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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 Rinsed)
    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.
    Then why are you? Why bother defending a man who has completely destroyed his credibility on this issue by thinking he knows better than the experts, even going so far as to claim that one of the UK's leading specialists is wrong on national radio. Why not find someone else who shares your views to champion?
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    I admit I don't watch stuff about climate change that much because I don't find it all that interesting, but I'm astounded that this wasn't BBC policy already.
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    (Original post by anarchism101)
    I admit I don't watch stuff about climate change that much because I don't find it all that interesting, but I'm astounded that this wasn't BBC policy already.
    Unfortunately it was neccesary because the BBC is full of arts and humanities grads who wouldn't know a proper scientific debate if it smacked them in the face.
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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
    Thankfully Delingpole has decided to quit his platform at the real, credible newspaper that is the Telegraph in favour of the far-right fringe lunacy of Breitbart. I reckon that should severely cut down his BBC appearances.
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    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    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.
    Compare the BMA. They have always advised the government on issues of public health. If they tell the government 'alcoholic drinks are bad, we advise you try to get the public to consume fewer' then that is fine. If, as they have done, they stand up and start publicly campaigning for a specific policy such as a minimum price on alcohol – as if their medical expertise gives them a corresponding economic expertise and the ability to properly assess all the effects of a policy – then they overstep their remit in many people's view.

    I submit that climate scientists have behaved in a similar way. They have segued from advising governments of the science to publicly promoting specific policies. For instance, there was a large group of climate scientists who publicly called for fracking to be outright banned, as if their atmospheric expertise has an innate carryover. It doesn't, and indeed people with an expertise in that area generally argue that fracking is likely to decrease carbon emissions. There are numerous other examples, and if people like Lawson to stand up and provide a contrary view on policy then that is all to the good in my view.

    But more than this, the recent IPCC report was not simply presenting evidence, but had a clear agenda to persuade policy-makers to act. This isn't the first report which has been viewed in this way, and the problem is that when scientists start to see that as their job we get the collusion and the data-manipulation which has afflicted some scientists. Again I bring up East Anglia, but there's been a few things in America as well recently. The tragedy of that is that in being overeager to convince people they're right, they only end up creating the suspicion it's all a big con.
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    Lawson is a political dinosaur. To say he even has a clue about how to manage solid economic policies is foolish.

    The global economy is built on debt and the amount of debt has ballooned since the 1980's. There is no such thing as eternal growth, any economic growth see in the past 30 - 40 years is a fallacy. That is easy to see by the amount of debt individuals and nations currently have to shoulder.

    If all that debt was somehow payed back the entire global economy would flatline, as banks collapsed like domino's. All that leveraged money they claim as profits would dissappear over night.

    Lawson has already helped screw the world over once, yet you think he has a leg to stand on. He is an industry stooge, just like most other deniers.

    There is a difference between denial and doubt. The public may be doubtful because of the misinformation campaign, largely funded by the carbon industry. However anthropicly accelerated Global Warming denial is simply ludicrous, there is no evidence to support a contrarian view. Every attempted pseudo explanation the deniers use is rapidly demolished. Money in there pockets is apparently valued more than their morals or public image.
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    (Original post by Rinsed)
    But more than this, the recent IPCC report was not simply presenting evidence, but had a clear agenda to persuade policy-makers to act. This isn't the first report which has been viewed in this way, and the problem is that when scientists start to see that as their job we get the collusion and the data-manipulation which has afflicted some scientists. Again I bring up East Anglia, but there's been a few things in America as well recently. The tragedy of that is that in being overeager to convince people they're right, they only end up creating the suspicion it's all a big con.
    All of the scientists involved in the leaked e-mail hype at East Anglia and Pennsylvania were cleared of any scientific misconduct by several independent investigations. There was no data manipulation.
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    Depends what they regard as fringe.

    Sounds an awful lot like censorship to me.
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    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    Depends what they regard as fringe.

