depths of the ocean.

    He repeated the claim that global warming has stopped - which has been proved wrong by research.

    Take a look at the Global Warming Policy Foundation website, which Lawson is involved with. They focus a lot on attacking the science. A lot of which is published in such high quality publications as... the Daily Mail.
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    climate change isnt real
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    As I just posted, there are two things at play here.

    There is a scientific consensus that the world is warming and that we are causing it. Never have I seen either man question that.
    Weasel words there. You are correct, neither man denies that the vast majority of climate scientists agree that anthropogenic global warming is happening. However, they both, despite not being scientist, think they can refute this scientific consensus. I and any one with access to google can list many recent quotes from these men that think the scientists and their science is wrong (or "mumbo-jumbo" as Nigel Lawson likes to call it).

    The effect this will all have on our future remains contentious. This is at least in part an economic debate, though inextricably linked to the scientific evidence. If certain scientists seek to claim that their predictions of the future are not up for debate then they are not behaving in a scientific manner.
    They are up for debate through schloarly research. What they aren't up for is idle speculation from ignorant political dinosaurs.

    The problem is that in many ways the scientific community has closed ranks when faced with scrutiny from politicians and the public which they are unused to.
    But there is a consensus, how can we be 'closing ranks' when we all agree already? That is just a desperate attempt to create a strawman to justify a position that is without scientific merit.

    At no point is Nigel Lawson ever looking into the detail of a scientist's work and saying 'nya that's wrong!' (admittedly he does sometimes do this for economic assumptions)
    Wrong, he has directly criticised computer modelling work used to make predictions.

    , he highlights conflicting evidence to show how the 'consensus' is in many ways a farce, when it comes to how it will affect our lives in the future. There were reputable scientists who had contributed to the IPCC report who ended up denouncing it as fantastic, so this is not I think unreasonable.
    He cherry picks to suit his agenda, exaggerating minor inconsistencies. The very antithesis of scientific behaviour.
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    (Original post by RFowler)
    He does deny the science though.

    There was a radio 4 "debate" a while back and the scientist (can't remember who) responding said that a lot of global warming is in the oceans.

    Lawson replied saying it was "speculation". The scientist responded saying (accurately) it was a measurement. Lawson repeated his claim that it was speculation and that is isn't a measurement. One word sums it up well - denial.
    It is a measurement by the way - global warming has been measured in the depths of the ocean.

    He repeated the claim that global warming has stopped - which has been proved wrong by research.

    Take a look at the Global Warming Policy Foundation website, which Lawson is involved with. They focus a lot on attacking the science. A lot of which is published in such high quality publications as... the Daily Mail.
    OK, well I didn't hear this so maybe he did. I don't review everything he says or writes. Nonetheless, generally in everything I've read of his he has restricted himself to the instances where economics meets science. I would still say that most of the opinions he voices are very clearly economic, rather than scientific, arguments. If he were to appear on the BBC to speak on that basis, I do not think that would be offensive.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    OK, well I didn't hear this so maybe he did. I don't review everything he says or writes. Nonetheless, generally in everything I've read of his he has restricted himself to the instances where economics meets science. I would still say that most of the opinions he voices are very clearly economic, rather than scientific, arguments. If he were to appear on the BBC to speak on that basis, I do not think that would be offensive.
    His usual tactic in public forums is to claim that he is briefed by the best scientists and that he therefore knows better. This was the line he took after meeting with the Royal Society - they gathered a panel of leading scientists to attempt to persuade him that he was wrong - his response was to claim they were wrong because his scientists said so.
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    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    Weasel words there. You are correct, neither man denies that the vast majority of climate scientists agree that anthropogenic global warming is happening. However, they both, despite not being scientist, think they can refute this scientific consensus. I and any one with access to google can list many recent quotes from these men that think the scientists and their science is wrong (or "mumbo-jumbo" as Nigel Lawson likes to call it).
    Apparently my phrasing confused you. They have not, to my knowledge, denied that the world is warming. But that really is as far as the scientific 'consensus' stretches. There is less agreement on just how much of it is caused by man and what effects this is likely to have in the future. That is where they disagree with some of the scientific community. Whether or not you think they are justified to do that, it does not make them climate-change deniers as has been asserted.

