David Whitehouse on Science Journalism

by Judith Curry

Journalists should portray where the weight of evidence lies, but that is the least they should do, and they should not look to scientists for guidance anymore than an artist asks a bowl of cherries for advice about how to draw them! They should criticise, highlight errors, make a counterbalancing case if it will stand up, but don’t censor, even by elimination, don’t be complacent and say the science is settled in areas that are still contentious. The history of science and of journalism is full of those reduced to footnotes because they followed that doctrine.

David Whitehouse has a very good article on science journalism at the Huffington Post.  Some excerpts:

The internet has seen coverage of science issues in the news media becoming more homogenous. Many survive as a science journalist just by paying attention to press releases and reproducing them, as long as others do the same. 

This lip service is not good enough, and editors should wise up that science journalism has lost its edge and demand reform. It has also become uncritical and therefore not journalism. Too many who profess to practice journalism are the product of fashionable science communication courses that have sprung up in the past fifteen years. It’s my view that this has resulted in many journalists being supporters of, and not reporters of, science. There is a big difference.

Many have become advocates for science that are too close to the scientists they report on.  Scientists even run prizes for science journalists! Because of this back slapping closeness, many journalists lack detachment and by implication judgment about the stories they cover.

Journalism is about not taking sides, or about being a cheerleader. It’s about shaking the tree, about asking award questions, about standing in the place of those who can’t ask such questions, and being persistent, unpopular and dogged. It’s about moral authority, something science in BBC News has lost, and it’s about old-fashioned scoops. It’s not about being part of the spectrum of communicating science – which is something that scientists and non-journalistic broadcasters should do – it is a vital aspect of democracy. It is neither an extension of the scientific establishment, nor even its friend or on its side, and it is fundamentally different from science communication.

That some active and contentious scientific topics, like climate science with all its unknowns, complexities and implications, are placed beyond debate because they are deemed “settled” is wrong. Good journalism is the antithesis of a crude expression like “we’ve gone beyond that” allied to an over simplistic view of science. Climate science in particular is reported far too narrowly with much important peer-reviewed research ignored, and with environmental reporters far too concerned with doing down those they define as sceptics. Forget the sceptics, just report the science properly. It will all come out in the wash.

Journalism and the climategate emails

The Climategate emails have raised the issue as to whether some journalists have become too cozy with the scientists to be objective in their reporting.

Andy Revkin appeared prominently, and has responded to such charges [here].  Since 2006 (when I have been reading and interacting with Revkin), I would say his defense rings true to my ears.  While you may not always like what he writes, he thinks for himself and isn’t in anyone’s pocket.


Christopher Booker has written a report entitled “The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal.”  The report critically reviews the BBC’s coverage of climate change issues against its statutory obligation to report ‘with due accuracy and impartiality’.  From the GWPF press release:

His report, The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal, shows that the BBC has not only failed in its professional duty to report fully and accurately: it has betrayed its own principles, in three respects:

  • First, it has betrayed its statutory obligation to be impartial, using the excuse that any dissent from the official orthodoxy was so insignificant that it should just be ignored or made to look ridiculous.
  • Second, it has betrayed the principles of responsible journalism, by allowing its coverage to become so one-sided that it has too often amounted to no more than propaganda.
  • Third, it has betrayed the fundamental principles of science, which relies on unrelenting scepticism towards any theory until it can be shown to provide a comprehensive explanation for the observed evidence.

“Above all, the BBC has been guilty of abusing the trust of its audience, and of all those compelled to pay for it. On one of the most important and far-reaching issues of our time, its coverage has been so tendentious that it has given its viewers a picture not just misleading but at times even fraudulent,” Christopher Booker said.

JC comments:
Journalists are often criticized by climate scientists for not accurately reporting the facts of climate change, according to the consensus.  Communicating science to the public is the job of scientists.  At the AGU meeting this week, I attended a number of talks on the subject of science communication, which will be the subject of the following post.
When science becomes politicized, we need journalists to be playing a watchdog role and not just parroting the words of scientists and their press releases.

427 responses to “David Whitehouse on Science Journalism

  1. Trouble is, journalists usually volunteer for the environment role, and those who volunteer are activists already.

    It’s like sports reporting at a team’s TV channel, the “journalists” there are first and foremost supporters.

    • That’s a very good point. Then again Dr. Curry doesn’t get it or simply doesn’t admit it. MSNBC is objective non-partisan new right?

      “When science becomes politicized, we need journalists to be playing a watchdog role and not just parroting the words of scientists and their press releases.”

      As if we aren’t suppose to notice that disproportionately all have the same politcal bias, social customs, voting patterns?? It’s a shallow article and commentary from Dr. Curry as well. What is that unnamed “Agenda” behind the AGW religion before listing the tactics of betrayal as above?? He can’t speak it? Neither can Dr. Curry.


      • I sometimes get the impression that somewhere along the way Dr Curry pissed in your bowl of cornflakes …
        …. or gave you a C on some paper.

      • timg56,

        Dr. Curry has not done thing one to advance any climate science.

        B+ for blog. F for climate science.


      • Even Worse Andrew ;-)

        Dr. Curry is the one of the best hopes climate science has of salvaging its reputation. Triple A rated blog too.

      • Andrew,

        And if what you say is true, that justifies rudeness exactly how?

        I see far too much name calling and attacking of people because of their opinions. I am not immune to it either (Holly Stick comes to mind), but I at least try to avoid it. And if you have a problem with how someone runs their blog, stay away from it. That’s what I do with Skeptical Science.

        We should try to keep in mind that a person’s opinion on an issue is not the sum total of who they are and someone you might be at opposing ends of the spectrum with could also be your best friend – I know I have very dear friends that I can easily get into heated arguments with.

      • She’s done a lot. I think what you meant to say is “Dr. Curry has not done thing one to advance the *cause*”.

        Your view is a projection of your attitude that there is only one answer, you have it, and anyone else is a heretic.

    • Very true, Maurizio, there is even a name for that, spreading the desired dogma: Mind Guards


  2. Hiya, Andy!

  3. Only climate scientist understand it so journalists will have to write what they are told to write. What else can you do with a field that is half science and half charlatan?

    • “What else can you do. . .?”
      Audit the climate science.
      Read the full range of scientific publications on the issue.
      Engage brain when reading and reporting –
      And above all engage conscience –

      appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”

      • Do you think ClimateDepot reflects the kind of journalistic standard Dr Whitehouse was asking for?

      • A wise man sifts nuggets from gravel.
        A scientist weighs all the evidence.

        Morano does us the service of providing numerous links for readers to drill down to “inconvenient” original articles to evaluate for themselves what the IPCC/Gore exclude.

        Similarly, see the NIPCC reports for more ignored science.

      • Morano misrepresents views by quoting out of context, a service highly valued by AGW deniers.

      • M. carey
        In light of Climategate 1 and Climategate 2, can you provide any examples of sound AGW science that Morano quotes “out of context” that does not counter biased AGW alarmism and self admitted biased journalism such as from the BBC – in direct breach of the public trust. If so, please provide the full “context” including original papers addressing on both sides of the issue and the uncertainties involved.

        I have read enough climategate emails and dug into enough original articles on both sides of some issues to be appalled at the corruption and bias evidenced by such alarmist practioners of “climate science”.

        I find Morano provides a seriously needed counter balance by linking to articles with evidence countering those AGW alarmists. This is especially important in light of the severe abdication of professional responsibility evidenced by most “science journalists”.

        Furthermore, you are abusing professional dialog by rhetorically denigrating “denizens” by using the pejorative “AGW deniers”.

        I have never denied that “climate changes” – there is strong evidence that climate has changed has continually changed for millions of years.

        I have never denied that humans change climate. Any conversion of a forest to a field changes the albedo and transpiration, both of which change local climate and thus influence global climate – see the butterfly effect”. Failing to account for chaos in weather and climate is a major failing by AGW alarmists.

        The major problems are very high uncertainty and insufficient data and accuracy to distinguish the magnitude of natural versus anthropogenic causes, and to validate the models. Almost all Global Warming Models are running very high in their temperature predictions – beyond the likely uncertainty in the temperature data.

        Your argument fails by equivocation by implying that human development by fossil fuel use will cause catastrophic global warming – which you sweep into the political accusation “AGW deniers”.

        Can you rise to professional conduct and directly address these foundational issues in real climate science – rather than using underhanded rhetorical attacks?

      • lolwot,
        He does a better job than, say, Climate Progress, RealClimate, SkS, etc.
        Did you have a particular point in mind?

  4. “the facts of climate change, according to the consensus”

    Does anyone besides me see that this is self-contradictory?


    • The problem is that “the facts” are rather different depending on which scientist you are talking to. As ever, each one will regard their own particular thesis as the incontestible truth.

  5. When science becomes politicized, we need journalists to be playing a watchdog role and not just parroting the words of scientists and their press releases.

    Journalists (if by “journalists” you mean the between-the-ads pundits that occasionally act like journalists) are precisely the people who have allowed the science to become politicized in the first place. That’s because their J-schools and editors sold them on the idea that there are two sides of equal merit to every story.

    Frankly, I’d rather just read the press release and make up my own mind without the very noble efforts of these corporate-owned “watchdogs” to make it bleed for the evening news.

  6. If a person believes that the main stream media has fairly reported this issue, I’d ask you to consider why there has not been much of any reporting on two significant issues. The first is the use and limitations of computer models in determining what a slightly warmer world will be like for America (or the country you care about) or the world overall. The second is the specific impact of proposed mitigation activities in effecting the climate vs. the cost of the mitigation activity

    Reasonable questions on models such as:
    1. What specific attributes are the models designed to accurately predict?
    2. What margin of error are the models able to accurately predict for #1 over what timeframes?
    3. What models have performed well on #’s 1&2 and what ones have not?
    4. Do the models perform consistently?
    5. Do we really have any models that have predicted well enough to be used to make informed policy decisions?
    Reasonable questions on mitigation activities
    1. How much will the proposed action lower total atmospheric CO2 over what timeframe?
    2. What will be the impact to the climate of the lowering or avoidance of CO2 being at one level vs. if no action was done
    3. What is the cost to the taxpayer of the proposed action

  7. randomengineer

    Journalists train as wordsmiths. That’s it. One week they’re covering a dog show and the next, they’re talking about heavy metal. The next, they’re in a war zone. They can’t be experts on anything by definition. People complain about journalists writing leftist “war is bad” pap from war zones. What do they expect? A roadblock op goes bad. People get killed. Journalist has no way to know if this was the result of the local commander doing a bad job or if this is normal or what. Journalist isn’t a military expert. Takes pictures of bodies instead and opines that war isn’t a good thing. Not because the journalist is a hippie. Because there’s nothing else to connect to without expertise. That’s what is left and there’s a deadline to meet. Editor expects *something.*

    But journalists are supposed to know how to communicate science that is influenced heavily with politics. How? Sounds like what’s really wanted here are the super smart brain pills from a star trek episode.

    In my field it’s rare for even the “expert insider” types to get the story right and this isn’t jumbled with politics. There’s no expectation that any journalist has the capacity to do more than regurgitate.

    • My observation is that journalists aren’t even good journalists. The entire industry’s standards are way too low. The best journalists out there have law degrees. At least law school screens out the complete yutzes, and instills a proper sense of skepticism. That should be a minimum standard.

    • I had a professor back during my undergrad days who wanted me as a grad assistant (Military Sociology). As I was nearing 30 (military service + a fair amount of takimng time off from school to work for my dad’s engineering firm), I reluctantly turned her down. This same prof also made the comment that she envisioned me trotting around the planet following armed conflicts and reporting on them, as I had both practical experience (sort of – we don’t road blocks in submarines) and a decent understanding of (or ability to evaluate) broader issues related to the conflict. More than once I wonder if I missed my calling.

      I agree that “on average” journalists are not very well versed or qualified to understand and evalute the issues they are covering. Particularly with regard to science and technology related issues. I doubt Physics is part of the required curriculum at Columbia Unversity’s College of Journalism.

  8. I do want to ask an award question. I want to be persistent, unpopular and dogged. I want this question answered!
    The question for Consensus Climate Scientists is:

    How do you melt miles thick ice sheets in ten thousand years while you warm the earth at the same time?

    I have reworded this question and asked multiple Climate Scientists and not one has given a reasonable answer.

    See the full question here

    Does anyone have a reasonable answer?

    • Where are the journalists who should pick up this question and press for an answer that does not violate the laws of physics?
      Are there any journalists reading this?

      • From the link you supply:

        They (NCDC/ NOAA) have no reasonable explanation for where they get the difference in energy that would be required to melt massive ice sheets while warming the earth at the same time as compared to the energy level that cooled the earth while building ice volume.

        Why would you assume that a journalist would understand the physics better than a physicist?

        Anyway – I’m not a “Consensus Climate Scientist”, but I think the answer that is most reasonable is this: variations in the magnitude of the greenhouse effect due to variations in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. If less infrared radiation can escape from the Earth due to increased GHGs, the Earth must heat up until a new (higher) equilibrium temperature is reached.

        You’re welcome to reject that answer – but that does not mean that it’s not a reasonable answer.

      • The energy change that the GHGs provide is tiny.
        The energy change to accomplish what they say happens is huge.

    • The world waits an answer

    • It’s not awkward, it’s simple:

      I’m no climate scientist, but if you don’t do sums you’re doomed to talk nonsense.

      I’ve not checked these but here’s a quick answer and happy to be proved wrong.

      Energy imbalance is from IPCC AR4 SPM, and is for current CO2 levels

      I’ve used scientific notation for the numbers and it’s a simple step by step calc.

      Energy imbalance 1.60E+000W/m2
      Earth’s radius 6.37E+003km
      Earth’s radius 6.37E+006m
      Earth’s surface area 5.10E+014m2
      Power from imbalance 8.16E+014Watts
      Latent heat of water 3.34E+002kJ/kg
      Latent heat of water 3.34E+005J/kg
      Rate of water melt = power/latent heat = 2.44E+009kg/s
      Rate of water melt 7.71E+016kg/yr
      Density of water 1.00E+003kg/m3
      Rate of ice melt 7.71E+013m3/yr
      Rate of ice melt 7.71E+004km3/yr

      That’s 77,000 cubic kilometres of ice melt every year.
      Current Greenland losses are about 300 km3/yr for comparison

      is that enough melt for you?

      Any corrections?

      • Please explain the current 1.60E+000W/m2 energy imbalance

      • As per reference quoted , IPCC AR4, that’s the estimate of the total anthropogenic contribution to forcing – change from pre-industrial level. Table SPM.2 gives a breakdown.

        There are large error bars on it, but as you can see, it’s orders of magnitude above that necessary to cause significant ice melt.

      • The only way there could currently be a 1.6W/m2 energy imbalance is if CO2 concentrations had just now increased from 280ppm to 380ppm in one single step.
        As that didn’t happen, what do you think all those gigajoules of energy which have been accumulating over the past 100+ years have been doing but to warm the planet?
        So do you still think the current imbalance is 1.6W/m2?

      • Peter,

        yes, that’s fair, but even if equilibrium were instantaneous, the average imbalance from preindustrial baseline would still be half this, so the order of magnitude is correct.

      • VTG, think it through properly.
        How much temperature increase results from the annual 2-3ppm increase?
        And how long does the surface take to attain that temperature increase in response to that forcing? If it takes less than a year then we have effectively zero energy imbalance at the end of each year.
        And even if you did have the right order of magnitude, the effect is spread over 100+ years, not a single year.
        And at the end of all that, that relatively tiny amount of extra energy would be spread over the entire planet, not just Greenland.

      • Sorry Herman, VeryTallGuy is quite right.

        An equivalent way to prove the point is to calculate the forcing Frequired to melt an ice sheet of average thickness h covering a fraction of the Earth’s surface a in, say, ten thousand years.

        For a = 1/3 and h = 4 km one finds that F is about 1 watt/m^2, no big deal. (An increase of 5 K in ocean temperature is also easily accomodated.)

        You can do this yourself.

      • If you could melt miles thick ice sheets this easily, all the ice on earth would be gone by now.

      • Wow!

        It only takes 1 W/m^2 to melt all that ice?.

        A 5% change in cloud cover would just about get us there, right?


      • Rate of ice melt 7.71E+004km3/yr

        That’s 77,000 cubic kilometres of ice melt every year.
        Current Greenland losses are about 300 km3/yr for comparison
        You can’t get the big one if you only get the little one today.
        Temperature and energy are not that different now than then.
        Think about it.

      • VTG’s calculation is complete nonsense. To start with he assumes that all of the incoming excess heat is used to melt ice (even the heat that arrives at the equator!). If that was true, then there would be no global warming, because all the heat is used to melt ice (this was HAP’s original point).
        Finally, if you take VTGs figure for ice melt and divide by the area of the earth’s oceans you get sea level rise of 20 cm/yr!

      • Sorry, think I misunderstood VTG’s post!

      • Thank you Paul. If ice was spread out evenly, it would melt quickly. A two inch snowfall can melt rapidly. When it piles up in deep drifts, that same snow can take months to melt. The Ice Sheets are mostly on land in the far north and far south. Not much sunshine for half the year and not direct sunshine ever.

    • I want some real climate scientists to answer this question.
      With real math in their climate models. It is not possible.

      • Herman, you don’t need a scientist. An eleven year old could do the calculation easily. It’s not a lot of heat compared to the effect of GHGs.

        Do the maths.

    • Ice did not melt because earth got warm.
      Earth got warm because ice melted and retreated, as it retreated.
      Earth gets cool again when the Arctic is Ice Free and it Snows.
      The Arctic is partly ice free and the snows have started.
      Earth will now cool until the Arctic Freezes again.