    Sounds an awful lot like censorship to me.
    Eh, nothing wrong with censoring a side with no actual basis to it. In a discussion about cosmology, you wouldn't invite someone who believed that the world rests upon an elephant that rests upon a turtle - you'd invite people who actually know what they're talking about - it's the same here: not inviting lunatics to make it look like there's a debate when there isn't. It's a change to science journalism which involves reporting on science rather than spreading false controversy - should have happened a long time ago

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    (Original post by iuyscvbh)
    I think the BBC has for once done the right thing here. I don't think we should give any air time to something which is 98% certain. The BBC would never air a story on a 2% chance it was true, so why should climate change be any different. It is simply spreading disinformation; I agree the BBC must be impartial but this cannot come at the expense of scientific fact so this is definitely a good outcome.


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    There are two problems here.

    The first is that the uncertainty, at least in the prediction of catastrophic warming, is a lot greater than 2%.

    The second is that most of this uncertainty is accepted by at least some serious people, such as Professor Richard Lindzen or more recently Professor Judith Curry. So it's not mainly a question of whether or not to have enthusiastic laymen in brightly coloured bow ties.

    The reason very little is heard about any of this is that the BBC runs very little coverage of climate science as such. For the most part it reprints press releases from political organisations (NGOs, government, charities) that predict consequences of CAGW rather than substantiate its existence. While many of these seem scientific and often are, they have very little bearing on whether CAGW is occurring. Here is an example from today about penguins: in this research the existence and magnitude of AGW is assumed, but it gives a lay reader the impression that it substantiates those assumptions.

    The fundamental problem with the BBC's coverage of this issue is that it does not explain or address the points of scientific uncertainty. That isn't a conspiracy: it's unlikely many, if any, people who work there even understand them. So whether secondary or tertiary issues are addressed by the orthodox or the heterodox is not very important.
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    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    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.



    Wrong, he has directly criticised computer modelling work used to make predictions.
    With respect, a distinguished professor in this field gave a talk at the American Physical Society showing that the recorded data has now diverged significantly from the computer model predictions and, absent rapid warming in the near future, will soon fall out of the 95% confidence intervals. That has pretty strong establishment credentials. (You also at one point claimed that the scientific consensus was that there has been no pause in warming: note the title of this talk!)

    So if there is a scientific consensus that AGW is happening, there is no consensus how much, or how to predict how much. That latter is the actually important question for technocratic political purposes. The complete irrelevance of CO2 to the climate is pretty much ruled out by basic physics, but +0.5C warming in a century would be economically irrelevant; conversely +10C warming would be devastating. It doesn't seem to me that the mainstream people believe - or have any good reason to believe - that they know with high certainty which it will be.
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    (Original post by Observatory)
    With respect, a distinguished professor in this field gave a talk at the American Physical Society showing that the recorded data has now diverged significantly from the computer model predictions and, absent rapid warming in the near future, will soon fall out of the 95% confidence intervals. That has pretty strong establishment credentials. (You also at one point claimed that the scientific consensus was that there has been no pause in warming: note the title of this talk!)

    So if there is a scientific consensus that AGW is happening, there is no consensus how much, or how to predict how much. That latter is the actually important question for technocratic political purposes. The complete irrelevance of CO2 to the climate is pretty much ruled out by basic physics, but +0.5C warming in a century would be economically irrelevant; conversely +10C warming would be devastating. It doesn't seem to me that the mainstream people believe - or have any good reason to believe - that they know with high certainty which it will be.
    Curry is controversial - some leading people think she deliberately distorts the data, others support her view that the existing consensus is too definite about the likely amount of change over, say, the next century.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Curry

    It definitely is true though that climate science is a complex field and its also true that it is an ongoing field of research, with each new year of data causing a fresh round of controversies and arguments about the scale and intensity of climate change.