    They are up for debate through schloarly research. What they aren't up for is idle speculation from ignorant political dinosaurs.

    But there is a consensus, how can we be 'closing ranks' when we all agree already? That is just a desperate attempt to create a strawman to justify a position that is without scientific merit.
    The scientific community agrees on the broad point that we are making the world warmer, the details are far from certain. However this has become an extremely politicised issue, and some scientists have begun to view it as their job to convince the public and policy-makers to take action, rather than merely to present evidence. Hence we have the East Anglia email furore, an IPCC report which faced criticism from its own side, et cetera.

    If the scientific community wants to make direct recommendations on public policy – which they are, in my view, unqualified to make – then they cannot complain when politicians scrutinise what they're saying in turn.

    Wrong, he has directly criticised computer modelling work used to make predictions.
    Whatever. Maybe he has. I cease to care. It does not, however, invalidate points he has made on issues where he is more qualified to speak, such as the impact on economics and public policy.

    He cherry picks to suit his agenda, exaggerating minor inconsistencies. The very antithesis of scientific behaviour.
    As above.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    His usual tactic in public forums is to claim that he is briefed by the best scientists and that he therefore knows better. This was the line he took after meeting with the Royal Society - they gathered a panel of leading scientists to attempt to persuade him that he was wrong - his response was to claim they were wrong because his scientists said so.
    How we respond to global warming is a political and economic problem, more than a scientific one. To be honest I came into this thread to defend the right of Lord Lawson and his ilk to participate in that legitimate debate, not to defend everything he has ever said and done.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    Apparently my phrasing confused you. They have not, to my knowledge, denied that the world is warming. But that really is as far as the scientific 'consensus' stretches. There is less agreement on just how much of it is caused by man and what effects this is likely to have in the future. That is where they disagree with some of the scientific community. Whether or not you think they are justified to do that, it does not make them climate-change deniers as has been asserted.
    The scientific consensus is that the world is warming and it is primarily the result of human activity. If they disagree with that they disagree with the majority of the scientific community. If they deny that then they are anthropogenic climate change deniers. As has been shown, they have denied that, and as such, are denialists.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    Apparently my phrasing confused you.
    No it didn't, you are just trying to find a bit of wriggle room to avoid admitting that I called you out on it.

    They have not, to my knowledge, denied that the world is warming. But that really is as far as the scientific 'consensus' stretches. There is less agreement on just how much of it is caused by man and what effects this is likely to have in the future. That is where they disagree with some of the scientific community. Whether or not you think they are justified to do that, it does not make them climate-change deniers as has been asserted.
    Except that both have repeatedly claimed that warming has stopped, in direct disagreement with the scientific consensus. Lawson's 'mumbo-jumbo' Telegraph article makes exactly that claim.


    The scientific community agrees on the broad point that we are making the world warmer, the details are far from certain. However this has become an extremely politicised issue, and some scientists have begun to view it as their job to convince the public and policy-makers to take action, rather than merely to present evidence. Hence we have the East Anglia email furore, an IPCC report which faced criticism from its own side, et cetera.

    If the scientific community wants to make direct recommendations on public policy – which they are, in my view, unqualified to make – then they cannot complain when politicians scrutinise what they're saying in turn.
    Quite a bizzare claim given that senior scientists have been providing public policy advice to governments around the world on their specialist areas for decades. This isn't just something that scientists decided to do to make a political point about climate change. Of course of you are against politician's recieving the best evidenced-based expert opinions upon which to make decisions then that's your choice.

    Your comments are the real example of how this issue has been politicized by climate change deniers. Trying to deny scientists their long standing role in advising governments on science and technology.

    Whatever. Maybe he has. I cease to care. It does not, however, invalidate points he has made on issues where he is more qualified to speak, such as the impact on economics and public policy.
    We all wish he would stick to the economics tbh rather than making such a fool of himself in front of the public by trying to take on the world experts in an area of science he has so amply demonstrated he knows nothing about.

    As above.
    I.e. I'm right.
 
 
 
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