  9. “Journalism is about not taking sides”.

    A confession. Eons ago, and just out of college, I wanted to be a journalist. This was for all the wrong reasons – I had strong views on many things going on in the world, and wanted to engage in some punditry.

    To assume most people entering this noble profession do not share this disposition is naive. The best that anyone can do is figure out what bias the commentator has. In most cases, this is fairly easy if you know enough about the subject, but almost impossible if you don’t.

    Most people in the media (including science journalists) are arts graduates and not equipped to argue with scientists about the interpretation of their work. I know Dr. Whitehouse is an exeception, but certain BBC ‘environmental correspondents’ are not.

    So what we need to do is…… oh, I haven’t a clue. Just start by bringing Dr Whitehouse back to the BBC.

    • >To assume most people entering this noble profession do not share this disposition is naive<

      Agreed … and here is the "slam dunk" (oh yes, I have been through this with quite a few journalists):

      Q: Do you do it for the money ?
      A: Oh no (and they are correct. Apart from a few TV or radio "stars", journalists by and large are not particularly well paid)

      Q: So you do it for the power ?
      A: [no answer, dead silence, but a big, wide, sly grin]

      Punditry without responsibility

      • Yes, and the most common answer given by students at Columbia School of Journalism is “I want to change the world”. The best journalists never studied journalism.

      • Funny, I always go straight to “Q: So, you got into it so you could spend six days in seven wasted, right?”

  10. There is another aspect of this topic to argue. Rather than focus on the appropriateness of advocacy vs. objectivity in reporting (or in science for that matter), what about how do you capture public interest. In other words is the topic more interesting if its settled or if the outcome is uncertain and still to be developed. Think about what happens on most Sunday’s for many folks, church services in the morning and football in the afternoon. The church service is ~1 hr long and my guess is about half the people who attend are dragged there kicking and screaming by someone else to listen to a minister preach to them. The football portion of the day lasts between 3.5 and 10 hrs., likely has a much larger audience and very few people have to be forced to watch the spectacle. But the games are only interesting until its clear who is going to win. Climate science is in the first few minutes of the first quarter. It will be interesting as long as the conclusion is still up in the air. When it’s really settled and both weather and climate are really predictable, it will no longer be interesting and folks will change the channel.

  11. Norm Kalmanovitch

    The supposed pinnacle of Canadian Journalism the CBC’s Fifth Estate produced a show called “The Denial Machine” placing the Environmentalist Lobby position on climate change in the factual category and demeaning scientists who opposed this AGW conjecture as “Deniers” (a term coined with the intended connotation of placing those who will not support this fraudulent concept of the Environmentalist Lobby in the same category as Holocaust Deniers)
    It should be pointed out that there has been no detectable global warming since 1998 either human caused or otherwise yet this Journalistic effort: ORIGINALLY AIRED: November 15, 2006 on CBC-TV
    UPDATED: October 24, 2007 at 9pm on CBC-TV

    The Denial Machine
    This exerpt is from the promo at the above link:
    In the past few years, a rhetorical firestorm has engulfed the debate about global warming, pitting science against spin, with inflammatory words on both sides. That debate only intensifed recently when former Vice-President Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize for his populist environmental campaign.

    Last season, the fifth estate’s Bob McKeown investigated the roots of another kind of campaign–one to negate the science and the threat of global warming. You can watch The Denial Machine again, more timely than ever, with new, updated information.

    I think David Whitehouse has a valid point!

  12. Dr Curry, you say –

    ” Communicating science to the public is the job of scientists”

    Really? Isn’t that is the job of science journalists? Isn’t that the purpose of their existence?

    Of course there may be an overlap – some scientists have indeed been good communicators [Feynman comes to mind] and many of the best science journalist have a scientific background. However, if I want dispassionate objective communication I’d probably take a professional communicator as a first option.

    There is a second problem, especially in a contentious, politicised area like climate science. Those scientists that chose to do the communicating are quite likely to be the ones with a polarised perspective (james Hansen, Fred Singer?) If I know of a journalist’s other work [say, Andy Revkin’s] I can be a little more sure as to the detachment of the communication.

    • I often wonder why skeptics like Feynman so much. I see only one reason. He’s dead and he can’t slug and kick them for abusing him!

      • Abuse him?

        Perish the thought!

      • He was always scrupulously honest, is why. Something skeptics admire.

      • Nobody knows what he would have thought of all of this. Climate skeptics talk as though he would have been on their side, and that may not be true.

        Pick a guy with a pulse.

      • One guy with a pulse: Courtillot. He’s a scientist in the true sense of the word. There are many more of course. Curry is one of them too, maybe not that skeptical, but still very impressive. Feynman is an obvious choice of the guys with no pulse. He never tired of warning against pseudo-science (fooling oneself). The consensus AGW “hypothesis” is a perfect example of fooling onself.

      • Or maybe you’re a perfect example of fooling oneself.

      • Maybe. Time will tell.

      • Concerning Feynman, here’s a good stand-in. His colleague at CalTech, Murray Gell-Mann, who many people consider Feynman’s equal, was one of 17 Nobel laureates who met in Stockholm this year and released a long and detailed statement in support of AGW.

        Gell-Mann and Feynman were very competitive in their research. Personally, I learned a lot about quantum mechanics from Feynman but Gell-Mann has a ton of practical applied science advice in his popular writing. I don’t even read the quark and particle science fields he specializes in and instead look at his work with entropy and complexity. That is where the insight is for me.

        Besides Gell-Mann at CalTech, there are a few other CalTech scientists that are very good on fossil fuel analysis, including the physicist David Goodman and the electrical engineering professor David Rutledge.

        The legacy of Feynman lives on at CalTech.

      • That was a nifty redirect. Not. Feynman, Gell-mann, seen one Jewish physicist from California, seen them all. Right?

      • At least Gell-Mann can speak for himself.

        For all you know, Feynman might be deeply offended to have been adopted against his will by one side or the other.

        This is a common tactic – hijacking the dead. They cannot defend themselves.

        So we have Courtillot and Gell-Mann. They speak. They write. Feynman can’t.

      • Feynman spoke plenty about the inherent skepticism of science, and the fallibility of institutions.

      • JCH –

        Your partisanship (and the expectation of it in others) has led you to seemingly make false assumptions.

        Why is Feynman being talked about here? Because he was mentioned as a good science communicator. That’s it – no scepticism, nothing to do with climate change, just communication.

        You immediately leapt to I often wonder why skeptics like Feynman so much”

        I don’t see much evidence of ‘skeptics’ suggesting Feynman would have a particular belief about climate change. Although I think he would have some interesting things to say.

      • That’s nice P.E., and that’s about it.

      • Anteros – he’s invoked by skeptics a lot.

        Yes, he would probably have interesting things to say. The problem is, we have absolutely no idea what they would be.

      • How about both?

      • JCH –

        Talk of the devil…..


        I suppose ‘slightly-sceptical’ Lubos Motl getting Feynman’s opinion from Durban sort of agrees with your contention. But still, nice of Feynman to turn up ;)

      • Gosh, I never suggested that I knew what Feynman would think about GW, AGW, or CAGW. I said that skeptics admire him for his scrupulous adherence to honesty about what we know. That is, of course, something that I think many warmists have been shown to lack. See the Climategate emails and compare to their public statements.

      • Besides Gell-Mann there is Andrew Gelman (who has talked about the lineage of his name) who is a great writer/blogger on things statistical.

        What I really like about these scientists is that they do exhibit a degree of arrogance. They know their subjects well and have tremendous insight, so they don’t as the saying goes “suffer fools gladly”. Find one of the videos of Gell-Mann in action as he will rip to shreds some poor questioner.

        Feynman obviously can add fresh insight, so you have to go to the scientists who can carry on the tradition of rabble-rouser.

      • JCH: Pick a guy with a pulse.
        I suggest Grant Foster masquerading as Tamino

    • Quite right Anteros, that communicating science to the public is precisely the job of science journalists. If a scientists starts doing popularization they are by definition not doing science, they are writers. If they do it via the news they are journalists.

      By coincidence my fifth career (1994 – 2004) was as a science journalist, writing mostly for Electricity Daily. My focus was climate change and other environmental stuff, especially for coal burners. The subscription rate was $1200/year so my readers were mostly executives, usually highly intelligent engineers, MBAs or lawyers. In that context you don’t just report the science, you explain it in terms your readers understand, as well as its relevance to the industry. A scientist would have no way of knowing how to do that. Every journalist has a specific audience which they should know how to speak to.

      The biggest problem with science communication in climate change today is the arrogant AGW advocacy of the leading journalists, especially AP’s Seth Borenstein in the US. The second biggest problem is that the second stringers all parrot this noise. Ignorance, lack of pay, etc., is not the issue. One sided advocacy is the only real problem.

    • Science journalist is a contrived role that intended to create a paycheck for the journalist. I read a lot and I am not aware of any journalist that tells me something new, and certainly can’t tell my what the science means. The crossword puzzle is more interesting.

      Dr. Curry is correct. Scientists know the story and if they want it told accurately and completely, and I don’t know why they would except to act as an attractant for more funding, they need to tell it. Dr. Feynman had no need of journalists, for example.

      Finally – journalists are a filter. Even the best of them allows parts of the story to remain clogged in the gray matter, never becoming part of what the moving finger, having writ, moves on from. I adamantly resent that filter.

  13. Thanks, Professor Curry, for bringing us the reports by David Whitehouse and Christopher Booker on science journalism.

    I admire them both, as well as Marjorie Mazel Hecht for her 2007 report in 21st Century Science & Technology on the 1975 birth of the AGW scare


    And Stuart Clark for his 2007 book, “The Sun Kings: The unexpected tragedy of Richard Carrington and the tale of how modern astronomy began”: http://www.amazon.com/Sun-Kings-Unexpected-Carrington-Astronomy/dp/0691126607

    It is easy to see why ambitious young scientists would compromise the principles of science to obtain government research grants, but I still do not understand why science reporters compromise the principles of journalism to obtain . . . (what?)

  14. Ultimately the major concern I would have is that most journalists did not concentrate on the hard sciences in school and as such are often completely unqualified to provide an informed filter. Let’s be honest, I have a graduate level knowledge of statistics and yet when Steve McIntyre and Gavin Schmidt go at it I am still left struggling to know who is more right. How is a J-school grad who last did maths in grade 11 and might have taken one or two environmental studies courses in university supposed to provide any form of informed filter on that debate?

    I readily admit that a number of excellent journalists with solid scientific backgrounds report on the beat but frankly they are the exception, not the rule.To depend on the average “science beat” journalist to serve as a filter is to invite confusion.

    • I’ve thought this on many occasions. My eyes cross on some of the discussions that go back and forth on blogs and I have a graduate science degree.

  15. David Whitehouse is just making another ‘report both sides of the story argument’. Yet, there is no reason for so-called climate sceptics to complain about the coverage they get in their right wing press. Biblical creationists would kill to get the same level of support from such sources as Fox News, the WSJ, the Daily Mail, Daily Express, the Spectator etc and countless right wing radio presenters who regularly give us all the benefit of their uninformed opinions.

    • And here I thought the Biblical creationists were supposed to be right wing types…they can’t get support from “their” press?

      It’s such a confusing world…or perhaps it’s just a bit more complex than the binary thinkers on both sides understand.

    • Yes, Creationists get much less support. The Creation/Evolution issue isn’t that important to those who are engaged in a campaign of scientific disinformation. It doesn’t affect the price of petrol/gasoline or their ‘freedom’ to drive around in a Hummer if they choose!

      • I suppose subtlety for some is like peanuts to the allergic…any at all is too much. Way to miss the point.

      • And why have you put the word freedom in quotes, do you think ?

      • TT is in good form–in high dudgeon over Joe-Six-Pack and his “Hummer” and Joe’s tacky worries over the price of gas at the neighborhood pump. It’s almost like humanity is divided into two species. There’s the low-rent Hummer-cracker-morlocks, like Joe, who earn their pay through contemptible honest labor and, even worse, just don’t “get it” when it comes to settled CAGW science. And then there’s the beautiful people–our philosopher kings and queens, who enjoy their palatial mansions, yachts, and private jets while, thankfully, paying heed to the scientific certainty of CAGW and the need to de-Hummer the hoi polloi.

        Of course, there’s also an intermediate type of humanity that is a cut above ol’ Joe (thought not, despite their occasional, parvenu pretensions, in any way of the shot-caller class). Namely, the lefty lickspittles, slick and savvy enough to land the flunky good deals to be had by those who serve their hive-masters as especially useful tools. And, among other benefits, these klimate-kapo toadies are allowed, for their low-stress troubles, an occassional carbon pig-out party of their very own, in pale imitation of their infinitely superior betters–like that obscene feeding-frenzy at the greenshirt trough, provided courtesy of Joe’s taxes, that’s currently on display in Durban.

        Incidentally, TT, the light-bulb over my head just lit up. What if we were to video-conference all future academic and government conferences that address the settled science of CAGW?. That’d save on both carbon emissions and Joe’s taxpayer bucks. Can’t get any better than that, right TT? What do you think?

    • That’s Dr David Whitehouse, former science journalist with the BBC, replaced with non science qualified journalists (sorry, ‘activists’ ie Roger Harrabin, English degree, Richard Black, won’t say)

      Harrabin was on the board of Tyndal Centre, and may even have prompted, the start of Realclimate….

    • What’s funny is that you have named all five of the non left-leaning news sources on the planet. Well, and the free speech radio commentators you boys would put in concentration camps, if you had the power.

      • “concentration camps” ?

        No. We’d probably put them on a re-education course. Then at least they’d know what they were talking about afterwards. Aren’t we just too nice?

  16. Whether Revkin is in anyone’s pocket, he certainly is part of the problem. He states explicitly that he seeks to ‘communicate’ the science of climate change – and he ridiculed me when I pointed out in a comment the difference between communicating and reporting. His answer – ‘communicating IS reporting. So much for “it is fundamentally different from science communication,” from above. Revkin sees himself representing the cause to the public, not serving as a science journalist. Andy is a P.R. flack for the consensus, and he’s proud of himself.

  17. Judith,

    You write “Communicating science to the public is the job of scientists. ”

    Really? Are you the same Judith Curry who regularly dodges most, if not nearly all, direct questions on climate science from the public on this blog? The same Judith Curry who likes to walk both sides of the street on climate science, saying one thing in published research papers and another on this blog?

    Correction. That should be saying as little as possible on this blog but at the same time endeavouring to create totally the opposite impression !

    • Peter, calm down..

      Do you not think this blog and everything that goes with it is ‘communicating’?
      Perhaps your concern is that it doesn’t ‘communicate’ your prescribed message?

    • Communicating? I thing ‘disinformation’ is the word you might be looking for.
      The opinion of scientists, on every issue, is easily accessible to scientific journalists on every scientific website worldwide. The Royal Society, the National Academy of Sciences state the current thinking quite clearly etc. Nearly every university does the same.

      Journalists can be forgiven for getting it wrong occasionally if their mistake are honest. But journalists know as well as anyone else that what they write has to fit in with the editorial line of their paper. The guys at NASA/GISS have an open invitation to the WSJ journalists to visit and work with them on scientific articles. Of course, it isn’t taken up. There’s no point. The journos know they won’t be allowed to use any of it.

      • tempt,

        Media, academia and specifically climate and enviromental studies all have the same eco-left bias that forms the levels of disinformation you choose to ignore. The article and Dr. Curry are gutless because they avoid the associated conversation and linkage at any cost. The actual agenda can only be alluded to in a unnamed form. That’s the Orwellian orthodox you, Dr. Curry and Whitehouse all share, clearly in different degrees. You’re having a cow it’s even being alluded to.

        You can spend you’re entire life within the enclave, it is large but it’s far from reality. Warmist whining that the media didn’t sell the propaganda correctly is sorry sight.

      • Maybe that’s just the way things are. Maybe nature, all the natural laws of science etc, have this “eco-left” bias? Ever considered that possibility?

  18. “Journalists are often criticized by climate scientists for not accurately reporting the facts of climate change, according to the consensus.”

    This is like a quarterback blaming the line for losing the game for the “team”. Since both the “consensus” and the MSM that are and still working tools of AGW and generally similar political agendas it’s funny fallout. The media has been hauling filthy and smelly water for years and now dissent and science has exposed the process. Again the media is seen for it’s typical statist agenda setting and playing stupid for a cause (past 30 years) that is destined to go down in flames. Baghdad Bob (http://www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com/) had nothing over western climate journalism at all. Of course climate scientists are in a similar kings clothing situation as the political incest is clear.

    This is what happens when you marry your sister a few generations removed.

    • randomengineer

      This is what happens when you marry your sister a few generations removed.

      Tingling feeling running up your leg. Yep.

    • You are aware that it is pretty well proven that you can marry a cousin with about zero chance of in breeding concerns, right? Of course if you have ugly cousins and sisters, I can see why you wouldn’t.

  19. Jonathan Gilligan

    “Journalists should portray where the weight of evidence lies, but that is the least they should do, and they should not look to scientists for guidance anymore than an artist asks a bowl of cherries for advice about how to draw them!”

    How are journalists supposed to judge where the weight of the evidence lies with respect to very technical analyses, whether we’re talking about superluminal neutrinos or Bayesian analysis of constraints on climate sensitivity, without consulting scientists for guidance? This prescription simply doesn’t make sense.

    • Same way lawyers do – seeking out both sides of a debate rather than just calling up the Greenpeace guy, and quoting him as “the” expert. IOW, actually work for a living.

