Email 2…. Carr Speech, complaint 2 to A&CA

From: BobFJ   Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 2:26 PM  To: ABC corporate affairs  Subject: My complaint No.2: The Science Show

 Attention : Kirstin McLiesh, Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

Further to my earlier Emails, here is the formalization of the second of three complaints on “The Science Show” concerning bad science journalism, including bias:

[2] “The Eureka Prizes” 21, August, 2010, an address by Kim Carr:

Here are three extracts from the transcript:

…And of course, I [a politician] am thinking here about the climate change debate or what passes for the climate change debate and those who deny it in defiance of the overwhelming evidence. I am thinking about those who malign the scientists who report the evidence. The real danger in these partisan attacks is that they may undermine the legitimacy of all scientific endeavour……

…Yet it is equally clear that the climate change deniers have sown seeds of uncertainty and doubt in people’s minds, and there is just no shortage of survey data to bear this out. That’s why it is so important that we set about building a community consensus on climate change and the action that’s actually needed to address it. It is also why the friends of science must never shy from defending its heritage, its methods and its results……

…That doesn’t mean we can’t question things. We can and we should. What it does mean is that we do not have to pretend the Earth might after all be flat. We do not have to accord superstition and wishful thinking the same status as science. This is much more than fairness requires and much more than reason permits……”

My comments and complaints:

2a) These speech extracts are somewhat off-topic to the Eureka awards, and arguably politically opportunistic. They are insulting to the many AGW sceptics having reasoned views, and are extremely biased.

2b) Robyn Williams is a science journalist reportedly with a degree in science. He should not have included this political statement, or should have qualified it in some way. However he was silent on it.

2c) Scientific websites such as Climate Audit, and Watts Up With That, are of very high traffic and of noted scientific quality. It is OK to describe them as sceptical, but definitely not with such insults as given by Carr and the ABC.

2d) There are various groups of concerned scientists that have compiled letters of complaint about exaggeration* that is apparent in the consensus view. (BTW, they mostly agree that increasing CO2 does have a small warming effect). There is for example, the famous “Inhofe 400 list” (by that U.S. senator), although it does have some critics of some of the nominations therein. Other scientists have resigned from institutions or rebelled in numbers against their institution‘s policies on global warming.

2e) Quite apart from these disagreements, (which are normal in science), it should be remembered that scientific truth is not established via a vote on opinions or on unproven hypotheses.** There have been many changes to paradigms in the past as a consequence of one person’s innovation, (or of a minority group), that suffered badly from the then consensus view. For instance, Wegener had a hard time demonstrating the now proven facts of plate tectonics, that were previously not accepted. (e.g. continental drift),

2f) As a scientist and as a science journalist, one would expect Robyn Williams to know of these things listed above. Thus, my complaint is, that the inclusion of this rant by a politician, in “The Science Show” without any qualification, is unacceptably biased, and is misleading to the public. It is expected to be a Science Programme; not a Political Programme.

Notes:

* Very briefly; some famous scientists are notable for having declared that exaggeration of man-made global warming (AGW) is justified for political reasons, e.g. the late Stephen Schneider, and James Hansen. The IPCC admits to significant uncertainties in their 2007 report, but the much condensed SPM report, (Summary for Policy Makers) does not make this clear. They have also been embarrassed this year by substantial revelation of serious errors or misrepresentations, including their use of “grey literature”. (non peer reviewed, which is against their own policy). As professor Bob Carter has put it:

Canadian Donna Laframboise [has found] that of the 18,531 references cited in IPCC’s 2007 Assessment Report, no less than 5,587 (30%) refer to student theses, newspaper articles and green activist propaganda leaflets, reports and press releases, i.e. represent “grey”, and in most cases very light grey, literature……”

** The hypothesis of serious AGW, is not supportable with empirical evidence, but only by opinion and assumptions, such as those used in the climate models, which carry much weight in the alarmist case.

Please advise if you need more detail or examples whatever.

Sincerely,

Bob Fernley-Jones. (retired professional engineer, Melbourne).

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About Bob Fernley-Jones

I'm a retired mechanical engineer, and I guess that because in my science, any bad assumptions can get people killed, I have an abhorrence of many things that are perpetrated by academics in some areas of science. In the case of so-called climate science, the culture and bias in some media is also repugnant to me. I'm hoping that the ABC will improve its self regulating policies and culture to eliminate bias, and this website is under development towards that end. (if necessary).

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