    There have been faults on both sides in the climate change debate, with some of the sceptics relying on absurd arguments and some of the scientists and those reporting the science being defensive and dogmatic. However, the overall picture is that the science does show an extremely unusually rapid growth in global average temperatures over the last century and that this is almost certainly due to human-driven emission of CO2. Beyond that is inevitably speculative, because we don't categorically know what will happen in 10, 50 and 100 years or on longer time scales. However, the science does very plausibly show that without considerable reductions in CO2 emissions, it is likely that warming will continue and even intensify, once significant events (like the melting of the Greenland ice cap) take place. These are not idle speculations but based on available evidence about conditions in similar warm periods in the past.
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    Another thing that occurs to me: climate change is mostly interesting to people for the potential damage it could cause to humans. But in this sphere, there is certainly no consensus that the expense of eliminating CO2 emissions would be less than the expense of enduring the damage, let alone more modest mitigation and adaptation. In fact study after study has shown that the expense of eliminating CO2 emissions is likely to be considerably greater than the benefit. This is rarely pointed out or even discussed. It seems to me a much stronger area to accuse the establishment media of bias.

    In the pyramid of claims that leads to the actual alleged consensus position, "Urgent political action is necessary to reduce CO2, by regimenting the economy under state control in order to centrally reduce production and consumption.", the peak seems to be far weaker than the base yet most effort it expended defending the base, not the peak. Let's consider this pyramid of claims:

    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    2. Additional CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to higher average temperatures.
    3. These temperatures will be substantially higher: at least 3C compare to 1950.
    4. The effect of this on human prosperity will be negative.
    5. The negative effect will be very strong, enough to cause famine, war, and long term recession.
    6. Mitigation could avert these effects at a considerably lower price than enduring them.
    7. The best means of mitigation is to regiment the economy under state control in order to centrally reduce production and consumption.

    This runs the full gamut of scientific, economic, political, and even moral claims, and they get weaker and weaker as we go down the list. I would say that 1. and 2. can reasonably be described as consensus positions among experts. 3. and 4. are possible but uncertain. 5. and 6. are strongly contradicted by most published evidence. 7. is in la-la land.


    edit: To return to the immediate topic of the thread, which of points 1.-7. does the BBC focus most of its reporting on? It's a trick question: most of their reporting is about 8. fluffy animals and small babies everywhere are dying AND IT'S YOUR FAULT!

    Their failure to engage with the substantive issues at all, though perhaps motivated more by their ignorance of those issues than by any intent to deceive, is the principal argument by which one could accuse them of peddling propaganda.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Curry is controversial
    Then, by definition, there's no scientific consensus, on the topics on which she is controversial. Controversy between scientists is the direct opposite of consensus between them.

    Unless you mean something like, "There is a consensus between all scientists who are part of the consensus."!

    There have been faults on both sides in the climate change debate, with some of the sceptics relying on absurd arguments and some of the scientists and those reporting the science being defensive and dogmatic. However, the overall picture is that the science does show an extremely unusually rapid growth in global average temperatures over the last century and that this is almost certainly due to human-driven emission of CO2. Beyond that is inevitably speculative, because we don't categorically know what will happen in 10, 50 and 100 years or on longer time scales. However, the science does very plausibly show that without considerable reductions in CO2 emissions, it is likely that warming will continue and even intensify, once significant events (like the melting of the Greenland ice cap) take place. These are not idle speculations but based on available evidence about conditions in similar warm periods in the past.
    They're not idle, just like computer modellers aren't idle people. They just seem to be unable to produce an accurate prediction, which leads me to conclude there is much uncertainty on the actual sensitivity of the climate to CO2 forcings.

    Indeed I would have no problem with the consensus if it was, "CO2 is almost certain to increase the average temperature, but we don't know how much. That might be harmful, and if it is, it might be worth stopping provided the cost is low enough." That, I believe, can be strongly supported by evidence.
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    Thank god for that. This 50-50 representation in the media is bull**** is messed up and damaging to society.
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    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    Depends what they regard as fringe.

    Sounds an awful lot like censorship to me.
    Its less time not no time.