  20. Mikael Pihlstro

    Judith Curry,

    I just don’t get your kind of ‘climate brokerage’. You quote the
    infamous Christopher Booker and the publisher of his newest
    (GWPF) without any positioning comment whatsoever?
    Except perhaps that he is a ‘watchdog’ and are we to understand,
    commendable because he is no ‘parrot`’?
    This is the Christopher Booker who has been found mendacious
    by a UK High Court and the UK Health and Safety executive on claims
    concerning the harmlessness of passive smoking, asbestos etc.
    Besides writing verifiable nonsense on climate issues he is also sympathetic to Intelligent Design.
    Are you saying that his obvious lack of judgement is not something
    we should know when reading his theses on the BBC?

  21. Journalism and politics are similar in that both require access to otherwise difficult to obtain sources. For journalism, sources of information may require dumpster diving, piecing together shredded paper documents as in Watergate or paying attention to unauthorized releases of emails as in Climategate 1.0 & 2.0. The dumpster diving and email reading is a long and slow process not conducive to a news outlet’s time line. The well treaded journalist carries their “little black book” of information sources, names: doctors, lawyers, indian chiefs upon whom they can call for specific expert information, hopefully quotable. When the topic is science, the journalists with their little black book of scientists names is whipped out, a number called, a question asked and answered, a quote obtained and off to the newsroom for typing, editing and hopefully publishing with one’s name in the byline. This latter method is quick and requires little cerebral input. All one has to have is the vocabulary, no mean trick mind you, but doable and remain employed. The quick and easy gets repeated again and again and again. To maintain access, it is best not to mix metaphors nor switch sides. If the editorial board of one’s employer has a particular perspective, it is also wise not to mess one’s own nest (see I’m not a journalist). So the process of being a journalist and remaining employed means becoming a part of the “tribe”. Unlike our hostess, I believe Andy Revkin belongs, lock stock and barrel, to the” warmist” tribe: from polar jaunts to New York chums. After all, news outlets are businesses employing journalists. When William Randolph Hurst was asked why he indulged in social injustice muck raking yellow dog journalism, it was “… to make money.” I see no difference between then and now: meat packing industry; climate change industry.

    • Meat packing is a far more productive industry.

    • NYT is an interesting case, because they display the good, the bad, and the ugly all at the same time. Revkin is their envionmental guy, and while he’s probably more knowledgeable than most environmental reporters, he’s definitely a member of the green tribe. However, they also have the science guy, Tierney, who’s much more skeptical. Between the two of them, they actually do a decent job of presenting both sides.

      Thing is, I think this was success by accident. I’m sure there are lots of people there who’d like to fire Tierney.

      • The NYT is mostly propaganda. If occasional moderation or dissent is thrown in isn’t that much mitigation of their general activist bias.

        I think in recent times with the failure of cap and tax they are relatively quite. They conserve the resources on what is politically actionable at the moment. Taxes and class war are on the front burner at the moment, AGW is back to the incubator they hope for another day.

        If the NYTimes was a credible news organization they would fire anyone who compared their enemies to holocaust deniers which Revkin has done many times in the past. Then again the NYTimes isn’t a credible news organization for this and many other reasons.

      • In general, yes. But give credit to Tierney. He doesn’t fit in there, and I’m surprised he hasn’t been shown the door.

      • “If the NYTimes was a credible news organization they would fire anyone who compared their enemies to holocaust deniers which Revkin has done many times in the past.”

        I haven’t found Revkin’s articles comparing AGW deniers with holocaust deniers, so I don’t know exactly which of his articles you are talking about. Will you provide links?

      • M. Carey,

        When the word “denier” is used that is the official liberal subtext meaning. Denier = Holocaust Denier.

        You pretend your culture isn’t scum?

      • cwon

        That comment was way over the top imo

      • If I understand the “denier” label as applied to AGW, Revkin addresses people who are skeptical of global warming in general, and the anthropogenic portion in particular. Revkin uses the label “denier.” Denier has been applied to people who do not acknowledge events of the Holocaust of WW !!. I too carry a Revkin applied yellow “D” on my left chest and I hang my head in shame, for the journalism that that represents.

      • Rob Starkey | December 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm |

        That comment was way over the top imo


        “scum” is harsh, but so is “Holocaust Denier” which is exactly the messaged comment “denier” means in the lower AGW minion class the M Carey and Robert for example belong to. Revkin means the same this as well. So does Krugman and the rest of the NYTimes tools.

        Climate Depot doesn’t grow off the grass, it was an ugly, lying, smearing debate culture long before they arrived. We should allow M Carey a pass for activist word destruction and redefine the snarky know-it-all smear they all share in private and chant among themselves?? It’s just another level of dishonesty to try and pass the term “denier” as anything else but the talking point coded message any reasonable person objectively knows what the term means.

        I’m sorry you were offended, it isn’t directed at even most of the AGW activists but a select group. “Scum” isn’t even proportionally “over the top” as “denier” so there is not a retraction. The pompous, self-righteous, arrogantly assumed intellectually superior demeanor that follows so many AGW advocates is indeed tedious. Worse is the assumption that they stand on a higher moral plain while making a clear Nazi accusatory analogy and wonder and whine about Climate Depot? Who do you think took this debate to the gutter first?

        “Denier” should be banned from the board as for all those who use the code.

      • I thought perhaps Revkin said AGW Deniers are just like Holocaust Deniers because cwon14 said

        “If the NYTimes was a credible news organization they would fire anyone who compared their enemies to holocaust deniers which Revkin has done many times in the past.”

        So I asked cwon14 for links to articles with Revkin comparing AGW deniers to Holocaust deniers, so I could find out exactly what Revkin said. Instead of providing links, cwon14 replied

        “When the word “denier” is used that is the official liberal subtext meaning. Denier = Holocaust Denier.”

        Obviously, cwon14’s wasn’t responsive to my request for links, and his reply raises several possibilities:

        1. cwon14 is too lazy to back up his accusation with links to articles by Revkin.

        2. cwon14 can’t back up his accusation with links to artcles by Revkin.

        3. cwon14 has magical powers that let him peer into the minds of all who use the word “denier.”

        4. cwon14 resides in a fantasy world.

      • M Carey,

        You forgot #6

        6) cwon understands M carey isn’t worth the effort.

      • Your a useless troll M Carey but here is a Revkin link to hate promotion and “Denier”;


        Is he cautious, often using sarcasm and implication? Of course, it’s what liberal coded speach is all about. do your own research he’s embraced much the idiotic “we’re smarter” talking points and name calling AGW zealots are known for.

      • Cwon14,

        Its always worth looking up a word in the dictionary when there is some dispute about its use:


        “a person who denies”

        Nothing to do with any holocaust!

        Is that straightforward enough for you?

      • I think kim already wrote it about the NYT:

        All the news that’s left to print

      • It’s dishonesty such as your Tempt that Climate Depot was created to expose;


        Refuted as always Tempt.

      • cwon,

        Look, you can be in denial about anything. If your doctor says you need a life saving surgical procedure you can go into denial and claim you don’t. If your football team loses one match after another you can convince yourself that everything will come good in the end…

        There are lots of examples. Denial of the murder of Jews , gypsies and others during WW2 is just one. Denial of the scientific evidence of issues such as AIDS, the health effects of smoking, and AGW would be others.

        They aren’t necessarily related.

  22. Many if not most MSM articles simply report on press releases or results of studies, such as this from today’s USAToday


    The journalists reported what EPA said about fracking. Is it a fair and unbiased report? I don’t know, since I haven’t read exactly what EPA said.

    • M. car

      The EPA remarks about the fracking operation at Pavillion Wyoming may be correct, since these are shallow deposits.

      Most fracking is done in very deep deposits, where there is virtually no chance of groundwater pollution.

      It is the EPA’s job to make sure the proper precautions (casing, cementing, etc.) are taken by the operators to ensure that there is no groundwater pollution.

      Forbidding fracking operations per se is obviously not the answer, as they have been done for years by oilfield service companies such as Halliburton and Schlumberger all over the world (including the USA) without problems.


    • The fracking controversy is an excellent example of how strong political news seems to almost require that reporters needs little or no substantial investigation. I wonder if the stronger the controversy, the less willing journalists are to seek basic competence about the subject and the more likely they are to rely on polemics. For example, the USA article shows a drilling rig and proclaims it a fracking site, as did CBS new last night. Fracking is never done while drilling, it is an operation that is done weeks to years after the drilling is done. A laugh out loud moment came when reading the NY Times article about this report. It said “Natural gas is often mixed with other elements, including methane, which can taint water supplies.” Perhaps he should have mentioned that water produced was mixed with H2O.

  23. Interesting that the BBC is there and good to see it get an airing.

    Many of the reporters who regularly post on climate science and other branches of science have had zero scientific training. Now i’m not expecting degree’s or pHd’s here, but some sort of foundation course would seem appropriate. I’ve lost count of how many times inaccurate stories have been posted, especially by the BBC.

    The BBC itself, especially on climate, has lost all credibility in the UK, at least by the scientifically literate. Even those who support the cAW theory (or large parts of it) recoginse it for what it is, a propoganda outlet. It’s shocking really that such a widely respectd organisation can fall so far.

    And don’t even get me started on Richard Black….

    • It’s a blessing when one person can speak for all scientifically literate people. It eliminates the need for those pesky surveys.

      • Heh, yes because we know just how well survey statistics can be used- but you have a point.

        I am of course only speaking for the scientifically literate people i know and work with. MAny of whom are far more intelligent than i, and about a third, are on the ‘opposite side of the fence’.

        This is of course not a representative sample and only indicative of my own personal experience- apologies

      • Labmunkey – given a choice of where to get accurate representation of science, I’d choose the BBC over the GWPF any time.

    • “The BBC itself, especially on climate, has lost all credibility in the UK, at least by the scientifically literate. ”

      You might wish this were so – but is it?. Have the BBC really got it wrong according to how they may be guided by the UK’s top universities and science research institutes? I don’t think so.

      The criticism of the BBC isn’t that they have misunderstood or failed to convey the scientific message. Just the opposite, in fact. It’s that they don’t misrepresent it or deliberately distort it in the way the UK’s Daily Mail seems particularly adept in doing.

      • An interesting attempt at diversion, but that is not the issue- the BBC, unique as an organisation, has a mandate- WRITTEN into it’s charter to be completely impartial on all counts.

        It used to suceed more often than it failed, now it os the other way around.

        If the consensus (that massive consesnus as shown by that superb survey) is that cAGW is real, then they should report on it. I have no problem with that. But they have gone too far the other way- taking clandestine meetins- for which they wohn’t release the details of, to decide policy on their boradcasting on this subject and removing any shred of impartiality.

        This is not just a case of them not airing the more wacky (and frank;ly insane in some cases) skeptical ideas, but in not allowing anything that even remotely contradicts the cAGW position airing, without HEAVY editorial slant.

        I don’t actually mind them reporting cAGW stories of the pro nature, it’s when they shut down ALL possible cases of even slight dissent that their credibility goes.

      • The BBC was recently given a clean bill of health by an independant review of its science coverage commisioned by the BBC Trust.


      • The BBC was recently given a clean bill of health by an independant review of its science coverage commisioned by the BBC Trust


        Commissioned by whom?

        I seem to recall that Nixon also had an internal review that gave him a clean bill of health on Watergate.


      • From FOIA email #4894:

        …and being the objective impartial (ho ho) BBC that we are

        Evidently, not even the BBC believes itself to be impartial

      • Louise,

        You may want to read up a bit more on that review. Over at Bishop Hill they’ve brought up some interesting issues. Doesn’t mean they are 100% true, but there is at least some reason to question the impartiality of the review.

        When one reads about the investigation by Penn State into Michael Mann, it is pretty easy to question whether they were really interested in discovery or just going through the motions. I don’t know. What I do know is that Dr Mann’s arguments for denying the FOIA request for work emails comes across as extremely self-serving. When he starts putting up smoke screens like “academic freedom”, I have to start wondering what it is he really is concerned about.

      • timg56

        Regarding “independent reviews”:

        If these are attempted “whitewashes”, they are meaningless.


      • Uh Max,

        I know. Do I know that the BBC internal review or the investigations into Mann were whitewashes? No.

        Do I have suspicions they were based on what I have read to date? Yes, particularly in the case of Mann’s.

        Bottom line, if I don’t know something with great certainty, I try not to talk on it as if I do. Although at this point I am of the opinion that there is enough to question that the people responsible for these reviews and inquiries have the burden of proving the thoroughness and integrity of their reports.

      • BBC, unique as an organisation, has a mandate- WRITTEN into it’s charter to be completely impartial on all counts.

        You really mean “all counts” ? No exceptions? I guess you think they are somewhat reluctant to give ‘both sides of the argument’ on the AGW question, but they have a slightly better record on another scientific controversy:


    • Labmonkey, the BBC are not great on climate (in terms of balance) I’ll grant you, but that tends to be primarily Richard Black. It was certainly worse than it is now and I suspect that it’s improvement is as a direct consequence of the climategate emails.
      On the last episode of Frozen Planet, they dealt with the issue of arctic warming and the break up of the Antarctic ice shelves, and while they got a couple of things wrong, they at least didn’t try to pin the warming on man made emissions.
      Recently they had a meteorological show which was a bit patronising but interesting none-the-less called “Will it Snow” and again, CAGW and mans troublesome effect on climate was not discussed, and in fact the general impression is left with UK infrastructure preparing itself for colder winters.
      There are other examples too. I don’t mean to suggest that they have started fairly pointing out skeptical views, but at least on some levels the promotion of the CAGW meme is now absent.
      It’s a start.

      • Agnostic- it’s funny you should mention that, as i’ve too, noticed a slight shift in their reporting on the issue. It’s certainly a lot less prevalent. I didn’t comment on it as it’s only been recently and i’m not sure if it will continue (though i welcome the shift).

        To be crystal clear again- i do not want disproportionate weighting to skeptical arguments, but they should be covered, and not submerged in editorial bias.

      • I fully agree. Lack of coverage or engagement of genuine skeptical concerns once I became aware of what they were was one of the things that caused me to become suspicious of the orthodox view.

  24. I’ve made this point on earlier threads, but it’s relevant here too. ‘News’ is mostly about bad things. AGW has been pictured from the beginning as a bad thing, so reporting on it is most likely to have that slant, and such reports are likely to be published. Published reports add to a journalist’s stature in the trade.

    Corrective reports are much less likely to be published, and are most likely, if published, to be in a less conspicuous place in the paper. ‘Queen arrives in Woop Woop’ is a story, but ‘Queen leaves Woop Woop’ is not.

    There is an obvious exception to this account of news. The reporting of medical science is mostly about ‘breakthroughs’, and these are positive. But in part the reason is that we are all scared of cancer, stroke, heat disease, and such stories hold out the possibility that the threat may not happen to us.

    You could ask why isn’t there somewhere a journalist who is dealing with the scare of AGW, which does worry a lot of people (I take them to include those who write passionately about how we have to ‘save the planet’). And of course there are a few, like Whitehouse, Delingpole and so on.

    But the balance is weighted towards the scare, because the scare is newsworthy. In time I expect the balance to shift towards the corrective, if the projected cooling takes place. But corrective stories won’t go on and on. That wouldn’t be newsworthy!

    • “But the balance is weighted towards the scare, because the scare is newsworthy.”

      Don, that’s a little simple. The agenda is global taxes, regulations and central management by the very people who allign to “consensus”. Selling fear is only a means to that end. It doesn’t sell more newspapers.

      Why journOlists largely belong to a similar political culture as eco-activists is a far reaching and complicated. I don’t think editors are all that concerned about balance or getting the story right. They don’t even consider their content as part of declining circulation. This is buggy whip manufacturing central on the one hand and an insulated, segregated country club on the other; dissent need not apply in numbers. It’s too late for many of these declining models to reform themselves. Network TV? NYTimes? They’re going to die with their boots on having been replaced by the internet and cable TV. There is still an uber left market niche and academic tradition to cater to it. Nothing is going to improve on news quality, the internet is the corrective tool as well as the growing alternative tech media. A large enough group like the propaganda just the way it is and always was to keep the decline moderate and preserve the same audience. It’s more like running a Broadway show than a news organization in these major enclaves. It starts with a political script for the peers and news is molded later.

      Climate science and mainstream journalism just have to accept the low levels public of trust they have earned over recent generations. For many of the same reasons.

    • Don Aitkin

      But the balance is weighted towards the scare, because the scare is newsworthy.

      The “fear mongering” factor is definitely there – both as a point for selling the news to a sensation-hungry general public, as well as for frightening this same general public into accepting more government control and taxation.

      It is the mainstream media that profit from the former, while politicians hope to gain power from the latter (Mencken).

      The UK “fairy tale” TV campaign was a classical example of “Menckenese” fear mongering at work

      Whitehouse points out that some science journalists have just become lazy or cozy and go with the flow on climate science, while others are ideological activists, using their position to frighten their readers into accepting the desired story of catastrophic AGW.

      Neither group is doing its readers a favor.


  25. The job of a journalist is to make money for his paper.

  26. “Andy is a P.R. flack for the consensus, and he’s proud of himself.”

    I’ve criticized Revkin in harsh terms on his blog. I took (and continue to take) great issue with his patently false recent claim in the NYT REview of Books, “that the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that man is affecting climate in a potentially calamitous way.” He knows full well how misleading this is and when I called him on it he justified it by means of the weasel word “potentially.” How cowardly. IN essence he’s letting himself off the hook for misleading many thousands of readers by means of a technicality. One just as well might say that the vast majority of physicians agree that jogging is potentially calamitous for the heart.

    I’ve asked him many times whether he considers himself a journalist or an activist, and he refuses to answer. Which as far as I’m concerned is answer enough.

    • pokerguy, in the interest of transparency and fairness, will you share your Revkin communications ?

      • Where are Josh and Robert tonight? Day off? Called back to RC for repairs? You boys are quite the little automatons. They wind you up and send you over to the “denier” blogs to obfuscate and filibuster. In the meantime, the Durban junket fails. Pathetic.

    • Sort of like the IPCC weaselwords “most” and “likely”, and their creative definitions.

    • I’ve read the NYT article (linked by Judith C in the opening post here) wherein Revkin supposedly defends himself against such pointed questions

      it’s full of sly, weaselly side-steps. Example: he claims to have sent critical emails to well-regarded climate scientists, but offers neither actual examples nor his email database for others to search. We only have his unverifiable word

      IMO, Judith C defends him because she needs the relatively friendly media outlet and also because Revkin is a source that keeps her in touch with what else may be going on. The reason I think this is because the issue of exaggerated and biased MSM reporting has been about the only issue Judith C has equivocated and flip-flopped on since she started this otherwise quite honest website

  27. M. Carey:
    This is the full statement I referred to : “An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that humans have upended hosts of ecosystems and are exerting a growing and potentially calamitous influence on the climate.”


    • poker guy,

      to be fair, that statement isn’t completely off the wall. I might question the use of the term “upended”, as “impacted” is better IMO. The part about a “growing” influence may be a bit questionable, but it is not hard to find information that would support that contention. Even the part about being “potentially calamitous” is not untrue. Since their is so much uncertainty involved, there is some potential for calamity.

      I guess I am of the opinion that a large percentage of the burden for determining how much accuracy there is in what one reads and hears is up to the recipient. I can read Revkin’s sentence above and conclude it doesn’t mean much of anything, as it is too general. Therefore I just pass it by.

      • randomengineer

        …not completely off the wall.

        If it ended with “Run for your lives! Aaiiieeee!” it wouldn’t have been any less subtle. Pokerguy is right. The job of the journalist is to try to present what the subject is. What Revkin does is the science version of Tiger Direct advertising copy, and even then Tiger Direct at their most extreme liberty taking with truth would be more believable. I have tried to read Revkin before, but I couldn’t (*ahem*) hack it. The mental image I have includes a large brown ring around his nose.

  28. pokerguy, thanks to the link to Revkin’s nytimes article, but I don’t see your communication with him at the end of the article. You said you called him on something and didn’t like his reply. If your exhange with Revkin was deleted, perhaps you still have it, and can present it here in its entirety.

  29. NO thanks. I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend two hours digging through old comments just to keep you satisfied.. Go ahead and doubt my assertions. I really couldn’t care less.

    • pokerguy, you are the one who reported having an exchange with Revkin. All I did was ask you to present it in it’s entirety.

    • POker guy, i’m afraid mate in this instance M carey is right (statistically speaking it had to happen some time! :-) ).

      To support your argument you need to provide the evidence. Sorry fella- we can’t go on about FOI’s and then refuse to be open ourselves.

      • Why not? You are climate science rejectionists. You can be as irrational and as inconsistent as you like!

  30. To VTG
    Yes, do the math. Animal respiration alone produces at least 70 times the amount of CO2 as fossil fuel burning. Water vapor has up to 140 times the effect on climate as CO2. Human activity is an Infinitesimal part of an infintesimal part of climate change.
    Pretty soon the GHG scaremongers will tell us not to breathe because every breath a human being takes releases 50 milligrams of CO2 into the air!! The AGW theory is only the guilt trip put on by left-liberal reactionaries to further their agenda of wrecking the economy, totalitarian regulation of everything we do, and, incidentally, making googoogobs of money off people’s fears.
    Not surprising that so many journalists go with the scaremonger program – too many of them fit that left-liberal-fascist mold.

    • Chad Wozniak said in his post December 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm

      “To VTG
      Yes, do the math. Animal respiration alone produces at least 70 times the amount of CO2 as fossil fuel burning. Water vapor has up to 140 times the effect on climate as CO2. Human activity is an Infinitesimal part of an infintesimal part of climate change.
      Pretty soon the GHG scaremongers will tell us not to breathe because every breath a human being takes releases 50 milligrams of CO2 into the air!!”

      Chad, there’s no need to worry, since the CO2 we exhale already is in the carbon cycle, but if you don’t believe me, you might also want to worry about raising sea levels by urinating. Imagine pissing away Miami Beach and Manhattan.

      • M. carey

        Please pardon me, but I have never heard a sillier statement than

        :the CO2 we exhale already is in the carbon cycle

        Of course it is “in the carbon cycle”, as is the CO2 absorbed and de-gassed by the oceans, the CO2 converted by photosynthesis both on land and in the ocean, the CO2 that enters the food chain in the ocean and ends up as marine shells, the CO2 absorbed and released by weathering, terrestrial or underwater volcanoes and fissures, etc.

        It’s all “in the carbon cycle”.

        And, yes, it is very likely that the human contribution from fossil fuel consumption (among other activities) is contributing to the observed increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. If the ocean really is warming (which seems to be an open question since ARGO became operational), that may also be contributing.

        We just do not have all the answers.

        But it’s ALL “in the carbon cycle” by definition.


      • ”But it’s ALL “in the carbon cycle” by definition.”

        Not if its sequestered. An easy way to think about this is that all the buried fossil fuel reveals a near equivalent surface area to the region that the biota currently exists within in. Yet our exposed surface area and ocean volume cannot support this excess carbon, and the only way it can get back to its original location is to diffuse there. Diffusion is by its very nature a slow process. That is why the excess CO2 keeps accumulating as production rate is much greater than diffusion rate.

        Buried fossil fuels are not in the carbon cycle. When they get extracted and burned they are. If you don’t understand this, I don’t care, I am just explaining this to counter the BS that keeps on getting promulgated.

    • Chad,

      You’re way off here. Even Judith wouldn’t dispute that the increase in Co2 levels from 280 ppmv in the pre-industrial age to the present level of 390 ppmv wasn’t due to the burning of fossil fuels in the last 150 years.

      Water vapour has “up to” 140 times…. I could say that 5 is “up to” 140. However CO2 is an important GH gas. Raise the C02 level and temperatures will follow.

      Incidentally, your argument can be summarised as the burning of fossil fuels doesn’t increase Co2 levels but even if it did that wouldn’t cause any warming. How about adding but even if it did cause a warming it would be a good thing? Or saying ‘Look I don’t much care about science. I’m just looking for a reason, any reason will do, why we shouldn’t just carry on as we are and let Co2 levels rise out of all control”.

  31. I was a journalist about 50 years ago (yes, I’m older than I look), on UK newspapers and Canadian commercial radio, and found it very dishonest, which is why I moved to economics. Generally, the story was what mattered, not the truth, particularly the “inconvenient truth” which, if acknowledged, killed the story. I don’t know whether it’s different now, I’ve seen standards lowered on the BBC and at The Economist and Australia’s ABC, but The Australian newspaper has some excellent journalists, both reporters and commentators. Which is perhaps why it is reviled by our dreadful government – I was obliged to call their recent action on the Australian Network “contemptible” in The Oz’ letters page.

  32. Judith Curry

    An excellent article by David Whitehouse on the role of science journalism, as it should be (but often is not, especially when it comes to climate science).

    Your last sentence tells it all:

    When science becomes politicized, we need journalists to be playing a watchdog role and not just parroting the words of scientists and their press releases.

    Whitehouse puts it: “shake the tree” and ask <em"awkward questions" rather than simply “being supporters of, and not reporters of, science”.

    It appears to me that there has been a slight correction of course here, at least since the heady “Nobel Peace Prize” days following the release of AR4, which essentially all but a handful of science reporters were applauding as the definitive gold standard summary of all climate science wisdom. Climategate, etc. may have played a role in this.regard.

    But as Whitehouse points out, there is still a long way to go until we have real science journalism in climate science..


    • Of course, “supporting science” has become a political tool in its own right. Thus the rhetoric of “anti-science”. In their world, if you’re not singing the hosannas of “science”, you’re on the other side of the tribal war. That makes it hard to resist the tribal conformity.

  33. Dr. Curry, this an important and reedeeming change in journalism. I sincerely hope this sort of desperately needed reform takes root, and not just in journalism.

  34. On my twitter feed, I’ve had some polite disagreement with another science journalist on the Whitehouse essay. You can also see a criticism of the Huffpo piece from Paul Raeburn here: http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2011/12/07/huffpo-critic-fires-shots-at-science-writing/

    Additionally, to round things out, folks might want to read this editorial in the current issue of Nature:

    I have a post in the works that touches on some different aspects of all this.

    • thanks much keith, very interesting links, we look forward to your post. I have another science communication post coming shortly

    • Nature magazine in a huff about “agenda-driven reporting”?

      What next, Michael Moore agitating against obesity?

    • Only 23 hours left to save the planet and you’re blogging about future blogging about journos whining about other journos.

      Won’t anyone think of the children !

      Maybe you need to reframe this message about how the message needs reframing :)

      • Jack,

        Love the “think of the children” line.

        I’ve learned that anytime someone uses that statement (or some similar form of it) the first thing to do is check my wallet. In many ways I consider it the most dishonest, almost dispicable argument to use. I also suspect that a good percentage of the people who like to use it the most are also those who don’t particularly like kids.

      • Maybe the line was in reference to not committing to spend our children’s money by borrowing to subsidize corrupt foreign governments who do not want to pay for their own development

  35. Hi Judy- Here is a good example of unbalanced journalism by Charles Kenny that fits with your insightful comment

    “When science becomes politicized, we need journalists to be playing a watchdog role and not just parroting the words of scientists and their press releases”


    His reporting that

    “With the lack of progress on climate change in recent years, some environmentalists have been reduced to pinning their hopes on either the exhaustion of natural resources or the complete collapse of global capitalism to take care of the problem”

    is quite an extreme statement.

    • Kenny starts with “Two things to note: First, climate change shows no sign of abating …” Assuming he means global warming, that’s a contentious statement.

      His statement that “some environmentalists have been reduced to pinning their hopes on either the exhaustion of natural resources or the complete collapse of global capitalism to take care of the problem” might seem extreme to you, Roger, but I think it’s more factual than the earlier one. Certainly in Australia, the Greens seem to have a “humans don’t count, back-to-the-Stone-Age” attitude.

    • Roger Pielke

      Charles Kenny’s blurb in Business Week, which you correctly cite as “unbalanced journalism”, accurately points out the failure at Durban to reach any binding international climate agreements.

      Concerning the rapidly growing CO2 emissions of the developing giants (such as China and India) Kenny states (correctly IMO):

      a planet-wide halt to the generation of new wealth hardly seems the most sensible approach to tackle global warming.

      This all makes sense.

      However, Kenny is confused when he states:

      climate change shows no sign of abating

      [Sure, climate is always “changing”, but as far as global warming is concerned, has he checked the thermometers out there lately?]

      Kenny then drifts into hyperbole to the point of being out-and-out laughable with comments such as.

      The planet’s politicians have missed an opportunity to unite to confront the greatest global challenge of the new century.

      [Greatest global challenge? Hmmm… Has he been reading his own journal lately?]

      Because of new fossil fuel discoveries and new technologies that allow their extraction from deep seabeds or out of shale rock, global peak oil extraction won’t arrive until some time after Denver becomes a seaside resort.

      [OK, we don’t have to worry about running out of oil just yet, but mile high sea-level increase? Where’s the water going to come from?]

      we may have slightly more time before Atlanta in summer takes on the charm of an Easy-Bake oven and Venice Beach is renamed Venice Levee. And every little bit counts.


      Referring to the study by Andreas Schmittner made sense, but Kenny appears to have missed the significance.

      If Schmittner’s new findings are correct and a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will only lead to 2°C warming, then we really have nothing at all to worry about.

      We are at 390 ppmv CO2 today and doing just fine, thank you.

      IPCC model scenarios and storylines estimate that we will be between 560 to 750 ppmv CO2 by 2100 with “business as usual”, moderate to strong economic growth, population growth leveling off toward end of century and no “climate initiatives”.

      Most of all, these storylines contain no new breakthroughs on energy, which are most likely to occur over the next ninety years, as fossil fuel resources become scarcer and more expensive to extract.

      So we would theoretically see a temperature rise of 1.5°C to 1.9°C by 2100, all other things being equal.

      This amount of theoretical warming is no big deal in itself, but, as we have seen over the past 11 years of slight cooling despite CO2 concentrations reaching record levels, all other things are NOT likely to be equal.

      We should all remember the forecasts made in the mid 19th century that major cities (New York, London – and even Manchester) would be inundated in two meters of horse manure by the mid 20th century, as a result of the rapidly growing number of horse carriages.


    • I found it interesting that he mentioned CFC’s and ozone. Back when I took Atmospheric Physics, (93) that issue was considerably bigger than global warming. A couple of the things I took away from the class was that researchers at the time could not explain why the “hole” was over the south pole and not in the NH as the models predicted and that even though many of the scare stories associated with what would happen with increased UV radiation were just that, the banning of CFC’s might eventually prove worthwhile due to their potential impact to global climate.

      It would be interesting to see a journalist revisit the “ozone hole” story to see what scientists got right, what they didn’t, how much they still don’t know and perhaps most interestingly, how many of the predictions bandied about in the media actually came true.

      • hey timg,

        I would love to see that story too.

        I have seen revisited summaries, but in the form of speeches by some of the original scientists, not by journalists. For that matter I’d like to see it with respect to acid rain as well.

  36. Greg Cavanagh

    If science journals can’t keep out bad science, how is a news paper journalists supposed to dig through the much and find that which is wrong?

    Tough call.

    • Greg, they can talk to scientists such as Bob Carter who have a different viewpoint. There are quite a lot of them, and they are easy to track down.

  37. First, it has betrayed its statutory obligation to be impartial, using the excuse that any dissent from the official orthodoxy was so insignificant that it should just be ignored or made to look ridiculous.


    Any dissent?

    First hit on a Google search shows this to be a ridiculously inaccurate over-statement.


    Where do you find this stuff, Judith?

    • Talking points that could have come right from RC? That’s your example of the BBC covering “dissent”?

      • John –

        The article summarizes arguments on both sides of the debate. What’s amazing is that you could go to that site and come back and describe it s presenting “talking points that could have come right from RC.”

        Apparently you managed, somehow, to miss the “talking points” that could have come right from Marc Morano.

        Are you familiar with the term “confirmation bias?”

      • Joshua, you know perfectly well the claim/counter game is designed to do one thing…counter the claim. That’s your idea of covering dissent? It’s exactly the same tactic I’ve seen on “consensus” sites.

        But here’s one you’ve got to love:


        Since 1998 – almost a decade – the record, as determined by observations from satellites and balloon radiosondes, shows no warming.


        1998 was an exceptionally warm year because of the strong El Nino event. Variability from year to year is expected, and picking a specific warm year to start an analysis is “cherry-picking”; if you picked 1997 or 1999 you would see a sharper rise. Even so, the linear trends since 1998 are still positive.

        Sicne this article was published in November 2007, let’s move ahead 4 years (both start and end date). Guess what?


        What’s the excuse now?

      • John –

        Sicne this article was published in November 2007, let’s move ahead 4 years (both start and end date).

        Leaving aside the debatable aspect of your scientific argument, changing the context of the article to discuss the article’s context doesn’t quite deal with the content of the article (nor the over-the-top characterization of the BBC), now does it?

        The point/counterpoint article presents summarizations of the arguments from both sides of the debate.

        It provides proof that the BBC doesn’t: (1) ignore a “skeptical” viewpoint and, (2) make “skeptical” arguments look ridiculous.

        The characterization I quoted is inaccurate. Obviously so. Why would you defend it?

      • “Leaving aside the debatable aspect of your scientific argument”.

        Good idea. I’d do the same if I was in your shoes.

        “changing the context of the article to discuss the article’s context doesn’t quite deal with the content of the article …”

        If I knew what that meant, I might comment on it.

        “The point/counterpoint article presents summarizations of the arguments from both sides of the debate. ”

        What Mosher said.

        “The characterization I quoted is inaccurate. Obviously so. Why would you defend it?”

        Because the citation you offer actually confirms the charecterization.

      • John –

        If I knew what that meant, I might comment on it.

        Lol. I doubt you couldn’t figure it out, but I had a bit of an editing problem. So I’ll try again.

        Changing the context of the article to discuss the science doesn’t address the content of the article as it was written. That was in reference to this comment of yours:

        Sicne this article was published in November 2007, let’s move ahead 4 years (both start and end date).

        You’re criticizing an article written in 2007 for how it failed to note temperature trends in the subsequent four years?


      • Joshua,

        “You’re criticizing an article written in 2007 for how it failed to note temperature trends in the subsequent four years?”

        No, I criticized the article because it’s logic didn’t hold up over the next four years.

        I guess that was a little too “nuanced” for you.

      • John –

        You’re criticizing the argument on the “counter” side of the article. That would not be commenting on whether the article shows: (1) ignoring “skepticism,” or (2) making “skepticism” look ridiculous.

        My original comment on this thread was on that topic.

        (And while off-topic, you’d also need to graph the trend from 1997 and 1999 to assess the accuracy of the claim of “if you picked 1997 or 1999 you would see a sharper rise.” I don’t know what those trends would be, but the basic point about picking 1998 as a starting point yielding an arguably misleading result is valid – no matter what your graph starting from 2000 shows.)