    Basically, what climate change deniers have done (and the tabacco companies before them, which by the way is unsurprising as the same people have been involved in both cover ups) have successfully persuaded the media that their argument should get 50% of media coverage. Despite far far less than 50% of scientists being on that side of the argument. As a result, the public view of climate change is ridiculously warped, and the entire planet is ****ed up as a result.
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    (Original post by Stiff Little Fingers)
    Eh, nothing wrong with censoring a side with no actual basis to it. In a discussion about cosmology, you wouldn't invite someone who believed that the world rests upon an elephant that rests upon a turtle - you'd invite people who actually know what they're talking about - it's the same here: not inviting lunatics to make it look like there's a debate when there isn't. It's a change to science journalism which involves reporting on science rather than spreading false controversy - should have happened a long time ago

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    See it would sound reasonable if it wasn't for the fact that real genuine science should never shy away from debate. If a position is flawed than it should be allowed to show itself flawed, not stifled and suppressed.

    Censorship and science do not mix. Period. In fact censorship is pretty ugly in a free society in general.

    Naw I don't approve of what the BBC is doing here and I am now more firmly of the mind that it should no longer be government funded. Leave government controlled and censored media to the dictatorships we profess to loath.
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    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    See it would sound reasonable if it wasn't for the fact that real genuine science should never shy away from debate. If a position is flawed than it should be allowed to show itself flawed, not stifled and suppressed.

    Censorship and science do not mix. Period. In fact censorship is pretty ugly in a free society in general.

    Naw I don't approve of what the BBC is doing here and I am now more firmly of the mind that it should no longer be government funded. Leave government controlled and censored media to the dictatorships we profess to loath.
    This is a science issue, not a free speech/censorship issue. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. In a scientific debate, it is perfectly reasonable that a side with no supporting evidence should get much less media coverage than the side which actually has evidence.

    We could use "censorship" arguments to justify bringing creationists on when there's a news programme about fossils or evolution. Or bringing anti-vaccine campaigners on to talk about medical news. We don't do that though, because that would be false balance and none of those people would be able to support their claims with evidence. If what you're bringing to the table is not science, it has no place in any scientific discussion.

    They certainly shouldn't bring on any old dingbat in the name of "balance" no matter what their credentials are. The BBC put Lawson on a programme to discuss climate change with a world renowned scientist. If the BBC can't find a scientist willing to give the "skeptic" view then perhaps they shouldn't include the skeptic view in that particular programme.
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    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    See it would sound reasonable if it wasn't for the fact that real genuine science should never shy away from debate. If a position is flawed than it should be allowed to show itself flawed, not stifled and suppressed.

    Censorship and science do not mix. Period. In fact censorship is pretty ugly in a free society in general.

    Naw I don't approve of what the BBC is doing here and I am now more firmly of the mind that it should no longer be government funded. Leave government controlled and censored media to the dictatorships we profess to loath.
    But there is no point presenting a debate where there isn't one to be had. There is no point giving creationists like Kent hovind the same time as Dawkins, or making it look like there's a great deal of uncertainty (which having equal time for each side suggests).

    If you give equal time to the conspiraloons who reject well established science, you present to the public the idea that the established science isn't established and is just one equal possibility.

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    (Original post by Stiff Little Fingers)
    But there is no point presenting a debate where there isn't one to be had. There is no point giving creationists like Kent hovind the same time as Dawkins, or making it look like there's a great deal of uncertainty (which having equal time for each side suggests).
    How do you know there's no debate? There's never no debate, only a lost debate, which is certainly some debate. Other than eventual boredom I have no problem watching Kent Hovind debate Richard Dawkings a thousand times. And no doubt of the outcome.

    The basic problem here is we are not really discussing inviting opponents of the CAGW hypothesis to debates between two technically knowledgeable people about an issue of fact, which does not really occur in the media. We are talking about handing out propaganda slots for the <whatever> Lobby, based on whether the <whatever> Lobby is politically and socially powerful at the moment. The BBC's role is not seen as just a conduit for discussions about the nature of reality, but rather determining it in the minds of the public, not on the basis of evidence, but emotional influence.

    When those decisions are made by government agencies like the BBC we are talking about an Official Truth. While I believe the Official Truth is closer to the real truth than, say, Ken Hovind does, I don't think it's identical, nor that calling a committee of journalists with BAs in Art History a safe and effective way of determining the real truth.
 
 
 
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