      • The counter was to “almost a decade”. “Almost a decade” in 2007 is the same length of time as in 2011. But since the bee’s knees these day is 17 years (or so I hear), we’ll have to see how things look in 2015.

        I’m willing to wait.

        As someone else said, you might convince me of the BBC’s balance if you can find a talking point list with the “consensus” point first and the “skeptic” point as the “counter”.

      • John –

        As someone else said, you might convince me of the BBC’s balance…

        What does it mean that you, repeatedly, argue a straw man even though I clarified my point numerous times?

        Should I generalize from this example to characterize “skeptics” on the whole? I think not, but think about this the next time you’re tempted to generalize about “warmists” in one condescending fashion or another.

      • What does it mean that you, repeatedly, argue a straw man even though I clarified my point numerous times?


        Perhaps it would be worthwhile to, as Steve McIntyre likes to say, “review the bidding”.

        Let’s go back to the exact quote that got your knickers in a bunch and that you now seem to be returning to.

        “First, it has betrayed its statutory obligation to be impartial, using the excuse that any dissent from the official orthodoxy was so insignificant that it should just be ignored or made to look ridiculous.”

        The quote from Booker perhaps is based on little gems like this”

        “That faces the media with a problem for, in their desire to give an objective account of what appears to be an emerging controversy, they face the danger of being trapped into false balance; into giving equal coverage to the views of a determined but deluded minority and to those of a united but less insistent majority. Nowhere is the struggle to find the correct position better seen than in the issue of global warming.”


        Your digging out that BBC “top ten” article (which predates everything in Judith’s post) got us off on a tanget that diverted us from Booker’s original comment that you found so offensive, which I believe is based on the recent “findings” by the bbc trust. Has the BBC disowned those comments?

        In this context, his concerns seem perfectly justified.

        It appears the straw was attached to your 2007 citation.

      • John –

        In this context, his concerns seem perfectly justified.

        “In this context?” His statement wasn’t contextualized. He stated that “any dissent” is either “ignored” or made to look ridiculous.

        The BBC consulted with Fred Freakin’ Singer to describe 10 of the most frequently found “skeptical” arguments to publish the article. That neither meets the bar for “ignoring,” nor making “skeptical” arguments look ridiculous.

        First hit on first Google search.

        If you don’t want to simply own up to building a straw man so you can knock it down, more power to you.

        His statement was hyperbolic, inaccurate, and ironically, an example of partisanship masquerading as scientific analysis.

        Have a good night.

      • Oh dear, Joshua,

        For onr railing about hyperbole, please compare the quote:

        “…using the excuse that any dissent from the official orthodoxy was so insignificant that it should just be ignored or made to look ridiculous.”

        to what you just said:

        “He stated that “any dissent” is either “ignored” or made to look ridiculous. ”

        He is clearly referring to what the BBC would like to do (“should”). You have played Perry Mason on the premise that he said they “is” doing it (if you’ll pardon the grammar.

        Context requires such care and precision, I can see how it’s worn you out.

        Good night indeed.

      • John –

        Although I interpret his “clear” reference differently than you (what they “should” do? Huh?)- that last point was a good one. He doesn’t exactly say that the BBC actually does “ignore” or make all “skeptical” arguments look ridiculous, only that they “excuse” ignoring or making “any” “skeptical” arguments look ridiculous.

        Nonetheless, unless you can provide the basis for the accusation that the BBC, as a single entity, “excuses” bias on the assertion that “any dissent” should be ignored or made to look ridiculous, his statement is still hyperbolic. The article I linked provides direct evidence that the BBC doesn’t excuse bias on that basis – as it presents “skeptical” arguments (not ignoring them) in a fashion that doesn’t make them look “ridiculous.”

      • They did not present the skeptic side fairly. And they didnt raise the most important arguments. basically they did weak strawman defeated.

        F for any freshman engish course

      • There is nothing in those summaries of “skeptical” arguments that I don’t read from “skeptics” at WUWT or Climate etc. on a daily basis.

      • And here’s what’s particularly hilarious:

        The article (first hit on first Google search) makes it obvious that at least the “ignore” part of the characterization was inaccurate.


        But even more than that, as I said, I can read essentially what is written in each of those “skeptical” argument summaries, daily, at WUWT and Climate Etc. Multiple times daily on most days, in fact.

        So if you think that publishing arguments that “skeptics” make on a regular basis makes them look “ridiculous”….

        …then what does that freakin’ tell you?

        Too funny.

      • Oh, and btw, steven, maybe you missed this little gem:

        Compiled with advice from Fred Singer and Gavin Schmidt

        What do you expect when they consult with that well known “warmist”/eco-Nazi/socialist/money-grubbing research fund hound dog, Fred Singer?

    • Joshua –

      I’m not sure why you included that link – was it to show a perfect example of the BBC trying to make scepticism look ridiculous [because that was the BBC’s intent, even going so far as calling it “unravelling” scepticism]

      It is the BBC doing the same hatchet job that SkS does – making a list of the top ten strawmen and having fun. To show some balance it should make a list of the top ten catastrophes that have already been predicted by alarmists that have failed to come to pass, but I don’t think we should hold our breath.

      Perhaps you remember Richard Black [BBC attack-dog number one] in his lecture to fellow journalists promising to ‘demolish’ sceptic arguments?

      The BBC is a wonderful institution, but on global warming it has jumped on the Team bandwagon and, I think, lets itself down.

      • Anteros –

        Each of the descriptions on the “skeptics” side of the ledger are a fair summary representation of arguments I read from “skeptics” at Climate Etc.


        Multiple times each day.

        No doubt, “realists” would find objection to the arguments on the “counter” side just as “skeptics” would feel those listed on the “skeptical” side to be insufficient.

        Well, at least those that are driven by bias.

      • And it was the very first hit on the first Google search.

        I’m not sure which is more surprising: that anyone would make a claim that “any dissent” is ignored or made to look ridiculous, or that anyone would defend such an over-the-top claim.

      • Third hit on second Google search:

        BBC interview with Richard LIndzen.

        Puts a lie to the contention that “skepticism” is ignored – and if he comes off looking ridiculous, you’re going to blame the BBC (and not Lindzen himself)?


      • Joshua –

        You surprise me if you think that isn’t an example of biased partisan reporting. The title ‘Unravelling scepticism’ and the final word to the ‘knocking down’ surely gives you a little clue?. Could you conceive of the BBC doing the reverse – ‘Unravelling alarmism’?

        I’m not going to make any attempt to defend Booker, I just think you picked a self-defeating example of the BBC’s lack of partisanship – and particularly the idea that they don’t endeavour to make dissent look ridiculous.

        The BBC pretty much have the one spokesperson on climate, and he’s more of an advocate than James Hansen.

      • Anteros –

        The article neither “ignores” “skeptical” arguments nor makes them look ridiculous.

        If you want to get into the nuance as to whether there is a slant to BBC’s coverage, or to what degree, or what the justification for such a slant might be, I’m game. But that’s a different story than saying that the comment I quoted is anywhere near close to being accurate.

        You see, Anteros – the problem I have with some “skeptics” isn’t that there isn’t some kernel of truth in some of their arguments – it’s that they make ridiculously hyperbolic comments and then hang on for dear life. It makes their motivated reasoning obvious.

      • Joshua said, “it’s that they make ridiculously hyperbolic comments and then hang on for dear life.” LOL, Some of the statements sound ridiculous because some of the relationships are hyperbolic :) not parabolic.

      • You’re going to have to translate that for me, Cap’n.

      • LOL, Climate sensitivity appears to be non-linear where it can approach one value under one set of circumstances and a separate value under another. A hyperbolic relationship that may or may not be involved in the glacial/interglacial shifts. It looks like glacial shifts still need some extra push, possibly geomagnetic field fluctuations.

        Don’t worry, it is just theoretical.

      • Not worried, Cap’n. Curious.

        What I’m trying to figure out is why you think that the nature of non-linear relationships or potential hyperbolic relationships between glacial/interglacial shits would justify hyperbolic rhetoric on, essentially, unrelated issues – such as whether “any dissent” is either ignored or “made” to look ridiculous.

        No doubt, the uncertainties in the debate are easily exploited by tribalists and become the basis for hyperbolic rhetoric – but that doesn’t have to be. The uncertainties can be accurately represented.

      • Cap’n.

        I’m not worried.

        I don’t understand why the non-linearity of climate change, or the “hyperbolic relationship that may or may not be involved in the glacial/interglacial shifts” explains hyperbole of tribalists.

        No doubt, the uncertainties in the debate are exploited by tribalists so that they can ostensibly find theoretical foundations for their hyperbolic rhetoric, but that doesn’t make it explanatory. Uncertainties can be described for what they are. Hyperbole is explained by motivated reasoning – not uncertainties in the science.

      • I see Josh is on the job. Don’t you ever tire of your game?

      • Joshua said, “Hyperbole is explained by motivated reasoning – not uncertainties in the science.” Not necessarily :) I may have read one paper too many by Selvam, but the chaotic pattern of political debate looks familiar.

        The debate range is a parabola with the tribes spread on each side of the focus. Arguments range all along the curve. But each tribe has its own disagreement parabola.

        Combined you have hyperbolic responses as each tribe gravitates toward or away from their focus.

        Hyperbola is just part of nature. Noting its existence is just stating the obvious, not helping resolve the debate.

        You are perpetuating the hyperbola :)

      • Cap’n –

        I may have read one paper too many by Selvam, but the chaotic pattern of political debate looks familiar.

        I’m not familiar with the reference. Could you offer a bit more explanation?

        The debate range is a parabola with the tribes spread on each side of the focus. Arguments range all along the curve. But each tribe has its own disagreement parabola.

        I’m not sure how that relates to the explanation for why the hyperbole exists.

        Combined you have hyperbolic responses as each tribe gravitates toward or away from their focus.

        Not sure how that relates to the what is explanatory either.

        Hyperbola is just part of nature.

        But what about hypberbole?

        Noting its existence is just stating the obvious,

        To you, perhaps, but please note that in this thread (as we will see in many others) we have many examples where people deny that hyperbole exists on their side of the debate, or people who justify hyperbole by saying “but, but, they do it tooouuu.”

        ,not helping resolve the debate.

        Perhaps. What would you suggest as an alternative approach to solving a debate that is fraught with hyperbole?

        You are perpetuating the hyperbola :)

        I don’t think so. Those who object so strongly to my posts either deny that the hyperbole exists on their side, or argue that their own hyperbole is justified. I consider them unreachable (a sunk cost, if you will). There are others that I debate with who share in reasoned dialogue with me. That may not be “helping resolve the debate,” but I would argue that it isn’t perpetuating the hyperbole. In the end, there is no loss from my pointing out the hyperbole, and potentially a gain.

      • Anteros –

        Richard Black:


        Fair enough. But the exercise also surely gives you an insight into the limits of current modelling when the various models, each of them supposed to be “state-of-the-art”, reach such divergent conclusions.

        As a policymaker, as a business leader, as a citizen, would you make decisions on the basis of these models?

        Could be a comment I read daily from “skeptics” at Climate Etc.

      • Joshua –

        I think again you picked a rather poor example – this specifically is about how models are useless at making local or regional predictions. And if it is an example of Richard Black having a slack day in his anti-sceptic war, I don’t quite see the relevance of it to his overall bias.

        Perhaps there is a disconnect here. As you know I’m not making any defence of Booker. I just think in your desire to show how ridiculous he is [you didn’t need to try hard] you’ve pushed an idea beyond its pay grade. You might also notice I particularly picked out the idea that the BBC does in fact use the tactic of attempting to make sceptics look ridiculous.

        I think maybe you have been overdosing on ‘some sceptics’ today.

        Here’s another perspective. The BBC isn’t biased compared to Fox news – crikey, God forbid, no! But it is biased in comparison to how those of us who have spent our lives trusting it expect it to be. Perhaps you are seeing [from an Englishman such as myself] merely the expectation of incredible standards of impartiality.

      • Anteros –

        As you know I’m not making any defence of Booker.

        Actually, I’m confused about that. You say that you aren’t defending him, but then you take my comment that his statement was inaccurate and turn it into a comment about “impartiality” on the part of the BBC, an point I never made, and one that I think is complicated (because it necessarily requires a discussion about “false balance”).

        Here’s another perspective. The BBC isn’t biased compared to Fox news – crikey, God forbid, no!

        I really have no idea why you’;re making this so difficult. I have yet to discuss the question of whether or not the BBC is “biased” WRT climate change or any other issue. My point was, and remains, that the comment I highlighted was over-the-top, obviously inaccurate, hyperbolic, and ironically a prime example of terrible reporting on a topic being presented as balanced analysis.

      • Anteros –

        this specifically is about how models are useless at making local or regional predictions.

        That is the main thrust, but it is about more than just that. It is also about problems with the models in a more general sense, and problems about over-confidence on local predictions of outcomes.

        But further, it is an example of neither “ignoring” or “making ridiculous” arguments that one frequently finds being presented by “skeptics,” and that was my point.

        My point is not to say that Black (or the BBC) is “impartial” in the climate debate. You keep thinking my point doesn’t add up because you keep misconstruing my point (not to say that, theoretically, you couldn’t find a way to show that my point doesn’t add up for other, valid, reasons).

    • Josh,

      You did note that right at the top of that page was a link to a Richard Black piece called “Unravelling the climate skeptics.” ?

      • Two things, tim.

        The first is that like others, you seem to think that I’ve said that the BBC’s coverage is “impartial.” I haven’t. Now we could debate whether partiality in the climate debate might be a matter of false balance (as, say, some “skeptics” here might consider reporting that treats the science of evolution and Intelligent Design as equally valid). It would be an interesting debate – but please read my comments again. “Unraveling the climate skeptics” is certainly not “ignoring” “any dissent.”

        Second – I don’t think that it is making “skeptical” arguments to seem “ridiculous” by consulting with Fred Singer and listing 10 of the most often found “skeptical” arguments – arguments I see made by “skeptics” on a daily basis – even if you attribute a negative connotation to the verb “unraveling” in the headline. The content in the rest of the article is not controlled by the headline. As for the headline itself: “unraveling” does imply that “skeptical” arguments are baffling or hard to understand (i.e., not simply complicated in nature, and so the headline is not “impartial”) – but it doesn’t necessarily connote ridiculous.

      • Point taken. To argue they are “completely” biased and unbalanced can be disputed. It’s more of a question of determining the degree they might be one way or the other. I don’t follow the BBC and admit that much of my information on this topic is gleaned from Bishop Hill. So I would have to account for possible biases there.

        Do you think the one 2007 article you linked to is sufficient to conclude the BBC has shown zero bias and grants the appropriate degree of balance? And on the “unravelling” piece – yes you can use it as proof that they do not ignore dissent, but that isn’t the same as being balanced.

        And as an aside, I think it is easier to follow you when you are concise and on point like this. There are a lot of times that I end up skipping down until I get to another thread.

      • Knit up the ravelled sleeve of care. Hands and needles busy with yarns this winter in the little island over yonder.

      • tim –

        Do you think the one 2007 article you linked to is sufficient to conclude the BBC has shown zero bias and grants the appropriate degree of balance?

        No. If you read my comments in this thread, you will see that I have clarified that point many times. The question of “appropriate” is one that needs to be examined in more detail, but certainly that one article does not confirm that the BBC’s reporting on climate change is “impartial.”

        As for my lack of concision – I get that. If I were to take time to edit, my posts would be reduced by probably 2/3 on average. That said, however, sometimes concision counterproductive to preciseness. I’d rather be verbose or repetitive than make inaccurate generalizations for the sake of expedience. The problem is when my lack of concision works at odds with clarity. But hang in there.

        kim complains all the time but he reads my posts assiduously.

  38. Judith –

    Did you read Booker’s report? Would you consider that to be an example of good science journalism, accurate reporting on climate change, or partisan advocacy.

    Do tell.

    • Joshua –

      P.S. to the above. Booker’s report is of course biased, partisan and a poor example of science journalism. He belongs in the Tea Party. That, as I’m sure you’ll agree doesn’t necessarily make the BBC impartial and balanced on global warming.

      • Anteros –

        That, as I’m sure you’ll agree doesn’t necessarily make the BBC impartial and balanced on global warming.

        Of course.

        But please read again. I didn’t say that BBC’s reporting was “impartial.” That is the kind of hyperbole that gets nowhere towards achieving fruitful results from discussion.

        Now if you want to discuss how to define “impartiality” in this context, and depending on how it is defined, whether that is a desirable goal or not, it could be a fruitful discussion and I’m game. But that would require that you not misconstrue what I do or don’t say.

      • You see, Joshua – the problem I have with some “warmists” isn’t that there isn’t some kernel of truth in some of their arguments – it’s that they make ridiculously hyperbolic comments and then hang on for dear life. It makes their motivated reasoning obvious.

      • Dude –

        Where did I say that the BBC was “impartial?”

        Which of my statements were hyperbolic?

        The statement I excerpted was obviously inaccurate and hyperbolic, and a poor example of partisan journalism – and that’s how I described it. You agreed. So why did you counter by saying that the BBC isn’t “impartial?”

        I never said it was.

      • er… poor example of scientific journalism.

      • Joshua –

        Actually, it was a good example of partisan journalism [cf S Freud]

        I’m not sure that you noticed, but I simple copied your paragraph and changed two words. I wasn’t specifically accusing you of being hyperbolic although you do seem to have got the bit between your teeth on this one.

        I have no desire to inflame matters any further. If you take the kernel of truth out of Bookers assertions one of the things that makes sense – and one that I focused on – is that the BBC has a habit of ridiculing sceptics and sceptic arguments. I don’t know how I made that sound so contentious or that I was implying that you were wrong to point out how hyperbolic [and the rest] Booker was being.

        And it does seem to be reasonable, if Booker is making the claim that the BBC is failing in its duty to be impartial, and you describe this statement as a ridiculously inaccurate over-statement. that you are sort of defending the impartiality of the BBC. A little bit. Just round the edges. Don’t you think?

        Perhaps I got the wrong impression.

      • Anteros –

        If you take the kernel of truth out of Bookers assertions one of the things that makes sense – and one that I focused on – is that the BBC has a habit of ridiculing sceptics and sceptic arguments.

        Except he didn’t say that the BBC “has a habit” of ridiculing “skeptics” and “skeptical” arguments. If he had said that, I wouldn’t have provided the quote from him as an example of “skeptical” hyperbole.

        Of course I got that you took my statement and changed only two words. If I misinterpreted it as an implication that I, “specifically,” was being hyperbolic, apologies: However, if you were implying that I was “non-specifically” being hyperbolic, then I’d ask you to be more specific.

        if Booker is making the claim that the BBC is failing in its duty to be impartial, and you describe this statement as a ridiculously inaccurate over-statement. that you are sort of defending the impartiality of the BBC. A little bit. Just round the edges. Don’t you think?

        It wasn’t his statement that the BBC has a duty to be impartial, or even that it has failed in that “duty” that I considered to be hyperbolic; I was describing his “any dissent” statement as hyperbolic. That kind of paranoid conspiracy-mongering does no one any benefit.

        Questions and definitions related to “partiality” or “balance” in the climate debate – as in other controversies – are complicated, very much subject to partisan influence, and I think worthy of debate. I don’t dismiss debating or questioning the “partiality” or “balance” of the BBC. I think it’s an interesting question. If we have that debate (not tonight, I’m done tonight), after it’s over you can judge whether or not maybe, a little, just around the edges, I’m defending the BBC’s “impartiality.”

  39. Al Gore was a journalist…..

    • Jim S,

      You for got the rim shot. BADA BING. ;)


      • Marc Morono was formerly a Press Secretary, in other words hired to lie for a politician. The funny thing is that with his site Climate Depot, he still does the same job, which consists of fraudulent manipulation of knowledge to fit an agenda.

        Gore was a journalist in Vietnam. Morono was the coward who jumped on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth lie. See how this works?

      • “…was formerly a Press Secretary, in other words hired to lie for a politician.”

        Wow. That sure helps to explain this…

        “Despite the incident, which rocked international headlines last week, climate science is sound, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stressed this afternoon, and the White House nonetheless believes “climate change is happening.””


      • I don’t see Robert Gibbs running a pseudo-science website and presenting himself as an authority on climate science.
        Morano was a Press Secretary for Imhofe and also produced stories for Limbaugh. Is that true or not?

      • “hired to lie for a politician.”


        You mean a politician like Al Gore? Did his press secretary lie for him?


      • Is what Marc Morano does with Climate Depot classify as science journalism?
        How about that dude that runs Junk Science, Steve Milloy?
        Are these guys science journalists or hacks?

        I don’t hesitate to attack them because I do original research and a form of investigative journalism when it comes to scientific matters that those guys can only dream about.

        If that makes me sound arrogant, well no more than Morano’s former boss Rush Limbaugh. With talent on loan from god, that’s me, ha ha, yessirree.

      • Web,

        Just want make sure you realize you aren’t arguing any climate science at this point. You have descended into typical partisan bickering. Ah well. ‘Twas inevitable as milk going bad in the fridge, if you wait long enough.


      • randomengineer

        Partisan hack much?

      • Yes, he does. But not as much as “Robert” or “Joshua”. ;)


      • Lie, huh?

      • I get it now. The Swift Boat Veterans are conspiring with Big Oil to do … something bad.

      • Morano is claiming to be a scientific journalist with his website.
        Somebody brought up Al Gore’s name in what sounded like mocking his journalistic credentials. I recall that Gore was a military journalist while serving in Vietnam. So you get Morano as a journalistic comparison, a guy who mocked John Kerry’ service for political gain.

        Sounds like we have lots of partisan hacks on this blog when they post dog-whistle one-liners such as “Al Gore was a journalist …”

      • I take it you haven’t heard what happened to the guy who came to Kerry’s defense and said all of the other veterans were lying.

  40. “Andy Revkin appeared prominently, and has responded to such charges [here]. ”

    Andy Revkin is an “activist” and I can prove it. Why else was he at this symposium by a group whose goal is to manipulate thought and behavior on various subjects including climate change?

    Here is the group:


    And here is the list of attendees:


    Gee, I notice that David Fenton was in attendance, too. They do a pretty good job of hooking “progressive” causes up with “sympathetic” journalists in order to get their viewpoint published.

    • randomengineer

      Revkin is an activist? It ain’t obvious enough?

      How anyone could read so much as a paragraph of his and not realise that he’s utterly in the tank for “the cause” is evidence that they have the reading comprehension skills of broccoli.

    • And here is the list of attendees:


      Gee, I notice that David Fenton was in attendance, too.

      Not just Fenton! This was a Gathering of Grand Poobahs of Green Advocacy Central! Including no less a notable than Michel Gelobter, who (amongst his other illustrious credentials) is the former:

      President of Redefining Progress, the U.S.’s leading domestic sustainability policy institute. During Michel’s tenure, Redefining Progress helped design the world’s most aggressive climate legislation which was signed into California law in August of 2006, formed the Climate Justice Corps to train thousands of U.S. youth in climate activism, became the worldwide home of the Ecological footprint […]

      Redefining Progress … hmmm … oh, yes, this organization was given honourable mention in at least one of the Climategate 2.0.emails [see The climate consensus coordinators’ cookbook]

      Small world, eh?!

  41. Anything Mr. Revkin might say to give the impression that he isn’t an activist in the climate change arena is simply smoke designed to throw people off the trail.

    Why would he attend the “Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium”?

    I would also suggest saving a copy of the page an documents I just linked to as they will now likely disappear down the memory hole.

    • Anything Mr. Revkin might say to give the impression that he isn’t an activist in the climate change arena is simply smoke designed to throw people off the trail.

      Thank god for unrelenting sleuths such as yourself, who aren’t easily mislead. Able to leap across memory holes with one bound. And don’t look back, they might be gaining on you!

  42. It’s hilarious to see some of the criticism of Revkin in this thread. Especially when you consider that at the other end of the extreme spectrum he gets accused of being a “disinformer.”

    BTW, I was at that same symposium, as were numerous other representatives from the media–to report on the research/talks being presented.

    • Keith Kloor –

      Its exactly as I’ve said. If he is irking those on both sides he is doing at least something right. Goes for you too – does it ever get frustrating?

  43. That symposium is a virtual who’s who of people with their hands on the purse strings of “green” money, people consulting on “green” investments, “green” sympathetic journalistic talent, and PR figures. I mean, come ON, how obvious can you get? Look at those bios. The phrase “follow the money” should certainly take on a different luster after reading that attendee list. Every single one of those people has a direct financial interest in this “hypothesis” except Andy? Every single one of them is working on ways to manipulate popular thought and behavior on this issue except for Andy? Why is he there? Hmmmm? Pray tell.

  44. Keith, you might have been an attendee, but you weren’t a “participant”. Huge difference between watching a robbery and participating in it.

  45. Ah, I see you are referring to the 2010 symposium, which I did not attend. I was at the one earlier this year. The two days I attended at the most recent one focused largely on social science research. I also got to hear Wally Broecker give an interesting talk.

  46. From the keyboard of J-troll:

    it’s that they make ridiculously hyperbolic comments and then hang on for dear life. It makes their motivated reasoning obvious.


    • Hilary –

      If you’d like to show an example of me making hyperbolic statements, I’d be happy to acknowledge them as being so and reframe my point more reasonably.

      And Hilary – whining “Mommy, mommy, he does it tooouuuu” is rather pathetic, wouldn’t you agree?

      • Josh,
        Your ‘mommytheydidittoo’ defense is hyperbole by repetitious boredom.
        It is such a transparent dodge of the issue as to render you…..our very own special Josuha.
        Please never change.
        Or perhaps you cannot?

      • hunter –

        How was what I wrote a “dodge”?

        Hilary’s response to my pointing out Booker’s hyperbole was to say that I hyperbolize also. I consider that to be a juvenile response.

        I look forward to either she or you providing an example. I’d be more than happy to correct for inaccurate or broadly overstated generalizations I might make. Only a very few of use aren’t guilty of hyperbolizing at times; the question I’m interested in is whether people are open to examining their own biases to correct for them, or whether they’re interested in doubling-down on the hyperbole. IMO, the doubling-down a sure sign of motivated reasoning.

        Again – I’m not interested in “dodging” those occasions when I might be hyperbolic, I’m interested in correcting for them. Help me out by providing an example.

      • >sigh<,
        If you are serious, nest time you want to write "mommytheydidittoo", try writing something that is actually topical. Try and stop pretending that you are not a partisan in this and using faux objective arguments to ignore the massive abuses of your side. State clearly what you do believe. Answer directly.
        Give it a shot and try not to miss.

      • hunter –

        Try and stop pretending that you are not a partisan in this

        As much as you make this assertion – I have never “pretend” what you say I’m “pretending.” What does it mean that you continuously keep saying things that are inconsistent with what I’ve said? Where am I “pretending” that I am not a partisan?

        And while you’re at it, please show me those examples of my hyperbole.

      • Joshua,
        Here is a reasonable definition of hyperbole:
        This art is relevant to what many notice about your communication style:
        “Hyperboles are exaggerations to create emphasis or effect.”
        You continually claim to not be a partisan in this issue and hold yourself out as some sort of objective, above it all analyst.
        That is hyperbole.
        But you have missed this, sort of like shooting at the side of the proverbial barn.
        Your dodge is to avoid responsive answers on issues because you claim it is part of your momtheydidittoo syndrome as a justification to not answer the actual question.

      • hunter –

        You continually claim to not be a partisan in this issue and hold yourself out as some sort of objective, above it all analyst.

        Where have I ever made that claim? Provide an example, please.

        In fact, I’ve stated that I am subject to partisan influences just as anyone else is. I’ve stated that many times.

        By simply repeating a false statement, hunter, you don’t it true.

        Please provide one example of what you say I claim – let alone prove your assertion that I claim it “continually.”

        Your dodge is to avoid responsive answers on issues

        What issue would you like a “responsive” answer on? Gotta go now, but I’ll check back later to see what you’ve posted.

  47. Folks, have you ever even read Dr. David Whitehouse’s stuff?


    Factually error-ridden, wrong on estimation, wrong on physics, even often wrong on his own field of astronomy (perhaps excused by being out of practice for so very long), frequently makes assertions out of his field and without apparent credentials that have no backing in science.

    Why would anyone, journalist or scientist, consider advice from this man sage?

    Wading into issues full of preconceived notions and the certainty that he is as well trained — and vastly more experienced — than the subjects of his interviews, Dr. Whitehouse is an opinionated hack, representing the worst of the profession of science journalism, not the best.

    He’s abandoned all pretext of impartiality — a core value both in classical journalism and the classy practitioners of science– in climate science with his role within GWPF.

    What gives here?

    • I didn’t know Whitehouse is with GWPF, the organization that claims to be for transparency, yet is reported to have turned down requests for information on itself.


      • M. carey, ‘The sleeping watchdog’, awakes!
        Right on.

      • I guess I’ll never live that one down.

      • You can always sell your pawn shop.)

      • I see the acronym GWPF and for some reason think General (Windows) Protection Fault .
        I see the name ClimateDepot.com and read it as Climate Despot.
        I see the name JunkScience.com and think that’s what the owner of that site is practicing.
        It’s like poetic justice.

      • WHT

        Have you checked your glasses lately?


      • Just curious – what do you read when you see the name Skeptical Science?

      • It’s a good web site with lots of detailed analysis. They tend to concentrate on debunking climate science skepticism at the expense of all the other issues, but that is why we have writers like Robert Park and Michael Shermer to debunk the generic voodoo science topics.

        SkepticalScience.com is most famous for their ever expanding list of climate science myths:
        Their list keeps growing because all the new counter-theories such as from Postma and Salby need their own entries. In some sense, you have arrived in skeptical circles when you can make the list.

        In the battle of skeptics, what the complementary skeptical site should do is create a follow-on uncertainty analysis that evaluate these in terms of an alternative ranking criteria. Everyone would then see all the contradictions and inconsistencies in the science of the knee-jerk-me-too skeptic. There are 173 myths right now on skepticalscience.com and you could see the real concerns rise to the surface. No climate science skeptic will lift a finger and do this because 173 instances of FUD are just what the agenda-driven skeptic wants.

      • I am not suprised that Web like the skeptical science website. imo it is one that refused to post comments that disagree with its propaganda like positions, and it repeatedly posts inaccuracies. Much like Web

      • Web,

        This obviously is something we are unlikely to agree on. I have a hard time taking anything seriously from a source that has been shown to regularly go back and make changes to the past record. And even had they not engaged in such activities, the fact they have a guy like dana1981 as a moderator is enough to avoid the site. If there was ever someone badly in need of a blanket party it is he.

      • Let me give you a hint to a neat trick. Skip the post and read the comments. OK, the rest you gotta figger out youself.

      • WHT – do you seriously stand by the claim that SkS is a ‘good’ website? You surprise me. The reasonable science is just padding to wrap up the agenda-driven strawman-bashing that makes a mockery of the words ‘skeptical’ and ‘science’.

      • That’s funny cause when I see WHT, I read it as WTF.

      • That’s funny cause when I see WHT, I read it as WTF.

        Badge of honor, WTFpod.com the best comedy podcast out there. Longtime fan of Maron.

    • Bart R

      Lots of badmouthing.

      Lots of claims.

      No data.


      • manacker

        Do your own research.

        It’s not like samples of the guy’s writing is so hard to find.

        Just go to the GWPF website.

        Check out his weather predictions for 2011.

        And his backtracking ever since.

        For a start.

        Or check out BBC archives from the 1990’s.

  48. Poor HR? You being the judge, Bart R

  49. I agree with Judith that in this field journalists should focus on problems and not just propagating the party line.

  50. When the history of this unsettled period of time is written, it will be concluded once again, that . . .

    Science and spirituality agree the forces of Nature are beyond the control of mankind – including world leaders and government scientists.

    The actual forces —{Revealed by E = mc^2 (Mass is stored potential energy) and nuclear rest mass data}— that sustain life as a dynamic process, control Earth’s constantly changing climate, and power the stormy Sun and the cosmos [1-4] are . . .

    Far more benevolent and trustworthy than the consensus models that politicians and their armies of public-funded scientists assumed in leading nations into the current social and economic demise fighting an imaginary enemy —{Global Climate Change}— an enemy that consensus scientists and world leaders do not comprehend and certainly cannot control !

    1. APEIRON Journal, in press (2011)

    2. J Fusion Energy 21 193-198 (2002)

    3. Journal of Modern Physics 2, 587-594 (2011)

    4. Journal of Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011)

  51. How can journalists evaluate the work of scientists?

    I would suggest they report on how well those scientists follow the standard protocols of science: Do they disclose all the necessary data and methods of their work to other scientists, and invite those others to repeat their work, check their work, even be skeptical of their work?

    If those scientists do not do those things, then the journalists should be savvy enough to point out that maybe, just maybe, something is going on under the table that is not legitimate, trustworthy science. To judge based on such factors doesn’t require the journalists to have physicists’ or mathematicians’ expertise. All it takes is a basic understanding of the principles of science, and the observation and questioning of whether those principles are being adhered to.

    • Agree. All it takes is a basic understanding of the principles of science. It’s very simple.
      The problem is, it is very difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. When the bandwagon gets going, it’s very difficult to overcome temptation.

  52. According to a judge’s ruling in a US district court, if you don’t go to the other side and get both sides of the story, you aren’t really a journalist in the USA.


    “Hernandez found Cox failed to present evidence that she had any media credentials or affiliation with a ‘recognized news entity,’ or that she had checked her facts or tried to contact the other side to ‘get both sides of the story.'”

    So according to US courts, if you don’t contact the “other side” in order to get “both sides” of the story, you aren’t a journalist and enjoy no special protection offered by the constitution to the press.

  53. Given the kind of criticism David Whitehouse was making against science journalists, and the fact that he specifically singled out climate reporting to make his case, I’m surprised that he wasn’t more forthcoming in his bio for the column.


    • keith,
      Is the BBC,and by extension much of science journalism, not being highly influenced by unannounced relationships and financial arrangements or not?
      If you cannot answer that, then you are in the same room and holding a similar brush of floor paint, as Mooney. Romm, etc.

  54. If you can’t argue the message, attack the messenger.

  55. Keith, if you were selected for attendance to that symposium, it was because you were identified as a “sympathetic journalist” (Fenton’s words). Anyone in the same room with Fenton is immediately suspect as they tend to very closely select who they enter the room with.

  56. To M. Carey:

    I don’t see that it makes any difference whether animal respiration is counted in or out of the carbon cycle – if it’s in it is still proof that nature so outstrips man in CO2 production as to render human activity statistically irrelevant (and this is before one counts some of the even bigger natural sources of CO2). Incidentally, I have never seen any reference to animal respiration in any of the GHG scaremongers’ “analyses” that I have looked at, and I’m sure that it is a fact they want to cover up because it provides such compelling evidence against their spiel (like, also, the Medieval Warming Period or the Decline that began in 1998, which are obviously scaring the pants off those people). But again, do the math – even if it is in the carbon cycle, it’s part of the natural activity that dwarfs human doings to the point of invisibility. And more than that, the effect of total CO2 activity, from all sources, in turn is still minuscule compared to other forces – the variability of solar radiation both absolutely (e.g., the solar flare and sunspot cycles) and as affected by atmospheric conditions (such as cloud cover, which is one aspect of how water vapor has up to 140 times the effect on climate of all CO2 activity) and the interstellar matter the solar system passes through on its way through the cosmos, heat transfer from the Earth’s interior, changes in the Earth’s orbit and polar alignment, etc.

  57. Dr Curry – It seems that the authors of both of the articles you quoted are members of the GWPF. Do you really expect us to believe that it is possible to get an unbiased or balanced view from this organisation?

    Do you personally think that they might have an agenda behind their articles?

    • jazznick (@jazznick1)

      While we all await Dr Curry’s response I should point out that the BBC article
      is not an ‘opinion piece’. It is a statement of actual occurrences placed in chronological order detailing the BBC’s own self-admitted and apparently celebrated CAGW bias over many years.
      The GWPF do not have to take any view here, the facts speak for themselves. No spin has to be put on this report as it is merely the pulling together of many strands of deception the BBC have foisted on the public over the years.

      Yes, GWPF have an agenda. Balanced reporting of the science rather than the views of just the IPCC, WWF or Greenpeace (via the BBC in this case)

      I can appreciate that for a journalist to seize upon Climate Change and decide to go out and ‘make a name for themselves’ uncovering fraud
      and deception is a temptation, as there is so much raw material out there.
      BUT, the scorn and derision that would come down on him/her from the establishment and even from their own colleagues (who were happy with the easy life cutting and pasting) would be unbearable.
      I think that even if Einstein came back as a journalist he too would be “dealt with” by the system.

      • This is a really hilarious comment. The “BBC article is not an opinion piece”, LOL, “Yes, GWPF have an agenda. Balanced reporting of the science ” ROFLAO

      • Louise,
        You do dense really well.

      • Gosh, I am pierced by such cutting wit, ooh save me

        [said in a southern belle style drawl]

      • Louise,
        It was not aimed to hurt you, ma’am. It was just a comment offered in sympathy, considering what AGW belief has done to harm so many impressionable minds like yours.

    • If you demand unbiased and balanced views from others, don’t you think it’s fair to expect the same from yourself?
      Or do you define unbiased and balanced views as being those which agree with your own?

      • Peter317 – I don’t believe that GWPF is unbiased and balanced. Do you?

      • Peter —

        If you demand unbiased and balanced views from others, don’t you think it’s fair to expect the same from yourself?

        A creative twist on the ol’ “Mommy, mommy, they do it tooouuu.” line of argumentation: “Mommy, mommy, they didn’t do it firrrrsssttt.”

        Nice job.

      • You’re entitled to your opinions.
        I’m entitled to ignore them.

      • I’m entitled to ignore them.

        Well, that response indicates that you failed to ignore my opinion.

        And, of course, chances are you won’t respond to this post – but I’d be willing to wager that you won’t ignore it either.

      • Joshua, you think so? This is the PNS way of the world today:

        Rep. James Sensenbrenner asked Holder: “Tell me what’s the difference between lying and misleading Congress, in this context?”

        Holder’s response is a bit Clintonian. “Well, if you want to have this legal conversation, it all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that would be considered perjury or a lie,”

        ‘It is only a lie, if you believe it’s a lie’

        Tricks, are for kids.

      • Tom –

        We could certainly debate the context of Holder’s statement – but his statement in no way changes the merits of a “But, but they do it tooouuu” line of argumentation.

        What Holder does or doesn’t say, and the logic of his rhetoric, changes nothing about statements that people make about climate change. It doesn’t make them more accurate. It doesn’t make them any less hyperbolic. And it doesn’t change the validity of justification for hyperbole.

      • Holder’s response is a bit Clintonian…
        It is the way of life now. Everybody does it. We are only human. Test scores, anyone?…

        Science tried to put God into a box and this is what we got.
        The Courts, tried to put God into a box and this is what we got.
        You will tell me all about the invisible and yet can’t read the truth and comprehend the messages… how is that possible for you Joshua?

        At least it is natural, well it’s all Ok then…

      • You are starting to sound like Holly now – only more long winded.

  58. Louise, I don’t know who the GWPF are and, frankly, I don’t care.
    Unlike the BBC, I don’t get them rammed down my throat day in, day out, neither do I have to pay for it via my TV licence.
    And, despite what you may think, the BBC is neither unbiased nor balanced.

    • Peter317 – the GWPF are rammed down my throat on a daily basis as they are the most active UK lobby group on either side of the fence of the climate debate. They are the ones writing opinion peices for newspapers and blogs, not the IPCC or even the BBC. Presenting articles by two of their members here is yet another example of the lack of balance Dr Curry seems to be encouraging in her readership.

      • Stirling English


        See Louise’s comments above.

        Just to say – great job! Thanks.

      • Stirling English

        Anyone wanting to know more about GWPF can read here


        You’ll see some well-known names in the Academic Advisory Council. And I recommend signing up to their regular newsletters about all things relating to climate policy.

      • Louise –

        Presenting articles by two of their members here is yet another example of the lack of balance Dr Curry seems to be encouraging in her readership.

        I tend to doubt that’s the case. The opinions of her readership are, for the vast majority, already solidly formed.

        I think it’s more a case of throwing red meat out and watching the feeding frenzy. Occasionally, a reasonable debate breaks out (reminds me of the line about going to a fight and having a hockey game break out).

        The question of interest to me is whether or not Judith actually believes that the two examples she provided are examples of good science journalism.

      • Joshua

        I suggest to you that many of the “skeptics” who vist this site would be willing to change their opinions if there was better data available to warrant such a change in position. Can you fairly say the same is true for those who believe in cAGW?

        Imo, the information that has become available in the last few years should seem to reasonable get “believers” to reconsider their position, since it seems that their case was originally overstated. Do you see that happening?

      • What is it that you think happened? Last few years.

      • Rob –

        I suggest to you that many of the “skeptics” who vist this site would be willing to change their opinions if there was better data available to warrant such a change in position. Can you fairly say the same is true for those who believe in cAGW?

        Do you have any evidence for that suggestion?

        The research I’ve seen suggest that “more information” only further entrenches people in opinions that are correlated with their social and ideological identity.

        If there is a difference in %”s there, I’d suggest that it is miniscule – not significant enough to really make any difference, more a question of semantics than a distinction of substance.

      • JCH

        A large number of things have come out in the last few years. It became clear that the basis of the original estimates on the rate of warming was far from solid. Scientists and engineers got closer looks at the details of GCMs and other models being used and found that both the process for the development of these models and the output of the models do not match observations and are unreliable in predicting the future. (btw- the models on sea level rise as a function of temperature change are also inaccurate. It became clear that most of the reports or papers predicting that a warmer world would be terrible for humanity are not based upon science but on mere speculation. It also became very clear that proposed mitigation plans cannot be implemented on a worldwide basis and are economically unproductive. That is a real quick list.

      • randomengineer

        JCH — What is it that you think happened? Last few years.

        One needn’t “think” anything at all. Polls say that among the population in general GW concern seems to have peaked in 2006 or so.

      • Josh,

        I’ll offer up myself as evidence. I’m willing to change my opinion if presented with evidence that is believeable.

        And not presented in an insulting manner.

      • Rob – 2010, despite a quiet sun and a very strong La Nina, was tied with 2005 as being the hottest year in the instrument record of the temperature series that BEST Land Preliminary is closest. 2011 is likely to be the hottest La Nina year in the instrument record. There is nothing in the last few years that would do anything other than slightly increase their confidence.

      • I would not even care if they were insulting if the data was good.

      • JCH

        So what? If is was a hot year or the hottest, humanity seems to have done just fine. Warmer does not mean bad- it just means warmer

      • tim –

        I’ll offer up myself as evidence. I’m willing to change my opinion if presented with evidence that is believeable.

        Evaluations of evidence, and determination of what is “believable” are, on general, influenced by ideology and sociocultural factors.

        Now maybe you’re an exception to that general tendency, and if so I applaud your open-mindedness, but that doesn’t change the nature of the debate among the majority of the debaters – on both sides of the debate.

        What I find interesting is the amount of vitriol I get in response to a rather simple statement for which there is solid evidence.

        If you have evidence that the debate on one side is more characterized by biased reasoning, the influence of sociopolitical or sociocultural identity, etc., please provide it; I’d love to read it.

      • One needn’t “think” anything at all. Polls say that among the population in general GW concern seems to have peaked in 2006 or so.

        The shifting sands of public opinion matter little. It was hot in Texas. There were a lot of fires. Drought did massive damage to crops. The state has an amazing number of dead trees. The number of people in Texas who are reconsidering AGW is up. I even hear from crusty old conservative Republican ranchers. Whether or not it has anything to do with AGW is irrelevant: people are swayed by their weather.

      • randomengineer

        JCH… you asked what (rob) had thought happened in the past few years, and (I interjected that) in the past few years public concern re AGW has been down. Your reply seems non sequitor, so I will take a few words to elaborate.

        Part of this is from climategate fallout. Although lots of folks never heard of this the blogs are all active; the blogs inform the concerned and the concerned influence others. Dr Curry has said the same type of thing regarding her readership. Her readers are influential.

        Don’t be too reliant on the public whim argument. There’s a real undercurrent out there.This is especially true for non democrats. A lot of the right wing sites are even MORE adamant that the this is a hoax, which on the surface seems particularly stupid since AGW is real enough. (This is probably where Josh seems to derive his political bias thinking from.) Problem is that even this has changed — more of the right wingers are posting to the effect that yeah man affects the climate thus there’s a human component, BUT… and the BUT is essentially focused on political machinations.

        In short even on right wing sites there’s a slow morph from “the **science** is a hoax” to “some of the science is OK but it’s in the hands of the wrong people.” This is a paraphrase of course. As I see things this is an accurate observation re the current state; the right wing “deniers” are *mostly* concerned that AGW is the mechanism by which the malthusians and socialists will impose their will. Thing is, they’re absolutely right on this part.

        Summary: what’s changed is less emphasis and/or disagreement with the basic tenets on the science side and even more virulent opposition to the political ramifications.

      • Can’t ya hear the whistle blowing? The Pied Piper plays on.

      • Josh,

        I agree that there is a lot of trading of insults and people would do better if they kept better reign on this.

        I also have to point out that – in my opinion – you often argue with a style that easily irritates. It is easy to get the impression that you trying to score points on how sharp you are. Combine that with a subject that both sides who regularly comment on blogs tend to have great passion for and it is not hard to see why vitriol gets into the discussion. Doesn’t make it right, just understandable.

      • tim –

        It is easy to get the impression that you trying to score points on how sharp you are.

        Just having some fun, tim, and trying to work out my thoughts on the issues. I have no illusions that I’m sharp, and anyway, trying to prove otherwise on a blog would be pathetic and a waste of time – most particularly at a blog where I’m told over and over I’m an idiot, dolt, etc., (not to mention bigot, racist, and anti-Semite).

      • Louise,
        The UK govt. the BBC and academia are all separately, and together, massively larger than the GWPF. They dominate the public square on AGW. Your catching vapours from the wicked advances of their activities seems to be more a revelation about your delicate condition than their strength, ma’am.

  59. Judith,

    Interesting to see the east coast of Canada reach record highs just before being buried under a pile of snow in the same day. :-)

    Ops, sorry, that is temperature data and unimportant precipitation data.

  60. Stirling English


    From your bleating about constant exposure to GWPF literature, might we conclude that you are in the ‘journalistic profession’ in the UK? Few others would have had such dealings with them.

    There is somebody by a similar name who is currently employed as an ‘environment correspondent’ at the Daily Telegraph. She too seems to find it very difficult to accept any POV other than the ‘received wisdom’ from Greenpeace, WWF and FoE. Any relation?

    • “Any relation?”


      And I have no time for FoE, WWF or Greenpeace either. I would rather listen to and read reports of the science, not lobby groups.

      I don’t need a lobby group to tell me what to think.

      • “I don’t need a lobby group to tell me what to think.”

        So what makes you think Dr Curry’s readership needs ‘protecting’ from lobby groups?

      • I think that mentioning that both of these authors are members of a particular lobby group sets their words in context. I haven’t said that I think Dr Curry was wrong to quote them, just that I think she should inform her readership of their affiliations so that they can form informed opinions of their own.

      • Louise, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s an opinion piece, for heaven’s sake.
        God forbid that people should form the ‘wrong’ opinion of someone else’s opinion.

      • oops, looks like I didn’t untag the italics properly above.

      • jazznick above believes at least one of these articles is a factual account and not an opinion piece.


      • I rest my case

      • Louise

        I don’t need a lobby group to tell me what to think.

        You mean like the IPCC?


      • They don’t tend to write opinion pieces for the popular media. If their words are ever quoted here by Dr Curry, she makes us well aware the affiliation of the authors.

      • Louise,
        Your opinion of what the IPCC does is not founded on reality.
        All the IPCC does is provide fodder for cliamte alarmism to popular media and politicians and AGW believers.
        They have done a world class job of this and enabled a lucrative niche industry to receive tens of billions for themselves and their pals.
        This was done at the cost of massive tax payer funding, opportunity cost of good science and policy and, of course, science, journalism and politics.

      • Louise,
        If you read the IPCC, you are reading garbage from the WWF, FoE, Greenpeace and others.

      • Where did I say that I read the IPCC? I only mentioned them in response to manacker.

        You consistently seem to want to create strawmen that you are then easily able to knock down. Try responding to what I write and not what you wish I had written.

  61. Davids piece seems to regularly confuse ‘reporting on science’ with ‘reporting on scientists’.

  62. Dr. Curry: FYI this related subject in the The Chronicle of Higher Education:
    Despite Occasional Scandals, Science Can Police Itself By Alan Kraut
    (Alan Kraut is executive director of the Association for Psychological Science.)

    • Kip –

      Interesting article. Thanks for that link.

    • Kip, thanks for the link

    • Kip,
      So an academic, after much study and thought, comes to the considered conclusion that science, from all endeavors of humanity, can police itself, so please leave us alone as we pontificate.
      And an academic from one of the truly hard sciences, at that.
      That ranks up there with that study that shows, after much considered study, that the Papacy has confirmed that yes, the Pope is infallible.

    • “Science Can Police Itself”

      And inmates didn’t do it.


      • Like investment bankers?

      • Indeed. And Governors. And Presidents. And Professers. And Congresspeople. And Football Coaches. And Campaign Workers. And Restaurant Employees. And Illegal Immigrants. And Journalists. And Military Personnel. And and and…


  63. Judith –
    All in all, after reading the HuffPo article, I am wondering why you thought it important enough to blog about. David Whitehouse didn’t say anything of import. He was mainly filling up space with empty words. Nothing of what he said will be taken by any other science journalists, and none of the editors he mentions will beat his breast before calling in his wayward science writers and laying down a new law for them.

    It isn’t even much ado about nothing.

    In fact, it might even be part of the “communication about science is the real problem” silliness that arose out of Climategate 1.0.

    At a time just after the 5,000 Climategate 2.0 emails are out there for the public to see (including science journalists), Whitehouse should be excerpting those and screaming and hollering about science gone wrong. Why is he instead pointing at the science journalists instead of paying attention to the elephant in the room – that the climate scientists are the problem?

    The only significant mention in the entire article is that climate science is a “contentious” field. Whoop de freaking doo.

    Judy, in the days of print news, this op-ed would, within minutes, have been lining bird cages and forgotten. You gave him undue attention by paying it any never mind.

    • Judith has been busy, and this type of post gets a lot of comments that do not require her attention

    • Trivial yes, but not even coherent trivia.

      Whitehouse seems confused about what his point is – only a few months ago he was saying that there was “too much science” in science journalism. WTF?

      And in the same article crtiqued reporting that was “just a purveyor of opinions, lacking authority of its own, and went off in many directions regarding this story, few of them calibrated by the weight of scientific judgement”.

      And then he writes op-eds for a policy think-tank that actively evades the weight of scientific judgment in favour of opinions.

      Just more incoherent red-meat to keep the eye-balls engaged.

      • Yeah, it sounds like Whitehouse is scamming his editor with bomfoggery. Like some students try to do to their professors, who just pump out a bunch of empty words and hope the prof is too stupid to know he is being snowed.

        Perhaps since it sounds like he is taking a middle ground it gives Judith the sense she has someone in no-man’s-land with her. But the guy in there with her is vacuous, based on this op-ed.

    • randomengineer

      Why is he instead pointing at the science journalists instead of paying attention to the elephant in the room – that the climate scientists are the problem?

      Nail, meet hammer. The issue as per Dr Curry’s post is *still* centered on the premise that the only problem in climate science is comm failure. In this case all that is being done is focusing on a different aspect of this “problem.” The scientists failed to scare the pants off of everyone. Must be that scientists didn’t communicate well. Oh, wait, it’s that the journalists aren’t doing their job. Some will claim that they’re insufficiently scary. Others will claim that the “story” can’t be told properly because the writers are so obviously lopsided that the reader dismisses them.

      Either way, it’s just as you imply — variation on a theme.

  64. Enlarging the context a bit – as it should be because the climate debate should be viewed in the larger tribal context:

    As I type I’m listening to this guy:



    “Just as the twentieth century was the age of physics, the twenty-first is the age of biology,” says our guest, visiting University of Pennsylvania bioethics professor, JONATHAN MORENO. The editor of Center for American Progress’ online magazine grounds his science in the cultural and historical contexts of controversially issues like stem cell research, end-of-life decisions and fertility treatments. His new book is “The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America.”

    • The only thing to make CAP more obvious is to add the “R” in the proper place in their name.

    • randomengineer

      CAP is the home of lopsided partisan junk science advocacy. These are the same clowns who… never mind. When you are as blindly partisan as you are, even crayons no longer work.

    • Feel free to not read the book, or listen to the interview. It’s your right.

      If you have an argument to make where Moreno makes invalid points, I’d love to read about it.

      • randomengineer

        I may read the book if I can find reviews showing it’s worth the investment in time. That said I always read anything even loosely associated with this org with hip waders on same as with anything from Morano.

  65. David Whitehouse lacks credibility here, as he should know, since he has long since “become part of the story.” He lacks any pretense of objectivity as to the communication of the science on global warming.

    The principles he advocates are optimal for profit-seeking tabloid journalism — maximize conflict, seek “a counterbalancing case,” attack scientific research without any responsibility to try and understand it. But that’s not good journalism.

    Journalism has declined precipitously in quality and in the public esteem since adopting a he said/she said model in which everything is reported as if there were two sides to everything, both equally valid.

    Journalism should report on the facts. The overwhelming scientific consensus around the theory of AGW is one such fact. The politically motivated attack on the science by the right is another such fact. Absolutely the presence of a small minority of scientists who disagree with one aspect or another or who have dedicated themselves — a la Roy Spencer — to forcing their science into the mold of their anti-government convictions — is part of the story as well. Their broad failure to produce credible science, lack of accomplishment generally relative to their peers (with a tiny number of exceptions), and their inability to persuade their peers are critical to telling their story.

    Journalists should aggressively challenge fraud (Monckton), dishonesty (Watts), plagiarism (Wegman), and fake “experts” selling the snake oil of climate “skepticism” (many). They should aggressively expose those resorting to slander and personal attacks to try and undermine science they don’t like. Unfortunately Whitehouse is part of the problem here, not the solution.

    • All true.

    • Robert

      You start off with: <em"David Whitehouse lacks credibility here", but forgot to add the disclaimer: “in my opinion”.

      In my opinion he has much more credibility than the likes of NYT’s Andrew Revkin or BBC’s Roger Harrabin.

      But that’s just my opinion versus your opinion, Robert.


      • You start off with: <em"David Whitehouse lacks credibility here", but forgot to add the disclaimer: “in my opinion”.

        That’s a silly objection.

        Your middle-school writing teacher should have taught you that “in my opinion” is a rhetorical flourish that adds nothing to substantive to any kind of expository writing.

        If I wrote it, obviously I believe it. I also, unlike you, have an argument for the truth of my belief. You might want to look into developing one of those for yourself (No, “NEWYORKTIMESLIBERALSOCIALISTGODDLESSHATEHATEHATEREAMERICA” is not an argument.)

      • Imo you continue to be a nitwit

      • Mine as well Rob.

        Damn, I just broke my own rule. I’ll have to crave out the “Robert” exception.

      • And I agree that I have been rude to both Robert and Web (although for different reasons.) I shouldn’t be rude and describe them as nitwits

      • Rob,

        In this instance I think you were in the ten ring. Robert makes statements that beg being called names.

        Question for you – is there something more worthy of derision than an arrogant nitwit? Robert manages to pull off that double header quite well.

      • Robert,

        I’m sure you have fond memories of Mr. Milquetoast and his middle-school English class–after all, you were his prize pupil and, I can imagine, his teacher’s pet despised by your fellow classmates. But I hate to burst your bubble and knock your beloved Mr. Milquetoast–the only one who ever really understood you, I’m sure–off his pedestal. “In my opinion” is a very valuable locution. Look at it this way. If Tim Ball has said “IN MY OPINION, Michael Mann of Penn State should be in the State Penn” he wouldn’t be dealing with a libel suit in Canadian courts right now. But he left the “In my opinion” out and Michael Mann of Penn State, who, in my opinion, should be in the State Penn took him to court.

      • Of course, my suggestion that Michael Mann should be in the State Penn, in my opinion, is based on my further opinion, that Michael Mann’s employ in that institution would allow him to contribute to the re-habilitation of prisoners by educating them on the many lucrative opportunities to be had in the field of climate science. Might even allow the prisoners to draw on some of their formerly misdirected talents and use them, legally, in the service of Gaia.

    • Considering that most of mainstream “journalism” is another largely infested pocket of left-wing agenda setting you illustrate how far in the land of extremist delusions you are centered Robert. No surprise for those who have witnessed you inane commentary here.

      The NY Times that surpresses all dissent on their site and boards, as does Real Climate and the government hack Gavin Schmidt who gets to write propaganda while on a government paycheck and pocket side grants from his exposure, Joe Romm who one can easily compare to an aspiring Joseph Goebbels with all sorts of fascist goal setting for those who stand up to AGW terror threats. We don’t go into the details of Climategate and the “team” that confirmed what those who have followed the growth of eco-left agenda science over the past 40-50 years.

      The left and its media arm has largely driven every possible distortion and propagand but but here a dim little troll crys as Fox News offsets the all the old news institutions like; CBS, NBC, ABC, NYTimes, Boston Globe, BBC, Washington Post effectively the entire dead from the neck-up legacy media spinning for the “Cause”. Less forget the insulated academic community that lives in terror that the debt driven enclaves they feel so entitled to are con ming to an end. The global wealth redistribution movement centered at the UN and controlling the IPCC propaganda wing. For all this and much more you denounce your partisan peers for “failing”. Truly pathetic but revealing as always.

    • And after they are done with that, they can report the facts showing how an authoritarian ruled command economy is superior to a market based approach.

  66. “The overwhelming scientific consensus around the theory of AGW is one such fact.”

    But AGW itself isn’t any fact.

    Unless maybe you assert it a million times. Then it may become one.


    • Bad Andrew

      A lie told often enough becomes the truth

      – Vladimir Lenin

      • manaker,

        Or in this case you could say it’s just Bobby bein’ Bobby. ;)


      • As a followup:

        we are working hard now on creating a genuine multiparty system

        – Vladimir Putin

      • “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

        -Barack Obama

      • Robert and the AGW core are a reminder of how close the full Orwell state could be achieved;

        “On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns — after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces — at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.”

      • “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

        And the pirates return to Somalia. Coincidence?

      • I thought that was Goebbels. Or is that one of those ideas that’s so obvious to Machiavellians that it occurred independently to several people?

    • When individuals write about a “consensus” on the topic of AGW, what do they believe there is such a “consensus” about today? I see substantial, strong disagreement on many points of the topic, which by defination means there is not a consensus

      • The key qualifier is “among scientists.” Your professed belief that “speculation” (your word) by nonscientists is “as valid” (again, your words) as peer-reviewed science means that you are always going to see “strong disagreement.” But that is disagreement between those that know what they are talking about (the climate scientists) and those that don’t (the pseudoskeptics.)

        That “disagreement,” while it exists, is not relevant to the scientific consensus.

      • Again the nitwit fails to respond in a rational manner. A consensus means that there is general agreement on a topic. I do not see evidence of a general agreement. Is there some list of “qualified individuals” that were surveyed recently? What again is a scientist that Robert likes to point to? Do engineers count? What are the qualifications Robert thinks is necessary to be a part of the group to determine if there is a consensus? BTW- i would agree there is one on the narrow topic of does additional CO2 warm the planet if all other things remain constant.

      • Again the nitwit fails to respond in a rational manner.

        Your work speaks for itself. You don’t have to summarize what follows.

        A consensus means that there is general agreement on a topic.

        A “scientific consensus” means there’s general agreement among scientists in that particular field.

        It’s called an “adjective.” Look it up.

      • As near as I’ve been able to tell, “consensus” isn’t a description, it’s a code word. The word has been used interchangeably with the IPCC. It basically means IPCC. There are a few individual pieces of the science that are beyond any real dispute (such as the Tyndall effect), but any general agreement quickly unravels when you start getting beyond that basic basics.

      • And Robert’s evidence that there is a consensus of “climate scientists” is what today? What is the list of climate scientists that were polled of what question? What is the evidence that there was no substantial disagreement among any of those polled?

      • Robert,

        It is my understanding – which in my poor middle school level writing skill means I am not 100 percent sure I’ve seen every piece of information on the subject – that the consensus claim is based on two legs.

        The first is the IPCC claiming they represent all of the top scientists.

        The second is a subset from 2 question U of Illinois survey that went out only to researchers and scientists in selected fields.

        If you are stating that “75 out of 77 scientists who were asked” is a consensus, then you have a point. A tiny one, but a point none the less. Personally, I consider 75 guys as less than overwhelmingly convincing.

        As for the IPCC, there is good evidence out there that for every top scientist who contributed, there was also people that were nowhere near the top in their fields.

      • randomengineer

        Robert is correct. Most of the climate researchers with peer reviewed papers etc are in rough agreement such that a consensus exists.

        Robert is also incorrect. This “fact” has an asterisk like a Barry Bonds batting record. Due to the magic of funding it’s tough to do anything that isn’t supportive. You can tell this is true by reading stuff from fields that are utterly unrelated. A recent paper showing that neanderthals weren’t stocky due to climate change but instead were stocky due to terrain preference still felt it had to add the obligatory “but this conclusion in no way refutes… blah blah blah” so as not to offend the referees etc despite completely obliterating the entire “they was done in by the climates” argument that has been de riguer for at least a decade. When papers that destroy the “climate did everything” argument feel the need to apologise for so doing, this indicates that the entire science establishment is toeing a party line. When this happens consensus is demanded, no different than medieval kings kissing the pope’s ring.

        The sad aspect herein is the Eddie Izzard comedy snippet approach taken by Robert et al — “But do you have a flag?” says Columbus to the natives regarding ownership of their island — i.e. you don’t have an opinion worth hearing unless you have a climate paper. You don’t get the right to the opinion until you have the paper and to get the paper you have to be writing about that which will prove the opinion of those conferring you the right. Climate science is now its own tautology.

  67. Dr. Curry,
    From Pielke’s book, “The Climate Fix”, to Bishop Hill’s book, to Mosher/Fuller’s book to Donna Laframboise, to Dr. N-G’s busting of the Himalayan glacier scam, there is a well documented, demonstrated and consistent pattern in the AGW community of inter-lcoking efforts to mislead the public and policy makers on cliamte issues.
    The compromise of the media as documented in this thread only adds more disturbing depth and context.
    Who will be the first journalist to seek to redeem themselves from this?

    • “Donna Laframboise”

      A good example of the kind of dishonest fraud that journalists should be taking a hard look at.

      The journalistic examination of dishonesty and incompetence in the climate debate is a good thing when it is grounded in facts, and not in an afactual commitment to portray conflict or bogus “balance.”

      A fact-based examination of dishonesty and incompetence will of course reflect the fact that those qualities are overwhelmingly found to be characteristics of the so-called “skeptics.”

      • You are pushing your credibility meter all the way over to the left.

        Which in your case probably makes sense.

      • Robert,
        Be certain and note your comment above as one of your ‘idiot tracker moments’ over at your self-tracking site.
        After all it takes a true idiot to be able to ignore documented reality.
        Sort of like when that big AGW promoter pretended to review her book and had obviously not read it prior to posting on it.

    • Hunter, are you trying to push the troll’s buttons on purpose?

      • P.E.

        What’s up? Are you scared of taking us on? Its not often that I would speak up for Hunter but at least he’s prepared to have a go!

      • P.E.,
        Robert is not even a troll. He is a neverwuzzer.
        But he represents a certain particularly ignorant sort of AGW believer so yes, in my weakness, I do enjoy watching his galvanic responses.

  68. More pining for Climate Fascism, “UN “Climate Court”;


    “Climate debts, reparations” supported by fake science. I’m sure that direct climate terror acts will soon follow as the civilized world is going to have to explain the political fraud phase failed.

    • cwon14,

      I’m waiting for Dr. Curry to say “Interesting Article. Thanks for the link.” ;)


  69. I think David Whitehouse’s article is important and timely. I am an admirer of his work, both at the BBc and beyond. He is one of the very few science journalists who does not regurgitate press releases and he actually reads scientific papers in the news and often finds that they do not live up to the assertions on their associated press releases.

    I would not call him a sceptic, as far as I can see, he always has good, peer-reviewed reasons for what he says.

    I think he is the best science journalist working in the Uk today, probably wider, and I’m not a bit surprised that he annoys science and environmental journalists who are less talented.

    I saw him lecture once, on astronomy at our local astronomical society. It was one of the best lectures I have ever attended, and afterwards I was impressed by his modesty, which is praiseworthy in one so talented.

    In five years, mark my words, he will come out of all this climate alarmism smelling of roses, proven right, but he would I suspect be far too gentlemanly to say, “I told you so.”

    • In five years, mark my words, he will come out of all this climate alarmism smelling of roses, proven right, but he would I suspect be far too gentlemanly to say, “I told you so.”

      He’s a utter failure to date, having been humiliatingly off the mark in his temperature predictions.

      Other than that famous failure, we can grade him an “incomplete,” since he’s produced no peer-reviewed climate science of any kind.

  70. “Who will be the first journalist to seek to redeem themselves from this?”

    Good question Hunter. It’s the story of the century, just waiting for the right guy or gal to come along. It would have to be someone with plenty of liberal cred of course, otherwise no one from the other side would listen. At the moment I can’t think of anyone better than Matt Taibbi. That he writes for Rolling Stone is all to the good.

  71. Robert,
    I think you are totally wrong. He’s been spot on.
    I see he placed a bet in 2007, via the BBC TV, with some climate scientist that using the Hadley temperature data, there would be no new record by and including 2011. I think he’s won that, and I wouldn’t call it “humiliatingly off the mark.” I would say he’s right on the money. Unlike you, who seem, woefully uninformed.

    • Carol –

      Be a little careful with Robert-the-misanthropic-Troll. Beneath the merely incompetent and unpleasant exterior lurks something far more disturbing. If you want confirmation, have a quick visit to his website ‘Idiot tracker’.

      A word of warning. You are likely to encounter such delightful posts such as this –


      How he can bear to show his face on Dr Curry’s blog is beyond me.

    • I think you are totally wrong. He’s been spot on.

      That’s why you’re called a denier, Carol. Because you’re in denial.

  72. and another thing Robert dear,

    You say he’s incomplete in that he hasn’t published peer-reviewed climate science papers.

    Perhaps that is because, as has ben pointed out a few times here, he is a JOURNALIST.

    • and another thing Robert dear,

      Carol dear,

      After you quickly established yourself as someone in denial of reality, I sort of tuned you out, sorry. If you have something important to say, you’ll have to gradually reassemble some credibility as someone in touch with reality.

      • Robert –

        ….as someone in touch with reality


  73. which may I add Robert, having looked at your website, is more than can be said for yourself.

    • Welcome to the Hotel Climatago.

    • accidentally posted this over on science communication:
      Another thought:
      Science journalists seem to not really be any different in general than sports journalists: They generally become partisans or fans who are used by the teams or sports they report to push the news the team or sport wants pushed: cheer leaders.
      It is just human nature. Look, in climategate1, how Revkin was spoken of as a trained dog to be punished if he got the message wrong.
      Do you think Mooney, a writer, would have radicalized into the parody of a journalist he is if he had not been egged on by those with whom he spends so much time?

  74. I constantly refer to my “Would I have a drink” rule. Is the person I’m interacting with on the net someone I’d have a drink with? In almost every case the answer is yes.

    But I am forming the opinion that Robert may be the exception. Which is ok, because he probably believes that anyone who doesn’t believe as he does is beneath him and thus not worthy of his time.

    • Which is ok, because he probably believes that anyone who doesn’t believe as he does is beneath him and thus not worthy of his time.

      Sorry, I don’t like to drink with people who consider their fantasies about a person to be evidence.

      It’s always amusing to see how a denier just makes up things they wish were true, without the slightest nod toward the concept of facts.

      • Name calling apparently is your strongest argument.

        PS – if I’m going to have fantasies about someone, rest assured you wouldn’t be that person. But I’m fine if you want to think so.

  75. Journalism is journalism, you cannot change the stripes on a Zebra. Journalism is wriitem with color flavor so that it will look nice to the reader.
    World climate is controlled by the uncontrollable workings of the Sun and Earth cycles.
    Life on planet Earth can only adapt to those changes.
    We live in interesting times where man has the potential to alter MAN’s destiny.

  76. Edit note:
    Don’t know if it’s in the original, but “about asking award questions” surely s/b “awkward” questions.
    Not that there have been any from journo-listas.

  77. JC: When science becomes politicized, we need journalists to be playing a watchdog role and not just parroting the words of scientists and their press releases.

    Yes. And we need to remember that the primary cause of science becoming politicized, is being politically funded.

    Climate science hasn’t become politicized, is has been politicized all along, since it has been government-funded all along, and hence prone to producing ‘results’ that argue for a more totalitarian society all along. All the while feigning impassioned objectivity of course.

    All that’s new is that this inherent politicization has been exposed, ie shown to be an ugly and dishonest science/advocacy hybrid (data being hidden from CAGW non-believers etc etc).

  78. Everything posted was very logical. However, think about this, what if you typed
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    or two to get people interested about what you’ve got to say. Just my opinion, it could bring your posts a little bit more interesting.